Into Spirit…

Sue Vincent

14th September 1958 – 29th March 2021

R.I.P

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Through new eyes…

the triumph of horsenden 065***

A weekend exploring the landscape in my local area draws to a close in a few minutes. My friend is in bed, I sit here glowing pink because I caught the sun today. It was glorious weather and we have spent the day on the Chiltern hills.

***

hill of vision 037***

It has been one of those times when, were I to tell you all about it, it would seem very simple. We have walked a lot, talked even more, laughed and shared ideas. Yet I have, for the first time in all the years I have been living here, truly opened my eyes and, more importantly, my heart to the real beauty of the local landscape.

***

hill of vision 036***

I have been thinking about it today a fair bit. When we first moved to the area, the family explored together, noting just how pretty the place is… a quintessential English landscape and undeniably lovely. Yet it never touched me deeply. I suppose I was homesick for the high and wild places and all I had left behind. There were many lovely places I noticed over the years, but few I actually got round to exploring once the exigencies of life took over.

***

hill of vision 012***

However, over the past few weeks I have been able to share with friends this landscape I know so well, yet have truly known so little. And that was what set me thinking. What made the difference? The sharing, I think, for starters. My friend’s delight in the green glory made me aware of what I was seeing through his eyes and allowed me to see it afresh with my own.

***

the triumph of horsenden 019***

I have known about the beauty, I have little favourite pockets of it that I visit, yet today I climbed hills I have seen but not stood upon before, found ancient places I barely knew existed, and learned to appreciate their unique beauty. In seeking out these places to share, I saw them. In making that heart to heart connection with the land itself, it seems to have opened up its arms, with a ‘well, finally….’

***

the triumph of horsenden 049

***

With fresh eyes I have images of beauty to take into the night, gifts given by the land and the sun, not captured on the camera, but seen for the first time through the lens of the heart.

***

 

THE INITIATE

Book One of the Triad of Albion

Stuart France & Sue Vincent

The Initiate is the story of a journey beyond the realms of our accustomed normality.

It is a true story told in a fictional manner. In just such a way did the Bards of old hide in the legends and deeds of folk heroes, those deeper truths for those ‘with eyes to see and ears to hear’.

Don and Wen, two founding members of a new Esoteric School, meet to explore an ancient sacred site, as a prelude to the School’s opening event. The new School is to be based upon a nine-fold system and operate under the aegis of the Horus Hawk.

The trip does not unfold as planned.

Instead, Don and Wen, guided by the birds, find themselves embarking upon a journey that will lead them through a maze of spiritual symbolism, to magical mysteries and the shadowy figure of the Ninth Knight.

As the veils thin and waver, time shifts and the present is peopled with shadowy figures of the past, weaving their tales through a quest for understanding and opening wide the doors of perception…

Now available via Amazon worldwide.

Paperback UK     Kindle UK    Paperback Amazon.com    Kindle Amazon.com

 

Posted in Life, Love and Laughter, Photography, Spirituality, The Silent Eye | Tagged , , , , , | 15 Comments

Cow…

cow

***

Protected and serene, the stream of life flows from her breast,

Within her sheltered warmth her starry children safely rest.

Her lowly form oft overlooked, conceals the Mother’s crown

In heaven’s vault the arc of stars her diadem and gown.

Her gift is freely given, from her nature takes its course,

And through her boundless nourishment we drink from Nature’s source.

***

Green man cover finalfront*

Available on Amazon worldwide

in Paperback and for Kindle.

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Wolf…

 wolf 002

***

Run wild, run free and know the touch of wind upon your back

Yet freedom’s totem knows it has a home within the pack.

Part of a greater life, yet still at ease alone, he stands

And casts a solid shadow on the dark and lonely lands.

He knows the old and learns the new to walk a pathway free,

And listens to the inner voice that whispers how to Be.

***

Green man cover finalfront*

Available on Amazon worldwide

in Paperback and for Kindle.

Posted in albion, Art, Avalon, Blogging, Don and Wen, Folk Tale | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Hare…

 

hare 001 ***

Most subtle of the shifting forms and yet most constant too

Whose moonlit transformation cannot change the heart that’s true.

He hearkens to each season’s turn and reads the twilight air

And listens to the inner song that knows both foul and fair.

Between two worlds he journeys and in both he can be seen

In adoration of the moon yet always clothed in green.

***

Green man cover finalfront*

Available on Amazon worldwide

in Paperback and for Kindle.

Posted in albion, Art, Books, Don and Wen, Folk Tale, Mythology | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Stag…

stag

***

A silent power vigilant beneath the forest bough,

No thought of past or future holds thine eye… only the Now.

Part of an endless cycle of the life and death of earth

Within the kernel of each death the springtime seeds of birth.

When grace and strength and purity have crowned thee for the good,

Stand proud and tall in majesty, as master of the wood.

***

Green man cover finalfront*

Available on Amazon worldwide

in Paperback and for Kindle.

Posted in albion, Art, Avalon, Don and Wen, Folk Tale, Living Lore, Merlin, Mythology | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Giants Everywhere…

County Down, Friday, 17th June, 2022…

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***

There are sections of the texts which we have been considering

that relate stories which are incredibly ancient.

***

***

These ancient tracts make no bones

whatsoever about there being giants everywhere,

and they are not just present in the ranks of the Fomorians…

Continue reading at France&Vincent

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Unexpected gems

And day four to finish –

***

Stained glass pelican

Stained glass pelican

The final day of my friend’s visit dawned grey and cold. In spite of another late night we were up about dawn and a couple of coffees later we were out again. I had mentioned a lovely little place and it seemed right to have a wander there.

Of course, we detoured several times, wandering through the ancient village of Aldbury and through the woods at Ashridge. It holds a special place in my heart that wood. The huge ancient tree at the top of Tom’s Hill always gets a silent greeting.

There are deer at Ashridge. Did we see one? Even though one always sees deer there? No. Not a deer in sight. Then at the far end of the wood, where the bluebells will be at their thickest soon,  something caught my eye. Not just a deer, but a herd of them. They walked deeper into the trees, startled by the car as I pulled to a halt and grabbed the camera.

***

Deer in the woods

Deer in the woods

We left them in peace a few moments later and emerged from the trees opposite Dunstable downs, hoping to see the chalk cut figure  there, the Whipsnade lion. The weather, however, made that nigh impossible. The white of chalk against snow is not ideal. It is much younger than the two figures we had already seen. A few thousand years younger than the White Horse at Uffington, but it seemed an appropriate end to the visit, especially as the remaining walkable Ridgeway ends here at Ivinghoe Beacon. The Beacon is the end of the Chiltern hills, and is marked by neolithic barrows too, as were our previous stops.. Of course, the weather was not good for photographs, but it had to be done after the past two days.

Even with snow on the ground, signs of springtime were all around. Nettles are growing fresh green shoots. Catkins dangle from the trees and the first fronds of leaves will soon open. In another few weeks the place will be vivid green and vibrant with life.

***

Ivinghoe beacon

Ivinghoe beacon

Next stop was a little church you would not know was there, at the end of a long lane, set among the fields. As churches go in this area it is a fairly modern one, being a mere 700 years old. Just a baby, really. Yet you open the door on a riot of colour. The stained glass of the windows is jewel coloured and the entire wall at the altar end is a fabulously painted mural, fronted by mosaics. The place glows with colour and unexpected gems of art and craft spanning the centuries. It is one of the reasons I love exploring these old places. Part of the community, they carry within their fabric the history of real people. They have earned their place in the landscape, both physical and social. Regardless of one’s own faith, to visit a village church is to open a window into the past in a far more intimate way than in the hands-off, guarded museums and galleries.

***

Unexpected art

Unexpected art

We spent a while exploring the symbolism and artistry this tiny ancient building contained and I have a lot of research to do… if I ever get time. I’d love to know who carved the painted figures here.

***

Gaddesdon church

Gaddesdon church

We went into Berkhamsted next. Sadly the road we were going to take was closed so I could not show my friend the magnificence of Ashridge House. On the other hand, there was coffee and panettone in the town… and of course, we had to visit the incongruous totem pole beside the canal, and glance at the ruins of the Norman castle, with its massive earthworks.

***

Bekhamsted Castle ruins

Berkhamsted Castle ruins

Sadly, all things end, and it was time to say a temporary goodbye at the station. We have talked, laughed, walked, and eaten way too much. There may even have been wine involved. But three days of working on the hoof.. or on the wing… were over and we were both stuffed full of food for thought and creative possibilities.

We had discussed some deep and interesting questions, created many new avenues to explore in thought and I enjoyed the days immensely. So much of what was achieved will have to be mulled over, incubated and hatched before the ideas take flight and tonight I feel like a limp but happy rag. Sometimes it seems, taking time out to simply enjoy time with a friend is the most productive thing we can do.

***

Panel from triptych

Panel from triptych

***

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Giant’s Ring…

County Down, Friday, 17th June, 2022…

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***

No one views the biblical story

of David and Goliath

with anything other than complete veracity.

***

***

Yet the biblical time frame

is nothing if not sketchy…

Continue reading at France&Vincent

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The ancient land…

May as well do day two, then –

***

The White Horse of Uffington

The White Horse of Uffington

An evening spent over good food and wine and deep conversation is not conducive to early mornings. Nevertheless, in spite of the 3am bedtime, I was up early to find my friend already downstairs being taught to play fetch again by Ani.

Two cups of coffee later and we were off bright and early towards Uffington. An accidental ‘wrong’ turn and we were, an hour later, at the foot of Dragon Hill in the mist. What would you have us do? We got out and climbed.

The area is all chalk. Along the edge of the hills runs the Ridgeway, an ancient route still in daily use for over 5000 years. Dotted along the Ridgeway are a great number of ancient sites. Among the strangest and most breath-taking is the sacred landscape of Uffington.

***

uffington and rollright 008***

From the top of Dragon hill, a natural chalk pyramid enhanced and shaped by man, one has a reasonable view of the landscape. The flat topped hill, says the legend, is where St George slew the Dragon, and the bare patch on its summit is where the beasts blood was spilled.  To the west of this amphitheatre is a strangely shaped platform.. and it is only from these two vantage points one catches a decent glimpse of the main and most magical ancient construction. The White Horse.

Enshrouded in an early mist, we stood and looked at this very strange landscape that seems completely out of place among the gentle hills here. The ritual mound, the deep scar of the manger, a valley that seems oddly out of place, the terraces leading up the hill.. and the steep slope that leads to the Horse. If indeed it is a horse. Strangely, it can only truly be seen from the air, yet it dates back over 5000 years.

Deep trenches filled with chalk were once cut into the summit of the slope to create the creature, some 374 feet long. The picture is from Wikipedia because of the weather, though the morning was so eerie we could almost have flown.

We climbed the hill and stood beside the Horse. It is so vast that even close up one cannot see or photograph it properly. And the mists were rolling in rapidly. There is a sense of the continuity of time standing beside something that looks so sleek and modern and seeing it stretch back so far into history. The mist came in and blanketed the area as we stood in magical way. Two crows stood and watched us, then took flight… and a buzzard, wheeling in the air dived on one of them.

A few moments later we were treated to a display of aerial splendour from two buzzards, gliding silently and playfighting in the air. I made some comment about the hawk of the morning chasing away the carrion crows.. and as I did so a skylark rose before us, hanging in the mist and singing its magic to us. Quite extraordinary,, and it started a stream of birds that followed us all day in a most unusual fashion.

I noticed that the platform to the west of Dragon hill seemed to mirror the shape of the head of the dragon. Had the valley held water once upon a time, there would have been three versions of the world there, between the hills, the figure and the reflection. I imagined the horse outlined in torches in the night… for some reason this felt ‘right’. It was a morning when imagination had free rein.

***

uffington and rollright 021***

We ascended the hill, passing the lone fairy tree, to the hill fort, a huge enclosure on top of the hill. The air sparkled with stars just on the edges of vision, in spite of the heavy fog. The crows followed us as and it felt almost as if we had crossed into another world.  We discussed the sheer magnitude of the engineering involved in these massive earthworks. We compared them to the building of these huge ritual landscapes to medieval cathedrals, surrounded by hovels and rudimentary living, yet these edifices were erected in all their grandeur because faith impelled it. That these structures were connected is evident… they are all far too big to hold little meaning, given the work involved in their construction.

We wondered why they had chosen the exposed and waterless hill top for the ‘fort’. Perhaps it was not simply a defensive thing. On a morning like today as we were cut off from the world by mists and had only the horizonless sky above us, we thought perhaps that was heir reason… to be closer to their gods and held in their embrace.

Back to the car and a short hop to a car park, where the buzzards came down so low we could see the sheer scale and the markings on the wings. Incredible. There are some things that just cannot be photographed.With robins, sparrows and chaffinches seeming to lead us every step, we walked the couple of miles along the ancient Ridgeway to Wayland’s Smithy next. It is an old chambered burial of the same era, still beautiful and tranquil within its ring of trees.

***

Wayland's Smithy

Wayland’s Smithy

Stepping into this enclosure is like stepping out of time. The legends are only a small part of the story. The atmosphere is beautiful. We stayed a while here, watched by a blackbird, we had seemed to be escorted by birds all morning.  We left silver for Wayland as tradition demands, though we had no horse to be shod. There were faces in the great slabs of rock and we wondered if these were natural or by design. Our conclusion was that it didn’t matter. Maybe these stones had been chosen for their inclusion of the images of life, perhaps just to show that life and death are not separate but include each other always.

***

Face in the stones

Face in the stones

Dreaming in the moment I saw a procession of people visiting their dead, the ancestors, as seems to have been the norm in those days, wearing the stone of the entrance, placing one hand on the stone in salute as they passed.

***

Entrance to the chamber

Entrance to the chamber

In spite of the cold there seemed to be a visible heat haze rising from the mound, and standing atop it we realised that this too echoed the shape of the Horse’s head. A reflection of a fourth world, perhaps. As we stood and looked at the stones from the centre, a feather fluttered down from an empty sky and landed almost at my feet. You could feel the old ones in the land.

***

The watcher

The watcher

We retraced our steps, meeting an entirely appropriate white horse on the way back to the car as we departed in search of lunch. So it was no surprise that we stopped at the White Horse pub for the most delicious luncheon.

***

Lunch at the White Horse

Lunch at the White Horse

I decided to take my friend to the Rollright stones on the way home… not too much of a detour. But the time we got there we had been treated to aerial dressage by a pair of crows, seen hawks into double figures, and had one quite literally rise from the ground beside us and fly within feet of our faces. Really most unusual.

***

The Ridgeway

The Ridgeway

The Rollrights are old and gnarled, pock marked and lichen covered. We said hello to the solitary King stone first, then down to the chambered cairn site of the Whispering Knights before visiting the circle itself.

***

Whispering Knights

Whispering Knights

My friend explored the stone circle and I took the camera to the sighting stone in one of the huge stones. Sure enough, sighting through it, it aligns perfectly with the Knights.

***

Through the sight hole to the Knights

Through the sight hole to the Knights

We have an incredibly rich ancient heritage in this small country of ours. It seemed entirely appropriate somehow that we should stand within it and touch our roots in the past on this vernal equinox.

Then home, dinner and another evening of deep talking over the wine. Which is why I sit here in the early hours typing. Altogether a magical day.

*****

THE INITIATE

Book One of the Triad of Albion

Stuart France & Sue Vincent

The Initiate is the story of a journey beyond the realms of our accustomed normality.

It is a true story told in a fictional manner. In just such a way did the Bards of old hide in the legends and deeds of folk heroes, those deeper truths for those ‘with eyes to see and ears to hear’.

Don and Wen, two founding members of a new Esoteric School, meet to explore an ancient sacred site, as a prelude to the School’s opening event. The new School is to be based upon a nine-fold system and operate under the aegis of the Horus Hawk.

The trip does not unfold as planned.

Instead, Don and Wen, guided by the birds, find themselves embarking upon a journey that will lead them through a maze of spiritual symbolism, to magical mysteries and the shadowy figure of the Ninth Knight.

As the veils thin and waver, time shifts and the present is peopled with shadowy figures of the past, weaving their tales through a quest for understanding and opening wide the doors of perception…

Now available via Amazon worldwide.

Paperback UK     Kindle UK    Paperback Amazon.com    Kindle Amazon.com

 

Posted in Life, Love and Laughter, Spirituality | Tagged , , | 40 Comments

The Twins of Macha…

County Armagh, Friday, 17th June 2022…

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***

For one of the most important sites in the country

there was not very much to see.

*

It was also raining quite heavily

so any shots taken were infested

with rain-drops masquerading as orbs.

*

It was nevertheless apparent

that there is something very fine

and rarefied about the place.

*

It is just difficult to say, precisely,

what that something is…

Continue reading at France&Vincent

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