One of the holiest places in County Clare, Ireland, is the cave where St. Colman Mac Duagh lived his final seven years in prayer and isolation during the 6th century. The ruined oratory where he said mass and the well that gave him fresh water create an atmosphere of mystery and quiet. It was here that I first encountered the history of the Druids and felt as if the story were that of my own soul.
The hazel grove that surrounds this holy place is where the poem “The Magus” was inspired. Perhaps by real events of the past. Perhaps only by a desire to connect with the spirit of the one who sanctified this place with his prayers and devotion. Regardless, “The Magus” represents a real event.
Standing in his wisdom grove,
Back turned, sensing my approach,
He feels a smile form on his lips,
Then tucks it away to greet me—
“And so you’ve come.”
“Yes,” is all I say.
I’ve learned not to blather,
Even as my heart races
And I long to run to his embrace.
To be acknowledged and truly seen
Suffices at this moment.
“Come,” he beckons,
Descending mossy steps
To the spring-fed well he tends.
“Drink,” he motions,
As I kneel beside crystal waters
And lift the clear elixir to my lips.
This is the moment of acceptance,
When past and present-future all converge
In a single realization
of identity and promise,
of prelude and obligation,
of possibility and discernment.
“I will,” is my reply to his unspoken inquiry—
The only true response of student to Teacher,
The matter of choice,
spoken from the razor’s edge
where all is lost or won,
where victory and defeat
are sistered in appearance
until their shawls come off.
“I will,” he answers my heart’s plea,
Placing ancient hands of holy water
On my brow and whispering my new name.
“Now go and come back when I call you.
“You will know what to do,
and where and when,
with the blessing of hospitality
as your surety and guide.
“Feel it in your heart and follow where it leads.
Stoke the inner fires and do the radical thing.
I will be there in the water and the flame
As I have always, ever been.”