Amantha Murphy is a Shamanic Healer & Teacher who follows the path of the Goddess. She started her work professionally in 1971 as a clairvoyant and moved into trance mediumship and healing within three years. Since then she has worked with, and continues to work with, groups and individuals here in Eire, in the UK, in Canada and the USA. Her passion is the Land and returning to HER story – working through the Grandmothers and the “Shining Ones”, the Tuatha de Danann. She has been running Sacred Pilgrimages successfully in Ireland since 1992 and returned full time to her roots in Co Kerry, Ireland in 1997. Amantha facilitates workshops on a variety of subjects including: “Pre-Celtic Shamanism, levels 1, 2 & 3”; “ Astro Drama”, “Rites of Passage”, “Faces of the Goddess” & “the Arcane teaching of the Tarot” for women; meditation groups and woman’s groups. Amantha also works with the sacred ceremonies around the Celtic Wheel and is available as a Dula. Amantha’s teachings come from her Spirit and ancestral teachers.
My passion has always been the Land and stories. The Land has always been my saviour, my protectress, and my mother. It was to Her I would turn to when in fear or pain. It was in Her arms I grew. It’s what kept me alive. It was the only thing that was real to me in my growing years. The only thing that fed me, spiritually, and it fed my yearning, it fed my needs. It gave solace to my pain. It brought beauty into my life. It brought life. It was the only time I felt life touch me because I had withdrawn at a very early age. I found it very difficult dealing with other peoples’ emotions and the energy of that was too much for me. I found it just too difficult to deal with. We lived, like thousands of other Irish families, in Kilburn, London and for most immigrants at that time this dislocation from the land brought disruption and a dislocation from themselves.
We would return to Ireland every year from when I was a babe in arms, and throughout the year it was the whole focus of the family. Often my brother and I would come over with the first relative in the summer and come back with the last. So hearth and home was always here in Ireland. It was important for us to reconnect with the land and our people. My Grandmother would always be waiting for us and the fire would always be lit, the kettle over the fire would always be bubbling, the fresh bread would always be made that day and on the table, neatly covered by a tablecloth, still warm, having been cooked in the cauldron. My Grandmother at four foot two inches (my Mother four foot six) was ‘one of the little people’ and always wore black with a black shawl, which she would put over her head when she went out, with little black lace-up shoes. She was a very slender woman with pure white silvery hair. Her features small, but her hands were big, just as her heart was. Her passion was for life itself. She loved people. She loved the Land. The Land for her was the mother and it was my Grandmother who gave me the gift of that – the gift of the awareness of the earth as my Mother.
People would come to my Grandmother, they would come with their needs and even children would ‘bunk off’ school to spend a day with her and she never told on them. She was a healer and a midwife and it’s said that she brought sixty-three children into the world and she never lost one. After the births Granny would then live on the farm, with the family, until the woman was back on her feet again. She would do all the jobs that the woman had done, until the woman was able to resume her role, so she became everybody’s Granny. The whole community held her in that sense and they took care of her. She was kept, until the day she died, with milk, eggs, vegetables and meat from the kills – chicken, pork and lamb – plus of course the greatest food of all, love and company.
My Granny would take me out onto the land, to talk to the fairy folk, taking our offerings of bread, butter and sugar sandwiches, which she said they liked the sweetness of, and sour cream, which she always maintained, they liked “better than porter”! We would go out onto the land and there were special places that for her held the energy. We would sit and commune with the fairy folk and the Shining ones – the Tuatha De Danann. I visit those places in Pilgrimage, even to this day; along with other sites I have been drawn to or called to, by Her nature. When I used to return from London, the first thing I would do, was to run out into the field and lie on my back on the grass with my legs and arms open, like a star, and breathe. I would lie there until I would become the field. I would feel the hill holding me. I would become the hill and, then the valley; all the way up to the mountains and only then I felt truly home. Home in Her arms – safe. That for me was my Mother. It was the only time I was ‘home’.
When I was sixteen, the voice I had always spoken to, who I called SHE or HER, spoke to me here in the Land and told me I couldn’t live in Ireland, that I had to go and learn. At the time that was very painful, it broke my heart. So… that’s what I did. I had grown up with these spirit friends but at the age of twelve I had an eye operation for double vision, which I had had since birth. Looking back I can now see how this emphasised my ability to ‘walk between the worlds’. After the operation I stopped ‘seeing spirit’, it disappeared and then at the age of sixteen it all came back to me. By seventeen I started doing palmistry for friends and once I started talking, words would just flow. Mediumship developed from this. I grew up very quiet, very shy and this kept me outside of people’s awareness, which suited me. They didn’t notice me and that’s exactly how I wanted life to be. Strangely however, when I stood in front of an audience as a developing medium, something would shift, I would become completely calm and clear, allowing my eyes to linger over the sea of faces. One face would become close to me and I intuitively knew that this person was the one who I should link with – which I did spontaneously. I would hear voices and see the spirit friend or family member. I knew that I could never have done anything like that myself; I would have been too frightened. This for me was one of the things that really proved to me the validity of the work, as I alone would never have chosen to work in this way and be visible to so many. It was only in looking back many years later that I realized it was my lesson to have faith in Spirit, standing in front of all those people.
By the age of 22 I had started trance mediumship – going into a state of meditation and allowing my guide or spirit teacher to come through and talk through me. I also started running development groups. I had many parents who came to me after the death of a child and I felt blessed to be able to help. For them to realize their child’s spirit lived on brought them great relief and peace.
There were of course cynics who suggested I was making it up. It never bothered me, as I truly believe if people do not want to believe, no matter how much evidence you give them, they are never going to believe and likewise if people want to believe, no matter how little evidence you give them they will believe. You will meet people who are discerning and that is the state I like best; people question you because they want to know more. I think that is a very healthy place to be.
My life, like the wheel that continues to turn, brought me back again to Ireland to Honour Her nature.
I went to a psychotherapy conference in Killarney 10 years ago. It was the first time we had had an ‘alternative’ conference. I was so delighted that I decided to attend. There were many people from the USA. I met some women who asked me to take them to some of the sacred sites on the land and I panicked. I went into the bathroom, and turning inwards asked, “What do you want me to do, Great Mother, what do you want of me here?” In response I heard the words, “Bring them in Pilgrimage”. I came out and said, “Yes I will take you to the sites, we will first meditate together and I would ask you to open yourself to the energy of the Land”. Thus the next phase of my journey began. I wondered how I would feel taking people to my sacred, private, personal places- and I loved it. I loved sharing it with these women. I loved seeing the way they moved and grew, how they had their experiences and how it affected them. One woman who had been away from Ireland for many years just cried and cried at one of these places, she felt home again, it brought her back to herself. Another was able to talk about things she had never talked about to anybody. Opening to the Land in this way brought about shifts within, and an awareness of these shifts.
Reconnecting to the Land reconnects us to ourselves. Being held by the Land brings deep healing, being held by the deep love of the Mother. When you can do that, huge healing and releasing takes place. Often no words are necessary; you move beyond the mind to the depth of the pain and ‘know’ you are heard, held and understood.
I have focused these pilgrimages just for women, as I have found this allows us to go much deeper. Women feel safer with other women. Most importantly it also evokes the ancient sisterhood, where we can be there for each other, where we can grieve together, we can laugh together, we can hold each other in a place of safety. The women are encouraged to go through the archetypes. Ireland holds the energy of the Great Goddess in Her many faces and the feminine energy in Ireland is very powerful. As we reconnect with the Land and Her many sacred places we move instinctively into re-membering, through the archetypes, and the myths and legends of the land. This can also draw forth in women, aspects of the shadow; the dark Goddess and the Wild Woman as well as, the Child, Mother and Crone aspects. Through Pilgrimage these aspects are invoked just by attuning with the land and the inner work we share together.
Women need to be ready for storytelling, to be taken to the inner sanctum, rather than the well-known sites. That is why we start the Pilgrimage with a Shamanic weekend allowing us to open gently to our ancestral teachers and totems and to reveal the patterns we might like to work with throughout the ten days. We also open to the aspects of the Goddess that we might find difficult or threatening. We come in song, in ceremony and at times in silence as we begin to open to those aspects of Her nature which bring us to those aspects of ourselves. Some evenings we continue the process, together in circle, drawing forth the sensitive, playful child, the young hopeful woman, the hardworking mother, the wise ancient hag and most especially, the wild, dark passionate Creatrex.
Some of the sites we go to are places that have always been known as places of sacredness in Ireland. We go to stone circles, sacred wells, and dolmens, specific rivers and lakes abounding in stories and the myth. When we go to these places I tell the stories of the land, as the Land knows them, as the Stone People hold them in these places and that invokes in us our memories, for stories of the Land are there to remind us. The Stone People are the storytellers and connect with the bones in our own bodies, which also hold the stories of our people. The Tree Brethren hold our interconnectedness with the Land and remind us that we do indeed walk on the bones of our ancestors. The streams, lakes and rivers hold our deep remembering – and pain -of how this Land once was, and still is on another dimensional level. Often they call us to journey to Tir na nOg, or Tir na Ban. The wind whispers their words to us. All of nature sings of Her and She is indeed calling us home. Home to the sacredness of the Land. Home to the intertwining of Her body – our bodies. She calls again for us to re-member – and so we respond by gathering in community to come in Pilgrimage.
I have been asked many times why this Pilgrimage is exclusively for women and my reply is that women often need to find themselves first and go through a process of deep communion within themselves, of expressing their natures, honouring those various aspects within themselves, becoming one unto themselves, that which I term the ‘sacred marriage’, a necessary prerequisite before they can really be in balance.
Much of my other work, the Shamanic workshops, the Celtic Wheel and the ceremonies therein are for both men and women – and I lead other Pilgrimages for both men and women. Yet this Pilgrimage I am writing of is for women, it is part of our ‘ re-membering’. Men are beginning to find sacred places for their own initiations, and this is beneficial. We applaud that. Men too are on a journey, of finding themselves and honouring their masculinity in a positive and life affirming way.
Our Pilgrimages are filled with fun and laughter. Sometimes it does seem a bit worthy in the first 24 hours, but we lose that very quickly. We have great fun, we have great laughter. Funny things do to happen along the way! For example, one woman who was very intense found a place to connect and tune in to. As she did so, a dog ran up and seemed to mistake her for a tree! It certainly broke up the intensity!
There is nothing closer to the Spirit than laughter.
I have been facilitating Pilgrimages for 13 years now and it’s always been a magical, sacred and playful experience. We come together as women and through the experiences we move on as Sisters, changed and awakened. The pilgrimage is often a respite from the women’s daily lives, and we have to honour those needs for relaxation, play and, of course, there is always time for retail therapy!
The group unfailingly finds its own harmonious direction; if there is a group that wants to do more inner work then that is what we follow and if the group feels the call to go to more sites then this is the route we take.