Magic, Music and a Woman’s Heart


The two weeks I spent in Ireland were magical. It’s a magical land.

Sunset at Strandhill
Sunset at Strandhill

This picture was taken on the beach of Strandhill, a small area near the city of Sligo, and very close to Queen Medb’s (Maeve) cairn (tomb) on the top of Knocknarea Mountain. Maeve was the warrior Queen of Connacht in Celtic mythology.

On Knocknarea, at the foot of Medb's Cairn
On Knocknarea, at the foot of Medb's Cairn

We climbed to the top of the mountain to see the cairn. The feeling at the top at the foot of this tomb is ancient, powerful and quite mystical.

One of the things I most enjoyed was hearing live traditional Irish music. My paternal grandfather, Thomas McDonnell Sr. was Irish-American. His two grandfathers came from Ireland in the mid-1860’s. One, Bryan McDonnell, embarked from Dublin and the other, Timothy Driscoll, from Cobh.

My grandfather and grandmother raised a musical family. I remember one time we visited them when I was very young. My father’s brothers and sister were there, too, and the whole family came together to sing and play a variety of instruments: guitar, ukelele, banjo, piano. I loved it. It’s one of my strongest and fondest memories of that side of my family.

So when I was in Ireland, I was particularly taken with the live traditional music in places like Dublin, Dingle, Cobh and Glendalouch. In Dingle, we just happened into a pub on a Sunday afternoon as this group of musicians were playing the kind of music I hoped I would hear in Ireland. Listening to this music brought back the wonderful memories of my father’s family, the ‘Irish side’.

The next day, we ducked into a Dingle music shop to find some good Irish music to take home with us. We found the most recent CD by Lumiere, a musical group consisting of two women, Pauline Scanlon and Eilis Kennedy. One song in particular, Fair and Tender Ladies, is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. Lo and behold, that night Pauline Scanlon was performing in a Dingle pub. We were lucky to sit and listen to her ethereal voice just fifteen feet away from her.

When I returned home, I found this video of Pauline and Eilis singing Fair and Tender Ladies. Please stop, become still, drop into your heart and listen with your whole being.

I love hearing these two women harmonize and sing of women taking care of their hearts.

The inner realm of a woman’s heart is sacred and wise. I have come to know just how tender and vulnerable this woman’s heart is. I know the pain of trampling through this heart, allowing the dictates of the mind to override the heart’s needs.

During my time in Ireland, over and over again, my heart opened to the beauty, magic and music of this place. Something woke up in my cells. Something ancient. Something earthly. Something I’ve known, yet pushed away. Over time, this new awareness is deepening within. When the time is right, I’ll share what I can put into words, here with you.

And, you?

What might it take to sit down with your heart, to hear what it’s needing, to tenderly begin to inquire?


What is it to be Female?



“Today, the reason we haven’t found our grail, the key to who we are as women, is because we look for it in worlds of false power, the very worlds that took it away from us in the first place. Neither men nor work can restore our lost scepter. Nothing in this world can take us home. Only the radar in our hearts can do that, and when it does, … ‘We will light up like lamps, and the world will never be the same again.’ “

–Marianne Williamson

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”  

– Albert Einstein

“The key to who we are as women.” What is this key that Marianne Williamson speaks of? Who are we? What key might unlock this door? Answer this question? Awaken our own knowing?


These two quotes point to the same thing: that we can’t look to the current cultural paradigm to answer the questions we face in this moment. The conditioned world we swim in today is the world that took our knowing away from us. It is a illusory world devoid of a woman’s grail, that by which we know our own wholeness. What we see in this world is void of a deeply feminine reflection.

So if we can’t look to the outer conditioned world for our knowing, the only place we can look is within. Within our own being lies the key. When we enter into the inward gaze, we enter the unknown. If we truly want to know, we must be willing to step into not knowing. This means leaving behind all false powers and the answers they so readily give. We turn our faces to this inner gaze so that we might know something wholly new.

It is a heroine’s journey. It is a truly creative act. It is the place for disruption. And, it is ripe with the fragrance of grace for it is in our willingness to turn away from the conditioned world and toward that which is without false words of comfort and safety that we will discover the truth in the question that asks, “What is it to be female?”

 The only place we will find this truth of our being is within our hearts. That is the only place where the illusions we have been taught cannot exist. Trust your heart to bring you home.

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