The following is written and photo feedback on our work to Save Tara Valley of Edain Echraidhe - the Horse Goddess of our Celtic Gaelic Ancestors -
The first image is from Red John of Niamh at Tara giving Salute to the Setting Sun on the Full Moon in June - The sky was so big that evening.........
Let us not judge - let us just enjoy the spirit of sharing -
Hi Conn (and Niamh),
I've been meaning to send you both some sort of thank you card for what you shared at Tara, but then the other day, I realized, duh, I don't have your address or anything like that. I guess an email will have to suffice (unless you like getting mail, especially from overseas, heh). It was wonderful enough as it was being able to visit Dafydd over in Wales, especially as I've never travelled much besides here in the US, Mexico, and Canada. But Tara really was the highlight. Eire itself. The spiritual resonance, the cellular/ancestral memories, and being at Tara, the heart of the triskelle itself (Gabhra-Skane-Boyne), was not only like a pilgrimage for me, but it was so much more. I'm still trying to comprehend the experiences Dafydd and I had there.
I hope you don't mind me sharing one of my experiences of Tara with you. It still makes me want to burst out laughing every time i think about it. I'm not really sure if there was a purpose to the experience or if I was just confused (heh, could be that), but it definitely is one of the more memorable adventures.
On the last day that Dafydd and i were at Tara, we decided to explore the Sloping Trenches better (after your recommendation). It was a little after dinner time and my spirits were soaring. There was no one around, because rain had (as Dafydd says) pissed down upon everything . .and in the wet grass, the open sky, and the green gloriousness all around me, I literally danced all over the field. Before long, I couldn't help galloping round like a horse (very unladylike i know!!! but it's my childhood favorite . . i never skipped or ran, i sort of stamped my feet in rhythmic bounds) laughing and jumping all over the place. Dafydd started making fun of me (as usual). In a way, i was being silly and giddy, but in another way, there was such a spiritual freedom and unblotted joy that filled me.
So in this manner we made our way over to the trenches, and my heart was still light. I was amazed to stand at the slopes and see oak tree tops at eye level (as you said!). Suddenly, I said to Dafydd, 'I bet there's a way to get down to the bottom' . . and he gave me this crazy look like "what the hell are you talking about, woman!" Within the next couple minutes, i found a path, covered in nettles and briars, so obviously not used by tourists (though I'd imagine locals utilise it), that took a gentler journey down the side of the hill. I called Dafydd over to me and we went down it . . slipping in the mud and laughing at each other. We got near the bottom, but you couldn't see the river (which river was that anyway?) because of all the foilage, and so Dafydd plopped himself down on a stone by a tree.
The path apparently ended there and he said we should relax and enjoy the sunset together (heh, he really is the mushy type, though he can act all macho . . pahh). I couldn't settle for that though. i stamped around, feeling very jilted, I just KNEW there was a path down to the river. So i pushed through the tall grass for a bit . .and then . . there was a path. I called to Dafydd that i would be right back . . just going to see the river and come right back. He called back something but i was too excited to hear what he said. So I went down to the river's edge .. saw it .. smiled myself silly . .and then promptly turned around to go back up the path. I climbed back up it, to where Dafydd was sitting. Only, the tree was gone. Dafydd was gone. The stone he had sat on was gone. For a moment i thought that somehow I hadn't gone far enough, so I pressed a little further . .then went back down to the river .. then went back up the path again. I called his name. I couldn't find him. So I shouted. My adrenaline went up and I started to feel strange . .dizzy . . lightheaded. I couldn't think straight and all i could think to myself was that i had caught a bubble in space or something, because I had only been down to the river for no more than five minutes. Surely Dafydd wouldn't have left to go back up already?
I knew the path lead up to the top of the slopes so I followed it, thinking he must have gone back up. But the path then started to go horizontally .. . away from the slopes. Where was I? Panicky, i kept calling out his name, calling for him. I started running . . the ground was soft, so soft, and i realized I was following the river. The path followed the river. And then I was under a deep canopy. Trees wider than my car, with vast roots and vast branches, spread out before me. The sight stopped me in my tracks and i started tingling all over. I knew this spot, like the resurfacing of some glimmer from the bottom of a well. Horses had grazed here before. I went up to the largest and oldest tree which was smackdab in the middle . . and i wrapped my arms around it as best as i could. And i closed my eyes and smelled the ancient soil and leaves and roots. . .I could hear the tree spirit welcoming me, reaching into my spirit and melding with me. As this happened, then i could "see" (with my visioning eye) horses grazing under these trees. I sort of stumbled away from the tree into the networkof roots as the realization dawned on me that these were horse chestnut trees. I sat there, looking at the sun as it sank lower and lower and lower behind the horizon. It was almost dark, and already the land was getting chilly. I could see the moon and stars faintly. I must have been "lost" for an hour or so, by the position of the sun.
Then in a furtive moment, i remembered that I had to get out of here, had to find Dafydd. So i felt around with my spirit-fingers and the wind started blowing against me in one direction. I aligned myself with the direction the wind was blowing . . followed it . .and there .. there was a path leading up the side of the slopes. I found myself 1/4 of a mile or so away from where i had first entered. I ran back to that spot and found Dafydd sitting atop a mound, watching the sunset. I came back harried and jittery and yelling his name. He looked at me strangely and said, "What's wrong, hon? Why do you look so pale?" I sort of tumbled down next to him, out of breath and then looked at the sun. Confusion pummeled me. The sun was still in the middle of the sky (on the horizon), about level with us and not yet behind the sleepy land. I gasped . ."Dafydd, how long was I down there? Didn't you hear me calling for you?" He looked at me strangely again and said, "Erm, well i called your name for about five minutes . .and i never heard you . .. I just came back up here." he looked at his watch . ."yup, been only about 15 minutes or so since you went down to the river--how was it?"
I laughed my head off after that and realized, somehow indeed i had slipped between time or place or something, because I had been 'lost' for at least an hour according to my watch when i was down there. It was all very strange and I realized that somehow I must have somehow needed to see those trees, that grove. Or maybe it was just an adventure. Nonetheless, i came away feeling like the land had showed me both sides of its character--the bewildering, shifting side and the comforting, guiding side.
Do you know of the chestnut grove I'm talking about?
Anyway. Thank you both very much for your kindness. Without sounding awkward, i really felt a kinship to you both, and you and Tara have inspired me. Of course, I've not really seen much else of Tara, and each area has its own relationship to share with the spirit, but Tara remains foremost in my memory.
Coming back to the States, not only was it soul-tearing to have to leave Dafydd (and his family too), but also, the land . . .it is the land and its spiritscape that I find myself aching for deeply. When in Snowdonia, I could see Rhiannon's horses pounding across the shifting, lonely mountainsides. When we stood at Skryne, Edain's horses as well flowed across the hills and rills. There is a connection between this welsh region and the Gabhra Valley, and ever since I've come back across the ocean, the White Mare has not left my dreams or my muses or my hopes. I guess she was always there to begin with, but it took my awareness being shifted on her to actually notice.
we had wonderful night yesterday - the neighbourly group gathered, and we did have a big fire after all, due to many requests - it was brilliant, there was poems each person had written for Solstice, song, drums, we played tunes with pieces of wood, we invented songs, we danced around the fire and I brought in the spiral.........it was truly magical.
I hope your gathering was a fine one too - I connected as often during the day (and at 8pm) as I could.................
At exactly midday 12.00, Anthony managed to take this picture for you ( as I wasn't at home) from our white mare gallopping across the field strewn with daisies. The front horse is the mare. Hopefully it will please you, as we think that it shows her strengh in a beautiful, feminine way but also her pleasure in just running leisurely across the space leading the way playfully.........
I have walked with the White Mare for many years. I am an artist and create images and sculptures of her too. My studies are celtic and with Caitlin and John Matthews. I create and heal with White Mare energies. May I tell you a story?
I was living magically in Coolderry, Brosna, Birr, County Offaly. Spending my time walking the Slieve Bloom and sitting with the Rath on my land. I walked in these places with the energy of the White Mare. One morning early I walked on to my land and from acres off a neighbours horse ran at me. I could see him coming. He pounded the earth, huge black stallion. He finally stood by me on slightly higher ground and reared high in the air, towered over me for what was a fraction of a second but seemed to last forever, then smashed his hooves down onto me. He smashed and smashed my bones, pinned me to the ground and continued to attack. I lay there completely silent for fear of frightening him or making my young daughter come to see what was
wrong and then also be at risk. This huge animal continued to pound the earth and me. It then circled the field and returned and pummelled me again and again. I knew whether I lived or died was not down to me. I managed to crawl with bones sticking out all over the place down the field to the wire and then telephoned for help. I want to tell you about the eye of that stallion. I had two years previously drawn a black stallion rearing high with exactly the eye of this moment. It held fear and terror and huge beauty. I was taken by that horse to a very different place by looking into his eye. A massive initiation. Taken to the point of death as I lay on the ground, rearing higher and higher over me, smashing down barely missing my head, taken over it repeated it's attack, taken to the point of death and then taken on to amazing safety amongst his hooves. Demanding everthing of me total connection. I managed after an operation and hospital stay to get myself to Siena and rode a white mare caled Nebbia, mist, and her gentle power cared for me in a very different way to the black horse. Stopped any fear I had from developing and healed me. The black horse took away fear of death,left me as true warrior loking into the eye of death. My birthday is 21st June and had hoped to join you at Tara, at your next celebration I will be walking The Mare Way just west of Cambridge England. There is a herd of white deer there and the land is powerful. Anyhow I hope the black stallion/white mare contrast interests you. Powerful creator total destroyer. Your work sounds very interesting do hope to join you soon.
I just wish to thank you and say how much Fiona and I enjoyed our day at Tara with you and share some info which you may or may not find of interest.
Ref the horse-shoe mounds, I believe there is as I told you one in Downpatrick, and I may know of another one at the Kings Stables at Navan in Armagh, let me know if your interested if I come up with any more.
On the way home from Tara, Fiona shared a tale her Grandmother, an amazing lady well versed in the esoteric, passed on to her.
Finn MacCool's girlfriend lived across the Irish Sea and when Finn wanted to visit her he would call to his giant wild white winged horse, as this landed in Ireland it left hoofmarks, right up the length of Ireland and these can still be seen today as mounds!. If Finn was one of the early inhabitants, ie Formorian, as most of the giants where, this would date these mounds as older than Newgrange possibly. At present I am researching the Formorians, known as the Children of Domnu, Domnu being of course the sister of Danu, I'm sure you know the tale that when Danu's people came into Ireland they fought the Children of Domnu and after fighting the ended the Children of Domun ended up loosing and being driven into the sea, while Danu's children where later driven into the land by the Millesians.
Also on the mounds at Knowth there are the marks that look like horseshoes!. May or may not be relevant but you might wish to check it out.
Anyway I hope you don't mind me emailing this to you, once again thankyou for giving me a wonderful memorable solstice at Tara.
Love and Respect Debra
As I performed the Mirror of the Summer Solice Ceremony these "poems" came to me, during the different steps. if this is what you are looking for, for the Druidschool Library you may put it into it, if it's not what you need thats ok.
I offer this fire with it's warmth and love for the hearts on Tara and the wild folk.
The smoke from this fire joins big and small on their journeys of passion.
It spreads it's being...
It spreads it's healing...
It spreads it's warmth...
From the wood that grew stong and hard,
that stretched it's roots and swayed it's branches.
The tree reached eternity though standing firm, deep in mother earth.
Transending the elements --wood from the earth into a hot burning fire carried deeply by the air.
Spread your love oh beautiful one, let me watch you.
Warm us today on earth-come join us with mother sun.
We send our earthly warmth heaven bound.
The sun sends her warmth earthly bound.
Both are joined through the air.
Mothers greet each other, for all of us, hugging tightly together in the unison of the universe.
The Silent Discrimination of Woman by the Church
The Black Shawl, take it away, given for shame to hide the women away,
To stop her still, to change the wheel, to dry the well.
The Black Shawl was given by them, the dominating him's.
The Black Shawl is taken away,
Shine again with hair as your throne,
Shine again in styles of old,
Shine with pride looking back to move your load.
Shine now you women, shine,
The power has changed it's left his hands, it's yours oh sister guard it well.
Firstly, may I wish you good health and good fortune on this special summer solstice to yourself and family. I was at a number of ceremonies that you held last year (I enjoyed them immensely both with academic and spiritual interest).
This year we have a new baby in the house and most of my time (and my wife's time) has been taken up with our little daughter, however I did manage to make it over to Tara for the Solstice sunrise this morning and I stood behind your group with a friend of mine for this special occasion.
I have attached a photograph with this mail of the event, which I think may have captured the moment and essence of this serene and special morning.
Unfortunately I could not make it to any of the evening ceremonies due to family and work commitments, however I remember distinctly and with fond heart the wonderful crystal fire dance of last year, I hope that all went equally well this year.
Wishing you the best for 2006
I hope you are having a happy celebration for this year's summer solstice.
Here in Luxembourg we are having a splendid day with blue skies + sunshine. In the garden the roses are in full bloom and we are picking the first sweet red berries... what a time to be alive!
I would have liked to support the crowd celebrating at Tara, but unfortunately, the 20th of the month is a bad time for me to get any leave. I hope to be able to visit some time later in autumn and (if this is ok with you) participate in one of your Rituals of Protection.
Your White Mare meditiation is a brilliant idea - finally something that can be worked even at a distance. Even though, I must admit, after working in the garden for a few hours after the office, I have some trouble staying awake until 0:45 hrs...
With kind regards,
I first read of your school and and the activities on tara last summer.
it was at that time that i decided to plan my first ever trip to ireland
(from usa) have attached photos taken there wednesday evening 21 june.
i also have some movie files form my camera that i could send, if you would
like, they will play o either realplayer or quicktime.