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Irelands Ancient East

Knowth Mound

Spirals within Spirals
Stones have Stories
to Tell

© James Nemec


page 7

I had recalled a passage deep in the book 'Touch the Ocean: The Power of Our Collective Emotions'. This is where we take a moment to just stop, physically in our tracks, no matter what activity we are engaged in. I had written this passage after finding myself stopping before I would go into a Mall, a coffee shop, a room filled with people I didn’t know: I would just stop. I had been “stopping” for quite a long time before writing 'Touch the Ocean' for I had cultivated the practice of stopping before I would begin to work on a client and/or patient. Rather than just set to work on a stranger’s body, I would sit for a moment before. I found that when I could do this, something larger than myself would come into play in the craniosacral therapy session. I would even learn to stop before entering the ocean to work with clients. In doing this, invariably a greater sense of invitation to enter the ocean would arise. In the book, it shows there is a difference between doing things to the ocean, or to another person, and being with the ocean. What is it is to stop, take a moment before, and to wait for a sense of invitation? If there is no sense of invitation, I won’t go into the ocean with a client.

Now, not knowing what else to do, I just stopped. I let my hand reach to the rock in front of me and brush one of the spirals carved in it. It was a simple action, just a touch of the hand, but I trusted that my body knew what it was doing. I felt a very subtle movement of energy, just as I would when lightly touching the surface of someone else’s skin. Almost the way water moves when a pebble is dropped into a still pond. What’s this? I wondered. I became curious. I let my other hand reach out and touch another spiral shape on the same rock. I could then feel my whole body listen into the silence.

The tour guide had said that no one knew what the symbols stood for, however, it now occurred to me that the interpreters of these mounds, and the over-interpreters, were going about it the wrong way. They were going about it with their heads, with mentation rather than meditation, trying to figure it all out on a mental level. And this was not just a “mental level” exercise. The body had built these structures too. Again, the builders were also physical. I felt that on a mental level, the builders hardly knew what they were building themselves, but they trusted the creative process of the continuous building, the flow, and they trusted the wisdom of their bodies. If, in those ancient times, one person did not trust his or her body, and all of one’s senses, it could mean life or death in the wild, hypothermia, or starvation. These builders were highly attuned and alert to their body’s wisdom. If their bodies communally and collectively began to build mounds, they knew to do it and to do it well. It’s not as if these mounds were built for something nice to do for a Pharaoh. This was an action inspired on the level of Chartres Cathedral. Such thoughts ran past the edges of my awareness as I held the spirals, lightly, with the surfaces of both hands.

It seemed the way into the carvings interpretation was with a light touch. I began to touch other spirals on the same supporting stone. I listened, again, as I would when administering care and comfort to a client, listened with my whole body. However, this was not a person, it was a big flat rock in the middle of nowhere.

What could I do?

I then recalled that years before, way back when I was studying Literature and Drama in London as part of a college program, I’d happened to read something of the art of psychometry. And why not? I was in the UK! This is where a person can hold or touch various physical objects from the past and “read” the history surrounding that object. For example, a wedding ring from a bad marriage. In psychometry, different physical objects are said to have different feelings for one gifted in this art of divination, an art now employed even in police investigations.

In short, my recall of this let me know that meaning could possibly be gained from the touching of a physical object. However, what I was about to experience was not at all “psychometry.” Knowth would arise as a completely different order of experiencing. What is “psychometry,” what is “psychic,” and so on, would all vanish. Such considerations lost importance for me here, almost as rather trivial matters. This was not the place to divine or define or analyze, again, this was a place to simply BE.

Knowth Kerbstone K78Now, I was faced with a physical object, a large flat stone with a multitude of spirals carved over it. Rather than coerce, or force, rather than fall on my knees in a blasphemy of worship, I would simply attune and listen. I bent down, despite myself, almost to a kneeling position. I let my shoulders relax and soften. I remembered that there were stories the body could tell, not just the mind, from the many lessons learned in the book 'Journeys: Stories Our Bodies Can Tell'. Now, I was utterly quiet within. My hands remained still as I held the spirals with a very light touch. Just as I would do from my training in craniosacral therapy, I would trust whatever information would arise through my hands as true. I would not judge or censor anything out. Then from the spirals, the vastness of outer space opened. At once, I was in the far reaches of deep space. It’s impossible to describe this. It was almost a Ulysses moment for me. I was transported faster than the speed of thought, and not only as a participant but as a witness. It was effortless. It felt familiar and safe. I had no conception of my location, or what I could possibly imagine my location to be, and in fact, the thought of where I was located or even temperature did not arise as a thought. And there was no “me.” The thought that there was a “me” did not arise. It felt ordinary, as if I had always known about this on some level, as if this was something that we had all known about and shared. The very Real. It was a feeling of being at home in the Universe. I lifted off my hands. Again, I had shocked myself. I looked around to see if anyone was there. I was still alone. I got up from my kneeling position and crept to another supporting stone. I felt like I was getting away with something in departing the tour. This next was a stone with few spirals on it, as I vaguely recall, but discreet circles.

Again, I placed hands using only a very light touch. I would not censor or discount any information that would arise through my hands. An image emerged of the planet Earth as a jewel in the dark of space, alone and beautiful. With this, I had a sense of where I was. A story began to form with the other stone that I had touched. We were from the vastness of outer space and now here, on this new planet. I lifted off my hands. Somehow there had been a story in this stone. Again, it was as if this stone had showed me its story, just like a human body would show me its story. It was not a story in words but in deep, feeling toned images. I knew the tour was ending and there wasn’t time. I would not have time to fully explore and would not get on my knees again. I crept past stone after stone, wondering which one I could touch? Each one, I thought, had a story to share. On another level, I was continuously asking the stones, as if looking for a sense of invitation for one of them. The ancients used their bodies. I didn’t have to touch only with my hands.


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  Knowth Kerbstone K84As I circumnavigated this far end of the mound, I would just touch a stone and move on, or contact it with the back of my hand. I kept travelling and touching the stones here and there, now with an elbow, then a knee. And I recalled how the tour guide hypothesized that the ancients would spend a whole day walking around the mound, and how it was likely that they would stop at each stone. She then said, of course, no one knew why they would stop at each stone. They had a whole day, I only had a few minutes. I would continue to learn that there would only be an impression if I took the time with the stone. I wondered what impressions others who visited here might receive? Would they be the same or similar impressions? Since we are all different, the impressions would likely be different for everyone, I hurriedly supposed. I didn’t have the time now to think on this more. I was moving fast. In front of me was the first stone our guide had showed us, the kerbstone, the stone that I’d said had looked like boats on a river. It was as if I couldn’t walk right or left. It was right in front of me, inviting me to be still. I crouched down, hoping no one would see me, and placed hands with a very light touch. I listened. Nothing. Somehow it occurred to me that this story held within this stone--just as the body holds stories, memories, within its tissues--was not to be known by the hands. What could I do? I put my hands to my side. I stopped, waited, listened. My body would know what to do, and the body does not lie.

Knowth Kerbstone K86I turned, quite spontaneously, and placed my butt cheeks on the semi-circles! I think my tailbone was right on those dots! To my lasting surprise, it was not a boat on a river, it was a seat, a perfect seat for two people! But before I could fully form this thought, a view of the Earth as a single planet in very near space arose. I enjoyed the view. I felt like an astronaut. Here I was looking at our new planet from near space without being on a spacecraft! I’d never seen or imagined the Earth quite like this before. I moved my butt cheeks to the left of the semi-circle, then to the right. The feeling was that this stone was for couples who were newly engaged to be married. It was for new couples to sit upon together and view the Earth from here. This was their home. Earth. I then put myself in their position. There were other stones with other stories held within them, but this was the stone that showed the place: this was the place to be, for now, Earth. I shifted over again and placed my butt cheeks on the other semi-circle, to make sure of the feelings rising up from this stone. Yes, this stone was not for one person but for two and a delight! There was a sense of fun to it. I must have looked silly, changing my butt cheeks here and there, but no one watching. I straightened myself to standing, dusted myself off, and turned to look and admire the stone. I had a most sobering thought. Was I the only one who got this? I hoped not. There had to be others who had gotten it down in their bodies, at least, the physical interaction with the stones and sense of invitation. My friend Eileen would later tell me she was off lying in the grass during the tour. She would say she’d felt a deep sense of rest and peace that she hadn’t felt in a long time.

I could easily have spent the whole day going around the mound, opening and connecting with each supporting stone and its story. I thought again of the great osteopath, Dr. Andrew Still. There was the whole and there was also the part. Each part contributed to the whole. If the ancients went around the mound, being with each stone for a few minutes in the day, my feeling was that each stone would share its story with the next stone, kaleidoscopically. What new insights could be gathered from the part that would contribute to the greater, whole story? If the ancients indeed did this circumnavigation, it must have been quite an experience, quite a day, with moments of satori, moksha, the fresh, primordial taste of liberation from the cares of daily life.

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