Cinnia continued down the Woodland Road trail that took her through oaken woods before getting to the wetlands on the lower lake. The oak tree is one of the most revered and sacred trees in folklore and legend. The mighty oak is the symbol of strength and steadfastness. While walking through the woods Cinnia noticed a large gnarled looking oak a little off the path. It was larger than many of the other tress surrounding it. It’s branches twisting and turning this way and that. It looked so old and stately she wanted to sit beneath it for a while.
I’ve always found majestic old trees intriguing. They seem to be filled with personality and life. If you look closely you can imagine faces in the trunks. What tales do you have to tell?
Cinnia settled herself down at the base among twisted roots. The ground was covered in thick moss; she ran her hand along the velvet texture of it. She then gently ran her hands over the knotted old bark. She closed her eyes and breathed.
Breathe in, a big deep breath, then a long slow breath out. The earthy scent of the woods took over. Smell. Listen. Breathe in; breathe out. Birds are overhead singing sweet songs, calling back and forth to each other. Rustling behind me not far from the tree, a squirrel perhaps collecting acorns. An insect buzzes around my head before moving on. The scents and sounds are so soothing.
Focusing on the woodsy aromas and the reverberations my breathing slowed and centered, I felt a slight shift in the energy. My senses became more acute. I heard a voice “Build on the things that make you happy and bring you joy. Walk away from the things that drag you down. Trust in yourself, what will be will be.”
After spending several days in the city, Cinnia was eager to get back to nature. She travelled down to Wicklow Mountains National Park to spend some time on the trails there. Cinnia had read of the nemetons or sacred groves of the Druids. It was believed these sites were infused with the energy of the earth and a place of meditation and prayer. Within these spaces one could channel the spirits and experience mysteries or miracles.
To find such a space one had to open their heart and mind to all the beauty of nature; the warmth of the sun on the skin, the lightness of the air, the cooling of water, and the vitality of the earth. Cinnia took one of the trails to the Poulanass Waterfall.
It’s a beautiful hike and a beautiful place but I’m just not getting any vibes that there is anything special or otherworldly about it. Maybe it’s just too trafficked or perhaps I’m just not ready yet. It feels really good to be outside and getting some exercise at least.
Cinnia continued on the trail heading to the lake. She heard a chorus of frogs and it made her smile. When she was a kid she loved to listen to the peepers in the back yard in the evening. This reminded her of that. She could see the lake in the distance. Off on the opposite shore she saw some deer meandering around the tall grasses. Since she was getting hungry she found a spot on a hill overlooking the lake and marsh to stop and sit and enjoy the lunch she packed.
Music is as much a part of the culture of Ireland as the many myths and legends originating here. From traditional Celtic music to folk songs sung in pubs, the music of Ireland lightens the soul and tickles the imagination. Song and story are intertwined in ballads, laments, or a good old drinking song.
Cinnia was returning to her hotel after dinner and passed by a pub, the sounds of the fiddle reached the street and she stopped to listen. The door opened as some folks left, and the patrons laughter and voices spilled out into the street. Not really ready to retire for the evening, Cinnia entered the pub and grabbed a stool at the bar.
You can’t help but smile when you listen to some of the old songs. They make me laugh, they make me want to get up and dance, and they make me want to sing along. There’s energy and joy in the music. I ordered up a pint and my feet began a-tapping. I’m not well versed in many of the songs but sang along when I knew the words. It wasn’t long before I recognized one of my favorites, Galway Girl, and was on my feet dancing. I lost track of the time and was surprised when I heard last call. Another of my favorites began to play as I lifted my glass one last time and exited with a smile on my face and a spring in my step.
So fill me to the parting glass, good night and joy be with you all.
~ The Parting Glass
While wandering around Dublin, Cinnia happened upon the National Leprechaun Museum. The stories of leprechauns are some of the most prevalent of Irish mythology and folktales. They have charmed both children and adults for thousands of years.
Laughing, who knew this was here. I can’t possibly pass up this opportunity! Tap, tap, tap…I hear him working on his shoe. I’m coming.
The shoemaker to the fairies, the leprechaun is a prankster to humans. He dares you to catch him and if he should let you, will grant you three wishes in return for his release. Be wary of those wishes, for they may disappear as quickly as he does when you let him go. He taunts you with promises of his pot of gold but he’ll never actually let you find it. In some stories he wears two pouches, one containing silver coins, one gold. If he should give you one of the coins you will find later that you have nothing in your pocket but a handful of leaves. There is a lesson to be learned from these tales.
Nothing is free. You cannot have a pot of gold without working hard for it. Wealth is earned not taken from someone else.
A visit to Dublin would not be complete without a visit to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. The manuscript contains the writings of the Four Gospels, but is most well known for its artwork. It is elaborately decorated in Celtic knot work as well as images depicting the life of Jesus. The Old Library at Trinity College was Cinnia’s next visit.
This place is magnificent. I could get lost in here for weeks. This is a book lover’s paradise. I don’t even know where to begin.
Cinnia wandered through the Long Room mouth-agape. She made her way to the book of Kells wanting to see the illustrations first hand. Celtic knots are prevalent features of manuscripts, cemetery crosses, and other ancient sites. The trinity knot is one of the most recognized. It’s believed to have varied symbolic meanings:
For me this journey is about the rebirth of the creative through nurturing the body, mind, and spirit. Today I’ll work on my mind and explore some of the amazing collections here.
Cinnia awoke after a restful and peaceful sleep. She was off to Dublin today. Mythology and folktales are not the only literary works well known in Ireland. It was time to explore the work and inspirations of other well regarded authors. A James Joyce walking tour was just the way to get kick off the day. Cinnia chose the “Dubliners” tour because it focused on Joyce’s life and the gritty look at real life he presented.
I want to understand more about what inspired other authors and how they chose to put their ideas into words and create tales that stand the test of time. Dubliners resonates with the escapism I feel. I wonder how much of that is human nature in general or just my human nature.
After the walking tour, Cinnia spent some time in the Dublin Writer’s Museum. Here she was able to explore the works of Jonathan Swift and Oscar Wilde, as well as others. A bona fide bookworm, the written word took hold of Cinnia’s imagination at a young age and never let go.
I read Gulliver’s Travels in high school. I remember enjoying it more as fairy tale with the travels to different lands than as a work reflecting human kind. I think it may be time to reread this as an adult with a different perspective.
I can’t remember if I read The Picture of Dorian Gray in high school or college. I do remember being mesmerized by the change in the portrait as the real man sinks deeper and deeper into shame and corruption. This is yet another tale focusing on the human condition. Joyce, Swift, and Wilde capture such diverse portraits of people and human emotions and interactions.
While researching the famous writers of Ireland, Cinnia made two surprising discoveries, Bram Stoker was a Dubliner and C. S. Lewis was born in Belfast.
I had no idea Bram Stoker was Irish. I love Dracula and have read it multiple times. I uncovered that the inspiration for the story came from the crypts beneath St. Michan’s Church – perhaps I need to add a visit here to my itinerary. I’m getting goose bumps just thinking about it.
The Chronicles of Narnia are stories I love as much as an adult as I did when I was a child. They still capture my imagination and I am convinced that someday in an antiquing adventure I will find a wardrobe that will allow me to visit another world.
I aspire to reach people in the same manner these works reached me.
Cinnia found her way back to the B & B to spend the night. She curled up in the big four-poster bed with a view overlooking the Irish Sea. Cinnia opened her journal to the page she had titled “Evoke the Past.” She began jotting down words describing her feelings while visiting these ancient sites over the last few days:
I’m so inspired by the history and vitality here. I’ve loved some of these tales for so long, seeing the sites where they were born brings them to life in such a new and interesting way. I feel the heaviness I have been carrying on my shoulders starting to lift away. I am eagerly anticipating each new day with an energy I haven’t felt in quite some time. The flame hasn’t gone out yet; there is a flicker there still.
I remember when I was starting out in adulthood and a career. So eager to please and prove myself. It was exciting, and a bit scary, but mostly exciting. My work was exhilarating; it challenged me. I’m finding I need that challenge to motivate, to inspire, to do something again that’s a wee bit scary but in all the best possible ways. Slowly, I’m starting to find me again.
Cinnia tucked the journal away and was soon drifting off to sleep.
The next stop on Cinnia’s trip was Malahide Castle. Not only because, well it’s a castle, and who doesn’t want to see a castle, but because she was attending an event reminiscent of the old hearthside tales of the Celts.
The hearth was the center of the home in Celtic days, both literally and figuratively. The family, or clan, was the core of the Celtic tradition. This resonated strongly with Cinnia, who feels the same way about her own family. Family comes first! The hearth was where family came to gather, it was where meals were cooked, stories were told, and songs were sung.
The hearth also is where the fire is kept burning. Fire helps keep the family together as it is used to cook meals and heat the home. Fire, however, is also symbolic of the creative fire that burns within. It therefore, also fuels the stories and songs that are told while the family is gathered.
Most of the old Celtic tales were only passed down orally and were often accompanied by the harp. Harpists traveled the countryside and visited local homes and manors to tell tales of events and adventures. The harp is one of the most popular of the Celtic instruments, so much so, that it became the national symbol of Ireland. It is believed that the harp reflects the immortality of the soul.
I can’t wait to hear a Celtic tale told in the traditional manner, by the fire of the hearth with the music of the harp to guide it. The sound of the harp is so mesmerizing. I often get lost in the melodies when I listen to it.
Cinnia gathered with others around the mantle and fire. Dinner was served and as the group began to eat their meal the song and tale began. It was the tale of how the harp came to be.
Dagda, the Good God, owned a magical harp. Only he was able to play it. With the harp he could harness the seasons, remove fear from his warriors in battle, and heal their wounds and restore their energy once the battle had ended. During one such battle the harp was left unguarded and stolen by the enemy. Dagda with Lugh, God of Light, and Ogma, God of Art, went to the enemy camp to retrieve it. The three were far outnumbered but Dagda beckoned to the harp and the harp sprang to his outstretched arms. He then struck the harp playing the Music of Mirth causing the enemy warriors to roar with laughter but when the music stopped they advanced on the three men. So Dagda stuck the harp again playing the Music of Sorrow and all the warriors broke down in tears. But again when the music stopped they advanced on the three men. Dagda struck the harp for the third time playing the Music of Sleep. The enemy warriors all fell to a deep slumber and the three men were able to make their escape.
Cinnia’s next visit was to the Hill of Tara. It was here that the mythical Tuatha dé Danann established rule over Ireland. They brought with them the Lia Fail or Coronation Stone. It was believed that whoever stepped upon the stone, causing the stone to cry out, was the rightful High King. The Tuatha dé Danann, Children of the Goddess Danu, were skilled in magic and experts in art, science, music, and poetry. It is the tales of this clan of Gods and Goddesses that Cinnia found so intriguing.
She laid her hands upon the stone, if there is any magic left here perhaps a small bit will pass on to me. She smiled.
From the Hill of Tara Cinnia travelled to Kildare, The City of Brigid. Brigid was a Goddess of the Tuatha dé Danann. The daughter of Dagda, she was patroness of poetry, music, and song. It is Brigid who one seeks assistance from to reignite the creative fire in the soul. Cinnia sought out the eternal flame, at the site of the monastery she built. She sat on a bench beneath the flame to mediate and began by reading a passage she had saved from her research:
‘I am Brid, beloved of Erin, spirit of fire, healer of ills, warrioress of old, protector of life, woman of power, sovereign Mother of all creation. I create, I inspire, I make magick. I am old, I am young, I am eternal.’ (Quote from: Celtic Myth and Magic – Harnessing the Power of the Gods and Goddesses by Edain Mc Coy)
She closed her eyes; I seek to regain a spark, to rekindle the energy within. Please heal my soul so that I may have the fortitude to bring the expression of the beauty of the world forth through story and dance. A sense of warmth and peace radiated through her body. She took out her journal and started to write.
The plane began its descent and Cinnia watched out the window as land came into view and grew closer and closer. Her excitement began rising once again at the adventure that waited.
I always hear people who have visited say how green it is here. Wow! It truly is.
Cinnia began to gather her things as the plane came to a stop at the gate. She deplaned and went to pick up her rental car. The rental office went over the rules of the road and some tips for driving on the left. This was Cinnia’s biggest concern for the trip – not to get into trouble driving! She organized her maps and plans for the day and headed out to the car. I can do this! Left, left, remember to stay on the left. She said a Hail Mary, started the ignition, and headed off to her first destination, Newgrange.
One of Ireland’s greatest archeological treasures, Newgrange is one of the oldest structures in the World. Cinnia was eager to visit the site and learn more about the folklore and history. It was believed to be the palace of the old Gods of the Tuatha Dé Danaan, particularly, Aengus Óg, the son of Dagda, who is known as the God of Youth and Love. Dagda believed to be the ruler of the Tuatha Dé Danaan, is known as the God of Earth and Master of Magic. It was a site rich with the lore of Ireland.
Newgrange is also well known for the dramatic emergence of the Winter Solstice that occurs at the site. At dawn, between December 18th through the 23rd a beam of light penetrates the roof-box and illuminates the entire chamber and passageway to the entrance. The event only lasts for seventeen minutes.
Cinnia’s breath caught as she approached the cave entrance. She walked down the long passage and visited each of the three chambers inside. As she observed the spiral carvings on the rock walls her mind wandered to the types of rituals that may have transpired here. Standing in the center circle of the three chambers, Cinnia closed her eyes. She imagined being inside the chamber on the morning of the Winter Solstice. Being bathed in warmth and light from the rising sun. She recalled a passage she had read:
‘I am Aengus…men call me the Young. I am the sunlight in the heart, the moonlight in the mind; I am the light at the end of every dream, the voice forever calling to come away; I am the desire beyond joy or tears. Come with me, come with me: I will make you immortal; for my palace opens into the Gardens of the Sun, and there are the fire-fountains which quench the heart’s desire in rapture.
~ From Æ (George William Russell), “A Dream of Angus Oge,” 1897
Once upon a time...
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