Of Soil and Soul
As we entered into the area of Western Ireland known as Connemara, I began to feel my body respond to the land. The beauty of the land was plentiful and astounding, but my body wasn’t just responding to the beauty. It was responding to the energy of the land itself. I could feel it. I could sense it. As we drove further into this particular area, I began to connect to the elemental forces of the land – the forces in my body meeting the forces of earth’s body.
In Connemara, the energy is powerfully palpable.
As we turned onto a part of a two-lane highway that ringed a large body of water, I laid eyes on what I would come to know as peat for the first time. The land that separated the road from the water was made of peat bogs. I’d never set foot on peat, but I’d heard about it. We pulled the car over, got out, and proceeded to walk out onto this very unique-feeling part of earth. It was a wide-open part of the land, and clearly still being used to harvest the peat for heating homes. There were visible cuts in the peat where shovels had lifted long fingers of it off of the earth to be dried and then burned, and there were pyramid-like stacks of these fingers drying in the sun.
I can still feel the feeling of peat under my feet. The memory is in my body. I can feel its welcoming give, how it took each foot into a kind of charitable embrace. It was so much more buoyant than any land I’d stepped on before.
Most modern peat is around 12,000 years old, but peat itself has been forming for millions of years. And this is where it gets interesting. As my feet stood on the peat, as I took in the smells of the land and the sight of the mountains surrounding the water, I began to feel a sense of remembering, a connection to something so old and deep, so familiar and alive. “What” I was remembering, I can’t say, but it was a knowing of something deep within me. There were no facts or details; rather it was all experience, feelings, sensations, and a knowing that seemed to connect me in this present moment back in time to another time long ago. The feeling of contact with the peat beneath my feet, and the softness of the connection, was accessing something deep within me.
I didn’t yet know about how the soul, body, and conscious mind are so deeply connected around experience. I just knew that I was experiencing something, and remembering something – and that the experience was profoundly important. What I did notice is that the part of me feeling this connection felt just as old as the peat, perhaps even timeless. I just stood there in a state of remembering and connecting.
I’ve felt a similar experience of remembering before – numerous times. Sometimes it is fleeting and indistinct, and sometimes it lasts longer and is very distinct.
A Call to Remember
We were in Ireland because I’d felt a call to come. I didn’t know why; I just intuitively knew I must go, and I answered the call. I had no idea where I was to go, only that I was to go. Fortunately, my significant other at the time was on board. He was an adventurer, too, and gracious in following this rather cryptic call.
As I began to make plans, I tried to figure out what it was about. I decided that I was “supposed to” visit sites of the sacred feminine, a topic I’d been intensely focused on for some years. I really just made this up because it felt helpful to do that, but also making it up gave me a starting point in planning our two-week journey.
On our trip we did see many places that could be deemed sacred feminine sites, but ultimately I was guided by this quiet voice once we were on Irish soil. The quiet voice inside me was guiding me all along to find the places that ultimately held these deep experiences of remembering and connection. It was a lesson in trust.
A number of years before Ireland, I began to feel this inexplicable call to go to different lands. I could feel the calling. It was a knowing inside. There was no explanation with it. It was simply a knowing and it was strong.
The calls were to specific places on earth. Each time it felt like the land itself, in that place, was calling.
Like a phone call, the land would “ring me up.”
Hello, Julie. It’s time to come.
I would almost always answer, “Hmmm. I’m not sure about this. Why?”
And the land would respond with something like, “Come. There is no why. Just come.”
And, once I did, once I followed the call, I saw that there was no “why,” there was simply connection and what I call an experience of remembering.