Cloaks & Daggers

July 31, 2022


Marty had told us the ancestral and otherworld energies were very present at a sacred site near his home. When we gathered there before the Bealtaine Festival celebration at nearby Uisneach, we could not have anticipated the power and potency of those energies. We were incredibly altered and others had to alert me to the fact that a cow was standing not two feet behind me perhaps considering a nibble on my jacket. Normally skittish, cows had climbed the hill and were standing in a circle around us. 

It took a while to bring myself back before we climbed in the car to head to Uisneach. It was the first time on this Ireland journey that we would wonder how I managed to drive. 

We were still very much in an altered state when we arrived at the festival and merged with the crowd estimated at 4,000 people. We wandered around in a daze for some time before deciding we had to migrate to the edges to keep our sanity. It was overwhelming. And as much as we tuned in, we could feel nothing sacred about this festival. It had the energy of a renaissance fair. People in costume. Many were dressed as goddesses, others cloaked with swords and daggers. There was even a man dressed as St. Patrick which was markedly antithetical to this ancient sacred fire festival.  It was soon clear that there was really nothing sacred about this event. When I mentioned this to Anthony who was there giving a talk, he smiled and told me that was a problem of my expectations. This is not a sacred ceremony. It’s a reenactment.

It was also, because of covid, the first time in two years that people had been able to gather for this event. It was both reenactment and reunion. Most of the people I know who attended the event were wildly enthusiastic about it, especially the chance to see friends. I appreciate that. However I am deeply disappointed about what is clearly the demise of one of Ireland’s oldest and most important festivals and essential sacred events. Through the centuries, this was not a reenactment and the garments worn were not costumes. Through the centuries they continued to make it relevant to current times.

Yes. It was always a gathering of friends and tribes with feasting and games and laughter and music and fine flowing clothing. It was also a time for deep spiritual connection with the ancestral, cosmological, and otherworld energies that were fundamental in their lives. That is what was missing for me as I observed people still standing in line at the food vendors during the lighting of the fire. As rock and roll music continued to blast over speakers from a stage during the fire lighting ceremony. As I overheard people refer to a statue of Ériu as ‘that womany statue over there’, clearly not knowing who she is and that she is the predominant deity and energy of the festival and the Hill of Uisneach. 

So no, I won’t be going back. Although I’m glad I was able to experience it this once. It just seems to me that when we relegate these ceremonies to reenactments of the past, we fail to bring the power of those ceremonies forward to this time. And now, as much as ever, we are called to a deeper connection with the spiritual energies fundamental to our lives. We are called to embrace and manifest the ancient spiritual and cosmological wisdom in this now.

We are called to leave behind the cloaks and daggers.


3 thoughts on “Cloaks & Daggers

  1. Dear Judith. I too had my doubt about the Fire Festival the first time I went (about 5 years ago) and said I would not go back. However I have returned (bar the enforced break). This year I went alone. My reason for this was I really felt Uisneach and her energies needed some of us to be there to hold the truth of her lands and power. To be almost gatekeeper. Keeping the channels open for the true energies to flow. Thereby keeping it pure. I stood on the periphery by my favourite Hawthorn tree and grounded and anchored myself into what I have felt every time I have visited privately. Children were raised into the shoulders of their parents in front of me preventing my view of the goings on around the fire, so all I saw was the top of the fire and my feet felt the heart beat of the land as I tuned into her umbilicus. I am home when I do this. I was exhausted driving home but made it safely and sent gratitude to Uisneach for allowing the ‘tribes’ to reunite after so long. She is fine. Holding her in our heartpace is a place of healing. So many of our Sacred sites have been changed and I hope that because Uisneach is a working farm that it will be ok.
    Take Heart Judith.
    Grá agus Beannacht
    Sandra Cooke

  2. Hey Sandra. Delighted to read you were there and holding sacred space. I was aware that there were other sisters doing the same. Helen at the cat stone. And yes. Holding her in our heart space is healing for us. And I think because so many of the sacred sites are chasing and in fact closing, we are called to do more of this. And hold that energy where and when we can. I do share concerns I hear from many about the financial motivations now more at play at Uisneach. I know the ancestors and the land can weather this storm, I just hope that not too much damage is done to the integrity of their sacred nature. And I do take heart, sister. Because I know we can and will do this work of holding fiercely to sacred space. Blessings!

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