Sacred Skye Mountain

  

Away across the sea to Skye lies a mountain sacred to the ancient veiled earth goddess, the Cailleach. This sacred peak rises behind Broadford, and carries many legends, while she watches over the lush green glen at her feet. Norwegian princesses and nursemaids to kings are rumoured to lie resting at her cloud brushed summit, stroked by the fresh cool winds from Norway. She often holds a final streak of snow in spring, long after the other nearby mountains have shed their winter coats. The Beinn na Cailleach is an ancient mystery indeed, and she guards the holy glen of Chille Chroist, where the bones of the people of this land lie sleeping beneath a moss green mound. This photo is taken from the top of the fairy mound, which stands at the head of the fertile sheep filled glen. 

  
The Loch of Cill Chriosd (Christ’s Church or “Kilchrist”) lies at its heart, and you can see the slopes of Beinn na Cailleach rising behind. Once inhabited by a fierce black kelpie, the waters were blessed by Saint Mael Ruba, and the water beastie fled. The location is thought to contain the bones and heritage of Christian worship dating back to the 7th century. Now its congregation is mostly black faced sheep, and its choir made up of small song birds.

  
The now ruined church is surrounded by grave stones which have been wiped almost clean by the passage of countless hundreds of years of cold snow filled winds. Only lichen and wool can now be read, while others yet hold onto tantallising clues and marks. An ancient boar carved stone whispers tales of the almost forgotten Clan of the Boars. The layers of history lie deep around this glen and the sacred mountain slopes of Beinn na Cailleach.

For all my fact lovers, these photos were taken around Cill Chriosd (Christ’s Church or “Kilchrist”) a ruined former parish church of Strathaird, on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Dating from the 16th century, it replaced an earlier 7th centuary Medieval church on the same location, and was used until 1840. It lies on the B8083 Broadford to Torrin and Elgol road.

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Summer Trolls

  

Summer is here, and the stone trolls are peeping out from beneath her green and floral skirts. Lured out into the warmth and light they share a tale or two of the deep dark earth. Can you see them, blinking and smiling in the sun?

Taken beside a healing well on the Isle of Skye this May…..

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Cool Serenity

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All night a wild storm had pulled and pushed the world, lifting tiles off the roof and snapping branches from the trees. The storm had a loud cold voice, and the windows had rattled in their frames as the snow fell and the harsh ice took hold. By the morning a hush had fallen along with the branches and tiles, and I walked out into the woods looking for serenity.

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There among the fallen limbs and cracked ice I found a pure white peace. Nothing stirred but the memory of the storm, and the sun glittered and twinkled on the frozen water as though there had been nothing to worry about ever. A sparkling serenity filled everything and I breathed out.

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Sometimes after a storm, among the debris, a cool serenity sparkles, inviting us to let go. To sweep away the old and nourish what’s left. Out among the trees I found the first snowdrops of the year, bathed in soft low light, filling me with hope for the Spring to come.

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Snow Fall

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Snow fell snow on snow
Its hush shrank the world softly
Back to slow pleasures

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Mysterious Mist

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Ahead lies shrouded
Wrapped in winters freezing cloak
Glints of futures hopes

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This is everything
Senses brimming with beauty
Future forgotten

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All certainty rests
Forms swirl coming and going
Mysterious mist

Along these mist shrouded tidal waters people have fought for the heart of the kingdom since time began. Those who knew the patterns and moods of the waters had an advantage which left them winning, sometimes despite overwhelming numbers against them. Once the mist closed in you were lost, or you were perfectly hidden to move and pounce at will. Mananans gifts were many, and his followers ruled these waves.
Mist forces us into the present in a beautiful way, mesmerising us with what we can see, and blocking the distance and the future. To move through mist we need to find trust.

For our fact lovers these are the rest of the photos taken from the shore of Culross on the Firth of Forth in Central Scotland. It was late afternoon and the freezing mist parted just in time for the setting sun. Rocks and islands out in the Firth suddenly became visible in pools of mist shrouded light, and sea birds could be seen winging their way home.

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Shadows of Self

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In Winter the shadows draw in around us, we notice them more and we yearn for the light of Summer. In psychotherapy we speak about the shadow, and it’s a wonderful metaphor which Jung came up with to describe the parts of ourself we don’t know. Tucked away within the person you are so familiar with is a whole array of parts and characters which you don’t know about. These hidden parts make up the shadow or the unconcious. Without the light of conscious awareness, these neglected and rejected parts languish unseen.

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If we have courage, we can begin to shed light on these shadow parts of ourselves. We can if we chose, bring them into awareness and work with them creatively. Often instead, we project them outwards onto people around us. So when you catch yourself judging someone else harshly, you might wonder if that is something in you which you don’t like, which you are noticing in an other.

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This deer in the woods is half in shadow and half in the light, and this is probably the state of most of us. We recognise and love the parts we have chosen to embrace and show to others. We create an image and a self which is nicer than perhaps the whole self. We tend to let others see the parts we feel will be accepted and approved of. All the other darker meaner aspects of our nature we tend to leave hidden in the shadows, for fear of being unlovable.

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Yet there is a beauty and a balance in the whole. The light and the shadow together can be tolerated, but only if we are able to be real with ourselves and with the world. To allow the tension of opposites within, both good and bad, requires a maturity and an acceptance which doesn’t always come easily.

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So within the shadow realm of ourselves lie many wonderful unnoticed creatures. Like these deer, they move unnoticed most of the time, and yet they exert an effect whether we acknowledge them or not. Some of them might be real treasures, bringing their surprising gifts to us in unexpected and sudden ways, when the world forces us to do something new or different. Change has a way of working its way inwards and releasing these shadow treasures, whether we seek them or not. Whether we can be brave enough to embrace them and show them to others is a story for another day.

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Mananan’s Cloak

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Mananans soft storm
Clouds, mist and ocean swirl in
Neither here nor there

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Edges blurred and gone
Timeless cloak folds formlessly
Hide and reveal light

For all my fact lovers, these shots were captured from the shore in front of Culross, on the Firth of Forth last week. The whole estuary was shrouded in freezing mist, rolling down from the centre of Scotland, and then it parted letting the low winter afternoon sun offer some spectacular effects. Cold but very pretty.
And for my myth lovers, Mananan was the sea god who ruled these waters, and those around the Western Isles and the Isle of Man. The mist was said to be his cloak, with the powers of invisibility and forgetfulness.

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