Saturday, October 2, 2010


The Pennines are considered the backbone of England, and if we could take that analogy further, I live in the cervical area of this spine. A wild moorland, shaped, as much of our landscape is, by human activity over thousands of years. The most recent being lead-mining, intensively from the mid 1700s, but also from the Roman times. Regardless of such industry, today the moors are bleakly beautiful. A tapestry of rich browns and fading purple heather. Grikes and sykes slice into its fabric mantle, creating its patchwork design. On closer inspection, damp areas of sedge and cotton grass, low hideaways for birds such as Lapwing, Curlew Grouse and Pheasant. And the wind, always the wind, the voice of this hinterland. A spectacular sound sculpture, playing and often raging across the sweep of the land. Walking with the wind as a constant companion here is non negotiable. I for one, welcome her company, she speaks the language and describes the landscape on her terms. But what is this language, this dialect of sensations? When I am walking here, I find my feelings and emotions cannot be fairly expressed by language, to try and capture the "essence" if you will, is forever elusive. The Pennine wind needs no such vocabulary, her adjectives and vowel sounds are not easily interpreted, but if you've ever stood on Stainmoor, with her physical sound berating into your face on a late Autumn day, you will be in no doubt as to her meaning!    
My walking is my meditation. The rhythm dictated by the beating heart of the land, its inhabitants and the weather. Shamanically, I am walking between the worlds, whilst my body negotiates the hills and stones, inclines and summits, I am also in a curious other-space, a space of crystal clear awareness where life force shimmers in every crevice. The conversation now, is an interplay of wind, rain sunlight and mist, weaving the physical and the "other-space" together, no seam visible. Gifts of stones, feathers, empty birds eggs are as jewels and harness the sacred energy of the spirit of place.
I often wonder if I walk to think, or to avoid thinking. In escaping the logical method of thinking, we can think "through" using our third eye, our inner ear, our outer space!
I return, lady wind at my back, leaning against her very physical reality. At home, I empty my treasure onto the kitchen table, a beautiful scrap of fluorite,detritus from the lead mining, a feather, probably from a curlew, a piece of flint, not a naturally occurring rock in these parts, so a trace of my ancestors almost missed were it not for the walk between the worlds. Sacred objects with stories and power, connections from this realm of existence to the ones that interpenetrate our denser reality.
As William Blake said,
 " To see the world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wild flower,
 hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour."
Outside the clouds are glowering, and although its barely 2pm, it has all the aspects of dusk. Spits of rain spatter the window, and an odd golden luminesence hangs in the air. Back fully in this body, this house, I look out as if at a painting, an objective view, something outside of myself, but when I'm walking I am that painting, I am the weaver, I am the web.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Portent of Autumn.


Autumn is on the doorstep. Predictions of ground frost and a definite cooling on the breeze. Its the quality of light also. The Sunrise this morning had that tinge of gold that is the signature of Autumn, a thread that glints through the fabric of this time of the year. The unmistakable "urge" to prepare takes over! Folk are noticing a need to decorate, and clean the nest. Spring may be the traditional time for cleaning, but if you're going to spend a long Winter mostly indoors, a thorough cleaning and cleansing seems totally reasonable too.  The hedgerows are also preparing. Berries and hips are swelling, getting ready to ripen, and I'm collecting jars and bottles in readiness for a preserving frenzy that will last until October, when the sloes will be ripe and good for Gin!

 September also heralds the end of season glut of green tomatoes and the odd courgette that escaped unnoticed and morphed in a marrow! All gratefully received, along with other contributions to my "Donation Chutney"
And so we are on the path to the equinox, Alban Elfed, the gateway of the year, where we notice a subtle change, a shift in gear, a time to honour the spirit of Mabon, as the Goddess mourns the death/sacrifice of the God at Lammas.
As we travel the wheel, we are always in a state of "preparing," as ever it is the joy of anticipation; the journey rather than the destination that is the real lesson. Which proves that the moment we live in is surely the most important we have and that the charge of life is to embrace our connection to the seasons and cycles of Nature, to adapt and realign to the flow of the seasons as they occur, so as to fully engage in the unity and beauty of creation.
September is the advent of the beauty to come.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


"Now he lies down on the fields,
See his life he freely yields,
Mark his blood upon the corn,
All that dies shall be reborn
All that dies shall be reborn

Today is Lughnasadh, the commemoration of the Celtic diety, "Lugh" whos name means, "shining one." Lugh was, according to the Irish Mythical History of Invasions, the leader of the "Tuatha De Daanan, a magical race that preceded the human celts. Lugh is the bright youth, full of vigor and at his height of his potentcy. As the consort of the Goddess of the waining year, his sacrifice is  neccessary to provide the harvest and so ensure new growth for the future. In essence, his seed is reserved  for the coming Spring, when he will be reborn, once more.
We are living in a time of altering awareness, and I think even those we know with a very scientific approach to the world, are noticing a "shift", an indescribable feeling of "otherness." For some it manifests in huge changes, marriage breakups, job losses, or an inexplicable urge to throw the towel in and do something totally inconceivable to them only a few months ago. That we need change in our lives is evident, without it we would stagnant, have no motivation or stimuli to grow and create a future. But it is a scary and often difficult thing to leap empty handed into the abyss, or to accept a dreadful loss as an opportunity.
This was where I was at Lammas last year. After a 3 year battle with cancer, my beloved Ray left this world, and behind him a devastated field. The people who loved him were shocked and paralysed by his absence, unable to even consider at that point, that his sacrifice would facilitate amazing growth and realisations.So this is the cycle culminating in harvest, yet again, but the first for me and my tribe without our "corn king." In this year passed we have experienced terrible grief, and such "dark nights of the soul" as to wonder if oblivion was our destination, but as with all death, it is but the passage to rebirth, to another day undeniably different but holding its own unique promise and potential.
Often the nature of sacrifice is perceived as unneccessary and a waste, but in my experience the nourishment and knowledge we have gained from the past has grown the seeds for our future in the present, think of it if you will, as a meal you have lovingly cooked, with wonderful fresh ingredients, and have presented to your family/tribe, and they have eaten it with relish. The tribe is nourished and has imbibed the love and attention you put into that meal, but you can never eat it again. Does the thought of its transience stop you from creating another meal?
The harvest comes to us all in our lives, without the cycle of life death and rebirth there is no joy, no creativity and no soul in our lives. The present moment is where we are at any given time. I wish you all a very blessed and meaningful Lammas.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Quest on Sunday

Greenwich Park, looking uphill towards the Observatory and Wolfe Monument
What awakes me at 5.30am, on a Sunday morning? Well, initially, Margot the cat, but I could just feed her, let her out and go back to bed for a well deserved snooze...well, it was what I had in mind... but, when I got back upstairs, tea in hand, my senses settling into place, that wasn't going to happen. This week has been full of synchronicities, and has altered, or perhaps re-tuned my perceptions. So today, I thought I might try and sift through, find the thread. I have always been aware and felt very connected to the ancestors. My ancestors, your ancestors, alot of my craft workings are concerned with re balancing their energies in the landscape, or at least connecting with them and hearing their song and story. Its what I'm here for I guess, because I've always been consumed by history, archaeology and feel more affinity for the past than the present a lot of the time, but not in an escapist nostalgic way, but as in reviving and uncovering the treasures that informs our lives today, in honouring our ancestors we are respecting ourselves and tribe...where would we be without them?
I received a copy of Jack Gales, "Goddesses Guardians and Groves" (Capell Bann publishing) A book about the sacred landscape and energies of Greenwich Park, essentially. It is an interesting book, written in a very personal style, which I liked very much. The more I read, the more I was connecting to Jacks experiences, and it opened a closed door on some of the encounters I had had in the area when I was a teenager. As a teen, I completely shut the world of spirit out, I wanted to rebel, be a punk, get pissed and take speed...there was no tomorrow and I wanted nothing nothing to do with it! That, however,( and very fortunately) didn't mean that spirit had given up with me, thank the Lord and Lady! My "committee" kept an eye on me, and every so often showed me things that I couldn't ignore, quite a few of these moments happened in Greenwich Park. Standing at the top of Wolfe Hill, on a crisp Autumn morning, just dawn, no doubt returning from an all night shindig in Blackheath Village, I stood awhile gazing at the lights and returning day. Its a wonderful view, ever changing even from my perspective. There was no Canary Wharf when I was a teen, no Millennium Dome, Nat West Tower etc... but for a few moments, there wasn't even a Royal Navel College, or any of the iconic vistas beloved of this spot, it was an uninterrupted scene of round houses, settlements and what looked to be terracing. Fires and smoke, just folk getting on with their daily lives, the river seemed further away, but it could have been the low tide. It was a tiny moment, and then I was standing, gob-smacked with the busy dawning of another 20th century day in front of me.
All week, references to Greenwich and its environs have been popping up, like relatives you'd forgotten you had, am I being asked back for some specific reason? I am intrigued, and understand enough about the mechanics of spirit to know that this isn't random, it is timely to my process. Jack Gale talks of the very Northern Tradition of some of the sites in the Park, Northern as in Saxon and Teutonic. There is a Saxon cemetery, and Saxon round barrows. He speaks of the "Snow Queen" a very forceful energy that holds sway in that area, he relates her to "Holda", the Saxon Goddess, and of all the "Winter" references in the Park, Snow Hill, the Snow well etc...interestingly, I adore this place in Autumn/Winter, and it is the time when I feel a keen opening up. We all have our seasons I suppose, and the close of the wheel is mine. Time for a quest perhaps? More questions than answers, and that is just as it ever should be, the journey being the most important part, rather than the destination.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Ground Force

Whenever possible, I walk the 3 miles to work, down a disused railway line. Often I'm wondering what the place would have looked like before the line was dug into its landscape. How many ancient, sacred and votive places were carved up and now perhaps shore up the bank of the very path that I now walk upon? The route itself is glorious at this time of year, lush and verdant, buzzing with bees and frantic flys, all sampling the riot of flavours in the hedgerows. Elder, with its florets of creamy white blossoms, and the pinky-tinged buddings of the Hawthorn, weaving with the Dog Rose and Rowan along either side. Swallows swoop and dive among the tops of the bushes and nesting birds shrill their alarm on my approach. The Line is situated amongst farmland and hills, a land that has supported man for thousands of years. The resting place of Carin, a bronze age chieftain, is but a stones throw from here, and in his citadel of "Kirk Carrion", he surveys his lands and his descendants from his Pine strewn grave.
Kirk Carrion
The presence of those ancestors is never far. Is that a natural outcrop, or is it fashioned by man in some way? Is that an erratic, or a dressed stone placed deliberately as a marker or perhaps to divert or attract energy? A sacred place. A place our predecessors knew held potent forces, or perhaps the  dwelling place of a guardian spirit?  I cannot travel anywhere without summing up the landscape, flora and fauna in this way. I may not be a qualified landscape archaeologist, but I'm plugged into the vibrating web of space time and place, as we all are if we but stood still and silent awhile. To my left I pass a particular combination of stones, and am drawn to it. Not only does it look as if it is contrived, but it resonates with a past time, with old bones and memories. Today I'm exploring, as today the cows are out of the field. The first thing to say about the arrangement of the site, is the "spine like" quality. It travels uphill for only a few yards, but protrudes from the incline like a backbone. It has 4 main stones, all large, and not the sort of stones used in dry-stone walling. The first, facing me down hill of the railway line is large rounded stone, and between this and the other 3 stones are many smaller stones, much destroyed. Standing guardian in the middle of the feature is a Hawthorn.
The Guardian Hawthorn
I sat and waited. I asked for permission to approach the spirit of the place, the guardian who has forever the duty to safeguard the sanctity of this place. It felt like ages, and I sensed a reticence to engage at all. Hardly surprising, as the railway line would have driven through the fabric of the structure and spun all the carefully constructed stones, memories and energies to the four directions. Sensing this, i tried to reassure this spirit, that I meant no harm, and that I was seeking to know more of the history and to give respect to the ancestors who's remains were honoured there, and that their labour had built. The Hawthorn shook as a breeze from nowhere rattled through his branches. I felt the atmosphere change, and the hairs go up on my forearms, I was in the presence of Spirit
"Blessed be the spirit of this place,
I come to you in peace,
to bring you honour and praise,
and to ask for your permission and protection,
I walk these, your denizens and domains.
In the name of our mother the Earth Goddess,
and our father, Lord of the Wild woods"
Blessed Be,

I was certainly in a space between the worlds, on the spine of a serpent that ribboned across the Teesdale hillsides, in a landscape once littered with stone circles, tumulus, megaliths and sacred sites. The vibrancy of that feeling was alarming, today although very beautiful, there is very little evidence of what must have been an important ritual landscape, just as in Cumbria, only across the Pennines. But there was blood, and tribal affiliations that were in dispute, and the "tale" I received was of a power struggle, and much death and sorrow attached. The grave I was experiencing was of the head of a family. His punishment was to be laid here, but his family banished, so as not to have the opportunity to honour him in death. A dreadful thing to his descendants, and a massive slight to his soul in the other world. It was like newsflash! Then i shuddered and realised, I hadn't taken a breath! The vision evaporated, the spirit had downloaded the memory, and was standing back, weighing me up, as I felt sick, and had a massive "head-rush" I started to breath again, coming to, swigged from my water bottle. Stood up slowly stamped my feet, shook my body from top to bottom, I tried to shout, to ground myself in this world, but I couldn't hear myself...was I deaf? No, birds were singing, cars were passing on the little lane beyond...more stomping, and more water, and all had slipped back into its place. I was back in this realm, in this body.
I thanked the spirit, and asked if I might be allowed to commune again with him, and that I might make this sacred space one of my liminal places, to come and collect sprowl and memories for my work. His, and indeed it was very male, response felt warm and encouraging. I left an offering of wild bird seed, and some sanctified drops of potion, blessed all my relations and walked onto work...late!

The Three Stone alignment
The Stones and their Guardian Hawthorn

Friday, January 1, 2010

Over the Moon.

Montol is a week passed. My blood imperceptably reacts to the incremental growth of the new born sun/son. The Blue Moon of 2009 haunts my wakeing world, as much as my dreamtime. How potent and swollen was she? Hoisting her mighty glowing face above the hill in the East. I listened. The scuffling of the fox in the hedge,stalking tiny mammals in the  powdery snow. The Moon mother illuminates the wide horizon like a phosphorescent globe, the countryside bathed in a fine blue shimmer. This is the landscape of the omen, the portent. All is symbol, for shapes are decernable, colour and context is not.

Sailing by the stars, yet out shining their sparks, she floats in the Maryblue heaven, her course true and finite, her purpose as the Queen of Tides, resolute and ageless. Snow flakes drift like ash from a paper fire, small spells landing upon the icy field walls, wishes and dreams sent through the veil at this portal in the turning year