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Virtual Pilgrimage

October 31 – November 8, 2022

Gathering at Samhain with Saints Kevin, Ita, and Enda

with Christine Valters Paintner and Simon de Voil

And guest teachers Betsey Beckman, Deirdre Ní Chinnéide, Dara Molloy, Pius Murray, Mary Mc Laughlin, Órla Mc Govern, Fr. Michael Rodgers, Pádraigín Clancy, and Mícheál ‘Moley’ Ó Súilleabháin

+ Forum Facilitator Melissa Layer

Schedule Details

October 31 – November 8, 2022

Daily gatherings via Zoom*

8-9:15 am Pacific
11 am-12:15 pm Eastern
 3-4:15 pm (Oct 31 – Nov 5) and 4-5:15 (Nov 6- 8)** Ireland/UK time

Bonus Poetry Reading – November 1, 2022 (Tuesday)

12-1 pm Pacific
3-4 pm Eastern
7-8pm Ireland/UK time

Bonus Keening Workshop – November 5, 2022 (Saturday)

12-1 pm Pacific
3-4 pm Eastern
7-8pm Ireland/UK time

**Daylight Savings happens in Europe on October 31st and in the US/Canada on November 6th.

This means that the time will change for certain regions midway through the Novena.

*All sessions will be recorded for those unable to join us live

Program Description

You are invited on a journey of the heart. In the Celtic imagination, the portal to cross thresholds into other realms is as close as our breath, as near as the pulse of our aliveness. You are invited onto a pilgrimage where you might physically walk only a few steps, but your soul can travel vast distances.

Beginning on the eve of the Celtic feast of Samhain in the northern hemisphere – a threshold and thin time in the turning of the year – we will gather for a Novena which is an ancient practice of praying for a special intention over nine days.

Samhain is the start of the new year in the Celtic calendar and the beginning of the dark half of the year. Samhain wisdom teaches us that all beginnings happen in the womb-space of holy darkness. This is also the time when the ancestors are considered to be especially close to us, dancing just beyond the veil.

What might your intention be in this season of your life?

What are the new beginnings you desire?

How might making a 9-day commitment to your inner journey reveal new pathways into the future?

Abbey of the Arts has created this virtual pilgrimage with the help of our wonderful filmmaker friends at Morgan Creative and some of our favorite guides in Ireland as a way to invite you into the beauty of some of Ireland’s sacred places without having to pack a suitcase.

We will gather daily via Zoom for nine days. Each Zoom session will last approx. 75 minutes. Each day will include teaching and meditation from Christine Valters Paintner, music and prayer from Simon de Voil, invitations into embodied prayer with Betsey Beckman, and beautifully filmed videos with local guides Dara Molloy, Deirdre Ní Chinnéide, Pius Murray, Fr. Michael Rodgers, and Pádraigín Clancy, as well as storytelling from Órla Mc Govern. They will each offer us their wisdom and insight into aspects of Celtic pilgrimage and spirituality. These 10-15 minute videos were filmed at the islands of Inismor and Inisheer (two of the Aran islands off the coast from Galway) and the beautiful monastic city of Glendalough.

All the Zoom sessions will be recorded and made available later the same day for viewing. If a nine-day pilgrimage is too intense for your life commitments, you can spread them out over nine weeks or nine months as you have lifetime access to them. Pilgrimage is time outside of time, so however you are being called to journey is perfect.

We will be exploring the gifts and invitations that Saints Enda, Ita, and Kevin have for us. Each day we will explore a different theme connected to their life and vision. Each day you will be invited into meditations to connect to the Celtic imagination and unearth your heart’s deep longings. There will be suggestions for practices of contemplative walking and other meditation between sessions.

At the end of our daily 75-minute sessions there will be the option to stay on for 15-20 minutes of breakout group sharing with fellow pilgrims and community members. You can participate as many days as you desire and each day you will be joined with different people. Those who don’t wish to participate will simply log off at that time. These small groups are not recorded.

There will be an online forum facilitated by Melissa Layer with daily questions for reflection, and space to share with your fellow pilgrims. Participation in the forum is optional.

We also invite you to join us for two special added events:
  • Tuesday, November 1st (7-8 pm Ireland | 3-4 pm Eastern) for a Pilgrimystical poetry reading with Irish poet Mícheál ‘Moley’ Ó Súilleabháin.  Pilgrimystical Poetry is a recital of poetry that calls us to a deeper sense of physical presence. Mícheál’s own accessible poetry and brilliant voice guides us through famous works by W.B Yeats, Machado, Emily Dickinson and David Whyte.
  • Saturday, November 5th (7-8 pm Ireland | 3-4 pm Eastern) for an Irish Keen workshop with singer Mary Mc Laughlin. In this one- hour workshop Mary will introduce you to the elements of the Irish Keen (the ancient Irish death lament) based on its history and context. She will demonstrate through singing and teach you a short (but complex) ‘gol’ or cry, which is at the centre of the tradition. 

These events are only for those registered for this pilgrimage. 

Daily Themes

Day 1 - St. Kevin

Journey and Pilgrimage

Day 2 - St. Kevin

The Veil is Thin

Day 3 - St. Kevin

Retreat to the Desert

Day 4 - St. Ita

Women in Monastic Life

Day 5 - St. Ita


Day 6 - St. Ita

Samhain and Seasonal Rhythms

Day 7 - St. Enda

Angel's Walk

Day 8 - St. Enda

Way of the Hermit

Day 9 - St. Enda

Remembering Who You Are

Your Guides for the Journey


Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE is the online Abbess for Abbey of the Arts, a virtual monastery and global community integrating contemplative practice and creative expression. Her programs draw on the wisdom of the desert, Celtic, and Benedictine spiritual traditions as well as the joy of the expressive arts, embodied practice, and Earth-cherishing wisdom. Christine is the author of numerous books on spirituality and creativity, including three collections of poetry. She lives on the west coast of Ireland with her husband John and dog Sourney. Find out more about her here.

Simon de Voil playing guitar

Simon De Voil

Reverend Simon Ruth de Voil is an interfaith-interspiritual minister, sacred musician, spiritual counsellor, and chaplain. His sacred work—both musical and interpersonal—explores themes of the inner landscape of the soul, the enchantment of the natural world, and the healing power of spiritual practice. As a chaplain and counsellor, Simon helps individuals and groups connect sacred presence with everyday life. Simon is also a transgender activist and a luthier in training. Visit Simon’s website here.

Guest Teachers

Betsey Beckman

Betsey Beckman, MM is nationally acclaimed as a spirited dancer, storyteller, teacher of SpiritPlay and dancing Spiritual Director. With her extensive repertory of sacred storydances, she is regularly featured as artist/presenter at national conventions as well as local churches. She earned her Masters in Ministry degree from Seattle University, her certificate in Movement Therapy from the Institute for Transformational Movement, and is a certified InterPlay leader. As dancer, choreographer, author, mother, wife, teacher and spiritual director, she is passionate about living life fully and fostering creativity in all those with whom she shares life and ministry. Betsey’s publications include books (she is co-author of Awakening the Creative Spirit: Bringing the Expressive Arts to Spiritual Direction), producer of the Abbey of the Arts CDs, and The Dancing Word series of DVDs on embodied prayer. She offers the gift of playful improvisation whenever possible. Vist Betsey’s website. 


Deirdre Ní Chinnéide

Deirdre Ní Chinnéide is trained as a psychotherapist / spiritual director and workshop facilitator. She has worked all over Ireland, the U.S.A. and Europe including Bosnia and Kosovo. The Aran Islands with its unique history, culture and natural beauty provides a special setting for the retreat work, and was the place of inspiration for Celtic Passage, a journey of the heart which she leads through music, reflection and prayer.

Deirdre divides her time between the Aran Islands and the mainland offering retreats, workshops and performances of spiritual music. Music is a core element of her ministry and she has recorded two albums Celtic Passage and I will sing for you – Songs to soothe the soul. Deirdre has also co-authored the book Journey to the Well: Connecting to Celtic Ways and WisdomVisit Deirdre’s website here.


Dara Molloy

Dara Malloy is a Celtic Celebrant, pilgrim guide and author living on Inis Mór. His publications include Legends In The Landscape, a guide book to Inis Mór, which is now available in six languages, and The Globalisation of God, Celtic Christianity’s Nemesis. This latter work is the result of Dara’s lifelong interest in Celtic spirituality and Celtic monasticism. Visit Dara’s website here. 

Dara Malloy - web

Pius Murray

Pius Murray N.T., B.A., H.D.E.(Hons.), LL.B.(Hons.), Diploma in Celtic Spirituality has his own guided walks business, Walk With Pius. He is a founder member of Pilgrim Paths Ireland and a member of the Burren Ecotourism Network. He is a member of the Burrenbeo Trust and a Burren Conservation Volunteer. He organises and leads walks, especially Inspirational Walks which enable walkers to connect with nature and with the spirituality of the landscape in the Burren and on Inisheer, for visitors of all nationalities, students of all levels and a variety of associations and organisations. Pius lives in Corofin, County Clare with his wife and family. Visit Pius’ website here. 


Mary Mc Laughlin

Born and raised in N. Ireland, Dr. Mary Mc Laughlin is a respected Irish Research Scholar in the field of Irish Traditional Song, holding an MA in Ritual Chant focusing on the Keen and a PhD in Otherworld Irish Traditional Song. She recorded 5 albums, including ‘Celtic Requiem’ on Sony Music, in which she delves into traditional songs surrounding death, using both traditional and original sources. Her songs and singing have also been featured on many compilations which have gained global success, including ‘”Celtic Voices’, an album which reached no. 3 in the Billboard World Music charts.

She has toured internationally with various groups, and for seven years directed her own choir ‘Cór Ainglí’, the first Sacred Gaelic choir in California. She currently spends her time both teaching traditional Irish singing  privately on-line and working on her forthcoming book about the Irish Keen. For more information, including videos and interviews see:  and

Mary McLoughlin

Órla Mc Govern

Órla Mc Govern is an award-winning Storyteller, Performer and Writer based in The West of Ireland. She  performs, tells stories and teaches at venues small and large around the world. She has worked for many years in theatre, film and television on more than one continent.  She’s very interested in both scripted and improvised work; her award winning plays and short films have been produced globally, and she has written two books of stories Dublin Folk Tales For Children & Wild Waves & Wishing Wells (The History Press). She is a member of Interface Inagh, Aoife’s Clown Doctors, Theatre 57 and Storytellers of Ireland. Órla is also founder and Artistic Director of Moth & Butterfly, a storytelling collective and annual festival. Visit Órla online. 

Órla Mc Govern

Fr. Michael Rodgers

Fr. Michael Rodgers is a member of St. Patricks Missionary Society. He returned to Ireland after twenty years missionary service, in Kenya, to serve on his congregation’s leadership team. During this time he began to explore his own roots, a journey that led him eventually to mystical Glendalough. He spent much time exploring the valley and its story. It became apparent that there was a hunger in people for a more natural and soulful expression of spirituality, and for opportunities for the companionship of like-minded souls.

Fr Michael offers a quiet, respectful space for people to reflect on their life and faith story. He encourages an experiential approach that incorporates history, legend, spirituality, Christian tradition and awareness of nature and the environment.


Pádraigín Clancy

Pádraigín Clancy is a graduate of Irish Folklore and History from the National University of Ireland, Dublin. She has a keen interest in Celtic Christian Spirituality and has lectured and facilitated retreats throughout Ireland, Britain, USA, and Australia. She is qualified in Spiritual Direction and holds a HDip in Theological Studies. Drawn to the Aran Islands because of its unique landscape and Gaelic heritage, she hasmade it her home since 1990.  There, she has documented an extensive collection of Island folkloretowards her PHD.

Pádraigín contributes frequently to Irish national radio and television.  She is editor and co-author of Celtic Threads: Exploring the Wisdom of our Heritage.


Mícheál ‘Moley’ Ó Súilleabháin

Mícheál ‘Moley’ Ó Súilleabháin is a renowned singer, poet, teacher and speaker from Limerick, Ireland. His artistic identity lives on the threshold between things. He is a master of several worlds of musical and poetic performance and composition. His way in the world exists between laughter and poignancy.

Mícheál published his first book of poetry, EARLY MUSIC, on David Whyte’s Many Rivers Press (Seattle) in late 2020. Also in 2020 he founded the Dámh Imeall – (H)Edge School with his brother and mother. (H)Edge School is an online community of inquiry and ritual with online workshops and events on a range of interfaith and multi-disciplinary topics. Join Mícheál’s online community at www.Turasdanam.comPurchase a signed copy of Mícheál’s poetry collection ‘Early Music’ here.

Headhshot Micheal Moley 2022 #2
Your Forum Facilitator

Melissa Layer

Melissa Layer, MA, LMHC honors the unfolding journeys of our wild and precious lives as compelling invitations for creative, integrative meaning-making in BodyMindSpirit.  Her sacred calling and formal training as a psychospiritual therapist, hospice grief counselor, and spiritual director have taught her about the potency of thin places in thresholds and dark nights of the soul.  Cultivating curiosity, Melissa offers expressive exploration of the Great Mystery through journaling, collaging, poem-making, dreamwork, visio and lectio divina, creation of rituals and altars, and engaged encounters with nature.  Like the honeybee for which she is named, she claims her role as “a bee of the invisible…passionately plundering the honey of the visible in order to gather it in the great golden hive of the invisible” (Rilke).  Melissa offers a compassionate, attuned presence and deep listening with the ear of her heart from the Pacific Northwest in Washington, where the Salish sea meets the evergreen forest. Visit Melissa’s website here.

Melissa Layer Head Shot


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We offer a sliding scale of 3 fees for payment. The reduced fee for those who have lost their income and the sponsorship fee helps support our ability to offer scholarships. In an effort to keep this program accessible, please carefully consider both your own resources as well as honoring the expense, time, and energy required to run these programs and keep our work sustainable. Thank you!
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Program Cost

If you need a different payment plan or a greater scholarship to make this program accessible, please get in touch with us.

Terms and Conditions

Please consider your purchase carefully and review the many free materials we have on our website to make sure the program will be a good fit or get in touch with any questions.

We ask that you honor our work by not sharing the program materials with others who are not enrolled.

Please contact us for permission to quote in settings beyond the program

These videos are made available to registered participants and may also be included in future versions of the program including self-study. If you choose to speak during a recorded gathering, you are giving us your consent to record that contribution. If you prefer not to be seen or heard, you can of course switch off or mute your camera or microphone at any time. Chat sessions are recorded and posted as well. Participation in the chat function is also giving consent to their recording. Breakout groups are never recorded.

If you choose a payment plan and stop payment before fulfilling the commitment without contacting us to make other arrangements, your access to the program will be removed.