Whether we live in urban or rural areas, some places tend to be more special to us than others. Some are individual, like the places I like to go for a walk. Some are communal, or public, like Glastonbury or the Grand Canyon for example. I’ve been thinking about how some places appeal to the woman that I am.
It seems that some places nurture me more than others. That some places inspire me or energise me more than others. I think there are even places where time seems to stand still, and some places that feel completely magical. During the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some of these favourite places with you.
The first place I am choosing to share is Newgrange in Ireland. Newgrange is a Neolythic burial complex, similar to many other in Europe. It was built around 5000 years ago, and has today been beautifully restored and is served by an excellent visitor’s centre. The site is managed by Heritage Ireland and is a World Heritage site. It is easy to get to Newgrange from Dublin, and is a brilliant day out. It’s a great place to go to learn and explore, but for me it is primarily a place to be open and meditate.
There is something about the Irish landscape, so gentle and lush. It seems so fertile and exuberant. The Newgrange complex is visible from far away thanks to its elevated position, and overlooks the river Boyne. The ancient Celts believed that the river was the physical manifestation of the goddess, so it is fitting that the sacred mound should be located close to the goddess. Much has been written about the male energies at the site, for example in the phallic-shaped stone sacrifices that have been found there. It is classified as a passage tomb, but also recognised as a temple, or place of ritual worship. In the surrounding area there are several smaller grave mounds, but Newgrange is the finest and best known.
The grave chamber is designed in such a way that on the winter solstice, sunlight enters through a very small window and shines on the innermost parts of the burial chamber. It’s an amazing piece of engineering, and has a truly magical feel to it. Perhaps this has to do with notions of rebirth, communication with the ancestors or even divine blessing?
Anyway, I want to share with you what felt so special about the place to me. It felt old, and well used. It felt sacred, in a quiet and majestic kind of way.
I was moved by the energy of the ground, it felt like a place of union. The coming together of male and female energies, of coexisting together and becoming something new, something better, together.
In Celtic mythology the sun was worshipped as a male deity, and the penetrating sunlight as well as the phallic sculptures and offerings complements the round earth mound and the flowing water in the river below. In true temple-fashion, Newgrange becomes the centre of the universe where everything is sacred.
Then there is the symbolism. There is carved symbols everywhere at Newgrange, and one of the best known symbols there is the Triskele. There are many triskeles at Newgrange, showing that this was thought to be an important symbol. The triskele is a triple spiral, and can be interpreted in many ways. It can mean mother-father-child, life-death-rebirth or past-present-future. For me, the symbol represents the three stages of womanhood: the maiden, mother and crone.
It has become one of my moments beyond time and space, and I frequently visit Newgrange in my mind when meditating. Such a well-used place, for such a long time. Newgrange is special to me because it’s a place where I can rebalance my energies, where I am surrounded by both male and female energies and everything in between. It helps me to listen to all my aspects, and nurture all my different energies. The dynamic movement of the triskele is with me in my everyday life, and helps me to also be mindful of the body-mind-spirit balance. The Newgrange vibe supports me in loving myself just the way I am.
I look forward to hearing from you about the places that are special to you too.
Vild Prestegard is an anthropologist, holistic therapist, Reiki master and public speaker based in Norway. She is a regular blogger for Cycle Harmony. You’re welcome to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions and comments.