Dromagorteen stone circle, Kerry, Ireland
Dammit! I’ve missed a post and now they’re slightly out of order. This is the sixth post of my Ireland summer solstice story. Sorry that I have posted it after the seventh! I don’t know how I missed it because this is a really important post, full of magical happenings and some astonishing recovered knowledge.
We are the first to park in the wide car park at the Bonane Heritage Park site. We head for the information hut nearby to buy tickets. As I buy the tickets the old man behind the counter says, in a thick Irish accent, that it is a shame we ave missed the solstice sunrise at the circle. The conditions were perfect today, he says. I make a note to check when I’m up there whether that was the most energetic time to be in the circle. First, we have to get there!
There are a few common features of stone circles – they are usually in a beautiful setting, and they are usually near the top of a hill. Such was the case of the Dromagorteen circle, which is perched half way up the mountains which lie directly East of the circle. The setting affords an incredibly encompassing view across the Sheehy Valley. Of course, it was a hot and humid summer day, and so the climb was slow, steady and exhausting, but this was all rewarded by the beauty of the site and its views. Beauty seems a strong factor in the placement of stone circles, I feel.
Although attracted by the circle I was firstly drawn strongly to an area which had an information sign in front of it. The area was described as a “cooking pit” (Fulachta Fiadh) – presumably based on some archaeological findings in that area.
“Other theories suggest that the sites may have been used for bathing, the washing and dyeing of cloth, and leather working. Supporters of these theories point to the fact that no remains of foodstuffs have been found at the fulacht fiadh sites.” (source: Wikipedia)
I felt that it had a slightly different purpose than cooking meat, however, unless that was a metaphor. As I walk into the circle of small stones with its raised earthwork I feel like this is a place to meditate in, to prepare. I feel it is like a sweat lodge. As I sit in the cooking pit I feel like I’m actually in a cooking pot! The sun is nearly directly overhead and the day is already hot. I get sensations of overwhelming heat and dizziness beyond the direct physical sensations of the heat of the sun.
Honey in the pot
In meditation I feel the raised earthworks grow around me, similar to how they are represented in the drawing on the information board. There is a deep cover of timber and branches above me, possibly covered by peat too. There is an earthy smell in my nostrils. I know that this is a place of attunement – a place to get prepared and attuned to the energies and spirits of the area. I was correct to come here first. Initiates going into the main stone circle for the first time would have done the same, I feel. I call upon my own spirit guide to help me work at the circle, and I feel his shiver of arrival. Before I disconnect from the cooking pit (because it’s getting too hot to stay here for much longer) I ask if the old ticket seller is right about his 7am sunrise timing for the strongest energy at this site. He is. Sometimes you can’t beat local knowledge!
I am about to get up and leave when my guide quite strongly encourages me to relax and stay still. I decide to let go, and I take off my shoes and socks, undo a few buttons on my shirt, and put my bag to one side. Kal is still nowhere to be seen, and I guess he must be at the nearby fort structure, or lost! I am alone, and can fully relax in peace. Now I really feel like I’m in a sweat lodge! I lie back on the grass and find that it’s still dewy in places and has a cooling effect. Lying down in the grass I seem to be shielded from the worst of the sun too. I half close my eyes…
…Buzz! A bee flies close to my nose! I relax again, closing my eyes, listening to the sounds of nature in summer. Buzz! Another bee travels in the opposite direction. This bee is even larger than the first one! Over the course of the next few minutes I come to realise that I must be lying on a bee route because at least ten bees move this way and that over me. I sit up and watch their travel and I can see that they have a gently meandering course, but that course comes right over this cooking pit. Strange.
The Circle of Life
I sit up, ready to leave, but again I am told to wait. There is more to learn. More? Wow, this place is interesting! I am invited to turn around to face the hills at the back of the site, and I feel that I should be pointing in a specific direction. As I raise my head to look at the horizon provided by the hills I see some interesting features. What is that reminiscent feature that is being formed by three mounds on the horizon?
I realise what it is. The distant hills form breasts and a womb. The rising sun comes out of the womb at solstice sunrise. The Goddess giving birth to the sun. Later that day when we visited Molly Gallivan’s Tea Rooms there is an information sign that tells us that Cailleach is known as “Cailleach Beara” in this area – The Hag of the Sun. Surely more than a coincidence?
“In Ireland she is also associated with craggy, prominent mountains and outcroppings” (source: Wikipedia)
“Cailleach Bheur is reborn each Samhain and goes about smiting the earth to blight growth and call down the snow. On Beltane Eve , She throws Her staff under a holly tree or a gorse bush (both are Her plants) and then turns into a gray stone, thus ending winter. In other myths this happens on Imbolc Eve, but rather than turning into a stone, She is instead reborn a young woman.
In Ireland Cailleach is known in Her singular form as Cailleach Beara or Hag of Beara, – or else worshipped as part of a trio of Goddesses with Her sisters Cailleach Bolus and Cailleach Corca Duibhne. In the Irish Triad, she is considered one of the three great ages: ‘The age of the yew tree, the age of the eagle, the age of the Hag of Beara’. Cailleach Beara inhabits the Beara peninsula on the Cork-Kerry border on the north side of Bantry Bay.” (source: Dutchie.org)
The Fertility Circle
Kal appears just as I am coming back to consciousness in the cooking pit. He notices me, but seems intent on his own journey and walks into the circle at the back and sits under the shade of the tree. Very wise in this increasing heat! Wow, we’re having a great summer! As I approach the circle in bare feet I feel like I should walk a particular path, winding, circuitous. I am about to enter the circle when I stop and ask for permission. I am greeted by the presence of a diminutive fellow whom I can sense is next to me, skipping around my feet and looking up at me. He is asking who I am, so I tell him my druid name and show him that I am cloaked in the wings of The Black Dragon and suddenly the lively inquisitive tone changes to one of seriousness, deference even. He bows deeply and bids me enter – he will be my guide, he says to me. To anyone watching, I just looked like I was hesitating, bowing and then entering the circle with a smile, but I can tell you that there was far more going on at that moment! I was being invited to enter the circle by one of the faery kind.
As I take a seat near to Kal, but at the back of the circle I find that I very quickly attune myself to the energies of the circle. Within seconds I am back in trance. My faery guide is talking to me all the time, telling me about the features of the site. He tells me that the circle is symbolic of an egg. The central stone is the impregnating male consciousness (will) forming in the nurturing female surroundings. He shows me the paths by which the energy emerges into the circle, what time of year this happens, and how the humans are required to assist with “stirring the pot” and perambulating the outer stones in order to get the energy circulating and raise it to the right vibration. At “boiling point” the energy is released into the surrounding area, and spreads out into the wider community, providing it with fertility energy.
Fertility energy is not solely physical growth. It is growth and maturing according to your energy blueprint in very way – mental and spiritual too. It is an energy to promote every form of growth in plants, animals and humans. It is a re-adherence to their devic blueprint (much as William Bloom might describe it), and a motivational energy to promote this re-alignment, this ‘right growth’.
I come back around and look down at a “new arrival”. There is a black crow feather between my legs. I swear it wasn’t there when I sat down! I pick it up and know what I need to do with it. I will give it back but not solely as an object, but rather as the recognised gift that it is. I leave the stone circle by an energetically preserving path (without using dowsing rods, I notice) and then I put the black feather in the middle of the cooking pit, leaving with it the intention that this be seen as a reciprocal gift, noticed, accepted, loved and re-dedicated.
As the sun rises to its peak on this solstice day I feel like this is truly the pinnacle of the trip to Ireland so far. I have been given incredible knowledge, and all my work has been done through pure intuition. I thank the spirits that have been working with me, and I re-united with Kal. Our conversation as we march down the hill is filled with the kinds of stories that Ireland has become famous for.