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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

The Other Eye Opens: I Meet the White “Horse” of Uffington

I’m not sure what path is usually taken to visit the White Horse of Uffington, but I felt I must crest the hilltop and stand upon the Castle, before I made my way to the chalk “horse” below it.  The chalk figure is not small, by any means. From one end to the other it measures 360 feet, yet the “white horse” is nestled just so within the hillside making it difficult to view unless one is high above it. Since we were  diverted by construction, and the mist of morning obscuring the hillside, my best option to get a photo of the chalk figure was from the mound of earth called “Dragon Hill.”

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You can just make out the chalk outlines below the crest of the hill, above the road.

The White Horse has been on this hillside for more than 3,000 years, and some say it’s not a horse, but a saber toothed cat, or even a dragon…which is rather hard to argue when you consider that just below it is the mound of earth known as Dragon Hill. The site where St. George is rumored to have slain the dragon. And, perhaps more compelling is the the curious shape of the Earth, which Sue pointed out, is also best noticed from hight above…

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In the middle of the right hand side of the photo, you will see Dragon Hill, a rise of earth covered in chalk (under the grass) where St. George slew his dragon.

Legend has it that the large white splotch of ground on the top of the hill will never grow grass because the blood of the dragon spilled upon it.

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The mark of the dragon’s blood

One does got the feel of battles fought and rituals held atop Dragon Hill, which looks over the land while being protected by the “Castle” behind it. It’s not hard to see the grandeur and feel the power of the place, as well as imagine the awe it must have encompassed over its many years of existence. Years that seem to be layered by different civilizations with different purposes. The mighty sword, taking over the peace of the land…but not anymore…

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I stand above the “head” of the “horse with the wing of the dragon to the left and Dragon Hill to the right.

It is from the body of the chalk figure, though, were you can get a sense of the greater body that resides below you. The sheer awe is nothing short of exhilarating as you peer out over the vast wing rippling the earth. A dragon who may be sleeping, but whose energy is not dormant.

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The “head”

It took feeling into my inner sight to find the dragon beneath me as I descended Uffington Castle. To trust the knowing of where I needed to end up. Which was the place considered the head, but also looks curiously like an eye. Some say the lines hanging down from the “head” are teeth, some say they are the fangs of the dragon, but if you take the head for an eye, it resembles the Eye of Horus, which was all I could see.  Another eye, drawing me inward… Whereas Long Meg had pulsed in the red energy of Earth, as I stood looking into the head of the dragon, I felt the pull of the sun.

It took all I could not to step inside…

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This portal of the sun has a way of drawing you in.

I believe these sites are sacred. There are rules here that should be honored and respected. Reverence is required to walk the ground if you wish to learn what it has to teach you. If not, you should not be there. I felt that I had ventured close enough for that day, walking the edge, careful not to tread upon the chalk, while Sue and Larissa watched from above.

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Larissa, Sue and Ani (who seems to have gotten special permission to walk the eye)

Two eyes had opened, and I felt wholly alive. It was time to cross over to the land of the dead…

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

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

A white horse appears (well, actually two) and I make a stone sing

This would be my second attempt to visit the White Horse of Uffington. The first attempt occurred during my first trip to England, in April of 2016. I had taken my family with me, and we were traveling by car from Derbyshire toward Uffington, or what we thought was Uffington. To be fair, it was Uffington, just not the right Uffington. Turns out there’s at least two Uffingtons in England, and I had punched the wrong one into the navigation system, adding a 3hr detour to our trip and a great deal of frustration and disappointment. Instead of seeing the White Horse, we ended up at an old abbey, which happened to be closed that day. Determined to get something out of the mishap, I peered over the tall gate and took a few photos of what we couldn’t see.

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The remains of an old abby in “Uffington”

Since there are actually several horses covered in white chalk in England, we did end up seeing one, albeit thousands of years younger than the horse we had intended to visit. Not to mention it’s rather ordinary looking in comparison…

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The white horse we found

And so it was that I had set out on another adventure to see the famous White Horse of Uffington. This time I was being driven by Sue, who knows the roads of England like the back of her hand.

It was one of those rare gifts of the day. Although Sue had only the morning and a wee bit of the afternoon to offer us, she had promised to pack a full day into the hours we had together. Larissa and I started our day before sunrise, planning to catch a 7am train to Aylesbury. We caught the 6:33am one instead, leaving us ample time to find some caffeine at our destination and spot Sue’s car before it could park near the train.

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The famous Ani at Wayland’s Smithy

“I’ve given her a bath and a run,” Sue announced as I happily piled into the backseat to join the small dog I had read so much about.  Turns out Ani was even more excited about our adventure than I was, and that’s saying something.

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The house that guards the Blowing Stone

Since we were traveling at the peak of rush hour, we encountered a fair bit of traffic. Once we got through the bulk of the mess, and neared our destination, we had another hurdle to face. The road to the White Horse was blocked for construction. I wasn’t too worried, though. Time was precious that day, but I had faith in our driver and sure enough, Sue found another route. A route that just happened to lead us to another white horse, being lead by a rider on the roadside near the Blowing Stone. I took it as a good omen of things to come.

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The Blowing Stone. Legend says that if you blow it right it can be heard at Uffington Castle, above the White Horse

“Give it a go,” Sue urged as we stood there staring at the ancient stone on the roadside. What the heck, I thought. I’ve traveled all the way here, I may as well give it a try. It took Sue having to point out the correct hole, of the many, to blow into, but three attempts later, the ancient stone sounded like a bugle. I was, admittedly, rather pleased with myself. Perhaps there was luck to be had this day. In the distance, nestled into the hillside was the white horse I had been waiting for. Just a short drive away. Above our heads the kites had started to gather in their dance with the sun.

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

Part 6