A pilgrimage to Balmerino Abbey

I awoke abruptly,  feeling my head sink into the pillow to try to capture the intention for my dreaming I had set the previous night.  I couldn’t reach it,  as is often the case.  But,  immediately insights came in about a longing and a clinging.  I could feel it in my body,  housed in my heart and I could feel the ancestry in my dad’s line playing a part in the wound I felt there.

I spent an hour dreaming into connection and feeling the bliss of being able to laze in bed and then got up knowing that today I had to go to Balmerino Abbey.

Balmerino is probably my most special place in Fife.  We lived close to it when my children were born and I would often visit the river there to throw stones into the water with them to make wishes and relieve the desire to throw something which children (and pent up mothers) often have!

The abbey and its chestnut tree were a sacred space for feminine connection and I have always felt the Mary energy there very strong.  My site for Air on the Dragon Theatre,  Fife map is this place,  and I have a painting of it on my bedroom wall  (above).

More recently,  my  healing friend Paul Mccaig and I have been visiting the abbey and have found its grounds naturally deep and effective for energy work.  There are many guides and monks as well as Mary who come forward to support healing projects and the use of this site for sacred work goes back far further than Christianity.  It is an initiation site especially  for feminine healing and I recommend anyone who searches healing in this area to visit the place.

Incidentally,  the poem on the seat was a piece I helped some children create for the 2000 year of the Artist project.  One of the children was the grandson of the keeper of the abbey at that time and he taught us the trick about the clockwise hand movement the poem mentions,  and the wishing through the tree.  The chestnut tree is expecially good for upper world astral travel,  for anyone who is drawn to work Shamanically there.

So,  an hour later I was on the path to Balmerino.  I had decided this would be a pilgrimmage for me to find out more about the wound I was feeling in the emptiness of winter and to ultimately bring healing to this wound.

I have to say that these days I am not a retreat person by choice.  These 3 days of easy retreat (ie I can go to the shop and say hello to people and chat with my cat) are the first days I have allowed the word retreat to come into my vocabulary and experience for years.  Historically,  retreats for me have been the most disturbing experiences of black suicidal horrors which built up days before and took months to dredge from my system,  that I decided to avoid them for the sake of my children and my sanity.  I did a 10 day silent retreat in India years ago which took me through these spaces,  but gave me sufficient time to emerge restored.  But anything less than this,  which I only had time for as a mother of young children,  has not been sufficient to take me through the domains needed to complete.  Journeying has been a gift for me to carefully manage my healing times. 

So,  this third day of my retreat with Winter… to take a 7 mile pilgrimage from my house to the abbey and back again has been quite a step for me! 

I really brought on the healing on this journey todayand managed to get to that gnawing place of self-loathing.  My inner-cheerleader was jumping about like a maniac.  ‘Yippee!!  Healing opportunity.  You’ve made it!’  Meanwhile my inner victim was staring down the cliff sides at the rocks and river below contemplating getting out of her body.  The mediator was baring her teeth,  grimmacing and going… ‘Boy,  you’d best not stay in this place too long,  you might really go mad this time.’  I came back up the path by the river from the abbey feeling like Jack Nicholson from One Flew over the Cuckoo’s nest convinced that this was it,  everybody would now know I was unstable and paranoid!

The wound which the emptiness of Winter helped me find…  I was like a happy child wandering to the abbey.  It was only when I reached the chamber,  sat in the sacred space there and felt the light all around me that the seeming neurosis began to arise.  I sat in the light of the cermonial space witnessing the wound as a place where a part of me was trying hard to run away because she felt she had done something very wrong whilst the same part of me,  lodged in exactly the same place was trying desperately to find someone to cling to to look after her and protect her from the judgment.  This was the running/clinging dynamic that was set up in me.  This was the part that had recently been isolating me from being able to be close in relationship with anyone.  To come close was to step into a dementing script with yours truly and typically the people who had stepped in had scripts of their own for us to contend with too.  No thank you!

I realised I had just evoked hell on earth for myself, thanked the space for its blessings,  visited the chestnut tree and then began the walk back home.

Throughout the return journey I was consumed by the feeling of self-loathing and guilt that the part who thought she had done something wrong was stuck in.  I replayed every single part of my life when I had felt like this,  and kept returning to major ones in an awful nauseous cycle.  It was so obvious I was on a loop that was set up somewhere.  I saw myself bitterly trapped in this storyline that I was to blame.  I travelled through time to different periods and saw this played out there too.  I kept returning to my dad’s line and felt the extremeity of the stuckness.  Occasionally I saw trees and felt the nourishment of nature,  but really I just felt doomed.  The track home was a most miserable path.  I also periodically felt feelings of utter cringeing when I saw myself as a stupid little woman who just went about irritating everyone.  My God!  Where had this come from?

On Christmas day,  I had watched the film The Season of the Witch,  which had synchronistically arrived from Love Film.  Love film,  for those who don’t know,  send out films from your chosen lists randomly.  I had been struck by the not coincidence that I was watching a film about Witch hunts, on my retreat,  at a time when I had put my intention as clearing guilt in the feminine psyche. 

So, the walk continued and I found CBT techniques (cognitive behavioural therapy) a saving grace as I resurrected my pragmatic (Earth medicine) side to look at the facts and be realistic so that I didn’t completely fall to pieces.  I knew that whatever the outcome,  I was going to clear this wound.  I had no control on outcome and keeping people in my life or avoiding loss or pain,  but what I did know from my experience with this work was that if I kept on track with allowing things to come to the surface and not hiding the wound, I would allow allow the release and unravelling of the program,  healing would follow and I would not have to carry this story anymore. 

It was amazing that as soon as I stepped back in through my door everything turned into a children’s nursery and the state of emergency dissolved.  Things have fallen into perspective and the panic has subsided.  I don’t really know what happened there.  

What I do love about my own process,  which I have learnt because I need to contain the healing intensities to protect and make sure I am there for my chldren in my everyday life,  is how I can put things into time zones of when I am and am not available for this deep work.  Also, I love  how there are beautiful spaces set up on the earth’s surface to accelerate and enhance the healing when we want to work with them.  These have been set up by the ancestors and the earth spirits and used for millennia.  In modern times,  people in the know’ are re-activating them.

‘7 miles of a pilgrimage to Balmerino Abbey,  what must the Camino 30 day trek do to people?’  I posted on my face book page.  My Shamanic friend Ellie Douglas said she’d walk with me.  I said did she really know what she would be letting herself in for??  Meaning,  would she be friend enough to go through that with me!!

Dredging up the wounds and allowing them to be felt and then transformed by the healing light of the guides and angels is a wonderful way of releasing the archetypal conditioning that is in our memories and in our genes.  Working with the dragon lines and the sacred sites is a deep and powerful way of energising and directing this process.  I am sure this blog will reveal more places for working this way.  Being strict in keeping the traumatic stories contained and not going into the horizontal in relationships and human domains is a strict requirement for this work.  I guess that is why the monks and nuns are so helpful!  They understand well the benefits of solitary vertical work.

I intend to tread more of these sacred paths in Fife and build more and more beautiful containers for this work.  I know  am only just learning about these sites and how to work with the medicine wheel with them.  I am grateful for the guidance I am given every step of the way.

Oh and thank you Paul for helping set up that space at Balmerino Abbey.  It works!

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