Persephone’s Bells

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Follow me along
Shadow paths of dreams and thoughts
Towards lights white lips.

Persephone comes
Trailing bluebells in her wake
And earth gushes life.

All is well within
Deep under thick flower filled woods
Spring flows eternal.

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Earth Dragon of Ashaig

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Lying on the South East coast of Skye is a rippled green carpet, lying in soft folds over deep layers of history stretching back at least 7,000 years. Beneath the lush green grass lie remains of human activities, whispering in half obscured lines and echoes, now given over almost entirely to the dead. The green mound enclosed in lichen covered stones, is an ancient burial mound, and it sits on top and around the faded remains of a C7th Celtic Church. This ancient Kirk was placed on an even older burial site, which is flanked by a huge Mesolithic shell midden. It seems this site has drawn people to its natural beauty and peace ever since they arrived on these shores. Looking at the vibrant mossy mound I was reminded of a giant sleeping dragon, curled within the stones and rocks, with just it’s huge stone claws peeping out under the ancient stone boundary.

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Walking away from this enchanting mound, the view back was dramatically lit by low sun and stray clouds. The newer ancient graves can be seen to the left, where they stand looking out across the waves towards Applecross, Jura and Pabay, while those more ancient have long since crumbled down towards the earth and lie now re absorbed beneath the grass within the body of the dragon.

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At the older seaward end of the walled mound, just beyond the ancient shell debris, lies a wooden gate leading into a stone enclosure.

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In the heart of this space lies a healing well, with a history of at least 1,300 years, but probably stretching back even further into the prechristian past. It’s waters were claimed as a cure for asthma, eye complaints and soft bones, and prayers and curses could be granted at its edge. Still gushing strongly from the earth, it flows into a stone chamber, partially covered by curiously marked stones.

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Diamond shaped eyes look back blankly, holding their stone secrets for eternity.

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Little hollow cups and faces swim in and out of view as the sun casts ever longer shadows, and the stillness and mystery of the deep earth meets us in the crystal waters of the well. An eye, black and moist gazes up from the depths, the earth dragon looks out on the world as we look inwards. The sound of the flowing water leads us out of the enclosure, following a trail of shining white stones scattered in the healing stream.

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A trail of magic marked by the glistening white pebbles, bejewelling the blue ribbon flowing through the green moss out towards the ocean beyond. Water herbs grow fresh and bright in the healing waters, and a basin fills with water topped by glittering golden sun stars. Here would be the place to take the cure, to drink the waters, but afterwards the well head should be circled three times, sunwise, and a natural offering left, all to appease the ancient earth dragon and his glittering eye, or so they say.

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Even closer to the shore, where the sweet clear waters pour over salty tidal stones and earth, there is an ancient wishing stone, a bullaun. Turning the stone within the hollow you could seek a blessing or a curse, depending on the direction you turned the stone. Round as a dragons egg, new directions and fates were birthed by it’s turning. Here at the edge of an island, on the edge of the sea, all was possible if you dreamed hard enough, and the dragon heard.
No wonder the Celtic Saint Maelrubha chose this as his holy place to preach on Skye, hanging his bell from the branches of the ash tree near the well. He travelled by ferry from Applecross so frequently that the place became known as the ferry of Maelrubha. Nowadays the dead are still laid to rest here beneath this soft green turf, with beautiful views across the waves. Countless layers of humanity resting peacefully, returning to the earth from which they came. It’s a beautiful place to reflect on our mortality, and our place within the cycles of life, and to dream of change.

Posted in ancient history, ancient sites, Celtic, change, elemental, mindfulness, mythology, nature photo, photos, relaxation, spiritual, travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 48 Comments

Passing

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She passed peacefully
Despite soft words of comfort
Grief rips us open

In memory of a dear friend, Ruth, who was cremated today.
She made the world a brighter place, and filled it with laughter, mischief and creative passion.
She saw clearly and with an open heart, and I will miss her.

Posted in art, change, mindfulness, nature photo, photos, poem, spiritual, verse | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

The Oceans Tongue

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Late storm light simmers
Brooding satin waves licking
Lichen coated rocks

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Thresholds

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Thresholds are magical spaces, which lie in between two places or states. They are neither one nor the other, but are a mixture of both at once. Because they are neither here nor there, they lie in the third place which is not of this place, but is the once-upon-a-time place of fairy tales and myth.
A threshold space can contain opposites, and so it is space where everything is possible. They are spaces where one thing ends and another begins, and so hold both beginnings and endings. Change occurs by crossing thresholds, by passing through liminal spaces, and finding new possibilities to challenge the status quo.
The word itself is quite mysterious and seems to have Norse roots. [Old English therscold; related to Old Norse threskoldr, Old High German driscubli, Old Swedish thriskuldi]
Thres meaning tread or step, and skoldr or skuld meaning shield or skin. So together they give the meaning of a protective edge to the steps we can take. In other words a place where we should pause and chose our steps carefully.
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Some thresholds are clearly marked by doors or gates, which bar our progress, literally making us come to a halt before moving forwards. In our inner world these can be feelings or experiences which keep us from changing. The gates or doors prevent us from moving into the transitional space where change and new ways of thinking and doing become available to us. Of course fear is usually the biggest door we will encounter, and fear of change will keep us locked out of an emotional space where we can think in different ways. We may never manage to get passed the gate and into the field beyond where there are new views, new landscapes and potentials just waiting to be discovered. We remain cut off from our potential to grow and change, because of the fear of change itself. Better to stay safely tucked behind the walls and fences of our life as we know it, than to risk stepping over a threshold and allowing all that unknown, unpredictable potential to sweep us away into who knows what. Our egos can feel very afraid at thresholds, and for good reason, because we don’t know what lies beyond.

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Thresholds can mark the liminal edges between states of being, between earth and water, between sleep and wakefulness, between night and day. Despite appearances there are no clear cut edges where one thing ends and another begins, rather there is a blurred edge where both states exist at once. The edge of a loch, scattered with rocks and stones is both earth and water, and our ancestors saw in between spaces like this as gateways connecting this world with the otherworld. Where the water and the stones of earth meet something new is created by the mixing, waves ripple back across the water and sound pours out into the air. The encounter of opposites can create something new.

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Thresholds are wonderful places, full of the potential to change, to release old ways of looking at things, and to open up into new ways of encountering and experiencing life. Perhaps you can use the thresholds you cross everyday to waken up a little more. Each doorway you step through could be a chance to pause just for a moment and notice where you are and where you are going. Start to notice the changes in light and sound as you cross through doorways from one space to another, and in this way become a little more engaged with your life as it actually is right now, with all of its wild potential.

Discover more thresholds at the WP Photo Challenge

Posted in art, Celtic, change, elemental, mindfulness, mythology, nature photo, photos, spiritual, unconscious, weekly photo challenge | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 62 Comments

Magical Skye Again

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We visited the South West of Skye, and in the magical Glen Brittle, encircled in the black jagged rocks of the Coullins, we found a stone pyramid. Spilling from its base ice cold water tumbled over waterfalls and poured into turquoise pools, called in Gaelic the Pools of the Speckled People, in English they are named the Fairy Pools. The sound of the waterfalls filled the air with enchanting water music, and the sunlight glittered on the surface of the pools in mesmerising golden stars. We watched cloud shadows drift in impossible slow motion across the steep sides of the mountains, and we soaked the peace and the light deep into our bones.

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The colours of the rocks and the pools filled our imaginations with wild and impossible stories, while eagles circled high above on wide outstretched wings. Mountain hares flashed their white tales at us as they fled up the slopes and away from our prying eyes, disappearing into the vastness of this heather clad Glen.

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The air was warm in the sunlight and the water enticed us to dip our feet in these magical blue pools, but we soon felt the cold bite of the snow between our toes. The numb tingling freshness of snow melt stayed with us long after we had replaced our socks and boots, but we lingered a while beside the sparkling waterfalls, reluctant to leave this enchanted spot. Time seemed to slip away under the powerful gaze of the high guardian mountains, and the soft embrace of smooth water worn rocks and moss.
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Visit if you dare, but you might lose your heart to the wild magic of the Fairy Pools and its enchanted waters, and you too might not want to leave.

Posted in ancient sites, Celtic, elemental, green walks, mindfulness, mythology, nature photo, photos, travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 50 Comments

Remote Street Life

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Up in the more remote parts of Highland Scotland, there are breathtaking roads which wind their way through steep glens and over mountain passes, with just a thin strip of Tarmac. These single track roads can offer thrilling driving experiences rolling for miles with no traffic lights, stop junctions or changing speed limits, no roundabouts or pedestrians, just you and the hills. This particular one track road twists and turns over the Bealach na Ba, the Pass of the Cattle, and it rises from sea level to 2053ft in just five hair raising minutes. Clinging to the side of the steep cliffs it eventually takes on hairpin bends, and remember that if you meet someone coming in the other direction one of you has to reverse to the nearest passing place. You can’t drive this road in auto-pilot and the adrenaline will keep you wide awake living every minute, feeling every bump and curve.
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There is so much going on between the twisting turns and the steep incline that it’s hard to take in much else, but the crumbling mountains and the wildlife all call for attention too. This a street full of action, but so far removed from city driving that it’s like learning a whole new set of rules.
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Posted in elemental, mindfulness, nature photo, philosophy, photos, thoughts, travel, weekly photo challenge | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments