We had returned to the stones of Callanish for a second attempt at getting the feel of a place of which we had a little knowledge but no real understanding. Facts are not enough, you have to walk the land before you can begin to know it.
We knew, for example, that there are astronomical alignments at Callanish. And, for once, we did actually know that… it was not some weird theory thrown out by folk whose perception of reality seems skewed when seen through other eyes. At Callanish, Castlerigg and other stone circles throughout the realm, scientists are now able to offer incontrovertible proof that such alignments were part of the original design.
The University of Adelaide, bless them, decided to put the theories to the test and, through the use of statistical analysis, 3D imaging and a host of other modern and acceptably scientific methods, were able to determine that… as we and the rest of the ‘lunatic fringe’ have always maintained… the stones themselves stand in relationship with the sun, moon and stars, with their movements in the heavens, and with the topography of the surrounding landscape.
At Callanish, for example, just one of the astronomical events associated with the site is enough to illustrate the scale upon which the Old Ones worked. The moon at its major standstill, which only happens every 18.61 years, seems to rise and set from behind the distant hills, caressing the form of a gravid goddess. She is known as Sleeping Beauty, which seemed an odd coincidence given the theme we had chosen for our next ritual workshop.
Her other name is The Old Woman of the Moors, which in Gaelic is Cailleach na Mointeach… and we had encountered the Cailleach several times over the preceding few days, both during and after the workshop in the Highlands and on the Isle of Skye.
As the moon travels across the form of the sleeping Cailleach, anyone standing on the hillock where we had been sitting to ponder its significance, will be silhouetted against, and appear to emerge from, the full moon… which would have been an impressive and magical sight.
Who were these people, five thousand years ago, who had the knowledge, vision and skill to work on such a vast scale, not only on these islands but across the lands of Albion? We still, even knowing better from the archaeological record, tend to think of them as ‘primitive’ and yet, we have seen too many similarities in the ancient sites across the land to believe that each small community was building its temples in isolation.
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