Earth Dragon of Ashaig

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

About greenmackenzie

Hi, I'm Seonaid, and I share my home on the shores of Loch Ness deep in the Scottish Highlands with my husband, my son and a couple of dogs. I love art which is here now and gone food and nature...but also have a passion for vintage and the ancient past! Nature is my favourite muse, with her wild ever shifting seasons. I have been using and teaching mindfulness and relaxation for over 12 years, and have yet to become any sort of expert :-) I'm a Psychotherapist and Cancer Support Specialist in Maggies Highlands
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51 Responses to Earth Dragon of Ashaig

  1. poppytump says:

    I’m now lost for words …
    A wonderful read for my Sunday morning Seonaid … I almost feel too faraway from what I should be getting on with after imagining myself there .. I shall have to pinch myself . twice . at the very least .
    Enjoy your day too ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Liana says:

    felt this one interstially…”stone eyes”
    …you are favored by the Muse, girl

  3. ladyfi says:

    Beautiful prose and lovely photos of that gorgeous scenery.

    • The scenery alone is so beautiful it still takes my breath away each time I see it Fi…and it shifts and changes even as you watch, with the tidal waters receding and drawing back in, and the sun casting its rays from different angles as it passes across the sky ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. dadirri7 says:

    as we approach the darkest months down here in the south, I can imagine lying down with your dragon, watching the world of humans through a gleaming eye that weeps healing tears for our dear Earth … thanks Sionaid for this journey ๐Ÿ™‚

    • What beautiful words, you have really moved me with the thought of healing tears for the earth. Curling up with the dragon beneath the soft green turf blanket would be a lovely way to pass the winter months ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. LB says:

    I felt like I was on a journey with you!
    Seonaid, how do you know all this history? Is it pure interest or part of your profession? Just curious …

    • Oh I’m so glad you came on a journey with me, it’s always lovely to share ๐Ÿ™‚
      Your question is a good one. I have been drawn to stories and myths since childhood, and I was an veracious reader who consumed many tales of the old gods and tales of fairies, dragons and evil queens! This love has followed me into adulthood as a passion for the history and roots of a place, and my professional training involves of course looking back at our stories, and at the collective myths we make. Jung has lots to say about archetypes and myths. Then I wrote my dissertation on metaphor and use of symbols in recovery from trauma…..that lead to a rereading of the fairy tales from my childhood…..deep into the forest of the unconscious I walked ๐Ÿ™‚
      So I think the answer is probably an entwining of my personal passion and my profession!

  6. Wow, thanks for bringing us all to this wonderful place. I wonder, as ‘Colonialist’ did above, about the physical manifestation of energies at this place. It is certainly special after-the-fact but what first drew ancient folks to it, I wonder? Such history. Again, I am envious. D

    • I’m sure that the ancients were drawn to the beauty, the abundance of natural resources like fresh water, abundant seafood, herbs and trees….and this spot offers panoramic views of the approaching waterways, while offering protection in the soft grassy hollows.
      It feels like a place to stay awhile, when you come here, and I’m certain that was true even before all the stories and history left their mark.
      There is a natural rock mound with dragon claws, which has been here since the ice age withdrew….the shapes in the landscape are somehow pleasing and soothing…..unusual rocks and earth shapes seem to have attracted us ever since we left Africa…..

  7. What a magical place, Seonaid. Your writing and knowledge of the history of these places you share here, never fails to enthrall me.

    • It’s certainly a peaceful and enchanting spot, and the light and sound reflects in strange entrancing ways….I can never resist the history and myths which ripple through a place. It adds to my feeling of connection with those who have walked here before me ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. LightWriters says:

    Ah, Skye…an isle of dreams and incomparable beauty and peace. Wonderful post!

  9. Seonaid – you take us deep into the folds of this landscape with its layered history and mysteries. I love the image of the dragon wall, protecting its secrets; I can feel the depth of this place through your pictures and description.

    • What a beautiful comment, thank you. It’s hard not to see dragons among the folds and wrinkles of this ancient spot, with it’s glittering lichen scales. Depth is a very good word to use in this place, as you look down into the darkness of the well head…..

  10. Suzanne says:

    Wow – what an incredible post to be able to visit. Your insight into the history and mythology, your magical photos and your insightful understanding all work together to create a blog post that is uplifting and magical.

    • Wow Suzanne, what an encouraging comment, thank you. I’m so happy to hear that you like my weaving together of threads and elements from the landscape. I can never resist a bit of mythology ๐Ÿ™‚
      I loved your post on your descent into the volcanic earth…..very similar themes!

      • Suzanne says:

        Yes I noticed the similarity too. Must have been that Easter energy of rebirth ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. twoscamps says:

    What an inspiring post, Seonaid. Your images and words always transport me. Thank you.

    • Thanks for sharing with me your delight at this post. It’s lovely to hear that I transport you with my posts….I feel my job is done when I read lovely comments like this ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. icelandpenny says:

    This is… wondrous, Seonaid. Thank you.

  13. Such majestic beauty Seonaid! I’m in Devon this Easter with my sister and brother-in-law and yesterday we were out on the moors ๐Ÿ™‚ Dartmoor has the same kind of ancient magic that I see in your images of Skye!

  14. Leya says:

    Enchanting, Seonaid. There are so many historic places and wonderful tales to be told from Scotland. I can hear how you love them all…We are all grateful for your stories!

    • Oh I do love a good story, and can’t resist sharing, so I’m delighted that there are those who love to listen ๐Ÿ™‚
      And of course I haven’t even mentioned the Vikings who lived and ruled these lands for many hundreds of years….after the age of the Culdee Saints.

  15. Lucid Gypsy says:

    I’m intrigued by the Mesolithic shells, were they emptied of their fruit by the gathering women and children ten thousand years ago do you think? or perhaps the dragon spat them from his teeth. Either way I feel as if I’ve been there, on one of the furthest paths the ancestors took out of Africa.

    • Far indeed from Africa, but it must have suited them because they stayed ๐Ÿ™‚
      I love the idea that the dragon may have added to the shell pile Gilly, your imagination is as wonderful as mine, I also imagine our ancient ancestors gathered around a fire of baking shellfish….what a delicious feast of oysters, clams and winkles, and with views to die for!

  16. colonialist says:

    I wonder what those who are that way inclined would have to say about ley lines or lines of force there? It seems the sort of place which would be bound to have them.

    • Indeed, I’m sure the ancient priests and Druids felt the energies of the earth, and chose to build accordingly…..the same way we can feel the peace and tranquility of a spot even today ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. This is how history should be taught. Thanks you for this and all of your wonderful posts.

  18. โ™กeM says:

    What a lovely Sunday sermon of sorts for me! Thank you, Seonaid. I have long been drawn to the past, with its players and their stories. The past, its people, evoke curiosity and awe. Beautifully written and captured, your dragon tale is!

    • A Sunday Dragon Sermon, what a wonderful thought ๐Ÿ™‚
      Like you the past draws me into its unknown mysteries and tales, and I’m always delighted to share what I hear in the grassy hollows…..

  19. You’ve done a marvelous job conveying the beauty and magic of this place through your words and photos – I feel transported after reading this.

  20. Sue Vincent says:

    Ah, just beautiful all round x

  21. Mind Style says:

    A fantastic description and super photography. I almost imagined the Dragon to wake up and shake his head…. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Uncle Tree says:

    A superb documentary! ๐Ÿ™‚ An all-around splendid post!
    For an instant, I felt transported, and was with you
    to share in a moment of healing. Grade: A+

  23. restlessjo says:

    The wild beauty of this place is such a lure, Seonaid. I’ve never been, but would love to. Looks like your dog may have enjoyed some of the magic elixir ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Rachael Charmley says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Seonaid. What an immensely powerful and beautiful place. Magical. And as usual, beautifully portrayed with your images and words. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • It really is a special place, and I’m sure that even if you didn’t know it’s history you would be enchanted and soothed…..however the history for me just makes the connection to the space deeper, and so enhances the whole experience. A beautiful healing place on earth.

  25. Sharon K. says:

    Hi Seonaid, what a beautiful post. Your writing is lovely :-).

    I love these ancient structure and the wild landscape that surrounds them! So natural and full of mystery.

    Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • All that mystery just seeping through the cracks and spaces in the earth ๐Ÿ™‚
      I love the feeling and the inspiration at sites like this, and I’m delighted you enjoyed the results.

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