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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

IWSG November 2019 - Thin Places


It's IWSG Day. The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. IWSG is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, our brilliant ninja leader.  Co-hosts for the November posting of the IWSG are Sadira Stone, Patricia Josephine, Lisa Buie-Collard, Erika Beebe, and C. Lee McKenzie.  To find a list of other contributors and to link to their posts, click here.

This month's optional question: What's the strangest thing you've ever googled in researching a story?


For my novel, This Side of Here, I researched “thin places” which according to Celtic folklore, are  locations in which the veil between our world and the ever after is well, thin. Pretty universally, thin places are considered to be mystical settings that touch the heart, where a communication, a depth of feeling, or connection between now and what has gone before is more easily attained. There’s an old Celtic proverb that says something like, heaven and earth are only three feet apart, but in the thin places that distance is even smaller. Some people consider thin places spiritual, closer to God. In my mind, a thin place can be where you are your truest self, a place in which you are more open, in tune with universal messages, accepting of energy vibrations or intuitions. 

My story contains ethereal elements and the idea of thin places plays a role, which may or may not have led to the following…

In 2015, after querying This Side of Here and receiving a fair bit of interest but no bites, I picked it up again after a two-year hold and began a full-on edit. Around the same time, my husband and I took a trip to Ireland with my sister and brother-in-law. One morning while at the beginning of a drive around the Ring of Kerry, we pulled over at a historic sight, this one an old stone famine hut. While visiting  an exact location where the wretched poverty, starvation and pain suffered by the Irish during the potato famine occurred, let’s just say my emotions were engaged. Perhaps, I had thin places on the brain, but when I wandered the land, high on a slope overlooking the vast grey ocean, I was consumed by a longing, a yearning if you will, a sense of closeness to my ancestors who took a fateful trip across the ocean in 1849. I stood for a long time, trying to absorb the aura around me until my companions called me. Even then, I was reluctant to return to the car. 

We saw so much more of Ireland on that trip, and yet when I return there in my mind, I always start with those few minutes I stood above the sea, feeling as if I was suddenly imbued with every thought and heartache that had ever been felt in that space. 

It wasn’t my plan that our visit would turn into a research trip. Google had provided more than enough reading on thin places. But until I stood on the edge of the world in another country I had no idea how powerfully gut-wrenching it could be to encounter one.  
 




Have you ever heard of thin places? Have you ever experienced one? What was  it like?

22 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've never heard it called that, but I think I've experienced it. There are places where the past is ingrained in the area forever.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I have heard of thin places, and I think your description here of your experience is lovely.

Nick Wilford said...

Sounds like a powerful experience. I don't know about thin places, but I've visited some places, like battlefields, where the history just seems to be thick in the air.

Bish Denham said...

I've heard of thin places. On the island of St. John in the Virgin Islands, there are several. With the history of enslavement, violence, and revolt so close and visible - like the dungeon at sugar plantation ruins at Annaberg with its drawings carved into the walls by slaves - I have often felt that otherness, a sense of a slipping of time, a sense that others were invisibly near-by.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I've heard of thin places but not called that. Sounds like you had a powerful experience in Ireland.

Sadira Stone said...

What a fascinating story! After reading about ley lines in Britain, I visited Avebury Henge. I touched the stones, pressed my cheek against them, and was greatly disappointed to feel nothing. Ditto the standing stones at Karnac in France. But I have had pricklings of spiritual awareness in forests--I recall stumbling upon a natural clearing that vibrated with a different energy. I'll bet local neo-pagans used it for their rituals.

Bernadette said...

Thin places! That's an interesting concept.

lostinimaginaryworlds.blogspot.com said...

Gosh, I published a children’s novel called ‘ThinTime’, good to see that idea used here,

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I must confess. No, I've never heard of thin places, but I find the concept to be absolutely fascinating! Like some others have mentioned, I've been in historical places where the past seems to vibrate all around me and resonates within my bones. (I just never knew what to call it!)

Lynda R Young said...

Oh my gosh, I love the way you described the “thin places”. I'm sure I've come across one or two in my travels, but your response and description is awesome.

Fundy Blue said...

This post gave me shivers, Lisa. What an amazing experience for you, and you described it vividly ~ That's what gave me the shivers. I've had what I call "spiritual connections to a landscape" before ~ most memorably to the Four Corners Area in the vicinity of Monument Valley area and the Lake Ainslie/Mabou/Inverness area in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia: like I was intimately connected to the landscape and had been there before. Since I'm largely of Scottish descent, I should learn more about Celtic folklore.

cleemckenzie said...

I love the concept of thin places and the term is perfect. I felt the thrill of your experience in Ireland, and what a perfect spot for that to happen. Beautifully told.

Sarah Foster said...

I had never heard of thin places before. That must have been an incredible experience.

Carol Kilgore said...

Oh, wow. I've never heard of thin places, but as soon as I post this reply I'm off to research them. Like others here, I've had similar experiences. Sometimes mine have been place related. Other times they have come while touching something old that has belonged to others. One day I hope to visit Ireland.

Joanne said...

I've never heard of "thin places", but it reminds me of The Outlander series. Anyway - I do think you can read about stuff and have a good idea, but to actually be in a location and soak up the vibe is the most authentic. Glad you got the experience and have a better sense for your book. I hope the super editing helps and there are some takers for your story. (and that photo is so lovely and haunting)

Steven Arellano Rose Jr. said...

It's fascinating how a place in nature or a historical site can be so captivating! One time when I was a teenager my dad and I drove up into the hills around this time of year, autumn. We taking care of a job up there and while I worked on my task installing a sign on a property my dad had to drive further up to do something else. I got done early with my work and as I sat there alone in that wooded area the whole scenery just took me away! I felt like I was in some mystical state of peace, like I was in another, serene, world. I guess you can say that was like a "thin place" to me.

Empty Nest Insider said...

I've also never heard of thin places, but I find the concept quite interesting. Glad you felt an emotional connection to Ireland. I've heard it's a beautiful country and I hope to visit there someday.

Julie

Diane Burton said...

I didn't know it was called "thin places" but in Harry Potter when Sirius Black falls through the veil to the other side would be an example.

mshatch said...

You've made me want to read your story.

Connie said...

So fascinating! I've never heard of thin places.

Edi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Michael Di Gesu said...

Wow, Liza!

That must have been an incredible experience. My first time to Europe I had many similar experiences, and experiencing Deja Vu all over the place. (Past lives, I am sure.) But I find this subject fascinating. Thank you so much for sharing "thin places" with us. I had never heard of them before and it completely makes sense to me. Our world is ancient and with billions of lost lives and many lost cultures. Of course the earth is enhances with these very special places.