It really did feel like a pilgrimage…travelling up to the sacred isle of Iona in August this year. And I was not the first pilgrim. Not by a long shot. 1000s of people preceded me, covering a period of 1400 years or so. Whatever your spiritual beliefs or lack of, it is hard to deny that this tiny Hebridean island off the west coast of Scotland is a special place. A special and sacred place on our wonderful planet.

There is so much I could say of Iona I don’t know where or how to begin. Its natural beauty is without question. Its light is a photographer’s dream. Its community and working-the-land focus an inspiration. Its spiritual heritage rich, deep, inclusive. Its impact on my own inner growth and integration fascinating as I watch it unfold, even now three months on. But perhaps the most amazing aspect of Iona for me was invisible…it was the energy there.

I felt it as soon as I stepped off the ferry. Iona’s energy. Words cannot do it justice but in an attempt to communicate my impressions I would say it felt like the energy of joy. A grounded and full joy. Earthly and heavenly.

I arrived on Iona very early in the morning. Only 5 minutes across the water from its larger neighbour, the Isle of Mull, this sacred isle felt completely different. After dropping off my bags at one of the two hotels on the island, I went to explore. I walked without a plan and my feet took me south. There is only one road so I had only one choice to take. Turn right or turn left. I turned left. I walked and breathed in the air and the wonderful energy. It was a clear day. The bright blue sky, a light breeze and the warm sun all mingled together to create the perfect ambience. I walked past the ferry-port where I’d alighted an hour or so earlier and carried on walking round the coast. The road turned in-land and I followed it with curiosity. It was so wonderfully refreshing to be walking on a road with little, if any, traffic. Only the residents are able to use cars on Iona. Visitors leave their vehicles on Mull. And also wonderfully refreshing was that the road just stopped. Just like that. It stopped. There was a wall ahead with a gate onto a pathway across the fields. This pathway was the continuation of the road. I chuckled to myself as I opened the gate. I was in love with Iona already.

My first walk on Iona took me to St Columba’s Bay, the place where in 563AD the Irish monk Columba landed from Northern Ireland. He was later to go on to establish a monastic settlement on Iona that evangelised large parts of Scotland and the north of England.

The bay Saint Columba landed in is a great place to explore and rummage on the beach in search of the beautiful and unusual Iona greenstones. I spent a good couple of hours pottering there and collecting shells and stones. Looking at the sea I could almost imagine him arriving with his followers and their hopes and dreams for a new home and a new world. On the way back from St Columba’s Bay I stopped to sit beside a small Loch. I’d noticed the Loch as I’d journeyed outwards but it was only on my return journey that I felt compelled to sit. I found a quiet sheltered spot and started to really feel the energy around me. It was quite amazing. The fullness, joy and love of it prompted me to begin distance-healing. People came into my awareness from all parts of my life and I started sending healing and prayer to them. It was as though the energy said to me “I want you to transmit me out into the world. People need me”. So I followed the call. I must have sat there for around 40 minutes. The time just flew.

When I arrived back at the hotel in the late afternoon, I read about the places I’d been to and discovered St Columba’s Bay is thought to be the first or base energy centre of the island. How interesting that I’d chosen a place where i could be supported in grounding myself in Iona energy on day one. I couldn’t find any information about the Loch or its energies but for me they felt expansive and divine and wanting to serve through healing.

I stayed on Iona for 5 days. With my affinity to Celtic spirituality and love of nature, mystery and energy, I experienced Iona as a truly magical place. And it seems that it’s been a catalyst for a transformation process within me which is still unfolding. Resuming writing on this blog after nearly a year’s silence is just one shift that has happened since my return. There are others too.

From start to finish my travels to this tiny Hebridean island felt like an abundant synchronistic adventure. The synchronicities began on the plane up to Glasgow where I found myself sitting beside a lady whose own middle name and daughter’s middle name was Iona. At the airport the car I’d booked for hire had broken down so I was given an upgrade for free. That was fun. Driving a brand new car. I’ve never driven a car with so many buttons and without an ignition key. The free upgrades continued when on the last night of my hotel stay I was moved to an enormous room. And my final synchronicity was meeting the local yoga teacher who had formerly lived just 5 miles from me in London and invited me to her community yoga class on Saturday morning. As a yoga lover it was such a treat for me to place a yoga mat on the floor of Iona’s library and join in the weekly yoga practice.

If you’re wondering about visiting Iona and whether it is worth the not insignificant journey there, I would say a resounding yes. It is worth it. I say that safe in the knowledge that visitors’ cars can’t go on the island so there is some protection of its ecology. I also say it with a feeling that those who do make the journey are somehow called to Iona and will be bringing back to their homes and communities some of its healing and integrating energy. And that, I feel, is part of the purpose of this sacred isle.  A purpose to support us all in our journey to wholeness.