I am now in Edinburgh on my last day in Scotland. I spent the evening last night with a new American friend from Findhorn and her Scottish fiance named Kevin who live in the city. Alisa toured me around last night as the sun was setting on the city. I got a lot of fabulous pictures that I wish I could post. Esthetically, Edinburgh is stunning. I’ve thouroughly enjoyed wandering around taking pictures of the new and old architecture that seem to co-exist side by side without being obtrusive to the eye. I spent my morning at Edinburgh Castle after a Scottish breakfast. YAY meat! After a week and a half of vegetarian food at Findhorn, I was ready for some bacon. Back to the castle…
It is actually built on a rock on the highest point of the city. Inside the walls, they’ve built war memorials and museums devoted to Scotland’s military history. This is also the place where the crown jewels and the stone of destiny are displayed. I highly recommend the movie THE STONE OF DESTINY for those of you interested in modern Scottish history. The stone was stolen back from England in the 1960s by university students who wanted to buoy Scottish nationalism. Here is the trailer:
I was surprised at how beautiful the stone is. It has silver flecks all over it and really shines. I was told by a Canadian alady at Findhorn that St. Margaret’s chapel at the castle is built on a power point so I went to check it out. It is a modest wee chapel inside the castle walls with beautiful stained glass windows. It is also the oldest building still standing in Edinburgh (c. 1130 CE). I loved walking the Royal Mile to the castle and sitting with a coffee outside listening to the international jazz musicians perform that are now starting to file into the city for the festival. In truth, there are a ton of things to explore here so two days is not enough to really do the city justice.
“Never have we had so much need of storytelling and its healing powers.”
-George Mackay Brown
I spent the afternoon at the Scottish Storytelling Center today speaking to a local storyteller and listening to her spin her tales. I asked her why she thought oral stories were so important. She said that they carry traditions to future generations but they are also a way to teach people about life. Often, these stories are encoded with morals and storytellers can tailor them to the audience and their particular needs and questions. She told me about the Tinker people of Scotland (like gypsies) who are master storytellers and are now giving permission to contemporary storytellers to tell their oral stories so they don’t die out. Ironically, the Church of Scotland is the body that funds the Scottish Storytelling Center here in Edinburgh. It is a non-denominational center. I enjoyed exploring traditional Scottish stories like: Deirdre of the Sorrows, Thomas the Rhymer, St. Columba and St. Magnus, Fin MacCuill, and Bride and Angus.
“Stories are told eye to eye, mind to mind, and heart to heart.”
Then in the evening, I joined Alisa after her photography class at a new gallery that was showing a photography exhibit called THE PURSUIT OF FIDELITY by artists Alexander and Susan Maris. This exhibit is inspired by a 15th Century tapestry in the Burrell Collection in Glasgow that shows a pair of lovers following a stag through the forest. This image captured me immediately as did the theme. The dogs at the lovers’ feet a symbol of loyalty and devotion- a steadfastness that is necessary in any longterm relationship. The caption reads: “we are searching for fidelity and if we find it we would rather live in no dearer time.” The pursuit of fidelity is a search for truth, faithfulness, and accuracy. The artists follow this quest through photographs that are based in nature. I was really taken by the pictures of tree roots that looked like stag antlers and mossy forests that were romantic and enticing. This is not from the exhibit but I liked the image of the stag:
After the exhibit, Alisa and I headed over to a local food place to eat haggis, mash, and greens. Now, with tasty haggis eaten at long last after a 10 year lapse, my trip was complete.
My time in Scotland has altered me and I come home renewed and transformed in many ways by the land, the people, and what I learned about myself, the world, and the universe on my journey here. I will definitely be going on other pilgrimages in the future.
As for my blog, it will continue after I get home so if you want to stay connected to what I am up to, log on every once in a while and share your thoughts with me. I welcome them!