Hill of Tara – County Louth, Ireland
It was still the first day of our visit, but we had checked into the B&B in order to get freshened up and prepared for an evening at The Hill of Tara. We were staying in Blackrock – quite a way out from the main attractions, but very reachable in our hire car. The travel gave us thinking and preparation time. Talking of preparation – before I left that evening I decided to do a tarot reading for the events that might happen.
In a bid to get one up on The Future I did some divination. Let’s call it preparation. I drew three tarot cards that would be my guidance for the events that were to come at Tara – one card for the Past, one for the Present and one for the Future:
A Quick Reading
At the time I didn’t know what to make of those cards. On the surface they seemed to suggest to me that Tara – the place where my ancestors may have met – was brought out in the Past card. The Present card seemed to represent an aggressive attempt to capture something naturally difficult to deal with, and this was leading to frustration. I took this to be my strong desire to make spiritual progress and I wondered whether I was going to end up frustrated if nothing happened? Finally, the King Of Vessels seemed to indicate a Future where the emotional responses were under control. The tarot’s related question is “Where is tolerance needed?” That seemed to chime with the other cards. This is the year of patience.
Now it was time to bring the past, present and future together at the Hill of Tara.
Ancestral Seat of the Four Provinces
The Hill of Tara complex runs between Navan and Dunshaughlin in County Meath. It is the ancestral meeting place for the kings of the five provinces of old Ireland (now there are four). My own ancestors are from the Connaught region, and I have visited that area in years gone by to recover some of the ancient knowledge from there, and to meet some of my spiritual ancestors. Now I had a slightly different quest, for I felt that I needed to be here at their meeting place. This would be the culmination point of my “Essence of the Merlin Staff” quest, as I discovered the ancestral element to be added to the making of that staff.
My Three Seeker Selves
I started my search for spiritual progress at the old May Tree on the far and quieter side of the complex. Little do I know that Kal is out of sight doing exactly the same as me but at a different tree. The Summer Solstice sun was beginning to throw long shadows and looking back at the mounds and earthworks of the main site all I could see was in shadow.
I sat under the tree, tuning into the vibrations of the place, and “gathering unto me” my Spirit Guide. The connection deepened and soon I was in that sunset world of liminal space between reality and oblivion….
…I urged myself to form a request as my Spirit Guide made her presence felt. “Why was I requested to be here?” I asked.
Swinney – The King of Vessels
With that I was thrown into the Future. Same place, different time. I wasn’t me. I had a different name, but the same soul. I was called… “Swinney“. The King of Vessels. The Heron. He was my Future Seeker Self.
MacDairmid – The Mountain Goat
I was replaced into the Present. I felt here and now. Then I heard another name, one that I recognised very well, for it was my own. I was “MacDairmid“. The Mountain Goat. Frustrated seeker. I was my Present Seeker Self.
Aengus Roe – The Drumming Ancestor
Now I was shifted far into the past. Another name came into my mind: “Aengus”…then “Roe”. “Aengus Roe”. A full name to work with! I was in the past now, and I was hearing the throb of a deep skinned drum. It was my own heart, my blood pumping around my head on this hot day, it was a deep connection with blood, ancestors, drumming, beat, music…
As I write this I’m listening to The Chemical Brothers “Do It Again” on a random shuffle, and they’re singing:
“Paint my face and bang my drum
Hold my bone up to the sun
Bang my drum and paint my face
On my plane to hyperspace”
I swear – this is how these synchronicities work.
As Aengus I was the ancestor, the drummer, the shaman, the poet. I was my Past Seeker Self.
Who are the Seekers?
Later I would begin to do some research on the two “other” seekers from the past and future. The person known as Aengus Roe has a small part documented in the Annals of the Four Masters – the legendary ancient Celtic source text. He is recorded as having died in 1350, a most learned poet. This was my “drum-beating ancestor”. The Macdermott-Roe part of the family are still known in the Roscommon area. For my degree I studied Poetry. A coincidence, of course.
“Swinney” – my future self – reminded me of the ancient poem about Merlin called “The Frenzy of Sweeney“. In that poem Merlin is sent mad by the ferocity and loss involved in the Battle Of Mag Rath. That in turn reminded me of my own ancestral battle at the Fort of the Bulls (‘Rath na Dtarbh’) in Roscommon. All a convoluted set of coincidences, of course.
Yet, in my meditation at Tara the last thing I was told was to bring the Three Seekers together in a celebratory song about madness and Merlin in The Feasting Hall. I am told finally to find “The Connaught Section” of the site as my next destination. I set my mind to do that and returned to normal awareness.
The Connacht Section
I was excited by this information. Three “seeker selves”. What would be next?
I am led by the dowsing rods to the spot I need to be at – a hollow in the land which I have visited before at Tara. Today it was particularly beautiful, and as I sat there it came to mind that this was “The Connaught Section” of the complex. I read later that Tara is divided into five parts, each related to a part of Ireland.
As I sit in the sunken feature and settle in I find that the sunlight through the grass makes for an easy transition into trance. I meditate on my previous quest – The Essence of the Merlin Staff. have I found all the elements required to make it? YES. For some reason I look at my watch – it’s 21:21. That quest ends at a coincidental time.
I settle back into meditation, and notice that a piper is sitting a hundred feet away, and he begins an impromptu performance, which adds to the atmosphere of the place. I go into meditation, in connection with my Spirit Guide, with the ancestral spirits of this famous sacred and regal place….I go in search of a new quest….
The Songs of the Winds
The wind plays along with my spirit guide as though responding in sympathy to her words. The lone piper plays softly as she talks.
“Learn the language of the winds, sing the songs of the winds that you may behest them.”, she instructs.
‘Behest them’? What an odd verbal configuration. Why, I asked?
“That you may call them to rip and to sway, to smash and to play.”
I pushed it a bit further. Why?
“You will sing their songs far and wide, spread their message all over the world.”
All the time that the piper played the information kept coming. The channel was open. When I felt that we had finished our conversation the music stopped to a round of applause. Another beautiful coincidence on this day of them.
Feasting of the Four Directions
I had my new quest: to discover the song of the winds. I didn’t really expect there would be more at this point, but I was not finished. I still needed to bring these ‘seeker selves’ from the past, present and future together in the Feasting Hall with a celebratory song. A song? One I knew or one that I had to create, I wondered? I let the dowsing rods begin the search for the hall, and on the way I set my mind to thinking about how I would take part at this spiritual feast.
The dowsing rods took me towards the main entrance to Tara, and on the wak Kal appeared. He’d clearly been busy too, but we shared no information at that point, preferring to wait until the journey back to the hotel in order to regale each other. I would later be astonished to find out that Kal also has a banqueting experience in his visions.
I found the small cursus – two straight embankments in an elongated rectangle shape. This was the feasting hall, I felt. As I introduced myself to the space I became aware of many more spiritual presences all around me. The place was thronging with noise and joviality. Like never before I was now operating in two worlds simultaneously. I was still able to speak to Kal and pay attention to what was happening around me, but I was also deep into this feasting hall of spirits. It was most odd.
The three seeker selves were present in me at the hall – I was all three at once. Other clans have their future and past seeker selves there too. I deliver a joke I’ve been preparing about bards and the elder patrons of the assembly, and this gets a rousing acceptance as a response. I feel like that was an acceptance of my presence, even though I feel I am the only “present” person there. Everyone else is this ethereal but powerful ghostly presence.
Having sung my ditty one of the other spirit presences gets up and put his arms around me – he wants me to join him in a song that he’s going to teach me. It’s a song for Merlin – a nonsense song that will amuse everyone. He begins to slowly teach me and make me recite this line, over and over, each time getting louder and faster:
“Hey hey hella n ho – hella n hella n hella n ho.”
We’re speeding up each time we finish a group of four lines. We sing a round which gets faster and faster until we’re singing complete nonsense and we fall about laughing. The laughter joins us, brings us all together, all of the clans of this spirit space – past and future, with me as the link to the present.
I am reluctant to leave. I thank those present for accepting me in their throng, and I make my way back to the world of the present moment, closing the door on the feasting hall, and feeling the cool evening air. I become more aware that people are gathering now for their own celebrations – travellers, tourists, other seekers of spiritual teachings and the old ways of being. I am just one person again.
These celebrants’ tents are being raised in fields aside the main Tara site, and the noise levels are rising. As we begin to make our way back to the car we see people preparing for their own feasting and merry-making. Mine, though, was in a different world – a world just beyond the veil of the ordinary. Maybe some of those settling in tonight would find their own way into this space this evening?
Solstice celebration. The tarot cards that I drew at the start of the year to inform this time of the year was from the Camelot Tarot: the location was Joyous Gard and the person was The Questing Beast. What I find interesting is that the questing beast is a mythical creature which brings together in one animal four parts of other animals: snake, leopard, lion and hart. Here at Tara I have seen both joy and questing, but most of all – a joyous coming together of four disparate parts in union.