Archive for the ‘Hedge Druidry’ Category
I had deliberately kept the number of site visits low for Beltane. The daylight hours are still short, the distance we had to travel to get there was sufficient to drain away the day, and I wanted to be able to feel ‘unhurried’ when we got to a site. Almost as if enhancing this mood I had parked at The Broad Oak pub car park in the village of Strelley. It took us ten minutes to walk to Catstone Hill, and really it would have been easier to park right on the corner of the road just before the main village where there was ample parking, and the distance would have been more than halved. Such is life!
That wasn’t the end of our woes finding the site. Intuitively, and with only the barest map navigation, we found our way on to the hill. We inspected the broad flat plateau but couldn’t find any “capstones” for burial chambers. Were they hidden by the brambles and gorse? We tried to find more accurate maps on our phones but failed, so we resorted to dowsing rods. The rods pointed us out in the direction of a ploughed field. Our rationality kicked in and caused us confusion. We split up and went searching. Eventually I found the right place. It was at the end of the ploughed field and off the plateau behind a line of trees. The M1 motorway was is view below. Nice! Being off the main plateau was why we hadn’t seen it. We also realised there was a much easier way in if we’d only taken the steep tracks up the hill instead of following the main path. Once you know, you know – hindsight is clear.
We inspected the area around the capstones. No entry into these chambers, if ever there was any. They were silted up to the brim now. Disappointment began to set in. We stumbled around tripping over the tangle of briars and bramble thorns, the thick dead grass and the outcropping tangle of shrub branches. Our sense of frustration was compounded when we discovered that the site had no energy signature either. There were no earth energies running through the site at all. The disappointment grew. Should we turn away and go somewhere else?
Our holiday to Hungary was supposed to be a whole week off, and particularly for me a whole week of spiritual interests. In large part it was, but somehow the forces of the wild managed to break through into my full-on Tourist Mode in the middle of the week. It happened to be a full moon – Milk Moon – so I guess that was a contributory factor too. Budapest is a splendid laid-back city and after a couple of days touring around on a bus we knew where the interesting places were.
On a typically sunny April day we were finding our way around the base of Gellert Hill. This hill was renowned for being the haunt of witches, which is always bound to interest someone like me. I like a bit of witchiness in life. We had just come out of the underground quaintness of the restored Gellert Hill Cave – a site still peddling its special aura on the basis of a later Christianisation.
We have been having a run of dry but cold weather. It almost felt like Spring was close at hand, and besides we couldn’t contain ourselves any longer. Some of us have already got quests to do, you know? I was on my quest to discover the Sword and Shield. At the Spring Equinox I had found The Shield. I created/discovered it at Valle Crucis Abbey in Llangollen. In combination with the four other sites I visited that day it was formed in my mind, and its purpose became clear – to assist the healing of energetically-damaged sacred sites.
Now I was on the hunt for The Sword part of that pairing. To that end I had received a vision in Alderley Edge that indicated this sword could be found at a sacred lake. The sacred lake in question was undoubtedly the same lake where there is a mythological association with The Lady of the Lake and the giving of a magical sword – that lake was Llyn Tegid, or Bala Lake. At first I thought it might be Llyn Brenig, but dowsing revealed a better ‘fit’. I didn’t yet know what the purpose of obtaining this energetic sword might be, but that could be determined afterwards. The focus was now on getting it.
To that end I had identified a useful starting point via the aid of map dowsing. Llanycil church next to Bala lake was an ancient sacred place, since converted or at least marked with a church. Llanycil Church is no longer in functioning use. It would appear that, for at least the second time in this place’s history, the religious order has been overshadowed. One may say that the wheel has turned back on itself in some ways, at least that was how we felt as we pulled up in front of it in the handy lay-by opposite on the Bala Lake main road.
As so often seems to happen on my outings around Wales I found that a place that I visited was dedicated to St.Beuno. This character seems to crop up at so many of the places that were once pagan sacred sites. I tell you – that man got about a bit considering there were no cars or good roads in his time! Somewhat amusingly, his name could be translated into English as “Bono“. Interesting parallel here – it is said of Beuno that:
“”on the seventh day of Easter he had a wondrous vision” (source: Wikipedia)
A calculation using this year’s Easter date would be around 6th April This visit was a couple of days after that. Close…..close enough to be interesting.
In the fourth part of this Spring Equinox story I visit a new stone circle (or two), working with the energies and completing the sigil shape that I had been tracing in the Llangollen landscape.
Bryn Beddau cairn circle
Hidden in the murky depths of the Clocaenog Forest are two small cairn circles. One or maybe both of them are named Bryn Beddau. It’s difficult to tell from the Megalithic Portal article, because it shows both of them in the same description. They are very close to each other, though. One is accessible from one of the many compacted gravel forest roads, whereas the other is further inside the forest, accessible from a path linked to the first circle.
I was grateful that I had Ordnance Survey GPS and maps on my phone. Without that it would have been hard going. As it was I found the sites pretty easily, but first I had to traverse along the “new straight tracks” that Alfred Watkins would surely not have approved of. These long straight roads were not good for retaining energy! It was an effort not to lose all the energy I had gained so far while walking these uninspiring grey roads that vanished into the distance, then turned 90 degrees to get anywhere. A kind of Roman efficiency. I walked with a rapid stride and a musical rhythm.
Occasionally a scene of beauty emerged by the roadside as snow dripped from coniferous branches, water languished in near static pools and tall trees braced against the cold air. The only sounds were the occasional movement of birds in the treetops, signalling my presence to each other.
The first circle I discovered by treading carefully down a deeply rutted track that veered off at an angle from a junction of two forest roads. I was glad to get into the trees and off the grey gravel road. After only thirty feet of careful walking a clearing opened up and I got my first sight of a new circle in ages.
In this third part of my Spring Equinox quest to link the four sites of a landscape sigil based on the elements we come to the Earth site – Caer Caradog. The snows that covered the hills on that day are still with us weeks later as we go into April, that’s how embedded this cold snap was. On the Spring Equinox I had to be quick at my work because this was no time to hang around enjoying the views!
Saying that, I was lucky to get to Caer Caradog at all. Although I had it pinned on a map as a specific location down to the smallest possible degree, that wasn’t the issue. I knew where it was – I just couldn’t get to it! As I came up through the slightly famous village of Cerrigydrudion (partly thanks to Julian Cope‘s song) I came across my first barrier – a diversion sign due to a roadworks on the tiny B5105 country road that led straight to the hillfort.
I circumvented the roadworks by going all the way around the hill and up the other side of it to arrive on the top and drive past the top of the hill whilst looking for s stopping point. Ah! The next barrier is parking. There isn’t any. I took my chances with the roadworks and parked up at pretty much the only space in the tiny road where two cars could pass safely. That was almost at the bottom of the slop, so that meant a long climb back up to get to the hill. *Sigh* – another climb today. I hope the universe is watching this display of dedication!
If you’re thinking of visiting yourself I’d have a read of the accounts on the Modern Antiquarian site. They give you a flavour of the ‘welcome’ you can expect – public rights of way ignored, new fences of barbed wire criss-crossing your path, and lots of mud on the way up. I fought all the barriers, all the methods intended to dissuade the casual visitor and trepidacious tourist – I am neither of those things – I had a mission to accomplish.
In this second part of the Spring Equinox tale I begin with a bit of a soap-box moment, but quickly move on to talk about my favourite stone circle, and finally introduce a new sacred site. Let the wordage begin!
I begin this post with a bellyache. I’m going to get riled, spill bile, make a pile of fuss. Possibly about nothing, but let’s get it out of the way first. I’ve been stewing on it for years, and I think it’s about time I got it “out” into the open.
It pains me the way modern farmers slash hedgerows!
To me this is akin to punching small children in the face. “Look,” you could say, “They’re bleeding now, but in a few weeks they’re back to normal.” Hardly the point, is it? Just because something heals doesn’t mean we should make them go through the initial trauma of being battered. Ask any victim of domestic violence. “Ah, but you’re alright now, yeah?”
I’m not saying that I’m an advocate of the Backster experiments on plant feelings. Instead, this is a respect issue. I was under the impression that part of the duty of care that farmers were supposed to adopt as custodians of the land could be employed in their treatment of the trimming of plant life. This “hack and slay” policy, done for expediency and efficiency, is not only damaging to the main trunk and branches of the plant, but it’s also a display of contempt for the hedgerow, and damned ugly to look at!
Phew – I’m done. It’s in print. but I’ll still die a little when I see such a close haircut. I urge anyone with influence over these things to try to find a better way. I keep putting my thinking cap on to come up with something. One day.
</ END RANT>
Moel Ty Uchaf Un-Spring-Like
As I climbed slowly up the steep road to the circle at the top of the hill there were several things that caught my eye. Firstly, there were the lambs bouncing around in the lower fields as though Spring had arrived. There was certainly spring in their legs, so perhaps they were just keeping themselves warm. Such a bad year to be born into a cold snap, I thought. A week later there would be reports of many sheep and lambs dying due to the snowfall in placed like Derbyshire and North Wales. Joy and sorrow are close companions.
It was the Spring Equinox, as the title suggests. Contrary to expectation it was freezing cold, and my idea about visiting at least three elevated sacred sites seemed even more foolhardy than it had done when it had first been “suggested” to me through a vision received at Dinas Bran in Llangollen. Would I prove hardy enough and stubborn enough to persevere and visit them all? Of course I would. There is a saying: “There is no bad weather: only bad clothing.”
First stop: Dinas Bran. For a moment I thought there might not be snow on top, then as I approached Llangollen a white-capped hill hove into view and I knew it was going to be a tough day. The long climb in winter clothing began. This early in the morning – 8am – there were no other visitors, even on this special day. Just me, the mist, the snow and the crows. Crows! Crows were following me all the way up. They cawed as I arrived, hopped out of my way as I passed, whirled in front of me as I climbed, and then performed aerobatics displays around my head when I stopped at the gate.
I don’t know how long the iron sculpture has been attached to the gate but I don’t remember seeing it before. A black iron crow was waiting for me as I hauled myself through the new gate structure that demarcates the steep part of the path at the back from the slightly less steep part. I looked at it in wonder – I guess this was the theme of the day? Crows. Not hawks? It was usually hawks….suddenly a hawk whirled above me too. Ok – hawks were still relevant! But today was about crows. I took the hint and moved on, making for the top.
I smiled. Bran was already communicating – this was an auspicious sign.