Recap of the Ancestral Pilgrimage to Ireland 2019 - Becca Piastrelli

Ireland Pilgrimage 2019 Recap

In the spring of 2019, I led a group of women on my second sacred pilgrimage to Ireland—the land of their ancestors and a very special place that has preserved much of the mysteries of earth-based, pre-Christian traditions. We journeyed there with our own intentions and a willingness to listen to the wisdom of this ancient and sacred land. By the end of the week, we were deep and lasting sisters who had emerged through a powerful and timeless portal forever changed in the best ways.

I wanted to give you a little recap of what we experienced there since it was such a powerful week for so many of us. I hope it inspires you on your own journey—whether that be to the lands of your ancestors or the navigation of the path within your own being.

{And, if curious how the previous year’s retreat went, here’s a link to the 2018 Ireland Pilgrimage.}

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

We began our time together in the beautiful 310-year old estate surrounded by soft farmland in County Wicklow.

After settling in, we collectively opened our circle by creating an ancestral altar, speaking intentions, and calling in our sacred space together. We also spent time and care making agreements about how we were going to treat each other, principles of reciprocity, confidentiality, self-responsibility, and reverence of lineage. We practiced the art of sistering (witnessing, empty presence, deep compassion) and, by the end of the day, felt a deeper sense of trust and vulnerability with each other.

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

The next day, we met up with my dear friend and soul sister Karen Ward, a Dubliner who connects women to Celtic tradition and the moon. She met us for a day in Kildare to get to know and spend time with the goddess Brigid. We visited her fire temple, saw the eternal flame being kept by the 3 Solas Bride sisters, and blessed ourselves and each other with the water from her healing and garden wells.

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

Tying wishes to the faery tree

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

Blessing ourselves at Brigid’s healing well

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

Entering into Brigid’s fire temple

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

After some spacious rest and integration, we had a day of creative play together with my friend and local Irish artist (and self-proclaimed mermaid on 2 legs) Sherrie Scott. In preparation for our day of ceremony on Hill of Tara, we blessed ourselves with water from the Irish sea and wove black and red beads on red string that we wore around our bodies to honor our first moon time as our maiden selves. We also made bags with our very own shamanic sacred symbols we discovered in meditation journey, and finally (and perhaps my favorite) wove crowns of ivy around our heads to wear the next day on Tara.

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

That evening, after another delicious and nourishing meal from the farm to table restaurant, we gathered around the fire to burn wishes on bay leaves and sing songs until the midnight sun was a sliver of bright orange on the horizon.

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

The next day was a powerful day of ceremony on the Hill of Tara with Karen Ward and her Moon Mna women of Ireland. We cleansed each other at the ancient well of the white cow, said hello and communed with the Sheela na gig, spun our destinies at the Lia Fáil (the stone of Destiny), and were led in a deep and powerful journey with the fae under the Grandmother Hawthorn Tree.

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

That afternoon, after we donned our crowns of ivy and wrapped our beads around our bellies, we were met by Karen and her Moon Mna (mna means “women” in Irish) to receive the ancient maiden rites of the Celtic goddess Gráinne. It was a powerful ceremony that will forever touch my soul.

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

After some more gentle time for integration (and massages!), we gathered back together for a fancy high dinner where we painted our faces, put flowers in our hair, and were entertained by some incredible traditional musicians. We were tapping our toes and drinking our tea well in the night!

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

On our final day, we traveled to the Hill of Uisneach (often referred to as the navel of Ireland and a place many don’t know about, and easily pass on the road with its cloak of invisibility) to join in on the Bealtaine fire festival. Bealtaine (pronounced “ bee-YAWL-tinnuh”, also known as Beltane) symbolizes the beginning of the season of light and the end of winter.

For thousands of years, a great fire was burned on this hill, as the community gathered to celebrate the great union of the masculine and feminine energies—represented by goddess of the land, Eiru and sun god Lugh.

We were able to visit Aill na Mireann (also known as the Catstone) which is said to mark the centermost point of Ireland and where the goddess Eiru is buried. We touched the stone and marveled at her beauty with the pilgrims alongside us.

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

As the sun set behind us, the fire ceremony began in front of us. The crowd was buzzing with excitement and anticipation as they lit the wood inside the structure and it went up in flames. The crowd chanted and drummed and danced while others (like me) watched in reverent silence as the flame danced above us—feeling remembrance in my bones of when this fire burned bright for my ancestors many generations before me.

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

We completed our week together in tears of gratitude and joy, in a circle of sisters so incredibly in love with each other and forever changed by the power of our collective experience. (We also had a surprise engagement that had us all in tears. Love is a beautiful thing!) We closed our sacred circle, drank our final cups of nettle tea, and bid each other goodbye.

Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland Sacred Pilgrimage to Ireland

What an honor it is to do this work and what amazing womxn I get to work with.

All photos by Sophia Mavrides

Want to join me on our next pilgrimage?

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