United Kingdom

Hermaness Nature Reserve, Shetland, Scotland
Vase planted by Gary Worral and Nancy Snyder, Sept. 17, 2000

“It had been almost a year since the vase was given to me.  Finally, circumstances arranged themselves for me to be able to make the long journey by car and by ferry to Hermanness.  When we left the south mainland of Shetland early that morning, the weather looked threatening.  But, the further north we went, the better things became.  Crossing the sound, we saw dolphins and arrived in Unst to blue skies and a light breeze.  We were also greeted by a flock of nearly 40 ravens.

On our long walk on the nature reserve, we never saw another human.  We only met with birds and a very rare Painted Lady butterfly, strange that it appeared this far north at this time of the year.  We rested briefly and had tea at the site where a hut had blown apart by a hurricane killing two German tourists, one New Year’s eve.  We honored them with an incense offering.

Hermaness National Nature Reserve is at the northern most fringe of the British Isles.  It is famous for its seabird colonies, moorland plants, exposed fragile ecology and Muckle Flugga Lighthouse.  Out Stack, another small rocky isle, is the most northerly point of the UK.  According to ancient myth, Herman and Saxe were Norse giants who lived in this part of Unst.  Saxa was a warlike person who liked to fight whereas Herman was a placid giant who was a friend to the local people.  After a confrontation, a wrathful local witch transformed them into green turf and clouds over these northernmost headlands.  To this day, Hermaness is a protected national heritage centre and Saxa Vord is the site of a military base tracking hostile missiles.

We placed the vase below the summit of the highest hill on Hermaness in a wet peat bog. The whole day, Hermaness was bathed in brilliant sunshine while Saxa Vord was hidden under a dark cloud.  But following the dedication and burial of the vase, the sun appeared over Saxa Vord as well.  Despite the delay in bringing this journey to fruition, it was well worth the wait.  If all beings can be as blessed as we were on this day, peace would be here now.”  (Nancy Snyder)