Sunday, July 22, 2007

Spirit Of Place

A telephone inquirer asked me, today, to provide a short definition of the type of tours we provide. My automatic answer was “Instead of visiting Ireland for the purpose of visiting sites, taking a few snaps, and moving on we invite people to experience the ‘spirit of place’ from a few select sites, that many have not previously heard of, and through doing so truly experience Ireland while genuinely being rewarded with a personal restoring vacation”.


After the call I suddenly thought “what is this ‘spirit of place’ that I spontaneously threw into my statement”.


Wikipedia.com explains “Spirit of Place refers to the unique, distinctive and cherished aspects of a place; often those celebrated by artists and writers, but also those cherished in folk tales, festivals and celebrations.”


Goodness me, how that statement defines my life’s work and passion that has evolved into the tours and performances that we serve folks with today.


To expand what Wikipedia explains, but in my own words, I aim to provide a vacation and/or performance that weaves the elements of ancient and traditional keltic and scotia nations culture to both the physical and “otherworld” aspects of a place.


The elements that us humans weave in and weave out are such things as stories, art, ceremonies, folk drama, rituals, alchemy, music and silent meditation where we simply weave ourselves into our surroundings.


The aspects of a place are the shapes of landscape and its components such as water, trees, meadows, flowers, rocks, birds, animals, weather and how all of these aspects flow and integrate through their infinite quest for balance. Aspects also include the invisible that is present and without shape, the spirit of the “otherworld” that we all define with a rich array of imagery from the “great creating spirit of the universal god to the nurturing and guiding spirit that provides abundance from our earth. 


“Spirit Of Place” seems to also be in the language of architects. In fact, I believe I first heard of this statement from an architect. This would be an appropriate term for planning urban construction where buildings, paths, roads and garden landscapes should ideally weave into the spirit of place as much as they weave into human “practical” needs. 


Interior designers also seem to use this phrase when considering furnishings and decor in relation to both the building and it’s residents.


The Romans had a term meaning “spirit of place” that was “genius loci”, which seems quite close to the word “genesis” to me.  Their translation was that each place had its steward guardian that later became referred to as “supernatural” beings such as fairies, gnomes, elves, angels or ghost like image. Today the exploration and application of concepts such as ley lines, nature alignments and feng shui fit into the Roman term of “genius loci” where we enact the role of steward guardians, caretakers of the flow of the spirit of place.


Many indigenous and tribal cultures around the world are deeply concerned with spirit of place in their landscapes. Still very much alive today, and gaining popularity around the world, is the ancient Japanese Shinto, “the Way of the Gods”. the “gods” being the Kami, though goddess seekers prefer to use the lesser known Japanese female spirit word of Magami that is not actually part of the Shinto.


So how do we enact “spirit of place” within our Celtic Ways, Veil Between Two Worlds, tours?


You, the visitor, are very much in control of this so we try not to tread on your faiths, dreams or connection to spirit.


Rather than visit a check list of known Ireland sites ranging from Newgrange, Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Stone, Ring Of Kerry, Dun Aengus, Paulnabrone Domen, Drombeg, Temple Bar, Waterford Crystal, Guinness Factory, Rock of Cashel, Clonmacnoise High Crosses, Glendalough Monastic City, Bunratty Castle etc., that are all bustling and busy for most of the year, we take you to more moving, more peaceful more restoring and even more Irish sites that can fulfill a vacation need. 


This does not eliminate our visitors to Ireland from visiting and enjoying the sites just listed because we actually provide packages that combine what we do with visits to the above. There are tour guides and buses we connect with that provide wonderful visits to these busy popular sites.


What we invite travellers to do is join us for 3, 4 or 5 days of their vacation in Ireland to truly explore the “Spirit of Place” within and around the most wonderful, and quite hidden, sacred places and spaces in Ireland that we host here within our Breifne Region. As well as sharing sites and deep Irish traditions you should find this to be a truly restoring time, especially for preparing for or reviving from the intensity of visiting the popular and busy tourist guide sites of Ireland.


What is a typical itinerary of our tour day? 


For the morning and afternoon we select one space or site for each half of the day.


When we arrive I will share some of my stories collected from the ancient oral and shaman traditions rather than from memory from books and explain how each site was honoured and used. Our sites are generally hidden passage cairns, court cairns, dolmens, sacred wells, tree henges, sacred caves, and beautiful places of ceremony. These are placed on mountains, surrounded by mountains, within magical woods, in wild meadows and often providing some of the most stunning scenery in Ireland.


After my initial story based introductions visitors are left to explore each site to their own depth and create their own interpretations through meditations, writing, photography, audio recording, chanting, sharing readings and poetry, or just what ever feels right for them. I or others are available for guidance and support if needed during each visit.


For lunch we select small country town or village pubs and cafes that provide quality food to suit most healthy eating needs.


For evening meals we select quality and intimate dining in quiet castles, country houses and restored rural buildings such as traditional cottages and converted mills.


For entertainment we provide and share music, song, poetry and reading events within castle drawing rooms, around turf fires of traditional cottages, in the quietness of covered sacred spaces as well as true pub music sessiuns that are still rural tradition and not just designed for the tourists.


We also aim to provide, where possible, a performance by my wonderful singer harp partner, Claire Roche that most visitors discover is the most moving element of their entire vacation.


Where possible, we will also have someone guide you into cutting reeds and making your own Brigid crosses as well as optional evening introductory workshops on how to use and share your writings and photography.


Overall, our itineraries are now designed to encourage a truly restoring vacation that not only connects our visitors to “Spirit Of Place” through landscape and traditions but encourage souveniers to be the ability to apply “spirit of place” to continue restoration back home rather than collect a bag of trinkets that might end up in next year’s yard sale.


To join our tours as part of your Ireland visit ….


Go to my web site, follow links and you’ll find an inquiry form below many of the pages.


 


 


  


 

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