It appeared as if it was a bridge to the Otherworld… the rainbow we saw at Beltany stone circle on the eve of the Autumnal Equinox. The vision was certainly otherworldly. To find some meaning.
Every culture has its own symbolic meaning for the rainbow. It was wet, rainy and overcast. The field approaching the circle was littered with cow dung. Several of my group turned back finding nothing particularly mystical about Beltany. But for those of us who stayed, the landscape shifted dramatically within fifteen short minutes. The circle measures about feet in diameter. The site was significantly disrupted during an early twentieth-century excavation leaving the center of the circle lumpy with stones now covered by grass.
Most believe that there were at least 80 stones in the original circle. A wide triangular stone with cup markings immediately draws the eye and stands out from the others shown to the right in the image above. When the two stones align they point to the summit of a hill across the valley.
As we walked up the secluded path to the open field where the circle stands, my tour group was tired, the skies were gray and there was a slight drizzle. I was disappointed because I wanted my guest to love the circle as much as I did, but I could see that some of them remained on the bus and others exited quickly due to the difficulty of walking through a wet cattle field. I had only a portion of the tour group at the circle. Then it started to pour. My heart sank.
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I want so much for this to be a perfect experience. As the rain softened, I happened to turn around toward the entrance to the field. I saw a pretty vibrant rainbow that was halfway across the sky. I called out to my tour guests to look at it.
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No one said a word — we just stared. Then together we watched this rainbow spread perfectly across the sky over the circle. Then a second one appeared over the first. The clarity of the colors was stunning. Then we noticed that there was a darkness or shadow between the two bows.
The space between was charcoal colored — different from the sky making the set of rainbows appear to be one thing. Then the same guest pointed out that the colors were reversed on the second rainbow. Each rainbow was a reflection of the other with the colors going in opposite order — a perfect reflection — a mirror image.
Traces of a third rainbow could be seen at the edges of the second. Every culture in every time has been moved by the sight of the rainbow. It nudges us to find some meaning in the presentation of something so spectacular.
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The Judeo Christian tradition is rooted in the book of Genesis. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. Genesis The first nations in North America, as well as many Asian cultures, saw the rainbow as a bridge or passage between the earthly and spirit worlds.
The ancient Irish or pre-Christian Irish saw the rainbow as a sign of blessing — the arc symbolized femininity — the rounded belly about to give birth, which is so appropriate for Beltany because the circle was likely created to celebrate that feast which encourages and blesses fertility and birth. Guests on Discover the North tour after the rainbow. Almost as if the pot of gold could be within reach. The light is mesmerizing. Look, look, look to the rainbow Follow it over the hill and stream.
Just standing in the presence of such a sight was gift enough for me. And it will always be a part of my memories of Beltany. Gobnait Irish for Deborah or Abigail , the patroness of Beekeepers and healers, is celebrated in Ballyvourney, a small town in West Cork. Her Feast Day is February 11th. She saw three white deer in Clondrohid and followed them to Ballymakeera where she saw six more.
She crossed the river and settled there. She founded a religious community for women, performed memorable — some say miraculous — works, and it was there she died and was buried. On February 11th St.
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But she has also been proclaimed by the Irish bishops to be a national saint. There are shrines and places of devotion to St. But Ballyvourney — is that special place for Gobnait… the place she felt most at home, the place where she carried out most of her ministry. And Ballyvourney is the place that draws the greatest number of pilgrims devoted to this saint. Today there is an active church on the former monastic site. One of the strongest mystical draws on this site is St. There are taps and cups available for drinking from the well or for pouring into personal vessels to take holy well water home.
Gobnait was best known for her care of the sick. Gobnait which is kept in a drawer. Every year on her feast day, the parish priest brings out the figure to celebrate a devotional tradition. He holds up the ancient figure and the faithful each step forward with a piece of ribbon. They hold the ribbon up and measure it against the length and around the circumference of the figure, then take it home as a blessed relic used for healing or further devotion.
A tall statue of St. Gobnait that was erected in the s stands near the monastic site. Gobnait is the patron saint of beekeepers, and there are several legends recalling Gobnait forcing invaders out of Ballyvourney by setting swarms of bees upon them. Dan and I visited St. It is indeed, a thin place. The stories of St. And I believe that a place of resurrection is the spiritual home where one is most completely alive and able to create, to discern, to prophesy … to be wise.
Tree at St. The connection between the eternal world and the physical is nearly unidentifiable in a place of resurrection — as they are knitted together in an inextricable pattern where neither can be separated from the other. The place of resurrection then is unto itself the combination of both worlds particularly suited to that specific spirit. Email Address. Follow Me! All Rights Reserved. Use only with written permission. Toggle navigation. What is a Thin Place?
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