(B.oldly R.econstructing I.nherited D.estinies & G.racefully E.volving)
“What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal.”
I spent my Christmas holidays and ushered in the new year with a massive rural bonfire in Northern Ireland. In between the aimless roaming of the quiet hills, visiting natural places of wonder, and spending time with my partner’s family, the thought of how much I needed to get done for the opening of Sagehouse, brought pangs of doubt and worry. Birthing a physical home for a community of seekers in a foreign country is tall order to fill, and I could not help but feel overwhelmed by it all.
Of course, the irony was that soon after arrival, I was knocked out with a nasty cold that literally put me out of physical and mental commission. I was forced to detach from work and accept my snail-like drowsiness. It was a blessing in disguise, and I was able to fully immerse in the experience of absorbing the beauty around me. It was as if the chorus of North Atlantic birds were beckoning me to stand still and feel fully where I was. Cold, wet or damp, Ireland doesn’t lose any of its alluring charm.
Everyday, I was on a walk around some forest path or hillside. The country was beaming with an indescribable kind of magic that can only to be felt in a place like Ireland. As my second visit to this place of faeries, elves and giants, one can definitely feel the palpable connection between the Irish people and their land, even though their bonds to Christianity long survived their ancient Celtic roots.
And it is in the matter of ancestry and religion that brings me to the spiritual highlight of my trip. It wasn’t at the famous Giant’s Causeway, where perfectly stacked hexagonal volcanic rocks have somehow formed in symmetrical columns, that I received a spiritual lesson. It was rather in some lesser known forest in County Tyrone – at the Chair and Well of St. Patrick.
Before Patrick’s arrival, the Chair, was actually just known as a giant rock in a natural site of druidic ceremony and ritual. Here I was, at the ‘Pinnacle Rock’, now called St. Patrick’s Chair, in the middle of the Altadaven Glen. I thought to myself, how awful it was that this Conqueror came and took this important sacred site from the Druids and converted it into site of Christian victory. This beloved St. Patrick that is celebrated as the Enlightener of Ireland was not getting good marks in my book as the destroyer of the Celtic faith.
I eventually let the thought go, and felt drawn to take a seat on the rock. I sat on this massive stone with my legs dangling off the seat and soon felt this surge of energy permeate throughout my body that can only be described as a feeling of connecting to All that Is. I was called to chant and tone in language far reaching into the past, and soul memories of my time among the Celts resurfaced. My partner and I visited this site, and literally, there was not a physical soul in sight the entire time we were there. Without getting into the minutiae of what came to me in my meditation. I sat and absorbed what I was meant to rediscover during my time there.
I arose with a strong connection to the Druids. The word druid actually comes to roughly mean the ‘oak-knower,’ as they were priestly figures who bore prophet like qualities. After Roman conquests, the Druids became associated with witchcraft and sorcery. While their practices were not quite understood, and seen as primitive, they were actually in the truest sense, respected Sages of the old natural order. And while I felt a strong connection to this ancient tribe, I also strangely felt a tie to St. Patrick. Not having been brought up with any faith, especially not to paganism nor Catholicism, it was as if I was this neutral vessel brought to this sacred site for the purpose of disentangling the misunderstandings between the Old and the New (not necessarily for all of humanity, but for my own understanding and inner knowing).
On that high druid chair, I became a bridge between worlds. I could relate to both sides of the story – I empathized with both the Vanquisher and the Vanquished. Through later research, I discovered that many Christian holidays in reality have deep roots to the old pagan ways, more than meets the eye – like Easter and the celebration of the pagan Spring Equinox; Christmas on the Winter Solstice and a few others. History always presents a story with biased views, and it is through fresh eyes and discovery that we can unearth the true essence underneath the illusions.
This British born boy, Patrick, was captured by Irish Pirates and claimed that the voice of God saved and led him home again. It was his six years in Ireland that were crucial in the development of his conviction and spiritual life that eventually brought him back to Ireland on a mission of faith. Some people loved Patrick, and some people hated him. Some saw him as the Enlightener, and others the Destroyer. If we remove our selves from these labels of good and bad, and look at the truth of what he was compelled to do, he did not destroy an old way of being. Destroying implies oblivion. But instead, he integrated and served as a bridge for a new way of worship to emerge from the old. Would you in your right mind return to your pirate captors, having escaped, then spend the rest of your life converting these same pirate captors because you felt an inexpressible gratitude for your experience as a prisoner, since it created your need to spread your love for God? All St. Patrick did was accept his Life Purpose and B.oldly R.econstructed an I.nherited D.estiny to G.racefully E.volve a new way of being. It was all in accordance with the natural order of things. If we look at the universe, everything is constantly changing and evolving. The only constant is change.
Surrendering to my Irish cold and physical lethargy was my gift during this trip. Because it gave me the realization that during every moment of our lives, we have the choice to remain ensnared in the old ways of doing and being, or we can opt to follow in the wise words of Friedrich Nietzsche. Our greatness lies not what fresh new things we desire to create, but in finding the harmony in becoming a bridge between the old and the new.