Well, what a year. Or rather what a slow year. To be more accurate it has been a spurts and sputters kind of year as fas as sacred journeys go. We had a fabulous trip out to Delphi in Greece that seemed to be the promise of something special. But then the weather back home in the UK has been abysmal and has interrupted sojourns as well as giving of the distinct feeling of…now is not the time. Finally though, Beltane festival day arrived and Gwas and I had planned to spend the day visiting some new sacred sites.
In the previous (Beltane -1) post I mentioned how we had a strange synchronicity to begin our journey. After that episode we started on the longer trek (1.5 hours) to a place that Gwas had determined to be significant for his part of today’s quest, a Hermitage. We arrived in good time to the general location and stopped at the side of a field to get our bearings.
Examining maps and iPhones we agreed that we needed to travel a few miles further along the road before we arrived at a suitable place to begin our explorations. However a nice surprise was that when we got there we realised that we had been wrong and that our original stopping place had been the place we should have stopped. Which was perfect!
As we set off on the slight climb through a lovely wooded area the sun was shining like a mid summers day. I can tell you that this was a blessing of unbelievable proportions considering the weather we had had of late. So with the sun keeping us company we were of good heart and pleasant cheer as we made our way to the easily accessible hermits home.
Within about 15 minutes we arrived at the hermitage, which was a small cave in the side of a hill. Although to be honest, the front of it looked a bit like the front of a small house…judge for yourself.
As is our usual modus operandi Gwas and I separated off to prepare and commune. I grabbed the rods and asked whether I needed to prepare in anyway. The answer was yes and I was led off to the other side of the hill and up the slope to a place where I had a beautiful vantage over the village below and with the sun shining on my face (sun boy!).
I spent a few minutes basking, energizing and cleansing (again?) in the sun until I felt ready to utilise the energies of the hermitage. The rods agreed. I returned back to the hermitage and used the rods to determine how to approach this site. The rods pointed me to a place just outside the structure. What was this? Another preparation? It was certainly an odd pattern I walked. It began by bouncing off the window on the left, then the one on the right and then pointing inwards almost, but not quite near the entrance. As I mused on this odd pattern I drew it on the ground in front of the structure.
Moments later I felt I was ready to proceed and dowsed for the right way into the cave. The rods took me inside and faced me outward by one of the windows. When I looked out I saw that the diagram I had drawn was right before me, pointing right at me. No surprise there then. As I stood, looking out at the sun kissed vista I let my senses drift.
You know, I am occasionally accosted by certain individuals as to how quickly information comes when communing. “It’s not my fault” is my normal response. It just does. So, as in other cases, this was no exception. As I left myself open to the spirit of the place, a voice boomed into my consciousness.
“Why are you here?”
What? My immediate conclusion was that this was a question regarding my current geography i.e. Why have you come to this place? I was about to respond with my purpose of the day when I got a follow up…
“Why are you alive? Why do you exist?”
Oh…Ah…I see. Was this metaphysical question going to be the next question? I broke of my connection to ask the rods i.e. my intuition? And they confirmed that this was indeed the second of my nine questions. What am I supposed to do with such a broad and deep question? At the time of writing, I don’t know.
I was done. After this amount of time doing these sacred quests one gets to know the “you’re done” feeling. So it was time to do a gratefulness ceremony which involved several incense sticks and some good vibrations.
Well done, was the thought I left that hermitage with. It was a nice site which delivered more than expected. Beltane was proving to be an exceptional day.
Kal Malik 2 out of 9!
When writing up these quests we tend to go for the salient and relevant points. However we have so often find that innocuous little details play significant parts and so, more for ourselves than anything else we add those bits here – just in case. Here is one such entry.
Gwas wanted to visit a well to begin with and I tended to agree with the idea so he picked me up around 9am and we were off. The well he had in mind was local to where I live and so having put the address (Vale Road) into the satnav and finding an overview of the map that seemed to fit what the map for the place looked like we headed off.
As we got close to our destination I noted with some surprise that we were in the area that my sister lived. What an odd thing. Some more minutes later we actually turned into the road that my sister lived on. Now I was really surprised. Why had we been taken to a site that was quite literally neighbouring my sisters home?
Parking up right next to a wooded area around the back of my sisters home we were out amongst the trees searching for Chad’s Well. Nothing! After many minutes wandering around we deduced that we were not in the right location. Even though the satnav map of this area seemed to match the map we had printed out of the wells location.
Further investigation revealed that there was another Vale road some five miles from our current location. What! That looked like a more likely candidate and so we were off again. This time we had it right and as we parked the car, the sun came streaming out and warmed the air and our being.
A short walk through some lovely houses led us to the easily accessible well. As you can see from the picture it was a place that had a lovely feeling to it. Relaxing in the sun against the wall of the well gave the feeling that this was definitely a place of cleansing and preparation. I dowsed for a place and facing direction to do this and ended up in the middle of the road facing the sun. Of course it was.
I spent some minutes in this pose letting the energies within myself balance out and be replenished. It was a lovely feeling. Particularly because this was the first bit of decent sun that we have had in a long while.
Some time later, after gifting the Genius Loci of the Well with some incense and thanks, we were ready to begin our purpose filled quest. For me this was to seek another question in the nine that I had been tasked with at Delphi.
All in all a good and interesting start. The interesting part being, why had we (I) been taken to my sisters home first? Was there a reason? Just to allay your inquisitiveness an answer wasn’t forth coming on this day…perhaps in time to come?
Kal Malik puzzled.
I had deliberately kept the number of site visits low for Beltane. The daylight hours are still short, the distance we had to travel to get there was sufficient to drain away the day, and I wanted to be able to feel ‘unhurried’ when we got to a site. Almost as if enhancing this mood I had parked at The Broad Oak pub car park in the village of Strelley. It took us ten minutes to walk to Catstone Hill, and really it would have been easier to park right on the corner of the road just before the main village where there was ample parking, and the distance would have been more than halved. Such is life!
That wasn’t the end of our woes finding the site. Intuitively, and with only the barest map navigation, we found our way on to the hill. We inspected the broad flat plateau but couldn’t find any “capstones” for burial chambers. Were they hidden by the brambles and gorse? We tried to find more accurate maps on our phones but failed, so we resorted to dowsing rods. The rods pointed us out in the direction of a ploughed field. Our rationality kicked in and caused us confusion. We split up and went searching. Eventually I found the right place. It was at the end of the ploughed field and off the plateau behind a line of trees. The M1 motorway was is view below. Nice! Being off the main plateau was why we hadn’t seen it. We also realised there was a much easier way in if we’d only taken the steep tracks up the hill instead of following the main path. Once you know, you know – hindsight is clear.
We inspected the area around the capstones. No entry into these chambers, if ever there was any. They were silted up to the brim now. Disappointment began to set in. We stumbled around tripping over the tangle of briars and bramble thorns, the thick dead grass and the outcropping tangle of shrub branches. Our sense of frustration was compounded when we discovered that the site had no energy signature either. There were no earth energies running through the site at all. The disappointment grew. Should we turn away and go somewhere else?
Hey – where have I been? Well, to Budapest, then back for Beltane, then off to Barcelona. I’ve been a busy bee! It’s all go at this time of year! Normal service is now resumed, and no neonicotinoids were ingested along the way.
For Beltane this year I decided to go over to the very edge of Derbyshire where it touched with Nottinghamshire. The meeting of counties seemed like the kind of liminal space where worlds collide and interesting things happen - a kind of amalgam which I’m calling ‘Derbinotts’. We would visit two new sites in the Nottingham area, and on the way back visit some favourites from Derbyshire, but first we had a “local” Cheshire site to do, because all good Fire Festivals should start with a cleansing.
Indeed, I had noticed that there was a pattern to the many years we have been marking these festival dates. For Beltane the pattern was this:-
- Cleansing and purification through water
- Concepts of birds, wings or flight while at a sacred site
- A celebratory fire ritual, usually involving incense.
You may remember that I am following the route of some tarot cards that I drew and interpreted at the start of the year. For the four Celtic Fire Festivals there are specific readings and I was keen to discover the first of what I would term “the tricky encounters”.
The tarot has said:
Q. How do you see yourself?
Vision: “A picture – a person turning into a place and back again. A choice. Then a wilderness – dark trees, tangled thorns and branches. A despairing, Lost. Lost in many ways. A lady’s laughter.”
For Beltane the reading had shown the place as being “The Hermitage” and the associated character as being “Linet“. The main character of the reading was that I would be challenged and goaded into making an important decision regarding my progress on the path. If you like, my faith would be tested! I was feeling confidant, however, after having gone through the process of acquiring two energetic talismans – The Sword and The Shield of Galahad – and I felt that these tools would assist me greatly in dealing with anything “untoward” that might occur in my mind space during this quest.
Cleansing at Chad’s Well
To me Chad was that character who looked over the wall – the essence of childish curiosity, and a character which can be seen on many school walls. Apparently he’s also called Kilroy.
To the established Christian Church he was a saint of the 7th Century who lent his name to a well just outside of Stockport near Romiley in Cheshire. Maybe one day he’ll want it back? For now his name adorns a beautiful and well-constructed holy well that lies at the foot of a steep hill below the Peak Forest canal. The canal is the essence of tranquillity, and the whole area is suitably brushed with this soft and gentle quality.
Our holiday to Hungary was supposed to be a whole week off, and particularly for me a whole week of spiritual interests. In large part it was, but somehow the forces of the wild managed to break through into my full-on Tourist Mode in the middle of the week. It happened to be a full moon – Milk Moon – so I guess that was a contributory factor too. Budapest is a splendid laid-back city and after a couple of days touring around on a bus we knew where the interesting places were.
On a typically sunny April day we were finding our way around the base of Gellert Hill. This hill was renowned for being the haunt of witches, which is always bound to interest someone like me. I like a bit of witchiness in life. We had just come out of the underground quaintness of the restored Gellert Hill Cave – a site still peddling its special aura on the basis of a later Christianisation.
I first came across the idea of Devas when reading a book that mentioned the work of the Findhorn Community in Scotland. I was intrigued that a group of people would dedicate their whole lives and lifestyles to the idea of working with the spirits of plants and elementals which governed the form of the physical vegetation. I wanted to know more and so I bought William Bloom’s book on the subject, and read anything else I could discover too, including Marko Pogacnik’s book on Deva forms.
This year we have finally transformed our patch of bare clay soil, with its patches of eternal dampness, into a landscaped concept garden that is in its nascent state. Having spent all of the early Spring digging, moving, turning and tilling the soil, adding conditioner and compost to it, finally it was in a state to accept some plants. The process took days, even though the space was only twenty feet by six.
The concept of the garden was typically druidic. M had given me free reign to design as I saw fit. As the pressure mounted to produce a design I turned to the inspiration of Nature and with a blank sheet of paper a form emerged in the symmetrical rounded rectangle: a quadrant of elemental ideals.
Appropriating the phrase that Bruce Lee made famous I am seeking within the small confines of this post to express an idea that is a little reflexive. That is – I want to write about the limitation to the power of the creative media to express the full impact and experience of magickal processes.
I was made aware, when writing recently about the futility of convincing sceptics - that one of the main reasons why I no longer try to speak to sceptics about magick is that I have rarely got enough time to be able to tell the fullness of the experience in a language that comes close to expressing the content, especially the emotional content of the moment.
I am aware that great literature of capable of creating within us a powerful and even life-changing set of emotions. i am aware that given enough time and space in any work a truly great artist can begin to shape the medium to produce something that may rouse and engender within the audience (at least some of them) a similar response to the original experience. Yet, a blog is a poor medium for such stories as ours. Even poetry is a mere snapshot of words who symbolism is of limited depth, despite the resonances of language and its complex structures.
So what is missing from these tales of magickal adventure? The emotional content, the synchronistic ripples in time whose echo sweeps you off your feet when it hits, that turn your world view upside down to its rightful position. What may be missing is the heavenly glory of the light and shade of the meanings within the moment, and the full impact of the realisations. Remember your first birthday gift of real significance? Remember the impact that had upon you at the time? The joy, the potential!
Now bring that forward into adulthood, into a time where all of the magick is systematically removed from life through processes of levelling, uniformity, reason and ridicule…. and what remains is scant reward for life on a daily basis. Imagine now, that the magickal is re-inserted into your life’s adventure. Imagine that the joy and potential are rediscovered, but now they are no longer simply superficial joy and potential, now they chime within you - the symbols, the links with other cultures around the world, the harmony, the knowing at a deep level of being which overtaken reason’s faltering jigsaw and shows the full picture in one shot.
When I fail to recount the emotional content in the blog, when I fail to deliver the magickal feeling that comes with all of my work on a weekly basis… know that this post is one of my poor attempts at a reminder about the power of this druidical work. Let the magick of the year begin again!