We were first brought into the mystical vortex of Newgrange, the ancient megalithic passage 11 tomb on August 1, 1997 at Dublin airport when the young driver of the shuttle bus posed a question after reading the name tag on our luggage. “Who’s the Fitzgerald?” “We are.” My son responded. “Well so am I.” He said.
That was the first hint that something unusual was happening on our visit to Ireland. In the old pagan Celtic calendar, August 1st was the Feast of Lughnasa in honor of the Irish god Lugh— brother of the Dagda – the chief god of the supernatural race known as the Tuatha de Dannan— And oddly enough Newgrange was his home.
The second hint came when I asked the young man where he came from. “Oh it’s a little village down past Limerick. I’m sure you’ve never heard of it. It’s called Abbeyfeale.” “That is my grandfather’s village.” I told him. “We’re from the same place.” Was this coincidence, a synchronicity, or something more?
“Well whatever you do when you’re in Ireland.” He said. “There’s one place you must go. It’s called Newgrange, Bru Oengusa in Irish – Angus’s mansion on the river Boyne. I’d take you there myself, but I’ve got to work. It’s only a twenty minute drive from where you’re headed and it is the most amazing thing you will ever see.”
I knew that returning to Ireland would complete something I’d started when I’d first visited there back in 1971. But it wasn’t until we were directed to Newgrange by another Fitzgerald from the same village as my family on the other side of Ireland did I realize—that something—was far more profound than anything I’d experienced in my lifetime.
Jung described the concept of synchronicity or coincidence as an “acausal connecting principle,” that joined the rational ego of the senses to the Daemonic ego of the irrational “other self” which then overlapped into our reality. The Daemon was well known to the ancient philosophers as the causer of Déjà vu—the feeling of having experienced a present moment once before. To the classical Greeks it was a supernatural spirit-guide who caused coincidences to happen in order to shape our destiny. Was this message from another Fitzgerald part of an acausal connection directing me to apply our six years of research on the Fitzgerald family to something at Newgrange?
Within a few days we’d made our way to the Boyne valley and had to shield our eyes from the glare of the quartz crystals shining in the bright sunlight. The young Fitzgerald from Abbeyfeale had been more than right. From a distance, Newgrange looked like a giant-futuristic time machine. But as we soon learned that time machine hadn’t arrived from the future but had travelled five thousand years out of the past.
Originally built in the shape of an egg, its exterior was now a drum-shaped flying saucer with a facade covered by eleven feet of quartz that glowed like an ancient solar timepiece in the early morning sun. In fact, even after five thousand years it still kept perfect time by focusing an intense, almost laser-like light into the darkness of Bru Oengusa for exactly seventeen minutes every winter solstice. Wealthy Romans had once made pilgrimages to it from Britain and left precious offerings of gold and jewelry to propitiate the spirits of its powerful gods, the Tuatha de 12 Danann. And it was suspected that large crowds of people had once filled its huge natural amphitheater to participate in a yearly ritual hinted at in ancient annals as involving music, magic and “many colored Chequered Lights.”
Newgrange was older than the Temples of Mycenae and the Pyramids. But like the Pyramids, which appeared to have had some ceremonial function in addition to their role as tombs, what else did this quartz palace do? Was measuring the solstice the only reason its builders had labored for years to plot the exact movement of the sun? And why, over all the other sacred sites around the world did Joseph Campbell consider this place to be the home of the most sought after of relics, the Holy Grail?
It wasn’t until we probed Campbell’s well-known book The Masks of God that pieces of the mystery of Angus’s mansion began to fall into place. “By various schools of modern scholarship,” Campbell wrote, “the Grail has been identified with the Dagda’s caldron of plenty, the begging bowl of the Buddha in which four bowls, from four quarters were united, the Kaaba of the Great Mosque of Mecca, and the ultimate talismanic symbol of some sort of Gnostic Manichean rite of spiritual initiation, practiced possibly by the Knights Templar.”
Limited to being a “passage tomb” by modern scholars, the mansion of Angus in Irish myth was described as a place where Angus could go to visit his dead friends making it quite literally a “house” where the dead could pass in and out of supernatural reality at will. It was also a place where the living could experience what awaited them in the spirit world beyond.
Having been carbon dated to at least 3500 BCE Bru Oengusa was far older than “Irish” or “Celtic” culture and is now thought by some to represent the zenith of a peaceful Golden Era of human existence that reached from Anatolia in the Near East across Europe into the heart of ancient Ireland. The Grail has been the object of occult quests for millennia as the divine chalice of “becoming.” And according to Joseph Campbell, Bru Oengusa represented the place where it could be found, making it a sacred domain suspended between the world of matter and the realm of pure spirit.
Campbell’s statement was a mythological Rosetta Stone, tying together a deep vein of mythology about the origins of human spiritual existence together with a little understood prehistory of Europe. But as the poets and mythologists George Russell and W.B Yeats testified, it was also a metaphor for a transubstantiation of mind and matter from the irrational ego to the rational. To their minds the egg-shaped mansion of Oengus was where the Dagda – the ancient father/Sun God of the Tuatha De Danann – impregnated matter with light and brought forth a race of invisible beings who are to this day regarded as operating behind the scenes.
So how did this dreamlike transformation from light to matter work? In 1897 George Russell, the mystic, poet, and prominent Gaelic Revivalist known by the initials A.E. visited Newgrange in the company of fellow mystic, William Butler Yeats. Russell left an account of the impression the monument made on him in his poem A Dream of Angus Og: “As he spoke, he paused before a great mound grown over with trees, and around it silver clear in the moonlight were immense stones piled, the remains of an original circle, and there was a dark, low, narrow entrance leading therein. “This was my palace. In days past many a one plucked ere the purple flower of magic and the fruit of the tree of life…
“And even as he spoke, a light began to glow and to pervade the cave, and to obliterate the stone walls and the antique hieroglyphics engraven thereon, and to melt the earthen floor into itself like a fiery sun suddenly uprisen within the world, and there was everywhere a wandering ecstasy of sound: light and sound were one; light had a voice, and the music hung glittering in the air….
“I am Aengus; men call me the Young. I am the sunlight in the heart, the moonlight in the mind; I am the light at the end of every dream, the voice for ever calling to come away; I am desire beyond joy or tears. Come with me, come with me: I will make you immortal; for my palace opens into the Gardens of the Sun, and there are the fire-fountains which quench the heart’s desire in rapture.” (AEON, A Dream of Angus Og, 1897)
The Boyne Valley monuments have played an important but little known role in British politics. In the late 19th century, a fanatical group of British-Israelites excavated nearby at the ancient seat of Irish kings at Tara attempting to prove Britain’s descent from ancient Israel and the House of King David. Convinced the Ark of the Covenant was buried there, they found no Ark but did succeed in scattering five thousand years of ancient Irish history leaving Tara more a looted graveyard than a magical court of legendary heroes and kings.
After witnessing New Grange in all its shining quartz glory, it made us wonder whether this destruction was accidental or done intentionally to obscure its true history. But then we learned that the Newgrange of today is not the mansion of Angus it was when viewed by George Russel and William Butler Yeats under a full moon in 1897. Newgrange had been significantly altered in the 1960s to conform to the restorers “idea” of what it might have looked like some 5300 years ago – and not what it was carefully designed to do.
According to one of many critics who have studied the reconstruction, despite all the effort put into restoring Newgrange’s magnificent appearance, “It doesn’t work like it used to,” wrote Hugh Kearns, author of The Mysterious Chequered Lights of Newgrange. “And if it was made to work again, and it could, then the number of visitors would soon be back to the original Stone Age levels.”
As a modern Irish designer and engineer, Hugh Kearns believes that in addition to having had a ritual significance, Newgrange once functioned as a kind of light machine, capable – when constructed properly – of projecting images through use of its “chequered lights.” To prove his theory he constructed a scale model that when tested worked to perfection. So if true, was Newgrange somehow used by ancient engineers to project the images of fallen heroes as recorded in the Irish annals? Was it really a place where Angus could go to visit his dead friends? Or, was Newgrange providing the power with its quartz crystals, solstice sun and musical tones to do something more? And was that something more, the power to access the inner workings of an organic otherworld hologram and not just its emulation.
Newgrange felt eerily familiar to us when we first saw it that day glistening in the sun. Its original purpose was clearly more than just as a burial mound and we soon learned that the origin mythology of the Fitzgerald family’s arrival in Ireland mirrored its origin mythology as well. The myths that had been applied to the chief god of the Tuatha De Danann, the Dagda and his son Angus were applied to the Earl of Desmond and his son Geroid and remain alive to this day. The fact that we’d been directed there out of the blue by another Fitzgerald from my grandfather’s village qualified as a genuine synchronicity (the so called book falling off the shelf) and we were eventually to discover the legendary power of the family name possessed truly mythic qualities of its own.
“The family’s Irish myth-makers were capable of grafting the Geraldines onto a native historical tradition that traced their lineage back to the Greeks, while at other times and for different audiences, the family could make plausible claim to an Italian and ultimately Trojan lineage,… The old adage that the Geraldines became ‘more Irish than the Irish themselves’ fails to capture the Geraldine experience in medieval Ireland in all its richness and variety.”’ Editors Peter Crooke and Sean Duffy wrote in the preface to their 2017 book, The Geraldines and Medieval Ireland, the Making of a Myth.
And so in writing our dream-inspired novel The Voice and our new book Valediction Resurrection, we found ourselves building on all the richness and variety of the mythology we could find. And ultimately we came to discover that the Fitzgerald myth was not only firmly grounded in reality but that the reality was firmly planted in an otherworld of dreams, synchronicities and coincidence—and that those coincidences are caused by something known as the Daemon.
We made the decision to investigate the Fitzgerald family based on our daughter Alissa’s dream in 1991 in which Paul’s deceased father visited Alissa accompanied by an eight hundred year old man in a strange plaid suit. His message was clear. Fix the memory of the family. And so as we wrote our novel The Voice the mythology of Newgrange became incorporated into the story and as we worked toward a publishing date in 2001 the importance of Newgrange as a character became clear.
Following the publication of our two books on Afghanistan in 2009 and 2011 we began working with members of the Afghan diaspora on a peace conference and recommended Newgrange as a neutral location for the Afghan people to come together. Aside from sharing a long colonial heritage with Britain and Ireland, Afghanistan shared an ancient legacy of tribal law and secular codes of moral conduct that long preceded the Christian and Islamic eras. Ireland’s pre-Christian Brehon Laws provided a sophisticated set of rules for every aspect of Irish society. According to the legendary 19th century British agent Alexander Burnes – Prior to hostile European invasions, 15 Pashtunwali was a guide for a peaceful and hospitable Afghanistan that was known to accommodate Jews and Christians, considering them both to be religions of “the book.”
We believed a departure from the existing narrative was needed to change the tone of the Afghan crisis and reorient people’s thinking. As part of the indigenous solution to restore the true Afghanistan, Afghans needed to allow themselves an escape from the existing extremist narrative by reconnecting to an ancient shared past. We believed this could be achieved by holding initial planning sessions at Newgrange with Afghan leaders and organizations from around the world to share their knowledge as advisors and supporters. And this proposal was totally embraced by our Afghan partners. That dream of an Afghan peace was never fulfilled.
We are resurrecting the concept centered on Newgrange as the location to inaugurate a Declaration of Human Rights for the 21st century World Peace as a musical concert.