Tag: Dún Aonghusa

Maidin ag Dún Aonghusa

Maidin ag Dún Aonghusa

For several days, sunrise at the fort was my goal but I never seemed to be up before the dawn. My goal was to walk up in darkness–for some reason that walk in the cover of night was incredibly special–and photograph the fort before daylight.

Finally, some wild force awakened me and I gathered my photography gear, warm layers and boots and quietly exited the guest house. As soon as I opened the front door the wind grabbed my hair. It was crazy again which would make the walk up in darkness even more exciting.

As I entered the prehistoric fort, built over 3000 years ago, the wind once again grabbed me and I stumbled forward into the first circle. I grounded myself and walked over a field of rocks and climbed again to the upper level of the fort.

The night before I sat on a huge slab of rock close to the edge. On that morning, I stayed far away from the edge due to the swirling winds moving through the fort. In fact, I could hardly stand at the same place where just hours before the wind kissed my face in sweet caresses.

With my backpack secured and the tripod in one hand, I stood in darkness facing the sea and with a strong voice repeated the invocation I do every morning. As I begin to speak, the wind completely stopped.

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 moment I finished speaking, the wind whipped around me. I paused….did that really happen? I asked myself. The answer I heard in my mind was, The planet is alive and listening.  Definitely something I believe but that morning’s experience took the truth deeper.

In four days, I made six trips up to the fort, four of them in darkness. The wildness of the place called to my wild spirit. The wind, sea and stone worked deep magic on me….for which I am deeply grateful.

Maidin ag Dún Aonghusa….Morning at Dún Aonghusa

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.