Traveling Ireland: the wild side of Donegal: a pagan spiritual party near Dunfanaghy
A book excerpt from the spiritandflesh.com religion and spirituality online library.
I headed to the northern coast of County Donegal, and if I have said that Ireland is as close to home as I have ever felt, then it was on those massive deserted beaches in the far north of the country that I found my bedroom. After all, the word 'Donegal', in old Gaelic, means- Fortress of the Foreigner. A perfect place for me to belong while not-belonging.
I had been informed by another traveller of a magical little hostel near Dunfanaghy, and I arrived there one afternoon to find that it was run by a trinity of marvellous folks- a French woman, a Dutch woman, and an Irish fellow. The Irish bloke was so spritelike that he could have just been lifted out of the Hobbit Shire. His name was Fergal, which means: man of gold. The true gold. And boy did I take a liking to him, and vice versa. We shared many a pint between us, sitting around the peat fire, or out in the magical moors of that remote region.
The hostel had been built out of an old grain mill, which had been built over an ancient Celtic power spot. The owner was a brilliant, ex-military man, who said he had been guided to buy the property, and restore the mill, but that was all he knew, except …that magic happened there. And, to be sure, it is one of only two places I can recall at this time in which, the moment upon entering, I felt the spirit surging through every stone, beam, and adornment.
As well, the estate was endowed with a small creek, some fields, a few hillocks, and a little grotto where you could go and sit and become one again with the land of faeries.
During my stay at the hostel I became well acquainted with the folks who were running the place, as well as a few patrons, and one long summer afternoon we held a beach party on one of the endless coastal beaches which are a plenty in that area.
I have had my day of drunken revelry, and I have had my share of wild and reckless gatherings, but for some reason I will always remember that afternoon and evening as one of the most remarkable events in my life.
I suppose, if I can put this last statement into perspective, I say such because I encountered on that beach a juxtaposition which I had always lived with but which in the past had eaten away at me, rather than elating me. And that juxtaposition was this: I found during the many hours that our gathering of kindred souls spent on that outer shore, which ran well into the middle of the night, that I had suddenly merged the two necessities of my being, without intending to do so, but somehow it had happened, as if by providence; for I was now out on a remote, spectacular, and forgotten coast, as I have always loved to be, but I was also with my tribe, and so I had finally reached a metaphysical union of opposites, wherein I was hovering in the realm of lostness and foundness, of not-belonging and belonging, of loneliness and companionship, of distance and of intimacy.
To be out there, on the wild side of life, far from the clamour and groan of the world, and yet to be a member of an inclusive clan, none of whom belonged anywhere, but all of whom belonged there that evening, a motley crew of homeless drifters, on the outer edge of the earth, in rapture and aloneness, in sorrow and company, together in separation, one night, one wild, windy, manic, drunken night in which to revel, to sing, to dance, and to drink, because we had finally found communion and togetherness, and had suddenly become a part of the universe in its lonely, undivided, and ecstatic mystery.
It was the remoteness married to the intimacy, and the alienship married to the sense of home, which drove me mad with a feeling of joy married to melancholy, the union of which is the absolute make-up of the soul. I was in the world, and of the world, and not-of the world.
The feeling that this gave me ignited the remembrance of another beach such as the one we were on that night- back when I was on Oahu, years before, alone and without comrades, and I lay down on my back, in the blackest of nights, and looked out into the infinite cosmos, and for the first time in my life I began to have a sensation of earthly vertigo, because I began to feel that I was in the space which I was looking at. Which is to say, I suddenly realized that when I looked into outer space, that I was in outer space- and I knew, with categorical lucidity, that no matter what else we are- and I expect we are many things- we are also aliens, somehow living now on this forgotten planet, with forgotten people, singing forgotten songs.
And perhaps it was because of that experience on Oahu, that now I had finally found the peace and joy on the beach in Donegal, which was the fruit of that seed of foreignness planted years earlier on Oahu.
And it is this recognition which allows me now to declare that I believe we come from the earth, and from the stars, and it is only in the union of these two aspects of ourselves- the juxtaposition of belonging and not-belonging- that we become cosmically whole.
I see now that I belong on this earth as much as any man. And I belong in the sky as well.
I expect this is the case for all of us- that because we come from both the earth and the sky, we find no peace in between them. And therefore it is up to us to find a way to belong, not to one or the other, but to both. For we come from an infinity which we shall forever darkly remember, and though its recollection sinks down into the darkest depths of this earth, the dull remembrance will haunt us all our days unless we finally come to terms with who and what we are. For it is out from the infinity of Self that we have landed in the finitude of this world, and though we must honor, love, and cherish the privilege of our stay, we must never forget that our seed also comes from another place beyond the Milky Way.
(excerpted from Roots and Wings: adventures of a spirit on earth, by Jack Haas)