Even from this distance some two hundred yards away I can feel the aura of the place. A deep calm has descended as we move to the edge of the grove and approach the information board. For once the board proves quite informative giving the history of the current construction with the shift from central to frontal burials. This turns out to be pivotal to our discoveries here. Our feathered friends usher us into the sacred precinct with a medley of tweets and whistles and the flurry and whirr of wings which is a fitting enough introduction to the sanctuary that is Wayland’s.
The key to any of these sacred sites is to be present without being there. Or to put it another way the key is to open your self up and then get out of the way. If you cannot do any of that then listen and observe. It really is the only way to learn. It is hard I know. The people who built these places knew stuff that we do not, like how to galvanise, focus and involve a whole community year after year with the sole intention of manifesting a construction that many of them would never see completed. Granted, we know things that they did not but like it or not the jury is still out on the value of much of our stuff. The genius of their constructions is palpable if you will only observe and listen.
There are a number of traditions associated with Wayland’s and you would have to surmise that they must all be fairly late given that for most of ‘historical’ time these sites have been avoided out of fear, dismissed with disdain, or destroyed through outright animosity. The practicalities of secular and religious life have also taken their toll with both farmer and priest re-utilising many stones for their respective concerns… these being for the most part their sanctuaries and their boundary walls! There is nothing fearful or insecure about Wayland’s despite it being a tomb. It has a deeply vital and lovingly joyous feel to it.
The most famous tradition states simply that silver must be left for Wayland with which your ‘horse will be re-shod’. I clutch my symbolic silver, my shiny coins which bear images of the star signs, unusual and not that easy to come by so there will be both effort of thought and monetary sacrifice in my offering, and more than a little guidance too since the coin catalogue from whence they were purchased was delivered unordered and quite unexpectedly at my address. As I am a ‘cuspic’ Goat and Water bearer I want to leave two coins if I leave anything at all but I will need something before I do that even though I am not yet sure precisely what that something is…
“I know now.”
“What do you now know?”
“I know that I need to see the Silver-Smith of Souls before I leave my coins.”
“You want to see Wayland?”
“Yes, that’s what I’ve come for; I’ve come to see Wayland.”
“That’s not going to be easy.”
“Is this, or is this not, Wayland’s Smithy … Wen?”
Now we are here I cannot help feeling a little anti-climactic… The stones, although impressive, seem oddly flat and uninteresting. I notice that a number of coins have been wedged into some of the ‘blow holes’ of the stones and that makes me smile. The entrance to the tomb, though, tugs at me and then draws me in. Wen follows a little way behind and then insists on the obligatory photograph… you have to laugh really, talk about megalithic tourists… Wen points out that there is a heat haze rising from the stones which of course is impossible. Everyone knows that in weather like this stones are cold. Impossible or not the heat haze is there. It continues rising before my eyes plain as, well…a heat haze.
“That’s amazing, do you see anything else?”
“Back-wards… Back-wards… Back-wards…”
Wen steps forward to the entrance and places her hand in the hollow of one of the side stones.
“This was left open,” she says indicating the passage way. “The people placed their hands here before entering in order to commune. The floor, it was much lower then and they would have had to reach up. It was sort of a salute, a gestural key if you like…
“Back-wards… Back-wards… Back-wards…”
I am not really hearing Wen’s voice anymore. It does not sound like her at all. In fact it starts to sound like an imperative and so I instinctively turn my head and glance backwards over my shoulder and then break the spell which is building with Wen’s chant by laughing out loud.
Wayland had been standing behind and next to me the whole time…Big as a horse, breathing down my neck!
“Well, now I’ve found Wayland. I feel I ought to leave my silver.” I grin.
Wen laughs too and seems quite pleased, as if I’ve passed some sort of test,
“I’ve already left mine,” she says with a twinkle.
“Did you know he was there all along?”
“I have been here before, remember.”
I tread the Water Bearer into the base of the stone and then, on a whim, head out to the middle of the barrow. I am trying to gauge the location of the central burial and I start to wish I had possessed the foresight to bring my pendulum. It is a real oversight. But then something tells me to stop and I decide I do not really need it anyway.
In goes the Goat and I suddenly feel a sense of real burden leaving me. I turn around to see what Wen is up to… and gasp.
“Wen, Wen, quick, bring the camera, quick, can you see it look, LOOK! The stone to the right of Wayland…look at the stone… it’s, it’s some sort of… I don’t know…it looks like…it looks like a…like an Aztec Queen…or something…I don’t know… can you see it?”
“I can see it… I can see it…” Wen is as excited as I am and is breathlessly snapping away.
The photo-shoot complete we walk back together towards the portal stones as a feather drifts down through the air and lands at Wen’s feet. We look instinctively to the sky in unison. There is no bird to be seen flying overhead. We both start to giggle.
“If you had been walking a little quicker that feather would have landed in your hair!”
Extract from The Initiate
The First book of the Triad of Albion
by Sue Vincent & Stuart France
Available via Amazon.com, Amazon UK and worldwide