Monthly Archives: August 2018

Time Wise…

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…I turn the gwid-byll over in my fingers.
It is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
It is a sphere of worked and lined stone which shadows forth in raised nodules indicative of the triad. It is heavy too, far heavier than it should be for its size. It is a sky-stone say the stories and though the stories cannot always be trusted it is hard to think of a more fitting origin for the gwid-byll.
I place it carefully and reverentially back into the pouch around my neck.

The Thunder-Stone looms out of the crossed-tracks showing pitch-black against the lightening glow of the earth-rim.
He will be here soon.
He will walk out of the sun like the dream said and he will tell the stone glyphs of the Thunder-Stone like only he is able.
I run my fingers over the shaft of the stone feeling the uneven shapes unknowable in the dark, meaningless in the light.
A shadow flits through the bushes which skirt the mound.
There should be no others.
The dream spoke of none.
My exposed toe stubs against cold stone at the foot of the shaft and catches an edge.
I forget the shadow and start to push back the moss from the edge that my toe has inadvertently uncovered.
My fingers find more depressions in the stone and even in this light I can see that they are regular and form a pattern of threes!
There are three up and three across.
My mind jumps to the gwid-byll and I scrabble to again draw it from its pouch.
This is not in the dream either but I know where the gwid-byll goes.
I place it in the central depression of stone and it fits perfectly.

Suddenly I am held firmly from behind. I struggle but to no avail.
The arms that hold my own are slight and sinewy but strong: strong as an ox.
A thin cackle sounds above me.

“Don’t struggle, little one, we have a game to play.”

I nod warily and the grip on my arms is released slightly so that I am able to turn slowly and face my attacker.
A mere boy, little older than myself stands before me, he grins crookedly and throws worked bones in the air where they spin momentarily and fall back into his grasp.

“You weren’t in the dream,” I hiss.
“Neither were you,” he hisses back.
“He will be here soon,” I say.
“But who will come,” says the boy, “Shadow or Sun?”
“I’ll cast you for it,” say I, recalling the bones.

The boy’s eyes dance like fire as he hands me the bones.

I shake and spit and cast…

Six…Five…Six

‘Can only be beaten by one,’ I think handing back the bones.

Almost immediately they fly through the air and land in the grit.

We run to read them…

Six…Six…Six

‘Damnation!’

A low keen sounds overhead.

I look up and around.

A form emerges from the now risen sun, dark on the earth-rim moving towards the Thunder-Stone.

The boy is gone.

So is the gwid-byll…

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The Old Man in the Tower

The Silent Eye

Old Man Tower smaller

There was and is a tower, a tall, dark tower.

One day, a fugitive – ragged but not lost – came to this tower.

The tower stood beside a wild sea, which constantly washed its face with spray. Day after day the sea would send clouds of cold spray high into the air, where some of the droplets splashed onto the thick, crystal windows of the tower.

The sea thundered on the rocks and covered the arriving ragged man with salt-water, but his only reaction was to smile.

Through the crystal glass at the top of the dark tower, an old man watched the world beneath him. Every day he would look out at the streaks of sea water on the outside of the thick glass. Sometimes he shuddered at the ferocity of the sea; at its determination to get through the crystal glass. At these times he wondered at…

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In-and-Out of Time…

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‘Joseph of Arimathea a wealthy Metal Merchant first traded here for lead and copper from Priddy and Greenore in the Mendips, and for tin from Cornwall.

The two former would ship from Pilton’s Harbour which was situated just below where the present Manor House stands and on the way out to sea, he would pass Glastonbury, then an island south-west of Pylle Bay.

After our Lord’s ascension and Pentecost, Joseph would naturally return to preach the Gospel to his old friends here and at Glastonbury and to build a wattle church at each place.

Here, he built a chapel on the side of the hill above the harbour, where probably he baptised his first converts.’

Traditional History of Pilton Church.

“Does the Pope know about this,” says Wen, her eyes alight, “I can’t believe it’s so brazenly presented and on an information board as well.”
“We may be able to do even better than that,” say I contemplating the church banner with some interest.
“How so?” says Wen.
“Well if the line of the Tor depicted here is correct, it shouldn’t be too difficult to locate the precise spot where they first touched down.”
“No,” says Wen suddenly collapsing into fits of laughter. “No it can’t be that accurate can it? It is probably done by the local kids. And how would they know anyway?”
“It wasn’t done by the local kids.”
“How do you know?”
“I know because the colour symbolism is too precise.”
“You may have to qualify that last statement Mr Sams,” says Wen with something of a crooked grin.
“Not hard,” say I. “The figure in the prow of the vessel adorned by a golden halo, which for arguments sake we will call ‘Jesus,’ is wearing a purple robe.”
“He is,” says Wen.
“The older child who is steering the boat is wearing a purple tunic.”
“He is too. Do we have a name for him?” says Wen.
“I could quite easily give him a name if you would like me to?”
“I am sure you could but that is not quite the same thing. What does the tradition call him?”
“The tradition doesn’t call him anything but if I had to have a wild stab in the dark at what it would call him if asked, I’d say it would call him ‘John’.
“Oh you would, would you? Isn’t he a bit too old for John?”
“We’ve already established that John was at least two years older than Jesus.”
“Okay… and the older figure of course we know only too well from the tradition?”
“And Our Joseph just happens to be wearing a purple head-dress?”

Wen looks from figure to figure and back to me and then moves up close to scrutinise the line and angle of the Tor depicted in the background.

“It’s worth a go,” she says, and swiftly raises her camera…

– Extract from ‘Dark Sage

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A Thousand Miles of History XXVIII: The head of the dragon…

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

 

We have lost count of the number of hillforts we have seen, climbed and contemplated… but Carn Lês Boel would be our first true promontory fort.  These Cornish ‘fortifications’ or ‘cliff castles’ seem to be nothing of the sort, though, and the fortifications, such as they are, seem to defend something other than a settlement.

The narrow, rocky promontory juts out into the sea, surrounded on three sides by sheer and dangerous cliffs.  On the landward side, it is bounded by a bank and ditch which, even accounting for the effects of erosion by centuries of weather, still seems a meagre defence, more symbolic than practical. It extends in a wide arc around the entrance to the headland and would take a lot of men to defend it against aggressors.

The natural defence of the headland is the land itself. Just a few men could hold the narrow neck…

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Free Time…

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‘…all the great thinkers recognise the importance of rational thought and also the importance of getting beyond the rational and that’s where the myths and fairy stories come in…’   – The Heart of Albion

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Ancient terms of measurement are fascinating not least because many of them successfully encompass the apparently yawning gulf between the microcosm of the human body and the macrocosm of the universal…

It is quite possible that the humble barley seed, or kush,  whilst representative of one second in time was also the basis for the staple of our first civilisation.

They have the ‘ring’ of authenticity about them these terms which must once have stood at the pinnacle of the human endeavour to comprehend.

To ‘fathom’ means to measure but also to understand and is roughly equal to the length of a ‘grown man’s’ outstretched arms.

Six Feet.

Finger tip to finger tip…

Something which is ‘fathomless’ then means something too big for you to get to grips with, quite literally.

It is also the preferred length measurement for sounding depths.

Why?

Perhaps, because the outstretched arms span the heart?

There is an inherent value judgement here which must be very old.

Depth is harder to understand than length and harder to measure.

So it must be worth more in terms of expended effort.

The vertical carries more weight than the horizontal.

A yard is not quite so hard to compass.

Three Feet.

Finger tip to heart…

Because of the nature of league tables we had always assumed that leagues were a depth measurement but apparently not, they too refer to length.

Three miles.

But what of ‘Seven League Boots’?

Sensibly, they should allow a stride of twenty-one miles or perhaps a jump of forty-two but they do neither.

In the Folk Record they are used to keep pace  with Giant’s who step from hill to hill or from site to site which map out the lay of the land.

In real time such sites appear to mark the natural thresholds of eye-sight, and the daily trek on foot…

In other words they make the step up from feet to miles.

The distance they cover then is far vaster and their ramifications even more so but not without possible compass for the finely tuned mind to consider.

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Geometries 136

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‘…The Demon Lord Bali had overcome Indra, Lord of the Gods and was enjoying the Empire of the Three Worlds.

The assembly of the Gods, distressed with fear, went to the Hermitage of the Perfect where Vishnu was engaged in contemplation:

‘Bali, the son of Virocana,’ they said, ‘is performing a sacrifice, what benefit for the gods is there in this?’

Thus petitioned, Vishnu adopted a Dwarvish form approached the Demon Lord and begged from him the boon of three small paces which were granted him.

With the first step Vishnu re-assumed his normal aspect and occupied the Whole Earth, with the second step he broached the Eternal Atmosphere, and with the third, the Everlasting Sky… He made Bali, the son of Virocana a Dweller in the Underworld and gave the Empire of the Three Worlds back to Indra…’

If anyone does ever come across a pair of Seven League Boots, we’d be grateful were you to let us know!

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Geometries 135

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A Thousand Miles of History XXVI: Rite of Way

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Our next stop was right on the coast. On a day when you could see where your next step would take you, and had we been blessed with more time, we might have parked at Land’s End and walked the cliff path… which would, undoubtedly, have been the simplest route and, as it turned out, possibly the quickest too. But then, we would have missed a truly magical journey.

Instead, we chose to take a ‘short cut’. We would drive to the closest point we could get to our destination then walk a short way… or so we thought… between the fields and out onto the cliffs. We thanked whatever Providence had made us buy a detailed local map and set off down a series of increasingly isolated farm tracks until we found a gap in the hedgerows that looked like it might once have been a track… but it…

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Space Time…

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‘…You may as well know now you are far more likely to see the spiritual than you are to read it. The spirit came first and we learned to see before we learned to read. It is nigh on impossible to alter the ramifications of all that and no one really wants to but it is easy to forget. You can look at something for years without seeing it…’  – The Initiate

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In the West we are accustomed to regarding pictures as illustrations of the words used to tell stories. Our earliest reading is accompanied by pictures which frame, direct or manipulate the ideas contained within the words we have just read and our judgements about the skills of the illustrator are formed by and depend on just how closely the depicted image comes to how we have envisaged the related story in our minds eye…

But it was not always this way.

Many of the oldest stories, by which we mean the myths, are tales told to elucidate sacred icons and while it is undoubtedly the case that a picture paints a thousand words it may not be possible for a single word to paint a thousand pictures.

This means that many of our oldest stories are in fact no more than interpretations, which is as it should be and really can only ever be, but it also means that in the absence of the icon to which these interpretations refer there is something missing.

The picture itself!

But the picture itself is not the whole story either because even with the icon and the interpretative story or indeed a number of different interpretative stories and their attendant glosses… there is still something missing and that something is known as context and, what is more, that context can only come from individual lookers and listeners which means… you, but only if you do indeed take care to look and to listen.

To listen properly involves being silent.

To look properly involves using more than the eyes.

This ‘set up’ and its corresponding ‘state of affairs’ really is fundamental to most of what passes for our experience here on earth and one of the gravest errors it is possible to make is to let another person define our experience for us.

All the sacred texts teach this by leaving room for interpretation and by using icons or pictures as the sources of their inspiration.

After all one may spend a lifetime considering the arguments of a thousand and one savants on the likelihood or otherwise of, let’s say… reincarnation without ever being convinced one way or the other and yet, alternatively, one may also be lucky enough to catch the merest glimpse of a series of temple panels which taken together accurately depict the same concept… and instantly know it to be true.

But don’t take our word for it… go out and discover it for yourself!

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A Dorset Weekend With The Silent Eye – Part 2

Journey To Ambeth

Still officially on a blog break, I swear. But there is more to tell about my trip to Dorset, so here is part two of my weekend with The Silent Eye (for part one click here).

Saturday morning arrived early. There was a lot planned, as there usually is on these weekends, so there was no time to lie in my (very comfortable) bed. Not that I was complaining – I was looking forward to exploring the village and surrounding area, as well as seeing what else might happen in the course of the day.

The village of Cerne Abbas is ancient – the hotel in which I stayed started life as a hall in the 12th century, and was expanded by a prosperous owner in the 14th century. It is called the New Inn, despite its age, and its warren of rooms felt somewhat like a…

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Time Frame…

 

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‘The concept of ‘darkness’ was revealing.
It is where light ends. But I also realised that darkness is not the absence of light but the antithesis of light. In other words, they are aspects of each other. Light and dark are not only metaphors but the means by which we perceive and understand.’
– Vittorio Storaro

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“He says he wants to investigate my vision.”
“Who does?”
“You haven’t been listening to a word I’ve been saying.”
“Oh Ned, you mean…well, what you have to ask yourself is, do you really want your vision investigating?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Or even, does your vision want your vision investigating?”
“I’m not sure I even know what he means by my vision.”
“Presumably he’s referring to all those stories you make up.”
“But he hasn’t read any of those stories and I don’t make them up,” says Wen, reaching for her Gazetteer of Mysterious Britain and brandishing it.
“I know you don’t, dear, I’m just teasing. Vee has read them though and she’s probably told him all about it, or at least enough to get him interested and you were dancing with him in Oxford last May Day.”
“Yeah, that’s true I was dancing with him, him and about thirty other people also. I think he thinks I’m still working in Buckinghamshire.”
“He’s in for a nasty surprise then…”
“If he does agree to come up here do we take him to Devil’s Drop?”
“We could, it would certainly make for an interesting experiment but we would have to give him some sort of warning if we did.”

Devil’s Drop is our new name for Gib-Rock.

Wen has been doing some more research on the story and I have to say, our theories on legend notwithstanding, the bare facts of this one alone are rapidly approaching mythological proportions.

Get this…

On the way to the gibbet the cart carrying the body got lost and had to pass over the territory now known to us fondly as Chat. Now, at that time there was not actually a thoroughfare over the land, but passage to the dead has to be given when requested.

“Why does passage to the dead have to be given when requested?”
“It’s an Old English Custom.”
“It becomes a law simply because people are accustomed to doing it?”
“Don’t you just love it?”
“It’s utterly bonkers but beautiful!”
“It’s nothing less than a road of the dead.”
“The road that passes through Chat is a Corpse Road.”
“I mean this is quite recent, yeah, within living memory?”
“It was in the Eighteenth century, so almost within living memory.”
“I think that’s part of an older tale that has got mixed up with an actual occurrence. It could only happen in Derbyshire.”
“Is that also why huge standing stones as big as any you’ve ever seen also go missing there?”

I have to say that the last remark was a little below the belt…

Dark Sage

A Thousand Miles of History XXIII: The mating dance

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

We stood at the gate in hushed awe. For a moment it seemed as if we were looking through a rift in the mists of time, back to an age that has passed beyond memory, when the land was still young and the old gods walked the earth. It was the silence before the thunderous applause that greets a virtuoso performance, the inbreath before a lover’s sigh and the hush of a candlelit temple. The mists that had closed around us as we crossed the fields now veiled the circle of stones from the eyes of the world. We were alone with history and magic.

There are places that are hard to describe, almost impossible to write about…not simply in order to do them justice, but because they reach inside you, lighting long forgotten corners of memory that are older than your own. It is hard to remember the details…

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