Tag: Eco-Spirituality

Rugged and Wild

Rugged and Wild

Diamond Hill…not far from the beginning of the trail.

The walk started out with an overcast sky and warm. It was beautiful weather. The path from the parking lot was well-marked and well-maintained. Connemara National Park is outstanding in its untamed beauty.

The park offers various ways to walk around Diamond Hill. I opted for the full climb while my friend opted to more knee-friendly environs. She remembered to ask me for the car key this time, unlike our adventure on the Cliffs of Moher where one slip off the trail on my hike and she would be stranded for eternity.

By the time the hike was over I was very glad someone knew I was out there in that wild place. It wasn’t long after we separated that the weather began to turn. Thankfully I had my rain parka in my pack. Unfortunately I was wearing my new awesome ‘cow girl’ hat which didn’t take kindly to the eerie wind that started to build as I climbed up the mountain.

With every step up, the wind seemed determined to push me back. Heavy clouds appeared to come from the bowels of hell as the temperature plummeted. I stopped and removed my camera pack, pulled out the jacket, gloves and exchanged my big Nikon for a waterproof GoPro. And…it was steep. So with the exertion, there was sweat and yet the biting cold wind, my body struggled to regulate temperature.

“It was an unforgiving environment with steep mountains and changeable weather. I felt the nature energies unapologetic for their strength, unwilling to temper their power. This is who we are. Deal with it, is what I heard as I climbed. I thought….Oh, great!”

And it did feel like I was shown the incredible power of the spirits of nature. There was no touchy-feely sweet little faery energy. This was the unabashed, unleashed, in-your-face experience of the elementals.

I did okay until I got near the summit, even with wind whipping around me and fog mixed with sleet beginning to blanket the summit. Even now, a year later, as I write this I feel the fear of mis-stepping, slipping on the wet rocks. I was alone and the conditions were deteriorating fast. At least Gabriela could alert someone if I failed to return to the car.

I began to wonder if I should continue. The signs warned to not turn around, to keep moving forward on the one-way trail but the summit appeared to be a very narrow ledge and with winds increasing and fog hovering the wisdom of moving forward was questioned.

Are you FREAKING kidding me?

Finally, I made the difficult decision to turn around rather than chance slipping off the summit and flying toward the Twelve Bens. And then, not even five minutes passed before I begin to pass others walking up. I could have asked to walk with them but decided to just keep heading down, driven from my goal to do the loop by fear and perhaps a bit of wisdom. Sometimes it’s challenging to know which voice I’m listening to as wind is screaming around my ears and sleet is stinging my face.

I met a guy hiking up the trail after I turned around. He stopped me to inquire about the conditions. He said he had tried to summit many mountains nearby in his travels and each time the weather had turned him back. He was determined to make it….I hope he did. Another time, I will make it to the 445 meter high mountain and finish the loop.

Just recently I read about Luka Bloom’s song, Diamond Mountain. I’ve loved the song for a while now but never understood the meaning of the lyrics until I learned that local lore describes Diamond Mountain as the best vantage point looking west across the Atlantic Ocean. During the massive emigration to America during the Great Hunger, those staying in Ireland could climb the mountain and watch the ships departing with their loved ones leave.

Luka sings, “I will be here when you need me.” He reminds us how painful it is to part from those we love, especially knowing we may never see them again in this life. The song took on greater depth as did the experience of climbing Diamond Mountain.

Nice boardwalks across the mountain bogs

The Irish supposedly viewed America as a place of exile, not as a land of opportunity. I feel that way, especially given our political climate these days. Exiled in a hostile land….oh, how I wish someone was waiting for me on Diamond Mountain so I could return to the land I love the best.

Lyrics from a favorite song haunt me: “When angels with wings come to collect you and carry you over the stormy sea; Whispering things as they caress you, gently they’ll press you with sweet words undress you, Will you fly to the land that holds and keeps you or the land you love the best. The land you love the best, the land you love the best. Will you lie in the garden of peace and of order or the cold wild field in the west. When night and her shadows come to surround you and touch you with fingers of cold, cold fear. When the voice of the stranger echoes around you when strange words confound you, strange accents drown you will you fly to the land that fed you or found you or the land you love the best.” (John Spillane)

In researching John’s song I came upon this song of his….I really needed to hear it and allow the question to echo through….hope you enjoy it as well. Funny how the simple act of reminiscing about a journey to Ireland leads me to this…

The Burren

The Burren

A large….very large…rock ‘told’ me that before people created sacred sites, all sites were sacred. Everywhere is sacred. The energy of people gathering in places adds to–or takes away–depending on their intention. There are special places where energy is concentrated; however, all places are sacred.

The rock ‘said’ this to me in reference to my sadness at not seeing more prehistoric monuments. I had been disappointed about this but the rock reminded me of the sacred that existed before humans ever recognized a place…so I can find the sacred and make the connection without there being those humans before me who have done so.

A nature walk through The Burren is never just a walk. The landscape seems especially alive and ready to share with those willing to listen. It reminded me that indeed all places are sacred.

Everywhere we walked there seemed to be very special. It was seriously sweet to walk through the nature trail at the national park. Green moss, gray stones….so quiet and peaceful and absolutely wild. Of course the visit was in February on a cold, gray day. I expect tourist season or a sunny weekend would bring many people out to enjoy the magic.

An excerpt from my journal reads, “The reason I love Appalachia is my connection to Ireland. If there is such a thing as past lives I must have left Ireland on a ship bound for America and ended up in the Appalachian Mountains. Perhaps that’s why I am drawn to those mountains. My heart opens here in Ireland. My wild spirit finally feels free, unlocked here in The Burren. This is a key to remember.”

At that time I had not set a course for the future. I had not decided to sell my home and move. Now, a year later, my home is for sale and I hope to move back to the Appalachian Mountains. I didn’t remember writing about the Ireland-Appalachian connection when I made my decision to look in that direction. I’m glad I left a ‘key’ to affirm my decision.

The Burren reminded me of Inis Mor a lot and the journey there, just months before, completely changed my life in ways that are still unfolding and even led to a new eBook that was just birthed. All of the beauty and wildness felt in The Burrren helped me open deeper to the wildness within myself. I think that’s what happens when we walk into the landscape and experience it as living rather than just space.

To purchase The Stone Hut visit Barnes and Noble online or click the link HERE to purchase through my publisher’s web site.

Wild and Whole

Wild and Whole

Late this afternoon Buddy and I went for a walk in the woods of the state park near where we live. It was a survival move. A passive aggressive man decided to unload on me earlier. And you know, my wild women sisters, when a passive aggressive man starts pointing fingers at us, he’s struggling with taking responsibility for his own mess. So we have to take care of ourselves and get back to the wild places in nature that can reflect the purity of the wild places within us.

On the way to our regular walking trail I had a dark, familiar energy arise that felt very self-abusive. I hadn’t felt that way in a while so I immediately paid attention and it brought amazing clarity as I tugged at it.

When people wish to control others but wish to be nice about it, they twist and turn their words to try and pry under our boundaries. If they can just plant a tiny seed of their passive aggression within us, we take it from there and turn the knife ourselves. I saw clearly today how that works energetically. They know they cannot be outright aggressive but if they are passively aggressive….well, then their work is simple….that is until they meet a wild woman.

Today, as we walked the trails and watched wild deer watching us, I also looked inward and saw how I used to allow other’s passive aggression to work its way quietly into me and rattle me, make me doubt myself, make me hate parts of myself, and make me not want to even exist, so intense was the pain. I think women are especially prone to do this as we allow ourselves to become domesticated and controlled by receiving ‘silent’ aggression and then using it to destroy ourselves.

Why? To be loved….to have security….to have attention…to feel safe….to be noticed….to advance our careers…to not have to deal with our own wounds…the list is endless but perhaps the saddest of all is we are willing to take in another’s passive aggression because we believe that’s all we deserve.

Later today, in meditation, I sat with this and realized it’s a chronic problem women have faced for how long?…from the beginning? Passive aggressiveness is a lazy person’s way to get what they want–control. And the need to control is based in fear. The insidious part is that we destroy ourselves….yes, sisters. We do it to ourselves by taking that tiny little seed of someone else’s quiet aggression and become the assassin. We are the hired hit-man for our own execution.

We have been conditioned and domesticated to the point that we are not even aware it’s happening. We just gradually know that we feel less engaged, more depressed, sadder and our self-talk becomes darker and more abusive. We lose friendship with ourselves and rightly so. Who wants to be friends with a bully?

After a while we begin to think we are crazy, wrong, at fault. We doubt the truth. We doubt our truth because we have swallowed the bitter seed of passive aggression and turned against ourselves. When we do this, we lose the essence of ourselves. We lose that beautiful, wild, free, amazing woman. We give our power to the aggressor and become depleted.

As I connected with that strong, powerful wild woman within me, she was able to help me see that this isn’t an isolated case of one woman struggling to keep her power. No, my sisters, this is a global issue women deal with all over the planet. It’s in families, the workplace, politics, churches, schools…everywhere.

Aggression is masculine energy warped and mutated and it can come from anyone. In my particular life it has come mostly from men, thus the reference to males. But the process is the same for anyone who uses aggression or receives it. It’s a dance of power.

Perhaps the idea of passive aggression is unfamiliar with some readers. Think of a person writing an inflammatory letter where they are subversively threatening you and then at the end writing God Bless…but you know that what they really mean is F#%k You! When that happened today I burst out laughing. I know what you really mean mister. I hear you loud and clear. Now hear this…you can’t have my power. You can’t control me with your ‘polite’ aggression.

Dear sisters….and brothers. Let us stop the nonsense of aggression and take responsibility for our own lives so we don’t have to try and conquer or steal others power so we don’t feel afraid. And women….wild women…take the time to notice if you allow other’s seeds of ‘polite’ aggression to become the method you use to abdicate your beautiful, shiny, fierce power…your life force.

If you are blaming anyone else for your misery it’s time to take a walk in the woods, on the wild side of yourself, and take full responsibility for your life…whether you are the aggressor or the willing recipient of ‘polite’ aggression. We heal our lives when we say, NO MORE! to any power struggles and live fully in our own, beautiful, wild nature.

I return to nature to re-charge, to reconnect with myself. I am a part of nature. We are nature. I always feel better in the woods or underwater, but especially need to connect with the pure essence of wildness when facing abusive human interactions–whether coming from another person or I am perpetrating them on myself.


Irish Music and a Blessing

Irish Music and a Blessing

In remembering the last journey to Ireland my mind goes back to Hotel Doolin and the amazing music we experienced each night. One night in particular we were able to get a table adjoining the musicians table. Yes they have a table….they sit around it and play. The rest of us are just there to witness their magical circle of music.

My journal reminds me, “The music was transcendent tonight! Absolutely transcendent. I called in all of who I am and listened with my whole self. YIPPEE!”

I drifted off to sleep with the sweet sounds of Ireland echoing through the dream time.

We flew in to Dublin on a super-eclipse-blue moon that hadn’t happened since 1866. Every morning the moon was hanging over the ocean when the frost kissed the tender blades of green. She inspired me quite a bit and I wrote this about her: “She shines over us in her elliptical journey, from one horizon to the other, with soft light causing tides and other invisible stirrings in hearts and minds as we open to touch the Unseen. We breathe in her grace and carry her rhythms into our soul.”

The music and moon must have inspired my writing. February 5, 2018 as I wrote this blessing in my journal that morning:

“May the dawn find you at peace with the coming day.

May the beauty of the first flower of spring cause joy to burst forth with gladness.

May the cycles of coming and going of the moon ever remind you of the cycles of your own coming and going.

May the life that longs to live in you rise up like the Earth’s daily awakening

And guide you ever onward to your heart’s true calling.

May every breath that warms your lips be one of peace with your life.

May your life be the true expression of your soul’s brilliance.

And may you find friendship with all of creation so that you know you are never alone.”

With gratitude I embody this path of a pilgrim, seeking inspiration and wholeness wherever I find myself. I hope to ‘find myself’ in Ireland again…soon.

Reunion at the Pub

Reunion at the Pub

Today my friend Gabriela and I made the journey to a local pub….unfortunately it wasn’t in Ireland…but it was Irish. We celebrated the anniversary of our journey to the west coast of Ireland last year. A year ago we were packing to go….today we were both sharing how we miss Ireland every single day.

In the walk back through time via my journal, I read about Fanore Beach…”We hit the tide just right and could photograph the sky reflected in tidal pools. The rivulets reminded me of watery veins–and how the sea is in my blood…in all of our blood.”

We drove north afterwards and stopped by a store/post office. The clerk had a freshly made Brigid’s Cross. I commented on it and told her we planned our trip to coincide with Brigid’s Day. She gifted me with the cross. She said her sister made it and she would get another one. I was moved to tears as Brigid was such a powerful healing force when I visited Ireland months earlier. That cross still sits on my altar and reminds me of kindness and Ireland.

Later we visited the Poulnabrone Dolmen, a portal tomb from the Neolithic Period….4200 BC to 2900 BC. Being February, there were not many people. I wanted to play my new Irish whistle after photographing the site. It was very windy and a rain/sleet storm blew in quickly. Everyone left and I was there…alone but not really. I sensed a strong presence there. I stayed behind determined to offer music to those that rested there. The wind made playing very challenging but as I played with my heart, under sleet and heavy rain clouds, the rain stopped.

I watched as the sun split the clouds. The sky turned amazing blue and I was able to capture delicious images of the structure. In the photographs it appears as though the clouds are being pushed away from the top of the stone….a clearing of sorts. I felt it was a thank you for the music, or my attempt at music, and good intentions.

Several times while connecting with nature in Ireland, I had immediate experiences returned after I wished the spirits well. It felt as if the Shining Ones were right there, barely hidden by a thin veil. I wrote a message I heard from them in my journal, “You are one with us…Ta’ tu’ ar cheann linn.”

After Gabriela and I parted this afternoon, in Alabama, I realized that seeing her brought such joy and sadness….joy because she’s an awesome person and friend and she reminds me of Ireland and sadness because she reminds me of Ireland. It was a while before we saw each other after we returned last year. I felt the need to withdraw but never understood until today. I noticed I felt like I did when I was a child and left the Smoky Mountains….withdrawn, sad, didn’t want to leave …I had emotional pain every time I left those sacred mountains. It’s the same with Ireland. Today, as we sat in the Irish pub in Pensacola, all the great memories of our travels last February came back and I cherish them, even when remembering makes me miss Ireland even more.

I suspect each of us has a place or places that speak strongly to our hearts. The mountains of North Carolina have spoken to me since childhood. Celtic spirituality has spoken to me since my teenage years and has remained the basis of my deep connection to Nature and God. It lead me to Ireland.

It is my wish that everyone connect strongly with a place…a place they can visit and return to….maybe live in even….and allow that place to touch their hearts deeply, profoundly. When we open to connections such as this, we open to wholeness and a profound sense of being alive and at one with all life.