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Mount Roineabhal Summit Rock Essence


Roineabhal from Ceapabhal. (Photo Gavin Shaw)

This page summarises the principal themes and resonances identified in a symbolic reading of the summit rock's story and from its proving and astrology.

Roineabhal from Ceapabhal. (Photo © Gavin Shaw)

The proving and the astrology of Roineabhal's essence point to an intriguing singularity of purpose. In a nutshell, it appears to catalyse insight into deeply ingrained and entrenched patterns within the psyche, initiating their destruction and transformation into a fundamentally more healthy, authentic and conscious state, balancing rationality and logic with intuition and direct knowing, and allowing, among other things, creative and proactive adaptation to change.

The rock and its essence also appear to have a message. In pulling together all the threads from the story and the proving, I gradually came to understand what this is. Around the time it was all coming together, I prescribed the essence for someone based on some physical symptoms she was suffering. On her third dose of the essence, she reported "Immediately went into rock's memory of being in some sort of ceremony, maybe in a sweatlodge while the rock was in N. America. "All tribes must come together. All the ecosystems of the world are mixing. Invasive species have a place, they are creating new habitats. Something that seems awful now is really the hope."" This, in 4 sentences, is what had just taken me about 4 months of intense work resolving all the disparate threads of the proving and story and almost 4,000 words to articulate! Its timing and its confirmation were perfect.

For a discussion of the similarities and differences between essences and homeopathic remedies, and the respective approaches to the understanding and prescription of each, see the main Provings page.

This proving, between the summary and the proving data, attempts to bridge the two approaches. The summary is a synthesis of both subjective apprehensions and more objective observations, so what follows is an interpretive distillation of my encounters with this rock as dreamer, prover, reader of its story and observer of the effects of its interactions with others. But since no one person can grasp the entirety of a thing, it goes without saying that it remains a partial view, in all senses of the word. Emphasised words refer to principal themes.

Our present consensual 'reality' is an unbalanced, highly fragmented experience of existence which is ultimately unsustainable, and certainly so in the context of the scale of environmental change the Earth is now facing. To be healthy (ie. whole), that understanding of 'reality' needs a thorough defragmentation and rebalancing. This amounts to decapitation – the death of a way of thinking, and hence being, and transfiguration into a unified and integrated reality where yin and yang are in dynamic equilibrium. Roineabhal's essence has the potential to catalyse this process without dying the physical death that literal decapitation implies, though the death of a way of thinking, undertaken voluntarily with less clarity of consciousness in the initial stages, can in some ways be as difficult to endure, particularly in our overly mentalised, ego-ridden and yang-biased western culture. The first reaction is to reject it, run from it, or otherwise avoid it. The mind doesn't give up its most cherished illusions easily and can resist, interpreting the process as 'wrong' or harmful ("..what seems awful now.."). To simply trust and be receptive in the face of the mind's judgement and desire for action can demand a substantial leap of faith. But it doesn't seem to be in the nature of the essence to overwhelm, or to catalyse experiences and processes that are beyond the capacity of the individual to integrate. It might take you out to your limits, wherever they are, but apparently not beyond them. This seems to be confirmed by participants in the Mi'Kmaq sweatlodge returning ceremony who described the rock itself as powerful but yet unusually comfortable.

[There are resonances (as might be expected) with the properties attributed to Labradorite in gemstone healing. Labradorite is associated with seeing through hidden agendas and ulterior motives, especially concerning power, including where there is abuse of power. It is a psychic warriorism stone. See references here, here and here. ]

On Having No Head ...

The summit rock itself is three-sided (discounting the facet created in fracturing it from the mountain). Three-sided figures and the number 3 appear frequently in its story, and the central importance of this number became more and more apparent as the proving progressed. The triangle breaks the polarising opposition of the duality, or polarity. It's also (particularly from the Buddhist perspective) the creative nondual third arising from the union of the initial polarity. Triangulation is used in conflict resolution, and in navigation. In astrological aspects, it's the easiest, natural flow of energy. It's also to do with cutting through (the shape of a primitive knife or an arrow-head).

Summit rock of Roineabhal

"The Roineabhal chart and essence invite us. Are we willing to let go of everything that we think we know, everything that we think we are, and step into the void, into ancient knowing and complete freedom, into our true nature of instant unconditioned presence? The essence beckons us to do so."
Janis Page, Astrological commentary

"Lying awake contemplating these dream images saw a very clear and distinct yin-yang symbol revolving clockwise, just going round and round and round and round. It's about holding both polarities while they revolve and not being caught by either."
Essence Proving Prover 01. Day 38


“ ... Healing this requires far more than cognitive therapies. It takes nothing less than spiritual power. No 'medicine' can go deeper. None is more needed in today's wounded world.”
“ ... modern Scotland doesn't really 'do' sacred mountains. Theologically they're dodgy, and in secular terms they're bonkers! Yet that is what I have heard some folks calling Roineabhal. As one native islander said, 'If it wasn't before, it is now.'”
Alastair McIntosh, Soil and Soul

"The rock is also representative of the spirituality found in our sense of community and the presence of God in nature, regardless of one's religious persuasions."
From July 2005 edition of 'Passages'. Partnership for the Sustainable Development of Digby Neck and Islands Society.

"This remedy could work on the abusive nature in humans. It could change the way we treat ourselves, our lives, others and the planet.";
Essence Proving Prover 03. Day 2

Immediately after collecting the rock for its return to Scotland in 2005 and while working briefly with the people of Digby Neck in their fight against another quarrying enterprise, Alastair McIntosh had 3 powerful, nightmarish dreams, which he related as the essence was being created. Each dream was depicted in a manner which was extreme, shocking, and while each dream had personal relevance for Alastair at that time, the themes also appeared to speak very clearly to the nature of the rock's energy.

Three is, of course, one of the prime numbers sacred to the Celtic goddess popup launcher icon Bhrighde in her triple aspect as maiden, mother and crone. Many of the numbers associated with Bhrighde are still regarded as lucky or unlucky and they are often multiples of three. Some of them are 3, 5, 7, 9, 13, 15, 18, 19, 21, 42 and 72. In pre-Refomation times, Mount Roineabhal was part of the parish of Kilbride – Cill Bhrighde – the church of St Bride. The fight to save the mountain from the threat of destruction took 13 years, with the highest profile landmarks in the battle occuring 3 years (the start of the public inquiry) and 9 years (the public inquiry report's submission to the Scottish Executive and Lafarge's 'human rights' legal challenge) after it began. Stone Eagle's abuse was revealed 7 years after he took the summit rock into sanctuary, and it was also 7 years from that time that the dream fragments which initiated my own involvement in the story occured.

Lane End Down, near Winchester, Hampshire. 10th July 2005 Photo © Steve Alexander

Lane End Down, near Winchester, Hampshire. 10th July 2005. (Photo © Steve Alexander)

As mentioned in the story of the essence, the two public inquiry landmarks were characterised by the quality of being pushy with unconventional points of view in an attempt to turn the apparent prevailing tide of opinion. Alastair McIntosh's use of theological argument at the public inquiry won many (and crucial) hearts in the face of a concluding report that came down in favour of the quarry, and ultimately won the day. Lafarge won their court case and established their 'human rights' in the face of planning refusal by the Scottish Executive and nearly succeeded in overturning that decision. The pattern is reminiscent of the Chinese yin-yang symbol. This alternation between the poles of opinion spiralling through all the layers of hierarchy involved between the irreconcilable opposing factions typifies the entire 13 year course of the proceedings. But what is especially and critically notable about both these landmark arguments is that they each went out on a limb to appeal to heart, rather than head, and the entire saga was ultimately resolved by bringing the headless summit of the opposing hierarchy (the trio of Lafarge vice-presidents) to the headless mountain. (And in my own small part of the story I had also followed my heart rather than my head.)

In many ways this seems to be the heart of the story, the wisdom at the core of the symbolism it contains. Acting without head – ie. with heart – is the means to resolution, graphically depicted in one of Alastair McIntosh's dreams ("..what seems awful now is really the hope") and the sensation of the ripping open of the chest cavity to expose the heart experienced in the proving. And as the summit rock was sitting in Alastair's house in Govan en route between Nova Scotia and its rightful place, an interesting synchronicity occured in the fields of southern England. A very graphic depiction of the medieval 'morning star', a highly effective head-whacking implement; apparently – from the debris surrounding it – in the act of whacking.

Flag of Nova Scotia

Flag of Scotland

The continual to and fro between two polarities so evident in the rock's story is also typical of the bigger picture – the entire history of the relationship between the northwest Highlands of Scotland and Nova Scotia. It's even reflected in the regions' national flags, which are the inverse of each other. People from Scotland, forcibly removed from their land by landlords (who were often incomers from England) during the infamous Highland Clearances, emigrated across the Atlantic and similarly displaced First Nation peoples from their land. The exploited became exploiters. And still it goes on. Now, instead of people being directly displaced by people, peoples on both sides of the Atlantic are threatened by faceless anonymous corporations (albeit ones with 'human rights') whose aim is to displace the very ground itself, grinding it down into roadstone to pave the ways for others, equally faceless, equally anonymous, to displace themselves upon.

But the alternating polarities in the story don't just ping-pong between opposing camps. They spiral on down into single individuals. Would-be exploiters become saviours (the Redland chief executive who moved to WWF UK), and would-be saviours turn out to be exploiters (Stone Eagle). Until finally there is no longer any movement. The polarities are seen to co-exist simultaneously and consciously, almost incomprehensibly stark and extreme, in the man who was both Warrior Chief and Sacred Peace Pipe Carrier; in the goddess who is at once the goddess of healing and the patron of war. It's extraordinarily poetic. The duality inherent in us all. The two legs we stand on. The complex interwoven layers of bi-directional energies, warp and weft, in each and every one of us. It comes back to Stone Eagle's message about cultural healing. About the way in which good and evil are interwoven in us all – the warrior of violence who is also, at some transcendent level, a spiritual warrior.

Yet this is all about the number 2, not 3. Something must be missing.

It was at this point that the picture was invaded, firstly by Bosnians who initially appeared several times in proving dreams and then via the synchronicity of the deaths of former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, both hugely instrumental in uncovering the Bosnian genocide, within a day of each other. Cook's death on the summit of a mountain in the NW Highlands of Scotland had extraordinary poignancy in the context of the proving, seeming to demand that some attention be given to the significance and relevance of all the Bosnian references. Apart from conveying a similar feeling to one of Alastair McIntosh's dreams, I hadn't a clue what it was all about and had to go and study the Bosnian War to bring it into focus. The situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina is one of a tripartite division of ethnicity between Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks, all of whom had co-existed peacefully as part of the Yugoslav Republic, but who, when the possibility of independence was raised, turned on each other in a bitter and bloody conflict in attempts to preempt potential infringements by each on another's perceived physical and cultural territory. Although the fighting is over, deep divisions and bitterness remain. In this situation there is no clear "right" or "wrong": no side's claims have any obvious merit over another's and all sides were accused of atrocities, despite the Serbian actions receiving most attention. (This ambivalence and focus on what constitutes identity is reflected in the dream in which the prover is first shot at, and then welcomed by the Bosnian community, but not as herself, as someone else. The arrival of the frivolous pink Cadillac seems to be a comment on the illusory nature and ultimate unimportance of the issue of identity.) In such a context, the perspective on inter-racial conflict becomes less obviously dualistic. What emerges instead is an image of a country self-destructing at the mere spectre of a potential threat to an idealised notion of independent and separate identity, showing very clearly that such pursuits lead only to fragmentation and collapse.

The second invaders were the Vikings, who found their way into the story through the tripartite division of the anorthosite pluton of which Roineabhal was originally part. Their symbolic depiction in popular consciousness as archetypal raiders and pillagers underlines the fact that the patterns of this story have been, and are still, seen the world over, over and over since life first began. The same patterns can be observed between species in any ecosystem you care to examine. The mutually exploitative co-dependent inter-species equilibrium is upset by new species who invade the territory, shattering the conception of how things are and/or 'should' be. Resisting or being unable to adapt to the redefined nutritive cycle of the invaded ecosystem risks exhaustion and possibly extinction without the ability to draw on energy from another source. This process was very precisely depicted in the successive imagery of Alastair McIntosh's three dreams. It's the process of evolution, pure and simple. Whether it's good or bad or right or wrong depends only on which side you're looking at it from, which is rooted in the fundamental nature of dualism, the cornerstone of our experience of existence (though not of existence itself).

So what makes this story in any way exceptional or different? The answer, of course, is nothing. What this rock and its story achieves in the perfection of its poetry is to tell it as it is, without value judgement, and in doing so, reveal the inner third dimension to the outer dualistic impasse, allowing us to triangulate, to find our way. It takes by the horns the dilemma which Alastair McIntosh summed up in his words "And that’s the difficulty with spiritual activism. It means running with the handicap of whatever your own limp might be plus, typically, that of whoever’s running with you. What’s more, it usually means running on empty."

This dilemma is what precipitates the Zen whack on the side of the head – the metaphorical decapitation. Because as the myth of the 'wounded healer' teaches, our 'limp' is simultaneously our key to redemption and our greatest talent. It's our passion: both crucifixion and inspiration. It's the poison that heals, the Phoenix's fire. And running on empty is not an option, leastways not if you want to keep running. Spiritual activism is as much about inner work as outer: about using the experience of outer life as a mirror to the inner state, reflecting on the prima materia of our own particular limp. And in a continual alchemical process of potentisation – solve et coagula, solve et coagula – forge it into the Philosopher's Stone, the rock on which we build our inner church to commune with the entirety of existence.

The healing of a fragmented conception of existence enables the doing of the work without attachment (the mirror reflects everything and takes on nothing), channeling and directing the abundant energies inherent in the situation without using up our own. As esoteric knowledge in a number of traditions attests, this can only be done through heart and mind combined, not the mind alone. The mind divides the world up into fragments: self and other, black and white, subject and object, heart and mind, body and soul, living and non-living, God and man, Christianity, Buddhism, Psychology, Alchemy, Mythology, Shamanism, Viking, Gael, Mi'Kmaq, Serb, Croat, Bosniak ... which, if it's not too careful, each start to take on the appearance of having autonomous and separate existence. Seeing the world as fragmented, and its own domain as limited to individuality, the mind can only exist on its own wits and resources. In contrast, heart-centred awareness only experiences oneness, connection; ultimately with the entirety of existence. It has access to all the energy there is, but of itself has no intelligence or will to direct it. The marriage of heart and mind is what healing is all about.

It is this inner process of healing, making whole, that the essence of the summit rock of Mount Roineabhal appears to address. (Its astrological chart underlines this by displaying an extraordinarily uncommon degree of integration.) The essence seems to catalyse conscious awareness of our inherent dualism, bringing insight to the source of our problems, healing the fragmented conception of ourselves and our environment, replacing judgement with discernment and understanding, and freeing awareness from the mind's continual flip-flop to and fro to see that the simultaneous co-existence of opposing polarities within us is the normal state of the mind, and that what is good or bad or right or wrong can be determined by something as arbitrary as which side of the fence we find ourselves on when we fall out of bed in the morning and is, in fact, largely illusory. It balances yin and yang by restoring the yin matrix to equal value with the yang (see chart). It reveals the larger truth beyond, the one seen from the eagle's eye view. It helps complete the triangle, effectively giving us an invisible third leg to stand on – a considerably more stable configuration than just two. It entails working with our deepest Wound; going right into the heart of it, which is as much the heart of darkness as it is the heart of light ... “During the darkest moments in your life, you'll find that even your shadow is gone.” This is not a process for the faint-hearted. Neither for the weak-willed because it is all too too easy to become distracted and fragmented again. As one prover wrote, "I am continuing with the essence and it's rough, but in a very good getting down to basics way [...] The different thing about this essence's effect is it tears into and down my carefully compartmentalized emotional boxes that I constructed to shelter myself from the actual pain of my life and situation."

This is real spiritual activist medicine, because it reveals that health lies in realising that it's our fragmentary conception of existence that is the root of our dis-ease. It is indeed a most holy and sacred thing, because holy and healthy are, in the last analysis, the same thing. Both are derived from the same Old English root word 'hale' meaning 'whole'. "I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together" and even "I am He as you are He as you are me and we are all together."

It wasn't until I'd come to this stage that I started to think about Stone Eagle again. It was so easy to marginalise him after the revelation of his abuse. To somehow distance him from the story in which he'd played such a central role. Our culture tends to vilify fallen heroes, but that vilification has more to do with our tendency to make heroes of men in the first place, such that when they reveal themselves as mere men – which is all they ever were – we're hugely disappointed. Yet this goes further still, because the crime he was guilty of is among the most reprehensible acts a human being can commit towards another. It's extreme, shocking – the signature of the energy again. It was then that I realised that he is still playing a central role. In the admission of his crimes against another individual, the atonement (at-one-ment), and the healing process he is undertaking in the house of his tribe's erstwhile enemies (who have made him a keeper of a sacred healing mask – no ordinary honour), he continues to exemplify what this energy is about. Alastair said to me that he found it enormously hard to comprehend how Sulian had been able to maintain the compartmentalisation that allowed him, with all that he knew, to perpetrate and live with this abuse of another, yet in truth we most of us have areas of our lives that are so deeply fragmented that they persist in virtual autonomy.

Mount Roineabhal, whether in the guise of her entirety (to those who were inspired to save her), her summit rock (to those that became its guardians) or its essence (to those who've taken it) has already demonstrated enormous power to facilitate not just the healing of individuals, but communities as well. Whether you attribute that power to the mountain, the rock it's made from, or to the goddess who's parish it used to stand in matters not in some ways. What matters is, as Art Solomon, Ojibway Elder of the Waseskun Healing Lodge says of their work there, "There is a timing to everything, just like a giant wheel that is turning. Everything happens at its own appropriate time. That is the only way it happens. No matter how much we have tried in the past to bring things together, as little as we knew about them, they could not happen. We are doing what we are doing here because it is the time for it. One of the things that we seem not to notice or take account of is that the spirit people are helping us. We still have to do the work, but they are helping us. [...] That is why things are happening now. They couldn't have happened before, not in the way they are happening today."


Prayer to Bhrighde

As it was,
As it is,
As it shall be Evermore,
O Thou Triune Of grace!
With the ebb,
With the flow,
O Thou Triune of grace!
With the ebb,
With the flow.

collected by Alexander Carmichael The Sun Dances: Prayers and Blessings from the Gaelic.

Personal Note

There is a part of me that's still a bit bemused, and finds the manner in which I came to be involved in this story hard to really believe because it's so far removed from the 'reality' that majority consensus is comfortable defining as the limits of human experience. Celtic goddesses calling people to service in dream riddles and sending wild animals with messages in both dreams (see Proving page) and actuality is the stuff of myth and legend – which some would have us believe is mostly the invention of over-active Victorian or 'New Age' imaginations anyway. But in any case such experiences are mostly disparaged, denied and rejected; by many homeopaths just as much as by others of a more conventional outlook. Still others of a more poetic turn of mind might accept the Celtic goddess and her riddles but reject the idea of homeopathy and essences. We all have cracks and schisms in our personal concepts of 'reality'.

The hardest part of all has been coming to terms with the fact that I should be deserving of such a potent and direct encounter with the divine feminine, and the gifts that have come with it. A true test of "aude sapere", particularly in view of subsequent challenges. Yet I do dare to know. This kind of knowing is rooted too deep to be perturbed by the relatively personalised aspects of existence.

One thing's for sure: the more I come to know about it, the less I realise I know, and sometimes it seems so clear that we each are just tiny pawns in a much much bigger game. Our cherished illusion of free will seems quite laughable. The call to balance the rational with the intuitive is strong, and to approach the boundaries of our individual realities with a far more open and inclusive frame of mind to build bridges within and between cultures, peoples and perspectives; to accept all for who they are, not what stereotypes or reflections of our own shadows they might be seen to represent – "All tribes must come together". It feels an enormous privilege to be part of this story, and personally I'm delighted to know that such spiritual energies are alive and well and working in our lives today, no matter how improbable and unbelievable it may seem. Life is so lifeless without them.

I hope I can do justice to the personal gifts I've received as a result of this proving, and that they'll bear fruit that conveys some of the richness and sweetness of the pollination.


© Wendy Howard, November 2005
Homeopathic Provings | Mt Roineabhal Summit Rock Essence | Summary
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