We wait, starving for moments of high magic to inspire us, but life is full of common enchantment waiting for our alchemist’s eyes to notice. – Jacob Nordby
It’s easy to have a sense of magic when you step out of your everyday life and go on retreat or vacation to some place new. Right now, I’m steeped in the aftermath of daily magical moments after spending a week in Ireland. The trip which was aptly named A Mystical Journey in Ireland was organized by Marge Richards and Amanda Collins. Having these two power houses of Goddess energy guide us to ancient sites like The Hill of Tara, Loughcrew Cairns, Knowth , Uisneach and Brigid’s Well ignited whatever magic was ready to appear.
I have long been fascinated by ancient myths, mystical tales and alleged energy around sacred sites, but I believed them to be fantastical stories from the days before scientific knowledge enlightened us all. For this trip, I vowed to leave my judgement and habitual checking in with my electronic devices behind.
From the moment our American Airlines flight entered Irish airspace and Dublin Harbor peaked out from beneath the scattered clouds, I felt a surge of excitement. Over the course of my career, I’ve logged more international air miles than I can count. Because it was once routine in my work life, I tend not to notice landings and take offs. On this landing, I paused, looked out the window and noticed everything. The ships leaving the harbor to cross the glistening sea, the patchwork layout of the land below, and as we landed – a jack rabbit frantically running circles in the grass trying to avoid the airplane noise and exhaust.
Our first stop on our planned tour was the Hill of Tara. There, Amanda opened our circle of 28 women into the magic of the land with a guided meditation. With a steady beat of her drum, she encouraged us to walk in a figure 8 around the neolithic mound to connect with ancestors who walked this same Earth in a time before the Pyramids were built in Egypt. It’s hard not to be awestruck with this knowledge. At the end of our walk, she encouraged us to do something that I hadn’t done in decades – just lie down in the grass, with closed eyes, notice and feel the space below, beside, above and all around us. I let go of any thoughts about lyme’s disease, bugs, or pesticides on the grass and sunk into the experience. What a release! Whatever remaining tension was left in my body, mind, spirit seemed to evaporate. Was this magic, or was I just noticing with all my senses?
Day two took us to Loughcrew Cairn and Knowth. There we were joined by Deidre, a high priestess with expertise in shamanic druidry. What’s not magical about that? The same surge of excitement that I experienced earlier was back as soon as we reached the top of the Cairn. Another guided meditation, this time led by Deidre, had me eager to explore the cave with ancient engravings. Instead of the euphoria I experienced the prior day at the Hill of Tara, I was overcome by a deeply emotional full blown panic attack. I bumped my head as I exited the cave. One of the healer’s on the trip explained – “You needed to hit your crown chakra so you could be grounded when you came out of the cave.” I then stumbled into a nettle bush and had a stinging pain in my elbow for the rest of the day to remind me of the experience. Was this more magic or was I just scared of tight dark places filled with too many people? Whatever it was, I was shaken and a bit unsure of this magic business. I took some time to breathe and center.
By the next day, I was my old self again and excited to be traveling to Uisneach. This site is considered one of the most sacred in Ireland and the burial site of the Irish Earth Goddess, Eiru. Native American Elders and a group of Mayan Elders recently travelled to the site and held a ceremony. We were greeted at the site by Marty, a shamanic storyteller, and a long time family friend, Peter Tadd and his wife Jennifer Corcoran.
We were blessed with another sunny, warm day at Uisneach which is also considered the navel or center of Ireland. From a high point on the site, the view is spectacular. Marty pointed out several of the sites that we had already visited which were visible on that clear day. Once again, I felt a connection and energetic surge of excitement as I began to raise my camera to attempt to capture the view. I paused, distracted by a puffy white object that the wind was carrying in my direction. It came right up to my face, and grazed over the top of my head. My mouth was wide in silent amazement. Amanda witnessed what I was about to dismiss. “Denyse, you have been blessed by a white feather, which grazed your 3rd eye, touched your crown chakra before flying off behind you. You are healed from whatever bothered you yesterday.” More magic or just a stray feather startled to find a person in it’s path? There were many more magical moments at this incredible site. A pasture full of cows ran across the field to join us in the meditation that Amanda guided us through. At a nearby Fairy mound, Peter guided us to connect with our chakras and ground with the energy of the earth. I found a wonderful old tree whose roots were covered in soft green moss to be my companion on this meditation. We connected! Was it magic or the power of suggestion from a wonderful guide?
Back home, as I reflect on some of these magical moments, I realized, I have been missing magic in my life. When a land is steeped in myth and earth based practices like Ireland is, it’s impossible not to notice, especially if you are “on vacation.” I realized that like the abundant sacred wells in Ireland that heal and replenish thirst, that magical moments can replenish me when I feel depleted. Common among all these moments was connection with the land, the space we inhabit. What made the moments magical was that I paused, noticed, breathed, relaxed, connected, noticed some more and breathed. May you, too, pause in nature and find magic in your life wherever you are this summer.