Belonging – Of Soul Friends and Heartlands

I was gifted a beautiful book, Anam Cara: Spiritual Wisdom from the Celtic World – by my own dearest soul sister. She gave it because she knows what feeds my soul. And she knows how deeply I was recently hurt by being judged harshly which reawoke my sadness that I do not belong here.

I have never quite belonged anywhere. In England I have always felt Irish. In Ireland I am most definitely English. In Japan I was most definitely Western. Though each place holds a piece of my soul, I am always aware that I do not belong.
Artist unknown
Belonging. It is the most basic thing that we yearn for. But for me has been quite hard to come by.

With each of my soul connections in this life – people and places – there has been an instantaneous feeling of belonging. Of knowing beyond knowledge that a piece of my soul was forged here, from the same stuff. As though the heavens have for a moment come into perfect alignment and time stands still. I am home.

But home does not last. Mundanities and misunderstandings seep in. And the sense of belonging becomes a little less clear. I feel I belong – but you do not.

Often I feel like I have to defend my right to be here in our little corner of Ireland. My family’s right. That it is the land of my birth does not seem to matter. Nor that it is the land of my heart. 

In superficial day to day living I am perceived as other. Except by those who know me for who and what I really am. I perceive myself as other – having neither the correct lilt to my accent nor the native language. Sharing in neither the sporting nor spiritual practices which bind tight knit rural communities together I feel my difference as a nagging ache which colours all my interactions. All I need do is to open my mouth and feel that I do not belong. Who are my people I wonder – who has my back and who is talking behind it. Am I safe, am I safe? How much can I be me and be safe?

No matter that my children are the fourth generation of our family to live in this village. No matter.

I have been consciously reminding myself that this land is my land too. I am of it, it is of me. 

This swathe of sand and stormy seas that feel as much part of me as my own blood – a contour of coast that I have walked and talked and danced and drawn on, swam and fished in and made my own over more than three decades. Always, always this coast calls me when the furies race in my head. I walk the strand and allow the wind that caresses my hair to blow the anger from my mind. And always, always the lighthouse on the island, ever there, still presence in the stormy sea, the ocean unfurling to distant shores, the starry sky above gently reminding me of my own insignificance.

This is home. I belong. I know.

The sand and stones make way to reeds and tufty grass. The bog, this precious limbo land of tufted grass, hidden pools and sinking mud, of migrating birds rising as a cloud and rolling mists. Magical, mysterious, silent and untouched. Wild heaven.

Rising up from it the trees of my father’s land, tall trees which have known 60 silent years since first being planted by his hand as a tender boy. Trees reaching, branching above and below. Sheltering us from the storms, and sharing their yearly cycle of flowers, foliage and fruit – an annual miracle of which I never tire. I know each tree by name. The herons in their penthouse nests do too.

This is home. We are rooted here.

Celtic Flow by Joanne Taylor
It feels good finding a deep belonging to this land, one that precedes the Catholicism that I so often find myself at ideological logger heads with. This land came first. And the seasonal celebrations that sprang out of it. And the art and music and songs and stories which my soul resonates to. The dances and design, the spirals and spirit that infuses me… and you. We are woven together through spirit, art and earth.

These are our shared roots – a spiritual understanding that was rooted in this landscape, in the understanding of soul, of beauty and friendship. Celtic history is what unites my various parts: grandparents from Wales and Scotland, a childhood divided between the south coasts of England and Ireland. Circles of stones and festivals of fire. The land of the Celts is my heart-land, my soul scape. 

This is our shared ground, our heartland. These are our roots.
PS. For more lovely Celtic images check out my Pinterest board – Celtic Dreams
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