The primary reason for embarking on a pilgrimage or a spiritual journey is this. At some point in life we just have to cross a threshold, go through the doorway, open the window and let the light in for our soul to stretch and open up and out.
Walking connects our bodies to our spirits. If you walk long enough all the endless internal chatter quiets down; your breath deepens and becomes regular. Your eye will roam; you will notice but not judge what you observe. With the body being in contact with a quieter mind the spirit begins to relax and expand. We encounter inspiration on our pilgrim way – not just as we exercise our bodies and tone our lungs – but also in the mind and spirit.
Early Christian monks were called peregrini; this is where we get the word peregrinations. These solitary spiritual seekers wandered abroad to places that were foreign as a way of opening their hearts and minds to the divine. Australian aboriginals walk their ancestral song lines to connect with their soul. Europeans have also taken spiritual walks. We just call them pilgrimage or a spiritual journey.
Irish Blessings Tours is pleased to announce the 2014 Brigit Tour. This eight day tour will meet in Dublin on 30th January to participate in a tour that will burn with Brigit’s proverbial flame of inspiration. An evening reception at our Dublin hotel will give everyone an opportunity to meet and be greeted by the tour leader and escort, Bee Smith. Bee is a Brigit expert who led a tour for the Celtic Women International in 2011.
Central to the tour is spending three days – from 31st January – 2nd February- where we will be delegates at an international gathering at Brigit’s Garden in Rosscahill, Co. Galway. This Celtic themed garden dedicated to the spirit of Brigit is the ideal place for this Gathering .
The Gathering takes as its theme “Spreading Brigit’s Mantle: Brigit’s Vision for the 21st Century.” Mary Condren, author of The Goddess and the Serpent will give a keynote address as well as launching her latest book. The gathering will offer facilitated workshops, community and an evening ceilidh over the course of the weekend.
The final four days of the tour will take us to sacred spaces – holy wells, cursing/blessing stones, fairy woodland, and dolmens as we head towards northwest Ireland where the Tuatha de Danaan, the fairy race from which the goddess Brigit sprang, first landed in Ireland.
We will end the tour by visiting Solas Bhríde in Kildare where the eternal flame that had burned for centuries was rekindled in 1992. We will visit both holy wells and the cathedral where you will need keen eyes to spot the Sheela-na-gig.
This tour will be of special interest to women and men who have an interest in the spiritual heritage, traditions and devotions that surround Ireland’s matron goddess and saint. Whether your interest is in pagan or Celtic Christian spirituality, we will visit places that have remained sacred to all spiritual traditions in this island.
Your guide, Bee Smith, is a a regular contributor and former Sagewoman columnist and long-time Brigit devotee. She is a published poet and is included in Goddess Ink’s anthology”Brigit: Sun of Womanhood”, editted by the late Patricia Monaghan and Michael McDermott.
Tour costs will include entrance fees, shared room, breakfast and evening meals.
For full tour itinerary and costs email email@example.com
Watch the blog for regular updates and follow this event on our Facebook page.
I can proudly say that I have real fairies for my closest neighbours. While the fairies dispersed throughout Ireland, I feel that the real fairies live close to their homeplace. Real fairies were originally the Tuatha de Danaan, a race of immortals that mixed with mortal inhabitants in Bronze Age Ireland. They shared their godlike qualities but, as is the way, conflict occurred. The Tuatha de Danaan, the children of the goddess Danu, won the first bout. But they were vanquished at the Second Battle of Moytura. The real fairy folk, the Tuatha de Danaan, headed back to the place where they had originally landed in Ireland. It was here that they they ‘went to ground’ and became the earth spirits that then dispersed throughout Ireland. But at their home place their presence is particularly potent.
December Sunrise, Cuilcagh Mountain, County Cavan
To understand Celtic Spirituality we must suspend the normal way of looking at the world and ‘sense’ the other worlds around us.”
– Donald McKinney, Celtic Spirituality for the 21st Century
If you live, as I do, deep in the beautiful Irish countryside, with only the moon lighting the lane and a wide night sky with Venus glimmering brightly, with wind and weather your close allies, there is a shift in perception. It is easy to believe, nay, know that the fairies are your close neighbours. Even in the depths of midwinter the beauty of the Irish landscape leaves me gasping. In this context it is relatively easy to shift one’s perception and open all the senses to apprehend Celtic Spirituality.
For travellers interested in living a spiritual life there are many spiritual places in Ireland to visit to make your vacation a true holy day ( or holiday as we call our vacations in Ireland.) I will introduce you to a few lesser known spiritual places in Ireland over a series of articles. But first off, I invite you to alight your vision so you may wholly live your one wild and precious life. Our first stop is the Sculpture Park on the shores of Lough MacNean in County Cavan.
Imagine standing before a sculpture that is a series of three pillars or standing stones. Celtic spirituality is fond of trinities so it is in keeping with this tradition that this sculpture fits into the landscape in this spiritual place in Ireland. Each stone has a circular hole drilled through it close to eye level. In order to see into the distant horizon one has to align ones’ sight to look through all three holes at the same time. The sculpture asks us to align physically so that we can see the shore on the opposite side of the lake in Northern Ireland.
You stand before these holy trinity of standing stones, which I often feel are the embodiment of prayer. I offer a silent prayer of intention as I do as a practice when I visit spiritual places in Ireland. The sculpture faces north. It allows me to look out across the lake where there is a border between the north and south of Ireland. When you align your vision you can see that in reality there is no border, only the border that is in the mind that creates labels and develops an attachment to labels.
There is an inscription on this rock sculpture by Louise Walsh, which is entitled “Imagine.”
an island where people live in peace
Make it Real
That is a real vision that this beautiful sculpture invites us all to envisage and to come into alignment. This is a true work of art because its intention is to invite the connection to the eye of the heart rather than the myopic idea of the separate sense of self.
One of the ways to embody your vision is to connect to a physical representation like this sculpture and other great works of art. You stand before them and they invite you into a presence that exists beyond time and space. They invite you to connect with a vision that is more universal than the limited time space identity that one calls me, my or mine. These spiritual places in Ireland can take you into that kind of presence. They are also sometimes called ‘thin places.’
This writer and storyteller is blessed to live nearby to this beautiful sculpture. I stand in silent and prayerful attention before it. I look through the three holes in the hope to bring my vision into alignment as the other shore comes into view. This is the shore of sacred unity. It is an inward shore, too, that can be reflected in the outer world. This is a practical visionary endeavour.
Come and see for yourself. Visit this and other spiritual places in Ireland and align your vision. It will be a souvenir to last a lifetime.