We were staying just outside of Galway City, my mother and I, and I had wanted, in my eager research, to visit the Aran Islands. So, we booked a ferry that would, within the hour, drop us at the smallest island, Inis Oirr. We left the hotel early and drove through narrow streets and cozy green, to reach the foggy shoreline. Early, we waited in the coolness until the Irish-speaking men helped us on.
We sat in the open air, along the railings through which the sea breeze moved freely in and out. My hair whipped my eyes and cheeks as I sat sideways to move forward with the boat. With just enough room for four people, two women joined our little cocoon of a seating. One older, and one younger, they were sweet and gentle about asking permission. I tied my hair back.
Something in me led me to conversation—"Where are you from?"—and this opened up the perfect opportunity. Siobhan and her niece Amelda, the names we only discovered later, were from Ireland, enjoying some holiday before the niece had to return to work. They had been visiting historical sites, including Kylemore Abbey, to which Siobhan insisted we go. She crafted these stories and wove them together to teach us both of the spirit and generosity that radiated from this place. "It's magical," she said, as she brought it to life right there.
And I had long wondered about Irish magic. I had just finished this book called, Women of the Celts, and I was filled with this hunger to know more about mythology and feminism and how Ireland wove them together. I was curious, but didn't yet have the questions. Yet, Siobhan had the answers.
She knew these theories I had learned of how women are both mothers and lovers to men... of how Ireland itself is a Goddess, alive and feminine. We talked about the imagery of the womb and how an urn is simply replicating that vessel and return to the spirit world.
She told me of the Age of Aquarius and how we were all here for this change. "Balance and harmony," she explained, as she unraveled the origins of patriarchy, and how women are feared and hated for their spiritual connections and abilities. "But this," she said, "is finally outdated."
And I knew she saw me in herself. She was the wise woman, and I was the maiden eager to learn. We laughed at how these doors were closing for her, as she had lived a life of passionate work within English and creative writing, but was ready to retire and settle with her husband, no kids; and how there were so many doors opening for me, freshly graduated and confused on how to walk with these passions and gifts in the world. "I think it not a coincidence that we met," she said, and I was comforted that she felt this way too. She was just as amazed with me as I was her, and left me with her email, as we departed the ferry, singing tunes of St. Brigid and spirals.
The island only enhanced our conversation as the stone pathways and ancient ruins, formed sacred architecture that we walked and biked. So small and isolated, the residents spoke Irish and very much kept alive the land's energy. I felt immensely connected to the now, and could feel within my breath, how those before me felt this way too, how they carried it into the future.
Sunburnt and hungry, my mom and I caught the last departing ferry of the day, On a different island, Siobhan and Amelda caught this one too. Of course, we snatched those same seats and proceeded to talk once more about our experiences and questions. I learned of her cat and his unique insight, as I voiced the power of my grandpa who can't read or write.
By the end of it, I was sad to go. I gave her and her niece a hug, and left, more than fulfilled, in my bones. I've been writing to her, and her me, as she continues to offer such feminine wisdom. She was the magic I had been waiting to meet.