Kilclooney More Portal Tomb
Part 2 of 2
by Steward of the Wood
Steward of the Wood
The deer we saw were so graceful; and as we passed along the track, they looked up. In love and deference, they slightly bowed their heads in silent acknowledgement to their Lord, Spirit of the Buck. At that moment, Steward became aware of the thoughts of the Spirit of the Buck. He thought, “Steward, on a later journey, you will meet Cernunnos, God of Wild Things and Wild Places. Cernunnos told me that, like me, he knew you in past lives and even in your current life, he sees you in the forests of the mundane world. He and his children guide you. He knows your strong desire to meet and learn from him.”
After a seemingly brief walk, we arrived in the Sacred Grove. It was about 90 feet across and was encircled by nine enormous oaks. Their crowns touched on the sides yielding a continuous ring of branches and leaves. The soil was level and exuded fertility. Soft to walk on, it was a moist, deep dark brown in color with its top layer infused with leaf mould, surely the home of earth worms and other creatures.
A large stone altar stood in the center and it faced east. The altar resembled a recumbent stone held within a stone circle that Steward had seen in Scotland with one large stone, six feet long, lying on its side and one standing stone on either side of the recumbent stone. The standing stones were about the same size as the recumbent stone. Each stone displayed numerous symbols: circles, wheels, concentric circles, spirals, zigzag lines, and fish.
Finally a well stood on the southeast side near the entrance of the Grove but inside it. There were nine hazels growing around it in a circle with the crowns touching on the sides and almost touching in the middle over the well. The well itself was about six feet in diameter and the perimeter consisted of a low stone wall about three feet high.
Since Steward was standing at the southeast entrance to the Grove, he could see the well clearly and it too had similar ancient symbols carved on its stones. Compared to the altar, more of the symbols on the well were fish. “Ah, they are salmon and this is the Well of Segais. It must contain the Salmon of Wisdom who feed on the sacred hazel nuts,” he thought.
Reading his mind, Guide said aloud, “Yes, Steward, this is the Well of Segais. On a later journey you will meet Boann, Goddess of Springs and Cattle Goddess. But now, we must not keep her waiting. Please enter the Grove and offer your praise as you circle the altar, then she will meet you at the eastern portal.”
Steward slowly entered the Sacred Grove. Tentative at first but with growing confidence, he moved deiseil around the altar. “Greetings to you loved ones, Nature Spirits: spirit of the deer, of the trees, and birds; so to you Hidden Ones, the faeries, elves, and dwarfs. I also honor and greet you, Ancestors, my ancestors of this sacred land and Druids of Old. Gods and Goddesses of my people, my tribe, I honor you and lift you up in glory,” He intoned. As he approached the eastern portal, he saw movement in the forest and then a woman moved slowly into the Grove.
Tall and lithe, she moved with elegant grace. Her long, dark, wavy hair cascaded over her shoulders and down her back, helping to frame the beautiful green gown that she wore. Obviously of fine wool, the gown was covered in Celtic patterns of intricate needle-point. When their eyes met, blue eyes smiled laughingly back at Steward. “So you finally came, Steward of the Wood. I haven’t seen you here since your last life span with us.”
“I have just discovered the portal, Brigid, Goddess of Inspiration, Healing, and Fire in the Hearth,” Steward said. “Somehow I knew it was you who beckoned me when Epona said ‘She has been expecting you.’ I pray to you daily and we speak in my meditations. You are even more inspiring to behold in person. I love you, Brigid, and honor you, dedicating my lives to you.” Brigid smiled and said, “Yes, we are together frequently in spirit and I guide you as requested. I know that you are on the Bardic Path and have a request of you.” At that, Steward slowly, reverently, stepped forward and gently leaned forward as his hands sought hers, in a gesture to kiss them. With one surprisingly swift motion, she clasped his arms, drawing him to her. Her embrace was strong for one so lithe.
Steward was enthralled in a state of rapture. She enveloped him in an embrace that emitted love, healing, yet enlightening and accepting. When Steward could regain a little of his senses, he felt that they literally glowed, emitting white, healing light. Inspiration filled his very being…lifting him, skyward.
His spirit soared, banking, climbing, and diving over the forest. He felt like a giant bird, a hawk, and he began to sense his shape. And to his astonishment, he was a hawk…a red-tailed hawk. The rush of the air was exhilarating. He looked down and even though he was 1000 feet in the air, he could see objects clearly on the ground in forest openings. Baking left, he spied the Sacred Grove as the distinctive circle of the large oaks.
Suddenly, from above, he heard the shrill call of a hawk. As he quickly banked to look up, another red-tailed hawk came screaming, and then laughing, past him in a steep dive. Steward dove following her and then he knew her, it was Brigid! The pair played on the sylphs of the wind, climbing, diving, circling, chasing, and being chased. It was ecstatic, beyond inspiring.
Finally, she slowed and circled to place herself beside him as they slowly soared together, side by side in the crisp, blue sky. Suddenly he could feel her presence inside him, speaking to him. “Steward, is this the inspiration you seek?” “It is, my Lady,” he responded. “Follow me then,” her thoughts spoke.
At this moment she dove for the earth, the Grove in sight. She circled down in a spiral with Steward following. He could see their bodies on the ground still locked in embrace, flowing in the rapture. Brigid, in her hawk-form with wings spread like a parachute and taloned feet outstretched, approached Brigid in her woman-form and the two merged into the woman-form. Steward followed suit. The approach was swift and scary but the merging of spirits, as his hawk-form touched his man-form, was quick and effortless.
Back in his man-form, feeling like melted butter in the after-glow of the experience, Steward felt weak but exceptionally good. Brigid held him, less firmly now and more supportive. Sensing his weakness, she helped him over to the nearby well where they sat on the stone wall.
Steward of the Wood was the first to speak, “Brigid, you know my request to you for inspiration. As a Druid and a Bard-in-training, I seek your help.”
“I agree to help you. How did you like the first lesson,” she asked laughing heartily? “In all seriousness though, this is a hard, yet extremely fulfilling path you tread. After many past lives that you have led, it is now time to move into the Druidic realm. But it is hard at times, joyous at other, and frequently lonely. Remember, now you serve others. It is time that your past knowledge is put to use serving the mundane world and the Otherworld. Past lives as a deer, a hawk, a salmon, a wren, a drop of water, a tree, and many other beings, inform your knowledge. Bring them to bear.”
“I understand,” said Steward, the words flowing through him like a river. “I sensed the time was right. As long as I can remember, the calling of the Earth Mother and her children beckoned me. My Grandmother, the embodiment of the Earth Mother, firmly guided and sharpened my desire to know my Ancestors. The Gods and Goddesses called to me and I learned about them in many cultures. Four years ago, the ancient memories of the Celts and my heritage, imbedded in my genes, spoke to me in a clear voice. The memories said, “Come home.”
“Listen carefully, Steward,” the Goddess said lovingly but in a slightly forceful manner. “You are on an ancient search. This search has guided you through many lifetimes, many cycles, and many eras. With your interest in walking the path of Druidry, focus on being a Bard now. Learn those skills. They will serve you well. Your teacher, Wren, will lead you. Give her your full attention. I will work with both of you.”
“Now the time has come for you to depart,” said Brigid. “Walk with wisdom. I love you and am with you always.” At that, she stood and Steward joined her. They embraced and Steward closed his eyes, seeking to burn the warm, accepting, loving feelings into his brain. “Thank you, Goddess, thank you,” he said, the only words that he could muster as he was overcome with deep emotion.
She loosened the embrace and gently separated from him, looking deeply into his eyes…and soul. “I have helped you in other ways in other lifetimes, but in your human lifetime, you and I are bound closely and you can count on me.”
“And you can count on me. I dedicate myself to you and this Bardic pathway,” Steward replied.
“Go then, but visit me here often,” said Brigid.
“I pledge to do so,” sighed Steward.
Steward stepped back, bowed slightly to her, and continued the circle deiseil to the entrance on the southeast where guide and Spirit of the Buck awaited him.
Just before leaving, Steward turned to face the Grove. In a strong, clear voice, he addressed it. “Ancient Ones, Wise Ones and Hidden Ones, Gods and Goddesses, and Ancestors, I, Steward of the Wood, your child thank you. I am refreshed as I hope you are by our communion. It is time for me to depart but I will return soon now that I have discovered the portal. I thank you with all my mind, body, and spirit. I thank the Goddess Brigid, for her love and nurture.”
Then he turned to face outward from the Grove and addressed Guide and the Spirit of the Buck, “Are you ready my dear friends? I cannot thank you enough for your guidance and help.”
“We enjoy your presence, Steward of the Wood. It is a pleasure for us to have you here and we expect to see you often now. This Path can be harsh at times, so prepare for some surprises on future visits,” said Guide. Spirit of the Buck looked at Steward and his thoughts came through to Steward loud and clear, “My son, Steward of the Wood, I have enjoyed your visit. On future visits, you will join me on forays deep into the forests and Cernunnos and his children will join us. Also someone else who you just met will be with you from now on.” At that moment, he motioned upward with his head. Steward looked up to see a large, red-tailed hawk circling overhead. As their eyes met, the hawk dipped a wing to Steward and shrieked!
The journey back to the mundane world sped by quickly for Steward. His mind was swimming as he parted from Guide, Spirit of the Buck, and Spirit of the Hawk as he crossed over the Veil. So much had happened to him but he was well on the Bardic Path now. He thanked Manannán Mac Lir for opening the Veil so that he could pass. “Manannán Mac Lir, I am so grateful to you for helping me by parting the Veil. Thank you,” said Steward. “Gladly, I part the Veil for a child of Danu. Please come often, Steward.”
“I will do so, Manannán. Walk with wisdom,” said Steward. Then he entered the passage in the sídhe and journeyed back to the mundane world.
As he exited the dolman, Epona greeted him. “Steward of the Wood, how was your journey? Well, I hope. Did you gain what you sought from Brigid?”
“I did that,” said Steward. “She has agreed to help me in my Bardic path. She will serve as my muse and the source of my inspiration.” At that moment, they were interrupted by a high pitched shriek. Looking up into the blue sky, they saw a hawk…a red-tailed hawk sailing by. “It is the Spirit of the Hawk,” said Steward. “She is the messenger of Brigid and represents inspiration for me.”
Epona smiled and nodded her head knowingly, then turned the white horse toward the gate. As they walked, Steward reflected on the events of the past few hours. He had been praying, meditating and seeking guidance and help from the Goddess Brigid as he moved forward as a Bard. Little had he imagined that those prayers would be answered. She had soared with him and now he was firmly on his way.
At the gate, Steward looked up into the face of the Goddess Epona. She was faithful to him and so would he be to her. “Goddess, thank you. You have guided me to the Otherworld and I am eternally grateful,” said Steward.
“I understand and gladly serve my destiny. Please come again, Steward of the Wood. We await your return,” Epona said.
Steward turned from her, the white mare, and the black dog. “Where will my journey take me next,” thought Steward as he walked away from the gate?
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