Monthly Archives: April 2017

Carrot and Coals IV…


The name Arbor Low is of Saxon derivation, originally ‘Eordburh-Hlaw’ meaning the Earth-Work Mound.

Wen smiles, “Where did you dig that up from?”

“I have my sources, you know.”

“As your text only specifies Saxon, are we to presume that the Angles had a different language.”

“Quite possibly, but it says something else too.”

“Go on…”

“It tells us that as the Saxon name has stuck, then they very probably attended to the site more than any of the other later cultures.”

“It’s very descriptive isn’t it?”

“If a tin were involved…”

“Funny you should say that because tin may be very much involved not least because it is essential in the manufacture of bronze and there was a thriving tin trade between Briton and the Near East.”

“It seems odd to associate the word manufacture with these people.”

“That’s precisely what it was though.”

“Oh yes…”

“The mound, presumably, refers to Gib Hill?”

“Which is also, presumably a much later name, indicative of a much more barbaric culture?”

“Strange isn’t it, the same mound is accorded the most venerable dead by one culture and the most despicable criminals by another.”

“People have no grasp of what they do.”…

“A gibbet is an iron casing with iron spikes which penetrate various parts of the body; a sort of metal crown of thorns for the whole body.


“If the mound was a moot as opposed to a toot-hill then the two functions might not be mutually exclusive. The laws would be proclaimed from the mound and any transgressions of that law would also be rectified there.”

“Moot and Toot?”

“A moot is spoken, a toot is heard.”

“But then again the name could also be specifically designed by later generations to keep people away.”

“I once worked for a company who took over a hospital building and converted one of the operating theatres into a restaurant.”

“People, I have recently heard it said, have no grasp of what they do.”…

Egg of the Id…


A story should be taken to heart

And incubated

Brooded upon

Mulled over



The subject of a good story is always you.

Every one of you.

Not you as you are.

You as you could be.

And, perhaps, really ought to be.


Good stories are a part of that science of the soul

which insists that your world cannot be changed

without first changing yourself.


Even the most seemingly insignificant story

can pick up your soul and shake it like a leaf in the wind.

Where then is the world

you thought you lived in?


Only after the incubation

The brooding and mulling

The savouring…

Should the story be left

To fly free

In the world.

– Count Jack Black

The Journey of the Feathered Seer: Part 1 by Alethea Kehas

The Silent Eye

Alethea Kehas and her friend, Deb, flew over from the US to share the journey of the Feathered Seer with us. Alethea begins her account of her part in the weekend…

This time I traveled without my family, taking in their place a friend who did not yet know the land. There comes a point in one’s journey when the comfort of the familiar gives way without fear to the unknown. I was to play the role of Bratha, the “Feathered Seer,” without knowing what would await me. When I left the comfortable place of the hearth to fly across the Atlantic, I did not know that the role I was to play at the Silent Eye’s annual workshop would become me as the land gave way her secrets.


The journey began long before I boarded the plane. Such is the nature of all journeys, whether we are aware…

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Carrot and Coals III…


…I have to wonder about Wen.

Even before the ‘Wen’ thing she was a little too eager to run off to all the farthest flung reaches of the known universe at the drop of a hat.

The ‘hat’ in this case being any and all tangential references of any sort whatsoever to our quest; the merest hint of anything French for example and she was ‘champing at the bit’ to get over there.

Now, I am as keen to explore that particular land mass as the next fellow but if we are to do this thing properly… well, we really have to be called.

And this ‘calling’ is a tricky business.

The Scotland thing is a case in point.

It certainly looked like that was a good idea.

We had stuff to look at en route and stuff to look at when we got there and friends who could put us up and… and then the coffee pot exploded and we ended up heading off in quite the opposite direction.

You see, if it looks like you are not going to follow the calling… stuff happens.

Arbor Low is another example only this time, I think, we got it right.

The Stonehenge of the Midlands they call it but I was never very impressed with that because I knew the stones were laid flat.

Still, it being so close and all it was surprising that I had not got over there sooner and Wen, apparently, had kept passing the turn off to get there on her way home but never had the time or the inclination to go check it out.

That is the calling…

“Is it low as in a cow’s moan or is it low as in ‘cow’?”

“Who knows?”

“I’ve heard it pronounced both ways.”

“I’ve heard it pronounced both ways too.”

We both said it simultaneously though…

 “We have to go to Arbor Low.”…


The Jewel in the Claw – Spring 2018

The Silent Eye

Jewel in Claw Master image 28JanV317AA

Intrigue ⦿ Magic ⦿ Religion ⦿ Science

Four faces of a Elizabethan jewel that will become Britain… and one deadly enemy – hidden deep in the inner workings of an age.

1586, and our story begins… The reign of Elizabeth I, the ‘Virgin Queen’ of the house of Tudor.

A time when England stood virtually alone amongst its neighbours, surrounded by hostile political and religious forces set in motion by the reign of Elizabeth’s father Henry VIII, a plot has just been discovered to assassinate the now-established Queen of England and Ireland. The man who uncovered it is Francis Walsingham, her celebrated and loyal spymaster, intent on establishing a network of agents outside and inside England to protect her.

By the 1580s, this small island, with its ‘virgin’ Queen, had become a hotbed of intellectual and magical insight, with leading thinkers, such as the Queen’s astrologer, John Dee, driving forward the knowledge of the…

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Carrot and Coals II…


…I wait until I see Wen’s shoulders shaking with grief then go and collect her.

As I said earlier, I do not really know why she has to keep punishing herself in this way.

Foolishly, we walk back along the tops heading straight into the wind, which rips into us viciously its cold-laced edges buffeting, stinging and biting into our exposed flesh mercilessly.

The Telling Stone plays the same trick as the Mark Stone from earlier, looking twice its normal height from a distance and then halving in size as we move up close.

“How do they do that?”

“I really don’t know but maybe it’s not them at all.”

“What do you mean?”

“Maybe it’s us.”

“Maybe it is.”

“You have to put your hands on the stone.”

I put my hands on the Telling Stone… nothing.

Also foolishly, we walk onto the cairn beyond.

It always starts to rain at the cairn and sure enough today is no exception providing a fitting end to another rather harrowing sojourn at Bar-Brook-One.

“She said something about finding a white stone,” says Wen.

This time when we get back to the Silver-Bullet it is the Bake-Well Tart that gets the fondant treatment.

It was supposed to be going back to Bucks with Wen, not inside her stomach.

“There’s a white stone in Revelation,” I reply, redundantly.


The Giant’s Tale

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Throughout the books written with Stuart France many stories are woven. This is another of those tales that is woven through the Doomsday series… and one of those upon which we drew for the Feathered Seer workshop. It is a retelling of a folk tale, related to one of the sites we used for the workshop…

The piper of Shacklow

The fiddler of Fin

The old woman of Demon’s Dale

Calls them all in.

In the deep river valley, where the Wye falls and tumbles across the stones or spreads its silken surface wide, the tall mound of Fin Cop is silhouetted against the sky. Many are the mysteries held in the heart of that hill; ancient secrets and stories that tell of love and loss. One such is the tale of a giant named Hulac Warren, the fiddler of Fin.

Hulac lived in a cave where the limestone turrets…

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Carrot and Coals…


…Wen seems intent on punishing herself again.

I know. I know she probably has little choice but personally speaking I would be more than happy if we never went back to Bar-Brook-One… Ever! That  is not going to happen but given the inevitability of this eventuality, I have come to see it as something of a duty to prevaricate Bar-Brook-One at any and every opportunity I get.

These days I get plenty of opportunity.

Given that we drive past Rowan Cranny Falls at least twice a month on our way to and from Lodge Meetings it could only have been a matter of time and time, as we now know, does not actually exist.

“I nearly got up at four this morning and headed out there alone,” says Wen pensively over breakfast.

I glance out of the window at the howling wind and lashing rain, “You couldn’t have picked a finer or more appropriate day.”…


…Thankfully the course of the stream, or, more accurately perhaps, the brook, does afford us some protection from the elements.

In fact, it is quite pleasant down here.

The avenue of stones which Wen pointed out last time, and which I was not totally convinced by is, when observed from this angle, undoubtedly and without question, precisely that, and we spot an enormous Mark Stone which, when we take a closer look, proves not to be all that huge after all.

This is something else we will need to address.

The well-established physics of the material world do not seem to hold sway at these sites.

In fact, they seem to be reversed.

Distant stones look big and the same stones up close look tiny.

That is not supposed to be the way it works.

“Perspective,” yells Wen and moves back off up the brook ignoring a perfectly safe and feasible crossing point which I take, gratefully, if not gleefully, my spirits lifted by the rushing and gurgling sound of the water.

We move in tandem now each of us on one side of the brook and without thinking too much about the symbolism of this, it does feel exactly right.

We might be tracking some legendary beast to its lair and in another time and in another place, perhaps, we are.

It would probably have to be a questing beast…

“I have to cross at a particular point,” yells Wen, “in line with the barrow.”

My gaze follows her outstretched arm to the raised hump of the barrow, which shines as if lit on the horizon of the moor, and when my focus returns, Wen has crossed the brook and is heading up Rowan Cranny Falls at an alarming rate of knots.

We skip like mountain goats now crisscrossing the falls and fancying they are our home environment, until Wen settles at her spot and I carry on a little higher, roll an offering to the spirits of the place and commence picking out faces in the rocks behind the falling water…




The earth mourns…

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Throughout the books written with Stuart France many stories are woven. This is another of those tales that is woven through the Doomsday series… and one of those upon which we drew for the Feathered Seer workshop. It tells the tale of a real site and the events that archaeology suggests may have taken place there.

The sun is warm on the plateau. The kine graze, lazily swishing flies with their tails. In the little fields the old man works, the only man here on the Hill, the place of the Seers who served the gods.

They need no menfolk, here on the Hill. They are safe behind the great stone walls, protected by the steep slopes of the mound. They are safe… years untold the seers have dwelt here; respected, sought by the clans. They weave the dreamsight… and they are cherished.

Children laugh and run in the afternoon…

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