Friday, June 23, 2017

Kissing the Ballyvourney Stone

The day after Summer Solstice, on our way home we passed though Ballyvourney and decided to stop at St. Gobnait's shrine. 

In previous posts, I wrote about the Sheela na Gig of Ballyvourney at St. Gobnait's shrine.  I have also written about Gobnait Ní Bruadair, a beloved woman of Sneem who named herself after St. Gobnait. If I were not an atheist pagan, I would be thinking that someone supernatural was trying to get my attention. 

If you want to learn more about St. Gobnait and this shrine, there are four detailed pages on Megalithic.Ireland. There's also a page on PilgrimageMedievalIreland that focuses on the practice of pilgrimages ancient and modern. 

I understand more now about the modern practices at shrines like this, and the descriptions in the sites linked above are informative. 

The white deer motif is a feature of her legend, as she was told to leave the Aran Islands and settle where she saw nine white deer. 

Artemis and I visited the well, and Her round stone "house," and the statue overlooking the burial ground. It was the construction of the statue in the 1950s that uncovered the well and house. The bees on the base of her statue recall the legends of her commanding her bees to attack those who harmed her. The large church is the Protestant church which was built after the local people tore the roof off their church to keep it from being burned by Cromwell's army. We peered through the windows and it looks like it's being used as the gardeners shed. 

We then spent some time with the sheela na gig on the side of the Catholic ruin. 

I'm not a scientist, but the stone that the Sheela lives in appears to be repurposed from something else, with the little arches carved into it later so it fits in the window. 

Inside the church, we noticed the same corbeling above the window that I have seen in Owen na gat, Bru na Boinne, Carrowkeel, and any number sacred places with a beehive shaped roof. 

The other windows in this church do not have this same stepped entrance. Pippin is there for scale, standing next to a stone that is there to help you hop into the window. As we got closer, we noticed something more. 

What is that?I'm sure one could conclude it's lingam-yoni symbolism, but I don't agree.  

Because when you stand in that window under its corbeling, you're not thinking about lingams in yonis. You're inside the sacred space of dark church, and you're standing at an opening into the outside world, and that little stone cylinder is a clitoris, not a lingam. That's how it seemed to us anyway. 

We continued west toward home. I should mention that a few minutes past Ballyvourney, there is a magnificent view of the Paps of Anu, welcoming travelers to Kerry. 

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