As I make my slow pilgrimage through the world, a certain sense of beautiful mystery seems to gather and grow. A. C. Benson
I wasn’t at all sure about my first tip to England and Ireland. My many fears manifested in the inability to make decisions – such as what size suitcase to buy and what to put in it. Would I need this? Could I leave that behind? In the end I determined that I had to simply get on the plane and let the rest unfold as it would. What an amazing pilgrimage it was – history, beauty, cold, fear, friends, ceremonies, sacred sites, struggle, mystical experiences, release and a sense of ever being guided by a loving hand.
My grand adventure spanned five weeks – from April 24 to May 28, 2016. I arrived in Dublin on April 25 in chilling, windy winter and stayed until May 28th – long enough to delight in the gentle sun and spring blossoms. For the first ten days, three fellow pilgrims, tour leaders, Elizabeth Keller and Jewels Maloney, and several of their local friends embarked on a mystical Avalon Journey Tour. We explored the life of St. Brigid of Ireland in Dublin and Kildare, Ireland and Glastonbury, England. In Glastonbury and Cornwall we also delved into the myths and mysteries of Merlin and King Arthur. For the rest of my journey, to come in Part 2, I stayed on in Glastonbury on my own, toured the Cotswolds with a guide, took the train to York and West Yorkshire, and went back to Kildare for more time with new friends on the Emerald Isle.
Part 1: AVALON JOUNEY
Our journey began in Dublin where, with our fellow pilgrims, we were asked to journal our intentions for the journey. I wanted to relax into the flow, beauty and mystery of the experiences, and to release old limitations, anger and resentment. That evening the five of us explored the area around our hotel, had dinner at a traditional Irish Pub and attended Evensong at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. My phone was picked from my pocket on the first day, removing all distractions from present moment living!
The following day in Kildare we walked the path of Goddess-Saint Brigid, whose lore is an integral part of Irish history. We spent quiet time at St. Brigid’s Holy Well, where many healings have occurred, and visited Solas Bhride, a Christian Centre for Celtic Spirituality, where the Brigidine sisters tend the perpetual flame of St. Brigid. In the company of new friends, we were treated to beautiful Irish meal at the home of our Irish guides.
For our five days in Glastonbury, England we were housed at the peaceful Daisy Center, with time to meditate, journal and process our amazing experiences. We were able to participate in an early morning healing circles inside the ancient circles at Stonehenge and walked the circle at the Woman’s Sanctuary at Avebury.
Glastonbury experiences included the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey, said to be the burial place of King Arthur and Guinevere; the festive ancient May Day Beltane celebration, which included meditation at the sacred Chalice Well Gardens; and time at site of Brigid’s church and well at Bride’s Mound.
I experienced my usual pattern of struggle – with fear, with food, with fatigue, with the very cold temperatures, with a full, mostly outdoor schedule.
But in the midst of the struggle I also had a number of mystical messages and experiences. At the Avebury Woman’s Sanctuary I seemed to see women in white walking the circle with us. At Bride’s Mound I walked for a while with ancient pilgrims and was told, “You are a peace pilgrim, the way is clear.” At the Beltane meditation, as soon as I was seated in the Chalice Well circle, I had to find paper and pencil to write down the flow of words that came to me from one who said, ” Thank you for walking the path of struggle into the present – bringing us into the light of the shining sun – letting our inner children out to play in trust and joy – for you and the highest good of all.”… We honor you for the willingness to walk this path to loving everyone.”… “Be present with your fellow travelers. Love them with all your heart.
In spite of Divine encouragement, my fears were up and evident as we headed to Tintagel, Cornwall to explore more of the legends of King Arthur and Merlin. We stayed at the amazing Camelot Castle Hotel, perched on the Atlantic cliffs. Many of our events were outdoors, where we had to brave the unexpected artic chill. The coast was rugged and I was always the slowest, bringing up the rear. I bundled up with many layers, took my pilgrim’s staff and with the support of my friends, accomplished more than I thought possible. They called me “fearless pilgrim,” but I must confess the fear walked with me.
We performed a healing ceremony at the round table at the ornate King Arthur’s Hall.
In the village of Boscastle, I did a personal release and forgiveness ceremony at the historic Minster church. The cemetery has been allowed to revert to a wildflower meadow, where it seemed the fairies were out to play in the spring sunshine.
On the last morning of our Avalon Journey, with the help of my friends, I chose to walk the coast pathway to Merlin’s Cave at the Tintagel Castle Historic site. The cave is only accessible for short periods when the tide is out.
While the group went down the steep stairs into Merlin’s cave, I sat on a bench located half-way between the Cave below and the historic castle ruins above. I enjoyed the spring sunshine and the magnificent coastal views, as I held the space for the healing circle being conducted in the cave below. As I waited the following words flowed from my pen:
Danger lurking, merlin smirking
Wind waiting, cliffs calling,
Angels watching, soul soaring
My new friends released my red rose during the ceremony and afterwards gifted me with Merlin cave rocks for my journey. And so with both gratitude and reluctance, we completed our mystical journey. That afternoon after delivering three pilgrims to Bristol to catch flights home, I returned with the others to Glastonbury to begin my personal journey. Have suitcase, will travel. Fearless pilgrim? Not quite yet.