For years I had been coming across the name “Strata Florida“. This Cistercian abbey in Cardiganshire (South Wales) had often been linked (in the kinds of books that I read) to another abbey more familiar to me – Vale Crucis in Llangollen (North Wales).
Finding that I had a free day, and also finding that the day was due to be fair and mild for the time of year, the urge came upon me to go a-visiting. I made preparations and drove the two-and-a-half hours down through the spine of the eastern welsh road system. The journey was pleasant and I was perfectly content with being on my own. Of course, I wasn’t. A hawk appeared as I began my journey, and then others appeared at regular intervals throughout the rest of the trip. And I was acutely aware of the gap beside me, and who would have filled it at a moment’s notice.
When I arrived I was the only visitor, and as I approached I felt the attention of a nearby tree that was calling me to visit. Not a problem! Despite the cold wind the air around the old oak tree was warm and welcoming. Daffodils were a welcome burst of colour, and greenery was making itself known to the atmosphere, growing up through the old gnarled roots. We said our hellos, and at that moment the sun came through the clouds and the day got brighter. What a good start!
Do it properly or not at all!
On approach to the beautifully carved entrance I stopped to take photos and admire the artworked stone. A couple then arrived and after they had done the same and gone inside I wandered in too. I was not more than six feet inside when I felt a “choice” being offered. It felt like, if I was in “tourist mode” then fine, but if I was here to work, then get out and come back in properly!
I spun around and marched back out. Once outside the archway I used the dowsing rods to find the correct place of preparation – which was a nook to one side of the arch. I meditated and soon felt a bit different, energy-wise. The dowsing rods confirmed I was now ready, so I approached the entrance in a completely different manner: eyes out of focus, meditation mind, sensing for the entrance and asking for permission to enter. Granted. I walked in.
The air took on a more magickal quality – sparkling and noticeable now, yet the energy signature of the place felt relatively weak. Well, the forces are just awakening at this time of year. I shouldn’t expect too much.
“Velumia – The Paper Maker”
I had but one ambition today: to discover if there was anything linking me to this place. The dowsing rods allowed me to amplify the weak intelligence in the landscape and they offered me a guiding path towards the answer.
I was taken to a square well with stairs leading down into the dry pit which once (and still now might have) housed water. Someone had lain a cream rose there already. It was almost desiccated, but retained a beautiful cream yellow colour which spoke of Spring.
As I sat and meditated I managed to use the calm and clearness of the place to link in. I put up protection, then called upon anything that was linked to my ancestry to make itself known to me if it had a mind to do so…..
…before long there was the faintest stirring in my blank mind. Then I felt a lady’s presence. Like the delicacy of the pale cream rose she too rose into my mind and placed her name into it: “Velumia“.
I let her reveal as much as she wishes, and soon there is more information. This is a nickname given to her by the Cistercian monks who worked and studied here. She was part of the team who created the paper – the velum – on which the scribes did their writings.
When I got home I looked into which writings these might be. There’s not a lot of information online, but it is thought that, due to the frequency of the references in the book, that “The Chronicle of the Princes” was written at Strata Florida Abbey. This contains some historical information, but also some rather unusual things too which feel more like remnant information from a pre-Christian era, such as a dialogue between Merlin (Myrddin) and his sister Gwenddydd [link].
Fool On The Hill
There was nothing more of interest at the abbey, which was disappointing. I looked up and saw something unusual on a hilltop though. At first I thought it was a tree then I realised it was some statue or something. The other visiting couple stopped and we had a chat about this and that, including the statue. They agreed it wasn’t a tree, as they had binoculars that were a slight bit better than my eyes! I decided to go and have a look. And so the sun came out in approval.
The climb was steep, but the view was worth it. On top of the hill was a weathered wooden figure of a pilgrim climbing. I sat beneath the statue and got into a contemplative state of mind. The statue seemed to be giving off reflections of its symbolism to me:
“keep going – onwards and upwards – the hard journey is its own reward – admire the view – appreciate the simple pleasures – the greatest treasures are obtained through hard work”.
I accepted them and understood them. That was probably why I had climbed up in the first place. When the other couple joined me shortly afterwards we walked down together and chatted about interesting places in Wales. Now the sun was out and the day was warm.
I had a strong urge to connect Strata Florida with Vale Crucis, so I set my mind to travelling back up into North Wales to do that, stopping off at Devil’s Bridge to walk the waterfalls there. So worth it, and it wasn’t even on my itinerary. Such a pleasure.
Vale Crucis – The Sister Abbey
When I arrived back in “my own territory” in Llangollen the sun was just about to set. As soon as I stepped foot into the abbey I knew that this site had much more power than the other. Vale Crucis is much more energetic – possibly because it is visited more often, or that it is more intact?
I dowsed for the power spot where I could link with the ancestral connection that I had made at Strata Florida. It was the same as the last time I was there doing the same kind of work, when I had asked for a place where I could connect with my ancestors.
I gave thanks to Duignan – the monk spirit which had first guided me to connect with my Irish ancestral connections, and I lit some incense for him. That was all that was required, but as the sun disappeared I felt the pull towards the West again. Ireland is calling. There’s something else for me to experience there, AND it is the land of the Cailleach too. Maybe this year…