The scene is this: Beltane. Dartmoor. Dense mist. Two figures are seen stumbling about through moss-dressed old trees, and clambering up hills, heading towards an unseen destination. The impartial observer would wonder why they were bothering, as they don’t seem to be walking a dog. But the impartial observer wouldn’t realise that the two figures had no choice – it was destined, and their bodies were merely aligning them with the inevitable conjunction of time and space.
M and I felt like we were the only people on the moor. It was mid-morning and since leaving Down Tor we had not seen a soul. It was entirely possible we were the last people left alive after an apocalypse, or we had accidentally stepped into a separate reality where the ghostly shapes of once-recognised objects emerged through a fog which signified that we were eternally separate from ordinary reality. Out of the brown bracken a sheep bleated a greeting to us. The spell was broken!
We followed a detailed map and Viewranger was again invaluable in steering a steady course towards the second new stone circle of the day – Yellowmead. I had no idea why I had picked these circles. I had no idea they were close to each other. I had no idea that we would be able to stay in the area. Something else was bringing this day into being, and I was simply letting it be realised. M asked me about the circle, and all I could remember was that Aubrey Burl‘s guide had said something about it being a concentric set of circles, which seemed unusual. It was.
As we approached the area where the circle was supposed to be I turned to my mapping app. It moved around as though possessed, so I turned it off and switched to my intuition. I oriented myself based on the feeling I had in my head, and this acted like a compass needle pointing me towards the destination. Within a minute my eyes had picked up a sort of path, and another minute later the circle emerged from its misty shroud.
Yellowmead circle (some call it Sheeps Tor circle) is a set of four concentric stone circles – like a megalithic Russian doll. As we approach M heads quickly for the centre and stands there in amazement, awed by the spectacle of this unusual formation, and she huddles against the cold moorland wind. As I stand preparing to enter she calls to me: “It’s a maze!”. I agree, but I have a slightly different definition. It’s a labyrinth.
I get my dowsing rods out and I’m about to ready them for use when I get a startling flash from my memory – a jolting vision which is accompanied, I felt sure, by Kal’s voice saying “You don’t need those“. At the same moment I saw the owl flying at night – that curious image which was puzzling me as my new quest. I knew what it meant now. I needed to trust my intuition, to begin to dispense with the need to use the dowsing rods to discover my way, to search for the correct path.
The True Path
I put the rods away and walk the labyrinth, feeling for the path using the same technique that had guided me to the circle in the first place. It felt good. Free. Of course it was much harder than simply following the direction of the rods, but I was sure it would get easier in time. It felt good. It felt right. The path was true.
I reached the centre and laughed with M. Few would appreciate that step. It was like a man who had broken an ankle and who still registered pain throwing away his crutches and testing his healed joint for the first time in a long time, only to find that the pain was a phantom pain which disappeared as soon as he put his trust in his body again.
In the centre I placed a white granite stone as a token of thanks. Now I knew why I had been carrying it around for the whole day. I gave thanks, and then made my way out by a much more direct route. This had been a valuable lesson. Look how the vision had been immediately tested by this strange circle! See how soon I am able to realise the quest! I knew this wasn’t the end of my intuitive tests, but the first and possible highest hurdle was already overcome. Dartmoor had embraced my way, and I felt at home in this wild space.
As the wind picked up we left. The mist began to get wetter, so we sank into a sheltered vale by an old beech tree and a babbling brook and had lunch with the Dartmoor ponies. What a great day!