Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Holy isle, holy merge

Islands in holy lakes have a special quality, for it is through lakes that the otherwordly land of Tir nan Og may be visited. This is the “Country of Youth,” where people and non-human beings live immune to the passage of time. It is said to exist in the depths of lakes, and the legend is localized in several places such as Lough Carrib, Lough Gur and Lough Neagh.

On occasion, these lands have been visited by human beings. Both the bard Oisin and the warrior O’Donoghue entered the otherworldly realm through the Lake of Killarney.

To reach Tir nan Og, one must pass through the reflective crystal waters of the lake, undertaking a journey from the outer world into the inner, just as the sun enters the waters of the underworld at sunset. It is a perilous shamanic descent into the unconscious depths where timeless archetypes reside.

The lake is a dangerous crystal castle where all is reflected inwards. There, the visitor may be trapped in an inner world that bears no relation to the outer one. Once entered, it is a region from which it is difficult to escape. But those who do manage to return to the everyday world are transformed by the experience.

-- Nigel Pennick, Celtic Sacred Landscapes


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