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If You Believe in Magic

Since St. Patrick's Day falls in March, it seems a good time of year to tell a fairy tale. With all respect to those readers who may be doubtful, there is a lesson in the story whether or not you believe in fairies.

But if you don't I'd be cautious about saying so, especially in the County Mayo.

In 1992 my partner, Joyce, and I rented a cottage in that remote county in the West of Ireland. The location had been described as "secluded." This proved to be a huge understatement.

In searching for the cottage we turned off a narrow road onto an even narrower one, then onto one which was not only unpaved, but had grass growing down the middle. At the end of this last road was the cottage. Our nearest neighbor was a half-mile away, and perhaps a hundred people lived in a stretch of mountainous terrain larger than Manhattan. As we lived in Manhattan, this was culture shock of the highest order.

Joyce, carrying her New York-born-and-bred mistrust with her, was naturally suspicious of the inhabitants of this wild and lonely place. She took all of her money with her when we left the house for a food shopping expedition, and insisted that I do the same. I got my money and (carelessly, I will admit if forced to) paid little attention to where I put it.

As we left the cottage, harboring serious doubts as to whether we would ever be able to find it again, we promptly got lost.

It was a simple matter of mistaking one unpaved, grassy road for another. The one we took traveled through the peat bog, a place of beauty which we failed to appreciate until the largest and brightest rainbow either of us had seen distracted us from our mounting confusion.

"It's a sign," Joyce said -- but of what we didn't know, and meanwhile, we were still lost. We had to turn the car around on a road seven feet wide with ditches and mucky, spongy, treacherous bog on either side. I jumped out of the car to assess the danger, after which Joyce cautiously maneuvered the car a few inches this way and that way until after only half-an-hour the car was turned around.

A Significant Loss

We found our way to the nearest village, five miles away, shopped, and had dinner in a pub. I got up to pay the bill, only to discover that I had mysterious lost the equivalent in pounds of $330. I thought that I might possibly have a heart attack and die.

After a whirlwind and futile tour of all the places we'd been in the village we made our hesitant and unhappy way home. We felt no sense of triumph at finding the cottage in the dark.

After some discussion about the mechanics of how I could have lost the money, we moved on to some larger questions. Was this a lesson about letting go? A lesson about the transience of material wealth? A lesson which paradoxically taught me that I was prosperous enough to weather this loss?

Some of all of that, I concluded, still gloomy. I didn't like learning lessons this way.

There was one remaining possibility: that the money had somehow fallen out of the car onto the bog road. There was, however, little hope in this possibility. The bog was vast and without shrubbery to reduce the force of the winds from Clew Bay, which, we later learned, had been known to reach a force of ninety miles an hour. If my money was in the bog there was an infinitesimal chance that I would find so much as a pound.

The Day After

Thus, when we took to the bog road the next morning, it was thus with little expectation of more than exercise, even when we recognized the place where we'd turned the car. We walked a little further, and I reminded myself that it was just a lesson in letting go.

Then Joyce saw a five-pound note in a puddle. "Look," she said. "Someone dropped some money."

I had so nearly succeeded in letting go that I didn't register this discovery. Then we walked a little further and came across another puddle which held a ten-pound note. I began to get chills.

In each puddle along the road lay one or two bills. Not a puddle was missed, and when we scooped up the sodden notes and counted them, not a pound was missing. As we danced on the bog road I was sure that I heard faint, silvery laughter.

A Miracle?

I told this story to a number of people in the town, all of whom nodded wisely, and said, "Ah sure, it was the fairies all right. That's just the sort of thing they do."

Their basic viewpoint was that the fairies took the money because they are mischievous and love to play tricks on humans for the joy of witnessing our bewilderment (and because they would like it to be known that they haven't vanished from the earth).

As to why they so carefully put the money in individual puddles, one man said, "You were the lucky one. They were only having a bit of fun with you."

They were, and they were trying to get me to have a bit of fun and shake free of some of my human limitations.

We were both loaded with limitations. We'd approached our little holiday in the wilds with nervousness, fear, and suspicion. We'd ignored the spectacular scenery, nearly ignored the rainbow. I can imagine the fairies conferring and agreeing that we had to lighten up. What better way to do this than to relieve me of a significant material possession?

Then, once I'd almost decided that maybe it wasn't so significant, the fairies (who do not insist on perfection) decided to return the money in a way which would teach me something about magic and give me an even bigger opportunity to lighten up.

It worked. I spent my miracle money with great joy and enthusiasm. Joyce and I both found that, possibly because we'd already exhausted a week's worth of anxiety, that we were quite unable to give much attention to our usual assortment of concerns. Our hearts and minds focused on the beautiful world which surrounded us.

We walked through the bog every morning, and with each walk our appreciation deepened for the glory of the silvery grass, purple heather, and slender, white-tipped stalks of wild oat. We gave thanks for the mountains which surrounded the bog in all directions, and for the ever-changing mists and clouds.

We maintained our spirit of appreciation during the rest of our week wherever we went: to the numerous golden beaches of Clew Bay, the wild expanses of Clare and Achill Islands. On our first visit to Carrowmore Strand we were rewarded again with the sight of a rainbow which stretched across the bay. On a visit to Old Head Beach I found a four-leaf clover. On the morning we were to leave Mayo we took our last walk (in a light sprinkling of soft weather) through the bog. We both secretly wished for another rainbow. We walked silently, storing in our hearts the panoramas which had unfailingly given us joy. As we turned to head back sunlight streamed through the clouds and a double rainbow arched across the sky -- a farewell gift, lovingly painted by the fairies.

The Fairies' Friends

I mentioned above that heather and wild oat, both flowers which are part of the Bach Flower Remedies repertoire, grew in the bog. While there were no distinctive stones there, I know from an experience which is another story altogether that Maeve, Queen of Faery, is fond of rose quartz.

The stones described below had been part of my basic crystal tool kit for years before the Mayo experience, and I feel confident that what I've learned from them was very helpful in this situation.

Green Calcite is the ultimate crystal for me in terms of release. Its soft texture and softer energies seem to whisper "Just let it go." It is especially helpful in helping to dissolve fear-related beliefs.

Sagebrush (FES) is neither soft nor soothing, but it does have the effect of releasing everything which isn't necessary to one's life. I would keep my green calcite nearby while taking it.

Fear was on the agenda at first: a strange, isolated location, followed by the fear of losing money, plus perhaps the fear of the unknown presences who inhabited the place. Charoite is the stone which can help us to release known fears and to discover and release unknown ones.

Mimulus is the Bach Flower Remedy for known fears; while Aspen is for unknown fears. I find if I know the fear, but still feel uneasy, Aspen may be needed in addition to Mimulus.

Guilt was also present in the form of "How could I have been so careless?" Sugilite is the stone I usually work with when guilt is ruining my good time. Pine (Bach) is the flower essence equivalent.

One of the biggest challenges vacationers can face is to be in the present enjoying themselves. Concerns ("I wonder what's going on in the office;" "Are the cats eating?") can distract from present pleasures, and carnelian is one of the most effective stones for grounding us in the here and now. Clematis (Bach) also gives us roots in the present.

Finally, I needed to be reminded that true abundance comes from within, and the stone which most fully teaches this is citrine. Star Thistle (FES) speaks the flowers' version of this important message.

Beyond the Rainbow
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