I hadn’t planned to go to Penmaenmawr and visit the Druid’s Circle. Instead I had printed out a map to a dolmen on the Llyn Peninsula in the North West of Wales, and thought that the sea air might do me some good as I was nursing the throb of having had a wisdom tooth extracted the previous day. Salt air – should do me good – so I had picked a site that was new to me, and was right on the coast. Instead, I turned off at Penmaenmawr – call it a ‘divine wind’ – a kamikaze moment.
It was certainly blowing cold and strong by the time I had gently picked my way to the top of the hill. It’s a good half hour walk from the parking place, marked by two ‘chess-piece’ towers up he steep single-track road above the village. As I pulled my scarf tighter against the wind and readies my new ash staff for its first sacred site outing, I saw patches of snow still lying around. Winter was still here, even though Imbolc is around the corner. Initiating my staff, i.e. filling it with positive and useful energies, empowering it, and giving this ash staff my own energetic signature had become the order of the day in preparation for our Imbolc outing to Anglesey. In sight of that very island from Pemaenmawr seemed so intuitively right this day.
My new white ash staff was wonderful to walk with: sturdy, a good height and weight. The only down side was that I had waxed it, and wearing gloves they slipped around along the shaft so that I had to keep re-adjusting my grip. Just wait until the Spring, I kept thinking. On the way up I tried to fall into the usual walking trance that allows me to begin to connect with Nature. The steady footfall rhythm, the clunk of the staff, the beating of the wind, the distant cries of sheep and gulls all made a lullaby that allowed me to sink into the warmth of my Winter clothing and soon I was feeling the weak energies of Winter flowing around me from animals, and along the tracks that people walked.
On the way up I found a small branch from a gorse bush lying in a patch of snow on the main path. It seemed totally incongruous to its surroundings, and I couldn’t see any gorse bushes within sight of where it lay. I knew I should pick it up and take it with me, so I hooked its twisted twin twig form atop my y-shaped fork in the ash staff. I then carried it like Dick Whittington carrying his wares to London Town.
I passed the large standing stone in a field next to a lonely cottage where on my previous visit with Kal we had found negative energies and the sheep had chased us away from the stone. I decided to ignore it until I came back down. This visit had a purpose: to initiate my new staff, not to surround it with potentially harmful energies! I wandered on. As I neared the top I saw the familiar small ring cairn that marks, for me, the beginning of the sacred area above Penmaenmawr. I stood within the ring cairn and felt like I should be doing something cleansing, so I opened up to the wind and allowed it to tear away from me all the energies of the un-sacred places I inhabited as a human “down there” in the valleys and towns. My stuffed-up nostrils cleared, and I felt energetically neutral after a few moments of this, so I said a little thanks and used the nearby ‘erratic’ stones as markers to guide me to the Druid’s Circle. I never seem to want to walk along the main path to the circle, for some reason, and I never have yet, whatever the weather.
Wild horses couldn’t drag me up there
As I reached the dip of the little stream that runs down a small gulley just before the Druid’s Circle itself I was surprised to come across two wild ponies. There is a herd of them up on the moorland expanse, and I had seen them previously, and today on the way up too, but always at a distance. Now I was within a few feet of them, and they were as surprised about that as I was! We all stopped, and I instinctively drew my aura in close and sent out nonthreatening vibes, mentally saying that I simply wished to pass and didn’t mean them any harm. I expected them to bolt as usual, but they didn’t – they just watched me as I passed within almost touching distance of them, eyeing me dis-trustfully. I have heard someone say recently that horses believe that they are prey and so it is difficult to get them to trust humans. However, something about my behaviour was nonthreatening to them and they stayed, moving up to the circle after me, rubbing themselves against the most energetic (or convenient) stones.
Once at the circle itself I didn’t dally. It was too cold to be messing about. I asked the guardian of the place for admittance to the circle and felt the familiar tug. Always a blessing, especially after a long walk, but I am still prepared to turn away if the response is not right. I understand the rules. I deposited my pack, stick and gorse branch on my now familiar female stone and power centre.
The Ash Initiation
I got my dowsing rods out and began to ask questions. What preparation did I need to do to initiate my ash staff – n0ne. OK. Next question. Would incense help with the proceedings? – Yes. Fine – I had some with me. What was less sure about was why I had asked that question so early on! Would I be able to infuse my staff with the energies from this site? – Yes. And was today a suitable day to do such work? – Yes. Excellent – then let’s proceed.
Now I needed to identify the best place at which to perform this initiation ritual. I asked to be taken to a place suitable fr such work and was sent on a weaving path around the circle anti-clockwise until the rods turned in to strike the back of a particularly strikingly-shaped stone. I have previously called this stone “The Hooded Man”, but looking for that reference online now I can’t find it, so I have no idea whether that’s its known name. That’s what I’m calling it, as there are several other stones in the circle that have been named things like “Sacrifice Stone” or “Moon Stone”.
I used the dowsing rods to place and light three sticks of incense in a form of triangular shape around this stone. Then I faced West and began a meditation to connect with the energies of the place and with Nature. This happened much quicker than usual and I was surprised at this, as I had not performed such a ritual since the Winter Solstice in December last year.
Holding the staff I faced each of the cardinal directions asking for the appropriate elements of wind, fire, water and earth to infuse my staff with their energies. Finally, I asked the energetic guardian of the circle to put energies appropriate to this circle into the staff (which I felt to be healing and elemental energies). Feeling that the process had completed I gave my thanks to the forces that had worked with me, and I took off the gorse branch that had been hanging from the staff all this time. I placed it over the top of the circle’s stone, and began to process of dissipating those energies I had used to form the ritual space.
I looked around to see a band of mist indicating the leading edge of a thick set of rain clouds that were rolling in from the Irish Sea and descending quickly. Invigorated I packed and left quickly, marching quickly down the hill again without a single soul in sight for the entire journey. No-one else was stupid enough to be out int he wilds on a freezing cold day in January!
Reversal of Fortune
On my way down I stopped at the large standing stone in that field near the lonely cottage. The trees that lines the field and path were now whistling in the strong wind an telling me to hurry before the rains came, but there was something I felt I should check first. I got the dowsing rods out again and asked if the energy of the stone was similar to how it was the last time we had visited it? – No. Was it now positive, rather than negative: benign rather than malign? – Yes.
I picked the ash staff up and went to stand next to it. I used to rods to find the best place to be stood, which was at a power centre at the rear of the stone, just like the last time, only this time I felt much more inviting! I rested the staff there and looked at the four sheep that were stood only feet away – how were they reacting to this? Not at all. They stood observing, but didn’t move. They certainly didn’t begin to flock or advance upon me. They just looked – then carried on eating. What a different experience! I asked what type of energy was here now – it was neutral and female – a positive combination for me generally. As I got the answer I could ‘feel’ the neutral line flowing diagonally past the cottage and up towards the other sacred sites further up the hill. Something I could test next time – to see if there were any links. For now, my work was done.
One the way back down the hill I cleaned the base of the staff in the patches of snow. My gloves still slipped on the staff’s smooth surface, but now I felt a warmth from it that had been lacking before. Now the staff had been infused with the energies of a powerful ancient place.