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Walking with our Ancestors

There is a great power in remembrance. Through remembrance we are brought to a spiritual life. The conscious effort to maintain such a meditative focus of study into our origins can awaken us to the full potential of our spiritual transformation. This remembrance brings greater meaning to our own lives, and gives a deeper purpose to everything that befalls us, it helps us put context of our inner desires that this society does not always support. It will empower us to create the visions of a community that supports our highest potential.

Irish literature and storytelling has always retained a mythical ability to address contemporary issues. In fact, all the Irish myths are echoed in our real-life experiences. They can be tracked through the oscillations of the stars above us and through the landscape around us. The archetypes within our myth are there to reflect our potential, connect us with the landscape and to help us step into our potential. As they overcame the severest suffering, so can we; as their tests ultimately contributed to their life purpose, so do ours. They can connect us to the movements of the heavens and guide us in active participation in bringing spiritual practice into an ecological format. Spiritual beliefs and practices can foster respect and action for biodiversity. Grim (2001) asserts that most native peoples share a perception that non-human beings are equal in status with humans, that all life exists in familial relationships, and that these relationships are sustained in ritually prescribed ways that often conserve biodiversity. While “there is no one ‘indigenous’ view on religion and ecology… spiritual relationships established between native peoples and their homelands” often foster ecological commitments and activism, including biodiversity conservation (Grim 2001, p. xxxiv). Our indigenous way of being, the Irish kinship (also kingship) with the land, its climate, soil, water, mountains, lakes, forests, streams, plants, and animals has literally determined the expressions of our mythology of place.

The Irish archetype Lugh Lamhfhada, heralded in a change of society structures. Lugh presides over the arts, all skills, the sun, and justice. He fights against all forms of slavery and discrimination. Through his life challenges, he stepped further into his kingship by communing with the land and becoming a consort in inner sovereignty. It addresses remembrance metaphorically, by identifying where we came from we can decide what our destiny can be. The purpose of undertaking this pilgrimage was to offer forth a myth that could support the changing times. By challenging myself I shed away any preconception I had of who I was. I could only be my true self in the engagement in survival. The thread of the continuum I held was Lugh. I engaged with how this myth was echoed through the landscape and in turn reflected in who I was. Compared to the rawness of living fully in nature, confronted with the ever-changing elements, I had nowhere to hide from the truth of my being. It scraped me back to the essence of me, from that I can rebuild into my full potential, knowing through the reality of genuine practice, I can survive openly in a storm. Placing each foot on the earth is a practice, but a practice that comes from my own roots, not a book or a teacher. I learned that the truth of our Irish spirituality lies within the practical and preparation. Its core is rooted in knowing your skills and ability. I became committed to walking in a way our ancestors would be proud of; walking as a respectful guest along the land and showing truth and grace in word and deed. I made an effort to leave no trace but a positive impact on this hallowed land. I found ample sources on sacred natural sites as repositories of biodiversity. I deepened my understanding that spiritual values and taboos associated with sacred natural sites can help to preserve biodiversity. I learned the myth not from pages of a book but by true experience of how the landscape felt.

When we are born, our physical needs and wants take over and we forget what we knew as an unborn soul. Society begins to imprint structures of today upon us and we forget we are wild and connected to land. We spend the rest of our lives trying to remember what we had forgotten, to accept who we are. I often hear this referred to as ‘healing’.

We will find the sacredness of all life and the love that we will most cherish in remembrance. But this is not an easy process. Living in this modern material world is like having dust gather upon the mirror of the heart.

Attachment to the world, avarice, envy, love of luxury and comfort, haughtiness and self-desire… which prevents reflection of the rays of the Sun of Reality in the mirror. – The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 244.

Simplifying life to the bare minimum and communing with the elements and landscape removes the dust and allows the light within us to shine. To do this through our myth gives us a thread to follow, a journey already laid. As we mature spiritually, our remembrance grows deeper and deeper and moves us along the continuum away from material attachments and toward a state of constant remembrance of the inner divine. Remembrance may be the most powerful tool we have for achieving true self-knowledge, as this knowledge is within us, fully accessible, and essential to who we are, always have been, and always will be.

When we get right down to it, at the heart of most spiritual practice, what is left when we move beyond society obligations and inner preconceptions is simply remembering. Remember who you are. Remember what you love. Remember what is sacred. Remember what is true. Remember what is real. Remember that you will die so there is no need to fear. That this day is a gift. Remember how you wish to live, and remember the warrior heart within each of us. Remember it is us that create our vision of the world. As a regular practice, remembrance helps us remain conscious of who we are as divine beings. Keeping your focus on the sacred, there is no more sacred than this land. Be thankful for the ability to remember who you are, where you came from, where you are going, and most of all for remembering love for the land that brought you into being.

You might wonder how to begin this process to remember, take yourself to these holy spaces and breathe. Find a well to sit beside or a stone circle to sit against. With each breath we consciously connect the two worlds, the world of the spirit and the physical world. We are present in the love affair that is the relationship between the land and ourselves. Open your heart and feel the experience of being alive in these spaces where we can touch the divine through the land. As Rumi says, “there are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground,” and it is this sacred ground that is calling to us, that needs our living presence, our attentiveness. Be grateful for the gift of your experience whether it be shadow or light, clear skies or storms. We are here!

Saraí Humble is the founder of the All is Well project dedicated to regenerating awareness of the importance of careship of our water sources, specifically the holy wells. She is a contributor to the Woman of the Water movement. She recently completed a 500 mile walk through the holy wells and sacred sites from Tory Island, Co. Donegal to Loughcrew in Meath following the indigenous way of connecting with the landscape through myth. This journey tread in the footsteps of Lugh Lamhfhada through the landscape.

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