by Jim Malachi
Wednesday June 28th:
Thanks to two very accommodating drivers and a "well signed" road, I now have the distinct pleasure of resting quietly inside one of the most strikingly peaceful sites of antiquity that I have visited so far. Overlooking the sea, as most of these ancient rings do, the Spirit who dwells here seems to be holding me in a loving embrace. My eyes lazily scan the lush blue and green dappled hills which lay exposed in all directions. The churning silver-gray sky overhead is pregnant with the promise of a late afternoon shower. But for now, all is still, silent except for the stirring of a gentle breeze and the occasional snort of a nearby bull. I have been warned about this bull, but I have not seen him. I am not concerned and I do not feel that I am in any danger, only exquisitely looked after by the One who summoned me here today.
I can feel You close to me now.
I feel Your hands upon me, Your breath upon my face.
You whisper one word to me, soft as the wind, one single word:
There is an ancient burial sight just a few yards from the circle. It is called a radial cairn and it consists of 18 upright stones in a ring of smaller ones. I am reminded of my recent visit to the Kilcatherine chapel and the many grave markers which surrounded it on all sides. It would appear that the desire to be laid to rest near one's place of worship is a custom which can be traced back to ancient times. I can feel the pervading stillness and solemnity of this sacred place seeping deep into my bones. It is a treasure to be here. This is without question the smallest stone circle I have been in, a mere 9 or 10ft. in diameter, but its energy field is immense and pulsing through me with a persistence which I cannot ignore. Most of what I have heard whispered to me within the confines of these stones would be impossible to translate into any sort of narrative, so I will forego any further attempts at description.
Once again, I find myself experiencing that "old familiar" feeling of not ever wanting to leave a place. It has swept over me in crop circles, holy wells, groves of ancient trees and stones, as well as temples and cathedrals. I am so grateful for having been guided to this place today.
"You have given me the gift of feeling LOVED
and more importantly, feeling LOVABLE; for without that,
most attempts at loving come to nothing"-
I left the circle in somewhat of a hurry as it was beginning to rain. A family who had driven up the road to visit the site offered me a lift back to the Brown Pub. I took them up on their kind offer. And as I was standing over the toilet relieving myself of the day’s fluids, a horrifying thought suddenly collapsed the "umbrella of bliss" under which I'd been standing. I had left in such a hurry that my "medicine pouch" and witch's protection charm were still up at the circle. I was in the habit of placing these two items, which I wore constantly, on sacred stones and trees in order to allow them to "soak up" the energy of a place; so that I might bring some of the essence back home with me. The thought of hiking back up that road in the rain was not something I was looking forward to doing but I simply had no choice. I must return and retrieve my valuables.
I left my back-pack with the bartender and "beat feet" up the hill, determined to retrieve my articles either before someone else noticed them or they became rain-soaked. Would you believe it if I told you that I hadn't gone very far before someone drove up behind me and offered me a lift? It's true. I returned to the stones while the rain was still only falling lightly and rescued my forgotten items. I walked back into town happily recalling the events of this "charmed" day, and appreciating the fact that I was being well cared for; and that while situations might get a bit "fuzzy" at times, everything would always work out for the best!
Thursday July 29:
I awoke this morning to the sounds of wind and rain pelting against my window. I recited a silent prayer of thanks to the skylight overhead that I had been summoned to visit Kealkil yesterday and not today. Today's inclement weather would have introduced two elements into the sacred equation that would have considerably altered my enjoyment of that magnificent place. I find it hard to believe that I have been in Ireland for two weeks. It feels more like a deliciously long month's worth of adventures. I guess that, for me at least, linear time has become "wonderfully warped". I LOVE the Beara Peninsula and Her many moods. I have only to look around me at the verdant green landscape that is Her body and I am convinced that it is actually Her "Soul" turned "inside out"; every beautiful and messy aspect of it . . . INSIDE OUT!
Today I will "suit-up" in my rain gear and hitch into Castletown for some emailing at the library and one final visit to my "Old Friend", Derreentaggert.
Tomorrow I will pack up my belongings and move eastward into one of the "Gypsy Caravans" at the Shiplake Mountain Hostel near the city of Dunmanway. While there, I hope to visit at least two of the more well known Stone Circles of Ireland; Drombeg and Bohonagh on the southeast coast. Then it's off to Merry ol' England and two enchanting weeks in Avalon.
The rain continued to fall throughout most of the day as I performed my "indoor tasks". The sun finally made an appearance around 3:30 in the afternoon just as I was making the final approach to my "Old Friend" on the outskirts of Castletown.
I've never been fond of saying goodbye. How does one say goodbye to a Spirit? Can one ever really be separated from a Spirit with whom intimacy has been shared? She was, after all "my first" in Ireland. She gently guided me through the "granite veil" and prepared me to more fully appreciate the other stone realms I was to visit. On my humble behalf, She breached the fabric of Time, admitting me to subtler levels of Her many mysteries; whispered to me several of Her best kept secrets. For this I am truly grateful and will never forget what transpired here between us, in the fields and hills which overlook the sea.
The more time you spend inside these circles, the more you acquire what I like to think of as "spherical awareness", a psychic and energetic acknowledgment of the "larger circle", the entire 360 degrees which surrounds you at all times in ALL possible directions. The perimeters of your attention begin to breathe and expand. You begin to "think" in all 360 degrees. Every living thing that exists outside of your immediate field of vision suddenly becomes imbued with a resonance that pulses energy back toward the center, in your direction. You are endowed with a fresh new sense of inter-connectedness with the world around you. This has been Her Gift to me, Her Treasure, buried here deep within these ancient stones for these many long years, and offered to me now as a symbol of our unique and holy Union. How then, does one say goodbye to a Spirit? When it becomes time to leave, you simply turn and walk away.
Saturday July 1st:
I awoke to the glorious sound of rain as it puckishly drummed its musical invitation to me to slip once again into my trusty rain-gear and "get Irish"! I was once told by a woman on a rain-drenched night in Galway, during the height of the annual Galway Arts Festival, "If we Irish didn't go out in the rain, we'd never go out at all"! Not even the pouring rain could dampen the spirit of the throngs of people who lined the crowded cobblestone streets; who sat under umbrellas eating and drinking into the wee hours of the sparkling, liquid night. "Get Irish"! And so I did. I emerged lazily from my cozy Gypsy Caravan, nestled in the trees of the Shiplake Mountain Hostel.
These wood-framed, canvas-topped, dutch-doored replicas of a bygone time are the "private accommodation" offered at the hostel. There are only three of these colorfully painted sleepers on the property, so you need to make reservations in advance especially during "high season". Each is equipped with a heater, and hot water bottles are available in the main building in case you wish to "preheat" your mattress. The stretched canvas top makes a lovely drum, ideal for waking up to the gentle sound of falling rain. And the clean, crisp mountain air and scenery leaves nothing to the imagination. You simply wake up in "heaven". Organic produce grown in the hostel's gardens is available for a small price depending on the season, as well as free range duck eggs which sell for about 25cents each. Yumm! I was beginning to regret my decision to stay here for only one week, and that I hadn't allotted more time to spend at this beautiful mountain hideaway.
There are more coniferous trees in this region of County Cork than there were on the Beara. It actually reminds me a lot of the Pacific Northwest coast of America, but with that special "Irish Twist". There are a lot of Hawthorn, Rowan and Yew trees growing throughout Ireland, and they contribute a great deal to the unique personality of its forests.
I will try to take advantage of the "wave" of weekend beachgoers tomorrow and hitch into Clonakilty for a visit to The Drombeg and Bohonagh Stone Circles which appear to be, according to my maps, only a few miles apart.
Sunday July 2nd:
This has been an unbelievably arduous morning, fraught with many unforeseeable moments of disappointment and despair. But with the completion of a dizzying Pas de Deux of "high anxiety and the compassion of strangers", I now find myself sitting comfortably with my back resting upon one of the massive stones of Drombeg. What is most intriguing about this circle is its uncanny resemblance to the circle of my Imbolc vision. I sit here, pen and paper in hand, and find myself staring across the thirty foot expanse of the circle's graded interior. I am completely unable to take my eyes off the very stone where "She" once sat and watched me with those dark eyes. It is as if I am half expecting Her to materialize. I do not feel at all "alone" and I am not referring to the intermittent trickle of tourists who wander in and out of the complex; who stop to take a few photos and head back to their cars and on to the next "must see ancient site of Ireland". Even the familiar stone upon which my back now rests seems to cradle my body as it once did in my vision. I feel as though the time I spent at previous stone sites was little more than a rehearsal for this "main event". I brought a crow feather with me, one I'd found near the Ardgroom circle. I placed it at the base of "Her Stone" as a gift. There is a constant humming sound that contributes to the "otherworldliness" of the site. I have determined that it is coming from the countless bumble bees which peacefully co-exist in this ancient field with the Spirits of Drombeg and the tourists. I am content to simply sit in this agitated stillness and write whatever comes to me.
There is an unusually intense energy here and I get the feeling that it would be next to impossible for modern humans to "wrap their minds" around the thought processes of the ancients who built this circle of stones. They were obviously so much more attuned to the cycles of the heavens and the earth and the rhythms of this and other dimensions. This is a powerful, living testament to their highly developed intelligence and spirituality which has, and will continue to survive the ravages of time.
Taking into account the degree of difficulty that I experienced getting here, it is highly unlikely that I will return to Drombeg for another visit before leaving Ireland. So I am content to just sit and enjoy this place and, for the moment at least, not concern myself with the logistics of my eventual return to Dunmanway.
The energetic field here is much different from that of any crop circle I have ever visited. It is denser, older, darker and more "layered". Yet it responds to subtle changes in the sun's position in the sky and the light that it casts upon the earth below. Drombeg is ALIVE! I experience fluctuations in the energy's intensity like waves breaking on a beach, resulting in slight and alternating sensations of nausea and vertigo which ebb and flow like the low tide.
"Never take, only Give"
These few words suddenly streak across the inside my head like a comet; clearly and purposefully. While I cannot argue with the soundness of the advice, I have no explanation for their unsolicited appearance in my mind.
Several hours have now passed and I am beginning to become a little concerned about exactly when I should begin hitchhiking back to Dunmanway. It is several miles to the main coast road where I will most likely have the best luck catching a ride. I should also take into account the amount of daylight I have left, as the thought of standing on the side of a narrow road in the dark with my thumb out does not appeal to me in the least.
I am tempted to ask the couple who are meandering around inside the circle if they wouldn't mind giving me a lift on their way out.
And once again the "comet" appears, only this time the words have changed:
"Your ride is coming"
These words actually sounded as though they'd been "written in stone"! What else was I to do but "trust", and wait for my "ride to come". This is exactly what I did. A while later, two women arrived. They were named Valerie and Mai. I learned that Valerie lived in Paris and was visiting her cousin Mai who owned a store in Cork City. We began talking about the stones and they told me they had just come from a visit to the circle at Kealkil and were on their way back to Cork. They became frustrated trying to locate a nearby stone circle called Bohonagh and had finally given up the search. I explained to them that it was my original intention to visit both Drombeg and Bohonagh, and that I too had given up when I realized how difficult it would be to reach it on foot. I showed them my Field Guide to Stone Circles which I always brought along with me, just in case, and we all agreed that between the three of us, and the book, we should have little trouble locating it. So after bidding a fond farewell to "Lady Drombeg" and thanking Her for the many blessings and insights, we all piled into Mai's car and headed off down the road to the illusive stone circle somewhere near Ross Carbery.
After what seemed like "days" of driving up and down back roads, and taking turns looking at the map and field guide, we finally stopped at a B&B and asked for help. The proprietor was friendly and directed us straight to Bohonagh without hesitation. The "locals" are ALWAYS the best sources of information in these situations. In the wink of an eye we were parked on the gravel shoulder and walking over and under fences (some electrified) and crossing through fields of grazing cattle; all the while keeping an ever watchful eye out for the occasional aggressive bull. Finally we reached our destination high on a hill just as the sun was beginning to turn the "forty shades of green" into the forty shades of "Peach".
Bohonagh was an overgrown and seldom visited combination of solitude and mystery. The chest high weeds made you feel as though you were fire-walking in the purifying flames of sacred antiquity. What an incredible feeling it is to finally stand in the midst of these granite giants. We spent a good deal of time there together and left as the sky was slowly being drained of its remaining light.
I will never forget the magical time I spent that day with Valerie and Mai in the stones of West Cork. We were all blessed with one another's company and, thanks to their warm hearts, I was dropped off safe and sound in the town of Dunmanway before nightfall. They explained that they didn't feel comfortable about leaving me to hitch hike in the dark. It was a bit out of their way and I will never forget their generosity or the way I was cared for on that day.
"Your ride is Coming"
Nor will I ever forget the words that She had spoken to me in Her circle.
Much later that evening...
I am sitting under a starless sky, smoking a cigarette which I rolled with some of Marlein's prized Belgian tobacco. Marlein, the proprietor of Shiplake Mountain Hostel visits her homeland once a year and returns to Ireland with a twelve month supply of the shredded brown leaves.
I inhale deeply and listen to the wind stirring in the branches above my head, I am keenly aware of Her Presence all around me. And I realize that I am now at the Level of Her "Breath". Her Sighs and Whispers are spoken in a tongue that is no longer foreign to me. Her loving Spirit illuminates the darkness of both this night and my own beating heart.
Monday July 3rd:
I awoke to a profound sense of peace and contentment that normally eludes me on most mornings. This feeling is a far cry from the usual "clouds of confusion and cynicism" that only a healthy dose of caffeine has the power to dispel.
Between yesterday's experiences in Drombeg and Bohonagh, and having spent the last eight hours on the most comfortable foam mattress in all of Ireland, I am in "rare form"!
My heart is swelling with gratitude for the way I am cared for and the way events seem to unfold around me in such a natural and magical way. I am brimming with pride at my having accomplished so much in so short a time; in a place where, as little as three weeks ago, I did not know a soul.
I actually "found" Her; had occupied the very spot where I sat in my vision, thereby successfully bridging Her world and mine. I cannot begin to comprehend what it all means or why this is happening to me. I am content to accept that it is happening, and to simply surrender myself to its ultimate purpose. I made the "connection", I did as I was asked, and I am content in that knowledge.
As a token of my appreciation for all of the ways in which I have been blessed lately, I offered to pull some of the weeds in one of Marlein's broccoli patches this afternoon, providing it does not rain. I am not ready to become quite that Irish yet! It is also the best way I can think of to integrate into my reality the words spoken to me yesterday at Drombeg.
"Never take, only Give"
So I will now become intimate with Her for the better part of the afternoon on the "Level of Her Flesh". Just me and the chickens and the stinging nettles; on my knees and sifting through the fertile soil in the rich and ripening stillness that is the Beara Peninsula.
After spending several glorious hours in the animated chaos of workaholic honey bees and intermittent sun breaks, I've decided to "call it a day and take a walk down one of the many back roads which meander throughout these densely forested hills.
A light rain is beginning to fall and I suddenly realize I've progressed in one single afternoon from "The Level of Her Flesh" to the Level of Tears; the Tears of both Joy and Sorrow. I am experiencing a familiarity with Her Spirit on a depth that I have yet to feel with my own homeland. She is Mother, Lover and Witch to me and I am gradually learning to respond to Her love in All Ways. And with this thought, I feel tears of Joy welling up inside of me.
Tuesday July 4th:
I'd like to take this opportunity to share a few of my thoughts regarding the Level of "Tears of Joy and Sorrow". Today I was ever-so-bluntly reminded that no matter what happens, no matter how difficult things become; you can never afford the luxury of feeling "unlovable" or feeling the "victim". For once you've made that choice, you set into motion a chain of events, whose outcome can only lead to further hardship and despair. And that despite the way circumstances may at times appear,
I can never really stray from my Path!
It is crucial to my survival to keep in mind that I am lovable; that I am loved and cared for in ways that are often beyond my ability to comprehend. This "choice" sets into motion an entirely different chain of events whose outcome will benefit EVERYONE. This, then, is the lesson at the heart of the Level of "Tears of Joy and Sorrow".
"I am standing in the flames of a raging Green Fire
whose fierce Dark energy is consuming me, purifying me.
I fear that soon nothing will remain of me
save for these words and a few charred bones."
Tuesday Night- Late:
My "Dark Night of the Soul"
Standing here alone in the shadows of this little arch-topped wooden box, this "canvas covered casket" wherein lie the unhappy remains of my former, happier self; I find the relentless drumming of the midnight rain oppressive. I survey the contents of this "shrinking" enclosure; my personal belongings, my "valuables" strewn about the room in "forty shades of mayhem". And I cannot help but question what sort of insanity has led me here to this bleak and wind swept moment of panic and doubt. I wonder out loud into the darkness, "Is this what dying feels like? Have I finally become the witless victim of my own grandiose hallucinations?'" I, of course, have no answers. I can only "wait it out" and pray that the approaching sunrise will shed some light and hope into my Night of Sorrows.
Wednesday July 5th:
I felt Her energy around me clear and strong this morning as I was preparing to leave the Shiplake Mountain Hostel. As I stood on the edge of the property and took in one last look at the spectacular scenery that I had become so endeared to during the last week, I heard Her whisper softly in my ear:
"Take Me back with you"
I remained there with Her for a long time, thanking Her for all the magic that She had spun around me in these past weeks and assuring Her I would take Her with me in my heart "In All Ways"; in my memories, my photos, my words, the food I had eaten, the dirt in my clothing and under my fingernails, right down to the particles of Her dust that I had breathed into my body.
"I become You become Me"
These simple words never rang truer for me than they did in this moment.
July 5th 9:30 PM:
Nightfall on the Celtic Sea
I am writing these words from the upper deck of a ferry bound for Wales, in the remaining shards of light thrown off by the sun as it smashes soundlessly into the Celtic Sea. There is a slight breeze and the surface is calm; perfect weather for setting pen to paper. As I scan the undulating expanse of darkening waters, it becomes obvious how and why so many myths have arisen regarding the mysterious regions beneath the surface. The oceans have always been fertile wombs for the stories of our origins, our deepest feelings and the terrible gods who control our destiny.
In the dimming light, my entire landscape is transformed into as many shades of gray as there were greens in the country I've left behind. And as I look around, I think to myself, "gray is good", there is an "honesty" about it that is undeniable and reassuring. I feel exposed out here in ways that I do not feel on land. There is a certain vulnerability that accompanies confronting such an intimidating and ancient Deity.
And of course, I have to write! Feasting on such an abundance of sensory delights, the smells, the sounds, the sights; it would be impossible to deny or postpone the wave of words that breaks against the levee of my imagination. How could I hold back the flood wanting to spill out onto the emptiness of these pages.
I do not know what sort of madness has led me here to this sweeping colorless moment, to this heaving liquid desert. I only know that if it is not madness then it is a wisdom that transcends all logic.
I am set adrift here upon the vast ocean that is my life; and I have charted a course for the thin horizontal line in the distance where a formidable granite slab sits precariously upon the shoulders of its restless obsidian sister. I have no choice now but to go on.
All words & images ©Jim Malachi