LEGENDS OF THE GRAIL:
STORIES OF CELTIC GODDESSES
THE LAND OF WOMEN
Ireland is a deeply spiritual place. As poets such as W.B Yeats and John O'Donohue were aware, in Ireland the doorways to the Otherworlds are thin. There are lands that are spoken about, although quite rarely and usually in whispers. One of them is called the Land of Women, or Tir Na Ban.
There are over 34 million Americans who claim to have largely Irish heritage. It is little wonder that each year tourists return to the Emerald Isle. It is as though we go there searching for something we feel like we have lost, and perhaps we have lost jewels that need to be recovered so that our souls can sing again and the land can flourish.
I was given an overseas research award to Kings College London and was awarded a doctorate in Anglo-Irish Literature in 1993. I told the stories I had discovered to my children as they grew up. My daughter (pictured below) asked me to publish the stories because her friends needed them. In the picture below, Kathryn has her hand on the Cailleach in her stone form. This is an ancient pilgrimage site to visit the Cailleach, an eight thousand year old goddess (perhaps older) who understands the process of life, death and re-birth. She faces west, toward the Atlantic Ocean, and reminds us that we are always held by the Great Mother.
The traditional tale and a modern day story of the Cailleach appears as the last story in Legends of the Grail: Stories of Celtic Goddesses, which launched October 1, 2017. I have been surprised by the success of the book, which is already in its third printing. And yet it does not surprise me, because we are in a time when the Goddess needs to be heard. Without a spiritual path, we can become empty and depressed. Taking a pilgrimage and finding our cultural roots can strengthen us. Danu, Ceassair, Aine, Scatach, Emer, Caer, Brighid and the Cailleach can help us on our hero or heroine's journey. What is wonderful about literature is that we can visit sacred sites in our minds as easily as our bodies.
Legends of the Grail: Stories of Celtic Goddesses is now available at Amazon and most major bookstores. Here is an easy way to purchase a book, and please write me if you would like to purchase a signed copy: http://ayncatessullivan.com/legends-of-the-grail/
“Making a pilgrimage to sacred sites can restore the soul and remind us of the heroes and heroines that came before us.”
I whisper to you
In the space between stars.
My thoughts hold you
Until the time of your awakening
Into the world of form.
May you understand
That your life is blessed.
May you open your heart
And receive what life
Is offering you.
VISUALIZATION TO ENTER THE LAND OF WOMEN - AND DISCOVER SOMETHING THAT WAS ALMOST LOST...
"VISUALIZATION: ENTERING THE LAND OF WOMEN"
(FROM LEGENDS OF THE GRAIL: STORIES OF CELTIC GODDESSES)
The Sun that shines above surface Earth is only one of many suns. Find a safe and comfortable position where you will not be disturbed, then place your hands on your belly and take three deep breaths. Turning your focus downwards, with your inner eye look down into the now translucent soil and imagine that there is a central Sun radiating from the core of the earth. It is inviting you to explore the mysteries of the Earth. Notice that it is safe and easy to slip out of your body and travel with your Light body into other dimensions. Ask the Divine Light to protect and safely guide you as your make your way to Tir Na Ban, the Land of Women.
A mysterious light draws you to a sacred part of the landscape. Notice that there are standing stones all around you, and as you walk toward the Light the path becomes increasingly narrow. Squeezing through ancient stones, you find yourself at the entrance of a cairn (or stack of stones). Feeling invited into the cairn, you walk along a tunnel lit with torches. Eventually you find yourself deep inside the cairn, where there are three circular rooms in the shape of a three-leaf clover. In each of the three rooms there is a stone seat. Explore the rooms in a counterclockwise direction.
First visit the healing seat on the right side of the cairn. As you sit, notice that another world opens up to you. Perhaps you can hear music and feel the warming rays of the ancient ones. It maybe time for something that no longer serves you to pass away into the stones for recycling. It may be an ache in your body or a story of suffering. Allow the ancient ones to recycle what you no longer need.
Feeling lighter you stand up and then walk counterclockwise to the central room. Sit once again in on a healing stone. This is the place where new awareness may emerge, or perhaps access to the ancient wisdom of the Goddess. Receive your gift of fire or insight with gratitude, and allow it to light up some aspect of your body/mind.
When you are ready walk counterclockwise to the third and final circular room with another healing seat made of stone. This is where you have the opportunity to integrate what has been released, and the gift that has been received in its place. You may experience a feeling of wholesomeness. Feel the sensations that arise within your body as you stand in the middle of the sacred design of the Triple Goddess.
Now prepared to go deeper, enter the center of the three rooms and notice that there is a spiral staircase. One step at a time, follow the path lined with burning torches leading counter-clockwise deep into the heart of the Underworld. Hearing a patter of feet you turn to see a gentle wolf that has come to accompany you as a wise guardian and protector.
As you spiral down the path, you begin to breathe more easily and notice that the air is filled with a life-affirming energy. After a while, your surroundings become more luminous, and you realize that a radiant Goddess is now walking with you as well as the wolf. Ask Danu of the tall beautiful people known as the Sidhe if she will accompany you on your journey to Tir Na Ban, The Land of Women. If she agrees, then follow her.
(If not, then simply rest where you are now with the gentle wolf. What is most important is that you become aware of the powerful, nurturing, and life affirming embrace of the Great Mother. Sometimes we simply need to rest. When you are ready, the wolf will guide you back to surface Earth. There, feel newly refreshed and deeply loved.)
If you decide to travel on with Danu, notice that there is a river in front of you and that a boat is waiting to take you to a distant shore. As you step into the wooden vessel, you notice there is neither a rudder nor oars. Danu stands beside you and the boat sails through the mists, through space, time, and dimension toward Tir Na Ban, the Blessed Isle and Land of Women. Fish leap playfully around the boat as it travels smoothly and swiftly through the water. Suddenly, Danu raises her arms and the mist vanishes. Before you is an emerald green land of blossoming flowers and trees with silver branches that whisper secrets to those who are ready to hear.
Once you feel the boat is against solid ground, step off onto the Blessed Isle. Take a moment to hear the chorus of magical birds. Look down at your feet to see what type of shoes you are wearing, then glance at your clothes. Your garments may be the same, or perhaps they have changed into the colorful attire of the Sidhe.
You follow Danu to a sacred place in the forest where three ancient Beech trees grow. The Mother Goddess closes her eyes, and you realize that she is communing with the trees. Listening closely, you notice that they are also speaking to you, offering a message that you need just now. Each sacred grove of three ancient trees opens to a special Otherworld that holds a treasure for you. Like ancient mothers, the Beech trees offer nurturing and caring. For a moment, simply be aware of how you are tended by this natural energy. Perhaps you feel more attuned to nature and the sacred rhythms of your body.
Feeling strong and ready for the next phase of your Quest, you journey on with Danu. As you walk, you notice the vibrant green of the plants and the soothing blues of the water and sky. Soon, you approach a sacred well and begin to walk on a spiral path leading downward toward the source of the water. Danu leans forward and takes a bowl of water from the well, then hands it to you. As you sip the water, you realize it is the sweetest nectar you have ever known. You feel radiantly healthy, whole, and alive. Thank Danu for this great gift of life.
Spend some time gazing at the luminous Otherworld. It is a deeply magical place and you are fortunate to have been invited in to the Land of Women. Know that you can return at any time to sip the nectar of a land that heals.
When you are ready, return to the boat, which you now have the power to steer alone—with the Inner Light of your heart—and then in a clockwise direction travel back up the spiral pathway that leads to the entrance of surface Earth. Know that you are returning to the realm in which humans reside, a place that is currently your sacred home. Remember to thank Danu and her helpers for giving you access to Tir Na Ban. Arrive back into your body, to this point in present time and space—bringing the life-affirming gifts of the Goddess with you.