Into Spirit…

Sue Vincent

14th September 1958 – 29th March 2021


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Temples Too…


The space created by the temple, for augury, originally, appears to have been in order to better observe the flight of birds across the sky. To afford them focus and meaning.

Their point of origin, the direction of travel, and the type, and number, of the birds seen being instrumental in formulating a reading, or answer, to a particular question.

Winged creatures, the world over, were once regarded as a symbol for spirituality and, as such, were deemed to be acceptable indicators of the divine will.

The practice of taking auguries later degenerated into animal sacrifice and the examination of animal entrails in order to ascertain this same divine will?

It is difficult to fathom what prompted this change.

Animal and human sacrifices have, it seems, always been acceptable as propitiatory offerings to the gods of barbaric tribes and nations, and at some point these two practices must have become irrevocably mixed…

The notion of ‘time’, in bird, or animal, auguries plays a double role.

The augury usually takes place at a particular time which is deemed significant, to those seeking the augury – a feast day, or a calendar threshold, or a marriage, or a sporting event, or the eve of a battle.

The augury circumvents the normal processes of linear time by predicting an auspicious, that is, a good, or inauspicious, that is, a bad, outcome for the people involved in the event at which the augury is taken, or to which it is directed.

The basis for a belief in the possible efficacy of such rites is simple enough to formulate –

‘All things inform each other, and all things act in conformity with this continuity.’…

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Living Ones…

‘Solar Bear’ – Sue Vincent 2009


… “Well,” says Wen, with a mischievous grin playing across her features, “I have some more shocking news for you.”

“Really?” say I. Not really paying too much attention because most of that is taken up by the game of fetch which Anu has again managed to embroil me in.

“The Children of Don, may well be the Welsh version of the Crafty Folk!” My throwing arm pauses in mid-air, the Ball of Power still clasped in its folded ‘maw’, poised.

Anu pauses too, poised in ‘setter’ mode, tail to earth and nose to heaven, pointing out his intent. It is as if the world has been halted in order for the magnitude of Wen’s statement to sink in.

“I think I did sort of know that,” I manage to muster after long moments in limbo-land, “I had just never realised the ramifications of its import.” The Ball of Power again arcs into the air flying way, way beyond its intended destination, out through the living room door, and into the garden. Anu growls, and leaps, and barks, as if in protest at the transgression of the spacial rules to our game, and then bounds out into the garden after the Ball of Power, singing…

“It’s all in that dream.”

“Which one?”

“The one written in Oz after the mozzie attack.”…

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…Happy Dog!

Ani and Nick


Ani was originally acquired as Nick’s assistance dog when he first came out of hospital after the attack.

That didn’t work out so she adopted first Sue and then me as her assistant human!

She still has a soft spot for Nick though, who is after all ‘her boy’, so when he dropped by the other day we had what can only be described as a…

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gt longstone 3

‘Hassop Church comprising a sandstone temple with Etruscan portico, Grecian windows, and Tuscan pilasters. Constructed deep in the Derbyshire Dales by Francis Eyre.’

(Photograph and description by Sue Vincent)


Temple – n 1. a building designed for religious purposes.

1a) a building dedicated to the worship of a deity among any of various ancient civilisations and present day non-christian religions.

2. a place devoted to a specific purpose.

3. a local lodge of any of various fraternal orders.

[ME, fr OE & OF: OE tempel & OF temple fr. L templum – marked out for observation of auguries prb akin to L tempus time]


At some point in the history of humankind the building of temples became both geometric and symmetrical.

This development was probably quite late and may account for the well noted phenomenon that for many people ruined temples, reclaimed by nature, are infinitely more ‘romantic’, or at least more appealing, than intact ones!

The Druids, famously, performed their rites outdoors in forest groves while the stone monuments left to us in these isles, from a much earlier time, appear, in the main, asymmetrical and only roughly circular.

Much is made of such temples being open to the sky but it is the night sky, in particular, that is here their primary focus. As professor Alexander Thom conclusively proved, way back in the late nineteen sixties, after over thirty years of field research, there were sound astronomical reasons for this ‘roughness’ and the monuments were constructed to an extraordinarily high degree of mathematical precision. As such it is inconceivable that they could have come down to us from a ‘lower culture’. In this respect we do well to remember that ‘Astronomy’ went hand-in-hand with ‘Astrology’ for the ancient temple builders. Such technological innovations, as they inevitably degenerated, eventually led to the development of what we now know as mythology.

Thom’s astronomical and mathematical vision is currently being carried forward by Robin Heath, as more and more astrological landscape features are discovered in his native Wales…

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‘Something Feral…

… This way comes!’


Up high among the hilltops a lone figure braves the weather,

Feet braced against a howling gale and shoulders hunched together,

The bitter wind and rain have dogged his footsteps every mile,

The trademark headgear veils his face… “Not just a hat, it’s style.”

You’ll find him where the mysteries lie hidden in the heather,

A Little Grub behind him as they traipse the land together…

Within the English countryside, there’s something feral lurking,

He’s questing for the perfect pint (though says that he is working);

“It’s research, Wen!” he will protest, if challenged on his mission,

As yet another ‘Special’ adds to knowledge by attrition.

A thread like Ariadne’s winds through all his perorations,

So tread the maze beside him as he seeks for explanations;

For hidden in the riddle of the symbols and the sites,

The diligent explorer may just find a ray of Light.

For wisdom flowers at his feet with understanding growing;

Come walk the heart of Albion, and seek the dawn of Knowing…



The iconography of the ‘Beheading Game’ too, now appears to be full of double-blinds.

The head it seems in this respect is to be regarded as a microcosm for the body.

The mouth is analogous to the genitals, the nose, to the stomach and the forehead to the chest.

The spiritual heart referred to in the esoteric literature lies not in the chest but in the head.

The Chinese alchemists and mystics were more than well aware of this.

It is possible that they were among the first of the younger races to re-discover it.

Their ‘square inch dwelling in a square foot field’ is a precise enough designation though if we want to be circumspect we could add that this house, or dwelling, lies between the sun and the moon…

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‘Rooted in the Land’…


This is something which was very dear to Sue’s heart.

The ‘logo’ is still in sketch form because Sue, as well as re-editing our books for their second editions, was working on this project just before she passed…

The ‘concepts’ involved had emerged from our work together over the previous nine years of, as Sue so succinctly put it, ‘traipsing the land in search of adventure.’

As those of you who are familiar with our books will be aware, adventures aplenty were found and duly committed, in writing, to paper.

In magical parlance this process is known as ‘grounding’ and no lasting human development can be achieved without it.

In one famous soliloquy Sue compared us both to ‘little grubs’ who were burrowing themselves deep into the land of our birth.

This analogy too proved prescient, for ‘little grubs’ invariably transform into butterflies…

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Grateful Dead…


“I usually take it myself but I am too ill this year.”
I contemplate the Christmas Wreath: run my fingers delicately along the hard, hard edges of the holly leaves; test their points, caress the berries and ponder a possible name for the red, flouncy blooms…
“But of course, it will be a pleasure I shall make of it a ritual to be passed down in the annals of our family, as a tradition of old.”
“Really, I don’t know where you get such ideas, but you’ll need this too…”
“A dishcloth?”
“To wipe down the stone, there’s a bag here too, you can carry the new wreath down in it, take up the old one and when you’re done put the dirty cloth and the old wreath in the bag and bin them.”
“Marm, yes Marm!” I salute and click the heel of my boots together rather too professionally for an amateur soldier at arms.
“Go on with you…”


I was not joking about the ritual.
This shall be my circumambulation of the ages.
It is possible to ritualise anything.
The Orientals have a tea ritual the ideal of which is perfect service. Something we Occidentals could benefit from.
Impossible of course but attempting the impossible is good for the soul.
The key to ritual is intent.
Walk anywhere with correct intent and the earth discloses a sacredness it never lost.
I shall make this wreath a living gift to the dead.
I shall walk up and around Beacon Hill as if in a procession of the ancient ones.
My limbs will ache as I stride and my breath will come in small exploding balls of air.
Upon cresting the rise I shall sail down the other side pausing only to peruse such childhood avenues as present themselves to my vista.
Armoured thus I shall enter the Dead Centre…


I need not have worried.
In the event, there is not one step taken without an accompanying quiver of memory.
Memories: they fly at me from all angles incessantly.
At one point I throw back my head and laugh out loud…long and hard.
At another, my knees seem about to buckle with a surfeit of grief.
Thankfully the streets are divested of all but car clothed souls.


Every shop has changed.
The co-operative is an Indian restaurant.
The bakery is a hardware store.
From that corner there the sun sometimes sets large over the western shore.
Such places have always been sacred to me.
It irks immeasurably that I can no longer enter One-Nine-Four…
And there find Gramps in the kitchen, his shirt sleeves rolled, and Nan in her chair.
Before we knew better they used to say, that a stroke was a blow from the Faery…
I wonder if, and how, and when, Nan could have offended them.


‘Treasured memories…’
Mum’s choice of phrase in gold letters on black marble.
It is all for us, this upright stone in the earth, like the funeral service and the procession.
The dead have no mind for this when they have gone.
They are just as much here as anywhere and everywhere else.
We carry them with us step by care-worn step of the feet until we next meet.
Just like the living.

What would they say if they could still speak?…

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The Silver Bullet…



There have been a lot of tears this week. There were a few more today as I said a fond and final goodbye to an old and much loved friend…my car.

Now, you can laugh, you can call me as daft as you like, but she has, indeed, been a good friend. I have written of her before. Coming, as it did, after other, deeper hurt, it was perhaps the final straw. She has shared tears and triumphs, laughter, hope and despair. Through it all, her intimate interior has held me close. She has listened to me sing with infinite patience, responded to my touch and made me smile every single day. She has done things she was never designed to do, given birth to an entire garden from her tiny confines, transported wheelchairs, paintings and furniture. For a sports car she was exceptionally willing to work.

And that she was given with love made her doubly precious. Such gifts always are and carve a special niche in the heart. It is almost like a loving embrace from the giver every time your thoughts turn that way.

Even her demise was, in many ways, achieved with considerate grace. Not at speed on a motorway or in the middle of a roundabout in rush hour, no. Simply a final, vivid display of multiple warning lights in a car park that told me to turn off the ignition and step out of the car. I have seen this before and a little research confirmed my fears. A further turn of the key produced a loud crunching noise from the region of the alternator. She was no longer viable. She had made the decision for me, almost, it seemed, as a final act of kindness knowing I was so reluctant to let her go.

It had been on the cards for some time, but loving her as I have, I had put off the inevitable. We had a lot in common, you see. The once sleek exterior was past its best, the insides a little worn and shabby. Her original horsepower had faded, the horses long overdue retirement. She leaked, rattled, and occasionally bits dropped off. Even so…she was mine and in many ways she was my reflection…the one I wanted to see. Joyous.

But, being away from home when she lit up like a Christmas tree, my choices were minimal. She had to go. I needed to be able to get home.

Another car was found, younger, roomier, more practical. Pretty, too.. though the admission was grudging with the image of my old girl firmly in mind. The guy took the old lady as well, and I have a feeling  he may restore her in a way I could not, or use her salvaged parts to help keep other elderly ladies of her calibre alive for their adoring owners. I hope so. Still…. It was an idiot with tears streaming that finally drove away.

And Eric Clapton in the stereo was a big mistake.

There is a stubborn streak in us that resists change. Part of it, I think, is the fear of change itself, part the fear of disappointment in the new. Much is simply clinging to the comfort of the familiar and loved… and I should know better. I do know better. You can only love, truly love, without holding. You can cherish while it is there, but always have to be ready to set love free. I think then it can fly on its own wings, perhaps a gift to life itself. In that freedom many loves choose to stay and then we are doubly blessed. Some do not, some cannot, but loving freely, without holding or requiring, the love itself remains with us and is never lost. It is the gift of loving that matters.

So, in my resistance, I blew my nose and headed homewards in the newly collected car.

Traffic was really very heavy. It was a while before I noticed I wasn’t aching as I usually do when crawling along on the clutch for an hour or two. The car smelled funny. It took ages before I realised that was because it didn’t smell of hot oil. It felt rather dark without the glass roof… but funnily enough, although the rain was heaving down outside, it wasn’t dripping on me inside. Which was, I admitted, novel. As were the windscreen wipers that actually cleared the screen, the stereo that played without skipping and the fact I wasn’t steaming up from the amount of water seeping in…

Sitting in the traffic jam I noticed odd, unheard of things .. like a button that promises aircon. A rear wiper… heated screens…. A USB port… In a car? Hmmm… had the world moved while I was not looking?

There was, however, no tiger-like roar as I heaved the car into fifth. Except there was no heaving. Just a competent, rather elegant purr as she pounced on the road with feline grace.  And an expletive or two as I remembered the basic principles of power steering… it is a long time since I’d driven a car that didn’t have to be hoisted round corners at low speeds and that first roundabout took me by surprise.

The fact I couldn’t feel every bump was disconcerting. Evidently suspension, too, has made progress in the decade or so between the two cars’ inception. Then I felt I was going deaf, as I couldn’t hear the road noise, creaks and rattles… you could probably hold a conversation in the thing and actually hear each other!

Then the road cleared and I found a major difference, I had no warning of speed. My little old lady shook like a jelly when you approached the speed limit. This thing just keeps gliding forward without batting an eyelash. I reined the eager fillies under the bonnet back a little. We had to stop soon after… but she leapt away again so speedily even I was impressed.

So perhaps change has its benefits?

I shall not forget my old girl and the fun we shared, over the best part of a 100.000 miles…nor will this younger, fitter model oust her from her place in my affections. But perhaps it can carve its own place there… a new place?

Yes, I have a feeling the pussy cat and I are going to become very good friends 🙂



Don, our wide eyed adventurer from the Field-of-Sheaves along with Wen, his Wild-Haired accomplice, has been lured into the somewhat murky depths of religious symbolism and iconography.

Neither of them really knows what they are doing there, nor how to get out!

The hawks appear to know more than they do and the ravens too, as well as the sparrows.

The trouble is, they are all talking a different language, and it is not bird-song!

But where does the allegedly evil Count Dashwood fit in and will Anu, the human-eyed dog ever stop barking at hot-air balloons?

Only time and another jaunt in a realm not too far away from your world will tell…


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Over and Out…

For those of you who missed it, and apparently many did, here is a copy of my final post for SE. The website is currently being ‘upgraded’ so this is not at present viewable on there…

idiots abroad

Ilkley Moor 2014, with Sue and Steve.


After over ten years with SE

much of that span as a Director

it is time for me to step aside.


Lands of Exile


The School is moving ever deeper

into cyber-space and as a ‘nature-boy’

is no longer for me.


Leaf and Flame


It’s been fun…


The Black Shade of Beeley


Oh, so much fun…


Nuances of Nicoll


And I’ve learnt a lot…


Sheila Chadwick


Met new friends… But also ‘lost’ a few.


Triad of Albion


If you listen very closely…

You’ll hear the call of Albion on the breeze…


Coyote Tales


I’ll still be around… Here… And Here…


Spendyke and Cashelkeep


And I will have no lack of things to do…


Stuart France


Stuart x

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Kirk to Kirk…

Avebury SE weekend 522

We were greeted by the sight of yet another jackdaw, studiously ignoring the offended pigeon whose headstone it had invaded. There was so much in the body language of these two that any further attempt to understand their various languages would have been superfluous.

Glaston2 088

You and your group are within the confines of one of the greatest and most beautiful stone circles in England. The weather has settled, the grass is beginning to dry and the whole afternoon stretches before you. What do you do? It’s obvious. You take them to the church instead.

Avebury SE weekend 527

I know, that doesn’t sound like the most logical move, but there were good reasons. First, it meant we had to walk past the Henge Shop in Avebury, and as anyone knows, that isn’t possible. You have to go in. Because whether you love books, crystals or crafts, you are going to find something there… I found a lovely double-headed axe pendant, but was dissuaded from acquiring it as a gift, settling instead for a green man… just as appropriate, if less pointed. We also acquired the first few items for next year’s workshop, much to the discomfiture of their intended ‘victim’. But more of that anon…

Avebury SE weekend 530

The other reason for going straight to the church is that we know Avebury, know its size, scope and beauty… know how it makes you feel… and knew very well that we would not get to the church if we didn’t go there first. And it is well worth a visit.

Avebury SE weekend 561

The parish church of St James goes back to the last years of Anglo-Saxon Britain. Its original dedication seems to have been to All Saints. I have to wonder if they were calling in every bit of help they could get in this ancient pagan landscape. Parts of the nave were built around 1000AD or earlier and though much altered by the Norman conquerors and subsequent generations, the little church exudes antiquity. In a strange way it feels older than the stones of the circle… they are alive with a timeless sense of relevance to our human condition while the church is pinned within time by the overlay of historical context and dogma. It cannot, in any way, reach back more than two thousand years, being a Christian place of worship. Yet the traces of man have been found here, from flint tools to the great henge and circles, spanning a period of at least 9,000 years. On such a scale linear time ceases to have any relevance at all… it is simply the story of human life itself.

Avebury SE weekend 580

The doorway of the church is typically Norman, being added when the original Anglo-Saxon church was altered and the aisles added. In the 13th C the chancel was rebuilt and later remodelled. Yet overall, the outer normality of the building contains an ancient heart. In the north aisle, hidden behind a screen, is the parish chest, used to contain the records. On the floor beside the little staircase that leads up to the rood loft is a small patch of medieval floor tiles, bordered in later tiles.

Avebury SE weekend 560

The rood screen and loft are unusual as few early examples survive in such a complete state. It dates back to the 15thC and would originally have held the Great Rood, that large crucifix that looked over the congregation. During the Reformation, the Rood would have had to be destroyed. In 1561, Elizabeth I, issued further orders, and it is probably at this time that the screen was taken down. Most were destroyed or their timbers re-used. This one, for some reason, was hidden; immured behind a false wall in the chancel, and there it remained, forgotten, until it was rediscovered in 1810. The screen was reinstalled and later the painted panels were added, showing the apostles.

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Treasures abound in this tiny church, from the 17th century bell timbers, to the stained glass. One of my personal favourites is the small lancet of the Madonna and Child, with a tree running above and below whose entwined branches mirror the older symbolism of the twin serpents, the polarity of man and the weaving of the energy lines across the landscape.

Avebury SE weekend 555

But the font is the best… it really is quite spectacular. The font itself is probably Saxon and therefore over a thousand years old. The carving on the sides appears to have been added around 1120AD. Interpretations vary, though it is thought to show the Christ treading on the heads of two serpents or dragons. To me it looks more as if they are biting his feet. The addition of the crozier means that rather than Jesus, it could be a bishop. The alternative theory is that there was a misinterpretation by the artist who added the crozier anyway. The font is still in use… and thus the tradition of baptism here has deep roots.

Avebury SE weekend 549

We had been asked to show how we explore the churches, so while I did the detailed and methodical tour with the camera, my counterpart took up the position of receptivity on a pew in the choir. Of the two, his method is closer to the truth of how we explore. The eye, like the lens, can only see a fraction of the reality that is expressed in stone, wood and glass. What they perceive informs knowledge, what simply being there and open to the spirit of the place can bring is a growing understanding that both supersedes and illuminates knowledge.

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We left the little church, with its laughing lion, hidden behind the rood screen and passed the gates to the Manor and its dovecote, passed the little pond, then stopped for refuelling on brioche and chocolate rolls. We were going to need that… just yards away stood the gate to the Great Circle of Avebury…

Avebury SE weekend 575


Home. It is an evocative word. The images it conjures are different for each of us, yet few other words touch heart and mind in quite the same way. Birth and death, laughter and love, longing, fear and aspiration… the cycle of human life plays out within its walls. For many, there is another ‘home’ beyond the physical confines of this world. That too may seem different for each of us and the path to its threshold is shaped by dreams.

Few places illustrate this as clearly as Castlerigg, an ancient stone circle ringed by mountains and one of the most spectacular sites in the country. The people who have walked this world before us have left traces of their lives and belief, written in stone upon the landscape. From church to stone circle, castle to cavern, finding the way home has always been intimately linked with the land.

Not far from Castlerigg, is Long Meg and her Daughters…

Almost everyone knows of Avebury, the great stone circle within which a village was built. A World Heritage site and one of the most incredible sacred complexes of prehistory, it is justly famous for its beauty and mystery. The site attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year but while most simply walk in awe amongst the majestic standing stones of the Circle and Avenue, there is far more to discover for those who are willing to walk the paths less travelled.

Not far from Avebury, is Stonehenge…

Circle to Circle


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