Monday, March 17, 2014

Welcome to Postcards from the Pilgrim's Path

The Feast of St. Patrick seemed like an auspicious day to begin a new blog about Celtic spirituality.  So for the very first Postcard from the Pilgrim's Path, I offer you a postcard of a path perhaps walked by St. Patrick himself.  
Path leading to Ffynnon Badrig, Patrick's Well
This steep grassy incline is the path leading down to Patrick's cave at Llanbadrig on the northern tip of Anglesey Island. Legend has it that Patrick was shipwrecked along the Welsh coast during a storm on one of his voyages to or from Ireland.  After swimming to shore, he sheltered overnight in the cave at the bottom of this path.  In the morning when the seas and winds had calmed, Patrick climbed up the hill and vowed to build a church on terra firma as a votive offering in thanksgiving for his survival.

When I led a group of pilgrims to Wales last May, two brave souls crawled down the path and entered the cave where they found the fresh water spring that kept Patrick nourished through the night.

Maybe the next time we visit I'll be brave enough to attempt the descent for myself.    And if I do, I'll be sure to call to mind the words of the Breastplate of St. Patrick, especially the invocation for protection against "drowning and wounding" as the seas around Llanbadrig seemed stormy even on a gloriously sunny afternoon.

Llanbadrig Church
The familiar words of St. Patrick's prayer, "I arise today . . . " follow the format of a lorica, a Druidic prayer of protection.  From the Latin word for body armor, these types of prayers were often said in the morning or before the start of a journey.  A lorica wasn’t recited as much to invoke the Spirit, which is always present, rather to remind the one praying of the presence of the Holy that is always with us.  When a lorica was said,   it was customary for those praying to stand and draw a circle around themselves with their index finger to symbolize the encompassing power of protection they were  invoking.

Yet another auspicious reason to be beginning this blog with postcards from Llanbadrig is that, in some small way, this blog is my own votive offering, a symbol of the work of Anam Cara Retreats and my writing and teaching on the Celtic path.  So here I go, tossing my first post into the vast sea of the internet with a prayer of thanksgiving for all who read it.  

No comments:

Post a Comment