I was visiting my brother and his family in Pen Argyl, PA, in early May 2008. We went to Bealtainne at Columcille while I was there. It was fun, especially for the kids, since there was a May Pole celebration by Thor's Gate. I did a video clip of one of the songs during the Eisteddfod portion. It is when anyone is invited to share a story, song, poem, music or other gift while gathered around the Cauldron Stone. You may have to turn up your volume a little but my little camera did a pretty good job of capturing a really nice song. That guy was good! The Celtics certainly did/do appreciate nature. BTW, my niece with her red hair really fit in, but don't tell anyone that she is half Persian and not Celtic.
The strange legend of Saint Columba and Saint Oran is another example of the cycles of existence, majority vs. minority cultures, and the sacrifices that the latter often must make. When Saint Columba had trouble building a chapel on Iona, his youngest follower who knew the old ways of the island, Saint Oran, volunteered to be a sacrifice to appease the ancient energies there, and was buried in the chapel foundation. When Saint Oran was disinterred after three days, he was found alive! He began to tell what the other side was like and said "there is no such great wonder in death, nor is hell what it has been described" or "the way you think it is may not be the way it is at all," depending on the historical descriptions you read. Columba had him quickly reburied saying "earth, earth on the mouth of Oran, that he may blab no more." Now, when someone mentions an uncomfortable subject in the Hebrides and Ireland, it is still common to silence them with the phrase "throw mud in the mouth of St. Oran."
The Columcille Megalith Park and Celtic Art Center is a short drive from Pen Argyl. As a site of myth and mystery related to Celtic spirituality, Columcille was inspired by the Isle of Iona off the coast of Scotland. It has its origins in Casa Colum (Gaelic for Home of the Dove). Although commonly pronounced locally as "Column-Seal," the original pronunciation is "Column-Keel."
It was founded in 1975 by William Cohea Jr. and Fred Lindkvist as a "salon by the side of the road" where "tired sinners and reluctant saints" could drop by and share their experiences and ideas. Cohea had been inspired by a dream during a visit to the Isle of Iona to create an open space that would welcome people of all faiths and traditions interested in renewal and transformation. It is a place of peace and meditation, to me, reminiscent of Avebury in England. I highly recommend a visit. There is no admission fee.
See The Circle of Stones, which connects energies "back to the future," and the Saint Oran Bell Tower, i.e., The Stones of Voyage. Visit Saint Columba Chapel and its Stone of Centering and Grounding, that touches the "Verb of the Source." Then it's on up the hill through The Glen of the Temple to Thor's Gate, the Guardian of the North Wind. The Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center is adjacent to Columcille (just pass through Thor's Gate and take a left to see the Kirkridge Labyrinth). There is much more. Be sure you get one of the maps.