Monthly Archives: July 2019

Dreaming Stones: Tides of light

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

skye lochalsh (2)

With the decision made, the ferry booked and the light changing as the sun went down, we took the cameras out to play, leaving the mainland behind for a little while. Not intentionally… but the road through Kyle of Lochalsh, the ‘strait of the foaming loch’, becomes the Skye Bridge and, once on it, what else could we do but cross?

skye lochalsh (4)

The bridge was opened in 1995 and connects the old ferry port to the Isle of Skye.  Beneath the bridge, the loch plunges three hundred feet, almost vertically, to a rich landscape of strange creatures and plants that remain hidden from the eyes of the curious. Also beneath the first part of the bridge is the tiny island of Eilean Bàn, the White Isle. The island was once home only to wildlife and lighthouse keepers. It later became the home of Gavin Maxwell, the author of ‘Ring of Bright…

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Callanish Calling: Light of the World…

France & Vincent

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…What we had thought were the distant hills of Bonny Scortland,

so recently traversed, turned out to be the hills of Skye herself yet to be encountered.

*

This trip was already proving to have more surprises than a Jack-in-the-Box.

But, no matter…

*

One of the things that all the travellers to the Isles mention is the light.

We were about to experience this at first hand, and in more ways than one.

*

Having just been introduced to the hills of Skye…

They promptly disappeared

from sight completely

behind a veil of dense mist.

*

Which at other times, and in other places,

we would have had no hesitation in calling Dragon’s Breath…

*

Leaving us again wondering

whether or not what we had seen

was real?

*

There was to be a lot of that…

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Dreaming Stones: A stroke of luck

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Below us there was a loch ringed with hills. In the distance, mountains. Before us, a road that led to the shore. We hadn’t a clue where we were… unless heaven has a place on the map. All we knew was that coming over the crest of the hill we were faced with unbelievable beauty and a light that reached into the very depths of the heart.

We were not map reading. The road we had taken, through the Highlands from Dingwall to Kyle of Lochalsh, was a simple one to follow; the hills, lochs and forests were not really opening many side roads… It was not until we came down to the water’s edge at Balmacara that we realised that we had reached what was to be our destination for the night. We were looking across Loch Alsh to Skye.

That was as far as our planning had managed…

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Dreaming Stones: Incipient weirdness…

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

It was later than anticipated when we left the rest of our Companions on the Sunday afternoon at the end of the workshop. We hadn’t eaten, needed a garage for the damnable deflating tyre and we were a long, long way from home. Even with motorways and optimal speeds every foot of the way, home would still be a solid ten hour drive south. But then, who was heading south?

It may look as if we are always gallivanting, but Stuart and I both work, taking holdays for workshops and meetings. As I work seven days a week, even weekends have to come out of the holiday entitlement and, as we live a couple of hundred miles apart, no matter where we go, there is driving time to be added which eats it away even more. While we are wandering the country, we try to spend time meeting friends or…

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Callanish Calling: Star Stones…

France & Vincent

*

‘Imposing though it may be, it is also cramped…’

– Burl

*

“And in any case, it’s the wrong time of year!”

“I had that thought too, but we could just treat it as a ‘reckie’.”

“A ‘reckie’ for what? We’re hardly going to be able

to drag anyone else all the way out there.”

“Perhaps not, but as we are so close,

and we may not be as close again for some time,

if ever, we have to get there!”

“We will get there, if we pay the price.”

*

‘In it the moon dances continuously the night through

from vernal equinox to the rising of the Pleiades.’

-Diodorus Siculus

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Callanish Calling: Thin White Stones…

France & Vincent

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‘This site, important for its grandeur, its design

and its astronomy, is a complex,

of a diminutive stone circle, an avenue,

three rows and a chambered tomb…’

– Burl

*

“To be ‘called’ is not the same thing as wanting to go somewhere!”

“I know.”

“Nor is it the same as really wanting to go somewhere.”

“I know, but it’s sort of hovering in the air above my head,

as an incredibly exciting possibility.”

“I know. It’s the same for me too.”

“So how do we distinguish ‘calling’?”

“In this case, I’m not sure we do, or can. We just have to try to get there.”

“Oh, we’ll get there alright!”

*

‘…The circle stands conspicuoulsy on a ridge

overlooking the waters of Loch Roag.

– Burl

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Callanish Calling…

France & Vincent

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Dear Wen,

I have booked an additional day off work – The Wednesday…

However, we possibly need a bit more of a plan than,

‘If we have it we can fill it’,

for me to book any more time off!

Love, Don x

*

“What did you have in mind?”

“Well, I thought we might want to take a look at one of the Scortish Isles?”

“We’ll be quite close to Skye?”

“What’s on Skye?”

“Not a great deal, archaeologically speaking, but Callanish is not far from Skye.”

“Callanish!”

*

Callanish.

Tantalus.

Stone-Circle ‘Gold’!

*

Callanish.

The name alone is capable of conjuring a mystical reverie.

Ah, Callanish…

Soskin completed his personal Odyssey into pre-history there.

It was there that Cope stood in the Moon.

Ah, Callanish…

Are you real, or a phantom, as delusional as Macbeth’s dagger,

which floats before the eyes?

*

“Could we get there?”

“The…

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Seeking a light…

The Silent Eye

Rites of Passage: Seeing beyond Fear

A weekend with the Silent Eye

Derbyshire, UK

Friday 13th – Sunday 15th September 2019

Beyond the serene beauty of the Derbyshire Dales, old stories cast shadows across the landscape. From the veiled rites of prehistory to folklore, from legend to history, we listen with a shiver to tales of another time and place… and yet, the fears faced within these stories still echo our own.

Fear gets a bad press. It is almost always portrayed as a negative emotion, an uncontrolled reaction to the events and circumstances of our lives. When we allow fear to rule us, that can be an accurate description. It can be paralysing, preventing us from following our dreams and embracing the possibilities life offers. And yet, fear helps keep us safe and alive; without fear, we would not step away from danger or take our hand away from…

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Isle of Emain…

* 

A far distant isle

lies in leagues fifty-thrice

over the ocean to the west

larger than Erin, twice.

*

Many faceted Emain

encircled by sea

rising from tide into sky

an ever wondrous beauty.

*

On the fair isle of Emain

a hoary tree grows

its silver-laced branches

blossom like no-one yet knows.

*

Multi-hued birds

sing within the tree tops

on a white-silver plain

do dragon-stones drop.

*

Unheard is wailing

as sweet-music strikes ear

it issues through Emain

banishing all fear.

*

A band of nine women

come down from a height

over variegate plains

to the seaside, pure-white.

*

 Onward they run

to a stone shining-bright

for about it to dance

raising songs in the night.

*

The pure man arrives there

 rowing in on the flood

stirring the ocean

as sun turns to blood.

*

At dawn he arises

a delight to sore eyes

his coracle of bronze

illumining blue skies.

*

 A splendour of colour

glistens in the land

spreads its glorious range

over sea-washed sand.

*

The host he brings with him

for long ages stay

their beauty in freshness

knows not death nor decay.

*

In happiness and health now

their laughter peals loud

on Emain in each season

reigns joyousness proud.

*

My song to you all then

still in strife and in pain

you must voyage on the ocean

to the fair isle of Emain.

*

*

Egg of the Id…

*
When Fionn was a boy he was fostered on the hermit, Finaghast, who was to be his instructor.
The old hermit had been living by the river Boyne with the aim of catching the Salmon of Knowledge.
Tradition had it that the first person to taste the flesh of that salmon would receive
the gift of past and future sight and would become the wisest man in all Erin.
Finaghast had spent many years fishing in the river, hoping that
one day the Salmon of Knowledge would swim by.
*
One day, as Finaghast was pitching Fionn his, Auraicept, by the river, there were unusual stirrings in the water of the Boyne.
Old man and boy peered into the river and saw a beautiful, speckled salmon swimming swiftly towards them.
“The Salmon of Knowledge!” cried Finaghast running for his fish-net.
As he returned to the river-bank with the fish-net to hand, the Salmon of Knowledge leapt out of the water and gazed into his eyes.
*
Finaghast-the-Hermit, immediately collapsed to the ground in a deep sleep, for it was an ability of the Salmon that whosoever its gaze first fell upon when breaching the water course would always be put into such a condition.
Fionn ran to Finaghast and attempted to shake him awake, but to no avail.
With his instructor lost to the world it was left to the pupil to land the fish, which Fionn did, eventually, after an almighty tussle.
Still unable to wake his instructor, Fionn, set about cooking the salmon in the hope that the aroma of the broiling fish would bring old Finaghast round.
It nearly worked too, but just as the fish was softening nicely, and Finaghast began to stir, a drop from the boiling pot fizzed out and caught Fionn plumb on his thumb, so scalding him.
Fionn instinctively stuck his thumb into his mouth to cool it.
*
When Finaghast woke from his sleep he noticed a great change in his young pupil.
There was a light behind his eyes, like that of a flame, and his cheeks were glowing brightly.
“Fionn, did you eat of the salmon?” asked Finaghast.
“I did not eat of the salmon,” said Fionn.
“Fionn did you taste any of the salmon at all?” asked Finaghast.
Fionn then explained all that had happened and the old hermit realised that the grace of wisdom had been granted, not to him, but to his foster son…
*