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Postcards from the Pilgrimage
(Achmelvich Beach, above)
A few days ago, in my excitement to reach the town where my great grandmother Isabella McRae was born, I made the mistake of thinking we were booked in a day early at the hostel. It turned out we were staying at Lochinver and not Achmelvich, and the bus dropped us in my grandmother’s remote village, with no way back.
We looked at the map, and saw that there is a footpath through the rugged terrain, around lochs and up hillocks, to the place we would lay our heads for the night.
What started as a blunder, turned out to be one of the most exquisite 4 hour + walks of our lives.
The children tapped into some deeper place in themselves and made their way with vigour and awareness of the beauty.
Walking this ancient footpath reminded me again of liturgy… each time it was ever walked through the centuries, is ever present. My great grandpa and grandma would have walked this path if they were making a big trip to Lochinver.
Can you see them in the mist? Perhaps right there with us, or watching us from Suilven Mountain. Yes, they died in Canada, but their flesh and bone was formed here and on the seaways.
One of the reasons we are flying home on October 31st, is because it is a thin time. I wanted to somehow open to the idea that the seaways connect all of us rather than separate us. That perhaps tending to the threshold leading into new pantheons includes a different kind of introduction between all ancestors across the world.
Connotations can shift.
Once we got to Achmelvich, catching a ride with some Scotch experts we met the night before, we just revelled in the landscape and I communed more deeply with my ancestors.
On the right, I am laying on the ground on the West side of Achmelvich
beach at dusk. And on the left is Isabella McRae my great grandmother.
In each of my ancestral locations, I am filming footage for my folk opera - Cianalas/Tasknota that will fade in and out of the filmed performance.
This weekend, we made our way to my friend Teàrlach’s place on the Isle of Lewis. He and a native Lewis Gaelic speaker have started an initiative called An Taigh Cèilidh - a Gaelic speaking hub.
On Saturday, we spent most of the day at the Callanish Stones again deepening the ancestral and spiritual connection:
This is what I posted on social media about the stones and the lines that run from them:
“In a direct line, about 210 kms from the Callanish stones, is the Isle of Iona. Another line from Iona runs to the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne.
And yet other lines run from Lindisfarne and Iona to Glastonbury.
Some say the great triangle of power in the West ran from Glastonbury to Angsley and out into the western sea… the Isle of the Blessed, where Brendan made his miraculous voyage. Then as we shifted into the Christian pantheon, they say that a triangle of power must shift with this change.
So the centres shifted from the the Isle of the Blessed, Angsley and Glastonbury, to Glastonbury, Iona, and Lindisfarne.
Another line goes up from here at Callanish, to the Ring of Brodgar in the Orkney Islands.
I wonder what new pantheon is arriving and if we have the ability now, to really see that what we do to others we do to ourselves. If they mean nothing else, these ley lines have the power to help us finally see the web of life.
In one sense, there is no retrieving the lost wisdom fuelled by comet events, that shifted (and lost) the womb/cave rituals to these star reader stones and birthed the druids who learned to store extensive oral memory in case another catastrophe might occur. And in another sense, there will be no retrieving deep wisdom that can be found in the western monastic mystical Christic tradition. Particularly if this next shift holds itself with the same overcoming energy that set Michael as a barrier and not a threshold.
Integrality must come in our bodies, to stand in silence and reverence, humbly requesting to be welcomed. Compassionately seeing bittersweet beauty in all that ever was or will be.
But nothing is lost. Nothing is lost! Language is a spirit. I was blown by the wind… and crossed the lines to the sacred mounds across the ocean… and have been brought to my knees in gratitude, and in sorrow. And now we lay tobacco down when we ask for the Fàilte, a welcome, here in these strangely familiar seaways and lands.”
Yesterday, as we felt the beauty of sabbath observance still prevalent on Lewis, we attended a Gaelic speaking Free Church service and got to hear the presenter and the congregation chant the Psalms. I felt my grandpa Hugh McRae’s presence, (who wouldn’t read any religious literature unless it was shipped from Scotland.)
Rather than feeling narrowed, I feel expanded. And the word “threshold” keeps arriving into my developing vocabulary for integrality. The sea as connection, and not a mote of protection. A flow of all that has been and all that will be.
We will be on Skye today, and I have a concert at Wellington Church in Glasgow with my friend Simon de Voil on September 22nd. 7PM!
The next night, Sept 23rd, I play an informal collection of tunes from Hymns from the Icons (Dylan, Waterboys, Cohen covers) at Monkey Cider House in Berwick-Upon-Tweed. 7PM
On Sept 24th, Malcom Guite and I will be doing a concert at St Mary’s Church on the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne, 7:30PM
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