We followed the stone pavement. To quote one of the characters from Sword of Destiny, it looks “like a gurt, ‘ungry worm” as it snakes across the moors. Stone or not, it is out of place, though undoubtedly safer than the rotting duckboards that once crossed the sphagnum moss here. It does make the place accessible and does protect against erosion, but even so. It feels ‘wrong’… out of touch with the soul of the moor. There are some things where any compromise will be less than perfect. Even here, miles from nowhere it seems as you climb above Lanshaw Delves, the world overlays nature to protect it from itself. It seems both entirely pertinent given the nature of the system we study with the School, and a little ridiculous when we realise that we too do the same thing within our own personalities. Yet, as a symbolic illustration, it is perfect and we are here, after all, to explore how and why these relationships between our inner and outer selves are built.We pass the Lanshaw Lad, an old boundary stone, and climb the final rise that will take us to the Twelve Apostles stone circle which is our destination. There suddenly seem to be people about. It is, of course, a paved way and popular with walkers. Spotting a couple of interesting stones and what seems to be the trace of an old highway, we wait a while until the circle is clear. Looking back towards the Thimblestones there is movement in the sky… four hawks wheeling! At one point in a perfect circle. The camera is too slow and all I capture are the motes of darkness against the clouds, just enough to show they were really there. But then, that is more than we need. Their presence is enough.We introduced our companions to the stones of the circle and spent some time in quiet contemplation, taking eternity into the moment. White shawled to signify that this was a time out of time we shared the ancient sanctity of the place, a circle that marks a point between the lands of the living and the dead… a place where the journey is honoured. We keep no secrets in the School, our work is as open to the winds as that circle, but although from respect we do not broadcast all the details, nor do we hide them. Enough to say that we shared the moment and the winds responded. We shared bread and wine and the stones drank with us. We shared laughter and the grouse flew up and echoed it. We shared a good bit more than that apparently, collecting a sizeable congregation of silent onlookers… I had my back to the west and did not see as I led the simple rite… but that was fine too. Goodness knows what they must have thought! But then, they watched with quiet respect and we are not a closed order operating in secrecy; we seek to bring the spiritual life to life and into the world. Where else, after all, can it be lived?
We stood, smiling, as the moment drew to a close, hand in hand around the centre, with arms and bodies forming a natural crown, jewelled with smiles. A crown of Fools, perhaps and I felt blessed to stand amongst them. “Come on, let’s stop the world,” laughed my colleague… and voices rang out from the centre of a circle radiating warmth as they sang ‘happy birthday’ for me, laughing… and sent out joy across the land.