The Cave of Forgotten Nightmares
Deep beneath a granite mountain in south western Finland a facility is being built with the sole intention of housing nuclear waste, permanently. Its name, Onkalo, means ‘cavern’ or ‘hidden place’. It is a fittingly provocative epithet that reflects the dilema behind the project; how do we convey to those who come after us, many millenia in our future, the danger of what we are leaving buried thousands of feet beneath the surface. Will the site remain undisturbed, a prospect we might well hope for given the extreme toxicity of the cave’s contents and which the Finnish authorities are well aware of – while many countries worldwide house such repositories Finland’s policy on self generated nuclear waste is that it must remain on Finnish soil. Such solutions will remain the case, unless we can find an alternative solution to a disturbingly fallible problem for which we presently have no infallible answers.
We might look to examples left by our ancestors from the distant past for clues to such an answer, artifacts that provide evidence not only of human traits which remain recognisable within ourselves, our imaginative and creative nature for instance, the innate curiousity that drives such a nature, but which also present similar problems in interpretation. The evidence is there, enshrined in and mirrored back to us in such places as the Chauvet cave in southern France, whose 32-36,000 year old paintings did remain undisturbed until discovery. And yet, our own legacy to the deep future will be of a very different nature. If Chauvet cave deserves the name ‘Cave of Forgotten Dreams‘, given to it by the film maker Werner Herzog for his 2011 documentary film, by comparison and by the same token Onkalo may well be the ‘Cave of Forgotten Nightmares’.
Within the scope of orthodox history very long time scales are extremely hard for humans to envisage in practical terms. The people who made the paintings in Chauvet cave seem as remote as the purpose behind their artwork. We can appreciate its beauty but have no idea if the same aesthetic value we attach to the images was intrinsic to their realisation. The images have a level of sophistication both as visual realisations of the fauna they portray and as technical translations of visual perception itself to suggest that we are not that dissimilar, in fact, when Picasso emerged from Lascaux cave having seen similar paintings two thirds the age of those at Chauvet he famously declared that ‘we have learned nothing’. If anything our learning, as he implies, reflects the gulf between us, a vacuum of discontinuity. The age in which those images were made belie the fact that we inhabit the same earth as theirs, that theirs was an age of ice, of mega-fauna, of different climate and sea levels. Much of the seaboard and borderlands upon which the feet of those artists might have walked now lie beneath sea and soil. The past is buried, and remains largely undisturbed, not just by human hand, but, by thought and understanding.
The recorded histories we have access to are confined largely to the most recent half of the post-glacial era in which we currently live, a period of 12 thousand years, which might be viably considered ‘our own time’ within which our current state as a modern species has developed. While we have discovered cave paintings that reach back at least twice as far and recovered artifacts from subterranean sites, such as bird bone flutes, which were made over 60 thousand years ago, we are not only blind within but prejudiced by our own ignorance. It is certain that we knew musical sounds even then yet can only speculate, according to our own values and imaginative use of sonic technology within the ‘historical’ time frame, on what the technological, social and cultural contexts were like within which such ‘music’ was made. Beyond that, orthodox ideas of human history give us little to go on, the dating of deposits within which stone tools and human remains have been found revealing a limited understanding of what our ancestry were experiencing. Non-invasive dating methods can reveal much, including the presence of radionuclides within their environment. However, no-one from that time, it seems, gave us any comprehensive clues as to the full range of our capabilities, the effect these had on the subglacial world we lived in. If our ancestors left us signs that we need to be aware of, ‘intended for us’ their far distant descendants to take heed of, they have escaped our attention – we have only our own experiences and memories as a modern variation of the human genus to go on. As a result the orthodox concensus sees present day humans as ‘advanced’, beyond a palaeolithic presence that yet remains a mystery.
Even so, there are those who claim to have knowledge of times that precede ‘our own’ by many millenia, both ‘indigenous’ and contemporary, whose understanding is capable of penetrating and populating the ‘unknown’ era that we otherwise have so little understanding of with a meaningful vision of our past. All too often it is a vision that runs counter to the orthodox view, and, consequently, such knowledge is not valued sufficiently to offer a plausible account, is inevitably viewed with extreme scepticism, drawing hostile criticism if made public and, in the absence of supporting ‘evidence’, is more often than not simply dismissed as speculative fiction. Such is the paradox of a species that relies upon ‘proof’ in establishing the reality of its own past – while we have so little ‘acceptable proof’ to hand we remain divorced from our heritage and ignore the possibility that we may well have missed the historical elephant in our own midst. Just as we also ignore the reality of our own immaturity with respect to the future in how we currently use the technologies we have created we prefer to deny the possibility that a comparable level of technological development had been achieved in the deep past. Precluding such a possibility we look upon our ancestors as an inferior ‘other’, distinct from ourselves. Who is to say that our own descendants might not view us similarly….what ‘evidence’ might we leave to the contrary?
This is the question at the heart of Onkalo.
In his memoir ‘Quicksand’ the Swedish author and playwright Henning Mankel made a very pertinent observation concerning the problem of transmitting a vital message across deep time. While talking of Onkalo and the means by which a warning could be conveyed of ‘what lies beneath’ he pointed out the fact that human language itself is an ephemeral human artifact, intrinsically mutable and self referential, changing in form over relatively short periods of time even while its core meanings remain embedded within it. Meanings too are subject to change. And, in the age of unbridled ‘progress’, we inhabit the wave of change in language at its leading edge, relevant within our current context while virtually blinkered to its wake, assuming rather than ensuring that our ‘meanings’ will survive through time.
Comparatively speaking a mere 700 years seperate us from the time of Geoffrey Chaucer yet Chaucerian english is very different to its contemporary urban counterpart. Even though we can recognise the everyday lives and roles of those Chaucer described, despite their virtual disappearance within contemporary westernised life, his 14th century language requires translation for its context to be fully grasped, hardly a common pursuit or skill considered relevant to our everyday way of life. Yet this is the very skill that Onkalo’s message must rely upon, as a safeguard against misinterpretation and insurance against ignorance of the relevance of the message to those who might encounter it in the far distant future.
That future is around 100 millenia away, the estimated half life of the radioactive isotopes that will be buried within their granite sarcophagus at Onkalo, before the danger subsides enough for the message to become relatively redundant. A symbolism that has greater longevity suggests itself, one that is not as subject to the effects of time upon its readability, but, what symbols do we know of that bridge such a span of time. We struggle with symbols left by our ancestors 10 thousand years ago, such as those carved in stone at Gobekli Tepe temple complex in present day southern Turkey.
The builders of that temple may have had it in mind to convey a vital message to us, and this too is a site that was deliberately covered over centuries after its creation. As yet this remains a speculative unknown, not beyond the realms of possibility, but, subject to the same criterion of time, context and meaning none the less. Can we set an ‘alarm’ that will still function even 10,000 years from now?
Mankel’s concern is informed by a clear appreciation of the need for such an alarm, a warning against entering the realms of almost certain death – he was a committed opponent of nuclear technologies. He wonders in ‘Quicksand’ if Onkalo’s best safeguard for our descendants might not be total obscurity, making the first line of defence invisibility, hiding the site from the future. Such cannot be accomplished without risk – the entrance to and existence of Onkalo, while it could conceivably be ‘forgotten’, could not be guaranteed to remain hidden; the earth moves and all eventualities cannot be accounted for. Given our present understanding of glacial cycles we could reasonably expect 8 or 9 ice ages to occur over the intervening time. And clearly, given the quarter of a million tonnes of nuclear waste already in existence, we have ventured too far down the nuclear highway to turn back, or to ignore the threat it represents.
As the website of the World Nuclear Association states “The main objective in managing and disposing of radioactive (or other) waste is to protect people and the environment. This means isolating or diluting the waste so that the rate or concentration of any radionuclides returned to the biosphere is harmless. To achieve this, practically all wastes are contained and managed – some clearly need deep and permanent burial. From nuclear power generation, none is allowed to cause harmful pollution.” And yet, as the industry itself clearly demonstrates through this statement, the future is vaccinated against such a threat by its very denial of it – ‘diluting the waste’ does not reduce its toxicity as a single particle is enough to propogate cancer, and ‘deep and permanent burial’ equals wilful ignorance, both of the redundancy of nuclear power in the face of viable alternatives and of the reasons it persists. Such wilful ignorance cares little for its own responsibilities. At Onkalo this problem does not escape attention, even while it attempts to bury it as a solution, and this dilema was beautifully exposed in the film ‘Into Eternity’, released in 2010 and made by director Michael Madsen in direct response to Onkalo.
As an image of beauty Chauvet cave is deeply profound, not simply because of its aesthetic or indeed its mystery, but because it appears as a gift from our ancestors, unsullied by projections of fear or intimations of catastrophobia. We tend to overlook the collective loss of habitat and animal life it foreshadows. It could have been intended as a warning of such loss, an attempt to remember forwards what was already being subjected to and experienced as profound change by its artists. Werner Herzog remarked upon the remarkable freshness of the paintings, as if the presence of the artist had been protected along with the paintings themselves. The cave had remained sealed virtually since the images time of making, but, it was the work of nature, not human intention, that made it so. No such beauty belongs to the nuclear legacy. It is a legacy built upon quicksand, a palaeolithic inheritance of the future that we cannot wish to be claimed.
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!
I awoke this morning with a complete astrological reading of this October New Moon fresh in my mind – it was given in a dream. Here it is, as it happened, hot off the dream -press :
there was no physical chart only floating images that were touch sensative – certain key elements are very ‘live’ – nothing is touched physically in the dream and yet when a certain feature is highlighted with conscious focus it becomes activated, like a link on a web screen, and the information is streamed into the dream space – there is no sound, no voice describing anything, just instant knowing – the dream was very bright and colourful as if illuminated from within – the dream also had an expanded realtime quality that compressed upon awakening as consciousness shifted into awakeness – the demarcation zone between dream and wakened consciousness was very clear – this was not a thought that had occured immediately upon awakening – this was the dream content being carried over…….I have dreamt of divining before but this was the first time it had taken the form of an astrological reading – more on this at the close ; what follows is the essential information as it came through, in a timeline, within the dream, with back-up info from the Sabian Symbols that I referenced upon awakening – I decided not to include a chart in the end as the images remain more luminous within the mind, nearer the quality they had in the dream – the image to the left is an astonishing amalgamation of the two main symbols for the circle of the New Moon chart :
the chart itself is oriented so that the Moons Nodes are forming a vertical axis, South at the root, North at the crown.
There are two images that appear simultaneously for the circle – in the first, the circle represents a human brain with axis of the Moon’s Nodes forming the top of our spinal column, so dividing the chart circle into right and left hemispheres, with the South Node at the brain stem….
in the second, the circle is a tree, with the roots at the South Node etc, you can imagine the rest:
The brain circle has Jupiter conjunct Uranus + Neptune conjunct Chiron in the right hemisphere;
in the left hemisphere are Mercury conjunct Saturn + Sun conjunct Moon + Mars conjunct Venus;
at the crown Pluto is just in the left hemisphere, and,in the dream, an emphasis is put on the fact that it is in this hemisphere and not exact conjunct the node
In the tree circle the pairing planets are nesting birds that are bedding down and tending to their nests; ( there was no emphasis on the seasons – the nests are both homes for the new laid eggs and shelter for dreaming – remember this symbol for what comes later)
In both circles all the planets and luminaries are in the top or upper half of the circle – the South node, while squared by the Saturn Mercury conjunction, is otherwise isolated, cut off – in the dream the south node was saying that we are being asked to address the fact that we are “dead from the neck down” – that we have lost touch with our roots and that we are in the dangerous position of forgetting where we have come from and, therefore, what we are here to become – Mercury and Saturn together are challenging us to remember our purpose, collectively, but, they also provide the means of doing this, the channel
The dream emphasised that the New Moon and Sun stand at a sensitive point in the chart at 15 Libra – I looked up the Sabian symbol for this point – it has ‘circular paths’ and the keywords are ‘Boredom or Transpersonal Peace’, in other words we have a choice – they are semi-sextile Mars and Venus which is creating a tension in which the deep sexuality of this pairing is at odds with the Moon Sun – they are not seeing each other, not working together – the mind is not seeing, integrating, the sex drive, the mating urge is entirely instinctive – their message within the dream is that we need to take this to higher ground and be conscious of our dual nature and sexual energies – the dream had it that we will become infertile otherwise – the difference in qualities is in the comparision between Boredom (seperation – especially from our animal selves and instincts) and Transpersonal Peace as possible outcomes – which do we choose (or most commonly end up with)?
In the tree circle Pluto is threatening to bring down the tree – he is pulling through the left brain and his gravity is being fed by our thinking, here emphasised by Saturn Mercury – the next New Moon in November will signal the shift, when, days later, Pluto slips past the crown point, the North Node, and into the right hemisphere (brain circle) – not only that, but, the November New Moon is exact on the point that Venus and Mars ar conjunct on now, so, this New Moon is all about priming the change – if we want to make the healing corrective shift, we can dream and think on it now and realise it in a months time – this is crucial timing!!
And what of the healing – in the brain circle the right hemisphere provides the answer – here is the Sabian message for the Neptune Chiron point : “the dependence of the purest feelings of natural living upon the traditions within which they find their most adequate and effective setting.” Anything that Chiron touches must be healed – it becomes ‘chirotic’, to borrow Barbara Hand Clow’s term, and remains so until the healing brings transformation, change – within the dream there is transpersonal and transdimensional energy available to bring this about – so, once again Saturn and Pluto can be brought in to help us ground while channeling this energy into our envisioning, planning and processes for healing – we will all have the personal take on this, so, look inside, be reflective on this Moon and let the truth become apparent
And what of that change – at 27 and 28 degrees Pisces Jupiter and Uranus are dancing the blue electric field of change – “Consumation” is the Jupiter Sabian and “Abundance” the Uranus symbol – at the heart of consumation is ‘Sharing’ and expansive consumation means taking the harvest in and sharing it widely, sowing the seeds of a new cycle that we will all benefit by, and this comes directly from the sabian text too – within the dream, in the right hemisphere these happen through creative and intuitive, receptive and innovative modes – traditions are updated and renewed (North Node), contemporised, brought into the now, released of their dogma (South Node) – Uranus surprises us with wildly unexpected acts of kindness and giving – he also has many tricks up his sleeve too, so, watch out – keep your feet on the ground and stay sharp, look for opportunities that will benefit all – no room for selfish motivation as these will backfire now, and that is part of the past we are trying to remember in order to release
I have written this straight, just got up from sleep, and gone on-line, published – over the next 24 hrs I will try and refine this post, perhaps add a chart, image – so forgive any typos!! – for now, hope you get something out of this – all blessings, happy dream seeding!
Now that a good twelve hours have elapsed from writing the above here are a few reflections on this – I felt a little vulnerable putting this out there, assuming it has any relevance beyond my own consciousness, I could easily be accused of all manner of egotistical and hubristic failings – but, no matter that it was a dream, the planetary positions remain the same and the information passed on from the dream in relation to this stands on its own merits – make of it what you will, it is offered in good faith……
please ignore any automatically generated ads or posts appearing below – still trying to figure out how to keep them off these pages………….
Who would you look to as perfect living examples of balance, generosity and healing? Who will offer you a pathway to the stars, to reach into the inner cosmos of Earth. Who can unfailingly give you the most fundamental requirements of shelter, warmth, food and medicines? Such beings are real, they do exist, right now, here in our midst……
They have inhabited this Earth for nearly 400 million years – they preceded dinosaurs by 140 million years – before them there were no reptiles or amphibians. They are expert natural energy bio-condensers who radically altered the climate, reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, causing temperatures to drop and preparing the terrestrial surface environment for the emergence and evolution of animals and insects – through their arrival the planet quickly began to assimilate living conditions very similar to the present-day.
Their children have carried forward their ability to transform, nurture and, literally, inspire Life into our times – and yet we massacre them daily – through this, we contribute to climatic degradation and our own demise – for a thorough over view see this link
we love them too, so why do we treat our dear friends so – they are the Standing People – the Trees, living symbols of Life. It is our greatest challenge as a species to respect Life AND to, as a species, act accordingly – we devolve into failure unless we do so – so, if we could but take a few steps back from our madness and listen to them what would the Standing People tell us………..
…….if we lived by our hearts we would know them instantly – they would offer us a chance at rebirth as they are the midwives of terrestrial life, our relatives and elders, beloved and wise – they would fill us with wonder as they cradle the stars in their arms, as they pulse with the Sun and flow with the Moon – they would pick us up, raise our spirits, as they dance with the wind and fill us with their songs – they would cleanse our bodies and heal our souls, as they give us the breath of Life and give back to us the sacred meeting place – they would inspire us to compassion, as they teach us of selfless giving, carry our prayers, heal our bodies – we would dance with them that we may come alive
“…….our DNA is made of the same DNA as the tree – the tree breathes what we exhale – when the tree exhales we need what the tree exhales – so, we have a common destiny with the tree…….” – Floyd Red Crow Westerman
Trees are powerful and highly evolved beings – the closer we become in our relationships with them, the more they stimulate our finer sensibilities, our deeper connections with Life and the Cosmos. They can transform our consciousness. As elder representatives of Nature they offer us a continual example of symbiotic relationship and environmental stewardship – they provide a wonderous variety of species with the essential habitat that fosters diversity and evolution. They too have evolved through this – Oaks, for example, have developed into around 450 species worldwide and, in the UK, the Oak provides a home for more co-habiting organisms than any other tree. Over 300 different kinds of Lichen alone have been found growing on Oaks in Europe and Lichen is a good indicator of air quality – infact the role of trees as indicators of balance within the health of ecosystems has given them a unique place within the consciousness and cultures of peoples worldwide.
No matter where we find trees they bring a sense of wellbeing and belonging, a reminder to those dwelling amongst the hard surfaces and sharp angles of the over-humanised environment of the flow and flux of Nature. For many living beneath the forest canopy the world is immediate, the horizon close by, the natural world a living matrix of vital energies. One western man who spent his life within the community of trees and was able to both discern and develop a profound understanding of these vital energies was the Austrian forester Victor Schauberger.
The son of a forester from a long lineage reaching back to the Germanic tribes Victor was born into the world of forest lore and the practical know-how of arboreal stewardship – he had a knack of perceiving the subtle and invisible energies at work in Nature. Through a mix of patient observation and inspired curiousity he made of his life a meditation on the living energies that manifest the mind of Nature through the trees and rivers, infused with the powers of Sun, Moon and Earth. Trees spoke to him, and he read their messages as energy. He came to realise that trees bridged the material and subtle realms, responding to the rhythms of Life, both sending and receiving waves of intelligent energy. Callum Coats book “Living Energies” is a itself a dedicated translation and thorough assimilation of the essense of Victor’s work.
The outer reaches of a tree’s canopy and roots transmute ever more subtle gradations of material energy units until they become pure information – the mind of the tree extends beyond its physical body, its intelligence reaching into the transpersonal, its whole being a synaptic complex of consciousness in communication. This is to describe a being that is fully awake, that is able to communicate with both inner and outer Cosmos – when trees enter the inward looking times of Autumn into Winter they focus their consciousness on the dreaming worlds, the dreamtime. Through this they teach us of the rhythm of the seasons as a reflection of our relationship with the pulsing heart of creation.
When we listen to that pulse and pick up the beat we are invited to dance – a circle of people dancing with this pulse, carried by the drum beat and sacred song, pulling the energy of the circle in towards the tree and slowly expanding out again, will awaken the tree – she will radiate a profound warmth and delicious energy, embracing us in her consciousness – to experience this is to know that this is real, beyond doubt, and it will truly bring healing.
Around the world shamans journey with the drum to the otherworlds from the roots, branches and body of the great tree in search of knowledge and healing – the hoop of their drum is gifted from the trees, the skin often adorned with the axis mundi, the Tree of Life – for many indigenous cultures souls come in and leave Life through her nexus – the spirits congregate there – our prayers hung upon her boughs are heard and cared for – in the groves we find protection, sacred space.
Spirit medicine is only one way in which the balance of our natural relations with the Cosmos can be restored. There are other pathways that are accessible to us all and which are called into our consciousness on a daily basis, that our current planetary conditions tell us are increasingly pertinent.
The forests are dying on our Earth, because, through greed and dead matter thinking, we have given priority to satisying the needs of a voracious and uncaring culture, turned a deaf ear to our hearts, become disrespectful and overlooked the reality of our actions – and yet, for so many this is not a true reflection of how we would live. We have not forgotten how to listen, we can still hear their voices – and it is important that we do so for our children and our childrens children. We can reforest our home. And this is a first step – plants and trees planted with respect and in recognition of the sacredness of all Life, over generations of their family and through the seasonal cycles, will become our allies. They come to know us, form a sacred relationship with us and they will always be ready to answer when we ask them for help – this too is real, beyond doubt, and will help to heal the Sacred Hoop, the Circle of Life.
Our western thinking is a great stumbling block, and yet, it is also a great teacher – there is balance in all things. We often filter out that which we do not have tangible evidence for with our thinking – it is an affliction that is affecting our whole world and has caused great suffering within indigenous communities. Balance rather than dominance…….
Balance within communion carries a visceral potential – to restore the balance and make the encounter can be highly emotive and revolutionary, affecting of our view of the world and our understanding of our place within it, of ourselves. There is a wonderful account of such an encounter in “Of Water and the Spirit”, the autobiographical writings of Dagara elder and shaman Malidoma Some. During initiation into adulthood Malidoma describes how he met with a beautiful tree spirit, a tender yet awesome ‘Green Lady’ of immense heart and understanding.
For the ‘western’ mind this encounter is powerfully instructive as Malidoma has to struggle to free himself of the enculturalisation he suffered at the hands of Jesuit priests after they had kidnapped him from his village as a child – his return to the village created a dilema for the Elders who saw both a threat and a gift in his presence, in the cultural baggage that he was carrying. They decided that initiation was the only way forward, the make or break test of whether he could truly become the embodiment of his name, which means “be friends with the stranger/enemy”. It stands as a potent allegory for the relationship between the western mindset and the indigenous.
Malidoma struggled over a long period under fierce conditions of extreme heat and dehydration, focusing on the tree that stood before him, to arrive at the moment when he was able to ‘let go’ and fall into the embrace of the spirit world. It was the attachment to both ‘trying to do’, contriving what he thought was expected of him, and the emotional attachment to the concrete nature of what his senses told him was real that created the barrier through which he eventually burst – he literally fell into the arms of the beloved spirit, and she spoke to him. Without this breakthrough his initiation would have failed. Even more crucially, this opened the pathway back to the original purpose that he had petitioned the ancestors to support him in before his birth, and allowed him to remember and embody his connection with the spirits in Nature, his name and soul purpose. To the Dagara trees are amongst the most evolved of beings on Earth.
For Malidoma this was the beginning of a journey into the wider world, sanctioned by his elders, his ancestors and spirit family. He carries with him the sacred medicines of his African roots, reconnecting ‘people of the diaspora’ with their roots and healing the spiritual heart of our Western cultural desert – thanks to the ‘Green Lady’. I had the benefit of several years profound and heart centered guidance and tuition with Malidoma – it brought many challenges and, like many others whom he has helped, brought a much needed appreciation of our universal nature, the ways in which we can find healing that are so deeply rooted in Nature, our relationship with the ancestors and the spirit worlds. He, with many others alive today, continues to work his magic for the benefit of us all in the world. All blessings be with the healers – human and arboreal.
The next time you enter a forest, lean against a tree or plant a sappling, please say thank-you – say it out loud, from the heart – it will bring healing into your world, our world. Such powerful healing as we find amongst the Standing people is always at hand, within the forests, amongst the watchful care of those great beings we know as the Trees. The New Moon beckons – happy dreaming!