In the books written with Stuart France, we wove a detail our journeys through the sacred landscape of old Albion, the ancient and inner heart of Britain. They are not factual guides or journals of our travels, nor are they fiction… they fall somewhere between the two. The books are illustrated in colour with photographs of our wanderings, and at the end of each book we decided we needed to include a gazetteer.
We had a bit of a problem there. One of the beauties of these ancient churches and sacred sites is that they are usually open and can be visited freely. While we wanted to share their beauty and magic, there is something very special about finding them for yourself. Then again, we really did not want the entries to be the dry, factual guides of a work of non-fiction either, so we decided to do something different.
Some entries are riddles… verses that are clues to the places we have visited. Some, like Station to Station, take a set of symbols and explore them in greater depth, stripping away the accepted meaning and approaching them from new angles in order to try and shed light upon their deeper meanings. Others take an idea and see how the symbols we have found can elucidate it. All are puzzles that can be simply read or, we hope, spark a new train of thought.
Verses in the gazetteer contain clues to some of the locations mentioned in the books. The answers to the clues can be found with a bit of detective work in the book itself or online, by using the keywords hidden in the poems. We also wanted the reader to be able to share the quest, so The Initiate begins with a riddle and ends with one….but the clues for that one are a different story…
The Hollow Hill
Deep underground lie chalky caves and many tales are told
of arcane goings-on beneath the hollow ball of gold.
From hell and flames within the hill to sacred space above…
where holy water waits within the serpent and the dove.
A mausoleum, wrought of flint, upon a hollow hill,
a secret order following the dictates of the will…
Palmyra’s temple mirrored here, and when your quest is done,
you will stand at the centre of the star behind the sun.
An Arrow and a Hind…
Where Milton wrote of Paradise, Salome dances still,
and holds the platter while the Jester moves in for the kill.
The walls tell many stories, some forgotten, some unknown,
the paint depicts the legends, but the tenderness is stone.
Look up, above the altar, and in Saint Giles loving hold,
a story of compassion for a fellow heart is told.
The King sent out his hunters, but the arrow’s flight is blind,
the wound was in the saintly hand protective of the hind.
The Riddle of the Initiate
The Song of Seven Veils
…From Heart to Head a Lay…
My First is sinuous, scaly and smooth
It is found in lake but not in love,
what is below is like that above…
My Sixth lies at sea and in
the depths of the night, it is hard
to engender this spark of light.
My Second twinkles on high and
stands proud in the earth, this double
entendre is light strewn when birthed
My Fifth is a man-child
forgotten by time, adrift on
a lotus… the flowering kind.
My Third is fire-bright and
flies like a flash, it is feathery
too, forever rising from ash…
My Fourth is hawk borne
and can teach us to fly it is
also known as the Silent Eye
…From Head to Heart, a Way…
In Loving Light
You can read Paul Andruss’ review of The Initiate here