I have a few more posts about my adventures on the trail of the southern energy ley from Arbor Low to Christchurch. In this tale I begin by getting diverted from my intended destination of the village of Rockley due to the crap signs and bizarre diversions caused by the inevitable roadworks in the town of Marborough. Add to that the consequential terrible traffic and the feeling of wasting a perfectly good sunny day, and you can see why I decided to divert myself to go in search of the barrow at East Kennet. I would just have to forego Rockley for this trip – it was impossible to get to!
Some miles to the west of Marlborough I saw the signs for the village and turned into the lane slowly tracking along watching both sides for any signs of the barrow. None. Any stones? None. Any tourist information? None. Anything at all? Nothing. Damn – I have still been unable to locate the barrow, and so I have decided to print off a very low-scale OS map and keep it in the car with me at all times just in case I go that way again.
In much higher spirits I headed to a place I did know how to find – the nearby West Kennet long barrow that I had visited several times in previous years. in fact, there isn’t a year goes by now when I don’t visit it at least once. Luckily, this being a week day, I had the place virtually to myself. I parked my car in the lay-by and walked down the well-made track with my ash staff and bag of goodies in hand.
As I walked towards the lone oak tree on the corner of the field I said hello. The tree seemed strangely lonely this visit – has a fence been removed, or a hedge perhaps? Something had changed – it all seemed much more open and exposed than usual. Everywhere seems bare! On the way up to the barrow I felt the urge to pick up a newly ploughed clod of earth. I began to break it apart in my free hand as I walked with my staff. I didn’t let it all crumble, but kept a handful and let it absorb the warmth of my palm, and let it receive the pulses of the beat of my heart and blood.
As I strode up to the barrow the only other visitors in the area decided that they had probably finished kind of, er, milling about and recalling fragments of overheard history and they wandered off down the hill. I smiled at them and wished them a fond farewell, but they were in their own worlds and didn’t notice. I went on top of the mound by the path I had been shown on previous occasions, and up there I settled in. I sat on my power centre, lay down my staff, took some pictures, and generally chilled out for a second, letting the traffic nightmare unwind from my body and psyche. It doesn’t pay to enter into megalithic structures in a bad mood or wound up. Soon I was in a dowsing state of mind – a hazy dream state that suited the warm and windless day. I meditated briefly to check that I was ready to enter, and, still holding the warm fresh Wiltshire soil in my hand I walked down into the entrance hall of the barrow.
I went from chamber to chamber in the order I had learned from my last visit ending up in the largest and well-lit chamber where I deposited the earth as a gift and lit some incense. Not wanting to leave the incense I just wafted it into each chamber and then said my farewells as I backed out of the chamber graciously and with humility. I knew that the genius loci of this place is very powerful and not at all keen on irreverent behaviour, and I was not going to antagonise it one bit today.
The leaving of the earth was done with a few words said about welcoming in the Spring, about wishing that this year would be bountiful and plentiful for all who cared about the planet, and that I would have a fruitful onward journey. Seems a bit wishy-washy and New-Agey when I type it, but at the time it felt like it came from the heart and there was an up-swell of emotion that accompanied the ritual that made me feel like I had done justice to the entry of the new season, even though I was a week or so away from the official date.
I was aware, too, that once again at this period of time I had done a spontaneous ritual involving the Earth element. I noted it, and moved on. By doing this ritual I felt I had welcomed in the Spring and the sun came out to shine joyously on the barrow where I rested a while before heading back down to the car to continue my quest to follow the energy ley southwards to Christchurch.