There was a lovely woman in Kirkwall, on my honeymoon with Scott in Orkney. I have one photo of her, and I remember her name being “Barbara.” She wore a red beret, large brown clogs and sweatpants. Typical of the acquaintances we easily made, she was from California. She had wanted to live in Orkney for so long, and for no other reason, she retired there. She was my instant hero, and the bonus that she was friendly and eccentric-looking made me want to be her. I thought “I will be her, definitely.” I wish I had been bold enough to set up a correspondence with Barbara (if she were willing) because she had a great sense of freedom, and a view of the harbor from her stone apartment on the quay. She made me think it would be entirely possible to retire exactly as she had, and no regrets.
All of Orkney was a treat, even compared to the breathtaking trip to get there up the Caithness coast. My sensibilities for low, green land, blue skies and rocky coasts gave rise to complete bliss in Orkney, only tempered by the constant wind that caused animals and trees alike to lay low. There are few trees on Orkney that can survive the constant wind off the North Sea, and the humans who live there have a constant redness to their faces because of it. We had a B&B on Orkney in Hoy, the third day.
This was our target destination. Alice and Rodger were amazingly sweet. Their cats, Magnus and Molly adorned the kitchen floor and sunroom table with all the ownership cats assume. Alice was very proud of her kitchen, showing off her home-spun baskets and iron stove as if they were her children. Rodger was a farmer, proud of the Orcadian high-back chairs in the sitting room. He is “a crofter” with a few dozen cattle, chickens and the outdoor cats. Despite Alice’s Dutch origin, she was content with spending her life with this small, jovial man in this beautiful remote countryside (though she wished she could travel more).
Farming has to be subsidized in Orkney, because markets aren’t large and land does not yield too much. It is a wildly fluctuating business. Rodger’s herd was large and friendly, and my husband Scott felt more comfortable in the fields than in the tiny house. He liked how the cows would gather to see if we had anything for them, appearing as an attentive church congregation. Scott pretended to preach, arms stretched wide with his verbose sermon. The deep mud was treacherous as we trudged back to the rear of the field. My worst fear was the cattle stepping on and crushing a foot.
Alice and Rodger let us go see the back cottage. Beyond the dry stone wall was a small stone house, the original croft dwelling, quite in disrepair. Long and low, the roof was the worst of it, buckled in and with holes. Getting close was treacherous as well, with very high weeds, and loose clumps of dirt to twist ankles over. I have a fondness for “falling down houses” and imagining how grand they would be when fixed up. Alice was going to do just that; the actual pile of stones would soon become their retirement cottage when they left the B&B business.
Come to remember, we came across a lot of proprietors who would be “quitting the business anytime now.” Depending on how they said it, we felt either sorry for them, glad we caught them before they left or, in one case, sorry we had booked. Keep your bitterness to yourself, please, we are on honeymoon! A & R were more of the former, and we only felt sorry we couldn’t come back years later for our anniversaries.
My memories retain the landscape better than anything that happened thereupon. The standing stones were the best experience. Being in their presence did something to my soul. A remarkable hush came upon me. I knew what they meant, as it were, without having words to describe it. I could feel the people through them, the very ones who lived to build them. Since those times, I have read and seen a ton of material on how and why standing stone circles, dolmens and cairns came into being, and keep trying to fit in the idea that aliens may have had a hand in teaching humans to engineer them. But no. Humans–earth and soul energies–are magic enough, and I know we had the power to lighten their load by being more in tune with them, and the land surrounding. When the tour guide at Brodgar mentioned that the stones weight at least 2 tonnes apiece, I thought, “Oh, that’s not bad. We knew how to partially levitate them then.” Telekinesis, in other words.
When the tour guide at Skara Brae archeological site said there were only two skeletons in that abandoned village, I said to myself, “They were a pair of women, lovers who returned after the abandonment, to have the freedom to live together for a time, outcasts in their last effort. Wise women, who were trying to revive the coastline’s food supply (which caused the migration).” None of this is confirmed of course, except that the skeletons were of two females.
When I took on a past life regression in Los Angeles 2012, I revisited being in Skara Brae village (or one like it), when it was very much viable, and I was an apprentice priestess, around 13 years old. I was consulted one early morning to see if there were fish out in the ocean, a certain direction. I saw through the smoke of the fire that there were large schools of fish to be had, and so the villagers went out for the catch. What I had failed to report was that there was an approaching storm, and as the day progressed, the entire village of men was lost. It was a rookie mistake, but cost me my life, as the village folk took me out in a boat, hung me over the side in a net, and stoned or stabbed me, and dropped me over the side. There was so much grief. This was just one explanation of my reticence to declare myself as a healer now.
At the time of my honeymoon, though, I did not intuit any of this story. It was in the air, though, and maybe that’s why I projected that past life so clearly–and maybe again, this is all imagination. Does it matter? I felt I knew the place then. I feel I knew the place now. I am determined to connect with the old knowledge and believe in myself more. Maybe I can be able to retire there. I’ll be sure to get a red beret, if that’s the case.