Archive for the ‘Wheel of the Year’ Category
In this final part of the Beltane story for this year I record the nature of my quest for this part of the Wheel of the Year – Beltane to Summer Solstice.
We were back into the east of Derbyshire now and visiting sacred sites along the way as we came to them. Being back in Derbyshire visiting places we knew felt like coming home, and it also felt like the right time of year to be working. Arbor Low was briefly in sunshine so I took some pictures before the freezing cold gale-force winds forced another early retirement from the site. Is that place EVER warm?
As we moved towards Congleton I veered off the road and up a hill to park near to a field. In that field could be discerned Clulow Cross – a vertical gritstone pillar on top of an ancient mound. Personally, I have always had the impression that this was a meeting place since ancient times, and once or twice I have felt the presence of a ghostly host on the lower slopes, gathering to listen to the pronouncements of an exalted few on the top. Others who have visited the site have said similar things, but of course there’s unlikely ever to be any form of evidence for such events.
After the bitter chill of Arbor Low this site was… exactly the same! Aaargh! If anything the wind had become stronger. Kal and I passed each other on the hill and exchanged knowing glances. We wouldn’t be here long today. I found shelter at the base of the cross and thought about which spirit to connect to in order to ask what my next quest would be. Should I try the Spirit of the Place, the various nature spirits that I hoped might be around, or one of the spirit energy forms that I have worked with previously?
The Lady of the Lake came to mind. She fitted the bill because she had worked with me in providing the Sword and Shield of Galahad. As my quests this year seemed to be entirely related to this Arthurian stream of development then I would continue in that vein unless something indicated strongly otherwise. Hunched in a quiet area behind the pillar I invoked images of the Sword and Shield, forming connections with the site, the earth and celestial objects above me. I then asked what the next stage was, directing my request to an image of the Lady that I had seen when I last worked with her at Lyn Tegid in North Wales.
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?
Hey – where have I been? Well, to Budapest, then back for Beltane, then off to Barcelona. I’ve been a busy bee! It’s all go at this time of year! Normal service is now resumed, and no neonicotinoids were ingested along the way.
For Beltane this year I decided to go over to the very edge of Derbyshire where it touched with Nottinghamshire. The meeting of counties seemed like the kind of liminal space where worlds collide and interesting things happen - a kind of amalgam which I’m calling ‘Derbinotts’. We would visit two new sites in the Nottingham area, and on the way back visit some favourites from Derbyshire, but first we had a “local” Cheshire site to do, because all good Fire Festivals should start with a cleansing.
Indeed, I had noticed that there was a pattern to the many years we have been marking these festival dates. For Beltane the pattern was this:-
- Cleansing and purification through water
- Concepts of birds, wings or flight while at a sacred site
- A celebratory fire ritual, usually involving incense.
You may remember that I am following the route of some tarot cards that I drew and interpreted at the start of the year. For the four Celtic Fire Festivals there are specific readings and I was keen to discover the first of what I would term “the tricky encounters”.
The tarot has said:
Q. How do you see yourself?
Vision: “A picture – a person turning into a place and back again. A choice. Then a wilderness – dark trees, tangled thorns and branches. A despairing, Lost. Lost in many ways. A lady’s laughter.”
For Beltane the reading had shown the place as being “The Hermitage” and the associated character as being “Linet“. The main character of the reading was that I would be challenged and goaded into making an important decision regarding my progress on the path. If you like, my faith would be tested! I was feeling confidant, however, after having gone through the process of acquiring two energetic talismans – The Sword and The Shield of Galahad – and I felt that these tools would assist me greatly in dealing with anything “untoward” that might occur in my mind space during this quest.
Cleansing at Chad’s Well
To me Chad was that character who looked over the wall – the essence of childish curiosity, and a character which can be seen on many school walls. Apparently he’s also called Kilroy.
To the established Christian Church he was a saint of the 7th Century who lent his name to a well just outside of Stockport near Romiley in Cheshire. Maybe one day he’ll want it back? For now his name adorns a beautiful and well-constructed holy well that lies at the foot of a steep hill below the Peak Forest canal. The canal is the essence of tranquillity, and the whole area is suitably brushed with this soft and gentle quality.
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.
In this final part of my Spring Equinox story I reveal the reasons why I had been linking the four elemental sites around Llangollen. I am also shown why this link was important, and how it relates to my work with the energy form of Galahad this year.
Only a few miles from the edges of Clocaenog Forest is the beautiful secluded site of Sara’s Spring. The Sara in question may well be the Patron Saint of Laughter that Kal talked about after he visited the site. This day I wasn’t interested in discovering more about the energy form at the site, only to come with questions that needed urgent answers.
I began by offering an energetic gift. I placed incense all around the spring’s rectangular wall and then offered all of the story of my day and my quest for this part of the year. This was offered through my heart chakra, freely and with love. I hoped that this energy would be sufficient as an exchange for what I was about to ask.
I used the dowsing rods to confirm whether I could, should and may ask these questions here. Luckily the answers were all a positive and the feeling generally was that I should finally get some answers to my puzzling quest after such hard work this day.
Q. What was the purpose of linking the four sacred sites around Corwen?
In answer I was shown the white shield in the stone that I had energised in Valle Crucis Abbey. With that image came the following explanation:
The White Shield of Galahad is emblazoned by a red cross. The shield shape is formed by the four sites. The cross shape is formed by drawing links between them. I needed to have that symbol in my head as an elemental cross so that I could emblazon it on the shield that I had acquired from Valle Crucis. Without that emblem the shield would not be at full strength.
“…at full strength”. That was an unusual phrase that I would try to deconstruct later. For now, I wanted to know more about the rituals at the four sites.
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.