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High on the sacred mountain

We were playing a concert the next day in Gargunnock. I thought that climbing this daunting mountain the morning before would do us good. Kuba - our photographer - and I got in the car when the night was still enjoying the last of its darkness and headed for Callender. And then for the foot of the sacred mountain, Ben Ledi.
A mist over the Callender area. Photo: Jakub Orłowski
A mist over the Callender area. Photo: Jakub Orłowski

It was the second time I had been there. First, in July, I was stunned with how far the mountainous landscape extended. Now, I felt something more, something that I had usually envisioned in the beloved words of Neil Peart, sadly deceased in February 2020: "High on the sacred mountain; Up the seven thousand stairs; In the golden light of autumn; There was magic in the air". And indeed magic there was.

We got out of the car, turned on our flashlights and commenced the ascent. It took us around an hour to reach the level that allowed us to begin enjoying the implications of our somewhat insane decision to get there so early. Down there was the town of Callender submerged in the morning mist. And here I was, standing like a mystic, lost in the atmosphere, and looking upon a presence which spans so many centuries.

It was my second sunrise experience in the mountains. The first had come when, still in my teens, I was dragged up Hnatowe Berdo in the Bieszczady Mountains, Poland, by my brother. Interesting how thirty years make a difference to the way we reflect upon our living from the perspective of sacred mountains. 

A view from Ben Ledi at sunrise. Photo: Marcin Jaroszek
A view from Ben Ledi at sunrise. Photo: Marcin Jaroszek

What I adore in the Scottish Highlands is that you can relatively easily reach a height that makes you feel like you have the world at your feet, and this after climbing for just over an hour. It seems that what accounts for that experience is the low level of the clouds. Hence the different perspective than that in other mountains of a relatively similar caliber. Such was the Ben Ledi sunrise experience. I looked upon the horizon and all I could see was the never-ending range of the mountainous landscape. I was standing high there with my eyes glued to the sacred mountain and my thoughts focused on the passage of time, utterly perplexed with the mysticism of the moment. 'Cause it was then when Scotland sang to me, "in the peaceful haze of harvest time, a song of eternity".

I thought of time and distance
The hardships of history
I heard the hope and the hunger
When Alba sang to me...
When Alba sang to me...  

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