Category Archives: Ancient Sites

Vegetative Soul? …

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The Ancients it seems

Conceived a three-fold

Analogy which linked

Agriculture, Generation and Re-generation.

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These systems were regulated

By the sun, the earth and the moon

Which moved together in cyclical process…

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It was, perhaps, not such

A bad conception, after all.

Dear Don: Sheaves…

France & Vincent

Nick Birds SE Ilkley 2015 uffington avebury cropton Helmsley 049Dear Don,

Good trip, wasn’t it? Once again time seems to have been obliging and stretched itself to fit with our meanderings. We are going to need to go south again though, with all I am reading about Marden Henge lately. Do you recall me mentioning it some time ago? The site on the line between Avebury and Stonehenge? The excavations are revealing another huge complex.

While I was reading up on it a bit, I came across this pic of a brooch found close by… What would you say at first glance? Early Christian?

v0_master © Wiltshire Museum

Apparently not. It’s a Bronze Age sun disc, dating back around 2,400 years before the Christian era, found in a burial mound none too far from Stonehenge. It just goes to show what we have been saying for a while… the symbols that speak directly to the inner being don’t belong to…

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Magical Elements: Unfurling…

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… Not content with speculations

on the nature of the physical world,

their deductions led the Alchemists to contemplations

of a metaphysical nature…

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If Magical Elements could be transmuted

each into the other

then they must ultimately be equivalent.

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They posited a fifth element

which possessed all the properties of the other four,

and called it the ‘Quintessence’…

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Magical Elements: ‘Alchemy’…

 

 

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To lessen the confusion between Fire and Water

and to accentuate the difference between

Earth and Air,  the Alchemists coloured their symbols…

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… Alchemy is one of the oldest techniques known to mankind.

The Ancient who first cast a weather eye at the heavens,

licked a finger and held it aloft in the sky,

in order to ascertain which way the wind did blow… was an ‘Alchemist’.

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One of the first things the Alchemists noticed about the elements was their mutability…

They seemed to be caught up in an endless round of transmutation,

and were forever striving to become each other.

That apart, they were incredibly stable in themselves, and also incredibly dynamic!

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Small wonder then that the equilateral triangle,

with its base-line and its point,

presented itself as such a fitting symbol of their being.

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These and other observations led the Alchemists to conceive a set of qualities

for the Magical Elements which would  explain their transmutation from one to the other.

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Earth is Cold and Dry… Water is Cold and Moist…

Air is Moist and Hot… Fire is Hot and Dry…

Make Earth Hot to get Fire. Make Earth Moist to get Water.

Earth cannot become Air without first becoming Fire or Water and vice versa.

Similarly, Fire cannot become Water without first becoming Earth or Air and vice versa.

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All of which, upon consideration, is an extremely subtle conception

to be entertained by mere ‘primitives’.

Magical Elements…

Air

Earth

Water

Fire

From such simple devices the ancients sought to traverse the stars

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Most people, if asked, would claim to be familiar with these elements largely because in the physical world they can recognise substances which, today, go by that name.

“I know what earth, air, fire and water are,” they might haughtily declare before moving on to something infinitely more befitting their lofty opinion of themselves.

But they would be wrong.

Nobody knows what the elements are.

We may be able to recognise them and in some instances we may also be able to predict what they will do, how they will operate, what results will follow from their mutual interactions, but we do not know what they are, anymore than we can ever claim to know what electricity is, except, perhaps, in very vague terms…

Electricity is a force of nature which can be harnassed…

The elements are forces of nature which can be harnassed…

So mysterious are these forces that some mystical schools refuse to call them elements at all, referring to them, instead, as principles.

For modern man this mystery is a failing, so it is not accepted and certainly not talked about…

For ancient man this mystery was a joy, embraced with open arms, and became something of a raison d’etre.

The ancients never tired of observing the kaleidoscopic interplay of these forces constantly taking place around them.

Consequently, they discovered some pretty amazing things about them.

They called this study, Alchemy…

Spring…

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…They do have something of the ‘other-world’ about them these places.

‘No un-authorised person beyond this point,’ said the sign.

‘But we are more authorised than anyone ever could be,’ said Wen.

It is difficult to disagree but then the village of Cerne Abbas is in itself quite otherworldly too.

I got exactly the same feel from it as when I first went to Glastonbury.

It felt like we had left England and gone abroad, perhaps to France…

‘Albion!’ smiles Wen, ‘the whole of these Blessed Isles used to feel like this…’

The Heart Of Albion

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Gate to the Land of Youth II…

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… Within the walls of the white-washed house Fin, and his Merry-Men, found an old man lying bent on the edge of the hearth with a sheep tied to the wall alongside.

They sat at table and the old man raised his head and acknowledged them.

‘Little enough chance of sating our thirst and hunger in this hovel,’ thought Dermot.

Just then the old man called loudly for food and drink, and up from the floor below came a strapping young lass who wasted no time in setting the table with a feast fit for kings.

But no sooner had Fin and his Merry-Men put fork to food than the sheep which was tied to the wall broke its hempen rope and rushed toward the table sending the food and drink to the floor.

“By the Gods!” cried Conan, “look at the mess you have made of our supper, and we so badly in need of it.”

“Get up and tie the sheep, Conan,” said Fin.

So, Conan got up and, grabbing the sheep by the scruff of the neck, attempted to drag it back towards the wall.

Try as he might he was unable to do so.

“What’s this,” laughed Dermot along with all the other men, “Conan, the great warrior, defeated by a sheep.”

“I am more than happy to stand aside and let a better man have a go,” growled Conan.

“Get up and tie the sheep, Dermot,” said Fin.

So, up got Dermot and he too tried to drag the sheep to the wall but was unable.

Each of Fin’s men in turn attempted the task and failed until, eventually, Fin himself was forced to stand and tie the sheep but all to no avail.

That sheep was not for budging…

To be continued.

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Bardic Review…

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It has been our policy for some time now to ask Companions to bring readings for inclusion in our Landscape Weekends…

We first tried this on the Glastonbury Walk-and-Talk weekend and were delighted with the results.

The energies of the earth it seems respond favourably to the human voice, especially when it is utilised to bring forth heartfelt emotion.

…Our readings to date have ranged far and wide over a spectrum of traditions and forms although it seems that the shorter pieces, generally, have more effect.

On the now distant ‘Circles Beyond Time: Seeking the Seer’ weekend one of our Companions chose to give a rendition, unaccompanied of a Robin Williamson composition, October Song.

Coincidentally, we were due to attend a Robin Williamson concert later that week and so the opportunity to tie these two events together became irresistible…

It is a relatively old song now, if age has any meaning for a song,  and it was once described by Bob Dylan as ‘quite good’.

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‘I’ll sing you this October song,
Oh, there is no song before it.
The words and tune are none of my own,
for my joys and sorrows bore it…’

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‘…Beside the sea
The brambly briars, in the still of evening,
Birds fly out behind the sun,
and with them I’ll be leaving…’

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‘…The fallen leaves that jewel the ground,
They know the art of dying,
And leave with joy their glad gold hearts,
In the scarlet shadows lying…’

‘…When hunger calls my footsteps home,
The morning follows after,
I swim the seas within my mind,
And the pine-trees laugh green laughter…’

‘…I used to search for happiness,
And I used to follow pleasure,
But I found a door behind my mind,
And that’s the greatest treasure…’

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‘…For rulers like to lay down laws,
And rebels like to break them,
And the poor priests like to walk in chains,
And God likes to forsake them…’

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‘…I met a man whose name was Time,
And he said, “I must be going, ”
But just how long ago that was,
I have no way of knowing…’

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‘…Sometimes I want to murder time,
Sometimes when my heart’s aching,
But mostly I just stroll along,
The path that he is taking…’

October Song, Robin Williamson.

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I rather think that the stones of Carl Wark enjoyed our Companion’s rendition of this song, and I’d also like to think that Robin would have been pleased with it too…

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Old Stones…

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Built by the sea

But not of the sea

These enclosing walls…

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It is a ‘Celtic’ thing

The Spirit tied-to-tide

And it is still understood

By today’s Old Bones…

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There they sit

Lining the sea-front

Huddled together

Under-sun

Within ear-shot

Of the waves

Which lap the shore

And withdraw

On the out-breath

In ceaseless rhythm

Which hints at beyond…

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Built by the sea

But not of the sea

These enclosing walls.

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