Tadhg’s Journal Excerpt: ‘Thin places’, are places, times and events where Celts, Druids and others believed, that in once sense, the veil between here and the Other, the distance between heaven and earth is smaller, where the ‘air’ seems to tingle’ with spiritual power, invitation and anticipation; and where the Presence of God was/is said to be palpable. These places have fascinated people since ancient times.
‘Thin places’ still exist.
Having some friends over last evening, and sharing our own ‘Thin Place’ experiences, I thought it would be good to share some of the ‘Thin Places’ I’ve come across, visited and intend to re-visit. My comments made in my journal at the time are in quoted italics. So, these ‘Thin Places’ are:
Holy Island (Lindisfarne), a tidal island off the northeast coast of England. The castle at its summit was built in 1550. The island’s old Welsh name is Medcaut [which is thought to mean ‘Healing’ [Island]].
‘This place is timeless. Time doesn’t encroach here. The sea around it moves, the wind across it blows, and clouds above it race, and God’s voice is heard just below the natural sounds to those who care to listen. But time stands still. And, we are but invited guests.’ [Tadhg, 2011]
Stonehenge, a place of mystery, and which attracts thousands from different ‘faith-tribes’ at the Summer and Winter solstices, and many more throughout the year.
‘A circle of stones. An ancient caim? Just a celestial clock to mark the seasons, or more? Oh, it’s much more. A clock, a community gathering-place, a belief in the link between heaven and earth. And more is lost in the stones, in the mists of time, waiting for its ancient thoughts to be (re)discovered. [Tadhg, 2014]
Yr Wyddfa [Welsh for ‘the tomb’] also known as Mount Snowdon in north Wales – not far from where I live in Capel Curig. Legend says that a ferocious giant once lived here, killed many men and wove its tunics from their beards. A myth, so I’m safe. Legend says he’s buried here – hence it being called ‘the tomb’, so I’m very safe.
‘On a sunny day you can see for miles, from here. On a cloudy, rainy day you can see about twenty feet (7 metres) ahead. Today, it was cloudy and damp, and then it rained. In this part of Wales, to some extent or another, it rains 330 days, annually!’ [Tadhg, 2016]
I haven’t been back to the island of Gigha for many years – so I’ve promised myself I will return. Gigha, a small island off the east coast of Scotland, has a population of about 120, and is awesome – a place of mystery and ‘magic’. The photo is of the Ogham Stone on the island – on it is written an inscription in an ancient proto-gaelic language – which has yet to be deciphered.
‘The Ogham Stones’ message is unknown, undeciphered. I wonder if the person who inscribed it, just made up nonsense words to keep future archaeologists and pilgrims in a state of blissful mystery?’ [Tadhg, 1993. Photo attribution: Patrick Mackie]
One of my favourite petrogylphs. Known as the Cerne Abbas giant (or the ‘rude man’) this chalk carving is said to be several thousand years old (or a couple of hundred years old). For the easily offended I’ve blocked out a part of the giants’ anatomy.
‘Rumour has it that any woman standing on the appropriate part of the giant’s carved anatomy – the bit ‘blocked out’ – would become pregnant. Ofcourse, it’s a myth, but I’m sure if I ‘googled’ it there would be some saying their baby resembled the Cerne Abbas giant. [Tadhg, 2015]
The photo is of John Constable’s famous painting of Salisbury Cathedral. This is a ‘thin place’ for sure. The first time I really explored this Cathedral I was on way to somewhere else, got lost and found myself here. Resigned to that fact, I explored!
‘The fact that I’m here, today, is a mistake…or is it. Maybe there is a reason that I’m here, at this Cathedral? ‘In order to arrive at a place you do not know, you must go by a way you do not know,’ said St John of The Cross’. I wonder? [Tadhg, 2001]
The above-mentioned are just a few ‘thin places’ that I’ve encountered. What about you? Let me know of your ‘thin place’ encounters.