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The Galaxy on Earth: A Traveler's Guide to the Planet's Visionary Geography The Galaxy on Earth: A Traveler's Guide to the Planet's Visionary Geography ( Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing, 2002). Footnotes deleted.

Iona Island , Scotland

Physical description : It's a tiny island, barely 1 1/2 miles wide by 3 miles long and all of 1,897 acres off the coast of the Hebridean Island of Mull in southwestern Scotland, but it is said to be the first Christianized site in Scotland and a major pilgrimage destination since the 7 th century, today attracting an estimated 130,000 visitors a year. And the rocks on Iona's western end may be four billion years old, some the oldest on the Earth. In all, not many more than 100 people live permanently on Iona, although people have been living here since 4,000 B.C.

Iona folklore holds that the island was so sacred that at one time even the soil was considered holy. The early Scottish rulers and Highlands chieftains were buried on Iona in what is now called St. Oran's cemetery, and evidence suggests that French, Irish, Pictish, even Norse royalty desired and obtained an Iona interment. Local legend says that 48 Scottish kings were buried here in St. Oran's Chapel cemetery….

Historical and Archeological : There is a fair amount of discussion and uncertainty about the origin and original meaning of the island's name. "The very name Iona rings in our ears with the sea-sound of man mysteries," commented Eleanor C. Merry, a Celtic researcher and mystic in her famous work on the Celtic soul, The Flaming Door.

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Early Ogham inscriptions referred to the island as Ioua, after a Moon goddess, but other early sources said it was HyBrasil (Island of Beauty or Worth), or simply Hy, an earthly paradise found far out at sea, or perhaps a reference to the otherworldly Tir na nOg (the Land of Youths or the Ever-Young). Druid maps listed Iona as Innis nan Druidnean (or Innis na Druineach), the Isle of Druids, possibly because it is believed that at one time the island was covered with oak trees, sacred to the Druids, and had 350 standing stones, megalithic structures frequented by Druids. Of course the island was also often referred to as I Choluim Chille, or Colum Cille's (St. Columba the Dove's) island….

Probably the most significant event in Iona's known history was the arrival in 563 of the man who became its resident Christian saint, the Irish Columba, the Dove, also known as Columcille. He was a simple and innocent man who "gave to the Holy Ghost a dwelling-place in himself by his dove-like ways," said Adamnan, the Ninth Abbot of Columba's monastery and the 7 th century author of Life of Saint Columba….

When St. Columba prayed on a hill called Sithean Mor (now known as Cnoc Angel (Hill of Angels), a multitude of "citizens of the heavenly country clad in white robes and flying with wonderful speed" stood around him. Once he spent three days sequestered in his home where the grace of the Holy Ghost was "communicated to him abundantly and unspeakably" and his house was filled with "heavenly brightness." It was widely rumored that he possessed many arcane and occult secrets "hidden from men since the beginning of the world."

When St. Columba, "the pillar of many churches," died, all of Iona was "resplendent with the brightness of angels," who descended to the island "in countless numbers to bar his soul away." One contemporary of St. Columba said an immense pillar of fire appeared at midnight at the eastern tip of the island, ascending upwards "to illuminate the whole earth like the summer sun at noon."

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Mystics and Tourists : Writing about Iona in 1910, Scottish mystic Fiona Macleod said the island is the "metropolis of dreams," offering a "singular blending" of the energies and light of paganism, romance, and spiritual beauty. To truly relate the history of Iona, Macleod said, "is to go back to God, and to end in God." In terms of spiritual geography, Iona is the Mecca of the Gael; it is "the one bit of Eden that had not been destroyed."

MacLeod said he sometimes dreamed of the old prophecy that said Christ would revisit Iona, or make it the site of his Second Coming and that the "little Gaelic island may become as the little Syrian Bethlehem" to that event. The Divine Spirit would come again to Iona as the Daughter of God, in the form of "Divine Womanhood upon the human heart," and when St. Bride (the 6 th century Celtic Bridgid) revisited Iona she would come to bind the hair and wash the feet of the Bride of Christ, Macleod wrote.

One night MacLeod had a majestic vision of the Divine Forges of God at Iona. He had been to a sermon in which the minister said God would hammer the evil out of the human soul like a blacksmith at an anvil. Iona is God's anvil, and God is the blacksmith - but who knows the way to the Divine Forges?

One day Macleod sat upon Sliav Starr (The Hill of Noises) facing the westernmost part of the island, Port-na-Churaich (The Haven of the Coracle) where St. Columba was said to have first landed on Iona. Then MacLeod dreamed that the sea was made of transparent flame and that these flames rose solemnly above a vast forge whose anvil was the smooth surface of the ocean. MacLeod saw "three great Spirits" standing by the anvil: one pulled a soul out of the deep shadow; another purified the soul of its dross and rewelded it; the third breathed upon it, giving it wings, beauty, and life.

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The "glory-cloud" formed of the flames disappeared and he saw the multitude of stars. "Each star was the gate of a long, shining road," and innumerable souls passed along these highways. In the far distance Macleod saw white walls with ivory and pale gold shadings, and by them the three Spirits. "So these, I thought, were not the walls of Heaven, but the Divine Forges."

One intriguing report of Iona's subtle energy aspects came from the after-death observations of Father Andrew Glazewski, who communicated telepathically with English psychic Cynthia Sandys in 1973.

Iona is a "beautiful island barbed with power" but it must be always held in the "love rays" to prevent it from becoming a "demoniacal centre," Father Glazewski said. It is a "thin place" where the Earth and subtle planes meet without a film to separate them. Iona's history is very long, going back to the days of "ancient continents" and "old power."

Just beneath its surface is "a great dynamic pool of fire;" you can sense this when you encounter warm spots on the island, and even if you don't, they still register an effect on your energy body. Speaking as a spirit visiting Iona, he saw the island as a "great jewel, with light and colour radiating all round the world." Its "ray" could be very amenable to those "whose aura is ready for enlightenment," he told Sandys.

He also described a group of Druid spirits "singing the old chants on the etheric which give power, health, and enlightenment to the island." The Druids taught a method of inner development there that helped the soul leave the body in such a way as to pass outside Earth's aura and continue on without the need or obligation to reincarnate.

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Another disincarnate informant named Sir Alvary Gascoigne, Sandys' brother, filed a report on Iona as seen from the spirit's view. He was told by a "great leader" that "something of great power had been created in the beginning of the world in Iona." It was a power, always present and accessible, that could flow through humans like a magnetic current. In 1977, Sandys received another communication about Iona from a deceased friend called Edith Wood. "The whole island is ringed with fire," Wood reported, and the "old Saint [Columba] comes and goes in the most casual way."

Geomantic : Without exaggeration, Iona is one of the planet's three most important geomantic nodes with respect to a fundamental aspect of the Earth's energy body. The reason for Iona's geomantic preeminence has to do with the star its dome represents: Canopus, the second brightest star in our galaxy.

The Iona Canopus dome (a large etheric energy canopy) is a differentiation of the silver energy that comes in and is blended with the gold at Avebury in Wiltshire, England, the site of the Earth's umbilicus to the galaxy. The gold energy is differentiated at the Sirius dome at Carnac in France. All the domes on the planet are "wired" with gold and silver "threads" to the master Avebury dome which in turn is "wired" by god and silver "threads" to Sirius, the brightest, in Canis Major, and Canopus, the second brightest, in Argo Navis. The life connection of the Earth is sustained in these three sites. (See Avebury, England, and Carnac, France)

As a constellation, Canopus is generally regarded as the rudder of the ship Argo Navis, mythically famous as the ship Jason and the 50 Argonauts sailed in search of the Golden Fleece….Canopus is alpha Carinae situated on the ships' rudder. The word Canopus may derive from the Coptic or Egyptian Kahi Nub, meaning "Golden Earth;" the Egyptians in fact widely worshipped the star, orienting many of their temples to the direction of its rising with the Sun at the fall equinox in 6,400 B.C….

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CHAKRA TEMPLATE : Not all domes generate a template of the seven chakras or subtle energy centers found in the human energy field and as part of other geomantic features, but the domes associated with Argo Navis stars do. The template's root is at the southern tip of the island, Columba's Bay, Port-na-Churaich (The Haven of the Coracle) - where he landed. This of course is geomantic code for where St. Columba grounded the temple, at its root chakra.

Various other well-noted landmarks represent the second through seventh chakras of the Iona temple, including Sithean Mor (or Cnoc Angel), Cnoc Mor nan Gall, Cnoca'Mheirgeidh ("Hill of the Standard"), the Iona Abbey area, Dun-I, at 332 feet above sea level and the site a healing well called the Well of Eternal Youth, the island's highest point, and the top, at either of two sites, White Strand of the Monks and Strand of the Seat, at Iona's northern end.

The Iona temple is best used by walking the chakra template over the course of a day or two, meditating for a while at each site. You may find you are accompanied by spiritual beings who resemble high priests and archbishops who walk with you in their layer of reality. You may, as St. Columba frequently did, become aware of the accompaniment of angels or other high beings with you.

One way to make "contact" with the landscape chakra is to place the immediate site within the Blazing Star at your midpoint then place the star and the Iona chakra point at the corresponding location in your own bodily chakra template. You may find that each chakra feels like a burning baptismal font in which your whole being is immersed. You will be connecting with three aspects at each chakra: the Earth level, that of the Christ-Sun, and that of the Cosmic Father-Holy Ghost.

By the time you reach the seventh chakra, the crown, at White Strand of the Monks, you have identified - extended - your energy field with that of the island and brought the island's chakra template into your own energy continuum. This makes it easier, even inviting, for the angelic realm to participate, transmitting celestial energy to both you and the island at the same time because you have become a conduit.

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In the course of walking the Iona chakra template, or even reading about it here, you may wonder: to whose body do these chakras belong?

The most striking feature of the Canopus energy at Iona is that it is silver. As one of the mystics cited above suggested, the island is truly engulfed, ringed, encircled by silver flames such that it could well be renamed The Island of the Silver Flames. It is also an intensely feminine island, as Fiona Macleod sensed, but the feminine is archetypal, of the order of what mystics and metaphysicians call the Divine Mother, the Mother God, what the Qabalists call Binah and the Egyptians Isis.

It's really so far beyond any human notions of gender as to almost render the term inapplicable, yet, if you can tolerate the paradox, it is "feminine" in the sense that it is decidedly not masculine, as in Divine Father. The Iona dome, through its connection with Canopus, feeds this stream of galactic feminine energy into the entire planet and all its domes. It's is Earth's feminine channel, as Carnac in France is its masculine channel.

So the answer to the question posed above is that the chakras belong to the Divine Mother, and in progressing through the seven landscape chakras on Iona you are walking in the Great Mothers energy field. You are also, geomythically, walking towards the prow of the great Argo Navis and the carving of Hera, its talking goddess figurehead. The two, Swift Ship and Great Mother, are the same.

The energy of Iona, working through this geomythic construction, is intent of transmitting the essence of the Divine Mother, the Holy Feminine, Isis, to the Earth. In processing through the chakra template, you are climbing the seven rungs in the ladder of the being of the Mother of the World. Except it is actually 49 steps, because each chakra is like a ripple of seven concentric circles, each one a little larger. Qabala talks of the 50 Gates of Binah, the Mother. Each Gate, in terms of initiation, is one of the 50 Argonauts. When you reach White Strand of the Monks you reach the 50 th Gate, the Sheepfold.

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At the northern tip of Iona, you may experience a settling of white doves in spirit form on your crown center. These are a traditional Western symbol for the descent of the Holy Spirit, and Iona's connection with doves may be founded on this spiritual fact. You may next find yourself in a golden hall filled with people you would describe as saints of both genders with conspicuous haloes. You are in the Sheepfold - I'm borrowing this Sumerian term used in the Epic of Gilgamesh to describe a similar feature in the city of Uruk ecause it is applicable even in this Celtic context.

At the far end of the hall stand two massive white pillars and a seeming void between and beyond them. One of the things whispered about Iona in metaphysical circles is that for the dying or self-realized, Iona is an excellent portal out of the Earth dimension - not just the planet but all its associations. Perhaps this is part of the truth behind the Hy Brasil attribution to Iona. Another name for this portal is Arcturus, the great star in the constellation Boötes. Arcturus is a gateway between nothing and something; the source of the possibility of Light, one reflection.

You may notice a central fountain with bright scarlet flames burning as if on its water. This is an aspect of the Christ. If you enter the flames and become one with their energy, this can transport you into a different layer of reality, a silver dimension that may seem to resemble a massive stone circle or a labyrinth. A bright silver light burns among the upright stones.

Following this light back to its source, you may encounter a goddess figure, seated on a silver throne, her face turned away from you, to the side, with perhaps a circlet on her head or a silver star on her brow. She sits in what appears to be a silver rotunda with numerous doors around the periphery at ground level. How your mind decodes an energy impression of the Divine Mother is of course variable, somewhat unpredictable, and entirely up to you.

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