This penultimate post of my Ireland Ancestor Quest story sees the climax of the tale. Having been prepared for the forthcoming battle by a long chain of events, now I would have to face the final struggle to gain the right to the energies of my ancestors. I already knew the name of the battle ground. It was on the map, labelled as “The Fort of the Bulls”, or Rath na Dtarbh.
Stalking the Bulls
I have been a martial artist for many years. Since childhood I have been fascinated by the oriental fighting methods and have studied just about every one of them in my lifetime, becoming proficient at several. The prospect of a fight, whether physical or mental, was not something that I was in any way afraid of facing. Whatever would come I was prepared to face it on all levels – physically, mentally and spiritually. With this steely resolve I parked up alongside the Fort of the Bulls and scanned the surroundings, looking for the entrances and exits.
This warrior is ready for battle!
The rath was different to the others we had seen so far. it was wider, not as high, and seemed more like an arena than a mound. I went through the official entrance in the wall and headed round towards some standing water at one side of the mound. I felt like I shouldn’t do any dowsing – this was a “test” and therefore I needed to do it all by intuition, “unaided” as it were. I turned on my ‘psychic radar’ and began to feel for which direction I ought to be moving. the correct entry was to go through the hawthorn trees and up into the mound that way, so I skipped over the pond and was thankful that the ground was unseasonably dry.
I entered the wide circular space atop the mound and instinctively looked for signs of some other presence – an animal, a human, anything. Nothing. The space was clear. Yet I felt the impending arrival of ‘something’.
Preparations for battle
I set about finding the correct place to position myself for whatever was to come. I found the power centre by feeling for the strongest subtle energy spot. As I stood on the spot I knew it was correct. Looking down I saw that the grass was arranged in that oh-so-familiar circular arrangement that I term a “faerie ring”. I sat down and fumbled in my bag for my “weapons” – the crystal of quartz that held the energy stored at Ogulla Holy Well, and my bag of elemental crystals that would form my shield. This was looking like a psychic battle for there was nothing physically approaching from any direction – neither man nor beast.
I sat down with my crystals in hand. At the moment I sat, in the momentary stillness of mind (my mind was blank) a thought came to me. I had ten minutes to prepare myself. My brain vaulted from a starting stillness to turning somersaults! Ten minutes?
What should I do? Should I stand, or sit? Did I need to face a particular direction? Where was my phone so that I could check the directions? Where was the sun? Was that important? Should I face a particular constellation? Was I ready? Where should my crystals go? ‘Sword’ on the left or the right? Don’t forget the ‘shield’ too – where should that go? Crystals aligned to the cardinal points or to their natural positions? Was I left-handed or right-handed when it came to psychic battles? What was my name – I mean, what name should I use to address my opponent? Who would my opponent be? Was this all real? How long did I have left?
Like a ball on a trampoline the questions bounced in and out of my head repeatedly until one or two of them began to be answered slowly. In amongst this mayhem I knew that there was one chance to get this right, and the only rule was that I couldn’t dowse to find any of the answers. If I was ready for this then I should know how to proceed without ‘assistance’. This was my fight alone.
I was clearly very nervous as the ten minute period elapsed. I fumbled the layout of my elemental crystals, rearranging them several times. Even the solitary ‘sword’ crystal seemed firstly too far then too close as I got into a position facing North with four elemental crystals positioned in a cross shape to my left and the single quartz crustal of the sword to my right. I sat down to make myself comfortable again and breathed deeply.
I was finally ready, although there was still no sign of an adversary.
The Battle for The Ancestor Energies
As my breathing deepened I closed my eyes. My senses were half on this level and half sinking into a light trance, into a state where my mind became susceptible to impressions. I had the impression that something was coming. Then I heard a clanking and flapping of metal and leather in motion. Something was arriving in a small entourage from the North. In my mind’s eye I saw a small delegation of well-dressed Celtic-looking men. Before I had time to count how many there were (no more than five, I reckoned) I spotted the tall man standing in the middle of the pack, striding out just in front of his fellows. He was dark-haired, muscled, but slender, and wore a dark blue and green tartan kilt with a matching robe that was thrown over his shoulder and pinned in place by a brooch. His arms were bare and I could see that he carried a sword and a shield. A big sword – a broadsword, I reckoned. He was looking down, and not at me, but I knew he was coming my way. I tentatively opened my eyes to see if he would disappear. He didn’t. With my eyes open he looked like the same figure, but transparent and overlaid on top of the background ‘real life’ grass and bushes of the mound’s environs. There was no escape. This was it.
I closed my eyes again so that I could see what was going on better with the contrast of the darker background. In my mind’s eye view the entourage stopped as they rose above the edge of the ringfort’s perimeter, leaving the tall man to walk the final few feet alone. Now he looked up at me as he drew level with me. We looked each other in the eye and I felt I knew him somehow – in a deep “long lost” sort of way that I couldn’t identify. Without a smile we exchanged a slight nod of the head to each other. I kept my eyes on him while we did this. An old martial arts ploy – I could hear Bruce Lee saying “Never take your eyes off an opponent!”
I felt like I needed to introduce myself. I stated my real name, said why I was here, and stated that I felt I had the right to keep the energies I had gathered in these lands – these lands that were my lands as much as his. He listened, only to reply with a simple sentence, “If you believe these are yours by right, then you will have to fight me to take them, for I am the rightful holder.” No name is given. Perhaps I should know what it is, but I don’t. I acknowledge his right with another slight bow of the head, but then stand up in my power centre, calling up energy from the ground and the elements in readiness. He sees what I was doing and raises his sword in a gesture of preparedness, like a sort of straight salute, then drops into a fighting stance. I match his stance, and we square off in front of each other, less than six feet away from each other. Two swords’ length. The correct fighting distance.
One of the entourage moves forward and signals that we should begin with a drop of his arm. On this command my opponent immediately takes a swipe with his sword of flame. Instinctively and in a desperate move to protect myself I raise my shield arm to head height. I see the flame of his sword come close to my face, but my elemental shield absorbs this energy and neutralises it somehow (the water element in the shield, perhaps?). I’m still in shock at the speed and precision of the attack, but nothing else follows it up so I lower the shield to see what’s going on.
Although I am clearly shocked and astonished he makes no further move – it’s my turn now, apparently. It seems to be a turn-based system of fighting. He gives his best shot, then I have a go. Well, this is very civilised! I was expecting something of a brawl, but secretly I am glad I have a moment to compose my thoughts and respond. I look him up and down, standing there with his regalia, his proud posture, and his retinue. And I know what to do.
I dropped my arms to my side and stood still, mentally letting the shield and sword that I held in my mind drop to the ground. For a moment there was a hesitation on both sides. Had I done a stupid thing? Had I voluntarily lost my one opportunity to gain the legacy of these energies?
“I am the rightful heir to the energies of our family. I hold the hope for our name. Without me there is no-one else to take this on. Strike me down if you wish, but I will offer no resistance.”
In an astonishing gesture of supplication the familiar warrior bends his knee and lowers his head to me in submission. Rather surprised at myself and at him I take a few seconds to realise what has just happened. Then I acknowledge his defeat and we embrace as friends. He withdraws backwards for a moment, joining his clansmen, then returns to where I still stand. He holds out a circular headdress made of leaves, like a laurel wreath. I take it and was about to place it on my head, when he stops me with a gentle restraining hand and a simple, “No. Not yet. It must be done the proper way.” I know not when this will be but I know it is time to move on – this battle is won. As Bruce Lee would say, “It is the art of fighting without fighting.”
I return to proper wakeful consciousness and the scene with the entourage dissolves into nothingness. My last glimpse of my ancestor-warrior is him moving away from the rath’s edge, waving back at me, smiling. I wonder if I will ever encounter him or his like again, and I feel slightly sad about the brevity and necessity of our encounter together.
It seems as though there is one last thing to do. Somewhere nearby is a rath where I can go to accept the ring of leaves – the final step in my quest to retain my ancestor energies.