What’s Real Amidst the Stones?
So many readers of my new novel Amidst the Stones of Celtic Ireland asked questions about what is real and what is fiction within the book, that I decided to write a blog about it. If you haven’t read the book yet, I will try not to spoil it, but you will hear the general themes that unfold.
All the places described in the book are real and I visited 90% of them. My travel book Snapshots of Ireland: Volume 1 Cork offers pictures and commentary on them all. I purposely named all the places and sites so that those who wished to travel to them would have the information. But I avoided offering a detailed map, so that the story itself would be the focus rather than its travel aspects.
And, yes, Abby is basically me: made a little younger, with lots of specifics changed. But her zest for seeking to find herself through pilgrimage and the story of her experience of the stone circles are me - amplified and adapted here and there to create a better storyline. Sadly, for me, Mark is not-yet real. He is the guy I would like to have show up in my life and, yes, I would gladly travel with him to Ireland.
Others ask about CynDee. She and Jack are also imagined characters, as are the Irish Sullivan cousins. (The Sullivan clan, however, is very much part of the Beara Peninsula and Sullivans’ Mile is real.). Yesterday, I was even asked if the romantic scenes overlooking the sea were real. Sadly, they were not.
The expressed beliefs on Neolithic sites, early Celtic culture, Celtic Christianity and Celtic spirituality are mine; informed by reading, the experience of walking the land, and an innate sense of knowing. I do not expect or ask that my view of reality is shared by all.
The other questions I have received are centered around the past lives theme. Are past lives real? Have I experienced them? How did this theme even occur to me?
Back in the early nineties I was persuaded by Many Lives, Many Masters (Brian Weiss 1988) to consider that the idea of past lives might be legitimate. I felt a strong draw to Native American sacred sites, Japanese Zen Gardens and Celtic lands that I thought might be explained by the concept. But that was the extent of my experience. A few years later, I sat for a past lives colored chalk portrait by a gifted psychic. I found the collage of heads she drew intriguing. I took the time to frame the picture, but nothing more came of the idea.
Then a few years ago, my friend Sylvia was giving me a Reiki treatment when she reported that the figure of a woman in a white gown was with us and she was saying I was “to tell the story”. I neither saw not experienced any of this, but the image and message reappeared to Sylvia in two subsequent sessions. I was eager to hear more. “What story?” I kept asking. I also was frustrated that I could not experience any of the message directly. Sylvia told me the woman, Jane, was frustrated, too, as she tried to get my attention. Sylvia continued to convey Jane’s messages to me as we both felt totally amazed by the experience.
I already was planning a trip to the stone circles of the Beara Peninsula with friends. I took notes based on the Jane messages AND I added a week alone in Shanagarry, East Cork, Ireland to the trip. Even though I had no direct experience of Jane, I wanted to explore the clues Sylvia had been given. I also wanted to know “what story?” In Shanagarry I looked for the Old Road and began tuning in to the experiences that led to the writing of this book.
Sylvia continued to nudge me to write the book from her new home in Arizona. I just could not find a way into the story. Wanting to honor the mandate but struggling to find a way to do it, I got the idea to connect with Sylvia’s Reiki master trainer who was in Rochester. Janice, an extraordinarily gifted intuitive healer, helped me find my voice and trust my knowing in ways that were extremely helpful to my writing and to life in general. In fall of 2017, I revisited the places highlighted in the book and the story came together.
So, what of it is real? Much of it is, to me. I will leave it to the readers to decide what is or might be real for them.
Janice will be a guest blogger in a few weeks so stay tuned to hear more about past lives.