MYSTIC ISLE OF IONA
Y Gwir Erbyn Y Byd (“Truth Against the World”)
Many holy sites are esteemed around the globe. The sacred isles of Britain have a spiritual role so rich that few comprehend their scope that is so disproportionate to their size. Sacred sites are natural meeting places of heaven and earth. A tiny, nearly barren speck of land, the Scottish island of Iona embodies an astounding holographic record of the span of human civilization, much of which is beyond the scope of this article. Each snippet of a hologram contains a smaller but intact version of the original image. The smallest parts of a hologram contain all the information possessed by the whole, demonstrating that separateness is an illusion. Cosmos is a superhologram, echoing the axiom, “As Above, So Below”.
The “whole in every part” nature of a hologram or fractal provides us with an entirely new way of understanding Iona which has been called “the Mecca of the Gael.” This mystic island was sacred to megalithic, iron and bronze age pagans, Druids and Celtic Christians alike. Windswept Iona is a time machine, a gem in the frigid sea, embedded in “the back of the ocean” like a planetary chakra.
Iona’s holy ground formed as the first oceans were condensing on the blistering hot surface of the earth. These rocks are so old, they contain no fossils. Perhaps the first plants took root in Iona’s thin soil. The island is the oldest rock on Earth, four billion year old remains of the Precambrian ocean’s eruptive spine. Her marble formed under vast heat and pressure. The metamorphic Lewisian gneiss shot through with green serpentine has resisted the relentless blue-foaming dragon of the devouring sea that eats up the land. Much of the island itself is highly-conductive and charged quartz, often said to enhance healing, telepathy, remote viewing, dreaming, and superconsciousness or store subtle information or energy. There are unseen things here that are eternal. From the mainland, the spiritually magnetic isle often appears like a mirage.
Iona is the “motherland of dreams”, the ethereal ground of imagination and ground zero of Druid culture. Its spell draws us into its center. Iona’s old Gaelic name Innis nan Druidhneach translates as the Island of the Druids. Their motto was Y Gwir Erbyn Y Byd (“Truth Against the World”). These Servants of Truth held greater power than the kings who took advice from them: All of nature was sacred to them and they were its students and stewards.
These seers and overlords understood the workings of Nature and our nature. To the male and female Druids and their predecessors, the “Shining Ones,” (Siddhe, Fairies), the dead live through visions in dreams, more so for those in one’s own lineage. In Druid lore myth is not plot, but image; not action, but rhythm; not character, but ghosts. Images animate the soul with guidance from higher dimensions. Alba or ‘light’ is the Gaelic name for Scotland and Iona is her most ancient and holy capital. The island Iona is the shape of a dove and curiously its name even means ‘dove’ in Hebrew, though it was named after the pioneering spirit, St. Columba, “the dove of the church”. The Rosarium Philosophorum equates the dove with heavenly light. Young visionaries, virginal children used as oracles or channels, are also called “Doves” in the magic tradition.
Sacred sites are like tuning forks. Iona’s colorful history is related to sea gods, King Arthur and Merlin, the Grail stories, St. Brighid and the Goddess — Sophia, Virgin of the Light, the archetypal soror mystica. Its mystery and magic includes tales of Templars, elves, fairies, and pixies; the Sidhe or People of the Hills, Tuatha De Daanan. Angels’ Hill on Iona is associated with supernatural beings.
Iona was always an island of mystics and scholars. Iona’s most ancient Gaelic or Pictish name is Ioua. The name, (a corruption of early Gaelic Ii-shona, pronounced, Ee-hona; the ‘s’ in Gaelic is silent before an aspirate), is steeped in multidimensional mystique that can be gradually unfolded in physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual metaphors. But it is more than a metaphor to be unraveled like a Scottish yarn. Indeed, an exciting and illuminating journey to the “heart of Iona” is a soulful initiatory journey into myth and eternity. Our journey does not have an ordinary aim.
The history and legends of Iona carry us into a vortex of the imagination, a time machine carrying us back through ages. To be a living soul is to live with imaginal images. Rather than linear, time is cyclic. There is a Celtic saying that heaven and earth are only three feet apart, but in the thin places that distance is even smaller, allowing Second Sight through the veil.These ‘thin places’ may be inter-dimensional portals, a natural combination of radiation and magnetism that produces altered states of consciousness or amplifies psychic ability. In Iona, time is no barrier, for it has been said of this ground zero of Druid tradition and ancient spirituality: “This island set apart, this motherland of many dreams, still yields its secret, but it is only as men seek that they truly find. “To reach the heart of Iona is to find something eternal,” (G.E. Troup).
Green & White Iona Marble
Iona’s heart is the white marble that gave ancient Scotland the name Alba, or Albion (‘white’). Known for its ethereal light, Iona has been the destination of many epic spiritual journeys. The name of this magnetic “isle of dreams” has been called “a talisman of spiritual beauty.” In her enduring and silent way, Iona continues affecting the spiritual evolution of humanity, whispering her deepest secrets only to a few of her 250,000 annual visitors. Even more make the astral journey to the “Iona of the heart.” The north of Iona is the traditional place of testing and ordeal, the south of work and labor, while the west is the place of mystic vision and the spirit. The east is the place of rebirth, compliment to the west as the realm of the dead.
On Iona, vivid moments of focused experience are interspersed with those of emptiness. Magic happens in those gaps between breaths and waves when you attune with the singing wind and ringing stones. Iona’s highest hill, Dûn-I (Doon-ee), an iron-age fortress, hides a little pool amid the broken rocks and heather near the beehive cairn that marks the highest part of the island. From there you can also see the Cairn of the Back to Ireland. Sliav Starr (The Hill of Noises) facing the westernmost part of the island, Port-na-Churaich (The Haven of the Coracle) where St. Columba was said to have first landed on Iona.
Early Ogham inscriptions referred to the island as Ioua, after a Moon goddess, but other early sources said it was HyBrasil (Island of Beauty or Worth), or simply Hy, an earthly paradise found far out at sea, or perhaps a reference to the otherworldly Tir na nOg (the Land of Youths or the Ever-Young). Druid maps listed Iona as Innis nan Druidnean (or Innis na Druineach), the Isle of Druids, possibly because it is believed that at one time the island was covered with oak trees, sacred to the Druids, and had 350 standing stones, megalithic structures frequented by Druids.
There are rocking stones in Iona called na clachan-bràth, within the precincts of a burial ground, placed on the pedestal of a cross. Some call them tomb supports, but finely-balanced rocking stone were used in trials. A clach-bràth is sometimes known as a judgment stone. The reason that courts were near logan stones is that the movement of stones in such formations was used to determine the guilt or innocence of those accused of serious crimes in ancient times. Druids used it to judge people. The accused was made to sit on the stone and by the way it moved the Druids judged the innocence or guilt of the individual.
Near to the Tormore pier and above the sandy cove, hidden amongst the rocks is a cave called “The Cave of the Dead”, (Uamh na Marbh) large enough in size to hold a coffin containing an ancient Scot’s king. Was it a perfect place to shelter in bad weather for the final journey of burial to Iona or a Druid initiation in Fingal’s Cave? Imagine the awe of approaching such a natural wonder in times long past. In the Lord of the Isles, Scott beautifully contrasts the church on Iona with the cave of Staffa, opposite –
“Nature herself, it seemed, would raise
A minster to her Maker’s praise!
Not for a meaner use ascend
Her columns, or her arches bend;
Nor of a theme less solemn tells
That mighty surge that ebbs and swells,
And still between each awful pause,
From the high vault an answer draws,
In varied tone, prolonged and high,
That mocks the organ’s melody;
Nor doth its entrance front in vain
To old Iona’s holy fane,
That Nature’s voice might seem to say,
Well hast thou done, frail child of clay
Thy humble powers that stately shrine
Tasked high and hard – but witness mine.
Sheela-na-Gigs are directly related to earlier Goddess/Fertility figurines and the Goddess symbolism of the early pre-historic and Celtic periods. It is not certain how old the tradition is or the precise age of some of the earliest examples. Apparently, the Sheela-na-Gig made its appearance during the latter part of the Early Christian (or Celtic Christian) period and they were still being erected during the later Middle Ages. There is one built into the wall of the Nunnery on Iona.
Sheela-na-Gigs are religious carvings of women, special women, the symbolical representation of femininity and/or actual female deities or Goddesses. They were placed on churches, castles and other important buildings of the medieval period and, until quite recently in some instances, they acted as dedicatory or protective symbols promoting good luck and fertility. But their meaning goes much deeper and the fact that they were erected over the doorways of churches and castles and otherwise placed invery prominent positions suggests that they were a very potent and powerful image, obviously the primary religious belief of the people of that era of christianity. Sheela-na-Gigs are directly related to earlier Goddess/Fertility figurines and the Goddess symbolism of the early pre-historic and Celtic periods.
Like many of the ancient Celtic goddesses, she had two faces: dark and light. In the winter months she was fearsome, whirling around Scotland with her nine hag-servants, casting storm, snow, and ice over the land. But in springtime, she renewed herself in the Well of Youth on the isle of Iona, and was transformed into the beautiful spring maiden, Bridget or Bride, who brought back light and warmth to her people again. She also appeared at this time of the year, called Lùnasdal in Scotland, Lughnasa in Ireland, as the personification of the ripe sheaves of oats or barley that would feed the clans at harvest time.
From the hilltop Dun-I of Iona with its sacred well, St. Bride sang daily to her lost Bridegroom. St. Bride of the Kindly Fire, St Bride of the Shores. Before she was Christianised as a saint, Brighde or Bride was already present on Iona as Goddess. Her totems were the swan and the serpent. Many generations have drunk from and ritually purified themselves in this holy healing pool called Tobar na h’oige, “the Fountain of Youth,” or “Well of Youth,” in which the dark Goddess annually renews herself for her light phase. There are energetic alignments or grids of holy islands, holy mountains and holy wells in Scotland.
Iona is a geomantic power site – a vortex. Anchoring a pentagonal matrix of ley lines, (invisible currents of earth-energy), enchanting Iona is a gateway to the Other World. This telluric intersection of three ley lines lies in a swampy part of the island, marked by low lying boulders in a perfect circle with a central altar stone. Iona’s leyline alignment extends to Montrose on the east coast of the Scottish mainland, passing through the ancient Celtic royal burial site at Dunstaffnage, then Fortingall, St. Mary’s Church, Grandtully, Aberlemno, which is marked by two ancient and inscribed stones, finally reaching Montrose (Mount of the Rose).
Surfacing of the ancient deeply bedded Lewisian Gneiss rock strata on Iona, is geologically a feat. Ancient imbedded strata is metamorphicly altered, compacted. The enormous pressure transforms the composition of the rock to a more ordered, crystalline structure. All crystalline structures have an electromagnetic field. The greater the density, the stronger the field. The aura of balance and peace that blankets Iona is in part due to the unique qualities of this ancient metamorphic stone, the granitic Lewisian Gneiss! In addition, the strata upthrust and sharp hairpin fold of earth layer that peels the Lewisian Gneiss onto the surface also results in a magnetic energy release that ‘thins the veil’ between planes. Science has documented the relationship between magnetic anomalies and psychic phenomena and experiences.
The metamorphic nature of the granitic Lewisian Gneiss, combined with earth fold magnetic fields creates a crystalline lattice energy that is very dense, and acts as a receptor to the charged harmonic projections emitted from Staffa. These energy frequencies that bombard Iona segregate in certain pockets into like pristine frequencies that correlate to pure musical notes, and accordingly to the chakras. The points on Iona resonate with chakra centers.
7.” Dun I Mound (Cairn on Top) – Crown (Seventh) Chakra
6. ” Gneiss Slab ( 12 ‘ x 6 foot) ( In field on immediate north side of Abbey) – Third Eye (Sixth) Chakra
5. ” Signal Hill – Throat (Fifth) Chakra
4. ” Angel Hill – Heart ( Fourth) Chakra
3. ” Hill of Lambs – Emotional (Third) Chakra
2. ” Back to Ireland Cairn – Creative (Second) Chakra
1. ” Columba Bay (Standing Rock just before the beach) – Base (Root) Chakra
The crown vortex is centered on the stone cairn atop Dun I, the highest point on the island, just behind the and to the north of the Abbey. The Dun I Mound is absolutely the strongest energy point on Iona. It takes a fifteen-minute hike to reach the top, up somewhat slippery trails. The reward is immediate. An angelic being hovers atop the mound and anchors the portal that radiates joyous love energy into the site. The Dun I Mound itself spirals sacred earth energy in a fountaining cascade atop the mound. Dun I is a place of emergence, clearing and vision. All seven chakras are tuned and healed in this area.
Pre-Christian Ionians worshipped the Mother Goddess, sister of the sun god Bel, also worshipped in Egypt and Asia Minor. Her sites are associated with sacred springs, fountains and wells. This Mother Church connects the Gaels with the cradles of civilization in Europe and Asia. Iona used to have a circle of standing stones and there are remains of over 350 megalithic stones. One site is called The Glen of the Temple, another, the Tabernacle of Culdees. The Culdees, remnants of the Druids, practiced hereditary descent and wore white robes like the Druids. Some of Iona’s megaliths may have been carved into the numerous Celtic crosses of the island, some of which have gone missing. Both Druids and Culdees were called “certain strangers.” The term changed over centuries to Coli Dei, “servants of the Lord,” used for the Celtic Christian monks that worshiped on the island beginning in the 6th century.
Each footfall on Iona activates spontaneous “memories”, unconscious stirrings. Life is “sung with ecstatic serenity.” It resonates with the deep past as the ground of our being. The swirling ocean echoes the sounding of our unconscious. Legends of magical caves reflect images of the potentially luminous caverns of our heads. Iona is a place of sanctuary, healing, visions and prophecy. If she touches you with Fairy Ointment, thereafter, all the world and its inhabitants look beautiful. Each of us unravels the story for ourselves. It is a journey through the labyrinth of history and mystery. There are too many threads to follow in just one short article, but a quick search of any of these rewarding keywords + Iona can fill in the blanks.
Scotland is named after Princess Scota of the aristocratic dragon lineage, who is said to have brought the sacred Stone of Destiny with her from Egypt. The Gaels are named after their common ancestor, Gael who was born in Egypt as the son of Prince Niul, who was a son of King Fenius the Antiquary of Scythia, and of Princess “Scota”, a daughter of Egyptian Pharaoh “Cincris” or “Achencres”. There is speculation that this “Scota” was Meritaten, the royal daughter of Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti. She migrated after his monist religious coup failed, during a plague. She took the legendary Stone of Destiny with her.
Her name “Scota” is Scythian for “ruler of the people”. According to Nicholas de Vere, “This line descended through the Tuatha de Danaan. (the Dragon Kings of Anu), on the one hand, and the Egyptian Dragon Dynasty of Sobek on the other. The later strain included the bloodline of the Davidic House of Judah who married into the descent of the Merovingian Kings of the Franks.” Her Cult of the Dragon’s Breath (cult of the spirit of An, or Ankh) was a cult of the dead or ancestor worship.
The Egyptian God Sobek
The descendants of Gael and “Scota” fled, migrating over succeeding generations, from Egypt, first to Candia [ancient Crete], then back to their ancestral homeland of Scythia, then to the Caspian Sea for several years, then to Getulia [ancient Libya], then to Galicia [northwestern Spain], then back to Scythia, and back to Egypt again. But the Scots Gaels come directly from the second Scythian-Egyptian royal marriage. The matrilineal Dragon Queen empowered the Grail King. There is archaeological evidence of a cultural influx in the Third Millenium BC.
Another “Scota”, a daughter of Pharaoh “Nectanebus”, married the Gael’s leader Míl [Milesius], and they sailed to the islands of Irena and Gothia, then back to Galicia, and finally on to the conquest of Ireland, the promised land of the Gaels, under the leadership of the eight sons of Míl and their mother, the second “Scota”. Irish history records that Scota, the daughter of Pharaoh of Egypt arrived in the southern part of Ireland between 4,000 and 3,500 years ago. Scota is buried on the sloped mountains in view of Tralee Bay at a place called Glenscoheen (Scota’s Glenn). Scota is the progenitor of Irish and Scottish kings, a royal lineage which eventually gave birth to St. Columba of Iona.
The word Iona and the Egyptian On (Heliopolis, holy place, light), are related, as is the kind of theology practiced in both places. The age-old connections between Ireland and Egypt have been guarded for millennia. On was a word used to signify the holiness of light, and was used by the Solar-Cults of Egypt and Ireland. The place-name On is probably related to the Celtic Iona, the island seat of the Druids in Scotland. When the island was a powerful Druid center it was planted with sacred groves of yew (Ioha), and the traditions of Iona involve rebirth and reincarnation.
Another name for the island is Innis nam Druineach, meaning the Island of the Cunning Workmen, or sculptors; and still another is Innis-nam-Druidneach, the Isle of Druids. After the arrival of St. Columba, it was also called Icolmkill, “island of Columba of the Church.” Eilean Idhe means “the isle of Iona”, also known as Ì nam ban bòidheach (“the isle of beautiful women”). The title of Merlin as Seer to the King is well established in Druid tradition. The Merlins preserved the Mer-Line, the umbilical to the Mother or matriarchal line (mitochondrial DNA) — the connection to the divine feminine and the ocean of greater consciousness. Folklore says, “You walk Merlin’s line on Iona through the Mother’s landscape body to the Mother.”
Columba is one of the three patron saints of Ireland. As a young royal, he was tutored by Druids. He relinquished royal claims, chose the monastic life and settled the dove-shaped island sanctuary of Druid overseers in 563 AD. He was essentially banished from Ireland for creatively editing the scriptures. Columba could only dream about what the Archdruid Merlins knew. Both the Druids and the monks used tonsure and performed baptisms. The local Picts considered the monastery’s bronze bells very powerful shamanic medicine, instruments of art. Columba’s monastery became a glorious center of pilgrimage. The guesthouse was always occupied. At first, access was restricted to high status pilgrims, royal and ecclesiastical visitors, or those in serious trouble. Later humble pilgrims were welcomed at the Celtic Christian monastery.
Columba took the Stone of Destiny to Iona as a portable altar. Opinions differ on whether it is related somehow to the Blarney Stone. This Lia Fal was called a “speaking stone” that named the king to be chosen. Columba used the holy stone, considered “Jacob’s pillow,” as a coronation chair for the consecration of Aedan as first King of Dal Riada. Did he consult silently with the Stone before he did so?
King Aeden’s Merlin (Emrys) was his elder cousin. He is the Merlin of Grail legends. According to Sir Laurence Gardner, “The real King Arthur’s father, King Aedan mac Gabran of Scots, became Pendragon by virtue of the fact that he was Prince Brychan’s grandson. In this line Aedan’s mother, Lleuan of Brecknock, was descended from Joseph of Arimathea. The name ‘Uther Pendragon’, meaning ‘terrible dragon’ was invented in the 12th century by the romancer Geoffrey of Monmouth (later Bishop of St. Asaph).”
St. Columba himself established the monarchs of Dal Riada. St. Columba correctly predicted Arthur, eldest son and natural heir to King Aeden would not live to succeed his father. In doing so, in answer to an inquiry from the Pendragon about his succession, St. Columbia’s prophecy fulfilled the ancient Druid role, essentially meaning that St. Columba was a recognized Merlin, himself. His human sacrifice of the monk Oran to fight off demons in the building of his monastery ratifies the theory. Columba took fighting demons as seriously as the Druids did.
Columba was exiled to the Scottish Isle of Iona. This island was a mixture of Druids, Culdean monks and priests. Iona built this monastery (and former Druid grove) into a base for Christianizing Western Scotland. This was done after proving his might in battle with Druids that were aligned with Warlords (he dispelled their winds and brought light into a Magical Darkness). Columba returned to Ireland on only one occasion, to render a verdict at Drimceatt when Aedh, the new Ard Righ, attempted to outlaw the Druid remnant or Filidh (the Druidic Poets). Columba’s stature was such that his arguments for the poets saved their status and class from extinction. Columba was trained by a Druid and was not above using Druid magicks to further his interests. In fact, he used them in overcoming the magicians of the Pictish king, Brude. The early Christian saints engaged in many magical battles with various Magicians.
Columba took to meditating on the Hill of the Angels–Cnoc nan Aingeal. You can’t miss it. The hill is right there to the South on your left as you walk on the main road across the center of the island. The Hill of Angels is also just in front of Sithean, the Fairy Mound. These hills were the center of pagan rituals in the Bronze and Iron Ages. Columba’s meditations there attracted the attention of angels passing in the distance who then came near and asked: “Who is this mortal who has turned his face away from the outer world to build a temple of God within his own body and soul?” And other angels would answer: “This is the Dove and Wolf of the church: Like the Dove, his eyes shine with infinite peace; and like the Wolf, he hungers and stalks. He wants to know more than priests are willing to teach. The church has already forgotten that the Truth is only found by listening to God speak from within the stillness of the heart. But Columba is not as these. He quests in search of God Himself.” And such was the power of Columba’s meditation, on those days when no angel came to visit him, Columba knew that he was needed elsewhere–then it was time to turn his attention to the outer world and to whomever came to visit the island.
View from Cnoc-Nan-Aingael (Hill of Angels)
Much has been made of Merlin’s magic but Columba’s powers in evocational magick could have made a thousand Merlins green with envy. Columba was a poet and the Druids embraced him as a bard. In the third book of St. Adamnan’s Life of St. Columba, there is an episode entitled ‘Of a manifestation of angels meeting the soul of one Emchath.’ Columba, ‘making his way beyond the ridge of Britain (Drum-Alban), the the lake of the river Nisa (Loch Ness), being suddenly inspired by the Holy Spirit, says to the brethren who are journeying with him at the time: “Let us make haste to meet the holy angels who, that they may carry away the soul of a certain man, who is keeping the moral law of nature even to extreme old age, have been sent out from the highest regions of heaven, and are waiting until we have come thither, that we may baptize him in time before he dies.” Thereafter the aged saint made as much haste as he could to go in advance of his companions, until he came to the district which is named Airchartdan (Glen Urquart).’ There he found ‘the holy heathen man,’ Emchath by name.
He grafted his religion on the old craft. He is half-Druid magician and half Christian missionary. He tried to heal the split between the Scots and the Picts. Pict tradition was matrilinear so a system was devised for Pictish Princesses to marry Scots kings but successors could be chosen from parallel lines of descent from sons, nephews and cousins. King Malcolm II deviated from the tradition of Druid election of successors to offer his daughter Bethoc the crown. She was married to Crinan, Irish royalty and Archpriest of the Sacred Kindred of St. Columba. The strongest hereditary claim of succession to the Scottish throne thereafter passed through Bethóc.
The only known historical candidate for the title is one Artur MacAeden, 6th century son of the Dalriadic King of Scots in Argyll, whose mother and grandmother were reputedly from British Strathclyde. This Arthur had a sister called Morgana, a nephew known as St. Kentigern, the Patron Saint of Glasgow, and some say that St. Constantine, King of Cornwall, and founder of Govan, was Arthur’s uncle. We can be certain though that Arthur was distantly related to St. Columba through his father, Aeden MacGabhran, and the High Kings of Ireland. Also without doubt, is the Merlin type role that St. Columba played in the life of Arthur and Aeden. He chose and placed Aeden MacGabhran on the throne of Dalriada (Argyll & Ulster) after a prophetic dream, he prophesised Arthur’s death.
There was only ever one Arthur born to a Pendragon – Arthur mac Aedan of Dalriada. Gardner describes how Arthur descended the Merovingian line through his mother Ygerna del Acqs. His grandmother was Viviane I, dynastic Queen of Bergundian Avallon, a Merovingian kinswoman. King Aedan was a celtic church Christian of the Sacred Kindred of St. Columba, which incorporated Druidic ritual. His sacred sister-bride in the tradition of the pharaohs, Morgaine was a Celtic Priestess, a soror mystica and holy sister of Avallon, with whom he consummated the archetypal Royal Marriage.
But alignment with the Roman church made Arthur a political and religious enemy of his own son Modred, who was Archpriest of the Sacred Kindred and an anointed Fisher King. In 608, Aedan died and was buried on Iona, similar to Arthur’s reported burial on Avalon. Is Iona the mythic Avalon? Both were entrances to the underworld. The underworld of the Celts is called A-val or Avilion, the “fire of the heart.” If so, is Iona, not Glastonbury, the heart chakra of the world? Avalon was a school for Merlins, and Iona continued that tradition with a passion.
Today’s senior Stewart line claims decent from King Arthur’s father, King Aedan of Scots, on the one hand and to Prince Nascien of the Septimanian Midi on the other. The Scots descent traces further back through King Lucius of Siluria to Bran the Blessed and Joseph of Aramathea (St James the Just), while the Midi succession stems from the Merovingians male ancestral line through the Fisher Kings to Jesus and Mary Magdalene. If the Grail is the sacred bloodline, it resided in Iona on multiple occasions. Its spirit never left.
The Stone of Destiny remained with Iona’s monks until 843 when Viking raids caused them to move to Scone, where it was used for crowning Scottish Kings. According to an old chronicle, “no king was ever wont to reign in Scotland unless he had first, on receiving the royal name, sat upon this stone at Scone, which by the kings of old had been appointed to the capital of Alba.”
Book of Kells
In 807, the “Book of Kells” was also removed from Iona to Kells to save this luminous treasure of Celtic art from invading Vikings. Illuminated manuscripts from Iona’s scriptorium were thought to have supernatural properties. These Celtic designs were transferred to metal and stone. The Stone of Destiny was captured in 1296 by King Edward I (Long Shanks) and kept in England for 700 years. It was kept under the English throne through the coronation of Elizabeth II. It was only returned to Edinburgh in 1996 after an attempted theft.
This primordial Dreamland is a magical burial place of over 60 Kings, including the Scots Macbeth and his victim Duncan. Known graves include 48 Scottish, 8 Norwegian, 1 French and 4 Irish kings plus numerous clan chiefs. Templar knight gravestones reveal their presence on the island. Megalithic remains suggest it was a prehistoric burial site, too. Iona is a borderland between life and death. Those buried there often arrived while still alive to prepare for their final journey. The monks essentially died while living a very solitary life. A beehive cell or single hermitage was called a ‘disert.’
An island legend tells of a lonely monk who fell in love with a mermaid. When she was banished, she shed tears that can be found today as small green tear-shaped crystals along Iona’s beaches. There are also legends about magical “green eggs,” called Druid’s Eggs or Serpent’s Eggs. Iona’s other tales include Blood Eagle tortures of monks by Vikings, Fairy Ointment, Place of the Great Crosses, human sacrifice, Earthworks, “House of the Fairies,” Culdees, and Moneymusk Reliquary — even Atlantean priestesses. Staffa the nearest uninhabited island facing Iona displays the gaping maw of the astonishing Fingal’s Cave, the Scottish end of the Giant’s Causeway, noted for it’s massive basalt columns. The giant’s cave was a Druid initiation chamber. Looking out from inside this extraordinary cave, Iona is framed in the entrance. Caves are portals to the underworld, the world of the dead.
Columba, the Celtic Saint was a wanderer. He realised he had no abiding home on earth, so many early monks left their homes as a sign of the spiritual quest – the white martyrdom. One of these monks was Saint Columba – a nobleman of one of the leading families in Ireland. With some other companions, including his cousin Beathain (Bean), he settled in the isle of I – Iona. While there he sailed up Loch Ness to negotiate with the Pictish king, Brude at Inverness. On the way he is recorded to have encountered ( and tamed) the water horse which dwelt in Loch Ness, baptised natives along the banks of the Ness, and eventually left his cousin in Cannich, where he is traditionally held to have founded the cell known as Kil Beathain – now Clachan Comar. Above Clachan Comar is the spring still known as St. Bean’s spring.
Other ancient stories tell of Joseph of Arimathea visiting the island to trade in tin; some include his young nephew Jesus accompanying him.Another legend says Mary Magdalene was buried in a cave on Iona and in the future a Divine Woman from the fair isle will redeem the world. Though less is known of its pagan past, much more has been written on the Christian history of Iona after Columba drove out a rival monastic order, not the indigenous Druids, as is frequently but wrongly reported. But even Iona’s Celtic Christianity must be seen in a pagan light. This was not the Roman church.
Ruins of the Nunnery
The monastics of Iona lived simple, often solitary lives. The “Black Nuns” on Iona followed the teaching of St. Augustine of Hippo, in Egypt. They wore black habits, and their church was locally called an eaglais dhubh (‘the black church’). They pursued a contemplative and cloistered life. Their first prioress was Bethoc. Gravestones demonstrate the nunnery was favored for retirement and burial for ladies of noble birth from across the western seaboard. The ninth Abbot of Iona, who wrote the hagiography of St. Columba, demonstrates the hereditary succession: Adomnán was a descendant of Colman mac Setna, a cousin of St. Columba and the ancestor, through his son Ainmire, of the kings of Cenel Conaill. He was the son of Ronan mac Tinne by Ronat, a woman from the (northern Ui Neill lineage known as the Cenél nÉnda.
Narratives are frames best read in the context of their own cultural, mythological and philosophical origins. Perspective defines how wide or narrow that view is – broad or fine strokes. The story of Iona begins in Atlantis, both a literal story of radical changes in coastal geomorphology from cyclical natural catastrophe as well as a metaphor of ancient wisdom sinking into the subconscious. With the fall of Atlantis, the collective psyche of humankind began to degenerate.
The esoteric map of Atlantis is a map of transformation. Deep within there is an Atlantis of the soul, from which we yearn to recover what we sense has been lost – our potential for transcendence. But it is ‘transparency’ that makes us seers by allowing us to see through the veil of history and legend. Rather than answers, we might only find better questions. Very little informs us of who lived in Scotland from 10,000 B.C. until the Megalithic Age, roughly 3500 B.C. to 1500 B.C. Perhaps some of the earliest ancestors were refugees from the Atlantean Deluge.
The primordial solar church existed in proto-Ireland before the historically known “Druids.” The Megalithic Irish (or Arish) were known as the Hyperboreans, which implied not only that they inhabited Northern climes but that they were the descendants of the pre-diluvian inhabitants of Atlantis, before the cataclysms that devastated the lands of the North-West.
During the so-called “Age of Catastrophe,” titanic cataclysms (following on from those that destroyed Atlantis) displaced the original inhabitants of Britain, who were forced to flee to the Continent across land-bridges now lost beneath the waves and known as Doggerland. The lost ground is a vast plain that joined Britain to Europe for nearly 12,000 years, until sea levels began rising dramatically after the last Ice Age. Taking its name from a prominent shipping hazard—Dogger Bank—this immense land bridge vanished beneath the North Sea around 6,000 B.C.
Evidence suggests early migrations from the West to the East, preceding a return of the Scythian Druid kings. The Black Sea princes settled in Ireland about 800 BC. Arguably, it was the former who transmitted the elements of civilization to the world at large, before the return waves of Celtic-Scythian “Druids”. Anciently, they were one. But the Royal Scyths were masters of transcendent consciousness, called Sidhe (pronounced “Shee”), which colloquially means fairy or elf, but translates as ‘powers’. Many religious symbols were first employed by the Druid elders of the West, from the “Land of the Pure or Noble Ones.” The high priests of Ireland were commonly known as Druids.
Naddreds – ‘Wise Serpents’ – Druids
The ancient priests were hereditary serpent kings who founded mystery schools. The Druids held the symbols of the serpent and the dragon in the highest esteem and considered them insignias of royalty. They referred to themselves as Naddreds, meaning “Wise Serpents” — those initiated into the highest mysteries, that possessed healing abilities and great knowledge of architecture, astronomy and astrology. The Druid’s pre-diluvian theology was based on the observance and veneration of the stars, of the sun, the moon, and the zodiac. From its inception, Druidry was a stellar religion. It is linked to the words for ‘door’ or portal and ‘bringer of truth.’
These “enlighteners” were fully aware of the 26,000-year cycle of Precession of the Equinoxes. When their line arose, the star Thuban in the constellation Draco was the pole star. They were a hereditary caste of seers, philosophers, political advisors, priests, natural scientists, historians, doctors of medicine, judges, poets, royal advisors, musicians, geometers, orators, navigators, and magicians. The Bards sang oracular songs. They preserved ‘knowledge’ or gnosis. The solar deity of Beltane was known as Bel, Beli, Belanus, celebrated with vast bonfires. Iona still echoes symbols of the ancient solar cult on Easter, displaying an altar cloth showing the reborn rising sun.
Druidry recognizes eight markers in the shamanic Solar cycle. Winter Solstice, called Alban Arthan [the Light of Arthur] is the time of death and rebirth. The sun appears to be abandoning us completely as the longest night arrives; it stops in its tracks. Our own inner journey is linked to the yearly cycle, in which whatever impedes the appearance of light or holds us back must be cast away. As one lamp is lit from a flint and raised up on the Druid’s crook in the East, the year is reborn and a new cycle begins.
The dynamic between body and soul is revealed in the Druid natural philosophy of reincarnation, not in immediate rebirth but in reincorporation of the spirit into a new body after a length of time. Transmigration is symbolized by the serpent that sheds its skin. Funeral pyres were considered portals through which one could send “letters” to the dead. Memories arise with no known reality. Old patterns die so that new psychic patterns are born through the void’s grace. Iona gives us the grace to breathe that void. Empty space is Iona’s central metaphor, informing the vacuum. We become containers for the ceaseless flow of images. Second sight means to “know again.” We re-cognize our own images. We embody the idea of ancient hidden knowledge being carried through to our own time.
From the light of Albion, the light of consciousness radiates out to the world. Some legends mirror the solar cycle, claiming Jesus and Mary Magdalene were on Iona, where she gave birth to His son, John Martinus. We can assume a spiritual significance for the association that implies a family lineage, a holy bloodline older than Jesus. Does Mary Magdalene lie buried in a hidden cave on Iona? She was worshipped there as the Holy (Saint) Bride, “Mary of the Gael.” The children and descendants of early Celtic saints, both male and female, belonged to the old British royal lineages. Does the Martin’s Cross on Iona, with its solar circle, encode such memories for those who can read them?
The Winter Solstice, Alban Arthan, represents a time to open to inspiration and conception. All about us is darkness. Our only guide is Arthur, the Great Bear, the Pole Star (or the Southern Cross in the Southern hemisphere). Intuition is born in the stillness of night. This is the mystery of the rebirth of the inner light within us. The Winter Solstice is the time when the seed of Light, represented both by the one light raised on high and by the white mistletoe berries, comes down from the inspired realms and incarnates in the womb of the night and of the Earth Mother.
This is a potent time to open ourselves to the fertilizing power of the divine, which gives birth to our creativity. The Druid’s yew tree, Ioha, is a symbol of immortality. Great yew trees can be 2-4,000 years old whereas Iona’s churches are far newer. The yews came first, planted on sacred sites of the Druids. Regardless of their symbolic names, the elements of light, consciousness and rebirth are woven and rewoven.
An influx of proto-Celtic, Bell Beaker people into Britain is now dated from 2900 – 1800/1700 BC. They brought beer, new beliefs about life and death, divination, farming techniques, and mortuary practices along with the art of metallurgy to the Neolithic culture. Groups assimilated in complicated patterns of movement that involved explorations, contact, settlement, diffusion and acculturation. This culture spread from Ireland to the Carpathian Basin and south along the Atlantic coast to Portugal, Spain, France, North Africa, Sicily, Italy, the Balkans, and Germany. These trade routes remained open. Their shamans were Druids, whose power came from contact with the spirit world.
Megalithic Druids preceded the later Celtic influx. Some suggest early migrations from the late ice ages to Scythia and back make the megalithic Druid lines “cousins” to their Indo-European invaders. Pre-Celts and proto-Celts are linked by the royal Dragon and Pendragon bloodlines. We can trace the dragon lineage, not only to a clan totem, but to the astronomical fact that from roughly 4,000-1,000 BC Thuban in the constellation Draco was the pole star, around which the heavens revolved. The Druid’s pre-diluvian theology was based on the observance and veneration of the stars, of the sun, the moon, and the zodiac. From its inception it was a stellar religion. Druids taught the children of the nobility and several kings. Druid means skilled or wisdom. It is linked to the words for ‘door’ or portal and ‘bringer of truth.” Astronomy is the “science of light.”
Iona hosted a Druidical college till the community was assimilated by Columba for his own community, but the Highlanders still recognize it as the Druid’s Isle. The Culdees wore a white dress, as did the Druids. They remained scholars and occupied places which had a Druidical reputation. They used the Asiatic cross, now called that of St. Andrew. Notably, in an Irish version of the gospel of St. Matthew, the phrase “there came wise men from the east” is rendered “the Druids came from the east.” They translated the Old Testament, Exodus vii. II, “magicians of Egypt,” as “Druids of Egypt,” (Bonwick, Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions).
The Druid “enlighteners” were fully aware of the 26,000-year cycle of Precession of the Equinoxes. They excelled in astronomy and astrology and ancient metrology. They knew the size and shape of the Earth. The seers were a hereditary caste of seers, philosophers, political advisors, priests, natural scientists, historians, doctors of medicine, judges, poets, royal advisors, astronomers, musicians, geometers, orators, navigators, and magicians. The Bards sang oracular songs. They preserved ‘knowledge’ or gnosis. The solar deity of Beltane was known as Bel, Beli, Belanus, celebrated with vast bonfires.
Nicholas de Vere describes ancestral proto-Scythian Druids in The Dragon Cede (2010): “Witch” in Gaelic is “druidhe” — drui — or “druid.” In practical terms a Scythian druid was an overlord. . .hence, a witch was a Dragon.” So, the Druids were Scythian-Draconian overlords who came to proto-Scotland in ancient “Celtic” migrations. The Druids sang the nature of the king and formed all society in so doing. A Pendragon tradition says the Land and the King are one. The king derived his sovereignty, not from the sword, but from Mother Earth. We cannot own land. The land owns us. In original Scythian practice there were Three Kings: Priest King, Peace King, War King. And the Archdruids ruled over all as High Kings. The sword comes from the stone. Sovereignty comes from the Earth beneath our feet. That is the symbolism.
Summarizing, de Vere continues, “Briefly, the Dragon lineage starts in the Caucasus with the Annunaki, descending through migrating proto-Scythians to the Sumerians while branching off also into the early Egyptians, Phoenicians and Mittani. A marriage bridge back to Scythia infused the Elvin line of “Tuatha de Danaan” and the Fir Bolg, which branched into the Arch-Druidic, Priest-Princely family to the Royal Picts of Scotland and the ring kings of the Horse Lords of Dal Riada, through the Elven dynasty of Pendragon and Avallon del Acqs, and down to a few pure bred families today.”
The myths of lost Atlantis are Egyptian. The oldest known example of archeoastronomy with stone circles (Nabta Playa, Nubian Desert) is in pre-sand Egypt, dated to the fifth Millennium BC. – 2000 years before Stonehenge. This temple of the stars demonstrates the sky ‘moves’ in a predictable long-term cycle. An alignment with Sirius in 6088 BC and other alignments dated to 6270 suggest an estimated date 1500 years earlier. The site was used as a necropolis in the Saharan wet period of pre-history, roughly 11,000 – 5,000 years ago when the playa bloomed. The area became arid 4,800 years ago when the monsoon returned to the tropics. Egyptian culture moved to the Nile Valley.
The circle of Precession is called the “circle of Sidi” or Circle of Seven, which is also a name for Stonehenge. The Welsh name for Zodiac or ecliptic is ‘Sidydd.’ ‘Sidi’ is the Arabic honorific, ‘Lord,’ ‘master,’ or ‘saint.’ It refers to the seven (periods of) the pole stars. Seven shifting positions are also the model for the stellar crown of seven stones. Over the cycle of Precession constellations have “sunk” below the horizon in the Abyss of the heavens.
In the Dragon lineage the astronomical mythos came down to Earth as seers and overlords – the Siddhe, who described how to live in harmony with nature within the divine scheme of things. Galactic alignment of Earth with the core of the Milky Way is the long lost zero point of the precessional cycle. Precession defines the Great Year of circulation about the signs of the Zodiac. There is some evidence the Druids even placed a taboo on their people against speaking the names of the sacred planets, mandating euphemisms, such as ‘brightness’ for the Moon.
There were three cataclysms, or major geologic changes, in Earth’s recent history. The first, around 20,200 BC, was declared as the starting point for reasons which are not clear and by people now unknown. The glaciers started to melt. A second geologic change occurred around 12,200 BC. There, again, was a sudden warming, causing more glaciers to melt. Many people died.
A third geologic change occurred around 8100 BC. This marked the end of the ice age with a climactic optimum. There was a sudden rise in sea level, drowning many coastal cities, many mammals became extinct, and most of the world’s population died. Britain lost her solid connection with the mainland when lower lying Doggerland finally disappeared beneath the waves, severing her from the continent. These epic disasters came down as legends of pre-diluvial Atlantis and sent surviving megalithic inhabitants on nomadic treks across Europe, the Middle East, toward China and India and back again via Gaul, Egypt and Spain.
Egyptian beliefs were in Druid practice, but Egypt was originally a colony of Atlantis, the true source of the Druids.Although the Scythians of later ages were originally affiliated with the Megalithic Arya, some of their number became spiritually and morally corrupt. Today, a few mainstream historians and archeologists hesitatingly accept that Western “Celts” (sic) had settlements in the Middle and Far East. This is because these migrations were relatively late, historically speaking. They date from approximately 600 BC onward. The Hyksos/Atonists were originally Scythians from the West who migrated through Egypt.
The Ouroboros that bites its own tail can be traced back to ancient Egypt, circa 1,600 BCE. Also the serpent entwined around the (serpent’s) egg, was a symbol common to the Egyptians and the Druids. It referred to the creation of the Universe, Precession and the Milky Way. The World egg also known as the Serpent’s Egg, or the Druid’s Egg is a potent symbol of the union of masculine and feminine. It depicts the creation of the World from these two aspects of divinity and reminds us that we contain both male and female within.
Survivors of drowned islands knew the nature of cataclysm. Arguably, according to de Vere’s research, the Atlanteans were antediluvian Dragon gods of ancient proto-Scythia driven from their homeland by the Black Sea flood, now scientifically dated to 6,900 years ago when vast ice sheets melted inundating their freshwater lake with seawater. This led to mass migrations as the climate re-adjusted. Modern research suggests migrations went both ways many times and cultures mixed, even while the royal bloodline persisted.
Legend says, “One group consisting of seven males, three females and one child, established an Atlantean colony on Iona. They built a small library for ancient sacred works. Around the library which they called their ‘heart seed’, they built a strong, almost fortress like Temple.” They called Iona Aberuk, or “distant place of the heart’.” It is said the Hyperboreans called it Luma or “bright land.” The priestesses on Iona called themselves the Priestesses of Ank, or ‘sacred well of life’. Ank is strongly suggestive of the Egyptian Ankh, symbol of life. Ionian priestesses were the basis for the Celtic legends concerning sanctuaries of ‘Lady of the Lake’ type anima women who regenerate the male psyche and often his physical form as well.
Descriptions of activities on Iona throughout history echo Egyptian forebearers. The Egyptians had several classes of priesthood, but the Sesh-Per-Ankh were the scribes of the House of Life. These, too, were frequently associated with magical knowledge because of their connection with the sacred texts. The scribes worked largely within the Per-Ankh copying temple texts. They were considered to be very wise and scholarly. The scribes were also considered healers, possessing medical knowledge. French Egyptologist, Dr. Serge Sauneron describes the activities of the scribes in the Per-Ankh:
“The main activities in the house of life consisted in preparing the religious works necessary to the cult, in recopying the old manuscripts, in correcting errors, in completing the gaps and passages short of lines; they developed the texts of theology or of liturgy particular to each temple; they prepared the magic books of protection, the astronomical tables; they recopied a thousand times, versions of the Book of the Dead; they discussed with ardor, between copying sessions, philosophical and religious problems, without neglecting medicine and literary activities . . . For everything was not just mechanical copying, in these studies; sometimes an original text, sometimes a theosophical exposition would be drawn up following meditation or the exchange of fruitful views . . . Some of the finest spiritual or ethical texts we possess were stimulated by the reflections and convictions of some obscure scribe whose name will never be known to us . . .” (Sauneron 1960.136)
The migrations of Atlantis, Egypt, Scythia, Ireland, Scotland and Iona bring us full circle in the Celtic cycle. We’ve seen the Cosmos in a fractal grain of Iona’s sand. On Iona, the sANKHtuary, every stone could be a Philosopher’s Stone. The vision of the reborn spirit within us is that of “heaven spread upon Earth.”
de Vere, Nicholas (1985-2004), The Dragon Legacy, San Diego, California; The Book Tree.
de Vere, Nicholas, (2005-2010), The Dragon Cede, San Diego, California; The Book Tree.
Dunford, Barry, “Iona, Sacred Isle of the West,” http://www.sacredconnections.co.uk/holyland/iona.htm
Dunford, Barry, “The Mystery of the Mother Church,” http://www.sacredconnections.co.uk/holyland/motherchurch.htm
Ellis, Peter Berresford, A Brief History of the Druids http://books.google.com/books?id=PIXAREdVI_QC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false
Gardner, Laurence (2003), “Realm of the Ring Lords,” Nexus Magazine.
Gardner, Laurence (2002), Bloodline of the Holy Grail, Fair Winds Press; Rev Exp edition.
• Bloodline of The Holy Grail: The Hidden Lineage of Jesus Revealed (1996) (ISBN 1852308702)
• Genesis of the Grail Kings: The Astonishing Story of the Ancient Bloodline of Christ and the True Heritage of the Holy Grail (1999) (ISBN 0553817744)
• Illustrated Bloodline of the Holy Grail (2000) (ISBN 1862047707)
• Realm of The Ring Lords: The Ancient Legacy of the Ring and the Grail (2003) (ISBN 1931412146)
• Lost Secrets of the Sacred Ark: Amazing Revelations of the Incredible Power of Gold (2004) (ISBN 0007142951)
• The Magdalene Legacy: The Jesus and Mary Bloodline Conspiracy (2005) (ISBN 0007200854)
• The Shadow of Solomon: The Lost Secret of the Freemasons Revealed (2005) (ISBN 1578634040)
• The Grail Enigma: The Hidden Heirs of Jesus and Mary Magdalene (2008) (ISBN 0007266944)
Menzies, Lucy (1920), Saint Columba of Iona.
Miller, Iona (2010), “Iona Mystic Isle.” http://ionamiller.weebly.com/iona-mystic-island.html
Sauneron, Serge (1957-2000), The Priests of Ancient Egypt,” Cornell University.
Tsarion, Michael (2007), Irish Origins of Civilization, Taroscopes: http://www.irishoriginsofcivilization.com/irishoriginsexcerpts/book1_chap1.html
©2010 Iona Miller is a nonfiction writer for the academic and popular press, hypnotherapist (ACHE) and multimedia artist. She has pursued a lifelong interest in esoterics and mysticism. Her conspirituality work is an omni-sensory fusion of intelligence, science-art, new physics and emergent paradigm shift, melding many social issues into a new view of society. She is interested in the effects of doctrines from religion, science, psychology, and the arts. Website: http://ionamiller.iwarp.com