Traveling with Tarot in Ireland
Waking up to my first morning in Belfast and pulling the Two of Cups while curled up in the folds of a white down comforter and drinking last night’s champagne, warm on the nightstand, was almost too serendipitous. A honeymooning bride pulling the card of the union of opposites—a man and woman exchanging cups in what appears to be a wedding ceremony—radiates with alliance. The card is wholly representative of new relationships (or in this case…new phases in relationships). There is peacefulness in this card and a balance in the duality. The lion’s head reads as virile and, to me, there is a hovering masculine energy to this card—an overlying sexual prowess. The perfect card to lead off two weeks of nuptial celebration.
That day before was a whirlwind of travel. Flights and layovers from Dallas to Chicago to Dublin. From Dublin we rented a car and hit the road to Belfast, already leaving one country for another, barely having slept and in a jet-lagged daze forced to quickly acclimate to the motorway customs of the land.
Aaron and I stopped in Drogheda to visit Brú na Bóinne, some of the world’s most noteworthy prehistoric landmarks built some 5,000 years ago. The landmarks are passage tombs—large graves made of megaliths and earth that contain multiple burial chambers—that provide a glimpse into lives of ancient peoples.
The tombs, Knowth, Newgrange and Dowth, contain the largest assemblage of megalithic art in Western Europe. The sides of the megaliths display primitive carvings that predate the pyramids of Giza and Stonehenge. What I found fascinating was that the monuments were built with astronomical significance. The tombs of Knowth and Newgrange align with the winter solstice and Dowth with the spring and the autumnal equinox. The symbols on the outer walls of the tombs consist of circles, spirals, waves, and other figures that are arguably astrological in nature providing as least some evidence of scientific knowledge and /or religious devotions. I just kept staring at them thinking, “This is how the ancients wrote sky. This is how the ancients brought stars to earth.”
Actually, the exact nature of the symbols is mostly a mystery to the archeologists who study the monuments. Theories, of course, exist. Scientists, however, cannot accurately discern if the symbols constitute as a language.
Some insist the carvings could be the names of the dead resting in the tombs. Some claim the symbols are, in fact, astrology charts providing, at the very least, cosmic awe. Others vow it represents a calling to the gods.
I say, let it all be language.
It gives us story. It communicates.
The answer—the right answer—doesn’t interest me. To me, it all of these things, the stars, the planets, the dead, science, the longing for gods. The mystery is the pull. The possibilities, the invention, the crafting of narratives and theories are what fascinate.
Brú na Bóinne hums with enigmatic potency. The bones of the dead, the mud-packed burial chambers, the colossal stones, and lush green mesas atop the tombs all undeniably ground this space in the material, the earthly, the terrestrial. Yet, the stories that the mythic and supernatural race, the Tautha da Dannan, roamed the surrounding hills and vales bring an air of magic . The dead still linger in the grooves of the spirals-that strange language-speaking out from across the veil to tell us they too fell victim to seeking some form of eternalness.
I was inspired by these mysterious pictographs to pull a tarot card every day as I traveled the country. The card gave me insight into the day, the landscape I pulled it in, and, a way to further appreciate my travels in retrospect. Looking back at my journal entries and these photos several weeks after my return home, I feel like I have more of a meditative perspective on all the places I visited.
Do you pull tarot when you travel?