The walk from Roundwood to Knocree is the longest and most arduous day of the Wicklow Way. It is also my favorite day of the pilgrimage. This would be the fifth time I made this trek over White Hill. Twice I've made the climb in torrential wind whipped rain with near zero visibility. But today the Celtic divine would give their blessings and the weather would be brilliant, light winds, white clouds, and a slight mist at needed moments.
Atop White Hill you can peer down on Lough Dann, or more commonly known as Guinness Lake. Looking down on the body of water the lake appears to be a giant pint of Ireland's famous luscious black beer, including a white beach, mirroring Guinness' frothy top. The crawl over the bald mountain is made across a long stretch of railroad ties, needed in order to pass over the bog. Even the sheep walk the ties in order to avoid the sticky black compost of earth. Of course, the sheep leave a natural trail behind them, often unavoidably so. Life is simply a long series of metaphors, is it not.
Vox Peregrini 2017 has made this walk with strength and vigor as they climbed the HIll with the ease of youth; but wisely they paused to take in the view of the Atlantic laying on the other side of the Great Sugar Loaf, chat with grazing sheep, and admire the mist rolling overhead. They picked their way down the narrow rocky back side of the trail, careful not to slip down the slick grassy hill into the rocks below.
Vox moved easily down into the valley in order to cross the Dargle River that feeds the rushing Powerscourt waterfall. And every time you walk down, you have to walk up the opposing steep hill to get into the Crone Woods, home of Knocree. There in the woods along a gentle stream stands the aging Mother Oak. There she has opened herself to grow over a large angular rectangle stone. The willing can crawl inside Mother and listen to her magic. Offerings were left, prayers made, gifts given.
At Knocree Hostel that evening, Vox gathered for a final rehearsal. The two hour rehearsal conducted by Dr John Wiles, appeared to be Master Class, which delighted his singers. They shared ideas, laughed at musician's insider jokes, and stifled yawns. They had walked 18 miles and it was late in the evening and yet their voices were magical.
A hostel guest asked if he could listen in. Pierre from France, who has visited Taize on more than one occasion, compared Vox's music to his spiritual experience in Taize worship. Three other guests dropped in, three inner city youth from Dublin. They were at the hostel for an outdoor experience program. At the end of a particular sacred piece, one of the girls burst out in joy, "You make my skin all tingly." Indeed, she wasn't the only one with who would be viscerally touched by Vox's magical artistry.
Tonight would be filled with archetypal dreams found in the ancient lore of Celtic wonder and myth. Penultimate days can feed the imagination of the pilgrimage and spark the revelation of the unconscious.
Fairbanks via Seattle
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