The light was changing. Not that it had been doing anything else all day… the light in the Western Isles is amazing… but it was, by this time, almost eight thirty and we were rather expecting the light to fade as the sun sank below the horizon. It would not be summer solstice for another couple of days and the coachloads of tourists had long since departed… so we headed back to the Callanish Stones.
There were just a few campervans parked close by, securing their spots for the festival that would be held at the stones for the solstice. Not a big affair, we were told, but with music and megalithophiles like us choosing to celebrate the turning of the year at this remote and magical site. One woman, cross-legged in the door of her van, smiled and acknowledged us as we entered the stones. Apart from that, we had the place to ourselves.
The light changed, moment to moment, throwing the stones into relief as dark silhouettes against the low clouds and hills… or illuminating them with a golden glow. Long shadows stretched out across the turf and the stones danced for us as the shadows shifted and played in the dying day.
Every stone came to life. They are made of the oldest bones of the earth, Lewissian gneiss, formed in the Precambrian era. Layer upon layer, compressed under intense heat and pressure at their formation hundreds of millions of years ago… twisted, folded, interspersed with quartz until they look like petrified trees or stone-frozen water. Each stone holds the memory of flame and beginnings, each bears the colours of earth, sea and blood as they reach to the stars.
We walked in wonder through a forest of living stone, where faces and forms revealed themselves in the ever-changing light. Where figures, from between time and reality, seemed to watch as we watched, in kinship and recognition. Pure magic.
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