The cross-quarter fire festival of Lughnasadh coincides with the midpoint of the traditional Chinese year whose energies this year are symbolised in the Water Dragon. In previous posts I’ve alluded to the connection between the year of the Water Dragon and the Dragon Paths and, in honouring of this, here is a tale spun from the dragon pathways of Albion at this special time of year, a tale in which these energies are subtly woven together.
The following is a true story. It is drawn from experiences and journal notes made some years ago – all the events and dialogues are faithfull to the reality experienced, and, while one or two of the names have been changed, everything else is related exactly as it happened – the images here were taken on the journey and are un-retouched colour prints, taken on film using a battered old Canon SLR that has now gone into retirement – I do have digital fully restored copies of these, but, somehow, here it seemed more fitting to show them in their original state! While the main part of the story centers around Lughnasadh time, its seeds were sown one summer solstice two years before and it is here that the tale begins……
It’d been an opportunity that seemed to arrive with perfect timing. My day job was wearing me thin and I really needed a break – but, the chance came and, one summers morning a few days before solstice, I packed my faithfull green Austin Maxi and set off for California Beach. For all I knew I was heading for a two week retreat, the opportunity to go barefoot, rest from the city madness and to breath again, to keep time once more with earth and stars.
Carol had lent me the use of her ocean-side wooden cabin, nestled in the dunes on the Norfolk coast at the eastern end of the Michael and Mary Ley Line, a place out-of-time where dreaming came naturally….I was familiar with this ley having lived close by Avebury in earlier times and Avebury lies on the exact mid-point of the Michael and Mary line. While living there I’d spent much time working with the land and its energies, exploring its seen and unseen realities, so, I was looking forward to connecting with the dragon paths again, but, I could not have anticipated how the dreamings that came out of this would manifest in time and space…….
Nature heals and the cabin gave safe sanctuary and plenty of time for reflection, and it wasn’t long before the realisation came that I needed change and a new direction. On solstice eve I lit a fire and offered prayers, asking for guidance, a path to follow…….and sometimes dreams slip their clothes and dance amongst us, like wind blown birds and rainbow bespattered spin-drift, spinning sparks rising from red hot embers into the star-struck night……and some reside in the timeless memories of stones…….this night the offerings cast to the winds and consumated in the flames of the solstice fire came back in the clothes of a dream.
‘Be patient and allow the course of things to unfold – ask for a sabbatical – regroup and renew your creative energies – and seek out your guides, they have a plan……’
It took time well beyond the times of this tale before the plan fully came to fruition, but, by the time the seeds had begun germinating, the guides petitioned and their council given, the journey was already underway. The sabbatical marked the threshold and a revolving door swung open upon another world…..
Amongst the guidance received was a map for a journey to be undertaken on the land following an ancient track. This had its beginning at Carn Les Boel, exactly where the other end of the Michael and Mary Line emerged in the land at the very tip of Cornwall in south-west Britain. The journey would unite the seed point of the dreaming at the eastern end of the Michael and Mary ley in Norfolk with the western end of the ley and culminate in Avebury at its balance point.
So it was that, one sparkling morning on Lughnasadh eve, I found myself resting my back against the gatekeeper stone at Carn Les Boel. This stone is, without a doubt, powerful within itself, manifesting a sense of immovable and knowing rootedness that fully conceals the fact that it has been purposefully ‘planted’ at this precise spot to hold a resonant key in place. It is a key that serves the whole of these lands, for, not only does it mark the entry point of the Michael and Mary Line as they emerge from the Atl-antian oceans that surround this ancient shore, but, the stone indicates the initial crossing point of these twin rivers of energy and from there together they weave their dragon path, the ley that draws the path of the Beltane sunlight across old Albion.
At this initial crossing point is a vortex that is, at times, especially potent and complex. The vortex is itself a part of a living energy network, the nature and qualities of which are not fixed but which adjust and change in time – on this journey its energies made itself appear as a living void otherwise filled with an immense broiling ocean of swirling undercurrents, subtle to the physical frame, galvanising to the energy body….!
Within this is a resonant patterning of the different frequency bands within the Michael and Mary lines themselves, these too alter and change the geometric configurations that emerge out of divining the crossing point - and, being living energies, there is intelligence present, one which I found to be benevolent and which does communicate……
As I was walking away from the stone, somewhat bemused by the torque experienced between the physical and non-physical at the vortex, I heard a bird’s piercing call and turned towards its cry…..looking back towards the stone, in the direction of the call, a single flash of light burst from the center top of the gatekeeper stone and sent out a penetrating pinpoint laser-beam of brilliant star-light.
That night another dream came visiting……
I was camped out next to a beautiful old Alder up near Lamorna. Beneath the Alder a large flat stone gave a view through the hedge towards one of the Pipers, these being two 3 meter high granite pillars that are outliers that point directly towards the Merry Maidens stone circle. They are said to have accompanied the maidens in their circle dance and to have been turned to stone for their troubles, but, don’t be fooled – these Pipers, like the circle of sacred women who danced there with the earth and stars, are very much alive.
In the dream someone came and, casting a handfull of pollen in a pillar of light, asked ‘what do you see?’ – I awoke before answering……it was like an invitation, and, pulling the I Ching from my rucksack, I opened a page at random.
Hexagram 35, Prospering…Fire above Earth – “Emerge into the light; advance, be noticed; give and receive gifts……..You will be received by the higher powers three times in a single day”
In the body of this hexagram is the notion of a royal personage, symbolising the higher powers, bestowing gifts in the form many horses following the giving of a divination – auspicious indeed, and horses in the symbolic traditions of the I Ching, as well as the indigenous traditions of Albion, are a symbol of spirited strength in the natural world and are the counterpart of the dragon…..but, the royal visitation was most intriguing.
It was Lugh’s day and, through following an intuitive thread it came to mind to visit a very special ancestral site high on the Atlantic coast known as Chun Quoit. Contemplating the quoits location on the map I noticed that it was next to an iron-age settlement, a walled village known as Chun Castle. The connection between the quoit and the castle is speculative as the quoit is neolithic and predates the iron-age settlement by millenia, but, somehow the I Ching’s message seemed to resonate here…..
Chun Quoit’s reputation went before it – reports of lights and sounds heard within its inner space spoke of a living ancestral energy residing there. In approaching Chun the long moorland slope seemed to vibrate with every gust of wind that bright day and as the quoit came into view I could see beyond it the tumble of stones that marked the walls of the castle. Pulled towards the castle entrance way, marked by two upright stones, the village seemed to be held in a silence, listening, waiting….after paying respects to its keepers Chun Quoit called from down the slope. Standing between the gateway stones I heard voices carried upon the wind from below, but, turning to look all around, I could see no-one on the slope of the moors.
The quoit is crowned with a large capstone and gives the impression of an oversized lid to the chamber beneath providing great protection, and, even though the wind this day sang about the cracks between the stones, it was as if held at bay from entering its inner sanctum – this was filled with a sparky atmosphere that fairly crackled with the energy of the crystalline matrix in its granite walls and roof. The earth within seemed hard baked and gritty – and not a place to be approached without invitation, especially if its matrix were to be explored. I decided to go sit a few yards from the quoit and see what transpired. As I was settling down on the grass near to the stones I caught sight of them – a tall man dressed in an army great-coat that flapped in the wind with three children buzzing around him was slowly striding up the long slope of the hill.
Paul told me he was a painter of the lands here-abouts and, after I’d told him I was a carver we quickly fell into a conversation about how we worked and began to discover a common ground. We both had an interest in the ancestral indigenous energies of this land and how these found expression, working through our creativity. While the two youngest of his kids scurried off to explore the ancient secrets of the place amongst the stones he and his eldest produced large sketchbooks from their backpacks and began to gather flowers…..’these are our paints while we’re out and about’ he explained. Using carefully selected flowers for different colours and rubbing them directly onto the paper he showed me how their delicate smears of colour brought an earthy vibrancy alive on the page…it was a method I’d never seen before, some of the colours coming from leaf and petal, others from the pollen the flowers carried. Paul went on to say that these would provide the spectrum of colour from which he would build his studio paintings – it was magical to behold…..
We didn’t mention the quoit, it somehow wasn’t necessary, but, contemplated the colours within the land and the shape-shifting forms of flowing cloud shadows as they swept up the slope towards us in a sea of hazy sunlight. Looking beyond them I could see the ocean and the silhouette of a rugged tor some miles away….’thats Kenidjack, a powerful place on a day like today’ Paul said following my gaze and, gathering up their paintings, he and his kids made ready to move on – we bade our farewells and as they were leaving Paul said ‘you should go see the stone circles down below the tor – yeh, and the view from the tor is quite special too’……
It seemed like I good idea and, as I scanned the land it felt that the tor had a certain pull to it – just then a whisper of sound drifted by on the wind. I couldn’t identify it, but, it seemed to have come from very far away. And there it was again, a scintilation on the edge of hearing, shrill and melodic. This time I felt sure it was nearer, but, what it was I couldn’t quite place. After a few moments it sounded again – it was a tintinabulation of sustained rising pitches, very high, like tiny silver trumpets blowing on the wind, only this time there was no doubt about it – it was coming from the quoit!
The wind sighed around the stones as I stood up and made my way over – and just as I approached, within six feet of the quoit, I heard it again and saw two small specks rising from the edge of the capstone, spiralling around each other and weaving a column of energy. The silver trumpets accompanied their ascent until they burst apart and disappeared. Well, that was odd! I could have sworn they were living sparks of dense quick moving energy – I moved closer. There on the top lip of the capstone were two large wild bees – they were facing each other and, moving as close as I dare without wanting to disturb them, I could see that they were vibrating producing a low humming tone. Slowly they pivoted about a central point, and what was remarkable was that although they rotated first sunwise, then changed direction to moon-wise and back, they always kept their heads pointing towards each other across the diametre of their dance circle and made their moves in complete synchrony.
I’d witnessed the bee’s waggle dance before but never in the wilds and never a shared dance mirrored perfectly between two bees. These two were behaving quite differently from the bees I’d seen in the hives – they were very connected in their energy, clearly communicating at a hightened level……
Suddenly they both rose simultaneously in a vertical spiral from their circle, and there was the sound of the silver trumpets….it was a truly wonderous thing to behold…..and they danced this way in the air until an unseen signal sent them careening off at tangents and seconds later there they were together on a different part of the capstone. Their low humming circle dance unfolded briefly again before they both arose, but, this time they flew off in different directions leaving me breathless and elated, holding onto the quoit as if the wind might pick me up any moment and carry me off into the blustering brilliance of Lugh’s day.
It felt as if a dream of ancient rites was come alive in nature this Lughnasadh….but, the tor beckoned and the wind said ‘move on’…..
I failed to find the stone circles below Kenidjack Tor – sometimes the land conceals such things, as if another calling must first be payed attention to. Climbing the granite outcrop the comfortable looking bowl of a high seat revealed itself near the craggy pinnacle. Settling down to take in the view south and west out over the brimming ocean out beyond the land I caught site of distant islands emerging from just beyond the horizon – it was the Scilly Isles. The sea was alive with white horses and the day was filled with exhilirating dreamlike beauty…..the Scillys are also known as Lyonesse, the name of a rich and fertile land now beneath the sea that once joined the islands to the mainland, and it is said that the islands are the all that remains of a city built upon seven hills by the same name……
‘Beautiful up here isn’t it…’, the voice woke me from my revery, but, I had thought I was alone! Leaning forward I was greeted with the smiling faces of an elderly couple seated in a perfect two seater rocky armchair just below. ‘We didn’t want to disturb you, but, its such a beautiful day to be shared’ the kindly looking woman said…
‘Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t notice you were there or I’d have said hello’ I apologised in turn…they invited me to join them in a cup of tea from their flask and, as we introduced ourselves I mentioned that I’d just come down from Chun Quoit, explaining that I was visiting on the advice of ‘some friends’.
They too were recent arrivals, having retired to Kernow some 5 years ago and had soon discovered this place, one of many favourites in this magical land. It was a shared dream that she a midwife and he a keen gardener had held since the early days of their marraige, to live out their golden years in this special place, and, even though it meant giving up certain things that were dear to them, they had no doubts that it had been the right thing to do – one of those things was bee-keeping.
‘Richard here used to be a avid bee-keeper’ Joan explained…..and, with this, I excitedly told them what I’d witnessed at Chun Quoit and asked Richard if he knew what the wild bees I’d seen were doing.
Richard’s face lit up…’well, it sounds like they were two queens telling each other where the boundaries of their hives had been, quite a rare thing to see, infact, in 40 years of keeping bees I’ve never witnessed it myself……they call the sound they were making ‘Piping’….’
There was no doubting from Richard’s wistful tone what a privilage it was to have been at the queen bees dance, but, he assured me that amongst ‘kept’ bees such things rarely happened, if at all, as the hives were fairly settled in their partnership with humans. Wild hives, however, often disband before winter and regroup to form a new hive – the circle dance was a serious exchange of essential information such that the two hives that the individual queens had and would belong to would not impinge upon each other in the future. It was an honouring of sacred law, kept amongst the bee tribes, the royal prerogative to know and keep to on behalf of their hives, in this way keeping the health of the land alive and secure within the honouring of this sacred natural law.
I had much to chew over as I headed back towards the Merry Maidens and Lamorna….
The circle and the Pipers had come alive in these encounters, reflecting in very real and magical ways the deeply woven mysteries of land and enchantment. The day was beginning to wind down and I wanted to pay my respects and give thanks before settling back to camp.
After parking up at the tent I wandered back over the fields. There was a strange light noticable around them in passing the Pipers and it felt right to not dally but to make a bee-line to the circle. I arrived just as the sun began to set.
Making a circuit of the stones I found a waist high outlying stone to rest against. The intense beauty of the sun as it sank to the horizon cast radial arms of light within the circle and I noticed that on this day from the vantage point of this stone the sun set directly behind the tower of a church that peaked out from a valley a few miles away, directly in line with the center of the circle. The image of the queens describing their circle around its centre flashed into my mind. There was a pull from the center of the Maidens and, as I slowly trod the path of a sunbeam towards their center I saw that a man with several dogs had entered the field and was walking towards them too. We met at the exact midpoint of the Maidens, just as the last rays disappeared and the sky revealed a deeper luminesence.
There was something in the way in which it happened, the time and place, at the sunset of such a day, that gave an appointed feel to our meeting, as if it had unfolded in perfect expectancy. Everything was following a hidden thread through time and space upon which were hung the very qualities and energies necessary to fulfill this meeting at the Merry Maidens.
It was a mystery full of magic, but, it was several days later after travelling the Michael and Mary ley to Glastonbury that the depth of this mystery really began to reveal itself……
The man, who introduced himself as Will, was a stout and earthy character who had, he told me, bred horses in Dorset in the past, but, from what he said he seemed to have deeper roots in the land around old Kernow. He was accompanied by six greyhounds, some dappled, some dark, some light, and five of them were inquisitively exploring the stones and playing around the boundaries of the circle as we spoke – the sixth followed sedately behind and joined us in the center. She was extra-ordinary…..
Will saw me eyeing the dog as she entered the circle….’she’s ‘Queenie” he said, ‘looks after all the others, but, feigns to run around like the young’uns’. Queenie stood with us as we talked and she was unlike any dog I had seen before – not only did she have a dignity and detachment befitting her name that was intense and tangible in some strangely undoglike sense, but, she had red eyes and ears – she exuded an otherworldly aura. ‘Yep, she looks after us all….’ Will said, as if to make sure she knew she was honoured in this.
He asked after my own work and I mentioned how the land here was such a powerful inspiration, bringing a strong feeling of connection with the oldways….Will looked to where the sun was glowing beyond the horizon. ‘Yes, some of the old folk as used to be crafting with the land here’bouts would go along with that. Used to be a fella, fine woodsman and crafter lived down beyond the valley there – give him a piece of timber cut from the local trees and he could tell you which tree, the exact tree mind, that it come from….he were in his eighties as I remember him, when I were a lad.’ Will paused and looked around. ‘Its all changed now tho’, not many folks know the land like they used….the lands changed too, at least as it appears’. There was a sense of knowing in Will’s voice that betrayed a deeper understanding.
Then Will said something that, at first, I could’nt quite take in…..
He cast his hand around the circle of stones and said, ‘I remember the land before these hedges went up and the Maidens used to stand in open moorland. But, that was a long time back, eh Queenie….?’ and, at that Queenie gave a loud snort and slowly set off again. ‘Well, nights coming on and I must get these dogs their walk….goodluck on your journey’, and with that Will set off and followed Queenie, calling the pack to heal as they disappeared beyond the hedges in the falling dusk.
My Journey, as it unravelled, took me further up the Michael and Mary line, stopping off at ancient sites through which the ley’s energy converged and sang, until, some days later I broke off on another pathway and headed for the mountains across the Severn River before returning to the ley at Avebury. The last stop on this leg of the journey tho’ was in Glastonbury, a chance to mull over the events that had unfolded so far – and by chance that day I happened to wander into a bookshop on the highstreet and randomly picked out a book to see what it had to say about it all……it was a history of the folk traditions of the British Isles. I opened the book….
The passage my eyes fell upon sent a shiver through my entire being…….the King of the Underworld, it said, is accompanied by a pack of hounds, and tradition has it that they are greyhounds, but, no ordinary hounds by most accounts as these have red eyes and ears….
It seemed the guides had been spinning their thread in a magical pattern through every event and meeting of this journey and soon I discovered more spinning doorways high up in the mountains in the shapes of menhirs, and amongst caves and hidden valleys that gave way to other pathways connecting this world with the unseen ones. But, there-in lie many other tales….
In truth, everything is deeply intertwined and woven upon these magical skenes, and, in truth, within the meandering rivers of energy of the dragon paths a true and straight track is hidden in plain sight……if we but find the thread and follow…..
Bright Blessings this Lughnasadh!