Mike Croghan who runs Rathcroghan Tours gave some beautiful commentary when we asked him “What is a Thin Place?” The 2:57 video below is part of that response (more to follow in another post).
Rathcroghan is the ancient royal capital of Connacht. It’s landscape is covered with mounds and stones and lines of energy. Mike was our private guide for the Rathcroghan site on the Thin Places tour of the West in 2012.
The wind was bit loud in the video, so a transcript of what Mike said is written below the video.
Transcript of Mike Croghan’s commentary:
A thin place, as you know yourself, is a very loose term .. for a place that would allow people to make a connection. It could be a place between the earth and the vaults of the skies. It could be a place between the earth and the Other world.
It’s a place where the deities and the people of the Other world at special times of the year can make their way through into our realm, but also, at that same time it’s an opportunity for us to travel to the Other world. And it’s a time where you can make a direct connection with the people of the Sidhe, the people of the mounds, the ancestors.
There are a few people, a few special people who have the ability to do this wherever. For the majority of us, a thin place is an opportunity to to make that connection in a certain geographical location.
Here in Ireland we have so many thin places. We have countless thin places. The specific one that I will always mention to people is Oweynagat – the Cave of the Cats – here on Rathcroghan. It’s known as the entrance to Mother Earth. It’s known as the entrance to the Other World. And that really would really be – let’s call it an axis mundi which is a pivotal point between our world and the Other World.
Just to sum it up, a thin place is a place where you can make a connection, and a lot of the time it’s in a specific geographical location. Like I say here it might be the Cave of the Cats. It could be Keshcorran over in Sligo. It could be on Tara. It might be Uisneach. It might be one of the four royal capitals.
It’s a different place for different people.
What I would say to people out there is that if they go looking for thin places, you might find it on a map. You might just find it in your own personal space – wherever you do ritual… wherever you work.
In a a phone interview last week, I was asked, “What’s the deal with thin places?” I was being interviewed by a journalist covering business, and the focus of the article was to be using social media to grow a business. But the interviewer had done some background research on me, read my blogs and seen that I write about, give lectures on, and gives tours of “thin places.”
So I gave the writer my standard answer, “thin places are places where the veil between this world and the eternal world is thin.” The look on his face said, “So?”
I continued, “Do you really want to get into this?” He said, “Why not?” I found myself regurgitating the same old stale sentences I’ve used in the past, perhaps because I assumed this business journalist had no genuine interest in the concept of mystical sites. However, his confused face betrayed his business focus and revealed a personal intrigue. He said, “Why would I want to go to a thin place?”
Hmmm. Why would he?
I offered an explanation, and soon found my raised voice and overt hand gestures revealing my passion for thin places. I tend to lose control.
We humans are physical, mental and spiritual. Our spiritual side, unlike the physical and mental side is not experienced through our five senses. All civilizations have left behind indications that they had a spiritual life, that they looked beyond the physical world and communicated with the eternal world.
If meat and veggies feed the body, and books and learning feed the mind, thin places feed the soul and help to expand the human spirit. A place with an inherent mystical quality or “thin veil” between worlds allows the person in that place to stretch and grow his or her spiritual sensitivities. These places help us pray better, contemplate on a deeper level, and “touch the other side”… manifesting the power of the eternal world inside ourselves.
Grace and spiritual blessings come easily in thin places. Insights emerge and amaze us. Answers to spiritual questions are heard. And the greatest of all spiritual endowments is magnified in thin places – inner peace.
Worries are diminished, depression lifted, and priorities redefined when we expand our degree of inner peace, and our gratitude for simple things is amplified. Inner peace enlarges our sense that all nature is charged with divinity, a common theme over the centuries – evident in Psalm 148 and St. Francis of Assis’s Canticle of the Creatures.
Is there value in that?
I’m a believer that thin places are inherently thin, and their mystical qualities draw humans to them. And though I believe that thin places exist all over the planet, I don’t believe we – that is humans – make these places thin by connecting with God there. Perhaps great acts of humans living, loving, suffering, or dying in a particular place impact the veil – thus the thinness in places like Gettysburg, Thoor Ballylee, Taj Mahal, or Skibbereen. But a thin place is what it is. In most cases, we don’t impact the degree of thinness. Keen, spiritual sensitivities help us identify these places.
I reject the idea that we create our own thin places. “Because I feel God’s presence strongly right now, this must be a thin place.” I believe that with a well exercised spirit we can enter into a spiritual state more readily – anywhere. That same exercised spirit will also be able to identify a place that is mystical and close to the eternal, and take advantage of the openness.
When the human spirit is tuned in at a thin place, communication with the eternal world flows back and forth readily and easily. Not just with God, but with the communion of saints – those that have gone before us. We all stand in the same time, in the same space. Our prayers joined with prayers of the saints makes our humble prayer stronger. Spiritual graces and insights flow. We find ourselves easily uncovering answers to the questions of the heart. We find encouragement for our sense of defeat, comfort for the losses we mourn.
I find the presence of love – the greatest power in the world – so prevalent in thin places that it is almost palpable. Love knows now barriers between worlds. It hovers in a thin place, unifying both the physical and the eternal. That overwhelming sense of the presence of spiritual love is worth the visit.
For me, these are worthy reasons for traveling to thin places.
Invite all you readers to come with us on the Thin Places Tour.