Ancient Sites | Dowsing | Wheel of the Year

Dinas Bran

March 2, 2010

Castell Dinas Bran – Llangollen, North Wales, 20th February. 

There are times on this ‘path’ where a calling is received. It’s not like a phone call, or a text message arriving – it’s infinitely more subtle than that. You begin to receive signals – a name appears somewhere, or someone mentions a place, or you see a picture of it. Most of the time we’re receiving such information all the time and mostly we do not act upon it. Then it becomes more iterative – you see the name again, in another context, or the story is repeated elsewhere, the place gets mentioned, or you see the picture again and again. Soon, you have to act to find out more about what this ‘calling’ is. 

So it was that I started looking at the Megalithic Portal with a single search term: Llangollen. I had been a few miles south of there only the week before, near Chirk. Now I was getting a pull to go to the east of Wales again, this time along the A5, Thomas Telford’sgreat trunk road. I knew this road to be littered with ancient connections, not least of which is Llandrillo stone circle some way south of the A5 and near to BalaLake. Was this the intended destination? The Megalithic Portal churned away, then returned with its results: Dinas Bran was top of the list. I stared at the mound. I knew it – where from? I had passed it many times. Once, long ago, I had climbed it. This was the place I needed to go to. No doubt. My heart had leapt a little when I saw it. I made preparations and left. 

View of Castell Dinas Bran

Part of those preparations was to bring along my new ash staff. I’m glad I did. I parked at an isolated spot “round the back” of the hill, at a small lay-by where a stile offered a gentle path across an inclining field at the base of the hill. It was idyllic – the sun, the view, the objective. I tuned in very quickly to the surroundings and managed to find a wavy path across the field and up the hill. At each stage I let my intuition lead the way and soon I had joined the main path up the hill, with its precarious wooden barrier and well-trodden spiral path. The staff helped enormously. 

As I approached the top of the hill I slowed to a stop. I was beginning to feel the “edge” of the site, it’s aura – the edge of the nemeton. I stopped and tuned into the site, introducing myself and asking to be shown an entrance. I began to walk off the path across some scree. I gulped, but the path was remarkably easy and stable! A pre-defined path was emerging: as I looked back I could see there WAS in fact a trail through the slope of seemingly random stones, and again through the seemingly barren grass, I was actually following a trail. 

The trail ended at a man-made slope. A definite causeway. An entrance undoubtedly. 

South side entrance

Next I was led by the rods to a small break in the surrounding ditch. A path led down the break and up the other side to the castle remains themselves. I followed eagerly, feeling this was the right way into the site for me. As I passed through an archway I felt the urge to be free, so I asked the rods to find a suitable place to drop my bag and leave my staff. It was at the archway itself that was to be my resting place.

My resting place

I set about dowsing the place. What was the relative strength of the energies here, I asked (expecting a low response due to the time of year and the fact that it had been a castle, and was not now an obvious megalithic site). The response I got took me aback : it was a 10/10. Up there with Carnac and Silbury Hill in terms of the strength of these earth energies. The power of the place was apparent in so many ways, too. Look at the number of visitors up here on a freezing cold Saturday afternoon in February – there were about ten people millng about on this steep hilltop. Something was drawing them here. 

Gog and Magog

Perhaps they were drawn by the challenge of the giant Gogmagog, or the lure of treasure: 

“Claims have also been made that the Holy Grail or a golden harp are hidden in the hillock at Dinas Bran and that fairies dwell there.  

According to “The Romance of Fulk Fitzwarine,” the Normans pushed their way into the eastern borderlands of Wales and stopped just beneath the ruins of Dinas Bran. An arrogant knight, Pain Peveril, noticed the crumbling walls and learned that the sitewas once the home of King Bran. Since Bran’s demise, no one had enough courage to stay overnight inside the remains, for fear of evil spirits. To prove their mettle, Pain and some of his cohorts climbed up to the ruins, determined to endure the night. During that night, a storm arose and forced the men to seek shelter.  

Suddenly, an evil, mace-wielding giant appeared. This giant was the notorious Gogmagog, a man possessed by an evil spirit who had terrorized the countrysidefor years. Pain defended his men withhis shield, protected witha cross, a shield so sturdy that it withstood the penetration of the giant’s mace. His brazen defiance startled the giant and Pain swiftly stabbed him with his sword. As Gogmagog died, the evil spirit recounted King Bran’s bravery against the giant’s attacks. Bran had even built the palace atop the hillock to thwart the giant and enraged the evil spirit inside Gogmagog. Then, the giant forced Bran and his followers to flee. The dying spirit also claimed that a great treasure, including a golden ox, was buried beneath the hill.” (source:

In the tale above Gogmagog is the container for “evil forces”. Since the advent of Christian religion in these isles the forces of paganism have been characterised as evil, and attributed to monsters and devils. Of course this is water off a duck’s back to the pagans, who tend to embrace such concepts, but nevertheless it is a slanderous fact, and has involved the re-working of almost all our indigenous myths. What ARE these evil forces that the tale speaks of? The clue is in the name of the monster: “Gog” and “Magog” – the male and female archetype. Gogmagog is the combination of Gog and Magog – the male and female earth energies inherent in the land.

I looked, as I usually do, for the male and female energies of the site. Having a light covering of snow actually facilitated this because I was able to mark out the shapes that I dowsed, and denote the sources and endpoints for the energies. The male energy was sourced from one of the southern arched windows. It was the sunlight from the south that was the source of the male energy at the site. This seemed particularly relevant for the time of year that I was there, for the sun was tracking along the topmost part of the mountains opposite and would have shone all day through the arched window. At this time of year all the light came from the south as the sun moved across the sky from east to west. The male energy then ran around the edge of the inner castle ruins, and down a steep path ending at a sealed dungeon in the north-eastern flank of the castle.

The female energy began a few feet north of the southern arched window, on the other side of the path that cut between the male and female sources. I tracked the pathof the female energy westward (in the opposite direction to the male energy) and it meandered around, coming inwards, until it terminated right in the centre of the site, at a point where the inner mound began to slope. This female terminus pont also turned out to be the power centre to which I was most aligned. I stood within the power centre for a few minutes and felt warm, tingly and enlivened. Oh yes, this was good for me! 

Power centre drawn in snow

At the very moment when I took one step into my power centre the sun, which had been hiding its face behind a cloud for the last half hour, emerged and shone directly in my face. I couldn’t help but smile. No-one ever believes this “salute of the sun”, but it’s one of the most profound elements of the whole “being on a spiritual path” for me. It’s the most obvious and literally heart-warming sign that I’m moving in the right direction.

The Astrology of Dinas Bran

Next on my agenda was to dowse to see whether this site was particular active, energetically, at a specific time of the year. Sites that are like that have an astrological energy formation that can be dowsed for. We have only found this out recently after correlating several dowsing responses relating to the influence of planets, stars and constellations. When I dowsed at this site I found an astrological formation that was like the picture below:

Pisces - Feb 20 to Mar 20

Later, when I could dowse against a list of existing constellations and designs I was able to determine that the astrological form at Dinas Bran was an old symbol for Pisces. Pisces covers the time from 20th February to 20th March. I was visiting in that period of time – here I was, stood in DinasBran at its most energetic time. That would account for the 10/10 rating for the energy strength, then!

The Sign of Bran

If I was at Bran’s Castle, who is Bran? In the tale above he was relegated to the role of King, yet before kingship ever came about as an accepted or necessary concept Bran was also an archetype – a god. Bran is the giant head. He is a giant himself in many other tales, and so we begin to see the confusion emerge as later tales subvert him into human form. In his animal form, The Crow, he signifies transformation, regeneration and awakening.

I dowsed to discover whether this site still had a genius loci – a guardian spirit of the place. It did, so I dowsed for the energetic formation in the sitethat would indicate that spirit’s presence. I was directed to an area of snow close to my power centre, but away from most of the footprints in a little hollow. As I dowsed I felt I recognised the end points – these were clearly spirals. The centre point was an oval shape, and when seen betwixt the two spirals a form emerged – the Head of Bran between the male and female spirals of earth energy that were Gogmagog!

Left arm male, right arm female

What more do we know of Bran from mythology?

Bran Fendigaid (the Blessed) – Celtic god of regeneration – was the son of the Sea God, Llyr and, maternally, the grandson of Belenos, the Sun God. His name means Raven, and this bird was his symbol. In Celtic mythology, Bran appears as a semi-humanized giant residing at Castell Dinas Bran, the later home of the later Kings of Powys. Though Bran himself was supposed to have been an early King of the Silures tribe of Gwent. There appears to be no archaeological evidence for his worship though perhaps the castle mount was once sacred to him.”


Perhaps the castle mount was once sacred to him.” ‘Once’. ‘Perhaps’. Still! It is! He is there now. His imprint is within the mound – his influence spreads into the valley below, and all the way back to the sea.

I dowsed for other celestial influences on the site. Let’s see if they shed any light on Bran. There was a solar influence from the South, and a lunar influence on Full Moon days. This equates to the balanced male and female energy lines at the site. Together they form the rim and radiating lines of Belenos’ radiant sun shield, or chariot wheel, draw upon the summit of the mound.

As King, Bran led his warriors into battle in Ireland, but the Irish had a magic cauldron that brought their dead warriors back to life and only Bran and seven of his warriors survived the battles. I found it very interesting to read this given that the planetary influence that I dowsed at the site was that of Mars– God of War. There are further connections between Bran and the cauldron as represented in the Arthurian Mysteries as The Grail. Bran’s mortal wounding echoes the story of the Fisher King and Arthur’s wounding.

I took some delightful panoramic pictures from on high, then dowsed for an exit. The exit I had to take was a bit daring -it was a hollow in the wall of the northern side, through an archway, leading down to an ice-covered path that was inches from a sheer drop down the steepest part of the hill. Gulp! I trusted my staff and made my way down along a little-used pathway until I encountered grass that seemed to flow like water down the hill. Being in tune with the energies I felt their tug and descended straight down the hill without hesitation. I hear some onlookers from above geeing themselves up to do the same – ah, the folly of youth! Moments later I heard them falling over themselves and rolling down the hill trying to save themselves from injury. I smiled. They didn’t have my ash staff!


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