A Walk in the Woods with Tess & the Offering of Feathers: My Final Day in Cumbria

After the experience at Castlerigg, I needed some time to process, accept, and surrender as best I could to what was. We had planned for a laid-back morning for my last day in Cumbria, and after I awoke I asked if I could take Tess for a walk. I should probably clarify that. Tess is not a dog you actually have to walk. She’s one of those rare gems that walks herself, and you, without the trouble of a leash to bind you together. I didn’t have to worry about finding my way, getting lost, or losing sight of my companion. Tess not only leads the way, she stops to wait for you and makes sure you know where you’re going. It was quite the treat for me, as I am used to walking two over-zealous dogs (on leashes) who could care less if I want to go where they want to go, which is often in a completely different direction from each other, and me.

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Tess during our morning walk stopping to check on me.

Anyway, back to my walk with Tess. It was another glorious morning. Filled with sunshine and just the wisps of clouds to compliment the blue, blue sky.  And as we set out, down the old canal path beside Bernie & Steve’s home, I began to allow the beauty of the day to sink into by body, as well as the many unexpected gifts the weekend had offered.

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Fairy Woods

The paths that I had traveled these last few days had been filled with the warmth of the sun and of friendship. There was the ever-present reminder, albeit sometimes difficult to accept, that I do not walk this path in life alone. Although Castlerigg was not appreciated in the way I had intended for myself, nor revered in the way I might like to see other visitors revere it, it had still been appreciated for its outer beauty on a beautiful day. Long Meg and Little Meg had offered to me a more intimate visit in contrast, reminding me that the magic is always there, even though it may sometimes go into hiding.

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The green, green land of England.

Another day was unfolding before me. A quiet day filled with the grace of the present moment, if I chose to reside in it. Tess and I passed only two other travelers during out walk, and our passing was uneventful and unobtrusive. It was easy to allow peace to settle in and take the place of heartbreak as I walked in the beautiful land of Cumbria.

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It was nearly impossible not to appreciate the beauty that surrounded me.

I could have walked for miles, and so could Tess, as she reluctantly turned around after  we got to our third “bridge to nowhere” to lead the way back home. We, or rather I, had toast and Bernie’s prize-winning marmalade waiting for us. And, boy did it taste good. Rather like you might expect a drop of sunshine to taste, if one could taste sunshine.

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The gift of white feathers

The four of us, Tess, Bernie, Steve, and I, spent the afternoon at the seaside, enjoying the beauty of the day and the presence of good company. Following tea beside the water, Tess and Steve played frisbee on the grass, I took photographs and breathed in the sea air. Along the path of my feet, white feathers scattered the grass. I had been well taken care of by my wonderful hosts and Mother Nature during the weekend, and perhaps that’s just what I needed most.

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Steve overlooking the sea

But the journey was not yet other. I had more time adventures awaiting me in London and a magical day with Sue and Ani in the land of dragons and “castles.”

To be continued…

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

 

Castlerigg at High Noon

I had been forewarned. Silence can speak volumes, and the early spring was impossible to overlook. Yet, there was that glimmer of hope that the mysteries of Castlerigg would somehow be open to me.

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The Welcoming Information at Castlerigg, which sits atop the charming town of Keswick.

We are waiting for you.

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Unlike some stone circles, Castlerigg is easy to find and access, and with unbeatable vistas it’s nearly impossible to have the place to yourself.

I had heard the ancestral call. I had felt the cells stir through centuries past with a visceral memory that fired my body into deep longing in the weeks, months, and even years before I made this journey. Yet it was not to be. Not this time anyway.

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The stones felt lifeless to me, as though their energy had retreated deep within their forms.

We drove up the hill that holds the stone circle known as Castlerigg at high noon on a brilliantly warm spring-like Sunday. Cars flanked the roadside, and at its crest an ice cream van sat in wait for the throngs of hungry tourists. The urge to turn around and hop back into the car nearly consumed me. You can’t erase first impressions.

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Castlerigg is an undeniably beautiful place any time of the year.

Sometimes, though, we must face our must crushing moments head-on and take the lessons they give us. Disappointment can be a gift, leading to surrender and acceptance. And so I climbed to the top of the hill and met the stones filled with visitors.

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I wanted to spend some time with this stone in particular, but as you can see it was a popular spot.

It’s a beautiful place, I am sure, in any season, and that day Castlerigg shone with the light of the noonday sun. Bright and golden. It lit the faces of the picnicking family having lunch in the sanctuary (hence the absence of photos of this intriguing area of the site). Its rays played through the shadows of bodies as they wove in and out of the standing stones, and lit the smiling faces of selfies posed amid the inert bodies of rocks.

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Although I didn’t do a great job capturing it, the stones of Castlerigg shadow the contours of the surrounding landscape.

The site was filled with energy, but it was not coming from the stones, or the distance hills that rim the landscape. Instead, it came from the revelers of humans visiting the site.  It was, in many ways, the antithesis of the encounter with Castlerigg I had envisioned.

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Even the faces one expects to find in ancient stones were virtually absent during my visit.

If I could, I would take it all back. I know that this may be the wrong response, but it’s the truth. There’s no point in lying to oneself, it merely pushes the truth into dark corners where it festers for light. It is not an easy thing to do, writing this post. It would be impossible to describe the full impact of my first encounter with Castlerigg, and its effects on me. Yet, it is for me, and me alone to process as I attempt to dig inside and find the gifts from this experience. Not the “why,” as much as the acceptance of the “is.”

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It was as though the spirits in the stones had turned their backs to me.

What felt, in the moment, as the ultimate betrayal and rejection — a date to meet the beloved, only to find the beloved had receded back inside the the distant hills — led to the inevitable acceptance that the beloved resides within. Always present. Yet, this is not an easy acceptance. I still long for that promised (re)union. To place my body supine upon that open hillside in the middle of the ancient stones and hover in the liminal space that bridges the Earth to the heavens. I still long for that moment where I can open myself completely to the spirits of the land and listen to all they have to say. To feel the wild wrap of the elements and the stirrings of a long held magic waiting, just waiting, to be brought to life in that perfect moment of union.

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Below Castlerigg, the lakes of Cumbria mirror the glory of the land.

There is, though, a comfort in the mundane, and the knowing that I made it through this trial. This test, of which I am still unsure of the answers. That I am unscathed, albeit a bit heartbroken. My beloveds surround me in physical form back home in New Hampshire, and little, in the greater vista of life, has been lost.

Later that night, when I closed my eyes to sleep I saw the girl standing in the hallway and the wrap of cloth around her eyes had disappeared. I still had two full days ahead of me, and I was determined to make the best of what was offered to me.

To be continued…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

The Eye Opens #LongMeg

I woke at midnight ravenous. After tossing and turning for an hour, I crept upstairs to get the sandwich I had bought for my train ride to Cumbria. For some reason I found it wildly amusing that I was indulging in a midnight (or rather post-midnight) snack. Blame it on the jet-leg, but I couldn’t stop laughing. Until I tried to get back to sleep. Once again, all I could see was that blindfolded girl in the hallway when I closed my eyes. I knew she was trying to tell me something, but I still didn’t know if it was an actual specter I was seeing, or my higher self trying to get my attention. I suspected the latter, but sometimes the mind can wander into that realm of freakout. And, she was always in the same place. The stairwell outside the flat. Standing with her arms at her side, her head facing inward to where I was trying my best to sleep. Eyes covered in a thick, white wrap of cloth.

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Castlerigg. Photo Credit: Lara Wilson. This slightly blurry image heightens the faces in the stones.

Eventually sleep came to me, and soon after it was time to start another day. I needed to catch an early train to Cumbria, and there was a particular stone circle waiting for me, or so I thought. The stones had been calling to me since Sue Vincent had posted a photo of the hill of giants behind them, laced with snow, years ago on her blog. Castlerigg. The very words could bring the tremor of cells stirring memory through lifetimes long past followed by a wash of tears. We were both waiting for each other, I was sure of it, but something didn’t feel right.

As I mentioned in my first post in this series, I had felt a shift in the weeks after I had committed to this trip. The whispering of the land and its spirits had ceased into an uncomfortable silence.  Sometimes, when we are called to a place, we are meant to work for it. To undergo an initiation to get there. It took me two tries, wandering the haunted moors at sunset with sleet and wild winds, to get to the Nine Ladies. And that is a small circle in comparison to Castlerigg. This trip, I was reluctantly realizing, had fallen too easily into place. And, where I had imagined the rugged hills of Cumbria in winter, spring had arrived unseasonably early to England in February.

I was greeted at the train station in Oxenholme by my Cumbrian host, Steve, who is one of the directors of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness. Although I was to spend time with both Steve and Sue during this visit, I was not in England to attend one of the School’s organized workshops. I had missed the latest one in December, which was centered in Cumbria. An even that had stirred a longing so intense that I was now on my way to visit some of the ancient sites I had missed by not being able to attend the workshop.

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My new furry friends Tess and Misti

Steve, knowing I regretted missing the December workshop, graciously offered to host me for a few days in Cumbria, where he resides. After he retrieved me from the train station we headed to his home to pick up his lovely wife, Bernie, and their charming dog, Tess. We had just enough time left in the day to see Long Meg & Her Daughters before the sunset.

On the way to Long Meg, we stopped for tea at a mill where organic grains are ground into the makings of bread and porridge.

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This charming mill serves a lovely tea

We ate outside on a picnic table, enjoying the warmth of our soup, freshly baked bread, and the early spring sunshine.

Long Meg and Her Daughters is one of several stone circles in Cumbria. It sits just outside of Penrith, down a small country lane that runs through the bottom third of the large oval configuration of stones.

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The road dividing Long Meg from some of her daughters is guarded by a pair of trees.

We parked outside the stones. It does not feel right to enter them via the road inside a car. Thankfully the only other car there was also parked, respectfully, outside the “circle.”

My eyes turned first to the face. Not in the stone, but in the tree behind it. I saw it peering at me, watching. Trying to determine, it seemed, whether I was friend or foe. There was no denying I was being observed, and perhaps judged. One expects to be in these ancient places, and I was not unsettled by the guardian watching me. I found the presence of the magnificent old trees comforting as they leaned over the road in protection of the sacred energy surrounding them. It reassured me the energy was still very much alive here, despite the road and the many footsteps that went through the circle…Despite the thousands of years since it was actively used by those who had built it…

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Guardians of Long Meg

After greeting the guardian in the tree, I began to walk the perimeter of stones. At its longest point, the oval of stones measures 100 meters. It is not a small “circle,” and it takes some time to travel it with deliberation. I find these sites are best guided not with the mind, but with the heart, and I allowed my inner guidance take over as I followed a counterclockwise path amid the great rocks.

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Long Meg

The earth ripples in gentle waves rising up a slight hillside to Long Meg, who stands removed, like a sentinel, above her “daughters.” She towers 12 ft. above ground, and is 80 ft. removed from the nearest stone within her “circle.” Her face is turned in profile to the stones below her. Lips pursed into a slight frown, she faces the distant land as though she is guarding and watching.

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Stones leading to Long Meg. Some stand, some recline. My belief is that some, if not all, of these recumbent stones were meant to recline, but there are others belief they once stood.

I approached Long Meg filled with the awe of her magnificence. She has a presence that is difficult to describe. Not entirely foreboding, but also not wholly welcoming, Long Meg is majestic and emits an aura of purpose and mystery.  One almost feels the impulse to bow before her and wait for permission to rise…I approached her slowly on foot, stopping mere inches from her surface. Initially I had thought I might hug her, as I had asked my friend to do for me in December. Perhaps I would have, if I had not been stopped by her red light.  It reached toward me, pulsing red. This spiraling of light emanating from her form.

Long Meg’s eye had opened to see me, and I had seen her in return…

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One of Long Meg’s spirals, and the one that had pulsed in an eye of red light before me.

To be continued…

To read part one of this series of narrations from my recent trip to England, please follow these links: Part 1. Part 2.

 

 

The Return of the Feathered Seer #setting #writphoto #suevincent

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The Feathered Seer hovers above the stones. Photo Credit: Sue Vincent

Note: I started writing this post and then came across the #writephoto prompt post by Sue Vincent and opened it up to this image. Therefore, the blog post has now become my response to her weekly photo prompt

In April of 2017 I played the role of “The Feathered Seer” during the Silent Eye School of Consciousness’s annual ritual workshop weekend. Although acting is not my element, this role that I was asked to undertake did not feel like acting. It felt like home. Yesterday, I wrote about the concept of home and how I feel most aligned with that state of being when I am in England, walking the ancient lands. I have no doubt I have walked these lands, perhaps many times, in former lives. It’s a knowing so deep it goes beyond the visceral and straight to the heart of the soul.

The Feathered Seer is a part of me, woven into my being. She is my guide, but she is also me. Through the ancient lands she follows me, and I follow her. She takes my hand and leads me so I will remember. And, I believe, so that others will remember too.

In physical form, she adopts the form of the pileated woodpecker. That other-worldly creature who flies through the woods with her red head, calling the soul home to the roots of being, and drumming the language of the ancients back into the heart.

Last night she came to me during dreamtime as I stood atop a sacred Native American hillside. Flying her feathers of darkness before my face to peer into my eyes. Weeks prior, she had arrived in physical form. Flying before my path before the Silent Eye group gathered at Castlerigg.

Do not be afraid to see… she tells me

#writephoto

 

 

Castlerigg from a distance #acceptance

 

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Castlerigg at dawn. Photo Credit: Lara Wilson

I went as far as the hills in dreamtime while they gathered to greet the dawn below. Disappointment comes in many forms and sometimes it reaches out to hold the hand of acceptance. I’m not going to lie. This has not been an easy one to come by. The land at Castlerigg calls to me in a language the predates words. It speaks to the very heart of my being and fills me with the irrepressible longing for home. Yet, it is not my time to return here, and I know when it is, this body I wear must accompany my spirit. Sometimes the cells need to remember wholly and completely. And, Casterligg has called my whole being to be present someday. But not yet.

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Photo Credit: Lara Wilson. I love how the blurred image reveals the faces in the stones.

 

I didn’t know you wanted to go so badly, my husband told me afterwards. After he overhear words spoken with my dear friend who was there. I had, though, already chosen the hand of acceptance months ago, although sometimes I held only its finger tips. What do you do for yourself. I mean, only for yourself. You know, just for you? A friend had asked me a week before while the tears called despair rained from my eyes.

England, I told her. I go to England.

Yet, I was born here in New England. A cruel irony it can seem at times when one feels like she belongs in another land. This, though, is where I am, right now, and I have chosen to take that hand called “acceptance,” along with the belief that there is a purpose for me being here, and not there, for most of my time. This past weekend, instead of visiting a landscape that feels like home, I was home with my family. And, that was okay. More than okay. Love is limitless, even when it feels as though it is being pulled apart by longing.

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The season of long shadows. Photo Credit: Lara Wilson

I was here, but also there. You were never not with us, my friend assured me. I called your name as I walked up to the circle, you must have heard me.

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The hills that called me home years ago, still enfold me in wait. Photo credit: Lara Wilson

I was hovering in the hills, though. The stones below obscured by the body of giants. They called me back home before the stones did. Opening the body of the goddess to enfold. I can stay here for awhile longer. I can wait. Even though the head of the dragon beckons in stone.

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There is a deep sense of comfort knowing how much these stones and the land is loved, even though I am pulled with that longing. I read gratitude and love in the face of the stone gazing at Sue Vincent, while the guardian stone reminds me of the slow time of patience. Photo Credit: Lara Wilson

My lower body has been vibrating all week. Kundalini. The roots healing before the rise. We are often called to tend to the roots first. Healing the core of stability. Of origin. Our roots that bind us to one family, before we can return to another.

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Photo Credit: Lara Wilson

Acceptance holds my hand. I have taken her grasp in a firm embrace and she is becoming a part of me. I can wait. You asked for patience, did you not? I am reminded.

How lucky I am, that I can return to this place that feels like home. That I can allow myself to become lost only to become found, over and over again, filling each cell of my being with the memory of home. Until we meet in this lifetime, Castlerigg, I will hold the hand of acceptance.

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Photo Credit: Lara Wilson

A special thanks to Lara Wilson for lending me the use of her gorgeous photographs, and  to her, as well as the others who were at the Silent Eye School of Consciousness event this past weekend for taking me with them in spirit.