“There is an indefinable mysterious power that pervades everything; I feel it though I do not see it. It is this unseen power which makes itself felt and yet defies all proof, because it is so unlike all that I perceive through my senses. It transcends the senses”. (Ghandi)
The landscape in Ireland is dotted with ancient and sacred sites, many of them created 4-5,000 years ago. They captivate, inspire and generate wonder at their creation and mystery. Often, they are at remote places, off the beaten track, and a significant effort has gone into their creation, especially when we consider they were constructed in the days before mechanisation. What inspired our ancestors to go there, and expend so much energy into something as complex as stone circles? And what makes holy wells ‘holy’, a place of healing? We may never know the full reasoning behind their creation at that time, given that Ireland’s history and culture was crafted in the oral tradition. What we do know and feel is something special and unique when we visit them; in some ways a feeling of connectedness to our ancestors, to the people who created them, in some a feeling of peace or exhilaration, a connection to the unseen world, or to Divine power. These are places of special energies where a living landscape is very evident, they are places to experience awe and wonderment of their creation.
Psycho geology indicates that our minds and our experiences are shaped by the landscape. Even today, when choosing our homes, we may well use our logical minds to determine its location, size, access to amenities and work. But when we get there, it’s often the subconscious mind that comes into play. We begin to tune in and ask: “does it feel right?” Our ancestors were much more attuned to the landscape, and moreover, they knew how to harness its special energies. The places they selected as sacred sites were, and are, special, powerful and connected to the Divine and the soul. These places are still distinctive, because they affect us in a special way, although we may sometimes be less cognizant of it.
There is a geological underpinning to many of our sacred sites. There is often a high crystal or mineral content at them, and these energies, with their ability to contain power and amplify it, will often affect us at a deep, subconscious level. For example, the high quartz and mineral content (including gold), of the Sperrin Mountains, leads to the energies in the particular areas where they meet being augmented. They are further amplified by the placing of stones in circles, for example of those at Beaghmore, where the energy of each circle feels different and intensified. The standing stones themselves contain snow quartz, a crystal known to be good for gaining and then maintaining emotional and spiritual balance. It is a crystal that enhances meditation, by allowing you to link to deep inner wisdom. What is interesting to me, is that each circle and row of stones work at a different vibration, they have a different feel and experience. Some used for healing, some for divination, and a few intense high energy circles for other-world journeying.
Water, the giver of life, also has mineral content and special healing properties in particular geographical areas. Lough Neagh has long been known and evidenced to have healing properties, and pilgrims have travelled to its shores for healing for thousands of years. Up until the 1930s, pilgrims bathed at Washingbay and nearby Holy River Bridge in Co Tyrone, particularly on Midsummer’s eve when the water levels rose. Pilgrims travelled here from Galway and Mayo for the curative powers of these waters. At Cranfield Holy Well, near Toome, gypsum is present in the water, which the fishermen took to protect them when fishing on the Lough. Gypsum is associated with the light of heaven and the moon.
At the site of Ardboe Abbey and High Cross, perched on a headland overlooking Lough Neagh, there is what is known as a ‘Pin Tree’. It is used to bring about healing or grant wishes, through the insertion of a coin into the tree. Trees had special functions, and believed to connect to the Divine. It feels like the energy of the Lough itself acts as a ‘battery’ to power this place. There are three distinct energy points here, at times it feels like crossing a special threshold, linking conscious and subconscious to the Divine presence. Early in the development of Christianity, Pope Gregory told his missionaries to place their churches on ancient pagan sites, so as to assume the power therein. Ardboe is a case in point.
Tullahogue (Tulach Óg, Hill of Youth, or Mound of the Young Warriors) Fort in Tyrone is not a defensive fort, but an ancient Neolithic ceremonial site. There are three rings around it (three being the number of creation), the centre one is an amphitheatre. Perched at a high point, and surrounded by the energy of the Sperrin mountains, it is little wonder the ancient and powerful clan Ui Neill conducted their inauguration ceremonies there. The O’Hagans, the powerful Chief Brehons of Tyrone lived there. (Ó hÁgáin, meaning “Little Fire from the Sun”, derived from Aodh the sun god. There are four distinct energy spots at the site. It has the feel of calm authority, of old warriors, now accepting peace. These days, it is surrounded by trees; wild apple trees, holly and ivy, all ancient Celtic signs of life and of abundance. Further north, in Donegal, is another fire site connected to the sun god; Granian of Aileach it sits on a number of energy points that radiate in and out of it, like the beams and centre of the sun. It is another place of high crystal & mineral energy.
Ireland has thousands of sacred sites, all dotting the landscape, all interconnecting to each other, just as we connect to each other at a soul level. Their full power and mystery are perhaps yet to be revealed. During our life here, we are drawn back to certain places to reconnect to our origins; sacred places. We are touched, often subconsciously, to the energies there. These places are thin. They are where we are more able to bridge our consciousness between the seen and unseen worlds. Visiting them becomes important to our well being, connecting us to a higher and unseen power. We are enriched by being there, by those who created them, by the stories attached to them, by the architecture of them, and by the surrounding landscape.
I am hugely fortunate to live near to so many of the sacred sites in Ireland. I never tire of visiting them, and always feel excited at going. I feel as though I am being‘re-calibrated’ each time I go, and each experience – even at the same site – seems different to the one preceding it. On every visit, I gain new insights and new experiences. I hope one day to meet you at one of these special and sacred spaces too, so that you too, can feel their power.