When I last posted about my journey towards the Spring Awakening I told you about the Lady of Gop Hill, who as it turns out was not Boudicca, but rather was a female spirit or genius loci that watched over the hill. My task that night was to awaken one of the last sites before the Spring Equinox, as this was my task for the duration of the time between Imbolc and Spring. Only a few nights later I was called to visit Dinas Emrys, the last and most difficult of the sites to reach for a number of reasons – firstly, because it was furthest from my house, but also because it was a damned steep and dangerous climb to get up there. The last set of circumstances that I wanted to visit Dinas Emrys in were the ones that I found myself faced with on that Friday night – a cold and wet night with a howling gale blowing. Oh dear.
I tell you, my life was so much easier before I got into this druidry lark, and I could happily have stayed at home that evening, but there was a nagging imperative. It was saying to me that although I had gone through a ritual to awaken Dinas Emrys from afar, there was nothing like actually being in the place to make the awakening real. Was I prepared for the challenge? Oh yes. Let’s do it! So I set off in the pouring rain for a good hour and a half driving across the expanse of North Wales, all the way telling myself that this was sheer madness, and what the hell was I doing?
As I drove over the slopes of Snowdon towards Beddgelert the mist descended and made progress even more dangerous. The gale-force wind was lashing rain across the windscreen at horizontal angles. Unperturbed I picked my way down the single-file winding steep road that led to the River in the valley of Gwynant below. Madness. Total lunacy! As I breathed with relief at the sight of the long straight road that followed the valley floor I was now on the lookout for the parking place that is at the foot of the steep rocky hill that forms the perch for the hillfort of Dinas Emrys . To me, Dinas Emrys is a place that is inextricably associated with Merlin, and this had become firmly fixed in my mind when I had visited the place at the end of the last summer. On that visit the sight of eagles at auspicious moments had had quite an impact on me, and it was a place that made me feel very close to the spirit of whatever it is that Merlin represents to those of us who consider themselves to be following a spiritual path that includes many of the symbols, thoughts and feelings that we associate with the Merlin stories.
If Gop Hill had been a test the feminine aspects of my world: my sensitivity to the energies, my sense of respect, the intuitiveness – then Dinas Emrys was set to test the male attributes already: my courage for a start, my determination to succeed, and my physical ability to see the event through. I parked and got myself kitted out beneath the shelter of the boot of my car, donning waterproofs, walking boots and taking my ash staff with me. The one or two cars that passed me must have thought I was insane at the idea of walking in the middle of the night, and they were totally correct.
I decided to walk up the hill with minimal lighting, so as not to attract attention from any nearby farmers or passing law enforcement. This was one time when I could guarantee that I would have the place to myself and I wasn’t going to let anything intrude on that. I walked up the winding path along the bottom of the hill, enjoying the silence of the night. As I walked the wind and rain were already dying away quite quickly, much to my surprise. Perhaps it was just because I was in the lee of the hill, I thought. I found the path leading steeply upwards and began the lung-bursting climb. My staff proved invaluable in helping my to pick out good solid ground to walk on, and to find protruding rocks. One slip in this weather, in this lonely place, and I would be the kind of casualty that the rescue services write reports about: “This idiot decided it would be a clever thing to do to climb a steep hill along a treacherous path in the middle of the night!” went the imagined opening line of the apocryphal tale. This was when I needed to reach out to other forces for guidance – I was unlikely to be able to do this alone without something happening to me. I stopped and went into a light trance, deepening my connection with the trees and energy forces that I knew were all around me, with the sky, the planets, the night itself, the hill, the rocks….I tried to feel them all. Once I felt connected I asked for guidance to find the right path up the hill to reach my goal unharmed. The remaining breeze brought me the sound of an owl somewhere far away and the trees rustled their protective response. I began to climb again in the darkness, slowly, carefully, but with confidence now.
I got beyond the sheltered plateau that was almost half way up and began to move out onto the thin pointed ridge of rock whose worn surface denoted the steepest and most slippery part of my ascent. Here there were few trees to shelter me and the wind was still blustery enough to cause me to sway occasionally when caught off guard. Also, the path was mainly rock at this point with nothing to get hold of on either side to steady myself. I stopped at the bottom of a section where I could see a steep drop on either side. My boots had already slipped a number of times on the rocks lower down so I knew how dodgy it was when they were wet. Here I was, blown by the winds, teetering at the bottom of a climb along a ridge with treacherous drops on both sides, and very little else to rely on. I paused some more, my mind racing again with the irrationality of it all, “Could I make the fifteen feet stretch along the ridge without falling? What if I slipped? How could I stop myself from falling all the way down? If I was going to turn back this was the point. Why not turn back now, save yourself the bother? Why was I here anyway?”.
At that precise moment when my courage was ebbing away in the face of this uncertainty I heard the cry of an eagle not far above me and to my left. It completely stunned me. It was a single call in the night, but it had the effect of totally brushing away all the doubts that had risen. I knew this was a motivating sign – a call that meant something to me. It was Merlin’s symbol, and it was speaking directly to me telling me to continue. Confidence flooded back into me and I gathered myself and marched on, without a second thought. Next thing I knew I was striding atop the hill with the full force of the wind lashing at my coat. Wow, I felt amazing! Totally charged with emotion and elation at having made it to the top in the face of such a challenge, and straight away I thanked the eagle for giving me that moment to make that happen.
Moments later I was inside the remaining tower walls and beginning a ritual to awaken the sites energies. This involved only two incense sticks, one placed outside the walls on a ledge overlooking the valley below, and in line with the place where I suspect the eagle’s eyrie lies (although I haven’t been over to that mountain opposite to check this – it’s just a feeling I have). The other incense stick went inside the tower right in the centre of the blackened fire that someone had lit within there. I connected with the ash tree nearby and asked for it to contribute to the process of awakening the energies of the site, and this felt like a positive act with a positive response.
As I stood there with my ash staff feeling the connection with the elements that were so palpable upon that exposed perch I felt the wind quicken in response to the work I was doing. I lifted my staff in response to the wind and in the still darkness I let forth a vocal response that started as a low moan and rose to a howl as the wind picked up in direct proportion to the movement of the energies that I felt was going on around me. This only served to further excite me and the vocalisation became a shout into the strong winds that fought my breath for volume. It was extremely thrilling to be one with the winds and as I came to the end of my energy visualisation so the wind died off in proportion to the amount of input that I was making. My voice echoed this and began to trail off too. This was a phenomenon that I was now getting familiar with. This kind of thing has happened a number of times now when I have done such work, so much so that it is no longer startling, and is something that I welcome.
I was standing in my power centre just behind the fire where the lit incense stick was burning brightly, fanned orange by the wind’s recent activity. I disconnected and returned back to normal consciousness. I was eager to whether the genius loci of the place had awoken in response to the enlivening of the energies that I had done. I understood now why being there was so much more important than remotely working on the site. No amount of remote work could replace the sensations I had just experienced, or witness the synchronicities of the eagle’s cry, or the wind’s response to my work. I picked up my dowsing rods and began to do some confirmation.
- Had I awakened the energies of this site? – YES.
- Was there a genius loci present at the site? – YES.
- Was it male or female? MALE.
- Was there a sigil that signified the presence of the spirit of place? YES.
I asked to be shown me the shape of the sigil, and was directed a foot away to the blackened charcoal of the old camp fire. A shape began to emerge as I dowsed that fire – it was a long clockwise spiral – a male spiral – and this was the sigil for the energy form that was now present again at the site. Whatever the genius loci means, and however one can interact with it, there was a new energy formation here at the top of Dinas Emrys and it had appeared as a result of my work this night. With it being male I had one last question – was the genius loci connected with Merlin? I got a “sort of” response. Was it Merlin? NO. I was barking up the wrong tree with this line of questioning, trying to make this fit because I wanted it to be something that it wasn’t. I decided not to force fit the questions. It was enough that something old had reappeared that night, and I was happy to have re-awakened the energy for this ancient site, and to have fulfilled my final awakening for the Imbolc to Spring phase.
I was in high spirits as I walked back down the hill not caring now about whether I was spotted and so using all the light I had available. When I got back to the steep ridge I realised just how precarious the path was over the slippery rock and gulped. In a way it was a good job I couldn’t see it properly on the way up or I would surely have turned around at that point. As it was I went down it on all fours, picking my way very carefully. I drove home in silence, but felt immensely fulfilled. All the mist, the rain, the gales and the distance had been worth it. All the danger had been forgotten in the delighted glow of achieving something wonderful, even if I was the only person in the world who appreciated what had happened that night.
I now looked forward to the next phase of the year – Spring Equinox to Beltane. What would that phase be about for me? Undoubtedly something unusual and equally challenging, I felt.