Posts Tagged ‘derbyshire’
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.
At this time of the year I am on a “wind down” to the Winter Solstice. Visits to ancient sites are rare, but when an opportunity arises like the full moon and a free evening, well what can a jobbing hedge druid do but heed the call. Actually, the call was pulling at my feet the day before, at the height of the Hunter’s Moon, but it transpired that both Kal and I were free on the third day of its phase. So be it.
The temperature was sub-zero, the ground dry but frost-laden, the sky was heavy with cloud and the moon was nowhere to be seen. Yet still, the lure was too strong and the moon pulled us out towards the Derbyshire/Shropshire border as we headed for the obvious place to go - Lud’s Church. Why obvious? Well, I’ve been feeling the presence of the energy form that I have come to know as Gwalchmai all year. Gwalchmai directly corresponds to the later Arthurian name of Gawain. The one site that I knew that was definitely associated with this energy is Lud’s Church. With Gwalchmai one of the god Lugh/Lud’s offspring, it seemed a natural destination for a moonlight walk.
At this point I will simply re-iterate one important point – this moon is called Hunter’s Moon in the old English designation. You’ll come to see why this is important later. For now, the tale continues with me blissfully unaware of this fact, and with my staff and trusty sidekick in tow, parking at the Scout Camp car park at the top of the hill of the valley through which the Black Brook flows. It had been cloudy all the way to the stopping point, but now the clouds ‘miraculously’ parted to reveal the full glory of the full and close moon, which shone with such power that it seemed like the area was floodlit with a pale beam that cast deep dark shadows.
We went through the beech tree portal at the bottom of the vale with only a few mishaps on the part of Kal and his inappropriate footwear. We began to count the number of falls just as a kind of memento The trees seemed pleased that we were there, but sleepy and distant in terms of communication. I let them be. We shouldn’t be going around waking things up just because we are able! We had already been given that message a few weeks before at Gawton’s Stone where we had disturbed a sleeping earth spirit. The advice was heeded this time and we hurried onwards up the slope as though following a pale blue torch’s path. Kal remarked that on any other night this would have been unbearably creepy. True! Yet the reaching dark fingers of the bare trees were enveloping arms shielding us from the edges of the path, I felt. Everything felt very positive and benign on this night.
Nine Ladies stone circle in Derbyshire has many interesting features, some of which are obvious, many of them are hidden. I have visited the circle on many occasions. It seems like every year I get drawn back to this circle at least twice, and this year has been no exception. This year I was at the circle for Samhain, and enjoyed the mysterious atmosphere of the conjunction of time and space that this moment represented. However, I was not alone.
Of course I went to the circle with Kal, and yes there were other people at the circle that night too. But that’s not what I mean. There was a strong hidden presence at the circle at Samhain, and it is one that I have identified before, but never spoken about. Now is the time for me to discuss it, because now it has been independently identified by three people, and in my mind that’s too much to be coincidence – especially as two of us have called the presence by the exact same name!
The stone circle has a Watcher.
When I first ever visited Nine Ladies I did some dowsing that revealed the presence of an entity that was off to one side of the circle, located in a gap between some birch trees. I didn’t mention this to Kal at the time because he wasn’t really interested in things like that way back then. I didn’t do any further dowsing at that point. On another visit years later the dowsing rods directed me towards the same point when I asked about strong energies in the area. For some reason (which I now understand) I wasn’t inclined to follow the rods and locate the exact spot.
Then one day I visited the stone circle with my friend Mike and felt the presence strongly again. I wanted to know more. I tuned into the presence and tried to feel more about it. It was a ‘special day’ in the calendar, so I hoped the extra available energies might help me in this psychic questing. I got two things – a dark figure appeared to me as long as I didn’t directly look at it, and I got the feeling that the figure was simply watching the site. It wasn’t moving, or interacting, just… standing there…. observing. I called it The Watcher.
I wondered if anyone else would notice it. I challenged psychic Mike to see if he noticed any presence at the site too. He scanned the area and pointed to the exact spot I had identified previously. He said, “There’s a dark tall figure there, and I get the word ‘Watcher’ or ‘Watchman’.” Well, that pretty much blew me away. I was getting confirmation of my own findings by seeing the entity on several separate occasions, and now Mike was confirming the information I was getting. But was he reading my thoughts ir actually seeing something himself? I couldn’t be sure. Mike came out with some additional stuff too – “It doesn’t want to be bothered. It doesn’t want anyone to interact with it.” he qualified. OK – some extra stuff, but again he might be picking something up from me.
Then at Samhain this year I went to the circle with Kal. We hadn’t discussed what we’d be doing there, and indeed we both went off an did our own thing anyway. I can’t remember exactly how the discussion went, but at one point we reconvened and Kal started talking about a presence he’d noticed in the birch tree off to one side of the circle. Oh really, I cautiously encouraged. Do tell me more! “I feel like it’s watching what goes on in the circle, and I think it might be actually called a Watcher.” I’m para-phrasing, but that’s what he revealed. When I asked him for more he spoke of it being a tall dark figure. He said we shouldn’t do anything with it, like try to communicate with it, because it wanted to be left alone unseen.
Well, that was three sets of information all pointing out the same things: The Watcher, a tall dark figure, an observer, wanting to be left alone. All three of us saw this figure in the exact same spot. So, what the heck is it?
Last year I had a bleak and pointless journey to Arbor Low. At that time I said that there were only two things that would make me ever go back there. One: a guarantee of warm weather. Two: if the site had awoken with the Spring, as this was the time when the dowsing rods suggested that the site would come alive with energy. It was Spring Equinox and the weather was warm. Damn! Still, what other reason did I have to return? I hadn’t counted on the one other thing that might entice me – a confirmed direct hit with some map dowsing!
When Kal and I had been discussing some places in the country where we might like to spend the Spring Equinox there were any number of suggestions, yet they all seemed to require at least most of the day to be spent travelling to get there. We wheeled and cycled through all the possible suggestions and then resorted to some old favourites. None of them sounded ‘right’ and none of them caused any excitement or offered any sort of potential for revealing something new and fresh for our 2012 quests. We wondered how to decide. Then a suggestion emerged – why don’t we each map dowse the result using the same directive, and then report back. Perhaps we could accommodate both results in the same day, or pick the most interesting one? With this task in hand we went off to do just that and report back.
A few days later we both had our results. I had used Bing Maps to narrow down my selection. The final result was a hill in Derbyshire next to a village I had never heard of before – Parwich. I wondered what else was close by that might occupy our day and discovered that there were two very close sites of interest - Dove Dale and Arbor Low! Both these places were within ten miles of the site that the rods had chosen for me.
I discussed my findings with Kal at the pub. I told him my results and asked him where he had dowsed as his location. He pulled out a bit of paper showing a cross and a spiral path that ended at a point slightly south-east of the centre of the cross. He explained that the cross was his ‘current location’ when he had dowsed, and that he had used his room as a map of the country. He then dowsed for a position in the room that represented the nest location for both he and I on Spring Equinox. The place was south-east of his room. When he translated that onto a map guided by a measurement of the distance he ended up at….Arbor Low! It was written on his paper. With all the possible sites in these islands we had both independently map-dowsed for the same location. Well – that was settled then. We would go to Arbor Low, Dove Dale and finally Parwich Hill.
We arrived on a sunny day. Everywhere else in the country was quite warm. Arbor Low was, as expected, windy and rather cool. I should have brought gloves! However, things soon warmed up once we arrived as the following tale about an elemental circle reveals.
In the second tale of my Nottingham adventures I had travelled the short distance from Clumber Park to Creswell Crags. A friend had once recommended Creswell Crags to me several years ago, and had mentioned that it contained some of the earliest cave pictures in the country. This was something that I thought I should go and see – not because I’m interested in ancient people per se, but because I often wonder if they have left us clues of their connection with the subtle energies around them. So it was with this in mind that I went into the quiet visitor’s centre and asked if I could do the big tour.
Snags at the Crags
The cave tours aren’t available in the week, so I could only do the exhibition. A major disappointment! Not only was I hoping to do some dowsing in the caves to see what I could find there, but I was also hoping to do a little meditation in order to re-shape my aura now that I had been balanced by the beech tree at Clumber Park. Seems like I would be resigned to peering in through the iron grilles that were across each cave entrance.
I paid for the exhibition in any case and it turned out to be very interesting. There was an interactive screen which challenged you to find and trace the various rock art shapes that are etched into the roofs of the Church Hole cave. This was great fun and quite a test for the eye. I didn’t always agree with the suggestions for what the figures represented, but then this is always going to be a discussion point as we can’t really know the ancient cultures and their environments except for the archaeological evidence, which is only a fraction of the full picture.
In addition to the descriptions of the rock art there was some information on the previous inhabitants of the cave area. Some sharp teeth on display from the hyenas. Yes, hyenas on the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border! Mind you, if you’ve spent a night out in Nottingham….
Walking out into the fresh air, through the contrived park paths, I was directed by the dowsing rods to walk around in anti-clockwise direction. I could feel the pull of Church Hole opposite. but I did my best to ignore it. I knew I would have to go towards that point eventually, but first I wanted to examine the other caves. I peered through the iron grilles of each cave. Only Robin Hood’s Cave felt interesting. I would have to come back on a weekend some time when it was warmer.
I visited the final cave on the right-hand side but then my attention was pulled strongly up onto the top of the crags opposite. It wasn’t the Church Hole Cave pulling me, then, it was somewhere on top of the crag! I decided to investigate….
In a way you judge someone by the quality of the places that they take you to. Recently I was taken to a place the day before Samhain this year. I had once so nearly visited but somehow circumstances had conspired to make me miss it by only a short distance. Now I had a tour guide with local knowledge. When Mike spoke of the place it was in reverential tones, and the hint was always that it was a magickal place. The kind of place where you may come away with the course of your life taking a slightly tangential turn. He had spoken of the place’s power for change in the way that people who have genuinely experienced life-changing moments do – hushed tones, distant eyes – as though recalling some kind or form of force that the Anglo-Saxon pillar was imbued with.
You are then left with a decision – do I believe the power of this place, or do I have to go test it our for myself? I have to test it, of course! Progress must take its course during the year’s treadmill. Places of power should be visited. The dilemma – who by? Yet the Land can have lessons for everyone, surely. Good or bad. Clever or stupid. If I tell of the place, then I advertise its wonder, and more people probably come. There are some wells near where I live that birthed and died through the advertisement of their miraculous energies, effects and efficacies. However, I will mention the place’s name. What people do with it will reap its own rewards.
In a previous post about the nearby Bullstones I had supposed that this had been the magickal stone that Mike’s tales had been centred upon. I was wrong. The description of the surroundings had matched my previous finding exactly, so when Mike and friends had allowed us to follow them up into the Derbyshire moorland and hills I thought I knew exactly where we were going. As we parked and got out of our respective cars the other group appeared to be heading in the wrong direction, until I realised that it was me who had made the mistake. Clulow Cross was down in the field on the Congleton side of Hammerton Knowl, not standing on the other side of the Knowl’s ridge between Wincle and Wilboarclough. This was the pillar remainder of an actual stone cross, not just a place name to locate a hidden monolithic treasure. And hidden it is. Nestled in a clump of middle-aged beech trees, the cross itself is hard to spot until you are within striking distance with an acorn.
An Aside About Access
I have probably pussy-footed and tap-danced around this subject for many years on this blog. Let me state this right out now as an opinion, and then I will attempt to back it up.
I have a right to walk the land. My right. My land. I will walk it. I will be respectful, courteous, kind and gentle as I do so. But I will walk it. It is my, our, everyone’s land.
Anyone who believes they own land needs to consider this perspective – the land has been there before humans as a species were even invented. Once we were invented we were given intellect to allow the development of the concept of custodianship. We are all of us guardians of our own lands, the lands with which we identify in our hearts.
Yes, others may choose to abuse their rights, and those that choose to be discourteous and un-cooperative with the custodians will always exist, but they are a manageable minority who will cause ill-will in whatever environment they find themselves. They are a test of everybody’s patience, and are not exclusive preserve of the irate farmer, or the country estate employee, or the quarry worker, or the member of this and that Trust.
Those who consider themselves to be “land owners” will have to live with their own arrogance on a daily basis. You ought only to encounter it occasionally as you walk these lands. We have a right to roam. We always have. We always will.
So, now that you understand my position and haven’t yet stopped reading in outrage and humph-pah, well, you should read on to find out what magick awaits the pagan who claims the right to roam.
This is a brief and largely unexciting account of a recent visit to Arbor Low. Unless you’re specifically interested in this site I’d skip it because it doesn’t reveal much of interest outside of those who would visit the site. I’m posting it for completeness’ sake, and for those who have an unhealthy interest in Arbor Low.
It was a damp and windy September day when I arrived at my friend Michael’s house. The usual crew of our psychic friends were there, plus a new addition whom Michael had been wanting to introduce me to for ages. I was introduced to Janet and immediately I liked her. She was robust, earthy, plain-speaking and no-nonsense. Being a Yorkshire lad I felt right at home with that. We chatted for a while and Janet offered to let me read a copy of “The Eye of Fire” by Graham Philips – the sequel to the astonishing book “The Green Stone“. I had read The Green Stone recently and had been fascinated by it. I was going to buy the book and its sequel second-hand but prices were starting at £20 each and rising quickly to ridiculous figures! Luckily, Janet had a copy and was willing to lend it to me. I devoured its contents the next weekend! Now I am busy working my way through Andrew Collins‘ account of the same events in his book ”The Seventh Sword“.
We didn’t hold out much hope for a break in the rain as we wended our way past some of the places mentioned in the Green Stone book, particularly Biddulph Grange. The discussions about the books passed the time on the way to Arbor Low. I was liking Janet even more, her ready smile, her chuckle, and her immediate warmth.