I have returned to my BnB, had a light supper and am now snuggled under an electric blanket sipping wine. One of the best things about BnB’s in Ireland are the electric blankets on the bed! Anyway, the conference was wonderful – if exhausting (for me). There is only so much information my brain can take in before it wants a nap. I hope to write up my notes in the next few days and will pass along what I gleaned, but I want to share a bit… on the day.
The highlight of the day was undoubtedly hearing Brian Keenan recount his personal experience of being held captive in total darkness for 9 months. His act of vulnerability, as he shared what can only be described as a descent into madness – being utterly “unhooked” psychologically from all that keeps us on this side of the divide – spoke of the power of darkness as nothing else could. He talked of the various psychological constructs employed to retain attachment, and the long wave of depression that eventually erodes the connection to those constructs. His telling of the visitors who came and “spoke” with him, how his soul left his body during dream excursions, the fight to bring consciousness into those wanderings, and the ever present “power, who was man and beast, but neither man nor beast” – were stories full of ritual meaning.
There were of course wonderful talks on chamber cairns, court tombs, alignments, re-alignments, anchorites, hermits, darkness within the Irish MS, caves, the easter islands, and the dead. The ever present Dead, and their time……. which we are approaching.
A theme for me was the importance of place; how it both shapes cosmology and is shaped by it. As we rapidly approach the Gate of Samhain (I honour the new moon in scorpio – which falls on 13 Nov this year – not the modern date of Hallowe’en), I think of the sacred landscape created to reflect the cosmology of the ancient people here in Ireland: their veneration, and perhaps dread, of the dead – who continued to live among them and were active in daily life.
I am ready to return home to Cork tomorrow, and begin my Samhain preparations in earnest. And also to sift through my recollections, collect my notes, and share my insights from my observer journey….Into The Earth.