Circles Beyond Time ~ Dreaming Stones

barrook-circle

“They say the stones sleep. That they are old and forgotten… voiceless.

Is it so, little sister? Are they silent…or do they dream, the long, slow dreaming of aeons.

They were old when they were brought here. Older than memory. Older than time.

Their song never sleeps… it is we who live too fast.”

I’d written that a long time ago after a trip to the stone circle at Barbrook, bringing the vision of a seer to the page. “Sleepers awake, tell us your dreams”… Helen had written in that in her notebook a couple of days before visiting the place. And on the Friday morning, just after dawn when two of us had come to check the circle prior to the workshop, we had been shocked by the sense of ‘withdrawal’ at the stones… as if after too many centuries alone, they had finally sunk into sadness and allowed the moor to begin taking them back into the mists.

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Three is a magical number…and three times three is thrice so. In the Silent Eye we work with a system based on a nine pointed symbol… but there is always the higher presence of the invisible One. As we approached the little circle we were only eight… but I felt that she who had once kept the circle would lend us her unseen presence. I say ‘she’ as, between the archaeology and geology of the area, plus what we and others have ‘picked up’, there seems to have been a strong feminine presence in the rites of land and sky.

It may be that it is time for the presence of the stones to fade, their meaning now lost, forgotten and often corrupted by those who seek to lay a new paradigm over an older vision and call it their own. But if that is the case, we may as well say the same of every church and chapel, every temple and grove, for all faith, religion and belief starts from a single point of illumination that is unique and personal before they can grow, evolve and spread. It is this continuous evolution that brings the understanding that set one heart and mind aflame to life, allowing it to speak to the hearts and minds of many and to answer their need… and each will take that spark and make it their own.

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For me, as for many others, any place that has been rendered sacred by the faith of those who once walked there is worth preserving… and not just as a museum-piece. While there are still those who sit amongst the stones and wonder, while offerings are left in respect for some unnamed spirit of place, while there is one person whose thoughts turn to a higher sphere with stone at their back and their mind reaching beyond the birth of the stars… the ancient places will be kept alive.

We let our little company explore the circle. Some simply found a stone and sat quietly, others walked the perimeter of the circle…as we would do in ritual…. before taking their places at the stones. I watched from my place at the Seeing Stone, feeling the gears shift and stir, wondering what to do next. It was while we were waiting that a man appeared, accompanied by a white dog. He stopped and waited and was invited to go through.. he didn’t want to disturb us, he said. It was good to see the place being used. He was invited into the circle, to join us if he wished.

Continue reading at France & Vincent

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A face from the past… and a book extract…

One of the everyday wonders of my childhood was a visit to my grandparents’ home. The house itself was full of Art Deco details. The walls and shelves were adorned with curious things, brought back from far-flung places… wooden boxes carved with dragons or inlaid with mother of pearl stood next to crystal balls and scrying bowls, each one with its story.

Most magical for me were the artworks, sculpted, drawn or painted by my grandfather. On the big wall above the staircase, Great Isis was enthroned, large as life… at least, that is how I remember Her. Eyeless portrait masks, cast in bronze, watched from the walls, but above the fireplace in the bedroom was a painting of a child.

It was painted with minimal brushstrokes, dark brown on sepia, giving the impression of a pen and ink drawing. The curly-haired child wore nothing but leaves and modesty, its gender hidden by its pose. In its hand were reed pipes…the Pipes of the Great God Pan.

Perhaps he was an Elysian shepherd boy, playing as he watched over his flock. He… or she…  always had and Otherworldly air, not quite human to my eyes and far too wise for his apparent years. When asked, my grandfather would only smile… I think there was more to that painting than my young mind could grasp; his study, full of even stranger and more fascinating things, I would later understand better as a magical place of working.

The house and its murals have long since passed into new hands; the artwork doubtless covered with neutral emulsion pant. But they still exist in my memory, and when ‘Heilyn’ made his first appearance in Swords of Destiny, I recognised him immediately…

Heilyn

An extract from Swords of Destiny

Rhea blinked in astonishment as a small figure stepped out of the air before her. He looked to be about twelve years old, but Rhea was fast learning not to make any logical assumptions. Untidy chestnut curls framed a face brimming with glee, his only garment was a strip of animal skin around his hips and about his brow was a garland of oak leaves and bright berries. Despite his apparent youth, there was a disturbing and cynical quality to his face. Rhea thought it lacked humanity. He reminded her of the classical Greek portrayal of a satyr.

“No, my lady, a satyr is not what I am.” Rhea had not spoken aloud and her silent consternation elicited a gleeful response from the newcomer.

“But satire is one of his vices,” interposed a disgruntled Merlin.

“Bravo, brother mine! Perhaps there is hope for you yet.”

“Not while you are around!” The creature greeted this sally with light laughter and Rhea decided that this battle of word and wit had probably been going on for centuries. No offence seemed to be taken despite the content of the exchange. It occurred to Rhea that this was the verbal sparring of two who were not only familiar, but fond of each other. The youth smiled wickedly at Rhea and leaned close,

“Don’t tell Merlin. He’d be terribly upset if he thought I knew that. You are most perceptive, my lady.” He sketched a mocking blow in her direction then seated himself cross-legged on the grass. “Are you not going to introduce me to your flock, brother?” Merlin glared at him.

“You will doubtless have informed yourself of their identities already,” said the old man.

“My gifts have their uses, I admit,” shrugged the youth.

“It is unusual to hear you admit to anything,” was the riposte. “Rhea, Jamie, Alec… I am afraid I must introduce my half-brother, Heilyn. You could try and guard your thoughts but it is probably quite useless to do so as he has little respect for etiquette and has probably gleaned as much as he wishes to know already.” Heilyn assumed an air of innocence completely at odds with the brilliant eyes. For some unaccountable reason, Rhea found herself blushing. “You will have guessed that we share a father, but Heilyn’s mother is not human.”

“Is not?” asked Alec. Heilyn inclined his head in an uncharacteristic gesture of respect.

“My mother rules in Faery as ever. Time touches the Otherworld differently. I am actually some years older than Merlin.” Merlin muttered something unintelligible under his breath.

“How much older?”

“A couple of thousands of your years or so, give or take the odd century or two.” Jamie’s jaw dropped in surprise. “Consider…  my father is a god, my mother immortal, my own nature determines my appearance unless I will a change. How should I look any different?”

“Heilyn,” said Rhea, beginning to comprehend, “what are you?”

“I am of the realm of Faery and of the Earth; I am the spirit of spring in the oak, the song of the brook and the flight of the lark. I am the dew on the primrose and the star in the dark. And for this time, lady, I am the servant of the Champions of Light.”

“Will you guide us?”

Available in paperback and for Kindle via Amazon

Paperback: Amazon UK    Amazon US    Kindle: Amazon UK    Amazon US

SWORDS of DESTINY

Sue Vincent

“…and the swords must be found and held by their bearers lest the darkness find a way into the heart of man. Ask the waters to grant guidance and tell the ancient Keeper of Light that it is time to join battle for the next age.”

Rhea Marchant heads north to the wild and beautiful landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales where she is plunged into an adventure that will span the worlds. The earth beneath her feet reveals its hidden life as she and her companions are guided by the ancient Keeper of Light in search of artefacts of arcane power. With the aid of the Old Ones and the merry immortal Heilyn, the company seek the elemental weapons that will help restore hope to an unbalanced world at the dawn of a new era.

Extracts of Amazon reviews:

“…a beautifully magical story… An inspired piece of writing that keeps your attention until the very last page.”

Robed in rainbows, like moonlight on water, FAB. I didn’t so much read this book as eat my way through it…

A beautiful, gentle, magical read. I absolutely loved the way the author portrays Merlin! Definitely a re-reader …”

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A child’s tale

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Road to Love – S.Vincent

I had one of those ‘moments’ today as I passed between the bookcases in the bedroom. It is odd the things that make it through the veneer of calm acceptance. In this case, it was the characters in books… characters I had first met as I snuggled within the circle of my mother’s arms. Characters like Aslan and Reepicheep, whose stories I had read, decades later, to my own sons while I held them too in my arms… creatures to whom I had hoped to introduce my granddaughters too. But, of course, it isn’t really about the characters… it is all about the memories and the love in which they shared.

There is a lot of wisdom in books, and children’s books in particular have always held a place in my heart for the gentle wisdom they hold. Moments of pure gold are scattered through many of the best children’s stories, often missed for what they are when we encounter them as children, only to unfold for us in later years. Yet the stories that gain a hold on our hearts when we are young teach us a great deal… even if we are not aware of it.

They take us on adventures that run the gamut of emotion; facing dragons and monsters, discovering new and magical worlds full of goblins and fear, dread dangers and daring rescues… but they always seem to lead us to the happy ending bathed in light and laughter.

It was C. S. Lewis, the creator of the Narnia stories, who said that a story that could only be read by children was not a good children’s story. This, I think, is true. Often we only realise the full import of what is before our eyes when we read to our own children the tales that once lit our imagination. I for one still read them, though my children are long grown.

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I was reminded recently of a passage from The Velveteen Rabbit. Now granted, when applied to the human condition it might not paint a very attractive picture as a proposition. Bits tend to ‘get very shabby’ as the years pass without any outside help, thank you very much, without the prospect of eyes and limbs simply dropping off. On the other hand, looked at from the perspective of, say, a teddy bear that has been hugged and cuddled, cried on, fed jam sandwiches and dragged around by one ear while listening to the secrets of the heart… from that perspective it sounds like heaven.

In the story, the Rabbit is being taught by an old Horse about the magic of becoming Real because of the love toys have been shown. Imagine what it would feel like to be loved so much that “most of your hair has been loved off”. Yet we shouldn’t have to imagine. We are all capable of being loved like that. Most of us know love from parent, friend, sibling, child or partner. Even our pets. We know how it feels. We know what it is to see eyes light up when we walk into a room… and what it is to be the one whose arms are sought in times of fear and sadness.

We can love ourselves too. The self-help books are full of the ways to do this and, though it is not as simplistic as it might seem, it is thing worth doing. That love depends on our ability to accept ourselves as we are, warts and all, as the saying goes. To recognise what needs to change without judging or recrimination. To accept what is good about ourselves too as well as what is not; something that cannot be done until we first learn to know ourselves, understand ourselves and then “…these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

To learn to know ourselves, shabby bits and all, and still accept is a step towards that unconditional love that cannot judge, though it sees true, that accepts without demand, that asks nothing but to be itself and give itself… to be love. You might call this the love of the soul for the child we are in its eyes. You might see it as the higher self, the conscience … it doesn’t matter what words we use, the idea is the same. There is a part of each of us that knows a finer level of being.

There is another love too. Many, myself included, believe in the divine Love of the creation within which we live. A Love that reaches out to us in measure that we reach up to It in awareness. For me, the life I live stems from this source and is therefore an expression of Love itself.

Like the battered bear, or a velveteen rabbit, that is squashed by the building blocks in the toy box, left out in the rain by mistake, forgotten, apparently, or discarded for a while … yet is searched for at night… we are loved. Life can be hard and painful, joyous and bright… and sometimes all at once. Yet if all stems from the source of Love then that too is part of our story, written to teach both our inner child and our adult mind as we ourselves grow and unfold. Woven with love our stories can yet seem to lead us through darkness. But perhaps, as we walk through them carrying the scars of life, we can learn to see them as ‘loved off’ fur and ‘loose joints’ … and know that the more we love and know Love, the closer we get to becoming Real in our own eyes. And “…once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”

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Open #midnighthaiku

Shell untenanted

Open to wind and water

Vacant possession

*

 

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Ravens Gathering by Graeme Cumming #20booksofsummer #thriller #bookreview

Reblogged from Me and My Books:

I am delighted to share my review today for Raven’s Gathering by Graeme Cumming. This was one of the books I added to my #20booksofsummer reading list, and yes, I am still playing catch-up on the reviews. Raven’s Gathering was a fabulous read and let me show you more about it…

Synopsis…

As she let her gaze drift around her, she saw that there were more birds. Perhaps a dozen or so, perched among the trees that stood on the edge of the clearing. And yet more were arriving, swooping down through the gap overhead and landing on branches that overlooked them. The birds weren’t threatening, yet the sight of them all coming together in this dark and isolated spot was unnerving. Tanya reached a hand out towards Martin, and was relieved to feel him take it. She felt him move in behind her. After the uncertainty she’d experienced with him in a similar position only a few moments ago, she recognised the irony of her reaction. His closeness offered security.

“You know what they are, don’t you?”

Continue reading at Me and My Books

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Circles Beyond Time ~ Between Two Worlds

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A herd of deer were outlined against the far horizon as we followed the path, leading our companions across the moor to where it joins the track that runs above Bar Brook. The stream gathers the peat-stained water from the moor; feeding the old reservoir, its course divides the ancient lands of the living from the realm of the ancestral dead. The original track upon which we now walked might be from any age, but the wheel ruts and gravel speak of the modern vehicles that have used it and suddenly you feel as if you have been taken out of the story you were living and can now only observe.

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As we walked past the old bridge that crosses the stream, there is a choice of ways. There are many crossing points, but this one seems odd as there is no visible path leading to or from it. A bridge whose only purpose seems to be to allow you to choose. Beyond the stream once stood the homes and hearths of the clan. On this side, the path leads to a place of magic and mystery… and it was this path we had chosen to walk.

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To the left the land slopes up to where the cairns sleep beneath the bracken. A few trees take advantage of the meagre shelter offered by the little valley and beneath them the bright caps of toadstools add to the unreality of the place. We walk on towards Deadshaw Sick, a stretch of marshy ground that leads to a little waterfall where the rowans grow. We gather again at one of the Companion Stones… modern sculptures inscribed with poetry. This one has the image of a recumbent man in outline, asleep or dead, who knows? Around the stone is a poem, half hidden by the grass and deliberately mis-spelled to engage attention.

Continue reading at France & Vincent

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Bridges of Stone and Heart ~ Steve Tanham

A series of ‘betweens’ from the Silent Eye’s recent workshops in the Scottish Highlands and Orkney. {1400 words, a ten-minute read}

(Above: the waters of Scapa Flow have not always been so calm…)

Shortly after midnight on the 14th October, 1939, a German U-boat, U-47, passed unseen into the vast and hitherto safe waters of Orkney’s Scapa Flow, the base of the British Fleet, and sank the Battleship HMS Royal Oak, with the loss of 834 men. So convinced were the navy that Scapa Flow was impregnable, that over an hour passed before it was realised that the attack had come from the water…

(Above: the doomed HMS Royal Oak. Source Wikipedia, Public Domain)

“The place where the German U-boat sank the British battleship Royal Oak was none other than the middle of Scapa Flow, Britain’s greatest naval base! It sounds incredible…” William L Shirer, journalist, 18 October 1939.

Until that point, the great internal seaway of Scapa Flow had been considered safe waters for the fleet, its narrow entrances already reinforced with an assortment of deliberately sunken, retired merchant ships known as ‘Blockships’. Winston Churchill, soon to be Prime Minister, visited Orkney to inspect the defences in the light of their failure. His naval engineers determined that the integrity of the waters of Scapa Flow could not be guaranteed without a process of sealing off the eastern entrances of the waterway.

Continue reading at Sun in Gemini

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Nuances of Nicoll ~ Stuart France

NUANCES OF NICOLL

The Keys to Heaven

Stuart France

Available via Amazon

Psychologist, Maurice Nicoll studied under Fourth Way exponents G.I Gurdjieff and P.D. Ouspensky, and presented his own philosophy in a series of works published during the Mid Twentieth Century.

In his seminal work, Living Time… he makes no bones about insisting that the psychological states and concepts that he is expounding, and their utilisation, are ancient and stretch back through Christianity, Judaism, the Greek Philosophers and on into the mysterious climes of Pre-Dynastic Egypt…

In re-presenting these ideas as a series of poetic explorations, author and essayist, Stuart France uncovers a series of links with the Mediaeval Traditions of the Northmen, and the Matter of Britain!

What is the original story of our week? How does the moon harrow hell? Prepare to be enthralled, entertained, educated, and enlightened, as new light is shed on the enigmatic figures of Wotan, Merlin, and King Arthur.

Continue reading at France & Vincent

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Interlude ~ Saving the ‘best’?

So, while we should have been on a workshop and holiday, I was stuck in that limbo between the medics telling me it ‘looks like cancer’ and them doing something about it. I was determined that, before the doors closed on adventure, at least for a while, we would have at least one more. And it needed to be a good one.

We had revisited Rollright, paid our respects at Churchill’s grave, nodded to half a dozen White Horses and spent some time with the great stones of Avebury. There was really only one thing left that we could do… at least at this end of the country. And, even then, it would be pushing it for me to drive the distance.

We had to go to Stonehenge.

As a child and young woman, before the barriers and management rolled in, roping off the stones to protect them from further damage, I had spent a lot of time with them, getting to know the feel of them and wandering amongst their strange presence. Since before the building of the henge and circles, before the barrows, it would seem that humankind has held this place sacred, as not only settlements but burials have been found here dating back a full ten thousand years. We had passed the site several times now on our travels, each time considering that we ‘ought’ to visit the stones, as Stuart has seen them only from a distance… and each time deciding that we just could not do it.

The stones, seen from the road in high summer, seem like some magical creature with its wings clipped and caged in a zoo, visitors are funnelled around the outside of the circle at a safe and respectful distance. There are crowds. Noise… hubbub. On the one occasion I had taken friends there who are sensitive, it had ended in grief and tears… the atmosphere is wrong. No matter how carefully the authorities site their visitor centre, how lightly they appear to touch the landscape, the simple fact that around a million and a half people come to visit this one stone circle, every single year, cannot help but leave its psychic mark.

Continue reading at The Silent Eye

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Soulscape #midnighthaiku

Turn out or within

The soul’s eternal landscape

Being remembered

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