Rocks and Mysteries

Image captured from virtual reality tour

Newgrange is quite breathtaking to me. It is interesting that the outside is so structured. The stones are in order with the more spherical rocks carefully picked out and spaced in the wall. They even took the time to separate the small, white stones and the larger dark grey stones. The inside is not as structured, but you can still tell the rocks were placed with care. They fill every nook and cranny, every crevice. Every space is occupied. I wonder why. Was it for aesthetic purposes or something else? I wonder if they were trying to mimic the rocks in caves and mountains, like an ode to nature. We love her (nature), but she cannot be copied. She is not meant to be. I believe each stone has a meaning. They’re all doing their duty, whatever that may be.

Image captured from virtual reality tour

It is incredible that this structure was built over many generations. What were the instructions that were bequeathed from generation to generation? Part of me is troubled by the fact that we do not know the exact reason for this structure being built or everything that it was used for, but that is part of the magic and alluring mystery of it. Not knowing anything about this structure’s original purpose doesn’t take away any of its worth. In fact, I would argue that it adds to it. Humans are obsessed with wanting to know everything about everything. Always associating purpose with value. Sometimes it is nice – maybe even necessary and humbling – to not know and never be able to know something; just finding value in its being. Curiosity is a wonderful thing. We need to keep our minds active with wonder. I feel as though I could sit in here for hours, studying the patterns and etchings on the walls. Why were the spiral patterns used and repeated throughout? What is their significance?

Something about Ireland seems deeply spiritual. In James Joyce’s essay, “Ireland, Isle of Saints and Sages”, he mentions that early scientists and artists did everything as “obedient handmaids of God”. We don’t know what the generations of people that built this structure believed in, whether it be the God that Joyce mentions, the sun and earth, or whatever else, but it is for certain that they were deeply in touch with the natural and spiritual world. Using Siobhán Kilfeather’s words from Dublin: A Cultural History, they wanted to “savour their world.” How remarkable it must have been to study the patterns of the universe and be so moved as to make such divine structures, so complex and awe-inspiring. I am not a very religious person, but my spirit was moved being in this structure.

1 Comment

  1. I love that you took the time to observe each individual rock, and the observation you made that each one has some meaning and was chosen for some reason. Even if it was a purely aesthetic choice, it’s certainly amazing that the site still leaves an impression thousands of years later. Your entry is a sharp contrast to Eavan Boland’s poem, “That the Science of Cartography is Limited,” in that the speaker’s initial interest in a historical site quickly turns to grief when confronted with the history of the place–whereas your entry presents a yearning to know more about Newgrange and to celebrate it. I really enjoyed your fascination! But I also couldn’t help but wonder if learning more about Newgrange would change our perception of it.

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