My passion has always been the Land and stories. The Land has always been my saviour, my protectress, and my mother. It was to Her I would turn to when in fear or pain. It was in Her arms I grew. It’s what kept me alive. It was the only thing that was real to me in my growing years. The only thing that fed me, spiritually, and it fed my yearning, it fed my needs. It gave solace to my pain. It brought beauty into my life. It brought life. It was the only time I felt life touch me because I had withdrawn at a very early age. I found it very difficult dealing with other peoples’ emotions and the energy of that was too much for me. I found it just too difficult to deal with. We lived, like thousands of other Irish families, in Kilburn, London and for most immigrants at that time this dislocation from the land brought disruption and a dislocation from themselves.
We would return to Ireland every year from when I was a babe in arms, and throughout the year it was the whole focus of the family. Often my brother and I would come over with the first relative in the summer and come back with the last. So hearth and home was always here in Ireland. It was important for us to reconnect with the land and our people. My Grandmother would always be waiting for us and the fire would always be lit, the kettle over the fire would always be bubbling, the fresh bread would always be made that day and on the table, neatly covered by a tablecloth, still warm, having been cooked in the cauldron. My Grandmother at four foot two inches (my Mother four foot six) was ‘one of the little people’ and always wore black with a black shawl, which she would put over her head when she went out, with little black lace-up shoes. She was a very slender woman with pure white silvery hair. Her features small, but her hands were big, just as her heart was. Her passion was for life itself. She loved people. She loved the Land. The Land for her was the mother and it was my Grandmother who gave me the gift of that – the gift of the awareness of the earth as my Mother.
People would come to my Grandmother, they would come with their needs and even children would ‘bunk off’ school to spend a day with her and she never told on them. She was a healer and a midwife and it’s said that she brought sixty-three children into the world and she never lost one. After the births Granny would then live on the farm, with the family, until the woman was back on her feet again. She would do all the jobs that the woman had done, until the woman was able to resume her role, so she became everybody’s Granny. The whole community held her in that sense and they took care of her. She was kept, until the day she died, with milk, eggs, vegetables and meat from the kills – chicken, pork and lamb – plus of course the greatest food of all, love and company. My Granny would take me out onto the land, to talk to the fairy folk, taking our offerings of bread, butter and sugar sandwiches, which she said they liked the sweetness of, and sour cream, which she always maintained, they liked “better than porter”! We would go out onto the land and there were special places that for her held the energy. We would sit and commune with the fairy folk and the Shining ones – the Tuatha De Danann. I visit those places in Pilgrimage, even to this day; along with other sites I have been drawn to or called to, by Her nature. When I used to return from London, the first thing I would do, was to run out into the field and lie on my back on the grass with my legs and arms open, like a star, and breathe. I would lie there until I would become the field. I would feel the hill holding me. I would become the hill and, then the valley; all the way up to the mountains and only then I felt truly home. Home in Her arms – safe. That for me was my Mother. It was the only time I was ‘home’.
When I was sixteen, the voice I had always spoken to, who I called SHE or HER, spoke to me here in the Land and told me I couldn’t live in Ireland, that I had to go and learn. At the time that was very painful, it broke my heart. So… that’s what I did. I had grown up with these spirit friends but at the age of twelve I had an eye operation for double vision, which I had had since birth. Looking back I can now see how this emphasised my ability to ‘walk between the worlds’. After the operation I stopped ‘seeing spirit’, it disappeared and then at the age of sixteen it all came back to me. By seventeen I started doing palmistry for friends and once I started talking, words would just flow. Mediumship developed from this. I grew up very quiet, very shy and this kept me outside of people’s awareness, which suited me. They didn’t notice me and that’s exactly how I wanted life to be. Strangely however, when I stood in front of an audience as a developing medium, something would shift, I would become completely calm and clear, allowing my eyes to linger over the sea of faces. One face would become close to me and I intuitively knew that this person was the one who I should link with – which I did spontaneously. I would hear voices and see the spirit friend or family member. I knew that I could never have done anything like that myself; I would have been too frightened. This for me was one of the things that really proved to me the validity of the work, as I alone would never have chosen to work in this way and be visible to so many. It was only in looking back many years later that I realized it was my lesson to have faith in Spirit, standing in front of all those people. By the age of 22 I had started trance mediumship – going into a state of meditation and allowing my guide or spirit teacher to come through and talk through me. I also started running development groups. I had many parents who came to me after the death of a child and I felt blessed to be able to help. For them to realize their child’s spirit lived on brought them great relief and peace.
There were of course cynics who suggested I was making it up. It never bothered me, as I truly believe if people do not want to believe, no matter how much evidence you give them, they are never going to believe and likewise if people want to believe, no matter how little evidence you give them they will believe. You will meet people who are discerning and that is the state I like best; people question you because they want to know more. I think that is a very healthy place to be. I went to a psychotherapy conference in Killarney in 1995. It was the first time we had had an ‘alternative’ conference. I was so delighted that I decided to attend. There were many people from the USA. I met some women who asked me to take them to some of the sacred sites on the land and I panicked. I went into the bathroom, and turning inwards asked, “What do you want me to do, Great Mother, what do you want of me here?” In response I heard the words, “Bring them in Pilgrimage”. I came out and said, “Yes I will take you to the sites, we will first meditate together and I would ask you to open yourself to the energy of the Land”. Thus the next phase of my journey began. I wondered how I would feel taking people to my sacred, private, personal places- and I loved it. I loved sharing it with these women. I loved seeing the way they moved and grew, how they had their experiences and how it affected them. One woman who had been away from Ireland for many years just cried and cried at one of these places, she felt home again, it brought her back to herself. Another was able to talk about things she had never talked about to anybody. Opening to the Land in this way brought about shifts within, and an awareness of these shifts.
Reconnecting to the Land reconnects us to ourselves. Being held by the Land brings deep healing, being held by the deep love of the Mother. When you can do that, huge healing and releasing takes place. Often no words are necessary; you move beyond the mind to the depth of the pain and ‘know’ you are heard, held and understood.