Since Imbolc I have been reading up on yew trees. The aim is to assimilate as much knowledge as possible about this incredible species so that when Spring Equinox comes around I will be able to begin the process of understanding my yew staff’s potential powers. At the moment it is merely a piece of yew with a stag’s antlers on top. Soon I am hoping that we will forge a relationship that will be as fruitful as the one I had with my ash staff.
This book revealed many amazing insights which I had never considered before such as:
- yew trees may have been transported here from the staves carried by such well-known early Celtic Christian saints such as Cadoc, Patrick, Christopher and Bueno
- the trees may be the source of the myth of the “golden bough”
- the yew tree is the origin of the concept of the World Tree – or the Tree of Life
I am now adept at putting my consciousness outside of myself. The great Bran taught me many of these skills, and others I have worked on through my own training, guided as always by those forces unseen which lend their collective hands to guide me along this druidic path. Consciousness relocation is a skill which I have become so accustomed to that I have almost forgotten that I once couldn’t do this on demand.
I got a wake-up call recently though. I was reading “Fire In The Head” by Tom Cowan and he reminded me that the ancient bards talk of another level of consciousness re-location: shape-shifting.
I have been in many shapes;
I have been a narrow blade of a sword;
I have been a drop in the air;
I have been a shining star;
I have been an eagle;
I have been a boat on the sea;
I have been a string on a harp;
I have been enchanted for a year in the foam of water.
There is nothing which I have not been. [Taliesin]
This boastful style belies an inherent druid skill – the art of placing one’s consciousness within something else in order to see and experience from the perspective of that life force.
I am reminded that the Borrowdale Yew trees were hinting at this when they talked to me about the notion of “Propagation“. This is the concept of placing my energy (for energy also read ‘attention’) in something so that I can revisit it later and experience from that perspective.
Having been reminded by Mr Cowan that this is also a major part of the bardic journey I am going to try to make time for such practises this year. Let’s see what tales will come of it!
As you know I can’t say the name of the elemental angels that I am working with, but I can tell you something about them and their role in my future. I did a tarot reading asking one fundamental question – what is the nature of their relationship with me? The results chimed so clearly with the drawn cards and with the way that I experienced their arrival that I felt I had to write it down.
In the detail below some recurring themes emerged:-
- the angels command and demand a great deal of respect
- they offer the potential for a large amount of knowledge, skills and learning generally
- there were lots of “vessels” cards indicating a strong emotional involvement
- there were lots of “bows” cards indicating strong spiritual elements
Let me show you now how each of the draws revealed something useful about the forthcoming relationship.
The Thule Society, an organisation founded by German occultist Rudolf von Sebottendorff is usually linked to the National Socialist Workers Party of the Nazi era. However, before it was adopted by the ruling elite of the Nazi Party Sebottendorff’s organisation was originally full of practising druids. These initiates were keen on using what they termed The Rule of Nature – a philosophy which insisted that only processes which mimicked natural forms and conditions could be utilised to form the structure of society and its culture.
The motto of the society – “Der Weg ist in Dir - ‘The Way is present in You‘” is akin to some of the sayings and central notions of many of the pagan movements who espouse positions of religious freedom and self-realisation in their relationship with The Other, and particularly with Nature.
The society held its meeting in a hotel called “The Four Seasons” – an indicator of the motivations behind their Naturalistic theology. The term “Thule” refers to their idea that there were four hidden originating kingdoms from which the first humans populated the planet Earth. The northern-most kingdom - Ultima Thule - became the very real target for Nazi commanders seeking to re-connect with these lost kingdoms, and to rediscover their “original wisdom” and supposed futuristic technology (e.g. free energy, solar power) to assist the war effort for the German side.
From a modern perspective, is there anything which the druid revivalism movement has embraced from this era? Well, actually yes. The Germanic druid culture of the Thule Gesellshaft was a key instigator of the Ostara Festival – the springtime celebration which is characterised by the fertility symbols of the Hare or Rabbit, The Egg and the May-Pole – that phallic symbol which is dutifully bound up by the virginal maidens who dance around it in the Spring.
Their enthusiasm for the Spring ritual should be seen as an example to modern pagans of how to generate substantial interest, to re-engage a wider public in the notion of what we may call in the modern era, The April Thule.
The third elemental angel was found at the end of one of the muddiest walks I have ever done. I think there was barely a moment on the walk when Kal wasn’t complaining – but that’s what you get if you wear inappropriate clothing. This is Cumbria!! We parked at Long Meg stone circle, just north of the village of Little Salkeld. We then walked further along the track past the farmhouse next to the circle. Beyond that the path went into some woodland, but that just seemed to make the mud worse, if that was possible. Some mechanised vehicle with huge tyres had been moving along the track too and had cut deep ruts into the soft earth. The whole path was a sandy pink-coloured loam of squelching earthiness. At least the rain was easing off, and I laughed. We were clearly heading into the domain of the earth angel, and I for one was excited at the prospect of meeting this being at our intended destination – Lacy’s Caves.
The path came back along the River Eden – a wide and impressive river which meandered lazily along the valley floor. The path went back into the woodland and soon we were climbing into sandstone rock, then the caves could be easily found on one of the higher headlands. We were impressed. The caves had been clearly cut out by skilled hands and were beautifully situated with stunning views in both directions along the river. We got to work.
I formed a circle of found stones and drew a make-shift magick circle in the sandy floor of the caves, facing outwards towards the river and the bank opposite. An earthy smell filled the air and I breathed it in deeply, before connecting and expanding my aura once more. I stood with my yew staff and asked for any compatible earth angel to come to me if it wished to work with me. I got not one taker, but two. I used my intuitive sense to discern that one in particular was the one which I could work well with. i thanked the other for its interest, but let the one I wanted come into my magick circle. I got a beautiful sense of connection to the land, and immediately wanted to come back to this place. It felt amazing to be here.
At that moment the rain outside stopped completely and the sky seemed to lighten a little. There was still no break in the grey-white clouds, but at least there was whiteness now, not pure grey-blackness all around. hen a minor miracle happened. The sun broke out from a slit in the grey-white cloud and it shone a ray of light onto the caves where I was standing! nearly fell backwards in amazement. If I’d fallen forwards I would have been swimming in the river! I took some photos quickly and then Kal appeared. He asked if I had seen the sun, and mentioned that the coincidence of its appearance happened to match the work he was doing. He suggested that if I wanted to speak to a fire angel, that this might be the best time to do that as it might not last long. I decided that this was a good idea, and got back to work.
The dowsing rods confirmed that this was a suitable place to ask for such a request. I stood in the sunlight with incense burning around me. Then I called for a fire angel to come and join me in my work. Again I got a choice of beings, but only two. One, I felt, was too fierce and flighty. The other was older and more… sure of itself. I felt this was the right one to go with, and so asked it to join with me, which it did.
My elemental cross of angelic assistants was complete. In the final post I will tell you about a request that I worked to fulfil before I left the caves, and I will also talk a little bit more about the concept of elemental angels.
As we crawled at a few miles per hour towards the dead end that is Seathwaite in the Borrowdale valley we kept our spirits up and our frustration levels down by focusing on the end point – a set of three yew trees which I knew to be of ancient origin. They were among the oldest trees in the country, and I wanted to see them on this special “gateway” day, because the yew tree was such an important part of the start of my ritual year. Kal was excited too. Over the years he’s grown to like visiting these ancient trees, and now he was curious to see what these old specimens might have to offer.
The rain got worse. The tractor pulling a trailer was going our way – all the way to the end of the road! We parked at the ample parking area – no other visitors today – then got kitted out with waterproof gear. Luckily for Kal I had a new waterproof coat that I wanted to test out. He got to wear that and it was excellent. The rain was now horizontal and coming in waves of deep powerful droplets which soaked anything they touched. I asked Kal one last time if he wanted to brave these elements – the water angel’s expression of herself in full glory. Amazingly, he said he did, so we headed off on the well-signed path across the fledgling River Derwent – a river which I knew well from my childhood.
The Fraternal Four – Now Three
The yews were easily spotted despite the terrible conditions and the proclivity to keep our heads down. They stood majestically and apart from other trees of lesser standing. As we approached up the incline we saw the information sign which gave us a timeline for their existence. On a sunny day this might have been fun to read. We moved on. Facts and figures were irrelevant to our meeting.
We visited each of the remaining three yew trees in turn. Each had their own character, and each revealed something which could be immediately tested at the next tree. My meditation was a series of incredibly profound experiences, and so informative. Read on to find out what these ancient yews told me.
There are plans, and then there are impromptu moments. Our plan was to go to the Borrowdale valley to see some ancient yew trees. Things were conspiring to slow me down to a crawl however. We literally drove at no more than 10mph along the edges of Derwentwater as we waited for cars to pass each other, and then everything got tangled up at some temporary traffic lights. Sigh followed sigh and soon my attention became distracted. I began to let my attention wander, and it was picked up by the lake itself. I felt an increasingly powerful pull to go to the lake’s edge.
I felt like there would be somewhere to stop close to the end of the lake. We got through the interminable traffic light shuffle, and around the corner was a sign for Kettlewell car park. No second chances – I knew this was the place to connect with the water.
I headed down to the lakeside, but needed to go back – I felt I should collect a specific crystal from the car. I dowsed which one and it turned out to be a turquoise geode with a hollow in it.
I worked with Ash in a very emotional connection! I used the turquoise crystal to collect water from the lake, then hold it in my hands as I called for a Water Angel to work with me. Several made themselves known to me, much to my confusion! I had to pick which one “felt right”. Again, I felt like I shouldn’t mention their names in public – this is private magickal work.
I chose one because it felt right. Rain fell hard into the lake now, and everything became water-logged, yet the wind calmed down at this point. Seems like I was moving from the Air Angel to the Water Angel’s presence. I tested this idea by calling on the Air Angel and a huge gust of wind whipped the edges of the lake and pushed the tree branches down right next to me. OK -point proved!
This work was done. Next we were going to Borrowdale where I hoped to find some amazingly old yew trees. The rain got heavier. Puddles became rivulets, and streams became torrents. We tried to dry ourselves in the car as we made our way to Seathwaite - still slowly – now behind a huge impassable tractor. I relaxed even more. What can you do when the world slows you down? Go with it!