Archive for the ‘Other reports’ Category
Having joined The National Trust this year I was happy to see that their suggestions for the top five places to see autumn colour included a relatively local place – Bodnant Garden near Conwy in North Wales. I say local – I mean less than an hour’s drive away.
M and I chose a day to go, and invited friends to accompany us, so of course it began to rain heavily as we set off that morning. Nevertheless, we were determined to go. Now I’m so glad I did. Were we too late in the year, we wondered? Had we missed that autumn colour? Luckily, we hadn’t. The gardens were a resplendent vision of dying colour even in late October.
Here are some of the best photos from that visit:
The evening was warm and dry, the chance to go out was tugging at me like a young puppy. I decided to go out after work to “somewhere in the North of Manchester” – that was as far as my plan went. Using the Megalithic Portal on my phone I found a list of sites in the areas north of Manchester. I scrolled through and saw one called “Delf Hill” which had a stone circle on top that looked nice and welcoming - no time for details - just go! I set the satellite guidance and headed off.
The journey was through rush-hour Manchester. Bad move! Then I was free once I got past the Trafford Centre, and heading up the M61. But it was much farther than I expected. It took me an hour to slog through Manchester traffic and then another hour to get into the back of beyond on the M65 to Burnley. Burnley? Why was I going to Burnley? I didn’t even like the place! In fact, I’d warned someone from going Blackburn way only this week! If I’d realised I was going this far and in this direction I wouldn’t have gone! You know when you reach that point, though, when it’s as far to go back as to go on?
The navigation system took me to a small lane near the top of some hills near to Briefcliffe. The name rang a bell, but the bell was silenced by the intrepid quest for the new stone circle. As I got out I looked around. I recognised this place. This was the place that my father had taken me and my brother sledging one year when it had been particularly snowy. In fact, it had been one of the few times we had done that, hence it being so memorable.
Looking at a map on the phone I realised that the stone circle was still a long walk away and it was going to get dark in the next half hour. I gave up on the circle, but decided to go and explore the area. I had lived only a few miles down the road. I remembered a power centre that I used to sit on as a boy. Would it still be there? I drove towards the quarry where the power centre used to be. I could see it clearly in my mind. My new objective! My ‘new objective’ is now a housing estate and I missed the turning to get in among the houses. Never mind, I’d just take a few left turns and I’d be back on the same road. The left turn took me into the street that I had lived in. It looked the same, but I knew it wasn’t.
I saw that the only light in the street was from the corner shop. A welcoming cosy light in the nearing gloom of the end of the day. I needed a drink, so why not stop in the old shop? When I knew the shop as a boy it sold sweets on a tray for a penny, and was run by a nice lady called Veronica. There was a space for a car outside the shop so I pulled up and went inside. Inside the shop was the same! Nothing had changed in 30 years! The counter still had the same trays of cheap sweets. The window was stacked with jars of favourite sweets – chocolate limes, bonbons, rhubarb and custards, everything I remembered.
As I approached the counter a lady with greying hair stepped out and smiled. I smiled back and told her this was a “blast from the past” and that I used to frequent the shop many years ago as a boy. I mentioned that the place used to be run by Veronica. “That’s me, “she said. I was amazed – still here? 37 years, she confirmed. Soon we were talking about the street, my family, my times there, the schools I went to, and how the place had changed in the years she had been there.
She mentioned that I was “lucky” to come back when I did. This would be her last year running the shop and she was due to retire next year. I feigned surprise, but it was of no surprise to me really. Everything had led me here for some reason. I was now just waiting to know why.
I bought some token items to stave off my thirst, and as the small talk dwindled I looked her in the eyes:
“Good luck and lots of enjoyment in your retirement.” I said, with heartfelt tones, “and from all the children in the area – thanks for serving us all these years. You’ve been great.” She blushed, and I did too. But I kept eye contact. She knew I meant it. My eyes watered a little.
What I realised from this episode was two things. Firstly, no matter how many times I think I’ve escaped my past and that I have no need for it now – sometimes it re-emerges so that I can shape the rougher edges, repair some of the holes, say some of the things that I never got a chance to say. Secondly, a life of service can be one of the most dignified and rewarding ways to spend your time as a human being in society. Now, as a Hedge Druid this gives me something to think about. I have a strong yearning to be of service, but a real dislike of being part of a community that I don’t think would accept me for who I am. This, I feel, is something to make me think in the coming darker months.
Goodbye Veronica. Your penny sweet tray and your sweet smile will be sadly missed.
On the nature of signs and portents
I have a pot in which I put things that I am certain of, there is a lot of spare room in it. One thing that I am convinced of is that it is our busyness that is our energetic downfall and our spiritual darkness. Wow! That’s a powerful conclusion to draw isn’t it? But I stand by it. As you know, if you follow my exploits herein, I am a great follower of signs. I used to believe that we attracted signs because of our energetic alignment. Thus the more aligned we were the more signs would come our way. Funny, because I still do believe that, however I make a very curious distinction (or set of distinctions).
Before I go into it, I want to be excused. The discussion below is just my humble view. It is not meant to persuade you to my way of thinking or to detract you from your own personal view on these matters. What I am doing is describing my understanding of things, that’s all.
The essence of my distinction is this, we have many sources of sign type information. However what I understand is that there are three main categories (oooh don’t you just hate it when people categorise stuff?) These categories are:
- Our Energetic Self (until now known as our higher self, a term that I have come to dispute)
- Our spirit (whatever that maybe, but for me it isn’t our higher/energetic self)
Hang on though, that’s only two. Yes it is. What I say is that our Energetic Self can provide us with intuitive knowledge or it can be an access point for other worldly beings to give us knowledge.
I’ll talk about Spiritual Guidance in another post (not that it matters, in my humble opinion, Spirit is a deeply personal affair and your own faith about it is much more precedent than my views, which after all are only my views).
Anyway, whether it is our personal Energetic intuition, other worldly guidance or spiritual guidance the obstacle remains the same. In Castaneda’s view of things it was our self-talk that was the ultimate culprit and the practice which stifled our genius (spirit). I don’t dispute it. However the journey to mastering our monkey chatter begins with a practice of stepping (as oppose to stopping) out of the busy world.
I was asked recently by a blog reader, on many occasions, you go out into the wilds with Gwas and it is he that is on some purpose whereas for you it is a case of just be how come you do that? Seriously? Surely the depth of friendship between Gwas and I is sufficient an answer? If not, then I will let you into a secret. Creating a habit of stepping out of the busy world and into nature is one of the best things you can do to get access to the constant signs and portents that the universe in one form or another is laying before your feet.
It isn’t that signs are more readily found in nature (after all isn’t everything nature?) it is more the case that stepping into nature gives us the clarity and emptiness to see signs wherever we are.
Other activities that support our access to the perception of signs is meditation, keeping a journal of what has happened (this blog forms a good one for Gwas and I, with all that has been said here we would be hypocritical in the extreme if we claimed that signs are non-existent). Listening is another.
It is completely unsurprising to me that the 5th and 6th energy centres are empowered by listening and silence, respectively (among other things).
“The catalyst for understanding is listening, the catalyst for perception is silence” Kal Malik Active Enlightenment
Am I leading somewhere with this post? Yes, This, if you like is an introduction to a few posts with regards to a recent night that I spent with some Sufi Mystics. The meeting between us occurred through some serendipitous events and I feel not in some small part to a cohesion of several disparate (and yet not so) parts. Are you curious? Stay tuned.
A naughty play on words because recently I posted to say that I believed that 2012 would see the death of crop circles as a phenomenon, and then I went on to predict the number of genuine circles that would appear this year. I have been given some more information, or should I say, I have “felt” that there will only be ONE crop circle that is of importance to me this year. When that circle appears I will have to just go – go and be there in it – absorb its energies – feel its meaning.
However, it’s not looking likely to appear! I went to CropCircleConnector as usual this May and what did I find? 3. As I write this in June there are three circles listed in May and four in June. And only one of them looks vaguely interesting except that on closer inspection the edges look very ragged, and the design is quite plain. The lay of the crop looks all skewed too. Not sure about this one at all.
That’s it. Seriously? Three in May? Four in June? And they all look “hand made”. Looks like the information that was offered to me last year is heading for fulfilment. Of course, the moment I say that there will be a raft of them appearing. Yet, at the moment, things are looking strangely quiet in the world of the crop circle phenomenon!
In one sentence…
“The universe sings the song but you provide the song title”
Ok, I can see from the draft posts that Gwas is beginning his 2011 round up and since (see The World is Changing) the new spiral has already begun for me I thought I’d get my update in first!
In complete honesty 2011 has only one word that can describe it, amazing!
Where to begin? Of course this year has been dominated by my Knights Quest. So that is a good a place as to start as any…
It all came to the fore at Imbolc festival when, quite innocently, Gwas and I were venturing out to several sites. Our first stop was at a site we, incorrectly, identified as St Helen’s well. At this site I had a vision of that infamous entity Caileach. She directed me on a quest to fulfill the achievement of nine blue keys. Once this was achieved I would be knighted. I know, I still have to laugh when I think of it. But that adventure led me across the Atlantic on an improbable.
Although I tried to follow this questing path with courage and aplomb. It was late this Autumn that I was informed that the quest remained incomplete and that a tighter spiral would have to be journeyed. I am rather disappointed at that but understand now why it has to be thus. See? Sometimes you just need to be told twice!
Some of the more salient points (as determined by me) were:
- Journeying 3,500 miles to the States
- Personal physical healing
- Creating a Knights Code to live by (which I have so far)
It took me a full decade to fully appreciate Roy Harper. Even then I was some forty or more years late. I first saw Roy when I was asked by some friends to go see him play in London. It was his 60th birthday performance, and for me it was an opportunity to go to London, and maybe listen to some nice music too. At that point I had only heard of Roy Harper from the reference to him by Led Zeppelin in one of their song names. After the gig I was quite impressed with how much I had enjoyed it, but then I forgot all about him again. Occasionally since that date I had been to see his son Nick Harper, who is an incredibly talented guitarist too, and his small and intimate gigs have been astonishing, if often unappreciated by the audiences in front of whom he places himself.
Fast-forward ten years and the opportunity came around again. Something in the back of my mind insisted that I should go again. Something much deeper than the shallow opportunism of the last gig. Something in my druid mind nudged me, and said that I should go. I didn’t hesitate to accept the invitation again. Only when the first few songs began to seep into my mind as the lyrics resonated around the vast space of The Royal Festival Hall did I suddenly realise why I was there this time – Roy Harper is a bard and druid and I was witnessing this great man passing on his mantle to his son like some kind of delightfully touching and inspiring pagan ritual!
For his 70th birthday concert Roy was able to demonstrate that both his vocals and his guitar playing are still in excellent form, although he apologised for not being up to the standards that he had set himself. Believe me – he has talent to spare, and the occaional twang from the string is no distraction amongst the mellifluous tones he generates seemingly at will.
Most impressive for me was his frequent rambles between songs during which he sometimes dispensed his wisdom on topics such as how humans can and should interact, the way that love expresses itself, how we are most human when we treat the Earth with respect, and how excited he still is at the magic of the forces that weave through us and the planet. His humility was genuinely touching for such a talented man, and audience and performer were often brought to tears during the two long halves of the performance.
For a brief account of the evening see this write-up in The Guardian. One of his memorable quotes was included this gem:
“It seems that the ArchDruid has spoken. ‘Tax the bankers!’
Actually, I think somebody else said it a couple of thousand years ago!“.
A reference to the Jesus and the Moneylenders episode, no doubt. From his “Same Old Rock” song accompanied by Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin). The appearance of Jimmy caused a huge ripple of excitement to go through the audience, and there were several audible excited gasps and then a low roar as the legendary Zeppelin guitarist came to sit alongside Roy for the long and complex song.
In the 1970s Roy played at the Stonehenge Free Festival along with Hawkwind. Very druidic musical credentials, if you ask me. Wish I’d done that (although I may not have survived to tell the tale).
Here’s Roy playing surely his most druidic track “The Green Man” from his 70th birthday performance at the Royal Festival Hall in London. The track begins at 4:30 if you don’t want to hear all the introductions, but I would recommend that you give it all a listen for the full picture.
What a wonderfully gentle, wise and witty man he is. I urge you to introduce him into your life. He’s the only songwriter whose music makes me cry.
I have just got back from The Big Smoke (or London to you and me). I am always in two minds about this place. Now that I am accustomed to the natural surroundings of my Cheshire home with its easy access to the countryside (I step out my front or back doors and it’s there) then I find it difficult to immerse myself in the manic frenzy that is London City. However, it is also exciting for a while, and London has all the virtues of being a cultural hotspot, so I always get to see an interesting museum, gallery, exhibition or performance. On this occasion I was on the South Bank to see Roy Harper at the Royal Festival Hall, ten years after his last gig there. This time he is seventy. A post will be coming soon about this, but in this post I want to talk about an interesting encounter with some alien objects!
M and I took some hours off before the performance to visit the Natural History Museum. As a child I had been around this museum and was stunned and awed by the incredible exhibits – rack and rack f fossils, dinosaur skeletons, trays of rocks, all animal life stuffed and pinned in shelves and display cabinets in room after room until the eye couldn’t take any more. Now, as an adult, I wanted to go back to look at the collection of meteors that the museum held. I was interested to see how I would react now that I had developed my sensitivity to energy.
Most major London museums are now free, which is a saving grace. However, there have been some changes made to the museum since I was last there. It’s gone all “kiddy”. Gone are the long racks of beautifully laid out exhibits (boooooring!) and now we have “interactive” exhibits (exciiiiting). Far less of the “show” and much more of the “tell”. I hated it. I hated every second of it. I couldn’t wait to find a safe haven from all the knobs, dials and wheels, the illuminated plastic displays, the childish “learn by picture” storyboarding and the sanctimonious tone of the whole series of sordid scenes supplanting the serious collections. Oh yes, it seems to say, you WILL become an eco-friendly, planet-saving, animal-hugging, rainforest-conscious, water-wary citizen of the world. You WILL! You MUST! Or you are evil and you kill fluffy animals.
I ran for the Rocks and Minerals department. Surely they couldn’t have ruined the rocks? Luckily, they hadn’t. The rocks were still in glass display cases, lined up in rows as far as the eye could see. Wonderful! Museums ”old skool”. Not a flashing bulb or laser experience in sight. No questions to answer. No moral to absorb. Now to find the meteors that I had heard were here.