Rooted in the Land – Within the Circle

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The Twelve Apostles looked a little forlorn in the noon light. They seem not to be made for clarity, but for the mists that encircle them at dawn. We did have the moor to ourselves though, or so it seemed… we knew it wouldn’t last. Especially here, at the most conventional-looking of the circles on the moor.Β  There are always people walking the ancient track, no matter what the time or the weather. It is one of the most visited… and damaged… prehistoric sites in the area. Not only have the original 20 or so stones been reduced to 12 and the central mound levelled, but the surrounding embankment has been almost worn away by passing feet. I have to wonder what it would have been called in a pre-Christian era, before the stones were reduced in number and before the damage took place. Even so, the simple fact that it is used still, keeps it ‘alive’… and used by those of such differing views, yet sharing a central respect for the world, that it seems less a designated place of worship for any one belief and more an empty vessel, open to the sky and the light, waiting to be filled.

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For us it was to be a place of healing, and we sat in meditation while two of our number shared what they give while our minds became travellers on forgotten pathways. The long waiting, eyes closed, was punctuated by the voice of a child and his father… quiet, respectful and interested, yet I was conscious that while we worked, the circle was not a place others would come. When I opened my eyes and turned, it was to see St Christopher standing before me. You see strange things when you work thus, and for a moment I was taken aback… the very tall, white haired figure holding a staff and carrying a sweet-faced boy child on his back was unexpected. He watched from a distance and, against the backdrop of the iron sky, seemed a surreal figure.

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It was only for a moment, but I had to wonder how the reality is woven and how much of what we see as real is not of the reality we think we know. I spoke to the man, inviting him into the circle and, if he wished, to share a final rite as we broke bread and wine together, with blessing and gratitudeΒ  for these moments shared and pouring the last drops of wine and the final crumbs for the old gods and genius loci who are, after all, but facets of the nameless One that wears so many names across space and time.

SE2015 ilkley (1)Then it was time to leave, following the path to cross Backstone Beck, pausing at the poet’s rest to share thoughts and readings, greeting the ancient stones of Backstone Circle and pausing to contemplate, once again, the eroded carvings made by our ancestors and left for us to attempt to decode. A last descent by the Cow and Calf, a last glimpse of Giant Rombald’s profile as we looked up to the Pancake Stone… then back to the hotel for coffee and farewells… for a little while. It had been a wonderful weekend once again. For me, there would soon be the poignant parting from the moors… but, at least we were not heading south again… not yet….

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About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
This entry was posted in Ancient sites, History, Photography, Rooted in the Land, Sacred sites, The Silent Eye and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Rooted in the Land – Within the Circle

  1. zdunno03 says:

    A beautiful piece of writing.


  2. TamrahJo says:

    I like to think that with kindred hearts and intents, time and history collapse, into only ‘now’ – and those who are open to it, see the multiple layers – so many places in the world, that keep history alive best they can, provide local flavor and business opportunities, yet by serving local inhabitants and preserving the story, they are so oft visited, their historical form fades away – through time, wear, tear, slow destruction – from vehicle travel, footsteps, breath, fingertip acid…never an easy answer, it seems….:)


    • Sue Vincent says:

      Stonehenge is just such a place. I visited it… naked of protection… on several occasions as a girl. Just us, the stones and the landscape. Now it is preserved… ringed… protected… and overwhelmed by millions of tourists. Yet, you can still feel it… there is a sense of history being a man made veneer to hold something it knows but cannot quite grasp as the centuries coalesce into a single point of understanding. It is a difficult job to draw that fine line between protecting and silencing these places.

      Liked by 1 person

      • TamrahJo says:

        Yes – I often think about the roads built in Valley of the Kings, the traffic, the weight of tourist buses, which caused the collapse of some points in history, before they were even known/understood by modern man – I’ve reconciled myself to the fact that some places/things, I can only, in good conscience, visit, learn about, through virtual online tours! πŸ™‚ Just so I ain’t adding to the loss of history! πŸ™‚


  3. roweeee says:

    How beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing. It seems to be such a timeless place, unlike on the water’s edge where I spend much of my time and everything is so transient.


  4. smackedpentax says:

    Superb Sue. I really like the Apostles, there is a feeling that it ‘is ours’, that it is ‘our little secret’ know only to a few – not on many guide books and a fair walk to get to. Away from the hoards like Stonehenge and Castlerigg, there seems something very personal about the Apostles that I like.


  5. Ali Isaac says:

    Sounds like a truly magical experience, Sue.


  6. Mary Smith says:

    Wonderful, Sue – thanks for ‘taking’ us there.


  7. noelleg44 says:

    A lovely day trip for me Thanks, Sue!


  8. Eliza Waters says:

    I get chills just thinking of the thousands of years of history in this place, long echoes of the past all around you. Your photos are lovely. πŸ™‚


  9. macjam47 says:

    There are some places that time never changes. Beautiful post, as always.


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