Sacred Sites – The Neolithic Tomb of the Earth

July 26, 2012

The mound is smoothed off in a beautiful, egg-shaped ellipse, with huge stone walls around the circle and a low tunnel like a burrow into the centre. It is a womb in the earth, protruding out from ground level in the fullness of pregnancy, ready to give life, converting mere matter to animate souls, an inner sanctum of the mystery of the night, a tomb that is also a passage, a corridor between worlds old and new. You cannot enter here without feeling reverence for the sacred feminine, the honour of giving birth and of being born, the life giving matrix out of which we all crawl and look about and cry – where am i? What am i?

To enter the tomb is to find silence, a place where contemplation is natural, where you can reflect upon your life, your mind, your body and soul and find your own way towards whatever understanding of a place in the universe you can achieve. There’s no pulpit (though I wouldn’t be surprised if there were spiritual leaders who helped the other wanderers into the feeling of the place, who introduced the rites that could concentrate their focus, who might even have pushed participants towards the point of the mythic cycle they were participating in, or helped them to see the archetypal character they were playing out, or who could speak to them in the ancient language of symbol and dream. Even with the possibility of guidance, there’s no set scripture to follow or doctrine to obey, no set pattern of rules against which the individual is to be judged (although there is always a certain set of parameters within which human behaviour is regulated; when those limits are reached, nature contracts, and people suffer until they set themselves right in the ways of the world again). In the stone tomb, you find your own way through the darkness.

The bone fragments found here by archaeologists are not necessarily the remains of ‘great men.’ Maybe they were just taken from the recent dead, fresh batches that can be used in the rites as a way to direct our attention back to the death that awaits us, and back towards the ones that gave us life: the ancestors, primeval and recent.

The air is moist but not close, earthy but not oppressive. The space is dark but embracing, not threatening. The shape asks you in, the low roof and entrance a humbling reminder of our place in the universe, the curves around your back support you and your questions and ask you for more. You enter and leave alone but you share the place with others – past and present – and you remember that we must all make space for each other while we are here. Sometimes there is a pillar in the centre, as we are all rooted to the centre of the earth in our bodies. Sometimes there is a spiral on the wall, as we all dance around the centre of this life in cycles but never return the same. Everyone leaves something behind in the tomb but it never fills up. And we all get the chance to experience life afresh after each visit.


One comment

  1. Wonderful, its one of those special places here in Ireland. I like what you said about being present with the past and present in the earth. Isn’t Tara almost the opposite, the wide skies, the mound protruding one into space- both are so special

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