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Posts from the ‘Myths and Legends’ Category

Pilgrim Tales: “Bin Laden” Paulino and Felisa

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We arrive at The Bodega de Irache on the Camino de Santiago Pilgrim trail in Northern Spain hot and parched. The iron gates of the fabled “Fuente de Vino” are closed and a dishevelled pilgrim and his dog are occupying the space behind them.

“Come in and have a drink! I am Bin Laden and this is my dog  Cana”.

We accept the invitation and push open the gate to enter the domain of the Bodega webcam. The dog “Cana”  licks our hands  and “Bin Laden” whose real name is Pedro offers to take our photos. We pose, while first water then wine runs into our thirsty mouths and washes over  our hands.  What a crazy good tasting and generous tap!

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“Felisa has her own stamp” says the guide book. Like other Pilgrims on The Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail we are collecting Camino stamps at hostels, bars and churches as proof of our journey. When we arrive at Santiago our full passport will swapped for a certificate.

“You are famous” we say as we approach a wayside stall on the track that leads into Logroño.

We ask Felisa for her photo and she poses smiling behind her stall.As well as her own stamp La señora Felisa offers sugar depleted pilgrims fresh figs, if the season and the weather are right.

“These days the weather has gone mad,¨ she says. It´s  too wet and the figs rot on the trees or it´s too hot and dry.¨

¨It never used to be like this in my mothers time¨she adds.

Her mother, who is the real Felisa¨… the celebrated Señora Felisa of the figs, water and love is reputed to have  spent her daylight hours attending to weary pilgrims, offering  them ¨Higos  Agua and  Amor” in the service of God and humanity.  Sadly her daughter tells us that La Señora Felisa  has passed away and the responsibility falls on her, Felisa’s daughter to offer hospitality to Pilgrims outside the family home in memory of her mother.

Paulinos shade shack

Paulino’s home-made wayside shade-shack has everything we need to make us happy. Our needs are few;  water, shade, a snack and a place to rest. We fill our bottles and sip pure coolness before picking up a stone to crack open walnuts of hospitality.

“Thankyou Paulino… your good health!” In our mind’s eye we see Paulino in his veg garden waving a hoe.

“Buen Camino” we think we hear him say.

Many thousands of pilgrims drink from Paulino’s Well on their way to Santiago de Compostella, so  if all of them leave him gratitude, the pool will overflow.

(This story is the second in a series of stories Anna is writing about pilgrims she and Mark met on The Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Trail in Northern Spain).

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Pilgrim Tales : Serge, Jonno and Charlie

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANear Logroño the silouette of a knight pokes the air with his sword. He carries an old frame style backpack and is bent to one-side by the pendulous weight of a black plastic sack. As we approach the knight’s sword arm flies as his sword pecks up a tissue, a crisp packet, a water bottle and drop them into the bag.

“Buen Camino” says the knight.

“Buen Camino ” we reply and “Will you be dumping that outside the townhall ?” I point a finger at the litter filled black sack. “No” says the man through bushy hair and beard . “When I get to  town,  I’ll put it in a the first BIN  I see¨ he says.

This pilgrim has a pure heart.

We have been genuinely impressed by the cleanliness of the Camino since our start point in the squeaky clean northern city of Pamplona. So pilgrims doooo drop litter  after all. We are scarred but we need not worry for this pilgrim is a saint and he picks up what others have dropped.

“A clean camino is a wonderful thing.” We say! “Where are you from ?” I ask.

” I’m Serge and I’m French” says the pilgrim.

We ask as politely as its possible to ask a really nosey question ¨Are you on the Camino because you’re homeless”?

 “I have a home” says Serge, but after my first “Camino” I went back there to France and It didn’t feel right, it wasn’t for me any longer, so I came back here and made the Camino my home. I had found my MISSION !”

Holy smoke a holy litter-picking knight!! Stories travel the Camino as pilgrim currency and Serge has entered into Camino legend.

Further along the trail as we pass through a field gate near the village of Tosantos, we meet  a couple of young Laurie Lees in revolutionary beards and khaki shorts. They carry half drunk bottles of red wine and walk with sticks cut from the hedge; good companions who have met along the way and will continue together to Santiago. Jonno says he’s from Sydney  though he sounds English and Charlie says he’s a Scot though he too sounds English.

“I’m mixed up” he says.”

You must have been to boarding school then!” I say.

“No,” says Charlie,” I was brought up in Cyprus, but my parents split up and we came home”.

Charlie tells us how he has grown up with his dad’s stories of the romance of the Camino. My dad came here himself as a young man, way back in the eighties. It was different times then, fewer pilgrims, it wasn’t a tourist destination.”

He tells us how his dad and a friend had been working on a building site when over their sandwiches at lunch one day they decided it would be fun to go to the Pyrenees. They’d get there by hitching rides. Charlie’s dad had a lot of luck and arrived in just two days, but his friend wasn’t so fortunate and took ten whole days, by which time they were both out of money. The story goes that they walked up the mountain and became lost in a storm, coming down on the wrong side of the mountain into Spain.

“Are you doing the Camino?” people would ask.

There were few pilgrims back then and Charlie’s dad and his friend had such high novelty value they were Invited into the homes of old ladies to eat. And won over by the lure of hot dinners and the kindness of locals they became pilgrims and walked all the way to Santiago de Compostella. It was an experience that changed Charlie’s dad’s view of the world.

Such is the Lure of “The Camino” that when Charlie’s dad became a father he wanted to come back with his son. Now Charlie, has got the bug and tells us he is quitting his temporary job in Scotland to finish the Camino with his new friend Jonno. Before we leave these Camino adventurers we share Camino stories about the way this ancient pilgrim track lures travellers back, sometimes time and time again.  Jonno tells us he’d met a French guy who has done the Camino Pilgrim Trail twenty seven times.

So that would be Serge the litter-picker,  the frenchman with a mission!

This blogstory is one of several by Anna is writing about her experiences with Mark on the Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Trail in Northern Spain.

Pod Tour Adventures on View in New Mexico

Collaborative Drawing Series #2, Installed at OCHO, Questa New Mexico

Collaborative Drawing Series #2, Installed at OCHO, Questa New Mexico

For the last week and a half, visitors at OCHO Art & Event Space have been getting a glimpse of some of the adventures, observations and imaginings that flowed through our pens and out into our “Dreaming Place Collaborative Drawing, Series #2” that we created during our Place Dreamer Pod Tour in 2013.

The sixteen linked drawings are installed in a wide hallway between rooms, so everyone passes them when moving from the front gallery to the back of the building. It is appropriate that viewers are usually on the move, transitioning from once space to another while looking at the drawings, as we were often in the same situation, moving from place to place in the Irish Borderlands, when we made these drawings.

It’s been fun watching people look at them and fielding people’s questions and comments. There was a very well attended “PechaKucha Event” at OCHO last night and we had lots of positive feedback from viewers enjoying the quirky patchwork pen and ink drawings nailed to the wall.

Claire and her young sidekick installing the drawings….

Here is an excerpt from the statement that is installed next to the drawings:

“We see drawing as an exploratory tool, like wandering, never knowing what you’ll find or who you’ll meet on the way. Whether a kind of dreaming tool into our own psyche, an observational tool illuminating the world around us, or  a tool of introduction, allowing us access to people’s homes and lives as subject matter, for us they are all aspects of one of our favorite Place-Dreamer tools: Drawing.”

You can see images of all our collaborative drawings from both Series #1 and Series #2 HERE.

Individual drawings are available as limited edition prints.
Please contact us if you’re interested in ordering prints.

Dreams are like clouds always changing and re-forming according to the weather

Cloud spotter Hans Wieland of Neantóg cottage in County Sligo is always eager to share his passion for clouds with anyone willing to look upward. Below inspired by Hans’ vision, Anna spotted this mind -blowing mammatus cloud over Kaçkar Mountain in Turkey. Must be worth quite a few points!

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St. Patty’s Day Special: Wood Sorrel and the Myth of the Shamrock

On this day, enjoy a lovely description of the storied layers of the symbolic Irish Shamrock.

Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Dreaming Radio Broadcasts Across the Miles

collaboration what does it meanWhen we collaborate with each other in the field (as in the photo at left), we discuss our project face to face. However, this time of year is different. We are thousands of miles apart communicating via skype and sharing files to create Radio Dreaming Episodes. Dropbox and Google docs are our allies.

Here are are, working together, in our own home places, over 4, 000 miles apart, carefully timing our work sessions around the 7-hour time difference:

Below is a recording of one of our skype chats, or brainstorms. This one is about  stories. Anna is the one with the English accent and Claire with the New Mexico accent.

The future in a lough, climate modelling

Bodies of water have been places of augury and insight since time immemorial but now there is a new twist to the tale and lough Nabrickboy is revealing qualities that predict the future. Martina from Marble Arch Caves Geopark explains ….

Dreaming Yews

We climbed in the wide branches of two famous, ancient, entwined male and female Yew trees on the Crom estate. They are reputedly the oldest Yew trees in Ireland and possibly in all of Europe. According to the National Trust website, the trees were planted in the 17th Century, but other websites proclaim the trees to be much older – as many as 800 years.


The Yew Tree is now a rarity in Ireland, but the tree still has a mythic cultural prominence. Rich in mythology, symbolism and historic and prehistoric cultural uses, Yew trees are shrouded with mystery and power. The large, majestic trees have a commanding presence, not least because all parts of the Yew tree contain poisonous alkaloids, except for the bright red arils encasing its seeds.

As we climbed, swung and perched in the grand branches of the trees,  we mused about the dreams shared and the hundreds of years of history witnessed by the arboreal pair. What do Yew trees dream of? How many dreamers have taken refuge in the protection of these trees and which of their dreams were caught in the great web of their branches?


We are sure that dreams and yew trees are tied up together somehow and here is a bit of proof. Read about a Yew dream from the 1600’s “Somnium ex Eubernea porta” from Mrs. Cl., of S. here.

For more information about Yew trees visit the Ancient Yew Group at  www.ancient-yew.org.

No 17. DREAMING PLACE data sheet drawing

No12. DREAMING PLACE data sheet drawing



Dreamers toolkit

Our  evolving Dreaming Place Toolkit – a list in images….
night and day/ collaboration

potions
wild strawberries

dreaming into place

ask for water
inhabit the view
collaborative drawing

cooking
documentation



No 6 DREAMING PLACE data sheet

Great Paddler in the Sky myth

Out paddling with Claire, in Lower Lough Erne, I dreamed the story of the Great Paddler in the Sky. It felt momentous, but it happened easily as I listened to the sound of my paddle stirring the starry waters of the lough, over and over over and over….I watched as my paddle spun the sky into a silken thread over and over, over and over.

The Great Paddler, spinner of galaxies, tornadoes, whirlwinds, whirlpools. The Great Paddler who taught the lake people how to travel, how to spin, how to dream. The Great Paddler who propels us into the future.


Listen below  to paddling at Lough Oughter  (Sounds recorded from the top of the blue plastic drum in the image above. You may need headphones or ear buds to catch the subtleties).

No 4 DREAMING PLACE data sheet

Bees Dreaming

Bees are a kind of ancient technology, nature’s tireless messengers between worlds. They gather cultures around them and help propagate crops and ideas. Texting and twittering are the great-grandchildren of bees.

The future of our species is inextricably linked to that of bees, so if they don’t survive, even our phones will cease to buzz. (Interestingly, our “buzzing” mobile phones is stressing out hives – learn more here.)

Listen below to  bumble bees living in the doorway of Alan’s cottage:


In the Marble Arch Caves Geopark bees continue to ply defunct smugglers routes with bags of valuable honey, even now that  the borders  between “north” and “south” are open. Honey is a rich prize guarded fiercely by the bees, but even now there are people who happily risk their wrath once or twice a year to steal it from them. Farmer, Ignatius McGuire, shares his family townlands with wild bees and  in summer the temptation is sometimes just too great.

Listen to Ignatius McGuire describe the delights of honey from the field here:


Or ponder the importance of bees dreaming with Kaylynn TwoTrees in her article, “Nature’s Dreaming”………..

“Regeneration comes from dreams, where the energy from a sense of possibility is stronger than the fear of the unknown. So even today, as the bees are struggling for survival and hives are collapsing, a taste of honey or the hum of bees in my garden re-enlivens my belief that the sound of nature’s dreaming is the hum of bees and the audible activity of the hive…..”

Looking for the beesong  audio to share with you I discovered this file of Susi playing her violin while we washed up. Lucky us…. So here it is. Click here and you will understand  why it belongs to this post:

Bees are also extraordinary architects, the makers of honeycomb, which forms their hive. Honeycomb is a product of the living system of the beehive, a collection of hexagonal wax cells built collaboratively by honeybees in their nests or hives to cradle their young and store honey and pollen for winter. We are intrigued and inspired by the geometry of the bees and often spot honeycomb hexagons along our journey. This game of “Honeycomb I-Spy” actually began several years ago on another journey…..to hear and see more click here.

No.3 Dreaming Place data sheet drawing

Above and Below

From the the beginning, we knew that exploring above and below ground and above and below water would be important themes for DREAMING PLACE. Not only are we personally interested in these themes, the geology and geography of the Marble Arch Caves Geopark demands it!


These themes both directed many of our adventures as well as our philosophy of the project. We wanted to explore “above and below” with the people, places and things of MAC Geopark. What is so important about above and below?

We are accustomed to experiencing the surface of things the “above” version, but delving into both paints another picture of place. “Below” is also very much linked to exploring dreams, because often to understand the meaning of dreams or understand the “dream meaning” of a life experience, one must delve below the surface meaning and explore the many layers.

To be a “Place Dreamer” is to explore the many layers…..

You can read about our first underground experience with Dave Scott here and a little bit about our wild swimming adventures here.

Let’s Dream Potions?

We know we’re not the first to invent the idea of a dreaming potion……how could we be? Well its hardly an original idea is it? People have been dreaming for donkey’s years, people have been wanting to tamper with dreams since time. There are always going to be those who want to dream differently themselves or affect the dreams of  other Humans, Animals and Things.

dreaming potion postcard

The complete requirement for DREAMING POTIONS through history and prehistory, must have been immense.  Rather than buckets full of potions it is more appropriate to talk of A SEA OF POTIONS.  There have been  just so, so many humans, pre-humans and proto-humans, dreamers all, some of whom at some point will have wanted to change the quality, quantity, content of their own dreams or dreams of others.

That’s so many dreamers wanting a potion to enhance their dreams. – A potion has been sought to DREAM MORE INTENSELY, DREAM BETTER, DREAM CHILDREN, DREAM DIFFERENTLY, DREAM FOR OTHERS, DREAM FATTER, DREAM FASTER, DREAM THE FUTURE, DREAM WILDER, DREAM IN TECHNICOLOUR, DREAM LESS. DREAM SOLUTIONS TO PROBLEMS, DREAM WHERE TO GO NEXT, DREAM BACKWARDS, DREAM THE ANCESTORS, DREAM PLACE, DREAM PROSPERITY, DREAM DREAMS, DREAM WHERE THEY LEFT SOMETHING, DREAM THE NEXT MEAL or maybe just DREAM MORE full stop.

Thats soooo  many off the shelf and bespoke DREAMING POTIONS  for the many varieties and classes of  DREAMERS with their many and distinct DREAM REQUIREMENTS. It seems  impossible to even begin to think about them all. But we can at least begin.

I have heard that marmite is a good dream potentiser and it has worked for me.  A bit of toast and marmite at  bed time.

potions for dreaming

To take a tiny whiff from a small selection of the probable potions is to be assaulted by the heavy stink of crushed, pounded, squeezed melted, seeds, plants juices, minerals, extracts, organisms, fermentations, secretions, oils and incantations. These potential DREAMING POTIONS are so powerful, so intoxicating, so overpowering as to render even a sturdy dreamer completely and utterly DREAMLESS.

We can’t document even a tiny proportion of all potions designed to affect DREAMING. It just can’t be done. Its too tedious, scary, mad….. to do in a lifetime. So though we won’t document Marble Arch Caves Gopeark dream potions we will make a LIST OF SOME DREAM POTION CONSIDERATIONS and we will think about making our own.

If you intend making your own DREAM POTIONS you might like to consider the following.

Ingredients, quantities, smell, taste, consistency, toxicity, addictiveness,storage, availability of ingredients, appearance, know how, price, method of mixing, sell by date, potency, distribution, functionality, container, recipient, exlusivity, time taken to make, legality, time to repose, quantity to take, effectiveness, dilution, mixing bowls, social stigma, side-effects, availability to the consumer, secretivity, desirability……. gloopiness.

How have all the potions that have ever been shaken, stirred, sampled, gifted, smuggled, tasted  within the lands of what is today Marble Arch Caves Geopark changed the pattern, shape and texture and history of the landscape of dreams?

Potholer questionnaire – poem

Are you an adventurer teaser, deep delver, descender, tunneller, get swalloweder, explore underergrounder, catch sighter, day benighter, holey moleyer, badluck frightener?

Are you a squeeze througher, death defyer, dive downer, swim upper, happy go lucka, good time smuggler, listen to the darkness in silencer, truth weazler, get scared by nuffin’ er?

Are you a bravehearter, underworld dreamer, mole tamer, knee crawler, luck bringer, light swallower, gone undergrounder, bearer of prayerser, night reveller, dark hounder, rights of passage saver?

Are you a cavern punter, into the wildernesser, fear fighter, just passing byer, wanna be blinder, vision questioner, fast believer, pitch blacker, potato snuffer, slide by nighter, fear flunker, stagnencey stirrer?

Are you an Alice in wonderer, downderryer, badger terrier, earth enterer, otherworld finder, fast believer, pitch black minder, caver saver, light exterminator, hyena trainer, edge througher, never guess whoer?

Are you an illegal stiller, underworld tiller, albino signer, drop downer, paddler to other worlder, see in the darker, bear scarer, little deather, pure air breather, landmark dealer?

Are you an imagination brewer, leach purveyer, excitement seeker, porqupine squiller, fashion slayer, lifestyle  illuminator, bat trainer, land of deather, light transformer, future healer, cave reader?

Becoming a Human Talisman

claire as talisman

Talismans are an important  part of our DREAMING PLACE  toolkit. Talismans are objects of power with the capacity to change our perspectives. So we like to give talismans of found or modified natural materials to our participants to act as guides. The talismans act to influence or transform their experience. With a pony hair bracelet or a piece of string fashioned out of soft rushes as guide to an experience, the world becomes new.

Something curious happened to us at Crom Estate. Cradled in the mossy lap of an ancient oak tree close to the Crom Estate church we literally became “human talismans”. A happy shift in scale and perspective….

Original midge protection

Shannon Pot (important site in the Geopark) was probably quite midgy (full of no see-ems) in the mesolithic. Late one evening as we slathered ourselves with natural bug repellent,  we also worked out why some people are born with the potential to grow long floppy  hair!!

Mummers Midsummer Meeting

The White Horse, Mummers and Straw Boys bearing torches file up to the top of Knockninny Hill, where the midsummer festivities will take place. It is 11 pm and a beautiful evening with the light of the day stretching late into the night……


After hiking up Knockniny hill with a lovely sun setting to the west, we gather ’round a roaring bonfire as event organizer, Jim Ledwith calls out instructions to the straw boys and mummer volunteers wearing costumes this year. It is an ancient tradition that has been revived here on Knockninny Hill crowned by a Bronze Age cairn and atop a prehistoric cave. Plaited rings of straw are thrown onto the fire in honor of the sun and handfuls of seed scattered over the flames to invoke new life, fertility and bounty. Bread is held over the fire by the Wren, a young girl dressed in a brown fringed costume and then distributed as the strawboys jump the flames of the bonfire. Young women are warned…..touch the white horse (a symbol of fertility) and……wait for the baby to pop out! Learn more about the Aughakillymaude Community Mummers here.

“Fast Dream us” into Place

People are taking centre stage in our project at the mo and in the human sphere fortuitous connections are fast dreaming us into place. Invitations and ideas for future adventures are issuing fast from potential hosts.

We undid our high Victorian collars just long enough to down our first pint/half pint of Guiness at Blake’s Hollow, an Irish music pub in Enniskillen. Here we were introduced to friends of Diane Henshaw (Fermanagh Arts Officer), who is a gem.

We sat with Catherine Ward, who leads walks for the Fermanagh Ramblers and Jim Ledwith, for whom  “mumming” as a way of life. We will go with the mummers to Knockrinny summit on Saturday to celebrate midsummer (we may have to dress up in straw!). There is also an offer of a walk to Speaking Horse Hill….

And we plan to meet Patrick Murphy who makes straw suits for “ the straw men”.

Now we are off to the 50th Anniversary party at the local cave rescue hut on a mountainside and there is a new blog on the horizon. Later we have the fleadh (pronounced flah) at  Beleek and a whole new network of contacts and intros might open up.

Will pubs be pivotal in our project?

We’ve got a new latitude

New LatitudeHere in Northern Ireland, the summer days are lengthy. Dawn and dusk last a long time leaving less dark time for sleeping. The result for us is a misperception of time and a “natural rhythm” of going to bed late and waking up early. However we are finding that this “natural rhythm” creates an unnatural and sometimes cumulative fatigue that crops up at the most inopportune times. While we constantly invite the sun out from behind the rain clouds during the day, we hide from its seasonal luminosity by night behind thin, permeable tent walls in an ongoing effort to go to bed at a reasonable time.

We are staying for 40 days and 40 nights, but days are really long and our nights are really short. How were traditions and beliefs of the past shaped by latitude?

To see exactly where we are on googlemaps, click here.

From Cradle to Grave

 Today we tagged along on a kids’ potholing trip led by Dave Scott from Gortatole Activity Centre. Known as “the cradle” this watery cave is part of the Marble Arch Caves system. The entrance to the cave opens out of a large quarry-like hole full of forest, a relic of  ancient woodland.

Dave’s knowledge and skill mean that even in a cave that has claimed lives, the kids are encouraged to lead and make their own discoveries. Above the underground stream, safe on a sandbank, we listened in the pitch blackness to the gurgling voices of the underground river.

Outside the cave on a boulder is a plaque commemorating the lives of the 3 young cavers who lost their lives in Cradle Cave. Dave, our guide, told us he was on the rescue team that pulled out their bodies.

The memories of the land are not always easy to hear.

 

Finding Heroines and Heroes

Once upon a time on the banks of the infant Shannon there was a silver bridge, a peaty pool, a springer spaniel, a wise young couple, a wizard with a gravelly voice and a gift of icecream….

A contemporary fairy tale seems to be emerging.

What is our role here?