Dinas Emrys, Gwynedd, Wales – 23rd October 2010.
Now we come to the crux of the matter – the culmination of my Samhain preparations. I had cut, cured and carved a wand made of rowan in preparation for this visit to Dinas Emrys, the legendary castle of Merlin. Here I was expecting to involve the shade of King Arthur in guiding me through an Underworld journey to revive the Spirit of Merlin. What would happen beyond that? I didn’t know. What were the consequences of doing this? Another mystery. All I knew was that this was my path to follow by going with the flow of the universe. This was..for want of a less hackneyed term..my current ‘destiny’.
The title of this post refers to the second line of a three-line riddle, or ‘tercet’ to give it its more accurate name, If you remember, the riddle went: “Strong red / Lower Merlin’s rowan/ Second Llanddeiniiol (or stone) church“.
We parked at the bottom in a nearby lay-by and cross the road looking for an entrance. When I have been here before it has been dark and I have been in a hurry, so I have missed the obvious five-bar iron gate entrance. We climbed in and took to the path running along the bottom of the steep ridge, running parallel with the River Glaslyn opposite. Kal had spotted what looked like a cave from the road and soon we had found it again. Indeed it was a small cave, big enough to squeeze two people into, so we both shuffled in. It was very hospitable, although when Kal lay down he felt uncomfortable. From beneath him he reached round and pulled out a hand-sized quartz rock. I took it from him and pointed out how it looked like a perfect replica of the shape of the Dinas Emrys hillitself. I felt this was significant so I asked if I could keep hold of the rock. After some persuasion Kal agreed and I put it into my pack for later. Remember this bit – it will re-appear as a perfect example of how dowsing works later.
The weather was acting strangely. All around us there seemed to be layers of grey-purple bruised cloud pending with rain, yet shafts of sun also filtered through the trees on the slope. Again I wondered if Kal was destined to get soaked. Again I was wrong – somehow he survived with only a few light and brief showers whilst out in the open. It seemed surreal how he managed to avoid the elements.
The Pool of the Dragons
On the way up we paused at the mid-section platform – an area of flat land that may have once been a track for carts to bring goods up the hill, or for builders to bring materials up the slope. Now it was full of decaying trees and mossy rubble. We set out first goal to be to find the pool within which the two dragons – the red and the white – were supposed to have fought [I will soon post the best account of the story that I have found, but if you need a quick reminder here's an introduction].
For some reason I wandered farther along the plateau than I ever had before and stood by some ruined mossy stones and bent tree trunks – something has pulled me here. Kal began to search for the pool using his dowsing rods and the rods lead him to the far end of the structure at which I was standing. “Here it is.” he said assuredly. I got my rods out and circled quickly back on myself right to where Kal was standing. Yep, I got the same.
Was this really the much-vaunted mythical pool? It didn’t look anything like the pictures I had seen of it. We were both sure we were correct, though. Very strong dowsing reactions, and … something else said it was correct too – a magical sense, an intuition that we have both been developing seemed to add to the conviction.
So now it was time to climb up onto the upper reaches, to pass by the ‘sentinel’ trees that guard the site, and to finally venture into the Underworld to meet Merlin’s spirit. I think I physically gulped at the prospect. Everything over the last year had built to this point and it felt .. important. I was ready – we ascended.
I had been joking with Kal all week about the steepness and danger of walking up the Dinas Emrys ridge, regaling him with tales of windy dark nights, slippery steps and steep drops. It had amused me for weeks, and now here he was coming up behind me along the path. He was clearly taking his time making sure he got his footing right. I teased him that he had perfect conditions today, but all around us was the threat of rain.
On the way up I occasionally paused by particular trees. These were trees that I had identified as being ‘sentinels’ – guards to the spiritual treasures beyond for the person approaching in the correct manner. Having spoken to the sentinels previously I was able to remind them of who I was, and to ask permission to enter – happily this was granted in the usual manner (see many previous posts on gaining permission from trees).
On top I realised I had plenty of time for once – neither constrained by the weather or by having to get back at a ‘reasonable hour’, so I took the chance to explore before I started my work. The place was much much larger than I had imagined. I thought that the ruins of the square tower were the main features, but towards the Beddgelert end of the ridge there are stunning views down into the valley and lovely places to sit and relax, which I took advantage of.
Standing on the edge of that end of the ridge I felt a tickle of air – a mere draught hitting me in the face like a gentle reminder of something I should be doing. I recognised that this place was the home of some air elementals. They were making their presence felt. Perhaps it was even one that I knew well myself? I stood on the edge of the precipice and relaxed into the experience. “Come wind,” I whispered, “come play with me!”. Immediately a very strong gust of wind built within moments into a roar that ripped at my hair and pushed me backwards, making me sway. I laughed joyously from deep within me. Oh yes, I was indeed an air sign by birth!
I felt powerful, filled with energy, and ready for the work. Wandering merrily back towards the ‘quad’ and its guardian ash tree I passed by a lovely oak tree that was perched on the rim of a dip. I couldn’t see into the dip, but I wanted to take a look there later. I sat on a stone beneath the lovely oak tree and thought to myself, “This is a lovely spot indeed. Full of power.” I left to return back to where Kal was hanging around, near the ‘quad’. He asked me if I was going to start doing anything, or effectively if I was just “chewing a brick” as they say. I was procrastinating indeed. Time to go to work!
The Underworld Journey
I began by asking my dowsing rods to find me the best place to do the ritual – the best place to descend into the Underworld. They located a mossy circle beset like a jewelled tapestry with the stunning colours of autumn – scarlet and magenta reds, autumn leaf oranges, sea greens of all hues, and golden yellows that made my heart melt. Damp or not I was very happy to seat myself there – it felt like Nature’s own throne.
The final preparation was to light incense – two sticks on either side would suffice, and I knew this configuration to be for protection, such was the frequency with which it arose. Two sticks for protection, one either side. I felt I needed more protection, so I raised up the rowan wand I had with me, drawing down the elemental powers around to guard my work, and describing a circle around me several times until I felt it was ‘solid’. This was the first time I had used a wand and it felt strange and unnecessary. I was sure I could have achieved the same with my fingers alone, but never mind.
ii. Arthur – my guide
Once I was deep into a meditative state of mind, my head lowered and mind stilled, I thought of the first task : to speak to Arthur’s shade [see Tintagel post]. I projected myself to Tintagel Castle, right to the power centre that I had met the shade on my last visit. I saw the shade there and asked him respectfully if he would be my guide as he was destined to be. The look he gave me was deep and meaningful, and the nod was slight and sufficient. I had my guide, and I touched his shoulder and we returned to Dinas Emrys together along an energetic arcing path.
iii. The Alchemical Wedding and an Anchor
As I sat deep in meditation, with a clear mind, I worked on opening up the strong red energy pool that I had stored in my lower chakra area. When I felt it will up it flowed into my upper area (behind the third eye) but it felt like it was flowing into an empty vessel. Something felt wrong about that, and so I raised my head to let in some light through my closed eyelids. The white light of day poured into my mind and I drew the white power from the Sun and brought it into my upper chakra storage area. Now I released the white light energy to flow downwards. The red energy was already flowing upwards, and together these energies met in the centre – at my heart chakra area – and merged into a pink ball. That pink ball began to solidify and rotate, like a shiny smooth pink quartz crystal in my heart.
I recognised this alchemy as the famous Rosicrucian Alchemical Wedding of the masculine and the feminine forces: the sky and eath energies combining into one.
The pink crystal, I realised,was the vehicle to store my aura in for the perilous Underworld journey. I began to shrink my aura down until its concentrated essence was contained within the pink crystal. With my aura hidden away I now felt I needed to anchor myself, to tether myself to this reality before my descent. I mentally wrapped some strands from my navel chakra around the circle I had drawn, tying myself to this spot. Now I felt ready for the journey.
iv. Navigating the Underworld
It took me a long time to open the Underworld portal beneath me. Several attempts were made to create an opening, but they all collapsed in on themselves shortly afterwards and I couldn’t maintain the vision strongly enough to feel like Arthur and I could descend into it. I felt that my visualisation was lacking, so I tried another tack. I asked Arthur to help me to hold open the portal, and together we were able to create a wide circular entrance – a hole in Dinas Enrys into which we would both fit easily. Needing no second chances I jumped in….
Opening this portal was harder than I thought it would be and took a lot of energy, which I had to gather from all around me. I’m sure Arthur had something to do with it too, but I couldn’t say what. I was too busy falling into a deep dark pit!
When I landed things moved very quickly. In my “rehearsal” for this journey everything was clear and obvious, but today I wasn’t able to focus properly on anything. It was like I was being “whisked” through the section where I had to pass by the spirits of the dead. On reflection I’m sure that Arthur’s shade helped me. Occasionally I would see streaks of blurry darkness attempt to come at me but I was travelling at such a pace that they simply flew past. Whenever my focus moved towards the dark whispy streaks a voice (Arthur’s?) would come to me reminding me to concentrate on the pink crystal, on keeping my aura small and secure. I did as I was told. This was not “my world” and I was a fish out of water here.
I stopped and looked up. I was standing at the edge of the huge cavern that I had seen in my previous vision. The cavern still contained a lake whose waters were at my feet, and in the centre was the island upon which I could make out a stone plint containing a body in repose – Merlin! For some reason I couldn’t fly across like I had in my premonition. Instead I had to laboriously plod under the water, like walking through treacle. This took both a long time and a lot of concentration. I was energetically exhausted by the time I had waded under the water (no breathing problems, however), emerging tired at the plinth, and strangely calm considering this was the culmination point – the important bit.
v. Waking the Spirit of Merlin
I looked down on Merlin’s body – his dark hair, and surprisingly young face was only apparent for a second before his body became a skeleton. Then a second later it would become flesh again. This continued all the while that I looked at him. I wondered if I could remember the riddle to speak, but I felt that these words were not the words to use. Instead, I asked myself to go deeper – what words should I say, I asked myself? Out of my mouth flowed three phrases without a second’s thought:
“Live in me. Live with me. Live by me.”
He became wholly flesh and awoke, sitting up from the plinth, and smiling at me. As he walked towards me we merged into one being. I asked Merlin/myself how we could escape, and he said inside me, “Look up” and I literally raised my head and the light of the sun made my vision go all white, and I awoke out of the trance. We were back into the Middle World – the world of mundane ordinary reality.
Apparently, during my meditation people had come up and walked around talking. I heard nothing even though I thought I was in quite a light trance. Clearly I was deeper than I imagined! I was dazed when I got back to consciousness and it took me several minutes to recover my senses – I felt numb and spaced out.
vi. Lowering Merlin’s rowan
I closed the portal and dismissed the circle when I was sure nothing had followed me out of the Underworld. To complete the ritual I had to place the ‘Dinas Emrys-shaped’ quartz rock that Kal had given me onto the stone beneath the tree. That was not all though. Something had to be done with the wand I had made – I would have to sacrifice it – this was what I felt. I had an intuitive understanding of what ”Lower Merlin’s rowan” now meant – I had to dispose of the wand. I won’t say how, because it’s my secret, but let’s just say that it has been well and truly lowered!
With that final symbolic act the process was complete. I dowsed to confirm this and to ask whether everything had been successful – YES. Now, what would happen to me now that I had sort of merged with the spirit of Merlin? Time would tell.
Here’s my recollection of the experience on the day, recorded in the small cave structure at the base of the hill:
Druid Diary excerpt: Dinas Emrys – Samhain 2010 : dd-231010-samhain.mp3