~ Ceolanna ~ She Who Bears Gifts of the Soul
From 2004 to 2007, I lived and worked at the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland, where I had the pleasure of meeting artist Phyllida Anam-Aire, a beautiful, ageless Celtic woman from Ireland.
My study group met once a week in the afternoon, a large group of 40. One afternoon, Phyllida was the guest speaker. She sat in the middle of our circle with her musical instruments, scarves, and shamanic traveling purse. We were enthralled and captured by her melodious voice and Irish childhood stories within minutes. Phyllida said women were given 28 days to make essential decisions in traditional Ireland. Should I marry this man? Should I move away? Should I be a teacher?
Phyllida also said we all have a soul name in addition to our given name. So I asked, “how do we find our soul name?” She looked at me with mischief and kindness. “Well, I was trained in the order of St. Brigit, the patroness saint of Ireland, and I can find your name in her early pagan ways. Are you ready to know your name?”
I laughed a small laugh and asked, “do I have 28 days to decide?” I knew I did not. So after the tea break and a walk around Cluny garden, I told Phyllida I was ready. She asked the group if they would witness and participate in my initiation. Everyone was. She asked the group to go into meditation and prepare the inner space.
Then, she took me out of the circle and cleansed me, brushing me, blowing on me, pulling my hair, “let go of the pain, the suffering, yours from this life and before, your mother’s pain, your grandmother’s sorrow. I silently wept, my face drenched. I had surrendered to her healing hands. Then, after a long time, she brought me back to the circle’s center. She made a throne for me and sat me down, adorned with scarves, beads, and feathers.
Then Phyllida told us she was ready to go and call my name. She asked that we not be alarmed if she made sounds and gestures. Then, she stepped out of the circle and went into a chant and a trance. When she came back, she said:
“Your soul name is Ceolanna” (kee-OLAN-nam). It means Bearer of Gifts of the Soul. May you be known as such. With Saint Brigit’s blessing, I give you the gift of Discernment”. Such gifts! And it went on.
Phyllida asked the group to come one by one to me and bring me the one gift that each person most wanted in their lives. So for the rest of the afternoon, I was blessed by my fellow travelers with Love, Healing, Courage, Tenderness, Truth, Beauty, Wisdom, Joy, Forgiveness, Vision and much more.
Everyone in the circle, younger/older, man/woman, was split open; it was, in fact, a collective initiation. The following hours and days were otherworthy. So many left sweet notes on the communication board in Cluny, thanking me, blessing me, and offering to do my chores while I landed back on earth. I felt deeply seen, loved and protected. For all that, I give thanks.