FEATURE - September 2018
The Power of Place to Clarify Your Purpose
Why Travel Calls to Our Souls
By Laura Wolf
It seems like everyone I talk with about their dreams and visions says something about wanting to travel more. According to the United States Department of Commerce, approximately 38.33 million U.S. citizens traveled overseas in 2017. What is it about travel that calls to our souls? Is it the gorgeous settings, the new sights and tastes and sounds, the excitement of adventure or the relaxation and ease that we associate with vacation? All journeys, whether inner or outer, ultimately help us to discover more about ourselves and our deeper purpose.
I’ll never forget my first sacred journey to Ireland in 2014, led by Jeremy Schewe, ecologist, botanist, and expert in the Celtic Mysteries. Eschewing commercial tourist attractions, Jeremy took us to off-the-beaten-path sacred sites and wild natural landscapes where we often saw no one else all day. On our first full day in Ireland, our small group piled into the van to head to Rathcroghan, an archeological complex inhabited from the Neolithic Age up through the early medieval period known as the ‘Seat of Kings.’ Rathcroghan was a ceremonial center, a residence and burial ground for many Irish kings and an important ancient site cited in Irish mythology and history.
Eager to see our first sacred site in Ireland, we clamored out of the van chattering with excitement. But before setting us loose at Rathcroghan Mound, Jeremy gathered us together for a prayer and an impromptu teaching moment. He told us that the ancient Celts never approached anything directly. For one thing, it’s too easy to track a person who walks in a straight line. The Celts were masters at traveling through forests and around the hilly landscape without being detected. One could gather far more information about a place by spiraling around it. But also, it was considered aggressive and rude to approach a sacred site by walking straight up to it.
Jeremy invited us to explore Rathcroghan Mound in a spiral fashion, starting wide at the base and gradually winding our way up towards the top. He instructed us to slow down and intentionally heighten our senses to take in the colors of the grass, the shapes and textures of the stones, the sounds of the wind and the mist on our faces. American life is much faster paced than that of the villages and wild landscapes of Ireland. He wanted to drop us into a deeper, more connected place within ourselves and to tune into the rhythms and magic of the Celtic Isles.
He asked us to stop each time we noticed something, to pause and listen there. The Celts believed there was no separation between people and nature, or between ecology and spirit. Everything of the ‘other world’ has a corresponding geophysical location. As Above, So Below: As Without, So Within. Anything that caught our attention was to be regarded as a signal from the Universe to pay attention, to listen for inner guidance and ancestral wisdom about where to step next (on Rathcroghan Mound or in our lives back home).
I had studied the symbol of the spiral for many years in my shamanic journey work. The Spiral shows up in human physiology, plants, minerals, animals, weather patterns, the stars-and in the spiritual practices of every ancient culture throughout the world. Certain geometrical shapes have the power to reach deep into the unconscious and to effect subtle changes in the observer. And yet, I had not come across this practice of approaching a sacred site in this reverent way. It took me far longer to spiral around Rathcroghan Mound that day than it would have had I marched straight up to the top but I felt very blessed to receive some simple and beautiful downloads that day about who I am at a deeper level.
As we explored Ireland for two weeks, Jeremy took us to one wild, beautiful place after another: sea cliffs, ancient forests, pristine mountain lakes, hidden castle ruins, waterfalls and mist-enshrouded stone circles. At each place, he invited us to connect intimately with the land and the energies surrounding a sacred site. By opening ourselves to the essence of a place, we come into deeper communion with our own essence and with Divine Guidance.
“When we make a pilgrimage to sacred places where we feel called, we activate that particular current of consciousness and the thousands of years of ancestors and spirit beings associated with it. Connecting with these energies sets a pattern into motion within us and in the universe, propelling us forward in our clarity of purpose,” Jeremy says about the power of place.
Each evening, after our adventures, we would gather in a local pub around some hearty lamb stew and a pint of beer and share about the messages we received that day through the textures of the standing stones, the softness of the mist and the moss, the depths of the greens and the spray of the ocean.
“There are really important messages within these temple sites for everyone. When we go to these sites and truly become present, rather than just taking pictures, a dialog happens with our eternal self. Most Neolithic and Megalithic sacred sites were built during the last major climate change. They have important information for these times we are currently navigating if we will listen,” Jeremy says.
Every day of our lives is a sacred journey. And every place we stand is sacred if we decide to see it that way. Whether you are traveling around the globe this year, or around your neighborhood, I invite you to spiral around your chosen destination instead of charging straight at it. Slow down, pause, connect to your breath, heighten your senses and notice what catches your attention. Listen for a moment or two. You have access to all the answers you will ever need. Some will bubble up from within you. Others may drop in from the stars. Either way, you are always connected to Divine Guidance.
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Laura Wolf is a shamanic soul guide who leads inner and outer journeys around the world. Founder of Evolutionary Life School, Turn On Your Feminine Magic and the up-coming Wildwoman Weekend, Laura helps clients to unlock fear, access deep self-compassion, claim their power and live their sacred purpose. www.laurawolf.com