Posts Tagged ‘celtic’
When the weather has been dry for several days in England then it would be rude not to go out into the world and see if you can feel the forces of Nature at work. Not wanting to be rude Kal and I gave a large part of our eating and drinking time over to a journey to our favourite magical woodland – Alderley Edge. It was the first visit of the year, and although it was definitely not Spring-like weather yet, at least it was dry and had been for days, which meant that we could walk around without fear of falling foul of a foot of mud and slutch.
As if our wont, we had to have a question to be working with in order to make the experience bring true reward (yes, wandering around aimlessly can be its own random reward, but if you want to make steady and sure spiritual progress then you need a mission, a plan, a guided meditation). For my part, I had questions about my recent work with The Sword and The Shield. I had managed to absorb some energy into my shield stone and this was very satisfactory. Now, I wanted to know about the Sword aspect. What was it, and how could I go about obtaining it so that I could fulfil my healing potential using these two magickal symbols and their associated energies.
My research into the figure of Galahad had shown that he had encounters involving a sword and a shield. For Galahad they were to be found like this:-
- The Sword of Spirit - a sword drawn from a rock
- The Shield of Faith - a shield found at the altar of a white abbey
Well, that was all to plan so far. I had found a white abbey (Valle Crucis), its ancient altar location, and had transferred the energy of the “shield” into my shield-like stone, and was now able to use that to quickly protect and retain energies for sacred sites. My thoughts thus turned to The Sword. Drawn from a rock? Really? Like Arthur’s sword, Galahad also had to draw a sword from a rock?
Who owns the sword?
Last year I had been doing some research into Gawain. During that year I had some experiences, particularly on Iona, the led me to believe that the Sword is identified with the Will. This is especially true in magickal work. However, was the sword that I would work with this year related to Galahad, Arthur or Gawain? It was a confusing picture! Did it matter? Could the dowsing rods sort it out for me? Or maybe a tarot draw?
The dowsing rods were able to help me divine the answer. It is Galahad’s Sword that I am to find and work with.
“Sir Galahad survives this test [being sat in the Seige Perilous seat], witnessed by King Arthur who, upon realizing the greatness of this new knight, leads him out to the river where a sword lies in a stone with an inscription reading “Never shall man take me hence but only he by whose side I ought to hang; and he shall be the best knight of the world… Galahad accomplishes this test with ease, and King Arthur swiftly proclaims him to be the greatest knight ever. ” (Source: Wikipedia)
Now, on to the Alderley Edge tale, where I find out more answers than I bargained for!
The festival of Imbolc has several elements which are of interest to the energy worker and druid:-
- It sees the return of the male earth energies that have been so weak as to be non-existent during the Winter months.
- It is the time when the energy form Brigid (or Bridget, Bride) can be felt, seen and interacted with at sites that are associated with her.
Some call this time of year The Quickening in recognition of the fact that the subtle energies and the life forces of this side of the planet are becoming more alive and vibrant. Astrologically the Imbolc event coincides with when the Sun crosses the middle degree of the constellation of Aquarius - the water bearer (or bringer of the waters for the Spring growth). The Moon will be just before Last Quarter on 2nd February, so there will be an average amount of female energy around this Imbolc.
Imbolc is associated in the Celtic tradition with Brigid, the virginal first form of The Triple Goddess - a complex mutating energy form that can be felt in various vibrational states during the course of the year. This female energy changes in tone and strength as the seasons progress. At the beginning of the year She is in her beginning form – bright, light and sparkling, but still quite weak in comparison to how she feels at Beltane in May.
In this form she is known as Brigid (amongst many other variations of this name and with many other names in different cultures). Encountering this energy form is exciting and inspirational, and I highly recommend that you visit a site traditionally associated with Brigid at this time of the year in order to feel this energy for yourself. I’m sure it will inspire you to actions that will only progress you on your spiritual path.
Perhaps she is called The Bride because Imbolc sees the first ‘marriage’ of the two energy polarities - the returning male energy and the ever-present female energy combining to create a vibrant and creative impulse which inspires one to action. Certainly, something special is happening at this time of the year, and celebration is the order of the day.
For me personally, I will be doing a number of activities to celebrate Imbolc. Over the course of the few days around Imbolc I will be:-
- Investigating and potentially re-balancing some dark energy from a known troubled area in the Derbyshire hills
- Renewing some previous work I have done to create healing energy at a sacred site by adding the Brigid energy to the circuit I created.
- Asking for a new Spirit Guide to work with for this year after the departure of my last one. I don;t know yet whether this is necessary, but I hope to find out at Imbolc.
- Confirming which branch of the Arthurian Cross I will be dealing with this year. Last year it was West/Gwalchmai and that related to the Water element (didn’t it just!?).
I’m very much looking forward to the start of the new year. I begin to get jittery at this point in the cycle, and Imbolc is such a good starting point to re-ignite a spiritual quest. Can’t wait!
What I most enjoy about the work I do with sentient entities is the way that it is possible to get both immediate feedback, and then sometimes you will get a sign or a little gift later on when the whole episode has been integrated into your being. Such was my double dip reward at The Bridestones this Imbolc. Firstly I had the absolute pleasure of spending it with some good friends – the best I have – and secondly I got a visual reward when I found that Brigid herself had made an appearance on camera.
Signs for Britain’s Sickest Village?
As this was the final site visit of Imbolc we happened to arrive very close to sunset, with just enough time to prepare for the setting sun. Very little of our visits are planned in terms of timing, and this was another occasion when we just happened to have arrived when we needed to. Something was certainly involved in guiding us that day as a whole. We had encountered “signs” related to being stuck, and having barriers in our way as we travelled around the Derbyshire countryside. For example, Mike had mentioned that one particular village – Swythamley – had some terrible energies, and that we should go an experience this for ourselves. Kal was not keen on this at all, but I dutifully followed navigational directions in order to drive through the place out of curiosity. As we got closer to the village we encountered a huge lorry stuck in the middle of the road on a bend. We narrowly missed being squashed as it squeezed past the car. Then there were two near misses with other lorries that also caused us to have to either brake severely and swerve, or stop completely to allow the lorry to pass. Not particularly unusual in Derbyshire, but it was the coincidence of these events happening as we approached Swythamley that made Kal in particular take notice of the signs, and begin to express his dread fear that we might not get out of the village alive!
I noticed the energetic field around the village as we approached the outskirts of the first buildings indicating the village boundary. The place began to feel increasingly dreadful. Awful, horrific energies pushed my sacral chakra point relentlessly making me feel more and more nauseous. I nearly vomited as we reached the centre where people had parked their cars to go walking in the nearby hills. “Why would they park here!” I opined, disbelieving that we were the only ones that could feel this awful throbbing darkness. As we left the village, to the relief of everyone, particularly me, I noticed that the village lay at the end of two long straight rods that were channelling energies into the basin of Swythamley village itself. A warning: if you’re energetically aware, please don’t ever go there! Not even out of curiosity. For the next five minutes I spent my time energetically cleansing myself with silver and gold light visualisations.
As we arrived at The Bridestones a lorry tried to turn into the tiny lane leading to the quarry next tot he site. We sat for five minutes in the road watching in disbelief as the strange stuck lorry syndrome was repeated. Please, I begged, don’t let this be another sign that the energies are terrible. Not after all the work that Mike and I had done to try to repair the energetic framework of the site. We entered the site after the lorry abandoned its fruitless task and as we walked through the gate and the yew bower everyone agreed that the site felt much much better than they had ever expected. Phew! Things were looking good.
Diversions aside, we began our preparation for the Imbolc sunset.
As a follower of a seasonal path, and someone who has developed their sensitivity to the variety and strength of the energies available throughout the year, Imbolc - February 1st – marks the opening of the new year. For me it symbolises the return of the male energies. What does this mean exactly? It means that up until the beginning of February the Sun’s light has been too weak to feed the activity of the male subtle energies that inhabit the Earth, and which are present in living things. Therefore, for me, Imbolc marks the beginning of an increase in the strength and vitality of anything that is enlivened by the influence of male (or Sun-sourced) energies.
In Britain this year there has been an exception to this general rule concerning the presence of male energy. Male ‘subtle’ energy has in fact been available, albeit in a very weakened form. This has been due to the amount of sustained sunlight that we have been receiving. You can feel it in the land – the birds are singing, the buds are appearing, there have even been flowers blooming in January – normally a time when most delicate biological entities retreat into themselves and rest. An unusual year indeed. At this exact moment the frost and cold has returned to bite, yet the sun continues to shine. It is a most unusual beginning.
The heat and height of the Summer
The unusual start makes it difficult to contemplate how the year might work itself out. Are we going to see the seasons having “unseasonal” weather? Are they going to be unrecognisable from our traditional weather patterns? What will this mean for the strength and prevalence of the Earth’s subtle energy forces, and for the living biological energy of its inhabitants? My feeling is that we are going to see a real peak in Sun energy this year. This may require some balancing out by those of us who work well with Moon energy (female), as we feed a calming influence into the land through selected node points on the energy grid. Let’s not get all hot-headed and hysterical just because the Olympics are coming to town in the height of Summer! It’s just a game, an amusement, a distraction.
As with all previous years that I have followed my spiritual path I returned to the Llangernyw Yew Tree for inspiration. Communing with this tree seems to set the spark on the year’s tinder and soon a flame of encouraging light emerges from the kindling provided by this ancient life force nestled deep in the heart of a small village in North Wales. I will talk about the visit in more detail soon, but the outcome was one word: “Renown“. I will be spending the year seeking out sources to increase my personal power. Renown is a subject that I will return to and explain more fully in subsequent posts. No doubt I have much more to learn about it as the year goes on.
Now let’s talk about specific preparations that I am making for Imbolc, and that you could make too.
In this third part of our South Wales trip I talk about our visit to a museum of stones, and then go on to discuss the amazing findings at the Samson Stone – a standing stone linked in to a very ancient network of energies related to the myths surrounding King Arthur. You can also watch a video of Kal dowsing the stone, and I discuss my latest theory on the energy flows of standing stones. First, however, we visit a museum of petrified crosses…
Realising that we were quite a way west of our starting point of Chepstow and that we may need to begin to work our way back, we looked on the map for nearby locations that were large enough to get a tourist symbol, and we identified something near to Port Talbot that sounded interesting – The Stone Museum, Margam, Neath Port Talbot, Glamorganshire, South Wales. [info]. It might be good, it might be rubbish – but at least it was on the way back, and there seemed little else within thirty miles of where we were and in the right direction. Off we went.
When we arrived at Margam Abbey we found that we had just missed the lunch sitting for the only restaurant within miles. And we were starving. However, being troopers and dedicated to the cause we put aside hunger and turned our attentions to getting hold of the key to get into the Stone Museum. A notice on the door said that if it was locked we should ask at the restaurant. Cruel, considering our hunger levels. We waited while the chef finished what she was doing, and then she let us into the museum unattended. Great! We could dowse to our hearts content!
We scanned the open-plan museum and realised that the “stones” were all carved crosses that had been gathered from the local vicinity – within about a thirty mile radius of Margam. The carved crosses dated from Celtic to Christian, and some smaller broken bits of stones that had no labels. Kal inspected upstairs while I took some photographs but reported that there was nothing to see on the upper level, so we concentrated on the lower floor’s artefacts.
Always the way
Isn’t it always the way? We quickly found that the only stones of energetic interest were those not labelled?! There was a small remnant of one of the stones that the museum had literally been built around, and that had no information about it at all. The integral stone was originally part of the building that had been there before the abbey next door, we dowsed. It was the strongest, most energetic stone in the whole collection. No information plaque or anything to explain it. The only other stone in the collection that had any energy in it at all was the broken corner of some carving that was mounted on a wall, again without any explanation or date at all.
Often Kal and I time our visits to meet the requirements of whether the ‘sacred date’ (of the Celtic Year) comes closest to a Full Moon or a New Moon. One such visit coincided with a New Moon on July 30th. This coincided with the Lammas (or Lughnasagh) Festival. We decided that a visit to Lud’s Church in Staffordshire would be the best option because it combined Kal’s wish to see the place with the idea of going to a place “underground” to coincide with the new moon energies. Our hope was that this coincidence would be good for allowing visions and getting answers to questions.
We did a hasty jaunt out to the Staffordshire and Derbyshire border, very close to the Macclesfield Forest. I went via a route that I didn’t normally use, and soon we were lost! In the right area, but definitely lost. Kal had to turn on his charm and extracted useful directions from a local old man. Soon, I recognised where I had gone wrong and we were only minutes away from the Gradbach village (which doesn’t appear on any of my Satellite Navigation systems as a valid destination – helpful!).
If you plan to go yourself, take my advice and use SatNav to guide you to SK17 0SU, or to one of the following nearby villages: head for Allgreave if you want to come in from the North or West. Head for The Roaches via Danebridge if you want to come in from the South or South-West. Head towards Flash just off the A53 of you are coming from the East (say, from Buxton). None of those villages will get you to Gradbach, but they’ll get you close! Once in that area you will find Lud’s Church here.
The sun was setting as we arrived finally at the car park that is at the base of a hill leading to the Gradbach Scout Camp and Youth Hostel. A gentle walk at a brisk pace up the hill and down into the dale where the Black Brook flows brought us to the ‘entrance’ to Lud’s place – the entrance being a huge beech tree that I felt compelled to show to Kal. He was awestruck by the majesty of the tree and could immediately feel its power, as I have many times. We briefly stopped to pay our respects, and I asked permission to enter and for the tree’s blessing on our vision work to come. This delightful beech tree seemed only too pleased to be asked, and to have some form of reverence shown to it. Of course! What else would a Hedge Druid do?
So, with the beech tree’s blessing, we began to climb up to the our destination – the temple of the god of light.
In the fourth part of our Spring Equinox journey you find the intrepid adventurers heading for the Eskdale Valley – a ravine of insurmountable beauty that forms the vista for the Hard Knott Roman hillfort at its eastern end. In the basin of the valley is the village of Boot. Perhaps I should have said “At the foot of the valley…”? We parked at Dalegarth railway station and walked to the junction where the Brook House Inn marks the starting point for many of the walks in the area. We were heading southwards towards the River Esk in search of St.Catherine’s Well – a recently re-discovered and restored well that was somewhere on the hillside nearby.
St Catherine’s Well
Taking a right turn at Brook House Inn we walked along the track past some houses until we reached a small church, To my eyes it had the distinct look of a Templar church design – a flat design with protrusions at either end but which were staggered rather than directly opposite each other.
From the church the path then follows the River Esk, and soon we were walking upwards onto the slopes of the hills that border the river. We stuck to the left-hand side and when we came to a fork in the path we chose the left-hand path. This led us to a gap in a wall where we found a beautiful path of moss-covered stones leading up the hillside. We were sorely tempted to follow it, but the spot on the map indicated that the site might be further along so we continued for a short while, but then Kal twisted his knee in a moment of over-exuberance. We stopped and re-assessed. Was this a sign not to continue on this lower path? We turned and walked back to the mossy path and picked our way through the rocks up the hill until it opened out into a thrashed bracken heathland, spotted with old gorse bushes. Now we felt we were close to the well. Moments later we felt we had found it.
There were two possible sites. One was ringed by a stone construction but didn’t appear to have much water in it, and the other was more watery, but had fewer stones around it. As they were next to each other we got the dowsing rods out. Which one was the correct well? They both were! They were connected and the spirit of whatever we might determine “Catherine” to be was at both of them. We settled down in the afternoon sun to rest a while and breathe in the Cumbrian ambience. It was delightful – Spring was making itself felt and I for one was letting it!