There were buzzards over the hillfort at Great Hucklow. We watched them soar as we met our companion for lunch and a few hours working on things for the School before the monthly meeting. Our students are worldwide, but a core group of us come together each month to share an evening exploring the concepts we study, an odd glass of wine and just enjoying the company of friends. These are also the days when the three of us converge upon a given spot and usually walk, talk and prepare the next event or discuss the elements included in our correspondence course. Great Hucklow is, of course, a special place for the School and it is in this tiny Derbyshire village that we hold our annual workshop in April.
We had already spent a busy morning at our ‘castle’ so lunch was welcome by the time we all met. Discussing ancient Egyptian symbolism for April, the psychological ramifications of the Enneagram for the lessons and esoteric Christianity for the Glastonbury talk in December, while eating fish and chips in a 17th century inn is about par for the course… that little village has seen odder things over the years and we feel at home there.
From Great Hucklow we moved a little closer to the venue for the evening, calling at Castleton, a small town famous for the veins of blue john stone that is found in the caverns there. To us it is a place of watchful jackdaws and it was here we captured the cover picture for the new book and found that one of the pubs sells Stowfords… We revisited the church of St Edmund, the martyred Saxon king, which nestles in the centre of the town beneath the ruins of Peveril Castle. The Norman keep is built from the local stone and the similarities to our illusory castle of the morning were striking at this distance, yet this was no faery construction or geological feature but a place that had played a huge part in the history of the area.There is some lovely stained glass, including a portrayal of St Edmund and Dorcas, as well as the Faith, Hope and Charity window which echoed the text of Corinthians in the open Bible at Church Broughton on my way north. The church itself had served the soldiers of the Keep and traces of the original building remain, mingled with the evolution of both town and church and echoing a changing world. The old corpse road that crosses the hills leads to the church door and we felt as if we were joining the unceasing flow of human history as we stepped inside. The church is built on a slight mound, as are so many of these ancient places of worship. Two of us had visited the place before and shared what we had found.
There are traces of medieval wall paintings that have recently been uncovered and which will demand careful conservation. It is exciting to see these small patches of colour and you cannot help wondering what lies beneath the more recent plaster, waiting to be brought to light. Another painting was featured on the information boards about St Edmund’s story and the three of us pored over the possible meaning of the symbolism for some time. There is much to learn from legends and from the artistic representation of a story.
Mind you, even in this realm of artistic license there is room for both error and humour. In a glass case near the Norman chancel arch are examples of some unusual Bibles. I have mentioned before the Breeches Bible from 1579 where a puritanical streak required Adam and Eve to clothe themselves with some decency. Whittingham, Gilby, and Sampson: translated Genesis 3:7 as “and they sowed figge-tree leaves together, and made themselves breeches.” There is also a copy of the infamous “Vinegar Bible”, from 1717: J. Baskett, Clarendon Press set the chapter heading for Luke 20 as “The Parable of the Vinegar” instead of “The Parable of the Vineyard.” Apparently the entire publication is dotted with errata… a thought which gives me some comfort as I head back to the editing of Dark Sage…
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