But what do they mean, these symbols carved in stone thousands of years ago by our Irish ancestors? Jack Roberts and Anthony Murphy offer the most plausible interpretations. Yet they are also quick to acknowledge that any certainty remains elusive.
Like this carving from inside Slieve na Cailleach, the Hill of the Hag, these ancient petroglyphs remain a mystery. The cosmological language of an ancient spirituality, messages and meanings from and for another time.
Yet as I stood on the Hill looking out at the verdant green landscape that stretches for miles I realized our ancestors did leave us a message for this time. It isn’t one written in stone. It is written in the rolling green hills. A stunning environment that has been handed down through the centuries. A living landscape unspoiled by pollution and human destruction. This is their message to us. Value the web of life and understand your place in that great harmony. It is sacred, they would tell us, keep it safe.
And perhaps if we better understood that message there would be no need for this sign at the bottom of the hill.
Some only see the barren landscape of it. Many liken it to a moonscape, these grey limestone hills that are the Burren. An English general sent to scout this part of Ireland for potential conquest reported there was nothing of value here. “Not enough water to drown a man, nor trees to hang a man, nor dirt to bury him,” was the report. Reflecting an interesting value system, to this man the Burren was bleak and worthless. However there is life here including small orchids that are some of the most beautiful on Earth.
As I wandered this landscape yesterday to spend time with the crashing waves of the Atlantic, I was reminded of the political landscape in the States right now. It is bleak and seemingly barren. Yet there is also life and promise. An exquisite hope. Like the orchid, stunningly beautiful and strong enough to rise from the limestone and endure the wild Atlantic storms.
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm, For your soul senses the world that awaits you. John O’Donohue
To come home to yourself. To deepen the spiritual wisdom you hold. To nurture your soul. This is the invitation. To breathe with the land that holds an ancient knowing. To meditate in megalithic landscapes and open to the call of the ancestors. To encounter mystic thresholds and portals. To be inspired by mythic lore and legend. To surrender to the rhythms and spirit of Ireland. To have time to connect, reflect, and just be. This is the nature of our gathering.
If you are called, we would so welcome your participation. A Gathering Of Wisdom & Soul
September 20th – 24th, 2018
Sigh. This threshold place. Leaving for Ireland this evening and I am again in this disquieting place. Dennis names it a combination of reluctance and anticipation. Yes, a reluctance to leave Dennis and MossTerra and the easy rhythm of walking through the woods to my office each day. And yes, anticipation for what I know will be an amazing month in Ireland. This place of portal between two worlds I dearly love, two worlds in which I am deeply rooted heart and soul, holds such energy. Being rooted sustains me.
Rooted is my experience in Ireland. But it’s generally not the case for those who travel there, especially for the first time. They often travel with a litany of expectations about where they should go, what they should do, and what they should see. And they dash around Ireland trying to do it all, the energy and pace of the holiday mirroring the energy and pace of their lives at home. Blarney Stone, check. Cliffs of Moher, check. Guinness Brewery, check. Book of Kells, check. Irish pub, check.
OK. So I admit to being in a bit of a place of judgment around this. I also acknowledge that for many this is exactly what they are looking for. However it’s not what everyone is looking for. While the idea of going to Ireland and staying, in fact being, in one place may seem antithetical, many are looking for an experience of being rather than doing. They are seeking the invitation and opportunity to be rooted and deeply connected. So this year we are shifting the Sacred Ireland offerings to include tours in the Spring and a place-based gathering/retreat in the Fall. A Gathering of Wisdom & Soul. An invitation and opportunity to be rooted.