Reflection: 12 October 2017. Today is my last full day on Iona. I just had to revisit St Oran’s Chapel and a few other places, again. But, I also wanted to visit a hill just five minutes or so from where I’m staying, and just a few minutes short of the Machair.
On the Isle of Iona, this Isle Of Druids, surrounded by great, craggy, huge prominences this small hill – probably fifty feet across and thirty feet high, is easy to overlook. And yet, it is so significant. It is known by various names, Cnoc nan Angeal or The Hill of Angels, and to some it is Sitheon Mor or the Hill of the Fair (the Fairy Hill).
It is a place of deep connection, another ‘thin place’ on an island that is itself a ‘thin place’. For several millennia before St Columba/Columcille set foot on the island, Druids,and others would come here, to this very hill that overlooks the sea, and would commune. Whatever name they used, and however they saw that connection, something too place then, and it takes place, still. Encounter.
When St Columba/Columcille set foot on the island at Pentecost in AD563, it,is recounted by Adomnan writing some years later, that Columcille would regularly climb this hill and converse with angels. It is a place of power, energy, a place that is liminal, both straddling this world and the Other.
I just had to climb to the top of Sitheon Mor. And I’m glad I did. Did I hear the fae or Angels. Not directly. But I do believe the spirit converses with spirit, and though we may be unaware now, in years to come through memory or when we are ‘there’ and the ‘blinkers are off’ we will know then that we have (indeed wherever we are, and not just at Sitheon Mor) been in the company of the Fae, Angels, That Which Is Larger Than Ourselves etc, and always have been.
But, right now as I stand on the brow of the hill, and with the wind ‘moaning’ it sounds very much like the murmurs of the Fae or Angels speaking to me.
But, then I am born into this time and it is so easy to distance myself from spiritual reality by saying the wind sounds like the voices of elementals and Angels. In using the word ‘like’ I have distanced myself – it is like, but not exactly so! So, writing as others would have written in times gone by, as I stand on this hill, I will be so bold as to say, the voices of the Fae and Angels come in the howling of the wind and speak to us. There , I’ve said it. And, if you’re reading this, then you too, are with me in spirit and are part of this wonderful and ongoing conversation that Druids, Columcille and others have had.
It’s now getting late, and so I’m leaving Sitheon Mor. Tomorrow, I head for toward the Isle of Skye, but with the firm promise of coming back to this Isle of myth and magic, a place the speaks to all those who have ears to hear, this very ‘thin place’. Iona.