A Cumbrian Spring Equinox – Part 1: Birkrigg and Swinside

We chose Cumbria’s southern circuit of megalithic sites to be our venue and host for the Spring Equinox of 2010. The area had just the right balance of sites – waterfalls, stone circles, beaches, and hill forts – all of which we wanted to visit for a special purpose on this day. This Sunday 22nd March I was going to attempt to reconnect with the four elemental forces of Nature and thus kick-start my year’s energy work by doing so.

I had other agendas too: I wanted to find out the significance of the time between Spring Equinox and Beltane – did it have a particular activity associated with it that I should be involved in? Finally, I wanted to get understand what the Spring Equinox itself might mean in terms of energy.

Birkrigg Circle

The morning started brightly as we approached Cumbria’s southern fells, but there was a light cloud cover over the area once we actually got off the main southern road and began to approach Birkrigg Moor – the scene of our first encounter – the small stone circle of Birkrigg. Birkrigg circle is also known as The Druid’s Temple, but we won’t go into that! Recent scholars have argued the point that the creation date of these circles far predates the arrival of any known druid culture, but there does seem to remain a mythical attachment of the druids to the stones, in legend, lore and fable. I suppose people like me are only re-enforcing that view now that we are in some small way reclaiming these sites for our own usage, and are performing acts of natural magick there.

We had parked a way away from the circle and had to tramp across the bleak moor to find it nestled overlooking Morecambe Bay and the southern tip of the Lake District. At one point we considered using the dowsing rods to find it, but instinct led us there before we needed to resort to that.

It took us a few minutes to work out that this was actually two circles one within the other. The inner circle was obvious, but the outer one was demarcated only by embedded recumbent small-ish stones. Quicker than that Kal felt an affinity with the site and began to absorb the atmosphere, mentally preparing himself for communing. I, on the other hand, was totally indifferent to the place. Sure, I wanted to dowse the energetic properties, but for all it being called a Druid’s Temple I was prepared to stand aside afterwards and relax for a bit.

Here’s a summary of the energetic findings and properties of this stone circle:-

  1. The circle is at its energetic peak at the Summer Solstice
  2. It is most suited to those who are sun-aligned people [something you can dowse to check – what do you mean you haven’t done it yet? 😉]
  3. The size of the stones and their placement were significant factors in forming the energetic qualities of this site
  4. There was no astrological significance to this circle
  5. There was a genius loci (a site guardian) for the site, and it has a sigil that is the ‘sun sigil‘ (see recent Nine Stones Close post).

I sat and watched as Kal began to do some work with the energetic qualities of the site. I dowsed to find the most energetic place for me to sit whilst Kal did his thing. I was just drifting off minutes later into a kind of far-away thousand-yard stare when I became aware of a movement in the corner of my eye. I looked to the centre of the stone circle expecting to see a dog running across it or a wandering sheep, perhaps. There was nothing there. I unfocused my eyes again, and there it was again. A movement. I concentrated on trying to describe the movement – it was a spiral, moving from the edges of the circle upwards to a point some fifteen feet above the circle. My eyes, providing I didn’t look directly at this movement, were able to see this shape, this invisible shape, this overlay, and were able to describe the shape of a spiral – a cone of energy.

I emerged from this state quite excited and Kal happened to be emerging from his seated posture too at this time. I eagerly told him about the experience, and then we had one of those ‘I know’ moments, as Kal described the visualisations he had done, and that a spiral in the centre of the circle had been the major process. I’ll leave it up to Kal to tell you what he went through that day – it’s his story – but my story was already getting interesting. As the cloud cover thickened and the wind picked up from off the sea to chill our bones we decided to generate some heat by walking quickly back to the car and on to the next site: Swinside circle.

Swinside Circle

There’s no easy way to get to Swinside circle. Although there is just about enough room for three cars to park in the lane near a farmhouse just off the A595 in a C-class road. It is signposted, but you have to look carefully. From the place where you park you walk left up a small track that rises steeply. All around you are even steeper fells until you open out onto a valley between Swinside Fell and Mere Crags almost opposite. It’s only once you are walking through that wind tunnel that you begin to appreciate the stunning situation of this incredibly well-preserved and quite large stone circle.

The first thing we did on arrival was to get some shelter from the biting cold and harsh wind from off the fells. We decamped behind the relative shelter of the wall that defines the field in which the circle dominates. The circle is constructed on virtually the only flat ground around, and has views that rival any other I’ve seen for sheer aesthetic qualities. For a site without trees it’s remarkably beautiful, ans I wish we’d seen it on a clearer calmer sunnier day.

While Kal roused himself to do some of his own work, I went about my business in a ..well, business-like manner. This was not a place to be hanging about in today, and both of us would be doing only what we felt we needed to do, and no more, to save our hands from the freezing winds. First thing I did was to find my compatible entrance to the circle. This turned out to be the entrance closest to where you enter the field, and the natural place for most people to enter the circle, I suspect. This was the moon entrance that faces you as you approach the circle. The sun entrance was immediately opposite on the other side of the circle where a large gap between stones could be plainly seen.

I deposited myself on a stone that seemed strangely familiar and sat thinking about the layout of the circle and looking at the stones, trying to get familiar with the ambiance of the place and to feel whatever feelings might arise from being here – ‘being and seeing’ as Paul Devereux puts it. I recognised the shape of the stone I was sat on – it was identical in every single feature to that of a female stone that was my power centre at Druid’s Circle on top of Penmaenmawr in North Wales. When I dowsed this stone it turned out to be my power centre here too, and it was a centre of female energies.

Kal and I discussed whether there might be other entrances other than simply Sun and Moon aligned ones. Quickly we found entrances for the planets Mercury and Venus too, although at the time we didn’t have any way to confirm this. Now I have some nifty software that should be able to confirm these alignments when we dowse for the time that the entrances are supposed to be energetically active. We can check this now, which is going to be interesting.

Big Stones and Little Centre

As I sat on my female power centre huddling from the roaring wind behind me I noticed that my eyes were moving between two stones. To my right there was a round-topped striated stone with a leaning sentinel alongside her. I knew the stone was female as I have become adept at recognising the differences between the two types (mostly) after spending so much time seeing rows upon rows of them and dowsing along the lines at Carnac in Brittany. On its opposite side my eye was being drawn to an inverse triangular stone, which was taller than the others and so obviously of a male shape. Male to female, female to male. My eyes were drawn across the circle, and passed through a little ring of stones placed geometrically in the centre. I hopped off my stone to see what the dowsing rods would make of these things. Would they confirm them, or lead me elsewhere?

I asked the rods to lead me to the strongest male stone in the circle. I was led by a wobbly path to the angular stone that I had thought it would be. As I approached the stone the path deviated off to circle around it and finally the rods touched the back of the stone in the centre. This was something that I had seen happen many many times when dowsing particular stones – the ‘entry’ or ‘exit’ point for the trail of energy was usually on the outward-facing side of the stone, even though the trail went inwards.

Was this stone linked to any other stone in the circle, I asked. The rods began to twitch and lead me off back into the centre circle of little rocks before changing direction and spiralling out of the centre and out to the other side of the main circle. Moments later I was circling around the largest female stone. Just as I had intuited, these two were somehow linked through the centre of the circle.

I dowsed for the energetic centre of the circle and arrived at the little circle of placed rocks that someone had made. So this was the connection point for the male and female energies of the biggest stones, but more interestingly, someone had specifically marked this spot with stones. Other dowsers? Or who? Someone energetically aware, that was certain.

The Work of This Time

One of the agenda points I had wanted answers to this day (because we’re dowsing and doing energy work with a purpose these days) was that I wanted to know what the purpose of the time was between Spring Equinox and Beltane at the start of May, which was the next significant marker in the eight-fold year. I was assuming that there was 0ne, given that I had been working to a theme for the previous eighth of the year between Imbolc and Spring Equinox. What was the purpose of this next phase, I wondered?

To find this out I needed to immerse myself in the energies of this circle, I felt. I spent some time dowsing for where I should stand, in what order, and to see whether I would need anything like incense sticks to help me. When I got my answers I set off positioning the incense, lighting it in the gale-force winds (a test of patience, surely) and then trying to relax into the feeling of the site. I was attempting to make contact with whatever helpful forces might be around, in whatever form that might be.

After what felt like an Ice Age I emerged from my half-sleep trance state with a quite clear thought running through my head: this next phase was about achieving balance, finding neutrality. Those were the themes. During the meditation I had been shown as the very centre point between forces above and below. I was the nexus point in the interchange of those forces, the neutral point, the axis. I was shown that if I could connect into the ‘network’ of neutral energy within the planet then I could use this energy to divert, shape and collect the male and female energy and to use it for my own purposes – I was being given the secrets of how the ancients began to collect and utilise earth and celestial energies.

This was quite a revelation, and far beyond what I was expecting. Suddenly I felt a huge burden of responsibility coupled with a dread as to the amount of work I might have to do to take on such a task. I would have to centre myself to such an extent that I could withstand the centrifugal forces of the energies that spun around me as I connected to the very subtle energy grid of the planet, drawing from it and shaping the energy into a meaningful form.

It all felt a bit too much to cope with. What would I have to do? Could I stand it? Did I have the mental strength, the ability, the sense of responsibility to try to do this? How did I go about connecting? What would I have to endure? What would I be shaping the energies into? For what purpose? A million questions exploded like emerging stars on a dark night.

We reconvened behind the wall to discuss our findings and Kal’s were equally interesting. It looks like we had both got a lot out of this visit. The clouds were thickening all the time and the temperature felt like it was  a few degrees cooler than when we had started that morning. We decided we had withstood enough, and packed to leave, facing into the harsh wind once more as we tramped back down the track to the car.

Despite the chill wind and occasional sleet the lambs in the fields indicated the coming of Spring. It was a joy to see a few white and a pair of black lambs prancing about in the rugged fields back down near the farm buildings. It heralded the advent of Spring. even if the weather was not yet in agreement with that.

In the next post I will tell you how the day progressed. The first half of this day of balance had been filled with sun and light, but moving steadily towards a darkening. Next we went to search out Stanley Force – a waterfall in a beautiful setting near to the village of Eskdale. We would then climb again up the impossibly steep Hardknott Pass to the Roman fort  to complete the day’s undertakings.


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