Saturday, July 29, 2006

Good-bye now, green country

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It feels right that our last exploring day here (yesterday) was spent at Tara and Newgrange.

The photo, above, is me standing on a hay roll atop the Hill of Tara, looking over 3/4 of Ireland (on a clear day they say you can see that much of the country from this site).

On Tara, 142 kings of Ireland were crowned. There are Celtic mounds here dating back 5,000 years where castles were built millenia later, but are now gone.

Tara is where I feel a strong connection with the yew trees planted more recently in the churchyard. I felt them welcome me last year in a way I have never felt welcomed before or since.

At Newgrange, there is a burial/worship mound INTACT that is 5,000 years old. We squeezed inside to see the structure of rocks that curves up to the capstone. I still don't really understand what it means to be that old. My mind can't grasp it. It's older than the pyramids at Giza by 1,000 years. Older than Stonehenge by 1,000 years. The builders of this structure created a narrow opening to allow the sun to shine through it into the structure on the winter solstice every year (and about two days either side of it).

Posted by Picasa Newgrange; the narrow opening that lets in the light on Dec. 21 is just in the middle where the dark squares are; our students are gathered around the opening

These sites are viewed as sacred and connected to the spirit world by some.

I'm not sure what it is I feel there, but it is strong. I am in awe of people who lived in alignment with nature and its cycles.

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Below are two man-made structures. One 5,000 years old: a carved rock at Newgrange. The next a few hundred years old: a door at Trinity College Dublin.

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They are just human forms. Beautiful, inviting, full of understanding about their cultures, if we study them.

I don't have a problem with religions, also human constructs (in my humble opinion), as long as they do not divide and violate the Life in all things. They are ways to reach God, understand God, worship God. They are doors. Sometimes closed, unfortunately.

Jonathan Swift said, "We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another."


Heather said...

Ruth, these photos made me think of the Plath poem "The Moon and the Yew Tree."

Urgh! I'm at Chris' office to escape the heat and I can't recall my blogger password, so I can login!

Can't wait to see you when you return from your trip. Thanks for the closeup of the sheepie!

thehealingroom said...

I didn't realise how big Newgrange is.
I LOVE the carved stone. All those spirals. Great photos.
How close is Tara to Newgrange?

Ginnie said...

What a meaningful post, Ruth, to say Good-Bye to that fair, green country. I think you're right about the connections we all have/feel to that place. And now I want to go back. You have really whetted my appetite. When I was there before, it was such a different place from where I am now. There's a new longing for what you've seen. So expansive, as your out-stretched arms reveal. Thank you. This has been quite the trip for you and us!

Remind me to tell you about the novel I'm reading about Mary Magdalen, whose heritage is Celtic. Oh my!

Ruth said...

Heather, we're so glad to be back, although the heat and humidity are something else here.

Thank you for the poem. I had never read it, but it is gorgeous. I want to reread it again and again, because I think there is a lot there that I relate to, even some of that darkness.

Yew trees were planted in churchyards and are associated with graves. Apparently they keep cats away for one thing. I wonder if bats and owls really do perch in them.

Love you and see you soon. Hi to Chris.

Ruth said...

Healing Room, do you think you'll ever go to Ireland? I know the Teotihuacan perspective is more your thing. It is so amazing in Ireland. There are at least a hundred of those stones around the outside of the structure, and then many inside too. It took maybe less than 30 minutes to ride from Tara to Newgrange. There are many burial mounds around the countryside besides these also.

Ruth said...

Ginnie, I think you nailed it. When you go to Tara or Newgrange (or experience life?) at a certain point in your life, you might not recognize the connection. I did not talk with the students after visiting these places, so I don't know how their experiences were. But as awareness grows, the connection is something we're more aware of.

Can't wait to talk next week and hear about the book!

thehealingroom said...

Yes, Ruth, I think I will go and see these sites. From my perspective, it doesn't matter what one calls it. The underlying truth is there and we as peoples have been describing it from all points of view. I especially think that all cultures had some type of ancient wisdoms that we are returning to now. Why not?

Ruth said...

Healing Room, I agree with you. I'm interested in the truth that's in everything, and it doesn't matter what forms Truth takes.

Don said...

I found this interesting web site that contains some information on the Yew tree and why it may be found in church/grave yards. Lots of info on this site!

Don said...

Ooooops! I forgot to leave the site address! Here is the link:

Ruth said...

Don, thanks for that very interesting article! I had not heard the argument that yew trees might be used in churchyards to protect the church from wind. It has other interesting theories too.

rachel said...

I feel like I was there with you:) So beautiful, mysterious and introspectively inspiring.

rachel said...

Wow, Heather, I really enjoyed that poem as well! I have never quite seen the moon in that light before- how sad, yet exquisite.

Ruth said...

Rachel, how nice to have you back from your travels! I hope you had a wonderful time in MI. I think you would love Ireland and its history and earthy people.

Rauf said...

Ruth, I must say it looks like a self discovering and an enlightening tour, all good things come to an end. Thanks so much for all the details and information through your writing and pictures, felt like being there myself.

Can't help thinking about Asterix and Obelix, my favourite comics. Depicting the carefree Gaelic way of life.

Tes Jonathan swift is right. No religion preaches hatred, but the practice has become so complicated that the original message of love and peaceful coexixtence is lost in the huge buildings and walls of the places of worship.

Rauf said...

sorry for the typos Ruth

Ruth said...

Welcome back, Rauf! I'm glad you got your computer up and running again.

I'm not familiar with Asterix and Obelix. I'll look for them online.

It is ironic that the church buildings, which were built to bring people closer to God, can become a distraction and irrelevance.