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I left Dzogchen Beara with a mother and daughter, who felt very much like family at the end of my stay at the retreat center. They were kind enough to drive me to Cork where I got a bus to Galway. I was welcomed to Galway with an amazing multi-course meal provided by a last minute couch surfer. She and all her friends were wonderfully kind and represented all parts of the world. It was awesome to see so much diversity in one room. Enjoying the company of this lovely lady and her flatmates was very comfortable. We had some good laughs and encouraging conversations. She introduced me to pickle-backs which are shots of whiskey chased by pickle juice; I was quite sceptical, but who knew that something that sounds so revolting might actually be somewhat good?

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From Galway, I ventured to the Burren, Cliffs of Moher, and Aran Islands, the lanscapes of which are bizarre and mystical. There was a real sense of connection to my surroundings and a desire to be silent as though listening for whispers of ancient secrets. On the Aran Islands, there are forts and ruins that date back to the Iron Ages. In many areas, life became timeless, and I felt I was experiencing places not of this world. The limestone rock that tops hills is eerily stacked as though placed there with hands, and yet, it is from the earth and has peaks of lush grass surrounding it, almost strategically, in rows. Rock walls, many built by starving farmers during the potato famine, seem haunted by the dying men who built them. They often lead to nowhere and appear to have no purpose, just endless piles of rock caging in rocky surfaces. When one looks out upon these ageless stone walls leading to the edge of sharp ocean cliffs, one wonders if those who built them fell into madness, plunging to their deaths in the violent waters below.

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Inspiration comes naturally when you are looking over a cliff and faced with your own death but welcome it. I could not think of a better way to become one with the world again than diving into a raging sea of passion, beating down the roaring rocks of history. Their battlecries melding into a painful force of green foaming mist and the shrapnel of shattered stone. How long has this war been raging between water and land? The sea relentless in its pursuit. The land resilient to the persistant force. The power of movement and stability combined into an endless ebb and flow that we call earth.

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Vast is this gray, green emptiness. I feel closer to this horse, this land, this sea than human beings. They speak without words. I feel in them full-bodied emotion not hidden by endless chatter. Silence comes easy here. I welcome it in and feel whole. I like this island of seclusion. It is satisfying to sit with myself quietly. I am so social in my everyday life. Now, I realize how tired I am. I do not crave companionship unless it listens to what is. I want to share this moment, but if another human being was here with me, we would feel a need to break this holy silence, and the experience would be lost. As the sun’s rays touch the sea before the ocean devours its light, I feel god reaching to me, and I feel warm despite the biting cold around me. In a minute, it will rain. I can taste the moisture in the air. But I welcome the wet that will soon become the ocean.

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In Skibbereen, I learned all about digging up spuds and making fires. I stayed in what looked like a hobbit home made from scratch by my couch surfing host. The house was cozy and unique with a tree fort to the side and wooden hot tub overlooking the misty hills. It was sustainably built with wind to power electricity and wood stoves and good design to warm the rooms. I had to get used to peeing in the bushes (my aim is much improved since Japan I am proud to say…no piss on the pants) and pooing in a compost toilet. I spent much of my time here reconnecting with nature and taking long walks with my host’s dog. The hikes around the home led to breathtaking views of the coast on Knockomagh Hill. Ancient ruins lined the paths, and I felt the presence of magic vibrating in these mossy stones amongst overgrown trees. At the top, I observed the world go by for an hour or two embracing the wet, hazy sky, watching the birds come and go like the sea down below. I swam in the Lough Hyne, Ireland’s only salt water lake, with my host’s mom, who goes every day with friends, even in the winter. I felt vibrant wading in its salty cold. Phytoplankton reside in its depths and come alive when you touch the water’s surface in the moonlight. The bioluminescence of these organisms carresses, embraces, and follows with complete loyalty behind those that swim in its living water. Fairies dance on its surface and the glistening organisms chase them in ripples.

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This land speaks
Time holds no place on its deserted emerald landscape
Of ancient mystery and manifested melody
Shadowy surfaces haunt heroic past
Masters of the forest go unnoticed
Mossy overgrown fingertips beckon us to touch history
Bioluminescent diamonds shimmer softly
Fairy fantasies of forgotten worlds dance
On this moonlit salt water surface of wandering plants
Modern motives lead to magical misinterpretation
Pagan traditions fade into myth, memory, dream…

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