Posts Tagged ‘gardens’

Bodnant in Autumn

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:

[fsg_gallery id="4"]

Gwas.

Summer Solstice 2011 Part 2 – Camelot, The Tor and the Healing Thorn

This is the final part of my Summer Solstice 2011 quest in and around Glastonbury. In the first part of the day I had meditated at Glastonbury Abbey and seen a vision of Arthur and Guinivere, visited the Holy Thorn tree, and then mixed the red and the white waters from the Tor’s streams together. Now I was heading to Cadbury Castle – a site I had tried to find the time to visit on previous pilgrimages, but had never managed to get to.

5. Cadbury Castle

Finding the castle was easy. I set the navigation systems for South Cadbury village, and from there the signs were obvious – there were small brown tourist signs telling me where to go from that point. No esoteric signs required, and still no dowsing rods needed (which was fortunate because I hadn’t brought them deliberately). This was intuitive work, and I was being tested to see if I could hack it.

I parked the car and noticed a girl walking her dog was wearing wellingtons despite the outrageous heat of the day. I wondered if she knew something I didn’t. As I walked up the dark tunnel made by hawthorn trees that led me up the hill to the castle I realised that she did know something – the path was incredibly rutted and muddy! The ascent went slowly as I picked my way through the delightful remainders of a cow’s digestion, the inches deep mud, and the streams of…well, I didn’t dare contemplate what they might be, but I hoped they were water.

The original Camelot?

As I neared the top of the slope I was presented with various possible paths. I decided to follow my intuition again. Which was the correct entrance for a servant of Merlin, I wondered? I felt a path to the right was the correct one, so I took it despite it being surrounded by high nettles. Soon there was no path any more, only nettles. I stopped because I couldn’t go any further and I looked down at my feet as something caught my eye – there was a black feather to go with the white swan feather that I had brought with me for some reason. A complimentary pair! I picked it up and picked my way up the hill, somehow finding the path I came in on and then I was able to climb into the castle, mounting its embankments to survey the scene.

It's a black and white situation

The scene was difficult to imagine as a castle. There was a flat wide-open space, slanting uphill towards a concrete pillar at the summit, and the field was enclosed by six-feet high embankments that enclosed a herd of grazing cows. The wind was also rushing sternly across the top of the hill ensuring that I didn’t hang about wistfully imagining a fantasy Arthurian Camelot scene. Instead I headed for the lee side of the slope at the peak of the site where the wind was stiller and the sun beat down like a proper English summer day. I rested there with my staff, breathing in the summer air, listening to the insects at work, and delighting in the occasional call of a songbird.

When my lazy urge had passed I set about creating an elemental crystal layout and tried to unify the two feathers in terms of their energy, like Arthur and Guinivere. I positioned the feathers in what I felt was a unifying manner, and then surrounded them with the four quadrants of the elements – the cardinal points. Frustratingly nothing felt as though it was happening. I tried several configurations of crystals. Maybe I just had them int he wrong position, or the wrong order, or….nothing was happening. At that moment when all hope had vanished and I had cleared the paraphernalia away I was interrupted by a jovial set of old Americans who proceeded to give me a short history of the castle unbidden. No harm in that! We passed the time and then I departed for more hospitable places – the wind was spoiling the beautiful summer day heat.

What had happened to the magical moments of this pilgrimage? Had I taken a wrong turn? I returned to Glastonbury feeling like a simple tourist.

6. Chalice Well Gardens

What better place to while away the time before the sunset than at the most beautiful small garden in Somerset? Chalice Well Gardens are a haven from the bustle of the town and the Tor on a Solstice afternoon.

Chalice Well Gardens in full flow

I was just in time for the gardens at what must be their quietest time of the day – late afternoon. I admired the flowers and plants, then headed for a high spot to meditate. It was difficult, so I went to the spot between the yew trees and called the Goddess, like a famous druid had told me to do. This worked well and soon i was feeling energised, but still no information was forthcoming. One last try – I went to my favourite spot and looked at the dappled sunlight through the trees. It worked.

Ironically, the message that I got was that I had to work on patience. I had to learn to be more patient with people, and to wait for situations to come about as they would, not to force things. This was exactly what a friend had said to me recently. I promised to the unseen forces that I would try. One of the other things to come out of the meditation was the news that the feathers could only be used for the last part of the day’s work on the Tor itself at sundown. That was why they hadn’t done anything at Cadbury Castle. Now I understood. Should have been more patient, eh?

7. The Tor

For the last part of the day Kal re-joined me in Glastonbury town. Yet again he had trekked across the vast wastelands of the south-western fringes of civilization to partake in some jocularity and light-hearted piss-taking. Oh, and he may have been there for the solstice sunset too, perhaps. He had, of course, his own quest to follow so as I told him of my day’s work he picked up on the waters of the red and white stream that I had mixed. He will tell you his own tale of how he found out some critical information whilst meditating in the Glabbey grounds, and how then he found he needed the waters that I had mixed to complete his own health quest. That’s a story worth telling in its own right. For now, let me continue with my story.

We walked up the Tor by the easy route, but started it just above the two springs. The climb was much easier now that we were both a lot fitter. At the top of the Tor I waited for the “right time”. With no dowsing rods this was difficult, but eventually, about 9:40pm, I was ready to work. I went to the west slope and put the two feathers in formation. I had picked up a grey pigeon feather from my walk through the town earlier and the three of them seemed to make sense now – white, grey and black, This seemed to signal the end of the Hawk of May quest – officially.

People gathered on Glastonbury Tor for the solstice sunset

One the Tor I was getting nothing for my meditation. Perhaps it was too busy or too noisy? Maybe the wind was too strong? There were a hundred excuses but the result was the same – I couldn’t see or intuit anything on this ancient place of power about where my quest would go next. Nothing was forthcoming. Then I remembered one of the elements of the tarot that I had drawn at the start of the quest – “Don’t be afraid to ask“, and also remembered that in the grail myth Gawain failed the quest initially by not asking the important question that would release the grail to him. Suddenly I knew what to do. I had recently been in contact with The Hawk of May – Gwalchmai. This archetype or spirit is associated with Gawain and the Grail Quest too, but I knew that in the myth it was Percival who fails to ask the question. Was I Percival in this quest? Was I failing to ask the right question – to ask for help? Could Gwalchmai help me now?

I sat before the Tor’s church tower and called upon Gwalchmai three times. Suddenly I saw and simultaneously was a hawk circling the Tor. I could see it from where I sat and yet I was the hawk too, looking down on my distant figure below as I meditated. I asked the Hawk to show me what my next quest would be. I saw a hawk in my mind circling the Tor, then it flew straight through the building and out to Wearyall Hill. The hawk landed on the cage surrounding the Holy Thorn. The indication was clear to me – I would be doing more healing work, possibly more protection work too.

I knew that for the next six months I would be learning how to heal. This was an area I had been staying away from, but now the signs were clear and unrelenting. It was time for healing work – serious healing work. I had to learn to be a healer whether I liked it or not, and it would take…key word of the day….patience.

Gwas.

 

The Gardens of Schwetzingen Castle

It was a stunningly hot and lovely summer’s day as we ventured north from Hockenheim in Germany, past the famous racing track. M and I were heading south-west of Heidelberg to reach the town of Schwetzingen. She had come to visit me for the weekend as I was holed up for two weeks in the Rhine Valley. I was determined that we would see the best of the sites in the area, and had been recommended the castle of Schwetzingen as it was reputed to have some extensive and well-designed gardens. How true!

Schwetzingen, Germany - July 2009 (19)

The town is dominated by a castle that reminded me of The Palace of Versaillesin the grandeur and resplendence of its gardens. As the visitor’s web site states the gardens are divided into two main sections: a symmetrical french design of ornate manicured flower beds and ornamental trees, and a naturalistic English designed that orms the outer areas and incorporates the main water features of the gardens. Frankly, the English design is also the most visually and aesthetically appealing to me. Unfortunately for you, dear reader, I was so enthralled by it that I forgot to take any pictures of that bit, so you’ll have to make do with the French bits!

Schwetzingen, Germany - July 2009 (3)

The garden design incorporates elements that any druid owuld recognise. Here’s a quote from the web site :

“The baroque garden is divided into the parterre, hedge zone and forest section. An unusual feature in Schwetzingen is the circular parterre formed by the “Zirkelbauten” (Quarter-Circle Buildings) and the vine-covered galleries, which distinguishes it from all others of the period.”

The quartered circle should strike a chord. As should the alignments, the correspondences, the nature of the tree planting, the labyrinthine beech maze, and a host of other esoteric elements that any studious druid would prick up their ears at. There was evidence of a great deal of sacred geometry in the design of the gardens, and I was interested to see what effect this woudl have on people. universal joy and contentment would be an apt description!

The gardens contain temples to several Greek God archetypes including Mercury (communication) and Minerva (wisdom). Here’s a link to a photo site giving you one of the pictures I should have taken of the rear of the Temple of Minerva: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/4143935

Schwetzingen, Germany - July 2009 (29)

There are many old and tall trees in the outer established (and less manicured) areas surrounding a beautiful lake. I was so entranced by the delightful asymmetry and naturalistic planting of the woods that I singularly failed to take a single picture of the best bits, but trust me – these pictures even fail to do justice to its majesty and beauty.

Schwetzingen, Germany - July 2009 (22)

Just sitting beneath an old oak tree that hosted a thick old vine snaking up its trunk left M and I in a torpid state of semi-trance. Almost immediately for me I was beginning to venture down a corridor punctuated by doors of various rainbow colours. Interesting! I mused, however the reverie is soon broken by the joyous shouts of excited children let loose in the huge playground that the gardens provide – and who would deny them that joy? Not I.

Schwetzingen, Germany - July 2009 (29)

If you happen to be close to Heidelberg, why not venture off the motorway a little way in order to visit this wondrous place? You can hardly fail to be disappointed. Four euros will bring you all the earthly delights you could take in.

Gwas.

Seeing both sides at once

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