I remember the moment so vividly: Mary Martin standing inside my television, looking right at me, taking a step closer to the screen between us, and imploring me to save Tink’s life by clapping my hands if I believed in fairies. Well, of course, I believed in fairies! Why wouldn’t I? Standing and clapping louder and louder, I helped Peter Pan save the life of Tinkerbell. It had been a close call. Thank goodness she could hear me!
During this time, my biggest fear was The Basement Monster. I surrendered countless toys that escaped down the basement stairs, resigned to accept they were gone forever. He had a huge collection of toys with wheels, balls, Silly Putty and Slinkys. And, if a basement monster was not scary enough, the steps down into his shadowy domain had no risers. I was certain he could grab my ankles and pull me down between the steps to join the collection of missing toys, never to be seen again. When I began to question the monster’s existence, there was a shift in power — his diminished as mine grew stronger.
Unfortunately while engaged in the business of growing up, many of us forget the power in the magic of believing. I recently encountered the essence of my younger self. She had been waiting for me in Ireland. It made perfect sense. Ireland is, after all, a land filled with the stuff of fairy tales: castles and turrets, waterfalls, rainbows, fern-filled gullies and sacred wells holding water blessed with mystical abilities. There are idyllic villages of thatched roofed cottages, a Giant’s Causeway and lush emerald woodlands that evoke visions of hobbits, trolls, dragons, pixies, nymphs, princesses and Robin Hood.
The enchanting fairy forests in the far southwest reaches of the island thrilled the exuberant heart of the inner four-year-old who had heroically rescued Tink from imminent death. Together, we delighted in the discovery of dozens of tiny doors, cottages, bridges and ladders tucked away throughout the woods, as well as tiny gifts left for their wee inhabitants.
Each year, over half a million seekers who rely not on what can be seen but on the certainty of the unseen, make a pilgrimage to one of Irelands holy sites. Clootie trees and holy wells are often found at these destinations. Originally, the faithful would dip a strip of cloth into the well and say a prayer for healing as they tied the strip to a branch. The cloth deteriorated and the knot fell away as the grip of the pilgrim’s ailment also released. Clooties have been tied at holy sites for over 5,000 years, but now with polyester and other non-biodegradable fabrics, this practice is discouraged. I encountered a greener version at a stone circle in County Kerry. Several hundred prayers and wishes, including my own, were written on paper left on the tree.
I could not possibly have planned the many serendipitous moments that reconnected me with the spirit of my imagination, creativity and the power of belief. In the wise words of Gus, the shuttle driver for a local pub, “Tis Ireland, lads. Expect the unexpected.”
About the Author: Julie Terrill
Julie Terrill is a photographer and writer with a passion for travel. For ten years, she’s told stories of empowerment through the lens of her camera in an array of unique landscapes, environments, and projects – from a shelter for children rescued from trafficking in Thailand to Faces of Courage, complimentary portrait sessions she offers to cancer patients in her community. She is a photographer and facilitator at Beautiful You and Soul Restoration retreats.
Connect with her at: JMTerrillImages.com