…I have to wonder about Wen.
Even before the ‘Wen’ thing she was a little too eager to run off to all the farthest flung reaches of the known universe at the drop of a hat. The ‘hat’ in this case being any and all tangential references of any sort whatsoever to our quest; the merest hint of anything French for example and she was champing at the bit to get over there. Now, I am as keen to explore that particular land mass as the next fellow but if we are to do this thing properly… well, we really have to be called.
And this ‘calling’ is a tricky business.
The Scotland thing is a case in point. It certainly looked like that was a good idea. We had stuff to look at en route and stuff to look at when we got there and friends who could put us up and… and then the coffee pot exploded and we ended up heading off in quite the opposite direction.
You see, if it looks like you are not going to follow the calling… stuff happens.
Arbor Low is another example only this time, I think, we got it right.
The Stonehenge of the Midlands they call it but I was never very impressed with that because I knew the stones were laid flat. Still, it being so close and all it was surprising that I had not got over there sooner and Wen, apparently, had kept passing the turn off to get there on her way home but never had the time or the inclination to go check it out. That’s the calling…
“Is it low as in a cow’s moan or is it low as in ‘ow’ for pain?”
“I’ve heard it pronounced both ways.”
“I’ve heard it pronounced both ways too.’
We both said it simultaneously though…
“We have to go to Arbor Low.”…
…There is another important thing with these sites which is not always immediately obvious. It is not a collective thing. It is not simply a case of visiting each and every site and then resting back with feet raised and head held high basking in the glories of one’s achievement. It is a living thing. Each subsequent visit reveals more. A wider scope: a deeper understanding… more questions, inevitably… many of them unanswerable, probably. It is nice too, and I feel it is appreciated although by what or by whom I do not know, when one elects to take other people there; when one acts as something of a guide… but then again it is also exciting to explore a new site, along with someone else who is new to it…as in the case of Arbor Low…which is a henge and one of the most important sites of Central England which we are now calling Mercia.
Situated at the centre of the high limestone ridges that skirt Middleton Common on a slight northern slope it is over 1200 feet above sea level and grants panoramic views of the horizon which includes Morridge Moor to the West, Taddington Moor to the North as well as both Stanage Edge and White Edge to the east. In a word: stunning, as most if not all of these kinds of site are.
As if by prior arrangement Wen and I walk around opposite ridges of the henge and meet up at the mound which Wen insists on calling a maze because of its positioning and similarity to the maze at Maiden Castle.
There is a mirroring of the horizon hills in the contours of the henge though doubtless this the archaeologists would put down to a combination of weathering and fancy.
Be that as it may such sites as a microcosm to the macrocosm of the wider landscape are too frequent an intimation to be accidental and such intimations lend weight to the inherent magic of this and the other places we have visited. The magical theory of correspondence could quite easily be born from such structures…
…The key to Arbor Low is to regard the stones as always having been laid flat. That way they immediately begin to speak and the first thing they say has to do with time.
Wen ‘got’ a clock-face and I ‘got’ a Zodiac.
There are a number of alleged terrestrial Zodiacs in Albion the most famous being in Glastonbury and it would be very tempting to try and link that in with the twelve hides granted to St Joseph of Arimathea by Arviragus and his cohorts, whoever they may be. Cohorts though may not be a strictly accurate term. Three pagan kings donated the hides according to one legend and the names and identities of the other two pagan kings’ starts to assume intriguing possibilities when once we learn that Arviragus held Cadbury Castle, hill fort and reputed site of Camelot and visible from Glastonbury Tor at about a distance that we have come to regard as a seven league stride.
Strides and legendary figures in the landscape appear to have an affinity…
There is a Robin Hood’s stride and a King Arthur’s stride to name but two and when these characters strode in that way it was a seven-league step that they took.
Although it would be difficult to prove it these strides may very well be synonymous with those that the Vedic God Vishnu Tri-Stepper took when overcoming the Demon-King who had enslaved the world in ego-illusion and those which much later and upon the shores of a distant continent enabled the Leaping-Monk-Moling to perceive the realities of the otherworld so reassuringly. For the former certainly and perhaps for the latter also the steps symbolise the three worlds and so in our system they would quite naturally refer to the three centres.
“We also had the Merlin thing at Cadbury,” adds Wen cheerfully.
The ‘Merlin thing’ that Wen alludes to so cheerfully is the vision of a hoary, bearded ancient whose floating head makes my blood run cold to even vaguely and somewhat reluctantly recall but if the other two pagan kings each held a hill-fort at a roughly equal distance from the Isle of Glass as that on Cadbury Hill we might very well be onto something here.
Although, that ‘something’, also makes me shudder when I contemplate the ramifications of its possible enormity.
Hides, of course, were originally coverings… skin coverings…animal skins… and only later became partitions of land. As such it is not too much of a stretch of the imagination to consider some of the stones at Arbor Low in the light of the shapes mapped out in the Landscape by this and other Zodiacs. Nor is it too much of a stretch to regard some of the stones at Arbor Low as microcosmic land masses.
There is a tradition in these Isles that describes the other-worldly journey as a series of islands or land-locked cities and an island or a land-locked city is a good metaphor for a state of mind, or consciousness.
“But what would they do here?”
“How would they work it?”
“They wrapped themselves in animal hides and slept on the stones.”…
Extract from Doomsday; The Ætheling Thing. Stuart France and Sue Vincent