It’s Samhain, or Halloween and I’m travelling to Valle Crucis Abbey in Llangollen in the heart of the night. The idea is that I will meet with Cailleach and Duignan to take advantage of the thin veil between the Middle Earth and The Underworld. If you need a “catch up” on these two “personalities” then here’s a link with keywords for each:
As I drive towards the town, down weaving flowing dark roads that I know so well, I hear a phrase which I don’t understand the relevance of at that time. The phrase which repeats itself is “ready or not“, and it is sung in the style in which The Fugees did that track a while ago:
“Ready or not, here I come. You can’t hide. Gonna find you, and take it slowly.”
I have with me my new Merlin Oak Staff, the first outing for this object, and I have three candles. The candles are for my three selves: the past, the future and the present self. My intention is to connect to the ancestors via Cailleach.
I skulk like a shadow, waiting for silence, stillness and to be unobserved. Yet this is barely possible. It’s “bonfire night” for most people, and they are up celebrating something that they are only dimly aware of – a distant folk memory which they have now agreed is some celebration of the current political dominion. If it must be so. As long as the fires continue. Yet even in my lifetime I have seen it shift from small communal fires with no limitation except common sense, to becoming paid-for firework extravaganzas where the experience is governed by health and safety regulations, and aimed at entertainment rather than communal gathering and celebrating the similarities of folk who live near to you. I have a taste of treacle toffee in my mouth, but I put this far memory away. Now is a time for work.
As I enter I look for the first spot with my dowsing rods. The first spot is a cleansing spot, and it is somewhere in front of the main gate and slightly to one side. I can see the ruined facade like a dark shadow against the slightly lighter night sky behind. I hear the crack and sparkle of high sky fireworks in the distance, but I am not engaged in that. I am exchanging energies to take on the vibration of the place in which I intend to work.
The Stellar Axis and The Dragon
I move from shadow to shadow, walking on grass where I can, breathing deeply of the smoke-tinged cool night air. The second place is inside the grounds. It is near the low-storey section of the building, and I find that it is a place to align to a constellation. I set the Merlin Staff like a stellar axis, a pole, and I turn my face towards the sky to find a sense of where the constellation is. The staff helps me to fix on one set of stars, and use my StarWalk app to find out which it is: it is Draco the Dragon constellation.
The third place is perhaps expected. I am led back to the main open-air hall where the dew is condensing onto the grass in the cold night air. I am taken to the remains of the pillar where I first met the spirit of the monk Duignan . Here I set up three candles and three incense sticks but shortly after doing so I begin to hear the nervous excited voices of a group of teenagers. Hmmm… maybe my work here would look odd to them? I extinguish the candles but leave the incense burning. Why? I don’t know. Maybe that will make them think twice about staying?
I sneak off into the far corner to sit at the back of one of the larger trees. They seem to stay for about 10 minutes. Kids these days – no stamina! When they had left I return to the Abbey. A new stillness descends. Now I feel I have the place to myself.
Cailleach and The Cliffs
I go back to the pillar and resume my work. The incense is still burning but I don’t light the candles again – I just think of three bright flames – one for each of my “selves” – past, present and future. With my staff aligned to Draco I can feel a connection with Merlin somewhere in the west of Ireland, and I take a bearing of the alignment of the staff and the constellation. It is exactly due West. I can feel a connection with western Ireland for my new staff, too, which I feel is also now aligned to the Draco constellation. There is some connection between these three things: staff, star and sacred site.
But which sacred site is it aligned to? I feel a connection with Cailleach. Is there a sacred site west of Valle Crucis in Ireland which is associated with Cailleach? Well, it turns out that there is: The Cliffs of Moher!
I contacted the old Saint, and by doing so I could also feel the power of my ancestral connection. I connected with my past present and future selves. I felt the dark presence of The Dark Lady. I knew this was all a spider’s web of connectivity for me – Ireland and Cailleach as the female side of the equation; Wales and Merlin as the masculine aspect.
This was something that I needed to take into next year. This was my work for 2017 – to get to the cliffs at some point.
An Unexpected Treasure Hunt
At Duignan’s pillar I asked whether my previous quest been completed but found that it needed to continue until Imbolc – around the 1st of February. Regardless, I asked if there was a new quest and I was told the following:
“Unearth one of the treasures”
I don’t know if this is literally to find the treasure buried in the land in Ireland or if it is some kind of symbolic quest, but it is very exciting. I really needed something to get my teeth into, and now I had a treasure hunt to take part in on my trip to Ireland next year.
There was more. The dowsing rods continued to lead me around. I was taken to what I felt was an altar stone at the back of the abbey. In the gloom I sat and connected with my past, present and future selves – particularly Aengus Roe, who is my past self. I gave thanks for these connections. As I connected with my three selves I did three intentions.
The first intention was to feel my connection with family; the second was to feel my connection with my ancestors; and the third was to feel my connection with my homeland. The three connections were like three powerful waves of energy rippling through me, surging into me from the past and the future, and mixing with my present self. I felt that this energy which sustain me throughout the winter and on into the spring when I would return to Ireland to continue this questing.
Can’t wait for 2017 now!