Amantha regularly organizes tours of Ireland for mixed groups and ‘women only’ groups of many sizes, ranging from 2-43 people, based on the group’s focus and intention. Tours visit ancient Celtic sites, sites of spiritual and earthly significance, and are designed to expand your notion of Ireland as a land of ancient mystery and wonder. Amantha organizes the accommodation, inland travel, food, entrance fees, etc.
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.
I have been facilitating Pilgrimages since 1995 and it’s always been a magical, sacred and playful experience. We come together as women and through the experiences we move on as Sisters, changed and awakened. The pilgrimage is often a respite from the women’s daily lives, and we have to honour those needs for relaxation, play and, of course, there is always time for retail therapy!
The group unfailingly finds its own harmonious direction; if there is a group that wants to do more inner work then that is what we follow and if the group feels the call to go to more sites then this is the route we take. I have focused these pilgrimages just for women, as I have found this allows us to go much deeper. Women feel safer with other women. Most importantly it also evokes the ancient sisterhood, where we can be there for each other, where we can grieve together, we can laugh together, we can hold each other in a place of safety. The women are encouraged to go through the archetypes. Ireland holds the energy of the Great Goddess in Her many faces and the feminine energy in Ireland is very powerful. As we reconnect with the Land and Her many sacred places, we move instinctively into re-membering, through the archetypes, and the myths and legends of the land. This can also draw forth in women aspects of the shadow, the dark Goddess and the Wild Woman as well as the Child, Mother and Crone aspects. Through Pilgrimage these aspects are invoked just by attuning with the land and the inner work we share together. Women need to be ready for storytelling, to be taken to the inner sanctum, rather than the well-known sites. That is why we start the Pilgrimage with a Shamanic weekend allowing us to open gently to our ancestral teachers and totems and to reveal the patterns we might like to work with throughout the ten days. We also open to the aspects of the Goddess that we might find difficult or threatening. We come in song, in ceremony and at times in silence as we begin to open to those aspects of Her nature which bring us to those aspects of ourselves. Some evenings we continue the process, together in circle, drawing forth the sensitive, playful child, the young hopeful woman, the hardworking mother, the wise ancient hag and most especially, the wild, dark passionate Creatrix.
Some of the sites we go to are places that have always been known as places of sacredness in Ireland. We go to stone circles, sacred wells, and dolmens, specific rivers and lakes abounding in stories and the myth. When we go to these places I tell the stories of the land, as the Land knows them, as the Stone People hold them in these places and that invokes in us our memories, for stories of the Land are there to remind us.
The Stone People are the storytellers and connect with the bones in our own bodies, which also hold the stories of our people. The Tree Brethren hold our interconnectedness with the Land and remind us that we do indeed walk on the bones of our ancestors. The streams, lakes and rivers hold our deep remembering – and pain -of how this Land once was, and still is on another dimensional level. Often they call us to journey to Tir na nOg, or Tir na Ban.
The wind whispers their words to us. All of nature sings of Her and She is indeed calling us home. Home to the sacredness of the Land. Home to the intertwining of Her body – our bodies. She calls again for us to re-member – and so we respond by gathering in community to come in Pilgrimage.
I have been asked many times why some Pilgrimages are exclusively for women and my reply is that women often need to find themselves first and go through a process of deep communion within themselves, of expressing their natures, honouring those various aspects within themselves, becoming one unto themselves, that which I term the ‘sacred marriage’, a necessary prerequisite before they can really be in balance.
Much of my other work, the Shamanic workshops, the Celtic Wheel and the ceremonies therein are for both men and women – and I lead other Pilgrimages for both men and women. Yet this Pilgrimage I am writing of is for women, it is part of our ‘ re-membering’. Men are beginning to find sacred places for their own initiations, and this is beneficial. We applaud that. Men too are on a journey, of finding themselves and honouring their masculinity in a positive and life affirming way.
Our Pilgrimages are filled with fun and laughter. Sometimes it does seem a bit worthy in the first 24 hours, but we lose that very quickly. We have great fun, we have great laughter. Funny things do to happen along the way! For example, one woman who was very intense found a place to connect and tune in to. As she did so, a dog ran up and seemed to mistake her for a tree! It certainly broke up the intensity! There is nothing closer to the Spirit than laughter.