Tir na nOg is a magical place where, if fairies lived would come to party, dwarfs to tell stories, and angels to meet for supper, knit and swap recipes over homebrew.
It is a place where trees, wild garlic, and cows sit side by side with fairy lights, massage and homemade soap, a place that makes you forget your hangover, traffic lights, and phone. And a place where people meet, laugh and share, while crows nesting above squawk their lungs out.
I was there for fire walking, fire performances, and a very large green man…
The Beltane festival.
I, a virgin fire walker vaguely wondered if it would hurt? My two pals swear by the powers of fire walking. They talked of their first time like I would my first kiss/shag/blowjob (depending on the listener). And they have been back several times; consoling until you think of childbirth-women return to that too.
I mean why walk on coals, what is the point? And if I did find the point, would my feet benefit, loss their cracked skin, soften the callouses, did magic happened on a foot?
It’s not even on my bucket list; not that I have one, apart from leaving a ton of books behind when I am no longer here. But I was curious and had a vague idea for a scene in a future book, so I told myself…
As we prepared to walk, I along with the forty odd walkers listened to the inspiring fire-walking instructor. A woman with Lady Godiva hair that talked with great wit of “burning past shit and walking to greater things”.
I thought I had nothing to burn, I racked my brains over a vegan chapatti. I was already walking towards what I wanted was there something else? And what if I wanted too much and didn’t get it? Would I burn my soul for an empty dream?
We lined up by the coals.
“Jesus,” I said, “it’s red”.
“Red is the colour of womanhood.” Muttered a voice from somewhere.
“Not at my vintage,” I laughed into the midnight air.
I made jokes about flammable foot lotion and nail polish, how I had “I picked a good day to wear flares.”
A few laughed…this was good stuff I thought, fear brings out the comedian in me-better than alcohol.
Of course, I fear everything from old ladies jumping in front of me at co-op queue, to needles, and driving around huge roundabouts-thank God I am not a lorry driver or a diabetic.
I stared into the burning ambers watching everyone line up for their walk. There is something about sharing apprehension while slipping off your shoes amongst strangers in the dark. Blood bank springs to mind and as I laughingly cracked a similar joke the first of the walkers started.
I watched as one prayed before walking, another marched, face serene.
I waited for my turn mentally chanting…
At one with the fire at one with the fire….
I skipped across the burning embers swearing as the fire oblivious to our oneness burnt the soles of my friggin feet.
Standing on the cool wet grass I watched as the others did it again…again!
Some strutting and one like me stumbling with ‘bloody hell that’s hot” look and finally two girls holding hands ending with a tearful hug.
The crowd watched and cheered.
“Marvellous,” said one.
“Wonderful,” said another.
“I walked three times.” Said one virgin.
My feet were burning. There was no way I was walking on that bastard again.
But then I am not a great believer in new begins. I have had as many as I have new hair colours and like hair dye new beginnings never lasts- there is always shit days and shit thoughts and old ladies who queue jump.
Walking on fire didn’t do it for me and I don't have any desire to do any more although my feet do feel a lot cleaner and lighter. But the gathering of people is a beautiful thing and sharing in their hopes, dreams and fears can be life-affirming.
The fire afterward was spectacular, we walked through woods with fire batons. I felt like I was in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, except the only Queen of fairies was in the gift shop.
That next day as I stood in the co-op check out queue my feet crying out for some foot cream, my hubby rang.
“Were you drunk last night,” he said.
I did waffle on a bit about A Midsummer Night’s dream.
“No, but my feet feel fabulously clean,” I said.
“Your feet you need to be kind to that hard skin.” He said.
I thought about my callus did it look just a bit smaller? And was just about to share this revelation with said hubby when before me squeezed a pensioner as old as Midsomer Murders pushing a trolley load.
I brazed myself for the queue jump when she turned, looked at my single purchase of foot cream and said. “you first, I’ll be ages with this lot.”