This is the second part of our Yorkshire outing at Imbolc. In this half of the day we had our serious heads on. We went looking for a mighty stone circle, then passed a curious tower that we had to investigate, went to dowse at Bolton Abbey priory as the light began to fade, and then made a rapid return to the stone circle to clean up. All will be explained.
Beyond Malham Cove we realised we have gone the wrong way. We shouldn’t have been going through Malham, beautiful as it was. We stopped and re-calibrated our route. Another half hour to the stone circle – really? It had seemed so close on the map. We checked our route once more as the road turned into a single car-width track but we were on the right road. Upwards we climbed, glad of the four-wheel drive and new tyres, but my poor suspension paid a heavy price for our wilderness visit.
We parked and made out way to where a cairn was marked on the map. There was no stone circle in this area and this cairn was all we had to go on. Nobody that we passed knew where this ‘Druid’s Altar’ stone circle was. how could they miss it – it seemed huge and distinctive? The warning signs began to tingle like an over-active spider-sense. After fifteen minutes walking along a path to nowhere we decided to climb up to the nearest peak to see what we could see. It was hard going in the icy grass. At the top we saw…nothing. On the way back to the car I had a brainwave – what if I could find the OS Map co-ordinates and use my GPS2OS application to locate the site? It worked. Frustrating moments later we had our directions – must remember that trick! We were only a mile out in both longitude and latitude! Bacon saved.
To be honest we still struggled to find the Druid’s Altar stone circle even when we had the exact co-ordinates! The images on web sites had not quite shown the diminutive scale of the stones. I thought they were six feet tall – they were three feet tall. We found our respective power centres and had lunch. My power centre was fortunately on the lee-ward side of the tallest stone, so I was sheltered. The power centre felt good, and it was comfortable too, which was surprising.
I was soon up dowsing again – the end of January is still bitingly cold when you’re still, so I was soon dowsing all over, asking questions about the circle, where the energies were, where they flowed to. One of the checks I have started to do is to ask whether there is anything that needs modifying. I put it that generally because it is a kind of “balanced” question – neither supposing that positive nor negative energies need be applied, only asking whether the circle is properly energised as it was originally intended to be. The answer was, “Something needs to be done”. Taking a lead from Kal, I asked to be led to the place that had the problem. Moments later I had wound my way to the only other large standing stone in the circle – the one that had a great big horizontal crack in it.
Papering over the cracks
I didn’t really need to dowse to find out what the problem was – I was looking right at it – the crack in the stone. Nevertheless, I had learned over the years not to assume anything so I dowsed it – moving the rods around the stone until they crossed. They crossed at the wide crack in the stone – well, I had to check. There was a black stream of energy emerging from the crack which went sinewing out of the circle and ended up spiralling into a pool of black energy some fifteen feet away to one side of the circle.
I asked what paraphernalia might be employed to assist me with the work of healing – incense, not crystals. I was mildly disappointed, wondering just when I would be able to use the crystals. It would take five sticks of incense around the stone to aid the repair. As they burned away I retreated to my power centre next to the intact stone and linked into the site’s positive energies, feeling and feeding the flow as I guided it towards the cracked stone.
Half way through I was called to use my ashen healing staff by placing the end of it into the crack and focusing the healing energies around me into the gap. I could visually see the transparent energy flowing in, and when the crack was filled I withdrew the staff and smoothed the crack over with my hand. I was using primal energy to seal the crack – a skill I had learned the previous year. When that was done I returned to my power centre to disengage and clear things up.
Well, no learning taking place this year, it seemed. This year felt like it was more about putting last year’s learning into practise. A felt satisfied that I had done a good job and we packed to leave. On the route back to the nearby car I picked up some litter – cans and plastic wrappers from the moorland. Another small deed that simply needed doing, and for which I sought no rewards. Being a druid is often just a form of service, but the rewards are immeasurable. If you want to know why I do this, then see this previous post which explains all.
5. Barden Tower, Barden village near Barden Moor, north of Bolton Abbey. [Bing OS map]
We were on our way to Bolton Abbey now, having tried to get to “The Devil’s Apronful” and “Simon’s Seat” but been thwarted by a closed road and time pressure. It wasn’t going to be possible to find a long way around to these sites, walk up the steep long slope to get to them, dowse them, make it back to the car, and still make it to any other site that day before nightfall. The easier option by far was to head to Bolton Abbey, which we did.
As we flew along the small country road admiring the woods, hills and valleys there suddenly arose a huge stone square tower just at the turning we wanted to take but which was close. We turned around shortly after and decided to go to the tower as a quick diversion seeing as it was so close to the roadside. We parked up in the designated area and were visually accosted by the numerous “Don’t do this“, “None of that sort of thing“, “Forbidden to breathe here” type signs that I immediately resent. That put me out of favour with the site straight away. We walked around the one allowed route, looking inside at the ruin. Quick dowse – was there anything here of energetic interest to either of us – NO. Oh.
We headed back to the car, and as we emerged from the tower’s immediate vicinity I stood stock still at the sight of an old hoary tree in the grounds of the restaurant that adjoined the site. I did my best to identify the type of three – it looked like an ash tree, but I had never seen one growing in that way before, nor had I ever seen one that appeared to be so old. I dowsed whether it had an energetic presence and the rods nearly spun round to hit me. Clearly, then answer was yes.
Both Kal and I spent some time just touching it and feeling how powerful the old tree was. It had an undeniable character and presence. The visit had been worth it after all – here was another powerful tree to add to our list of trees worth visiting. Time for Bolton Abbey, which was to be a most intriguing episode of dowsing questions, correlations and exciting new experiments, and I will talk about that in some detail in the third post of this series coming soon. On my return, after writing up this post, an eagle-eyed reader spotted that it was an old apple tree. It was one of the most amazing apple trees I have ever seen.
Before we left for home I made an important discovery. I had left a pair of dowsing rods at the Druid’s Altar stone circle, and I probably had just enough time to retrieve them before the light faded completely. Kal was very generous as didn’t show his disappointment at missing any further sites that day. We kind of knew we’d be back around Yorkshire soon this year – it is too full of interesting stuff not to come back.
On my return to the Druid’s Altar I found my rods perched on top of the power centre stone that I had been sitting at. I knew exactly where they were. In the fading light I couldn’t help but have a quick dowse with the rods to see whether I had made any difference to the site. I dowsed that the site had a genius loci there (female), and she was content with my work there. I tried to make a connection back to my house from the site. Sadly, I later found that this connection had actually failed because the energies at the site were just too weak to make the connection properly. Another interesting lesson learned.
My dowsing rods were not the only thing that I forgot that day. On the way home I realised that I had forgotten to commune with any spirit guidance and had not engaged in finding out what the next part of the year had in store for me! How could I forget that? Then I realised that I still had a few days left in which to do that. I was relieved. Now I could find a site near to home and do some work with familiar spirits. Actually, it was a good thing that I forgot because I reckon I will need to find a sympathetic oak tree for the next stage, and I can only think of a few, most of which are in Cheshire, not Yorkshire!
As it turned out, there would be other factors involved in this ritual too, such as a totem animal that I would need to recognise before I could do the Imbolc work. This year is getting intriguing already and it’s only just started!
Gwas. Forgetful but not regretful.