My lady sits on a cliff top, looking out across the bay, where land, sea and sky meet. She is the mountain embodied, the land given form as a god.
She asked me to dedicate myself three times.
Once in the presence of Manannan mac Lir, at the bay where I met him many years ago. Manannan her husband; Manannan the lord of all my journeys. King of the Wanderers, Lord of the Sea.
And once in the presence of Duibhne, goddess of the Corca Duibhne people, her sister and my first ancestor. I did this part at a spot I discovered because there was literally a rainbow sitting over it as I drove past the previous day. (I’d been on the Corca Duibhne peninsula for a few days at the beginning of my trip, but nowhere there quite worked like this spot did.)
But at last I was headed to the Hag of Beara Stone, for the final dedication, to Beara* alone, and I was incredibly nervous. This is the spot where my Lady is most famous. I’ve met her in different parts of the land, and found that she is different everywhere. She’s wild in the mountains, warm and protective in the valleys, stormy by the sea… What if her aspect at the Hag Stone didn’t know me, or I didn’t recognise her?
It was good that I was prepared. The Hag Stone was overwhelming. There, she’s like a great wind that forever rages across the mountain, exposed and open. I was hit with the force of dozens of centuries of stories told about this single geological feature, its total captivation of the people who saw it. In the offerings on and around the stone, I knew I was not alone in my worship of An Chailleach Bhearra, even though it may sometimes seem that way, and even though I may not understand the ways in which others relate to her. We are still all her people.
I feel like a liminal person when it comes to many different things. In many parts of my life. The way I relate to my gods is just one thing that’s difficult to reconcile with what others around me do. I feel different – whether I actually am or not.
It’s time to stop being ashamed of my differences, and to embrace them – all of them. It’s time to stand on the clifftop and shout out Beara’s name to the waiting land below. It’s time to start learning how to stand proudly, like she does, between.
It’s time to start learning how to be her priestess.
More stories from the pilgrimage soon.
*Look, I’m learning how lenition works in Irish! :D