I went into the Otherworld… and survived!

A couple of months ago, David Halpin of Circle Stories invited me to join him in a discussion of all things Irish and ancient with Anthony Murphy of Mythical Ireland, the man who discovered Drone Henge last summer. In front of a live audience. Who had bought tickets for the privilege. Gulp. And in a reckless moment of madness, I agreed!

I consoled myself with the facts that: a) it was a small audience, and b) that really, they were coming to see Anthony, who has become an international celebrity following his discovery, and c) David, who I had already met, was a kind and genuine person who was skilful in managing these events. In my younger days, I lived by the mantra, ‘never let an opportunity go by’, but while my knowledge has increased since then, my confidence has diminished. Time to confront my fear, I told myself.

I spent the days prior to the event ‘revising’ and writing up key points in my little red notebook in case, on the night, the facts flew out of my head, just like they do when I sit down to an exam. On the night, I clutched that little red notebook like a fanatic clutches a holy book, but I didn’t open it once.

Circle Stories is the Facebook page belonging to David Halpin. David humbly describes it as a ‘Folklore resource relating to the ancient Irish sites of Wicklow, Carlow and eastern Ireland. Sacred sites, mythology and local history’. He is also a contributor to Ancient Origins, The Wild Hunt, New Dawn Magazine & various Fortean publications, and manages The Occult Book Review. If you are reading this post, I think you’d like his work, so make sure and check him out by clicking the links.

Anthony of Mythical Ireland needs no introduction, I think, after his spectacular discovery of Drone Henge last summer. Anthony is a journalist, author and researcher. His website ‘represents a journey into the ancient past, and attempts to cast new light on a sometimes obscure period of the early history of Ireland. This exploration takes place through many different disciplines, which include, but are not limited to, archaeology, anthropology, astronomy, mythology, spirituality and geodesy’. If you don’t already follow him, just click the link above. You can find out more about Drone Henge HERE.

So… what did we talk about? I’ll let David tell you that:

The questions and observations from the audience were both thought-provoking and clearly from a place of long study and passion.

As the talk progressed we moved from questions regarding the purpose of our national monuments to how they have been understood over time. Anthony spoke about his own feelings regarding his recent discovery, along with Ken Williams, of the so called ‘Dronehenge.’ 

Ali spoke about Tara and her own research regarding an overlooked ceremonial function as well as the concept of sensory depravation while walking through the ancient ‘pathways’.

The conversation turned to how women have been written out of ancient Irish history in many instances, especially with regard to ‘Royal’ sites and how we should always remember the motivation of later writers when it comes to Irish mythology.

Anthony spoke about ancient art and why our understanding of non-representational forms may not be as abstract as we think.

Our conversation discussed the practice of excarnation and how the dead were both interred and preserved at ancient sites. We also spoke about why our ancient monuments were as much about the living and, indeed, life, as much as they have been presented as places of the dead.

We discussed the animistic principles behind some of our indigenous spiritual beliefs and how they might link to an almost holographic concept of consciousness and the universe itself.

Ali spoke about the concept of metempsychosis/ reincarnation and how this belief may have influenced the ancient Irish people. The concept of ancestors and the dead naturally led us to the topic of ‘the good people’ and how elusive trying to define them can be. We spoke about the nature of the soul as understood by many ancient cultures and how this in itself might give us a clue regarding the appearance of fairies both at ancient Irish sites as well as how they manifest in our folklore and mythology.

The conversation flowed easily from one topic to another all the while being explained and examined by two incredible speakers and writers.

We spoke about time itself and how we understand it today and how it may have been measured and understood in ancient times. From the precession of the equinoxes to the identity of the ancient Irish and from the connection between Brigid and Danu to Anthony’s mesmerising discussion of Cygnus and Newgrange, it was an exhilarating evening.

Of course, there was so much more and, as I mentioned, some personal and insightful contributions from a packed house and wonderful audience.

David Halpin, Circle Stories

For me, the event was a huge learning curve, and an experience I greatly enjoyed, once I got over my initial dry mouth and nerves! Anthony and David are both natural speakers, with a wealth of knowledge between them. My mind only went blank twice, which was better than I expected! The audience were lovely, and so engaged, asking lots of questions and offering up information from their own research, and the atmosphere overall was informal and relaxed. I was happy to meet David again, and Anthony for the first time. I also got to meet and chat with some of the audience, and I’d particularly like to give a shout out to Tara, who drove all the way from Belfast, and Jessica, who drove three hours from Kerry, and back again, afterwards.

Would I do it again? Well I certainly left on a high, and it was definitely worth the angst and nerves beforehand. One of the best things was being in a room full of people all interested in the same things as me, so yes… probably… if a similar opportunity ever arises.

My thanks to David for inviting me to take part; to Anthony, who I finally got to meet after all these years, and to everyone in the audience who took the trouble to join us, I hope you enjoyed the evening. Also, thanks to Yvonne, of the wonderful and impressive Naas Holistic Centre, where the event took place. If there is a next time, I will have to have a treatment first to relax me and calm my nerves!

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39 Comments on “I went into the Otherworld… and survived!

    • Haha! You’re funny! I don’t like the sound of my own voice. Watching myself on a dvd would be torture! 🀣 I much prefer to hide behind a book or a blog.


      • Ali, are you telling me that the woman who met the Great Queen in her lair fears anything? Now, if you were teaching college students I would understand your reluctance.


  1. Pingback: I went into the Otherworld… and survived! – Randomness

  2. Pingback: I went into the Otherworld… and survived! β€” aliisaacstoryteller – Randomness

  3. Sounds like it was a great experience Ali. As Craig ^^ says, presentation skills can only come with practice. Well done, in front of a paying audience as well.
    I’ll shortly be doing a bit of volunteer tour guiding over here (Jersey) at Mont Orgueil, our historic castle. While doing necessary research it became apparent how much more people were accustomed to, and familiar with, death in days gone by. They had a closer relationship with the grave and what might lie beyond. Only kings seemed to live to a ripe old age πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, but also in Ireland at any rate, there was so much competition for the king’s power, the poor king didn’t live long either! 🀣 Good luck with the guiding job, I’m thinking of doing a bit of that myself now uni is coming to an end. Nice to chat to you, Roy!


    • Hi Karina, what a beautiful website you have, your poetry is beautiful! I will have to spend more time there. 😊 I wish we could have met afterwards, I too have been writing a collection of the myths from the perspective of the female protagonists, I think we would have had a very interesting chat! Thank you so much for being part of the event. And I agree, that was amazing for me, as I am not surrounded by people who share the same interests in my daily life, so it was a unique and treasured experience for me. Xxx


    • Very positively, Christine! I wish we could have spent longer on it. All these so called Royal Sites are all named after women, Tara after Tea, Emain Macha after Macha, Etc. Yet still they are sites of male kingship? Your idea makes more sense to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good for you. I’m sure it was a rewarding experience. It’s always good to “feel the fear and do it anyway”!! Wish I could have been there. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  5. WOW. That video is something else. And what a grand opportunity for you, to speak at such an event.
    It’s hard to believe that this December it will have been ten years since I visited Ireland. I’d like to be able to go back and have a chat with you, but I need to be realistic and acknowledge that my travel days are over (even in my own country).
    That’s what makes sites like yours so valuable. Thank you for sharing what you’ve learned about the ancients.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your kind words, Christine. But maybe your travelling days aren’t over yet. I don’t quite know your personal circumstances, but you could get assistance through the airports and on and off the plane. We have to do it when we travel with Carys. But the CPap might be more of an issue, do you still use it?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, yes, CPAP and I are lifelong companions, now. Obstructive Sleep Apnea can’t be cured except sometimes by surgery (which is not an option for me), so my machine has to go where I go. Because of that, a CPAP machine is exempt from airline carry-on luggage restrictions. It’s my other disabilities (which are legion) that would make it difficult, if not impossible, for me to travel anymore. I’d need to bring with me a regular retinue to dance attendance on me!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ah Queen Christine and her team of attendants, why not? You deserve it! 😊 Well, you live in the digital age, you are globally connected. You are never further away than the click of a mouse! 😊

          Liked by 1 person

  6. I am just sick that I couldn’t be there. I had no doubt you could do this, and I only wish you would gather your fellow experts and do it for a much larger crowd. And wait until I arrive in Ireland! Ah, if only someone had recorded it so I could watch. And, Miss Ali, didn’t you surprise yourself on how much you knew and were able to share?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am only aware of how little I know, Robin. But still, I know more than I did before! πŸ˜„ I’ll share what I know when I see you in August.


  7. Seems to me I had a dream about you doing public speaking, had it months ago. You got stuck and began repeating yourself, like stuttering. I awoke with the outcome unresolved. I’m so glad you accepted this challenge and came out victorious. Hooray for you!

    Liked by 1 person

      • It’s been one darn thing after another, like in a bad western novel. I’ve had a house fire, refrigerator blew somehow. No one was hurt, luckily. I’m staying in a hotel for another couple of weeks, then I move into a trailer on my property. It’s just one of those things. Could happen to anyone, but this time it was me. Seems like life has dumped on me quite a lot, but I haven’t stopped to count my blessings. It can always be worse than it already is.


        • Oh Rob! I’m so sorry to hear that. How awful for you. How long will it take to rebuild your home? I hope you won’t be in the trailer too long. Fair play to you for counting your blessings and staying so strong and positive.

          Liked by 1 person

          • On the outside, they’re saying six months, and the rebuilding hasn’t even started yet. The positive is that I get a remodel for free. When it is done, I hope to see the inside of the house a lot lighter. There is some brown wall paneling I always hated.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Ok, so there is a silver lining. I hope your builder is good at sticking to budgets and time schedules. Six months seems manageable for a trailer. I’m glad you are well and no one was hurt.

              Liked by 1 person

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