Posts Tagged ‘ancestors’
When the grey clouds of summer come rolling in what is a hedge druid to do with himself? Why, go out of course! Somehow Kal had decided that he wanted to go to The Druid’s Circle at Pemnaenmawr. I was unable to get free until after 7pm, so a long journey across the width of Wales was out of the question. Instead, I persuaded Kal that a quick visit to Dinas Bran would be more appropriate He conceded, but as we approached Llangollen things went a bit strange. For some reason I didn’t turn up the road to Dinas Bran. Instead, I carried on towards Vale Crucis Abbey, and that’s where we ended up. It was like something had decided for me where we would go this evening.
I had no agenda to work to – again. I would simply connect at the right place for me to be, and see what revealed itself tonight. The dowsing rods guided me initially to a power centre by one of the ruined walls of the Abbey’s main hall near the entrance. The cleansing process took a long while – much longer than usual. Perhaps this was because it had been a few weeks since I had done any work at a sacred site?
I issued a new directive to the dowsing rods – “Please take me to the best place for me to work on my spiritual path!”. A general question, but usually one which resulted in something interesting happening. I was taken on a path which skirted alongside the ruined abbey’s walls until I reached an area which I recognised as being the former alter space. In that space there were the remains of pillars supporting two walls opposite each other. The pillars were “exploded”, only half of their construction remained. I was taken to a handy ‘seat’ – a flat rock sticking out enough to perch upon.
I sat on the seat looking at the pillar opposite, which was similarly opened up. Why was I here, I wondered? I let myself drift into a reverie… why was I here… why was I here… I found myself staring at a face in the stone pillar. It was a face that I felt I recognised… who was it? Give me a clue!
It is becoming less surprising when the threads of my path’s journey knit themselves into a situation where opportunities can arise. I had the chance to visit Ireland with my wife. She was working in the week, but at the weekend I could join her before she went elsewhere in Eire. Initially the venue was Dublin, then her work changed and it was Belfast. Then, though a mutually beneficial arrangement it was somehow back to Dublin, though no pressure of mine! Well, well. So be it. Now was the time for me to fulfil a quest that I had been given at the start of the year.
The Torc of the Hawk is an artefact that is of especial significance to me. I had been given a quest at Imbolc by the female energy known as ‘Brigid‘ in lore. In her Maiden Castle in Cumbria, as the day’s rays faded to a pink sunset that I will never forget, I was informed that I had to seek out this golden torc.
The torc, I would discover through dowsing, was an artefact from my ancestry in Roscommon in Ireland. It had been worn by the spiritual warrior that I had fought at The Fort of the Bulls – an ancient site of contest in the heart of western Ireland. You can read about the background to this whole Ireland quest here. The essential aspect is that in order to inherit the spiritual energies of my ancestors there are several artefacts that I need to recover. One of them – The Eel Sword – I had already found. This second one – The Torc of the Hawk – I knew from research had once been in the National Museum of Ireland. I had no idea if it was still there.
So it came to be that I was granted the opportunity to go to Dublin for a weekend with no itinerary other than to visit the museum and fulfil the quest to absorb the energy of this torc, if I could find it. To make matters harder I decided not to take my dowsing rods. If I was going to find the torc, then it would have to be done by feeling alone. So I flew out to Dublin, met with my wife, and we agreed to spend the next day looking around the museum. What would we find?
Last year I went to Ireland based on the idea that I was going in search of renown. I don’t think I properly explained that idea, so in the hope of making the motivation behind those episodes a little clearer I want to discuss what I have come to think about the idea of “renown”.
The original meaning of renown is to “repeatedly name”, in the sense of repeating the name of someone until they accumulate fame. A sort of “making a name” for someone through the stories and mythology that comes of telling about someone’s deeds and life history. Figures who ended up in tales, poems and songs would come to be passed down through the generations and across cultures.
In an energetic sense one can increase the renown of someone or something (or place) by increasing the amount of intent and attention that they receive. By receiving the energetic focus of an energy worker a person, place or thing can accumulate subtle energy (of the human variety). Some cultures have spent time creating structures, spaces and coincidence of time and space which will corral, encourage and intensity subtle energy forces with the express purpose of creating renown for a person or place. A sacred place is made special to humans by the use they can obtain from its energy fields. Repeatedly focusing one’s intent upon something, say by gathering many people at specific times of the year when the energy is more abundant or in harmony with the Earth and Sky, only serves to increase the energetic renown.
Building a collective legacy
When it came to the idea of one’s legacy, I think that the Neolithic people had a concept of renown that meant that they sought to achieve a nothingness, a balance of energies at the point of leaving their physical bodies. For them, achieving renown was a personal matter of achieving the maximum personal power in order to have sufficient energy to carry one’s spirit through death into the Otherworld. Sacred sites and point of strong subtle energy on the Earth were places where such passings into spirit could be completed with the best effect. As the spirit retreated out of the world, renown was left behind – an energetic shell which retained both energetic force, and more importantly the information field of that person.
What a person of renown left behind was his story, his history, his achievements, his energy. For example, what a shaman left behind were the tales he had collected from the tribe’s ancestors, the healing knowledge, plant wisdom. A tribal mother may leave behind her knowledge of how to bring children into the world safely. Renown was accumulated not only through personal experience, but through the recovery of knowledge from the Otherworld (by liaising with energy forms in that existence) or by undergoing a shamanic journey to recover knowledge through a revelatory experience.
All these things still exist in the information field of the person of renown when they transferred into spirit. Their subtle information energy field, their information field, remained in place, accessible to future generations, and kept alive by the renown with which they were adorned. The tribe continued to apply its focus of attention and intention upon the sacred places, the places of the passing of people of renown, and thus they re-energised and kept these field integral, kept them from disintegrating through neglect.
Bronze Age – A change of ideas
I think that the Bronze Age people changed their concept of renown. In their eyes renown was imbued into a person or place based on the assessment of personal power. Consequently, for the Bronze Age people renown meant the maximum accrual of energy through wealth, status and influence. The concept of renown began to become entirely anthropocentric – all based on the human’s energy, rather than a combination of power, place, timing and human energy, as it had been seen earlier. They no longer sought to transport spirit and leave renown for spiritual purposes. Now the renown was purely linked to the life of the individual who was the pinnacle of the social hierarchy – the King or Queen. Thus we see the introduction of tumuli in the megalithic landscape and the concept of burial becomes the parting practise instead of creation. In time this became a physical and material shift away from the spiritual and subtle energy forces that held the renown energy. With that change in emphasis came the move away from spiritual practices that retained and encouraged the preservation of subtle energy forces. As the subtle energy dissipated over time through a lack of intent and awareness, so the site gradually became abandoned. What purpose did they have now? They were merely the marker stones and turf mound graves of forgotten individuals. No longer did they have the same subtle powers, and the information field dissipated into the general consciousness of the nation, held in place by written mythology alone, and no longer functional as information sources, or guiding forces for the tribes that had moved away from the sites.
My quest of renown last year was closer to the original concept – I went back into the landscape of my forefathers in search of places where their renown still lingers. In this way I took on their energies, leaving them free to move on. In taking their energies I accumulated more personal power and this added to my own energetic strength, whilst simultaneously cleaning the land of their remnant energies. Only I can judge whether this is going to be a beneficial thing for me and my ancestors, but I believe the concept is real, and marks a passing of “the mantle” of information to a living generation. Now it remains for me to find out whether this information can be put to good use for the benefit of myself and future generations. It is for me now to create my own renown through my words and works.
Finally I get around to the Summer Solstice post! This year I spent Summer Solstice on June 22nd, and I spent it in the heart of Wiltshire on a tour round my favourite megalithic sites with Kal in tow. As we arrived we found that the remnants of the solstice celebrants were camped all around the sacred hills and places. In many ways my heart yearned to be with them – to live their nomadic life, to live so close to the places I loved and to move with the seasons and the celebrations. Yet, I have walk a different path and I have come to accept this. I live a balance between ordinary and extra-ordinary events, between the so-called mundane and the esoteric. “Balance in all things” – the hedge druid motto.
The day was being reported by the weather-predictors as being a downpour and a washout. We had driven through almost continual rain to get here, but when we arrived the weather seemed to be better than further north, and so we counted ourselves lucky. As we passed through the market town of Marlborough Kal finally asked where we were going. My reply was simple – “I don’t know. We’ll have to see what happens.” And so the tightly-packed mystery and potential of the solstice day began to unfold.
1) The Sanctuary
Our first stop was the remains of the stone circle known as The Sanctuary. Even though I have been to this part of the land many many times, and so has Kal, we have rarely been here together. However, it came as a surprise to me that Kal had never been to The Sanctuary yet, so when the impulse overcame me I stopped and we got out to have a look. Kal was hugely underwhelmed by the spectacle of some concrete markers on a vague circle. I knew what to expect, though, having been here a couple of times before.
Of course there’s nothing to see, but we still took the opportunity to FEEL for what was there. I felt that I should walk into the set of concentric circles via a particular path, and I decided to try and feel that path rather than dowse it. I would use the dowsing rods to confirm the final position when I got there. Minutes later of wandering in and out of the concentric circles, each time getting deeper towards the centre, I found a spot that appealed to me. When I dowsed to see whether this was where I should be – it was. I didn’t ask about the energies – male/female, strength, or anything else. This was just the place I needed to sit in. And it was raining. So whatever was about to happen should just get on with it. I put my hood up on my waterproof coat, and Kal did the same. Lucky I brought a spare, eh? Every time.
It was now really raining very hard. Even the hardcore crusties who had popped in to admire the remains of a once-powerful place didn’t stay around long in the wet. Luckily we were equipped for all seasons and weathers. We hunkered down against the summer storm. In many ways these kinds of weather conditions favour getting into a quick trance, and sure enough I quickly found myself emptying my head of the day-to-day junk thoughts.
As my energies re-balanced themselves to their new surroundings everything went calm inside. I knew this was the time to ask a purposeful question. “Please show me something that will further my spiritual quest.” I pleaded. There was a moment’s deliberation, and then a vision emerged in the dark stillness….
…It was me, sitting where I was, but I was seeing myself from above. Then a trackway, a path of electric green lines thrust across the landscape like two bolts of lightning and made their way over the hill nearby towards Avebury. In my mind I followed the lines as they arrived in the Avebury stone circle. They stopped at a stone that was shaped like a lion’s head. Here the vision zoomed into the stone and showed me a hole. I couldn’t gauge where the hole was on the stone because the image was just too fast, and I was barely picking up the plot line, never mind the intricate dialogue and the nuances of the word-play, so to speak! Then I knew something gnostically – in the hole I would find something that would guide me on my quest.
This penultimate post of my Ireland Ancestor Quest story sees the climax of the tale. Having been prepared for the forthcoming battle by a long chain of events, now I would have to face the final struggle to gain the right to the energies of my ancestors. I already knew the name of the battle ground. It was on the map, labelled as “The Fort of the Bulls”, or Rath na Dtarbh.
Stalking the Bulls
I have been a martial artist for many years. Since childhood I have been fascinated by the oriental fighting methods and have studied just about every one of them in my lifetime, becoming proficient at several. The prospect of a fight, whether physical or mental, was not something that I was in any way afraid of facing. Whatever would come I was prepared to face it on all levels – physically, mentally and spiritually. With this steely resolve I parked up alongside the Fort of the Bulls and scanned the surroundings, looking for the entrances and exits.
This warrior is ready for battle!
At the beginning of May 2012 I persuaded Kal to come to Ireland. He would be the sidekick to my long-awaited quest to recover my ancestor egergies. I say that like I know what “recover ancestor energies” meant. I didn’t have a clue when we landed at Knock Airport on a dull morning and picked up our hire car. All I knew was that I was trying to find a spirit of an old monk who had possibly landed here after I met him in Wales, and that my quest for this part of the year involved learning more about ancestors. From, this I had fashioned a half-researched series of places to visit during the weekend. So it was that the most intriguing and intense quest yet began.
Carrowkeel in Ireland’s County Sligo is located in stunning scenery – a gorge of striated rock in whose bosom there are settlements and above there, perched like nests, are a series of round-topped cairns. To one side there is a stunning view over the lakes in the valley below with their striking wooded islands. The walk to the cairns took us about twenty minutes from the end of the tiny straight road that lifts you from the valley floor to half way up the gorge.
We dowsed our way to the top of the ridge upon which several cairns are perched, and then proceeded to dowse our way past each cairn with it inviting entry hole! This felt quite unusual, and we were tempted to investigate but this is Ireland and we have been burned before by entering into places that our intuition or the dowsing rods told us we did not need to venture.
As we passed each cairn we grew more and more surprised that we were not intended to go inside. Certainly my expectations were that the quest for my ancestor energies would begin inside one of these burial cairns. Not so. It would have been a tight squeeze but I would have been prepared to do that if necessary. It wasn’t necessary. We passed by them all until we reached a wire fence, stopping only to stoop and peer inside these fascinating structures. It seemed such a shame, but the dowsing rods indicated that it would be a waste of time to do anything in these structures. My quest lay elsewhere.
Learning Our Lessons
As we reached the wire fence we stopped to asses the situation. We were in Ireland, and before us was a hole in a fence leading to what appeared to be a wilderness of heather and heathland plants. We had been burned before – this was a Leprechaun hole for sure. We used the dowsing rods to check this - they agreed – a Leprechaun hole for sure. Permission would be needed to get through this without any further mishap. We re-doubled our protection and I began to commune and converse with the earth spirit whose lands we wished to travel through. I introduced myself by my real name, not my druid name – these were, after all, the lands of my ancestors, and I felt it would be more effective to stress my heritage than to use a name that might mean nothing in these lands.
The name seemed to carry some weight perhaps because almost instantly I was in touch with an earth spirit who introduced himself as “O’Hurley” (my rendering of what I heard). I asked for kind permission to go and recover my ancestor energies and felt the usual ‘tug’ of acceptance and was pleased to pass this information on to Kal. He still looked suspicious, but agreed to try the next stage because the alternative was…to give up! Thanking the leprechaun for his kindness we climbed through the hole in the fence and pressed onwards through the heathland.
Living and Dying in Unusual Places
We made steady but slow progress along ever-diminishing paths of tufty grass between impassable heather, using our dowsing rods to guide us to the most effective paths. The rods were infallible, and often when we doubted them and tried to ‘spot’ the best path using our eyes we would end up doubling back taking the way suggested by the dowsing rods originally. When will we learn this lesson? Maybe never.
At one point Kal stopped to do a quick meditation on a power centre and I used the chance to find out how close we were to the destination because we were running out of cliff edge! The destination was only a minute away, so I tramped onwards to find it. The dowsing rods moved towards a lone hawthorn tree in the lime-flush of early Spring foliage. When the rods circled around it I knew this was the place being indicated to me. Really? I had passed several beautifully-constructed ancestral tombs made of rock and instead I was being asked to consider this small hawthorn bush as somewhere of incredible importance to me? I needed several bouts of conformation, but then resigned myself to the inevitable.
The moment I did so I spotted that the tree was built on top of a small pile of rocks. I did some dowsing – were these rocks significant? YES. Were they evidence of an abode of some kind? YES. Was this spot linked with my ancestors? YES. Further successful dowsing revealed that the space was the last remains of a small house where my Irish ancestors had lived – my direct bloodline ancestors. Kal added that they had not only lived in this place but also died here.
I needed a sit down to consider all of this. It was then that I spotted that there was a small hole and seating spot underneath the tree. A perfect place to meditate? I went to sit down and fell backwards into the hole like Alice in Wonderland – it was far deeper than I had expected and now I was firmly crunched into this spot. So be it. As I righted myself I saw that having fallen backwards I could now see that there was another small hole next to the roots of the hawthorn – a hole revealed by me sitting and falling back.
Something in me screamed that this was a place to leave something special to me. I reached into the pocket of my jeans and pulled out a single rose-quartz crystal (rose quartz is my personal favourite stone). I had no idea why I had brought that single crystal on holiday, but I had, And now I knew what to do with it – I had to bless it and leave it. I poured all my history and energies into the crystal and placed it gently into the secret hole. That felt like the right thing to do.
Recovering the Energy of Ancestors
At the moment I did this I felt a huge upsurge of energy coursing through my body from my lower to my upper chakra points. I knew this was the energy of my ancestors filling my body. I was exhilarated - was this the end of my ancestor energy quest? I decided to ask for the answer, as I seemed to be in the right place to get such an answer. I meditated in the darkness of the hawthorn’s canopy and soon visions and phrases began to interpenetrate my mind.
In the vision that flashed before me I saw myself lifting a sword, but not in triumph, rather in challenge. Then, right in front of me, a man in ancient garb and battle accoutrements lunged at me, and our swords clashed. I was fighting for something important… A crown? A right…? A right to take away these ancestor energies – the right to own them, perhaps? I was confused – where was I supposed to get a weapon to challenge this other person, whoever he was? As if in answer a voice whispered to me “Fashion the weapon in water.” That was it. There was no more, and at the moment these fragments would have to do. I had fulfilled part of my quest already – perhaps the greatest part. I had come with the intention of obtaining my ancestor energies, and I had done so. Now, it looked like I needed to take part in a battle to earn the right to take them home!
I gave thanks and crawled out of the hawthorn hole, leaving my precious quartz crystal inside. As I stood up and looked to Kal the sun burst through the dull grey think clouds and shone on the spot where we stood. Kal beamed widely and laughed./ I laughed too – what else could we do. Something quite major had just happened and we had only just arrived in Ireland! Now we couldn’t wait for the rest of the weekend’s visits.
The year has only just started and already I am way out of line with my posts and the dates upon which the action took place. I fear this year is going to be SO busy that we are going to have to start posting smaller and faster just to keep up. In this post I revisit the Llangernyw Yew tree that is the starting point for many of my previous years’ quests and adventures. This year was no exception. This episode occurred in late January, before Imbolc. Yes, we have all the Imbolc posts still to come! So much to tell you about already this year. On to this story.
It is a philosophical point as to whether the tree really communicates with the druid. Perhaps its still nature and deep-rootedness simply allow you to go deep within yourself and find a small reflection of your own wishes that are then brought out to serve as an inspiration for the elaboration that is to come? Certainly, that is often how it appears, yet there is always something that you never actually know yourself, something that you couldn’t have known, something that surprises you and this element is the unquestioning influence of the yew tree itself. It is for this reason that I visit the tree so often, and always at the start of the year. The yew tree starts the year, offering me its guidance on the theme of my work for the coming turn of The Wheel.
Kal and I split up as usual, he going off to tour the graveyard briefly before settling into his own meditations around the tree, whilst I got straight to work beneath the mighty ancient yew. The weather was cold, but crisp and the sun was shining which made the day feel warmer than it should have been at that time of year. The yew tree would normally have been subdued by a biting frost and a layer of snow in January, but instead it felt ready to burst back into life as though Spring were upon us, even though Spring was still two full months away.
I settled into a meditation after dowsing for the best place to work from, and a direction to face – into the Sun, unusually. Little did I know that this would become a recurring theme for this year, as I will show in later posts. Within minutes I was deep inside the yew tree after setting up protection and doing my grounding and centring visualisations. They came easily, and the yew responded with a warm and deep hum like the clearing of an ancient throat at length. In humility I directed a question, a thought-idea at the yew and hoped for a response: “What is my direction for this year?” I asked. Deep quiet. Long silence. Then a stirring, and a word moving up from the depths of the roots into my consciousness: “Renown”. Just that one word!