Chocorua Part 4: Meeting the Chief in the Clouds

As my husband and I continued our journey up the quiet mountain, I stopped now and then to place my offering of tobacco leaves in the nooks of trees and rocks. Noting, as I did, how sometimes others had made their own offerings. Small and large stones nestled into crevices of wood and stone, along with the more permanent and not so mindful markings of names carved into the skin of trees. I saw the carvings as a sad reflection of the ego’s need for permanence, forgetting that the mark that lingers is a mere shadow of the true self that never dies. How we yearn for something that is false, so often forgetting the harmony that beats around us. I found the buzz of the mosquitos oddly comforting, in its reminder of the cycles of life. The sacred spring below having given birth to the insects that followed my footsteps along a path older than the trees surrounding me.

IMG_6532.jpeg
There are several large and impressive boulders near the summit of Mt. Chocorua, but they hold their stories in a quiet, watchful manner.

The mountain remained, to me, quiet and reserved. Welcoming, yet not offering too much. Not yet. This was my first visit, after all, and as the miles slowly rose, I realized that I would likely return someday. Perhaps not to the same trail. Perhaps not with the same companion. I didn’t yet know, and that was okay.

Life cycles as it will, and it behooves us to allow it to play its rhythm without resistance. When we push, we are often met with a counter-push. A simple law of physics. Perhaps this is why the snake appeared. Not once, but twice, as we hiked the long, winding trail, slowly losing the mosquitos as we gained elevation.

IMG_6522
One of two snake messengers we encountered during our journey. This one reared its head toward me as though reading for an attack as I ventured near to photograph it.

I have found the snake to be a frequent messenger that appears at points in the cycle of life that call for a surrendering. A letting go of the old “skin” I choose to wear to make way for the new, lighter sheath. They remind one of the wheel, ever-turning. Endings moving into beginnings, endlessly repeating.

I had thought that the mountain might harbor hurt. A long held wound from the legend of the chief who fell from its summit. Cursing, as he met death, the white man who had poisoned his son. As I walked the first half of the mountain, I found that I was also, in essence, curing the “white man” who had felled all the trees, and placed the wall of stone beside the path of the sacred waters. Yet, as the snake reminded me (twice), time moves on, whether we allow it to or not, without judgement. The cycle weaves its circle of life and death, over and over again, and we can be a part of it, or we can use defiance to try to resist its flow.

I could not forget that I had breathed acceptance into my body before I had left my hometown that morning. There are no true accidents to life. I realized, as I walked, that it mattered little, if at all, that I was not seeing the faces of the long passed in the rocks, or feeling the pull of the familiar through my cells. Instead, there was that quiet harmony of belonging. Of being present with my beloved in human form, and the sacred landscape around us.

IMG_6531
A guardian along the path

There was no denying the many gifts that had been offered. The crow who had welcomed us, the “ghosts” beside the stream, the white feather in the path before the call of my feathered seer, the snakes of renewal, and even the mosquitos buzzing life. There were also berries, full and ripened to the deepest blue of truth as we approached the final mile. Tempering greed, we reached, now and then, to pick small handfuls of the fruit and felt the renewal of life in each magnificent bite. Agreeing that there was never a better blueberry than those grown on the nearly soilless top of this mountain. A grateful gift that was even more welcomed when we discovered how little water we had left and how warm it had become during our journey, as well as how unsatisfying the apples were that we had brought. Mealy and soft, whereas our mouths hungered for a cool, crisp bite. I thanked the land for the blueberries as I offered it more tobacco in return.

As we sat on the granite ledges and took in the views of the landscape around us, my husband and I noted the time and how far we had come. We felt the ache of the climb in our bodies and the hunger in our bellies. Ahead of us was the head of Chocorua, perhaps another half mile away, we could not be sure. Its side looked steep and a bit dangerous as we realized we would either have to make our way around it to find a more gentle side, or allow ourselves to finish our journey below its peak. I was surprised that I did not feel disappointment. That there was no resentment bubbling up inside at the possibility of not “completing” our journey. Instead, I felt acceptance. It was enough, all of it.

We did not turn around then, though, but decided to walk a little further. I was grateful, as we continued on for this small final leg of our journey forward, for the soft presence of the land and it’s hallowed feel. For the berries that continued along our way, and for the knowing that we had just enough daylight ahead of us to get back down, and just enough water to quench our thirst if we needed it. I thought of that sacred stream and the yearning of my body to feel its cool release. And, as I turned my gaze one last time to follow the path of a vulture around the neck of the mountain, the mighty bird moved toward a cloud that hovered beside the rock face. Perhaps it was my imagination, but to me it looked like the head of a chief in profile. Its face pointing away from the summit that would need to wait for another day.

IMG_6540
Where we stopped to rest with the cloud formation of the legendary chief in profile. It was a bit more clear in person.

 

 

 

Chocorua Part 1: The Journey There

IMG_6544.jpeg
Chocorua in early August

Sometimes the spirits of the land study you before you are allowed to study them. Their secrets held inside the membrane of earth and stone until you have proven yourself worthy of receiving.

Before we left that morning, I sealed acceptance into my aura. There was the knowing that I would be given what I needed to receive and perhaps not all that I yearned for. There is no rushing the land and its protectors, but a grateful, open-heart is always accepted.

I had met Chocorua over the winter, when I had turned a bend in the road and found myself faced with its head of stone, balded in patches of white from the snow, looming before me. It was one of those moments when the body defies words. My daughter looked at me, and I at her, with the same knowing. Someday, I would return. There was no discussion.

We drove the rest of the way to her ski meet immersed in our own thoughts, my eyes blinking away the moisture bought on by our encounter with Mt. Chocorua. Why, I wondered, have I not seen you before? 

I have lived in NH since I was nearly five years old. The mountain I had just passed, a mere 1.5 hours from my childhood home. I must have heard of it, even “seen” it in my travels.  I have learned, thought, that we do not truly see until the land is ready to be seen.

And, so I found myself traveling the roads to Chocorua six months later. Now mid-summer, there was no snow, but plenty of heat. We had just over twenty-four hours for our trip, and this would be our first night away without our children, ages 14 and 15, since they were born. A strange way to celebrate a slightly belated 20th wedding anniversary, perhaps, but my husband, like my daughter, understands my desires even if he doesn’t entirely comprehend them. When I found out he had booked us a night in North Conway so we could celebrate two decades of marriage by hiking the legendary mountain, I was deeply touched. My only reservation was that we would not have enough time.

Which was part of the letting go.

The morning began with tension after the release that yoga brings. I had a morning class to teach, and when I returned home, it was to find my husband nowhere near ready to go. I have a long history with time controlled by the minutes that tick by on the clock. I loathe being “late,” in whatever circumstance that involves. It’s not easy for me to let it go. I had breathed acceptance into my body at the start of the day, and it was not going to allow me to forget it.

When finally we got on the road, an hour after I had hoped we would leave, my husband and I found ourselves doing our individual best to release the threads of tension between us. That is until twenty-five minutes into our journey he realized he had forgotten his dress clothes, and, true to his nature, blamed it on my long-battle with time. Once more I found myself breathing into acceptance as we turned the car around.

It was a mostly wordless journey back home. When we arrived our daughter, just recently having woken, greeted us with some surprise as she smiled above the top of the couch. We had now lost about two hours of the day, by my calculations with the clock, but my body knew it was what we needed. This test of letting go of what we tend to hold onto, if we could.

And we did, gradually at first, as we settled back into an uneasy silence. My husband making the first offering of peace by placing his right hand on my thigh as he navigated the road back toward the mountain with his left. I felt the letting go as I met his offering with the wrap of my hand around his. Our journey now officially underway with all we needed packed in the car, even though later we would lament not having brought more. Not in terms of clothing, but in terms of supplies for the long walk ahead of us. In our determination to hike 3.5 thousand footer, we had not given much thought to the long, indirect path we had chosen to get to the top.  Chosen as though it was not a choice, because it was the path walked before the white man had landed on the shores of New England.

To be continued…

The Chalice & The Sun #yearning

I had been intending to write a blog post about some recent explorations I’ve had with the chalice as a symbol when I opened Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt this morning. There before me was a photograph of water in the shape of a chalice illuminated by the light of the sun. The title, “yearning.” I realized that perhaps I had just been provided with the image I needed to explore this ancient symbol in the way it has come to me recently…

yearning
Photo Credit: Sue Vincent

Years ago, when I first began exploring Tarot, I bought myself the Rider-Wait deck. I  often shuffled the cards to find guidance for my life and writing journey. As frequently happens with Tarot, a card will repeatedly show itself. The Queen of Cups was that card for me.

150px-Cups13
The Queen of Cups in the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck

The archetype of The Queen sat before me on her throne contemplating a capped golden chalice in her hands bearing a cross at its top. The card is filled with archetypal symbolism, which is up to the individual to explore in relation to his or her own inner journey.

Now, when I look at the card, I rather fancy the queen shedding the crown she wears, removing the church-like dome of the chalice, and discarding her robes to dive into the waters of life before her until there is no separation. Becoming, if you will, the opened chalice, as in the photo above taken by Sue.

 

Like many, I find myself deeply troubled these days by what appears to be the masculine side of fear’s desire to hold a tighter reign over the divine feminine. We seem to be spiraling backwards (but not backwards enough) instead of forwards as we allow fear to take over. Here in The States we are seeing its struggle for dominance in the form of control over the female body. A struggle for dominance that stretches back thousands of years.

It is disturbing on many levels, for this is not a “war” driven only by men, but by women clouded by the dome of patriarchy that holds the reigns of indoctrinated spirituality premised upon fear and control. When the desire to control over-rides love and balance, Truth is lost.

A couple of weeks ago, my son went on a past-life journey facilitated by a dear friend of mine who is a trained regressionist. We were attempting to get to the root of his extreme sound sensitivities, and what unfolded was a detailed narration of a life as a Templar knight. I won’t tell you his story, as it is not mine to tell, but it feels significant to me to share part of the quest for the Holy Grail that came through. 

A story that was woven into the tapestry my son recalled hanging on the wall where, nearby, a golden goblet with decorative handles held the wine he drank. Of the nine pages of recording from the regression, two phrases haunt me the most, “trying to get the holy grail, but not the blood of Christ, but of someone else.” And later this, “the [priest] tells the story that’s written on the walls. The same story in the tapestry. It is the story of the holy grail, but it’s different. Like it has not been modified.”

“Modified”…

About a week after my son’s regression, I gave my friend a healing session in trade. As with my son’s regression, we had no idea where our journey would take us, but put our trust in the highest aspect of self that is a channel to the divine. I had not been consciously thinking about the chalice while I channeled the healing energies for my friend, but opened myself to receive whatever messages her higher self desired to bring through for her. In her recent history, my friend suffered a serious concussion from a car accident, and even more recently, had a hysterectomy. I was not surprised to see the healing energies travel to these two regions of her body, but I was not expecting to see the chalice.

Inlaid into the structure of her ethereal body, a golden chalice appeared before me, resembling more the “goblet” my son described from his regression than the one appearing on the tarot card. For, it had no cap. Nor was it ornately structured. Instead, the wide basin filled her womb, open to receive. Below, a long narrow stem ran the canal of birth, connecting to the base that opened into the place where life exits the womb. The handles, the fallopian tubes.

Before me, I saw the sacred vessel of the divine feminine fill with the light of the divine from above. Although her physical womb is now gone, she had not lost the essence of the chalice she bore inside of her. She had only to open the golden “womb” to receive the seeds of life giving light from above and allow them to fill her with their creative potential, grow it, and birth it into the world. 

The unbroken, uncapped womb that is the chalice.

And so I find myself gazing into Sue’s photograph and seeing the waters of life held within the womb of the ocean illuminated by the light of the sun. The light upon water create the form of a chalice-like image, with two open ends, in the continual cycle of life. Life not driven by fear or control, but by the light of  Love. 

I think a lot these days about what is happening to the female body is happening to the body of Mother Earth. My writing is taking me deep into her womb as I continue book two in my Warriors of Light visionary fiction series. My characters lead me into the chalice of Earth through broken lines humans have created. They draw me into mysteries that I have yet to discover, into an ancient past were once the vessel of Earth flowed free with the Light that is Life. A time when Earth’s children lived not to destroy her in ownership and greed, but to live as One in harmony. Balanced and fed by the Light within that is also without.  

And I find myself filled with a yearning to return.

 

 

 

 

 

The Balance of Sun & Moon #SpringEquinox2019

Today we tumble out of the deep bed of winter and stretch our limbs toward spring in the northern hemisphere. It is a day filled with promise.

IMG_5850.jpeg
Hope is the bud quickening to the pulse of life ready to bloom into its fullest expression

It is a time of balance. Nearly equal parts dark and light, yet the two are not in opposition.

IMG_4738.jpeg
The length of day nearly equals the length of night on the equinox

On this spring equinox, we are graced with the glory of the full sun, and also the full moon.

IMG_0423
The moon shines her full face towards Earth, allowing the sun to illuminate her glory at night

It is a time when the yin and yang energies — the divine feminine and masculine — are offered in balance. Equally holding space and supporting one another. Offering a mirror to the potential that resides within each one of us.

IMG_4593.jpeg
A butterfly, symbol of transformation and rebirth, offering the dark and the light rimed with the blue of truth

 

At this era of time, when Earth and its children struggle for balance and harmony, we are offered this still point. A pause to reflect and then open to the perfection of balance. An offering to seek the sun, but also the moon and find what each has to offer us.

Strength, tempered by peace…

Darkness balanced by light…

Fear balanced by promise…

The singular life supported by all life…

The inhale of breath matching the exhale…

As the moon begins to wane, and the light of the sun lingers longer each day, may we be reminded of this balance. Using the sun’s energy to bring light to our greatest darkness. Darkness that holds fear in all its many forms, but also the seeds of promise. May we be reminded that each fear that we hold onto can transform into new life with the touch of the sun. It can bloom past the darkness from where we hold it tight as we breathe into its lips hope, promise, and love.  In the seeds of fear reside our fullest potential waiting to find the light. It is that place where the limited can become the limitless.

DSCF2990.jpg

May we today breathe in the balance of the energies that support us, allowing them to find balance within. Seeding the life that lingers in the darkness as we find the limitless love that unites us all.

 

 

 

Why I visit England (annually) and why we are called to sacred lands

IMG_5333

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for awhile. To attempt to explain why we are sometimes drawn, mind, body, and soul to physical places as though we have no choice but to go there. The heart, leading the body back home.

I think many people I know are confused as to why I feel such a need to travel to England, over and over again. What may be viewed as a flight of fancy becomes, perhaps, seen as an excuse to get away in their minds. From the mundane. The roles we choose to play out in life that can feel old and weary.

It’s true. These roles can age us when we allow them to do so. The soul, mind, and body seeks replenishment from that which wears us down. But being drawn to a place on such a holistic level is a soul’s calling the body and mind to home. We live many lifetimes. Sometimes in one place. The location becomes an integral part of our being, woven into the memory of cells so deeply that it is brought with us through our lifetimes. We become, in essence, of that land.

We are all of the larger “land” that is Earth. Its elements have given us our body of life, but what I speak of is memory. Sometimes the call to a certain place feels as vital as breathing. It sustains us and enlivens us. It reseeds the sacred within.

I have tried to find this here, in New Hampshire and in its wider landscape of New England. I have had moments when I have felt the coming home, but this is not so much about place, but about surrendering to the union that connects all life. When I am in the ancient lands of England the sacred enfolds me and strips me bare. It opens the magic hidden within and I begin to remember fully and completely, through every cell of my being, the essence of Life.

There are certain places that hold memories for us to retrieve when we choose to open to them. Portals. Vortexes. The convergence of ley lines. Sacred temples. Stones placed upon the energy that feeds the body of Earth and in alignment to the stars…Long ago, all life lived in this union, but over time the ego took hold and dismantled union in a search for separation. We are still living the false ideal of separation, to our own imminent demise.

I believe there is that essence inside of  all of us that searches for that Light of union. To feel, once again, a part of the sacred whether we are consciously aware of it or not. We go to churches and temples to find it, and sometimes we go to the land. I am drawn to the land. It is here where the memories of home sweep through me in perfect union when I find that quiet space to surrender to it. Each time I travel to England another part of me is brought to life. Another piece of my soul retrieved and reunited.  The land speaks to me in a language I can understand. I am revived and filled with hope when I hear it whisper through my cells.

When I look at life through the eyes of the mundane I see a broken world. I see the ever-present quest for more. To be better. To divide and conquer. I see wars fought over this. I see violence because we are broken. Despair because we have forgotten. We rape and pillage ourselves and the land because we have become disconnected. We have forgotten that when we destroy another, we in essence, destroy ourselves.

Perhaps it is a fool’s quest, but I also travel to England not only so that I can remember, but so that I can somehow, through my words and experiences, stir the memories inside those we have lost and forgotten this sacred union. We are born remembering, but through modern ways of living we easily forget. Ceremony has been lost to the click of an icon to numb the searching brain. The temples of the past turned into playgrounds to capture selfies.

I don’t think it’s an accident that incredible work and care went into building these temples of stone so that they might stand thousands of years later. They are the physical keepers of our ancestral memories. Libraries set in Earth. And, it is quite likely when they were built they were built with this intention in mind. Knowing that one day we would enter, of our own free will, a long age of forgetting. And that we would, one day, also seek to remember as though our very lives depend upon it, because they do.

To place a hand on one of these stones and feel the flooding return of these memories is a testament to their sacred purpose. When I open to the ancient sites of England, the “I” and all its false needs and wants disappear. There is no I. There is only union. Union with the great stone. With Mother Earth. With the vast heavens above. And with all Life. Long ago, this is what our ancestors knew as Truth.

We are living, collectively, through the false ideals of the ego, lives of self-destruction. If we continue on this course, each individual “I” will perish collectively. In what is the utmost of irony in our striving to be better, different, and special from each other, we are making our “I” become extinct. Soon enough we will have depleted all the resources our planet has to offer and there will be no room for life to carry our “special” DNA onto future generations. There will be no living Earth to sustain progeny to live out or legacy, because our legacy will be extinct. Money cannot buy what we need for our survival. A bigger house will not spare us from disaster, no matter how much we fortify it with outer strength. Eventually the “I” dies.  Each “I” has the same destiny of death. Yet if we really cared about each individual “I” we’d collectively realize it takes the “we” to preserve it. To ensure life continues on, sustaining and enriching each other. We are now at that pivotal moment in time. That tipping point where we can choose to continue on towards imminent demise, or trade in the self(ish) for the betterment of the “we.”

Living immersed, as so many of us do, in cultures that strive for individual greatness, we become numb to the sacred within and without. We look at a tree and see a resource, not a fellow being whose breath feeds our own. We look at a body of water and see it as a fun medium for racing our boats, not seeing that our boats pollute the liquid that is meant to sustain us and the life it holds inside of it. We look at our neighbors and think, you have something I want…a bigger house, a nicer car, smarter kids…without realizing that our neighbor is an aspect of ourselves.

When we come into the world, newly born, we still remember. When an infant gazes around you and past you, smiling as though into thin air, they are seeing what you can probably no longer see.  Essence that dances around you as a sacred part of the light woven with all life. Sing the infant that cries to the overwhelm of this chaotic and foreign life we have brought it into, the sound of “Om,” and you will return to her the feeling of home. Of union. Stillness opens the eyes back to memory and the sacred returns in the moment of union.

We all have the doorways within us. We just need to find the keys that open them. England, in many ways, is my key. If you don’t know where your key(s) is hidden, its worth the search to find it. The life that sustains you depends upon it.

The Gifts of the Stones #Wayland’sSmithy

It was yet another place I didn’t want to leave. Whereas I had felt the exhilaration of life at Castle Hill, the more I immersed myself into the energy of Wayland’s Smithy, the more I felt at peace. As the sun wove its golden light through the guardian trees, I walked over the long barrow and around it. Time slipped away and the veil thinned. The air was gently electrified, and I could feel the elemental kingdom and all the guardians of this sacred site watching, but also welcoming us. Below my feet, amid the last year’s fallen leaves, white feathers appeared on the path.

IMG_5512
More white feathers. Gifts of spirit. If you look closely you may see faces in the leaves.

I was, without a doubt, walking holy ground in a landscape of the dead that was very much alive, revered and protected by forces more felt than seen.

IMG_5465
The flowers beneath the guardian trees

“Look at the trees,” Larissa remarked. “Each one has a patch of white flowers.” Not planted, but growing as though in nature’s reverence. It felt like magic, in the purest sense. Each piece a deliberate part of the whole. And, as I walked, I could hear the whisper of the ancient stones.

IMG_5467
Each stone has a personality filled with the history of its purpose. Even the smaller stones show the faces of the past.

Pairs appeared in stasis, like long married couples set in their ways, yet determined to protect the love they hold.

IMG_5470
This pair of guardian stones look as though they are reaching for a kiss as Sue peers from the beyond.

It’s quite something to think of the work and care that went into the construction of this long barrow. A tomb to house the dead whose bodies were prepared with care that rivals that bestowed upon the pharaohs of Egypt. A tomb supported with carefully selected and placed stones. Huge sarsens, like that of Long Meg, mark the entrance to the inner chamber of the long barrow. All this work, including the massive stones, once covered entirely in earth. A house built for the dead, 196 feet in length and 50 feet at its widest point.

IMG_5487.jpeg
Standing at the end of the long barrow, you get a sense of the immensity of its size and the undertaking it took to build it.

“You need to leave a piece of silver for Wayland,” Sue revealed as we gathered before the entrance. “To shod your horse.” I didn’t question her words. I had silver in my pocket and I crawled inside the chamber to find a place for it.

IMG_5481
Ani stands guard over the entrance to the chamber

“Can you find Wayland, the spirit stone, the totem stone?” Sue continued as we peered at the massive rocks before us. The faces on their surfaces morphing and changing with each angle. All for the dead…

IMG_5482
Ani runs before the sarsens

Then Sue began to tell us the story of a visitor before us who had asked a question of one of the sarsens. Within moments his answer had appeared in physical form and still holds true to this day. While she spoke, I watched a bee circle around me. A February bee, but I had already seen two butterflies during my visit to England, so perhaps it was not too unusual…It made me think of the buzzing I had heard, low, but constant, as we were walking the path from the car to Wayland’s.

IMG_5485
My chosen stone, guarded by a great bear

I chose my stone, as the bee continued to circle my neck, and pressed my forehead upon its surface. I didn’t have a question. Instead, I wanted only to receive whatever might be revealed to me.

The mound appeared before me in the full splendor of summer. Upon its green back, a white horse emerged, strong and sure. It stopped in wait as a figure cloaked in white descended and began to walk toward me. The landscape opened to beyond the barrow, to where people long passed gathered inside a great womb. I saw the path weaving in union between the land of land of the living and the land of the death. It became a processional of people coming towards the barrow. In the middle of the trail I saw a small circle of stones.

The visitors gathered around the mound of Earth, upon which the white horse stood with the figure cloaked in white. I could not see her face, but I knew her energy to be both feminine and strong.

The vision turned inward, and I felt as though I had entered an inner chamber. A shadowed form of a great bear appeared beside me, then morphed into a great serpent whose head rose behind mine. In front of me, a hawk of the sun passed before my vision, circling until all disappeared and I felt my body again. Each cell buzzing with renewed life, as though in those few moments of connection I had been washed with light.

IMG_5508
The capstone of the chamber resembles a serpent.

It was soon time to leave, but before we left we placed more offerings for the spirits of the stones. It has been a true gift of a day. Full and complete in and of itself, even though it was just an hour passed noon.

IMG_5496
It’s hard to deny the magic of Wayland’s Smithy

As we collected ourselves back into the car, even Ani appeared withdrawn into her own thoughts, refusing the small bits of sandwich we offered her. Each one of us quietly processing our return in our own way as we paused before our descent back into town.

To read the rest of the posts in this series, please click the links below:

Part 1: The Blindfolded Girl in the Hallway

Part 2: Keats and the First White Feather

Part 3: The Eye Opens: Long Meg

Part 4: I Journey from Long Meg to Little Meg

Part 5: Castlerigg at High Noon

Part 6: A Walk in the Woods with Tess

Part 7: A White Horse Appears (well actually two) and I Make a Stone Sing

Part 8: The Castle on the Back of a Dragon

Part 9: The Other Eye Opens: I Meet the White Horse of Uffington

Part 10: Wayland’s Smithy: A Temple of Trees and Stones Worthy of Reverence

Wayland’s Smithy: A Temple of Trees & Stones Worthy of Reverence

There is an old road called the Ridgeway that connects Castle Hill to  Wayland’s Smithy. It’s a mile in length, and had we more time we would have walked it. The Ridgeway joins the land of the living with the land of the dead, and I have no doubt it is as old as the “Castle” and the burial chamber of Wayland’s Smithy. To walk it, is to walk upon sacred ground where feet have traveled for thousands of years. Yet all do not treat it as such.

IMG_5477
Ani and I waited for the site to clear of its busy visitors before we walked the long barrow.

The tread of reverent ritual has been replaced by the tread of travelers seeking outings from their over-busy lives. On the day we visited Wayland’s Smithy, there were visitors who had arrived before us. Two friends and their toddler-aged children were stationed at the foot of the chamber. The moms looked haggard and distracted as they half-watched their children and studied the screens of their phones. The children climbed the headstones around the entrance to the more than 3,000 yr. old burial chamber as though they were on a playground’s jungle gym.

IMG_5476
Wayland’s Smithy feels, to me, like a natural cathedral worthy of reverence and awe.

My mind turned back two days, to that gloriously sunny noon at Castlerigg where a large family had created a picnic ground and play gym out of the sanctuary in the stone circle. “If this were a church, that would never be allowed,” Larissa put words to the emotions rising through me as we watched the young kids hang precariously off the great stones guarding the chamber.

IMG_5468
The entrance to the chamber, as seen from one side, where the children played and their distracted moms leaned against the mighty stones.

Wayland Smithy is a place of worship. It is a holy ground for the dead, but also the living. A Sue noted, many years ago someone must have seen the site as a home of the sacred and honored it by planting a ring of ash around it, creating the effect of a natural cathedral. The temple of trees holds the stone chamber for the dead in an embrace of such sublime beauty and peace, the present mind cannot help but find sanctuary in the heart.

IMG_5515
The open eyes will recognize a sacred site.

We had to wait maybe ten minutes for the visitors before us to leave, and continue on with their midday hike. And, in that time, I kept thinking about Castlerigg and how the energy of the sacred had retreated as though in self-preservation, deep within Earth. I looked at the long chamber before me and thought of the stones that were obviously missing from its sides. Stones that may have been callously dug out to line the border walls of houses or fields. Or, perhaps even to be trophies of sorts, displayed proudly on private grounds.

IMG_5463
Lonely Stones: I got the sense that these stones were left behind as part of a border of stones, which are now mostly lost. They are spirit stones, filled with holes and intrigue.

Yet, despite the handfuls of oblivious visitors that visit Wayland’s Smithy, and its missing parts, the site still holds a very special energy. The guardian trees form a ring of protection around it, and I suspect most who enter their temple enter it with a feeling of reverence.

IMG_5502.jpeg
I felt much better with Sue and Ani sitting above the mouth of the chamber. Sue’s face reflects an unmistakable peaceful joy, and Ani, well, she could not have been happier.

As the mothers gathered their belongings and children and made their way back to the walking path, I stood upon the back of the grand chamber with Ani, ready to receive its gifts.

To Be Continue…

To read the previous posts in this series about my recent visit to England, please follow the links below:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9