Ancient Sites | Staff | Wheel of the Year

Summer Solstice in Wiltshire

July 8, 2012

Finally I get around to the Summer Solstice post! This year I spent Summer Solstice on June 22nd, and I spent it in the heart of Wiltshire on a tour round my favourite megalithic sites with Kal in tow. As we arrived we found that the remnants of the solstice celebrants were camped all around the sacred hills and places. In many ways my heart yearned to be with them – to live their nomadic life, to live so close to the places I loved and to move with the seasons and the celebrations. Yet, I have walk a different path and I have come to accept this. I live a balance between ordinary and extra-ordinary events, between the so-called mundane and the esoteric. “Balance in all things” – the hedge druid motto.

The day was being reported by the weather-predictors as being a downpour and a washout. We had driven through almost continual rain to get here, but when we arrived the weather seemed to be better than further north, and so we counted ourselves lucky. As we passed through the market town of Marlborough Kal finally asked where we were going. My reply was simple – “I don’t know. We’ll have to see what happens.” And so the tightly-packed mystery and potential of the solstice day began to unfold.

1) The Sanctuary

Our first stop was the remains of the stone circle known as The Sanctuary. Even though I have been to this part of the land many many times, and so has Kal, we have rarely been here together. However, it came as a surprise to me that Kal had never been to The Sanctuary yet, so when the impulse overcame me I stopped and we got out to have a look. Kal was hugely underwhelmed by the spectacle of some concrete markers on a vague circle. I knew what to expect, though, having been here a couple of times before.

Of course there’s nothing to see, but we still took the opportunity to FEEL for what was there. I felt that I should walk into the set of concentric circles via a particular path, and I decided to try and feel that path rather than dowse it. I would use the dowsing rods to confirm the final position when I got there. Minutes later of wandering in and out of the concentric circles, each time getting deeper towards the centre, I found a spot that appealed to me. When I dowsed to see whether this was where I should be – it was. I didn’t ask about the energies – male/female, strength, or anything else. This was just the place I needed to sit in. And it was raining. So whatever was about to happen should just get on with it. I put my hood up on my waterproof coat, and Kal did the same. Lucky I brought a spare, eh? Every time.

It was now really raining very hard. Even the hardcore crusties who had popped in to admire the remains of a once-powerful place didn’t stay around long in the wet. Luckily we were equipped for all seasons and weathers. We hunkered down against the summer storm. In many ways these kinds of weather conditions favour getting into a quick trance, and sure enough I quickly found myself emptying my head of the day-to-day junk thoughts.

As my energies re-balanced themselves to their new surroundings everything went calm inside. I knew this was the time to ask a purposeful question. “Please show me something that will further my spiritual quest.” I pleaded. There was a moment’s deliberation, and then a vision emerged in the dark stillness….

…It was me, sitting where I was, but I was seeing myself from above. Then a trackway, a path of electric green lines thrust across the landscape like two bolts of lightning and made their way over the hill nearby towards Avebury. In my mind I followed the lines as they arrived in the Avebury stone circle. They stopped at a stone that was shaped like a lion’s head. Here the vision zoomed into the stone and showed me a hole. I couldn’t gauge where the hole was on the stone because the image was just too fast, and I was barely picking up the plot line, never mind the intricate dialogue and the nuances of the word-play, so to speak! Then I knew something gnostically – in the hole I would find something that would guide me on my quest.

2) Avebury

Having joined The National Trust last time I was at Avebury parking was free. Kal and I walked towards the Visitor Centre purposefully. We knew where we were going, and we knew that we had plenty of time to get there. Somehow we know that this area had everything we needed and that the day was the longest day possible this year. For once time was our friend, so we stopped for lunch and refreshments at the Visitor Centre cafe. For once, I didn’t feel odd or out of place taking my staff inside in public. I think I have now grown totally into the hedge druid role. It IS who I AM, and there’s no need to apology about that now. People can stare all they like – the discomfort/amusement/curiosity is theirs alone. Ah, the freedom of just saying that!

After eating we began our walk around the huge circle of stones in Avebury that completely encircle the village at its centre. We didn’t get very far before we both stopped following an energetic path. We conferred on this subject – why had we both begun to do this but stopped? I told Kal it was because I felt that the energies were mal-formed because of missing stones. He agreed. The missing stones were causing issues with the energies and this made walking the energy path pointless. Instead of a gentle natural sinewing side to side motion when the path got to a missing stone it would shoot wildly from side to side and even back upon itself. This was very unharmonious, and didn’t feel good. The stones were clearly ‘pinning’ the energy paths in place, and the missing stones were allowing the subtle energy to slide all over causing the sine wave to become jagged and uneven. This made us feel a bit sick, so we stopped following the male and female paths and just walked around like tourists until we reached the area where I knew there were some stones with animal-like shapes.

The Lion Stone

The Lion Stone at Avebury

At the rear of the church and in sight of the Golden Lion pub, I found the Lion Stone. It didn’t take long for me to scour every inch of the nooks and crannies of the stone to find what I was looking for. There was one hole in the stone, and in that hole there was an object… a pine cone. Now, it’s not unusual for people to put things into the holes of the stones. I’ve done it myself on previous visits. But what felt rather special was that I had been given a vision a few hours earlier to come to this exact place and to look at the one hole in this stone, and to know that there would be an object in that hole. Here is was. A pine cone. Now what?

A pine cone stuck in the Lion Stone

I put the cone away to have a think about what to do next. As we wandered around the final stretch of huge stones I felt that there was one that needed some work doing to it. Thai wasn’t what I was called here to do, it was some incidental work, but I nevertheless gave my time and energy to clearing and re-kindling some energy in one of the stones that both Kal and I registered as being rather “off-colour”. The rebalancing was done with the new powers of my staff, and took only a few momenta of intention to work the change. Afterwards I checked the parameters of the work and its outcome and found them all to be beneficial and with a localise effect. That was pleasing, in a charitable sense. Now time to find out what my quest would be for the next part f the year, and to see whether it  bore any connection to the pine cone that I had just retrieved.

3) West Kennet

The long barrow at West Kennet seemed like the next logical place to go. It had all the right qualities. I knew it to be a very suitable place for a shamanic vision quest, I had worked there before, and I knew the way it worked. Also, even though there would be many other people there, it wasn’t going to be as busy as many other places, again making it suitable for some visionary work. It only took twenty minutes to get there, and we soon reached the long raised earthwork that had become like a second megalithic home to me. Ah…it was nice to be back!

As Kal got on with doing whatever he was doing, I stopped at the edge of the site’s aura to ask permission to enter from the site guardian. This is not only a polite and respectful thing to do, it also goes a long way towards ensuring that your visit is more interesting and more successful. When you don’t live close by why wouldn’t you take every opportunity to ensure a beneficial and useful outcome?

West Kennet Long Barrow at Summer Solstice 2012

Having introduced myself again and received a positive response that felt like an invitation to enter I asked my directional senses to find me an energetic path to walk that would take me to where I needed to be. Again – no dowsing rods. This was done using only my “pigeon radar” sense – feeling for the right direction to go in as a sensation somewhere around the perimeter of my head. I walked a path I had never taken before. It wound round the front and took me the full length of the barrow to arrive at the far end – a place to which I had never previously been!

As I stood at the end of the barrow’s spine I had the urge to take my shoes off. No, “urge” is the wrong word. This was a “directive”. I needed to do this before I took one step onto the barrow. I took them off and slung them over my shoulder by the laces. It felt great! Really cooling and neutralising and genuine to feel the chalky earth beneath my feet on this special day. Ahhh… if only our climate permitted this every day.

Then something unusual happened. As I walked down the spine of the barrow I stopped at every circular lump. For the first few I thought that perhaps it was coincidental because that’s where the path was going, but then I realised that this wasn’t always the case. I was being drawn to every circular mound and lump because I was being asked to acknowledge each one. I knew then that beneath each of them was the burial place of a king, queen or other person of renown who had been interred at this sacred site. These were the domes that marked ancestor burial places. Once I realised I gave a more personal and profound acknowledgement as I passed from dome to dome until I reached a spot close to the front of the barrow. It was a different power centre than the one I had been drawn to previously, but I guess I am not the same person who came here this time as I had been when I was last here. I have changed energetically since then, I suppose? I certainly felt different – more assured, and more in touch with what I was doing.

Inside West Kennet

Inside West Kennet long barrow looking out from a chamber

Inside the chamber I knew the work I had to do. I knew the purpose of each chamber, and so it was only a matter of recalling the correct order, the correct purpose, and going through the process to achieve the outcome, I hoped. Of course, spiritual work doesn’t always go that easily, but I was confident in the groundwork I had done on previous visits, and the work done this day, and the fact that it was a solstice day – these elements would combine to reveal something special I felt.

I entered the chamber in turn and went through the process to induce a druidic vision:-

  1. cleansing in the first chamber
  2. energising in the second chamber
  3. meeting the Bull guardian with the skull face in the third chamber. Here I stated my purpose – to know my task for next part of year
  4. putting the pine cone onto a stone ledge in the final central chamber and receiving a message of inspiration….

The message was “Release the seed from the cone!“. What does this mean? I thought about it at the time and then later too. It seems to me that the pine cone is a symbol of the pineal gland. The instruction I received at West Kennet was to open third eye, often associated with the activation of the pineal gland. I think I am being asked to do some further work to enhance my spiritual powers by working on actively opening up my ‘third eye’ chakra.

Finally I went to the end chamber where I placed a large pink quartz crystal on a high shelf of rock to catch the light coming through the ceiling. I felt that I should leave the pine cone in the end chamber as an offering. I know it’s not a good idea to leave things in the chamber, but the cone is bio-degradable, and if it is there on my next visit I will remove it. As we descended the hill back to the car it was nice to meet folk coming the other way who wished us a happy solstice. Megalithic visitors are so nice! generally!

What a fun-filled relaxing but spiritually uplifting day the solstice was! When we got home we found that just about everywhere that we might have done other than Wiltshire had been deluged with torrential rain. Seems like we ‘chose’ the best place to be on this special day. I can only thank my guides for their wisdom to know what is best for me to progress. Onwards into the mystical!

Gwas.

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  1. Yes, that’s true enough about viewing the past with rose tinted spectacles and all that! Yes people of renown were most certainly visible in the archaeological record and by the Neolithic, the simpler and yes more egalitarian values of the hunter gatherers was most likely very much in decline. We were always taught at university that the collective inhumation was an expression about belonging to the land and the Ancestral body, but by then it may have already begun to develop into something more about ownership, as these people were farmers, so had lost that sense of the sacred imminence of nature that perhaps a more itinerant lifestyle afforded. But there is a VERY dramatic shift in the burial customs of the Bronze Age, where there is no doubt that people of renown like tribal chiefs were given special interments and buried with precious artifacts, like jewelry and weapons. It does seem to mark a real social shift for good or bad away from a simpler sense of perhaps ‘committee’ type rulership with counsels of Elders chewing the fat before making decisions that would effect the tribe.

    Archaeology is hardly fail-safe, there’s always room for debate and ideas have changed throughout the history of the discipline, its probably changed again since I did my degree 15 years ago! I don’t see why intuitive Gnosis is less valid though as a reductive means, so if that’s the feeling you got at the chamber then it may well have been the correct expression of the energy of the place 🙂

  2. What an amazing solstice you guys had! I’m actually really excited and a little taken aback, the symbolism of the Lion so profoundly connects us, its a bit spooky to be honest, but clarifies and comforts me no end, to know that my own path and the messages I’m getting aren’t the results of an over active imagination! Out of interest, let me know if you and/or Kal get any synchros around Lions 🙂

    West Kennet is a fascinating site, I’ve only been once but yes, was quite blown away by it. The burials there though, would not have been ‘Kings and Queens’ at the time the chamber was built, our ancestors seemed to recognise a very great sense of kin and clan, the burials were what we term ‘collective inhumations’ a way of forming a collective ancestral body or so to speak. They didn’t honour individuals in that sort of sense, that came in the Bronze age with cyst or round barrow burials where bodies tended to be cremated and then placed in urns. A body following death in the Neolithic was left on a platform for nature to do its work, until only the bones were left. After that the remains would have been placed within the chamber mixed in with other bones from one’s kin group. In effect you became ‘one with the ancestors’ I would hazard a guess, that you have a DNA connection to West Kennet, literally you’re connecting with your ancestors. Personally I think its of paramount importance to forge that link with the land and one’s blood when doing this work, my old guides used to mention it a lot and took me to places where I had ancestral affiliations. With what happened in Ireland recently Gwas, I’d not be surprised if this was a journey to the kin of your mother’s side. What a wonderful account though, and how you brave this dreadful weather… well, that seems to be beyond me!! 🙂

    1. Yes, I agree with your comment about the term “kings and queens”. I meant this in the sense of people of renown within the community, i.e. not just any person, but people of high regard, high status, and particular qualities. Of course, we can only guess who these people were, but I would suspect they were rulers of some sort, respected people, figures within the tribe, shamans, musicians, and leaders.

      We like to think that there was some sort of egalitarian ideal going on within those tribes, but I suspect that human nature has changed very little since the evolution of the modern brain, and quality would have risen to a rank of respect even within the most communal of arrangements. These are the people whose burials, I believe, were marked with particular places along the barrow.

      Of course, I have no archaeological evidence for this. I was simply walking along and feeling like I needed to stand on particular spots because it felt like I was communing with an ancestral spirit at that point. Hardly a basis for arguing about the “truth” or “fact” of the site! Nevertheless, it was a good point you made, and I hope I have fleshed out the concept to a better image than my simple phrase gave rise to.

      On the lookout for lions!
      Gwas.

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