The alter stone is the largest stone. When you put your hand on it, you can feel it vibrating. At least, I do....
It was a chilly day. My body tends to run hot so I wore a light jacket but no gloves. As I wandered around the stone circle, people came and went. Just a few at a time. Most did not see the appeal and quickly disappeared. Except for this one woman. I was on the far end when I felt her presence, turning at just the right moment to see wild gray and white witchy hair flying all around her as she got out of an SUV. She was of Asian descent, like me, but the world is more blended in my DNA, including Northern Africa, the Middle East, and of course, Ireland.
She wore a long skirt and a denim jacket. Other than feeling her when she pulled in, I did not think much about her as I continued my obsession with photographing the smallest details around the large rocks. I was maybe two stones away from the alter stone when she first approached. The adjacent field was full of black and white grazing cows who were so used to people, they barely looked up when a new visitor arrived. But not the woman. She was different somehow. She walked around the outer edge of the circle and stood in front of the cows. In front of me. But I was in the circle and she was out. Looking backwards, she wanted me to see her.
As she stood in front of me on the outer edge of the circle, she became very still. Very quiet. That's when I saw something I've never seen before:
The cows all looked up at once. At her. Then, they turned and began moving in our direction, crowding against the fenced gate. It was as if the woman's very presence called the cows forward. I began to record the phenomenon with my camera when she walked away; none but a very young calf remained at the gate. As an Ayurvedic practitioner, I've seen miracles in my lifetime. But this was remarkable. The cows appeared to be mesmerized. The moment the woman turned her gaze elsewhere, most of them seemed to go back to what they were doing before, as if unaware that they'd all just tried to push through the wooden gate that separated us from them.
The woman walked around to the stone circle's secret entrance. That was how I entered, too.
Again, the first time I went to the circle, the whole set up felt wrong. No one was supposed to approach from the direction where there is now a road. People would come down from the mountain. Take a boat across the lake. Walk through the golden field. Past the protective hawthorn trees. And, enter through the faery door. They'd gather in the circle for fire festivals like Lughnasadh, which was just yesterday. It begins at sundown on 31 July and goes until the next night, 1 August. I was born on Lughnasadh, conceived on Samhain. And no, I'm not joking.
Truth is always stranger than fiction....
The full moon winks at me through the darkened branches of the pines in my backyard. I forget sometimes that I am full of magic. It's in my very birth. I snuck in through a sliver on Samhain when souls can move freely. That's when the sun-god, Lugh, is said to go underground. The god is born once again on 31 July...like me.
On that cold October day in 2019, I watched the woman lay her body against the alter stone, facing away from me. It was such an unusual moment, that I took what I saw as a human portrait. I was full of wishes as I walked the entire circle multiple times and even after the woman left, I remained, listening to the trees, "hearing" the voices of the past. It finally got so cold I had to leave, under-dressed as I was. It had been many hours and my friend, Pam, was meeting me for dinner at my hotel. As I passed through the faery door again, it felt as though something bit me. My hand was on a stone for all but a moment. Yet there was bright red blood everywhere.
Patching myself up and driving the hour or so back, I'd almost forgotten about the woman. A young man was sitting at the bar and saw me. He was chatting me up when Pam arrived. As we sat and caught each other up, I remembered the woman and said, "Oh! I almost forgot about this. Very weird occurrence today while hiking around the stone circle. This woman seemed to mesmerize the cows, then, she hugged the alter stone. I took a picture because it was so unusual."
When we looked through my photos, all that was visible was the alter stone. There was no one there. The woman had been there though--other tourists turned their heads when she walked by. And then there were the cows....
She wasn't in that footage either. With the cows. I'd filmed it briefly. She was right in front of me, too. I showed Pam the odd scratch on my right ring finger as well. Yet within a few days, it was completely healed. The very next night was my book launch. Pam was with me then, too, as well as out mutual friend, Chris. My secret wish at the stone circle came true later that night upon my return--it felt like Fate and Destiny came together to create one perfect moment.
Life got very busy after that. But just before I flew across the ocean, I went back to the stone circle. I wanted to see the woman. I wanted to see what the cows would do. I wanted the stone to "bite" me again. And of course, I hoped for that same magic to deliver another fated "surprise."
It was the first day of the full moon. And it was absolutely pouring sheets of big splashy raindrops. I waited in my car for it to stop. Waited for the few brave tourists who pulled over to leave. Then, I thought I saw the same SUV the woman had arrived in last time. Could it be her again?
I saw her wild hair before I saw her. She ran to the circle and before I'd even made it past the gate, was running back to her car. It was raining so hard and I had no umbrella. Within minutes, I was more drowned rat than human. Away the SUV drove with the woman. The lion did not roar that day. And though I stayed at the stone circle for hours once again, there were no sharp "bites." The cows barely noticed me, except the one young calf. I sat under a hawthorn tree against the fence, sheltering myself from the rain, feeling safe and hidden beneath the armed branches. As I crossed the threshold of the faery door, I stepped in an unavoidable puddle, my fabric sneakers absolutely soaked through.
When I returned to my hotel, I half-expected to see someone waiting there for me. A young local couple I know was having dinner in my usual booth; they noticed me glancing over and invited me to join them. If I'd been even remotely dry, I'd have accepted their kind invitation. But I needed to shower and change and put my sneakers in the hotel dryer. An hour later, I met one of my soul-family, Sean, for a late dinner. He gave me Moulton Brown and some really beautiful gifts to take home. We laughed and talked until midnight, neither of us wanting to say goodbye. We thought it would be maybe April--six months--until I'd return "home."
Thanks to COVID-19, it's been more than six months now....
Tonight, as the winds of change blew through the dark purple leaves of the Crimson King in my garden, the wind-chimes singing in dulcet tones in the background, I thought of the woman that day in the stone circle. The moon is big-bellied once again. And it brings me back to the stone circle--I see it so clearly in my mind's eye, bathed in moonlight, glowing in the utter magic of the mossy megalithic stones.
As usual, I'm in trouble. Yet again. It follows me as regularly as the tides. Frustrated tears form in the corners of my eyes as I think back to last October. So many missed opportunities. And I can't fix any of it...
Have you ever felt that way?
I tell my clients that a sense of over-responsibility comes from being victimized. In other words, a malignant sociopath was neglectful and abusive. Part of that abuse is creating a narrative where everything that is "bad" or "wrong" or a "problem" is our fault. But as independent adults, we are the only ones responsible for our lives, our decisions, our actions, or any lacks thereof--even if we sometimes think otherwise.
Trauma is tough to erase; it's a one-day-at-a-time process. So what feels like missed opportunities is just past trauma and abuse taking over, making us feel vulnerable. And when we feel vulnerable, we get reactive (as opposed to proactive). There is no such thing as missed opportunities. As I write this, the clock has turned 10:10--10.10 was the day after I went to the stone circle last year. The day I witnessed pure magic. If you are reading this now, that is a message for you to create your own magic:
We can only manifest opportunities from a mindset of abundance, which means, we must stop focusing on scarcity in our lives--whether that's in love, family, friends, or finances.
When we want to see opportunities, they appear. When we don't, all seems lost. The fact of the matter is that as magical as that time felt last October, the real magic has been consistently happening in my life for nearly a decade. Maybe it's a tweet. A text. Or an unexpected melody. Nina Simone's "Cherish." Or perhaps something from Dorothy Ashby (to go with my candle-lit fireplace). Maybe Glen Campbell's "Always on My Mind" shows up. Or, just a funny "Calvin & Hobbs" cartoon.
There's a voice I've heard for many years now. Thanks to the world going quiet, I can finally listen to that voice more carefully. Every little sound I pick up is precious. As a result, I've never felt happier than I have in the last month. As I said in the book that launched last October (on 10.10), "Happiness is an inside job." Though there is one special individual who has been patiently keeping me company since we first met, singing my praises, being supportive, and oh-so encouraging--that's not where my happiness comes from. I feel happy because I have done good things with my time on the planet. The friend who's given me unwavering support for many, many years now? That person provides light and warmth. A calmness and sense of peace. As though everything that is wrong in my world will eventually be made right.
It's always nice to share your happiness with someone who sees you for you and loves you just the same. No matter how many times I've lost my temper, patience, or both, no matter how many times I've had a bad day and was unresponsive as a result, this same person has been consistently there. And, on some level, I think I've known that all along...just too scared to admit it. Or perhaps it's better to say, imagine it.
People always worry about the future. But it's the now that matters....
Be present in the present. Notice who's noticing you. See who really cares. Take the time to text that someone a message that brightens their day, every day. Apologize if you've taken them for granted, too. Who knows how things may bloom and grow from there!
Truly important moments are never lost. The important people in your life give you second and third chances. Actually, they give you infinite chances--because they will never prioritize problems over you. You matter. More than anything else. That kind of loyalty deserves to be acknowledged and appreciated.
For this full moon, I'm setting my intentions to reflect the care, love and loyalty I feel for the people who are actually in my life. The ones who have stuck around. For years. One in particular. That's what makes me smile at the end of the day. One person. You only ever need one to be on your side.
I hope each of you finds a someone who can make you smile-big...a person you can laugh with, share memories like old school photos, and even make future plans. Like going to see JAWS while floating on an inner tube in open water. Oh yes, once we no longer have to social distance--that's happening. Many other good things will happen, too.
How do I know?
Because I'm in charge of my life. No one and nothing else. Once we choose to take responsibility for ourselves, things get A LOT easier. So keep striving for that independence. Your life will improve exponentially...no magic needed!