Posts Tagged ‘king’
Boyle Abbey is a sacred place of worship that was gifted to the Cistercians. This order of monks built their abbey over the top of an existing pagan site (if I remember the guide’s introduction properly), and I would suspect that this was actually a druidic college that they built over. For me the abbey was an attraction because it was supposedly the resting ground of many of my forebears who had been buried in the abbey’s grounds. The list records burials from the 12th Century onwards, but suggests that there may have been many more before that which were not recorded for posterity. Having just finished one adventure at Lough Key I was in the mood for more. Where better, I felt, to go in search of the ‘wandering’ spirit of Saint Duignan than here?
With the mundane aspect of ancestor-spotting out of the way I was free to concentrate on finding and communing with the spirit that I believe might be present at this place, having been led here from that other Cistercian abbey Vale Crucis in Llangollen (see this post for that tale). In that story I had spoken to a spirit who identified himself as St.Duignan and then had indicated that he had moved to a corresponding abbey in my homeland in Ireland. From my research Boyle Abbey was the prime candidate. Seeing the list of my ancestor’s burials in the abbey’s gatehouse was a strong indicator that I was on the right track.
The Sun Wheel
One of the interesting aspects of the abbey was its age. The current abbey layout was built upon the foundations of an earlier abbey that was a pagan construction, although identifying exactly what this was is diffucult. Some archaeology has been done to identify the original design and there is a plan view on display in the upstairs ‘museum’. In the architecture of the abbey are several examples of pagan stonework, such as a Sheela-Na-Gig and some rather raucous carvings of totemic astrological or heraldic birds and aminals atop the colunnades. Occasional reminders of this past lurk round many corners of the site, such as this sun wheel motif carved in stone:
Enough of the tourist stuff! We had the place almost to ourselves so I hid the dowsing rods away in a corner and set about ‘feeling’ for the presence of Duignan. Was he here? Was he contactable? Was I in the right place? Time to find out!
For some time now I have been trying to get closer to the spirit of Merlin. In the fabulously detailed and helpful book “Walkers Between the Worlds” there is a section dealing with such encounters. One of the recommendations is to immerse yourself in the history of that figure. Done that. Next, the Matthews’ recommendation is to visit some of the sites associated with that figure. Well, I’ve done that too. But one of the places that regularly comes up in the literature about Merlin is Dinas Emrys.
In his book “Merlin And Wales” Michael Dames says this of Dinas Emrys:-
“Three miles due south of Wales’s highest mountain, Snowdon, stands a steep-sided, flat-topped hillock. Rising a mere 76 metres *250 feet) above the river Glaslyn’s valley floor, it is known as Dinas Emrys. Din Emreis, as it was termed in a charter of AD 1199, plays an outstanding role in the welsh Dark Age and mediaeval tradition. Here Vortigern, king of Britain, tried to build a refuge. Here the boy Merlin almost lost his life while red and white dragons intertwines in a magic pool beneath his feet.“
A good summary of the story to be found here: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/legends/dinas_emrys.html and a study of Vortigern in history can be found here: http://www.vortigernstudies.org.uk/artwho/dinas2.htm.
For me the place had an almost magnetic attraction. I have experienced such a “pull” before from other sites. It starts as a recurring thought, then becomes an insistent thought, then a growing physical feeling in your heart and stomach that you have to visit, and finally you can’t think of anything else but getting there! It really is a strange compulsion. It feels like waiting for Christmas as a child.
I set my hopes and expectations quite low for this visit. I was going to have to go after work, and I knew the travelling time would be at least two and a half hours from there. Even in Summer I would have little time to appreciate the site, and that’s if I found it straight away. I decided that this visit would be a simple recce: find out where it is, how to get up there, what’s there, how it feels, quick dowse, go home.
As I approached Snowdonia I realised I had come ill-prepared. No head torch. No OS map. No compass. All I had was a zoomed in MultiMap print off of the area around Beddgelert. Well, perhaps luck would take over and guide me there? Maybe.
I parked at the National Trust car park at Craflwyn Hall. It only took me half an hour of walking up the hill to realise that I was walking up the wrong one. I had parked too far away! I got my GPS out to check my hunch: the batteries ran out immediately. Oh this was too much! I saw below me the outline of a hill that I felt was familiar – that must be Dinas Emrys. I raced back down the hill, realising that I was now even shorter on time, and that the light would only be with me for another hour!
Parking in a lay-by next to the hill I found a gate and a path that headed off gently along the hillside. The path reminded me of the labyrinthine path around Glastonbury Tor. Was I going to be walking myself into a trance state? As I walked up I soon arrived at a caravan park. Oh dear. Should I be going through there? I didn’t know. I decided that the best policy was not to disturb anyone, so to avoid the caravans I went straight up the hill, following some incredibly steep animal paths through the ferns, and in between the boulders.
Drenched in sweat I reached the summit, and connected with the proper path that I should have taken from the caravan park. I make that sound easy but at one point I thought I might slip and die it was so steep! On top I walked around to find the castle remains – there seemed to be about three small peaks on top of the summit area. I headed towards the one with the tree.
This area turned out to be the main ‘castle’ remains – a rectangular set of walls enclosing a lower grassy area with some marsh reeds. Marsh reeds? To me that signified flies, midges and other biting insects. Hmmm. And here I was covered in sweat – an attractive meal, no doubt. Immediately I dowsed for the entrance to this enclosure: it was due east, and the exit was south next to a large ash tree.
The ash tree dominated the site. It was unlike any ash tree I had seen before – having a splayed out canopy, and a trunk whose bark was battered and old, yet still maintained an integrity against the moss, lichen and weathering. I was quite taken by it.
I tried to meditate for a short a while, but the midges were too much and I had to flee my seat within the enclosure and stand atop the summit’s edge, craving the light breeze which kept the midges away. I stood admiring the view…
Well, if I couldn’t sit still for any time, perhaps I could move and dowse? I dowsed for power centres – a male one showed up under a pile of three small rocks, and a female one was located where I had sat around a camp fire, on some strewn rocks. Well, how fortunate was that? I seemed to have instinctively chosen the right place to sit!
Continuing with the dowsing I found that ‘my’ power centre was connected to the ash tree by a female energy line. Not at all unusual, I thought. At that moment I was considering whether to continue dowsing, and how long I might have before the light went. Suddenly, the sound of a bird of prey screeching made me look up to see one swirling around in a hunting pattern on the opposite side of the valley. Each circle brought him closer to me. I had seen the same behaviour only the day before over the fields at the back of my house, which I’ve never seen before despite having lived there for 15 years. The screeches from the bird of prey felt to me like a warning sign: was he warning other birds of my presence, or warning me of something? I looked around, inspecting the hillside above and behind me for any potential danger. It was then that I saw a rolling cloud of mist was descending rapidly down the hillside towards me. Good warning! Suddenly I noticed that the light airy summer breeze had a cold tinge to it now. I began to pack hurriedly, thanking the bird for its warning.
As I descended the main path that I should have come up, I found an enchanting glade. It had rings of old oak trees regularly spaced. There were beautiful mosses growing at the feet of the trees, and the glade seemed protected from the elements above and the winds around the hill. Hmmm…must remember this spot for next time. I continued down the path, passing sentinel oak trees and stopping to briefly acknowledge their presence and purpose, apologising for shortcutting them on the way up! It still feels daft to do this, but the reciprocal energy you get from them gives you a sense that you were right to do that, yet you could feel their annoyance. I hoped for a better reception next time when I ascend in a more respectful manner rather than bypassing them.
At the bottom of Dinas Emrys I met a sheep roaming the roadside greenery. I told her to stay off the road. We seemed to connect somewhat! I felt she was trying to understand my warning. For one brief moment there was a very strong connection, and that was very strange. As I drove past minutes later I saw her carefully nestled in lush grass on a knoll away from the road.
All the way back home I had in front of me a harvest last quarter moon. I had to drive in silence as the radio wouldn’t pick up any pre-programmed station! In a way it left me free to think about what had happened with the bird of prey. When I got home I got the rods out and asked if the bird of prey was associated with an energy form – YES. Was it a nature spirit? NO. Was it Merlin? YES. Well, this quick recce of a visit had revealed something special after all!
In search of Merlin.