If tomorrow never comes,
Then, how much further away from today,
Is the day after tomorrow?
After lunch, we were to visit seven churches in the course of the afternoon, starting with Cerne Abbas. This, despite the fact we only had a few hours to accomplish it, seemed completely reasonable. Time was already starting to play tricks on me, stretching and slowing, and the afternoon was to prove even more challenging in that regard…
We started in the lovely parish church at the centre of Cerne Abbas, adorned with carving both outside and in. it was a pleasant church, one that hummed with activity and felt much more alive than the strangely vacant church at Cadbury the evening before.
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Full Circle? – Finding the way home…
Friday 7th – Sunday 9th December, 2018
Home. It is an evocative word. The images it conjures are different for each of us, yet few other words touch heart and mind in quite the same way. Birth and death, laughter and love, longing, fear and aspiration… the cycle of human life plays out within its walls.
For many, there is another ‘home’ beyond the physical confines of this world. That too may seem different for each of us and the path to its threshold is shaped by dreams. Few places illustrate this as clearly as Castlerigg, an ancient stone circle ringed by mountains and one of the most spectacular sites in the country.
The people who have walked this world before us have left traces of their lives and belief, written in stone upon the landscape. From church to stone circle…
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1. Doctrine that the soul is the vital principle of organic development.
2. Attribution of conscious life or spirits to nature or natural phenomena.
3. Belief in the existence of spirits separable from bodies.
“There’s a large stone in that hedge…”
“Correction, there’s a large head in that hedge.”
“A pity then that hedge derives from edge and not from head.”
It is a recurring question and one which crops up every time we visit ‘circles’ of stone.
Are the forms which we ‘see’ in them in us or in the stone?
Are they merely subjective projections or do they inhere in the stones themselves?
From experience we know that different people see different things.
From experience also we know that these forms change, constantly.
Among other things they are affected by;
2. Angle of approach.
3. Atmospheric conditions.
Would that the flickering blaze of flame
In the moonlight
again illuminate these forms…
The beat of a drum
A flare from the sun
When will they in unity thrum?
They deal then with perception and perceptions.
If all one sees are silly things
Is one a silly person or merely being silly?
Is it likely that stones would be chosen for their similarity to animals or beings which have never shared their environment?
Do we know for certain which fauna shared their environment?
Context too is important.
If we have an idea of what these sites were for,
then we may be able to find a correlation in the images in the stones.
Or is that simply more projection
and hence an even greater error of interpretation?
The ‘new circles’ can be instructive.
Apart from the obvious fact that for the most part they are not situated correctly, and thus do not feel ‘right’ or indeed feel ‘wrong’ and do not function at all on an energetic level, the choice of stones also leaves a lot to be desired.
These stones are ‘dead’.
Individually they appear too regular and too square to hold any forms,
not that a square or regular stone could not hold such a form, mind.
Collectively they do not ‘speak’ to each other, or as a whole.
Whatever else the people responsible for ‘Our Stones Circles’ were or were not, they were certainly artists of an exceptionally high degree of accomplishment, as well as consummate surveyors and engineers.
And that is not to mention, supreme organisers and masters of matter in motion.
These skills were probably not compartmentalised or regarded as separate.
One possible function of this artistry and science could have been in order to facilitate ancestral contact.
I just wish I’d moved the grasses away from the other side of the stone and taken a peek…
And then gone into the adjacent field and done likewise.
When Pieman was very young,
and living at the beginnings of time,
he often slept with the Cave Bear Clan during stormy weather.
Over the course of many such nights,
Big Brown Bear who was also very old,
taught Pieman the nature of his belly-roar.
To this day,
Pieman makes use of his roar in dreams,
but only to pacify strangers and to quiet the rowdy,
and those of us who have difficulty understanding the Ancient Tales.
…Her hand crept to the feather at her throat.
Her gift from the gods.
The colour of flame.
She had strayed from the path.
Preparing herself for what was to come.
The great bird had wheeled overhead.
Soaring above the trees in the morning.
She had looked down and seen rainbows caught in the feather, bright against the grass and smiled…
…Having exhausted my wish list of trips yesterday I have left today’s agenda to Wen and our first port of call is to another little church, Hulcott – All Saints. This church thing would not necessarily have been a top priority of mine but the discoveries at Little Missenden came as such a pleasant surprise that I find my anticipation rising as we approach the church porch and I start to envisage the possibilities that may lie inside.
… Wen has skipped along the gravel path and entered the church porch she pauses and looks back at me mysteriously, as I gain the porch, and then twists the iron door ring with a yank and leans into the heavy oaken door. The door does not yield. The door is locked…
“No matter,” says Wen, “they sometimes put contact details up, she starts to scrutinise the notice board of the porch and then taps a number into her phone…
Bugger times two!
We content ourselves with a swift circuit of the church but that merely emphasises the sense of disappointment and as we climb back into the car I start to wonder if we are destined for a hangover. It would have been in any case difficult to match the enormities of yesterday’s explorations and maybe we should be spending some time assimilating their significance rather than tearing about the country-side… it is akin I suppose to what as teenagers we used to call ‘Chasing the Dragon’ when we stayed out all night looking for drinking parties.
“No worries” says Wen, “there’s another we can try on the way.”
Wen of course has no such doubts, “on the way to where?”
“The Hell-Fire Caves.” Don’t you remember any of our conversation last night?
“Ah, yes, the Hell-Fire Caves…”
To be honest it feels a little bit off-beam to me but it is a place of interest in the area and we need to do something today…I attempt to retrieve some of last nights conversation from the fog of grape but before I have even got to the Megalithic Behemoth of Wayland’s name, we are pulling up outside the village church of Oving…
The mound of this one is too obvious not to remark and there are several stone steps and a still fairly steep incline before … Wen skips along the gravel path and enters the church porch where she pauses and looks back at me mysteriously… this is already becoming something of a ritual for us and as I gain the porch I find myself hoping against hope that the door will open… Wen twists the iron door ring with a yank and leans into the heavy oaken door. The door does not yield. The door is locked…
“There should be a law against it.”
“It’s sort of understandable I suppose.”
“Desecration of sacred places is incomprehensible on any scale…and besides now we’re on a mission it’s totally and wholly unacceptable.”
“And what mission would that be?” Wen arches her eyebrow in saintly fashion.
“Not sure yet… I’ll let you know.”
‘I know now’
‘What do you now know?’
‘I know what the mission is.’
‘Well, that didn’t take long.’
‘We’re on a mission to feel true.’ …
“It has to be the Stone on Gardom’s Edge…”
“What does?” says Wen.
“My Robin Hood Stone… I mean it didn’t look much like the stone on Gardom’s Edge but that could have been the angle.”
I study the sketch in our guide book.
“A lot of these stones look different from each and every angle you know.” …
…“Let’s go find the Hud Stone,” say I.
“Is the Hud Stone the same as the Robin Hood Stone?”
“Well of course it is!”
“The same stone that we are not totally sure exists at all?”
“Well it most surely does exist if it is what Mr Harris is calling the Gardom Stone.”
“All these names are apt to become a tad confusing don’t you think?”
“Not at all, it’s just one more way of marking time.”…
…A short walk later and we are approaching what are undoubtedly the outer precincts of a prehistoric enclosure.
Just then I catch sight of the Gardom Stone from some distance.
There is always a thrill when seeing a site or stone for the first time, but in this case the thrill is tempered somewhat by the simultaneous realisation that, even from this distance, it is obvious that the Gardom Stone is not the Hud Stone.
“It’s there,” I say, “but it is not the Hud Stone.”
“It’s been called, ‘The Devil Stone’ before now.”
“I can see that too, but let’s face it, we’ve had more than enough truck with that particular personage these last few months.” …
…“Is it significant,” interrupts Wen.
“Is what significant?”
“The fact that a lot of these stones look different from every angle… I mean it starts to look like another involution.”
“It’s spatially significant for your ubiquitous theory but how so otherwise?”
“Well, take your traditional temple of the elements.”
“Which few people ever do…”
…“Of what does it consist?” says Wen, ignoring me.
“It consists of a uniform central point and the distinct cardinals.”
“Eloquently put, O Something Feral, eloquently put,” she smiles.
“Oh I see, the distinct cardinals have been collapsed into a central point…”
“Collapsed and reversed, which is something of an involution is it not?”
“It is indeed, Little Grub, and if that is what they were doing…”
“It is genius.”
“Genius, yes, but to what end?”
“There is a stone which would be worth visiting. It is in Baslow which is on our way to the Symposium so we could stop off there, grab some lunch, check out the stone and then head off to our meeting.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
“If I can remember where it is.”
“I thought you knew where it was; why else tell me about it otherwise.”
“I do, sort of, only we will be coming at it the other way, the last time I visited I came down off the moor but we won’t have time to do it that way.”
“How long ago was this?” says Wen becoming somewhat suspicious.
“About ten years. It’s a huge stone. You can’t miss it and I know the general direction of its whereabouts.”
“How big is the stone?”
“It’s massive. It’s the largest free standing monolith I’ve ever come across and we found it quite by accident.”
“Bigger that the stones at Avebury?”
“Not bigger, but taller than the stones at Avebury.”
“By accident you say?”
“Look, there’s nothing mysterious about it, I’d taken Al and Sal to see the Park-Gate stone circle and then we walked back over the moor, which is another necropolis by the way, to Baslow and lunch. There was some sort of monument giving a rather splendid view of the area and just after that we came down off the moor and found the stone.”
“A necropolis you say? It is not marked on the map,” says Wen with some conviction.
“Well, not all of them are.”
“The big ones though, they usually are, surely?”
“I didn’t imagine it. We even took a photograph. Al and I were laughing because of the, shall we say, somewhat rude reputation of such stones, so we got Sal to stand next to it and Al took a photograph on his phone.”
“Okay, if it’s as big as you say we should be able to find it again quite easily.”…