This is Chapter 2 of the official tale of our journey to Ireland in September of 2015. If you are just joining on now, the Intro (Going Back to the Beginning) and the first chapter (Dublin’s Final Call) are further back at this same blog site. There are also a few pre-trip blogs if you are interested in checking them out. And now back to the story:
My Way in the Dark
Day two of our adventure would come with a much welcome slow start. We awaited word from other travelers from the States that they had arrived in Dublin. That word would come via a text about 9:30 a.m. I thought back to days gone by when a single horse rider would bolt off the give word that additional arrivals were on their way. With so much of the focus of our upcoming journey on the ancient sites I found myself frequently falling back in time in my mind in the best possible ways.
By late morning our additional travelers found us in our St. James Gate apartment. We packed enough for twice as many into our SUV and grabbed lunch at a pub in downtown Dublin. Part of me wanted to re-visit my Irish Christmas sandwich. The wiser part of me knew that the third time would have been forced. Instead we chose a place called The Storehouse based on Rhonda’s vibration. She trusted her vibration quite well. As a result we enjoyed top quality stew, fish and chips as well as bangers and mash. Everyone got a chance to level up on their Guinness measures and we then walked the town for a bit. We re-visited Trinity College, dressed up as Leprechauns and bought bath bombs from the Dublin Lush outlet.
One member of our group named Laura shares the surname with the famous Daniel O’Connell so we found the statue and street in his name and more importantly a pub in the same name. A round of Jameson was had for all except for the driver, who unfortunately was me. For the first of what would be many times in the upcoming week I formed the thought that we will hire a bus and a driver for future journeys. It will happen that way. The thought has planted the seed.
Just as it was on our last trip, Christiana was anxious to get out into the bonny green hills and see the real Ireland of her childhood dreams. By mid-afternoon she would get her wish. Our destination was the River Boyne area, home to many of the important sacred sites. Early farmers settled in the River Boyne area around 4000 BC and began to cultivate the rich soil and feed off the bounty of the River. To be in the presence of the River itself is captivating. It would be a few days yet before the River would call me to come closer. I was yet to be seduced by her charms. I wasn’t quite ready.
After arrival at our lodgings in Newgrange, our home for the next few nights, our group set out to enjoy the Spirit of Folk festival at the Dunderry Shamanic Center. I was excited to experience an Irish style folk festival even though I have never been drawn much to our equivalent back home – the Renaissance fairs. My excitement to travel to the festival was a bit subdued by my fear of having to drive back the hotel in the dark later that night and the knowing that if I wanted to celebrate on our first night with anything more to drink beyond soft drinks it would have to be limited to one or two at most. Once again I thought of the driver and the bus.
Shortly after arriving at the festival, our co-host Rob ran into a short man with a fantastically long, curly black and gray beard. He introduced him to us as Eddie and later pulled me aside and told me that Eddie was the most famous storyteller in all of Ireland. I realized quickly that I wasn’t going to need beer or wine or whiskey on this evening to be high with the experience. We did not get a chance to see Eddie tell a story but we did see a man named Jack tell one about Irish folk legend Finn Mac Cool. We sat in a candle lit cave, or as the Irish call them cairns, as we heard the story. Jack was a great teller and the setting was perfect. After the session Jack and I chatted and I learned more about the Irish storytelling scene.
Jack was also quite curious about what I was telling him about how storytelling was catching on in America as well. He told me that he has traveled the world and told Irish folk tales and in his estimation the storytelling scene in America is quite vibrant. I told him that I was a novice to storytelling and that I had much to learn and many stories yet to be unveiled. He listened attentively as I told him about how I had come to discover my love for storytelling. He offered me a little awakening that I will save and share at the end of this post.
After our storytelling session we all split up and wandered the grounds of the festival. I was a bit worried that we had not designated a meet up time and place, but Rob assured me that the area was small enough and that we would find each other at the right time. I became increasingly more aware of the two of the largest tests and awakenings that would challenge me on this voyage. Those two tests would be overcoming fear and letting go.
In my wanderings I saw, heard and tasted many things. I saw an area set out for offerings of all kinds. The area was in a heart shape that was that woven out of vine. People had left everything from flowers to leaves to fruit to stones to coins. I also saw Laura get a bindi dot placed on her third eye from an Irish fashion designer who was tripping on mushrooms. I ate the best ever Magic Trio falafel wrap, an experience I never expected to have at an Irish Folk festival. I saw children of all ages run around the grounds with cardboard swords and shields pretending to be warriors of days gone by. I heard live music of all kinds. At one point I heard Irish folk music. At another I heard tunes and riffs from DJ Kaskade, our favorite electronica DJ back home. I marveled at the synchronicity. We drank wine out of shared bottles since we had no cups. I took sips instead of gulps. It was all that I needed in the moment in time and I had that drive looming ahead.
At one point about 10:00 p.m. our entire group met up near the music tent quite organically, just as Rob had predicted that we would. I suggested that we depart in about 20 minutes after final experiences and more importantly, visits to the Loo, which by now I’m sure you all know means the toilets. I was content with the experiences I had enjoyed and the information I had gathered. I was sated by the Spirit of Folk.
Our return to the car included a fairly sturdy walk through a cow grazing pasture that had been cleared to serve as a car park. On the walk in we had the advantage of the daylight. On the way out it was pitch black. I used the flashlight on my Iphone to blaze the trail for me and a few other travelers. It was a far cry from lit torches carried through the night in the days of Finn MacCool, yet was the real experience of the moment in time and it was fabulous. When we made it safely back to the car I found that I wasn’t too concerned about what the drive might look like any longer. I was learning to blaze trails in the dark in both real terms and metaphorical terms.
Allow me to go back to what Storyteller Jack said to me at the end of his story about Finn MacCool. I’ll paraphrase because like all good tellers, Jack is never too short on words.What Jack said that caused an awakening for me was this:
It’s a quite easy to tell stories about other people and other things. The hardest story to tell is your own and the only way to do it well is to open your eyes and put yourself in the situations that you fear. Like the great warriors of ancient times, it’s from the journey and the battles that all great tales come.
I had slayed no dragons nor had I battled any dark lords, yet a year ago I never would have even consented my energy to attending a folk festival in the middle of the woods in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. In surrendering to the possibility of a place I previously would have never wanted to be, I discovered that I wound up in the place that I needed to be. Everything was exactly as it was supposed to be.
So on the second night of our Sacred Sites Pilgrimage, I walked through the dark. In doing so I found my Way. By walking in the dark, I built up just enough confidence to handle my first Irish drive through the dark. I was overcoming a few of my fears: I began facing the challenge of letting go. Like Finn Mac Cool, in my own little story I was playing out a tale of a modern day warrior. In the journey and the battles ahead, the best of the tales were getting ready to emerge.