The Ancient Roots

Hello Friends,

I write this from a Bed and Breakfast in Doolin, County Clare, Ireland.

Oh, wow. I feel mostly at a loss for words. I have said for many years now that I feel the experiences that are the most powerful and profound often have no words to describe them. And yet, I try. Although my words feel pitiful and partially unworthy to the absolutely humbling experience of my last two days trek.

Milena and I spent many hours in County Meath visiting Brù Na Bòinne and Tara. For this post, I will just write of Brù Na Bòinne because there is so much to tell of each experience in an effort to do it some semblance of justice that to even touch on one is a huge process for me.

Brù Na Bòinne is a vast Neolithic site that is estimated to be a thousand years older than Stonehenge. This area houses the tombs (Cairns) of what were apparently perceived very important people from this time well over 5,000 years ago, now called Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth. To put it in ancient time perspective, these tombs predate the great pyramids of Egypt by approximately 6 centuries.

The people who erected these temples gathered the stones from up to 70 kilometers away. What is amazing is to realize that some of these stones weigh over 20 tonnes. Over 200,000 tonnes of rock, stone, and Earth went into building Newgrange alone and Knowth is even bigger! And remember, this was built over 5,000 years ago! This was a time before horse and wagon, so it is believed that the people of this time harnessed the power of water both with the Sea and River Boyne.

Because Newgrange and Dowth have windows directly aligned with the Winter and Summer Solstice and because of other signs of found artifacts, it is known that these places were also part of very important rituals for the people of this time. Unfortunately, Knowth was most likely intentionally destroyed by early Christians (by a pit they dug internally all the way around the inside walls of the Cairn causing it to collapse) so that it has never been clear if it is aligned with the Equinoxes, although it makes sense to assume that it was because it is the only Cairn of the three that has two passageways in the direction of the Equinox passings, and the other two Cairns have only one passageway and are aligned to the Solstices with Newgrange aligned with the Winter Solstice and Dowth aligned with the Summer.

Out of the three, Milena and I chose to go to Knowth as Newgrange was over-touristed and Dowth can only be viewed from a road as it is closed to visitors. I often struggle inside with the acts of uncovering Sacred sites like tombs and graveyards. For some reason though, I felt powerfully called to this one partially because there is no longer a direct link of these tombs with any people alive today–unlike many of the Native American Sacred Sites that have been dug up and then put on display even as the Native People who are their descendants have asked for their relatives remains and belongings to be returned to them and been refused. But here, in Ireland, the connection between the people who built and used these tombs as Sacred sites and burial grounds and any living people today has been so thoroughly decimated that it is not even clear if any of the people from that time survived the following invasions for there to even be a link to any people alive today. And somehow, these sites are sadly the only things that keep some aspect of these probably completely extinct people alive.

So for me to walk among these sites and see the ancient carvings and see the photographs of the stone basin and flint ceremonial mask (photographs because the mask was removed to the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin and the basin because it still resides deep within the tomb not accessible to the public) was to connect to a past and a time that I have felt powerfully drawn to since I first learned of it over 20 years ago.

It was incredible for me to walk among these temples knowing that they were built in a time and by people who honored Nature as Sacred, who worshiped the Creation as the Creator, who practiced what we now call Pagan traditions. It was also heartbreaking to see firsthand how effectively this tradition and this way of life was almost completely destroyed. I know that our beautiful, Sacred Planetary home would be so much better cared for and honored if the Christians/Catholics had not been living out what is now one of their religious theme songs of, “Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus, going on before…” I am not saying that all Christian/Catholics are bad–not at all (most of my blood relatives are practicing actually, and I know many wonderful people who are as well), and I am oh so very grateful that there is a growing movement of people within these religions that see Caring for Creation as part of God’s mandate. And at the same time, these very traditions are based on the denying of the Divine Feminine and their holy days are based on stealing from the old ways of honoring the cycles and rhythms of Nature (for example Spring Equinox supplanted by Easter and Winter Solstice supplanted by Christmas.) I know it would be beautiful if all religions and faith-based traditions could live in peace, but unfortunately there is a legacy that still continues to this day where the main religions that came from the same lineage–that of Christianity/Catholicism, Islam, and Judaism seem to be steeped in and perpetuated through oppression, violence, destroying people’s connection to place and their own right to practice what is Sacred to them in their own way. So, I struggle in moments like these wishing that these traditions never existed, and yet knowing that I want to live in a world where all people are allowed the opportunity to practice what feels Sacred to them as long as it is not based on the oppression of or violence to others or to the Divine Sacred of the Natural world.

And being here, being touched so deeply, I am even further resolved to continue to live my life honoring the Divine Sacred of Nature and the Divine Feminine so as to do what I can to hold space for this that has been so long oppressed and destroyed. And I hold in my heart this connection to this place knowing that somewhere in my past, even though it was a very long time ago, I have ancestors who honored and worshiped Creation as Creator and held the Divine Feminine as equally important and powerful as the Divine Masculine.

Love from the Wilds of Ireland,

Published in: on August 24, 2009 at 9:22 am  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi Julia,

    Glad to hear you are enjoying your visit to Ireland. I hope you had a wonderful visit to the Hill of Tara, even with the disturbance of the roadworks around her. I live close to the hill and visit there 4 or 5 times a week. Tara has such a lovely energy. If you are still in Ireland at the full moon, a druid friend (see of mine holds a ceremony of protection for Tara each full moon. It is open to all & everyone is made welcome. It starts at 8pm(ish) until 10pm.

    Enjoy the rest of you trip.


  2. i feel sad at how Christianity has taken a lot of the richness out of life, the connection to spirit and our ancestors, the knowledge that we are all in this changing growing fierce journey of spirit together.

    and the dancing. how can you pray without dancing?

  3. I was there, in that little town, 11 years ago this month. Ireland is an amazing place, and in a lot of ways, an inspiration for me to write, and keep writing. Enjoy the rest of your time there.


  4. It is much the same here in Greece, with Greek Orthodox churches built on the ruins of temples to Artemis and other gods and goddesses. There was a mosque in the Parthenon (built for Athena) during the Turkish occupation and a church at one time also. Pagans are attempting to reclaim the site though:
    I leave tokens every so often. You’ve got to keep those muses happy when you’re a writer. Glad to hear that you are having incredible adventures, Julia.

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