Often Kal and I time our visits to meet the requirements of whether the ‘sacred date’ (of the Celtic Year) comes closest to a Full Moon or a New Moon. One such visit coincided with a New Moon on July 30th. This coincided with the Lammas (or Lughnasagh) Festival. We decided that a visit to Lud’s Church in Staffordshire would be the best option because it combined Kal’s wish to see the place with the idea of going to a place “underground” to coincide with the new moon energies. Our hope was that this coincidence would be good for allowing visions and getting answers to questions.
We did a hasty jaunt out to the Staffordshire and Derbyshire border, very close to the Macclesfield Forest. I went via a route that I didn’t normally use, and soon we were lost! In the right area, but definitely lost. Kal had to turn on his charm and extracted useful directions from a local old man. Soon, I recognised where I had gone wrong and we were only minutes away from the Gradbach village (which doesn’t appear on any of my Satellite Navigation systems as a valid destination – helpful!).
If you plan to go yourself, take my advice and use SatNav to guide you to SK17 0SU, or to one of the following nearby villages: head for Allgreave if you want to come in from the North or West. Head for The Roaches via Danebridge if you want to come in from the South or South-West. Head towards Flash just off the A53 of you are coming from the East (say, from Buxton). None of those villages will get you to Gradbach, but they’ll get you close! Once in that area you will find Lud’s Church here.
The sun was setting as we arrived finally at the car park that is at the base of a hill leading to the Gradbach Scout Camp and Youth Hostel. A gentle walk at a brisk pace up the hill and down into the dale where the Black Brook flows brought us to the ‘entrance’ to Lud’s place – the entrance being a huge beech tree that I felt compelled to show to Kal. He was awestruck by the majesty of the tree and could immediately feel its power, as I have many times. We briefly stopped to pay our respects, and I asked permission to enter and for the tree’s blessing on our vision work to come. This delightful beech tree seemed only too pleased to be asked, and to have some form of reverence shown to it. Of course! What else would a Hedge Druid do?
So, with the beech tree’s blessing, we began to climb up to the our destination – the temple of the god of light.
The Cleansing Rock Perch
Upon reaching the tall rocky outcrop at the top of the path through the forest above the Black Brook, I took Kal to see an oak tree that had managed to grow old despite what must be the constant shade of the chasms formed by the tall limestone rock formations. This oak tree was a particular favourite of mine because it had once saved my life in a moment of reckless experimentation, about which I am too embarrassed to divulge further. Nevertheless, let it be known that from that moment onwards I believed totally in the concept of a ‘guardian angle’, even if that angel were the spirit of a tree. Something had saved me that day, and now I pay homage to the oak tree whenever I pass by.
Kal has now totally overcome his fear of heights, so it was no problem to take him up onto the top of the rocks for a quick meditation and a clearing of minds before we went to Lud’s Church itself. Soon the views across the valley and the clear evening air, along with the vibrant setting sun, had all worked their magic and we were ready for a magickal experience.
As we descended I remarked that the signposts pointing to the various sites nearby were new. Kal said they were for people who didn’t like adventure. I had to agree. I preferred it when I found the place by chance and perserverence (and maybe with the help of dowsing rods). It seemed to make it more special somehow.
Inside the Church
At the entrance to Lud’s Church we spent a moment asking for permission to enter. This has become a firm part of my approach to sacred sites now, and I recommend it. It’s not like a “lucky charm”, or a quaint tradition, I am really trying to get a feel from the spirits of the place as to whether I am welcome at this time. Rarely have I been refused, but on occasion I have been rebuffed, and I am thankful that I asked beforehand. And it seems a polite thing to do to introduce yourself to unfamiliar sites and spirits.
We were welcomed in by a familiar tug at the naval chakra area, and walked into the darker realm of the chasm’s cool verdant walls, whose velvety sheen seemed like a familiar and comforting garment. As we skipped across the muddy patches we stopped at the angled ‘corner’ where I always feel is the most ‘happening’ place. We lit some incense to set the scene and then Kal began to find a suitable place to begin his investigations.
Kal was searching for information about one of his new ‘blue key’ quest tasks, and I will leave it to him to explain it more fully. Let’s just say that for my part I was able to feel that the quest had something to do with him “finding his voice” – or feeling comfortable in speaking to a wide audience. This seemed ironic considering that, of the two of us, it is Kal who has the experience in teaching, lecturing, and speaking to people.
Learning about my ally
I left Kal to find out more, and I went back to the first junction within the entrance area. I wanted to have a look at the smaller chasm off to the right. It was drawing me. So I walked through it until I felt that I should stop. The stopping place was atop a pile of old leaves that had collected in a shallow area between two low rocks walls and next to a tree stump and branch. This felt like a good place so I sat down and placed the incense I had brought with me. I also got out my protection set of crystals in order to set up a barrier around me in this ‘new’ place. Although I didn’t feel threatened at all, I felt it was necessary for me to protect myself from intrusion, and to bar any external energies from wandering into my space during the meditation.
I knew I didn’t have long so I began to get into trance quickly. Soon I was deep away from reality and I was in that quiet space where I felt I could ask questions of Nature in this sacred space. I tuned into the New Moon energies of that evening too, and began to seek answers. I asked about my new healing ally. Could I call upon her to reveal something of herself? Soon images were being played out in my mind and I was seeing a picture of a young woman.
I was able to pick out her characteristics:-
- blond hair, blue-eyes, tall for a woman…Scandinavian, perhaps?
- I felt she was dressed as a Celt, and the feeling of “Celtic” was strong
- she had come to Ireland to learn, but she had died young before her studies were completed
- she was taught by a man in a hawk’s outfit whom I met earlier and whom I took to be the spirit of Gwalchmai
- she wants to pass her knowledge on
Perhaps this is why she chose to teach me? I had been in contact with the same teaching spirit as this woman had been taught by. We shared a bond of a common teacher, and perhaps in order to fulfil her teaching destiny she needs to now work through a willing pupil who can carry on the same work? This is all pure speculation based on the imagery I saw, and the feelings that I felt at that time.
Soon Kal appeared. He had finished his information-gathering and so we began to make our way back down to the river, swapping stories all the way back to the car and on the journey home. It had been a fruitful outing. One new site for Kal, and much more personal information for me about my healing ally. I now felt totally comfortable with going in this direction, and allowing this ally to lead me as far as she was able, and as far as I have the ability to go.
One final thing – when I was preparing this post I checked the very dark photos I had taken. Most were completely unusable, sadly. One, however, was interesting. No flash, no sun, none of the usual accepted explanation. Just an orb, in the place where we were working with natural magick… the debate continues. Here’s a close-up: