Category: Árainn



The pilgrimage to Árainn or Inis Mor, Ireland brought such deep contemplation and expansion for me. The stories I could share are many.

Like the old man who stumbled and whispered his life story to me and apologized for it in a small cafe. He taught me how the story we tell and re-tell weaves the life we experience. We come to believe a personal myth that too easily becomes a permanent judgment we settle upon ourselves.

Or the story of walking up to the fort again at night under the half-moon. Stars were brilliant, wind soft and distant waves crashing kept me singing to that bass drum as I climbed. The moon glade on the sea was moving with ripples like a golden sea serpent and I sat in the highest section of the fort viewing the Milky Way as the sea sang 300 feet beneath me.

Those stories might appear later in expansion. But today, I want to share a blessing I wrote while on retreat.

May the beauty of your own heart rise above the filter of your mind to infuse your thoughts with peace, kindness and love.

May the strength of your heart give you courage to love openly and without requirement.

May the dreams held within your heart be given wings to transport them beyond doubt and fear.

May your heart open like petals of the most beautiful flower and may you drink deeply from the sweet nectar and become drunk on the fragrance.

May your heart know the precious gift of love given freely, expecting nothing in return.

May the life that longs to live through you be born through your magnificent heart.




While singing during the morning session of the Celtic spirituality retreat I went into meditation and saw myself wearing a dark blue cloak with a triple goddess spiral clasp at the throat. I was wearing tall boots and splashing in huge puddles that created rain when I stomped. I was near the bee hive hut where I first met Fiona, the white horse.

Fiona was the name I ‘heard’ while our group was with her the day before and it wasn’t until I was researching the origin of it that my jaw dropped: it is a Latinized form of the Gaelic word meaning ‘white’ or ‘fair.’ Maybe I remember Gaelic after all.

Back to the vision…

When I met Fiona I jumped on her back with no reins or saddle because no self-respecting free spirit would ever allow herself to be controlled. With her mane and my long hair flying we flew through the star-filled sky. Freedom and power!

The stomping in the vision was a proclamation of power. This is who I am! This is the leaping-off place! 

After the gathering, each of us went off on our own for a Threshold walk. In Celtic Spirituality, Thresholds are important markers. They are inner doorways, places between two worlds, transitions from one place to another, but there are physical expressions of them: mists, doorways, gateways.

On my walk I was greeted by a sweet black and white dog and so turned in the direction he led. Immediately after turning I saw a beautiful dapple horse on the hill near the cafe. Down the lane and past the Irish Cob and her filly….my feet carried me to see Fiona.

After walking down the steep hill and through the stile in the rock wall, through small rock-enclosed pastures I came to the bog just before the bee hive hut. Water was standing almost knee-deep in places due to heavy rains. I was just one pasture away from the hut so the only choice was to move forward.

Rain gear keeps rain off. Gore-tex boots are waterproof….unless water is over the ankles. As I splashed through the water, lifting my feet high for efficiency, I remembered the vision and the powerful stomping. This is who I am! This is the leaping off point!

Photograph of Fiona taken on a sunny day….

After sloshing and stomping through the bog I crested the small hill to find Fiona waiting for me. I fed her sweet grass and then ducked into the stone hut, where a monk from perhaps the 8th century had lived and others after him, and squatted out of the rain.

Fiona stuck her head inside and whinnied. She wanted so badly to be out of the rain. I fed her large handfuls of lush grass from another pasture before leaving her–consolation for her lack of shelter. And I thanked her for being a guide to the Otherworld for me and assisting in my moving through the Threshold to freedom.



An Fharraige

An Fharraige

Before breakfast I walked to the Sea. It was just out the guesthouse and down the hill past the cemetery and the pasture full of cows and lush, green grass. The rock wall opening had a slanted walkway that led to the sand.

Grass and flowers, then large strands and piles of kelp lay between me and the gently lapping waves. The tides on Árainn or Inis Mor, Ireland are 18 feet daily so there are great spans of beach covered every day with the clear, cold Atlantic Ocean.

I took off my boots and socks and rolled up my pants. I wanted nothing separating my toes and the sea. It was shocking how cold the water was but admittedly, it felt amazing on feet that rarely are confined by shoes and had been in boots for days. But 57 degree water for a tropical gal? Someone saw people swimming the day before but to be clear, it wasn’t me.

The soft texture of the sand–like flour–and the cold water was such a contrast. The sensory differences made my body rejoice. Laughter and song erupted as I played along the shore.

The colors of softest gray to creamy white were mixed in large ripples in the sand and their intertwining dance was so lovely it brought tears. Muted, mixed well yet distinctly different colors.

Perhaps our relationship with Spirit is like that. So much the same….One…yet the colors of our distinct beingness give way to patterns of such beauty.

When I feel lonely I will recall those sands and know that God and all of creation form such a lovely mosaic of creative amazement. Individually unique yet part of the same matter that is stars, sand and brown eyes through which I behold the beauty.

An Fharraige….The Sea.

An Capall Bán

An Capall Bán

“My soul was an old horse

Offered for sale in twenty fairs…..

But this evening, halter off,

Never again will it go on.

On the south side of ditches

There is a grazing of the sun.

No more haggling with the world…

As I said these words he grew

Wings upon his back. Now I may ride him

Every land my imagination knew.”

Patrick Kavanagh

 After breakfast I went for a ramble. Surrendered to the direction that called, I let it guide my feet.

Up the lane, around the high road, past an Irish Cob and her filly, around the bend, down the hill and to an intersection. One of many historic markers was posted so I followed it down a rocky path.

Clochán na Carraige, the sign said. So I followed it and several smaller arrows through fields, over stone walls through stiles, across a bog and finally to a beehive hut.

As I reached the hut, far up on the hill behind a maze of stone walls, was a beautiful white horse. Her mane was streaming in the wind and I said to her, “I want to meet you!” But the reality was there was no way to figure out how to navigate the network of walls.

I explored the stone hut, a remnant of green martyrdom of Celtic monks who tried to prove their love of Christ by living a life of extreme penance. It was in great condition considering it was built in perhaps the 8th century and is regularly visited by farm animals as well as humans.

By the time I finished walking around it and climbed through the stile in the stone fence, the white horse disappeared.

After lunch our small group gathered and met with Dara Ó Maoildhia, a Celtic priest who lived as a modern-day hermit in 1985 on Árainn. He now works as a guide to the historic and sacred sites of the island.

Our first stop? The Beehive Hut–Clochán na Carraige.

After we wandered down the hill and through the stiles and across mucky pastures and the bog, we climbed up to the hut and there, waiting for us, was the white horse.

I stopped and stared in disbelief and then said the words…”I don’t believe this!”

Fiona, my name for her, stole the show from Dara. She greeted everyone in our group, some with great gusto. She made faces at us, frisked a few, nibbled a few ears and nuzzled necks and then rolled in cow poo, jumped up and went through her comedy routine once more.

When I first saw her on the hill I was taken with her beauty and thought she was symbolic of the evolving Divine Feminine within me. It made no small impression on me that she was waiting, reminding me of the strength and beauty growing within my life.

An Capall Bán…the White Horse.

Oíche ag Dún Aonghusa

Oíche ag Dún Aonghusa

(Imagine this place in total darkness….)
I summon to the winding ancient stair;
   Set all your mind upon the steep ascent,
   Upon the broken, crumbling battlement,
   Upon the breathless starlit air,
   Upon the star that marks the hidden pole;
   Fix every wandering thought upon
   That quarter where all thought is done:
   Who can distinguish darkness from the soul?
William Butler Yeats
After a long day I felt the ‘call’ to walk up to the hill fort–long after darkness descended. Kilmurvey Village, where I was staying, is at the base of the historic ruins so it wasn’t a hardship to get there. Layers, a hat and my trusty, waterproof flashlight was all I needed to make the journey up the winding stair, as Yeats so eloquently wrote.
Wind whipped me as I stepped outside at Kilmurvey House. The sky was cloudy with no visible light from the moon.
The narrow lane leading to the base of the path that winds upwards is lined by an old stone wall on the left, overlooking a green pasture and a row of tall hedges on the right. I walked through dark shadows cast by the hedge.
As I passed through the open gate leading to the trail, I felt a shift in my mind as it calmed and focused on the task. I was guided to keep my flashlight beam pointed down, away from the pastures and sleeping cows as a show of respect for them and other wild creatures that might be enjoying the cover of darkness.
So on I moved, up the narrow beam of light as if on a causeway of narrow land surrounded by black water. I could hear the booming sea in the distance which enhanced the sense of walking surrounded by water.
My mind wandered back to the simple ritual we did earlier that evening in our Celtic Spirituality workshop….burn something we wish to release–I wrote on a strip of paper: Fear that keeps me small. Followed by igniting something we wish to create or birth: Deepening and expanding my work with nature, bridging communication with all creatures and humans. 
As I climbed in the dark I thought of releasing fear that keeps me small… letting go of the seeds of fear that can be deeply rooted.
The path steepened as I climbed and went from a smooth, graveled surface to a rocky, slippery one. Seemed a perfect reflection of life. The closer we get to our true nature, the more care we must use when navigating the journey….stay calm and focused, slow down and choose wisely where footsteps are placed for the broken battlement of past inner wars can trip us unless we are mindful.
Entry into the fort is through a small opening in the rock fortification and as I passed through it another dimension unfolded.
Wind was strong so I opted to stay in the lower, larger circle and found a place in the center to sit. I extinguished the flashlight and sat facing the sea. An occasional off-shore light blinked far away at the horizon. The distant lights of Connemara twinkled and overhead the clouds parted briefly to reveal a few stars hanging so close.
A strong presence was felt as I listened to the Spirit of the place. I felt perfectly safe as I sat in darkness. It was as if the physical darkness illuminated the inner light found within all life. And after a time of quietness I said aloud:
I rise with the strength of Heaven.
Light of the sun, radiance of the moon, splendor of the stars.
Swiftness of Air
Power of Flame
Depth of Sea
Stability of Earth
I rise with a Mighty Strength
Because I know the Oneness of All Creation
The dedication I have done daily for over a year resounded off of rock walls and into the winds. There was a pause, as if the energies around me received not only the words but the intention behind them. Then the wind swirled and carried my dedication to the directions.
After expressing gratitude for the place and experience, I passed back through the threshold and carefully walked down, down, down past sleeping cows and active snails and slugs traversing the path.
I passed the well as it gurgled at the base of the path and found the lane to be much less shadowy as I returned to the guest house. For this lovely, refreshing and powerful experience I am grateful.
Oíche ag Dún Aonghusa….Night at Dún Aonghusa
Dún Aonghusa is a prehistoric circular fortification built in 1500BC. It sits atop a 300 foot sheer cliff on the Atlantic Ocean on the island of Árainn or Inis Mor. The Celts built on sacred sites such at this.