Crone in Corrogue: Wild Wisdom of the Elder Years

Glorying in the elder years, a time of spirituality, service and some serious sacred activism

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Equinox Migrations

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

I moved to Ireland at autumn equinox in 2001. Autumn Equinox is inextricably wedded to migration as I remember the fourteen hour journey - three trains, a ferry and a car ride -that was the emigrant trail for me and our Household Goddess Sophie, our beloved and ancient tortoiseshell cat.  At dusk on September 21st  Tony's brother drove down the last road to our rental property. I was arriving sight unseen, since Tony had brought the dogs over the previous week.  The sphinx like profile of the Playbank hove into view and I was completely enchanted. That mountain has never let me go.


After we bought our eventual home I would take the dogs down the lane and stop at the cattle gate and gaze at that mountain. Most of the mountains round here have an Irish name as well as an English one. For instance, Slieve Anieran is a phonetic rendering of the Irish Sliabh an Iarainn, which translates as Iron Mountain. But our Playbank only has an English name on the Ordinance Survey maps. That made me curious. So as I leaned against the gate I solemnly asked, "Tell me your name."

The Playbank is a rocky escarpment that could be described as the terminus of the Iron Mountains. It's stands 542 metres, just a score metres shorter than Iron Mountain itself. Slieve Anieran is where the Tuatha dé Danaan landed and symbolically burnt their boats when they arrived in Erin. They needed the iron to irrevocably break the ties with their previous existence. Fairies Don't Like Iron?

As I admired my neighbour's horses, I gazed at the Playbank; it gradually became clear that this was Danus's mountain. That inscrutable rocky escarpment is Her face. She looks directly at Cuilcagh Mountain, from whose bowels the River Shannon rises.  Danu is associated with both water (rivers especially)  and earth; it is in the shadow of the Playbank that the River Shannon, the longest in Ireland,  widens as many tributaries join and swell its flow.

To celebrate Equinox and the anniversary of my own arrival in Ireland, I guided two Fermanagh friends to some holy wells up Slieve Anieran this weekend. We also stopped at a sweathouse, stone sweat lodges that proliferate in this limestone landscape.


Tina stepped out into the stream to meditate. Later, as she prepared to leave, she dipped her hand into the water in thanksgiving and found a small flat river stone, a true touch stone.  River stones are one of Danu's gifts and this was truly a blessing in a day of blessings.

Danu is, for me, the goddess of migration and migrants.  She is both a Hindu and Celtic goddess. She is the goddess of migrant people, most espedially as the matron of the Tuatha dé Danaan who cut ties with the four cities they left behind. There was no going back.

Europe is engulfed in possibly the greatest refugee crisis since World War II. Between climate change and war, migration is going to be a theme for the global community over the next months and years. It has been thrust to the media forefront recently, but it has been simmering and seething away over the past decade as desperate people quest for survival. As camps in Calais overflow with trapped refugees, Irish people have mobilised to send convoys of aid -  warm winter clothing, medicine, tents. Ordinary people clamour for the Irish government to take in more refugees and people 'pledge a bed' for a refugee. The least populated county in Ireland, Leitrim, which welcomed the Tuatha dé Danaan long ago, already has an established Kurdish community from past conflicts.

I ask Danu for Her blessings on these refugees  and deliverance from their trial and desperation. I have hope. All this summer the limestone escarpments surrounding us from here in West Cavan to way over in Sligo have been lit up, with all the karst in sharp relief. When the light shines at a certain angle and intensity it shows 'doorways'; it is said  that the fairy doors are open.  My prayer is that many doorways will be flung open all over the globe to offer shelter and new beginnings for these displaced persons.



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Bee Smith has enjoyed a long relationship with SageWoman as a contributor, columnist and blogger. She lives in the Republic of Ireland, teaches creative writing and is a member of the Irish Art Council's Writers in Prisons panel. She is the author of "Brigid's Way: Celtic Reflections on the Divine Feminine."    


  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Thursday, 24 September 2015

    I add my prayer to yours that Danu bless and rescue these refugees.

    Americans have been terriblly remiss about taking them in.

    Thanks gods Obama finally stepped up. But his suggested number is still too small. Danu, help them.

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