For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Nearer To Heaven

Carrying on from yesterday, I was wondering why those unlisted lumpy bits were called "The Bridgets" by that walking website. It's quite clever, really. On the one hand we think of Bridget Jones - these are hills which our dear, not-very-sensible Bridget could puff her way up, burn off a few calories and look forward to a ciggie on top without it having taken hours and hours to get there! On the other hand, and more seriously, there is St Bridget. I'm reading at the moment one of the best popular books on Celtic spirituality I've ever read, Anam Cara: Spiritual Wisdom from the Celtic World by John O'Donohue (1997), and in it O'Donohue writes ...St Bridget, who was both a pagan goddess and a Christian saint. In herself, Bridget focuses the two worlds easily and naturally. The pagan world and the Christian world have no row with each other in the Irish psyche... This reminds you of the fact that Christian churches often appropriated sites that were pagan in origin. Whether pagan or Christian, we're talking "sacred" here. And hills and mountains, throughout history and pre-history, have always had sacred and mystical connotations. Chomolungma, the Tibetan name for Mt Everest, means "Mother Goddess of the World"; Mt Kenya is sacred to the Kikuyu tribe; and each year around 25,000 pilgrims climb the 765m high Irish mountain Croagh Patrick, Co Mayo, following in the footsteps of St Patrick who fasted and meditated on the summit in 441 AD.

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