I turned the car down a narrow lane to greet Long Meg and her Daughters. Leaving Kirkoswald church, we had taken the route we have travelled so often towards Penrith. We had driven up and down this road, backwards and forwards, on previous visits, on the reconnaissance trip for the Cumbrian workshop and during the workshop itself. We know this road… every tiny turn-off, every place of interest… we even pointed out a few of them and reminisced. So it was rather disconcerting to find that the most important sites along it had been screened from consciousness until we were almost upon them and waved, in passing, to the circle known as Little Meg.
Between one fleeting glimpse of the stone circle in its isolated field and the next side-road is a mere matter of seconds to drive… just long enough for a quick ‘should we?’… for the expectation of the usual answer at the end of an adventure… ‘no, let’s just get back now’… and a mental ‘yes!’ when the answer that came back was that we really ought to pay our respects… it would be rude not to.
We both felt the now-familiar jolt as we passed the unseen boundary where we had first been ambushed by the stones of this ancient circle, built around the same time as the megalithic temples of Callanish where we had woken just thirty six hours earlier. Even then, it seemed incredible that we had seen and experienced so much in just a few days. Perhaps the ‘blindfold’ we had been wearing was simply due to an overdose of wonder, but we have experienced something akin to this before.
There are times when we have felt that we have been led by the hand, where we can do nothing more than heed silent inner promptings, taking each moment on trust and accepting the gifts they bring. And each time, when the blindfold has come off, the adventure has brought a final gift that seemed to open inner doors and lead us down new and unexplored pathways.
This time, we realised how close we had come to missing this final gift. Seconds later and we would have passed the turning for Long Meg and would have simply driven home. Instead, we greeted the tall presence, noticing that her ‘tattoos’ seemed sharper and more detailed than usual in the light. And realised that, by being here, we were ‘joining the dots’, drawing together lines of light from the sacred places we had visited and reconnecting them. Once realised, it was so obvious that we felt foolish for not having seen it before. But even the Fool must journey blind until experience opens his eyes.
“Wen to Blakey Topping.” There is a scene in one of our books where our characters are little more than chess pieces in a game played by the gods. Sometimes, that is just how it feels… “Stu and Sue to Long Meg…”
We really could have known earlier, though… or at least, that is what hindsight now says. All the signs had been there, all the coincidences, all the small, odd details that tied this adventure to previous ones in symbolism, stories and similarities… and tied the adventures to the themes of all our previous workshops too.
We had been working with correspondences, marrying colours, planets, geometries and myths. We had worked with stars, eight-pointed, six-pointed and, just days earlier, woven the five-pointed star from rainbow coloured ribbons. The rainbow had been a theme for a while too and we had closed the April workshop by creating a rainbow bridge with our veil-decked staffs.
All the threads were coming together, just as we draw them together with the Web of Light, a meditation we had introduced a few years ago. We have used it at all of our workshops since then, with an invitation for all to join us. It is a simple visualisation that draws a web of light between the sacred places of the world, joining them that they, and all of us, may work in harmony, healing and peace.
Such meditations, performed with intent, have a magical effect. Magic has been defined as the art of creating change. Many dismiss the whole idea of magic as they imagine some kind of Disney wand-wafting. But change always begins within, and all it takes to create such a change is for a dedicated intent to grow within your heart and soul… and that changes your life and in turn, changes the world.
Many other groups worldwide use a similar visualisation. The idea arises independently, illustrating the need to heal the rifts that keep humankind fragmented and, all too often, divorced from a sense of the sacred, however that may speak to each heart. The first time we had used it in a small group, working with stones as a symbol, we had found that two of our companions also used a very similar idea with their groups… one based in Glastonbury and the other had run the Scottish weekend that had brought us north on this adventure.
Some years ago, the Silent Eye had given a series of talks in Glastonbury and we had formed the habit, whenever we were in the south, of calling at Avebury to pay our respects and tie our work to that ancient and sacred place. This time, we had worked in the north… and apparently, we needed to tie or work to this ancient and sacred space. It all made sense… not the kind of sense that is easy to put into words, but that odd comprehension that knows that part of you understands what the conscious mind is yet to fully fathom. We had travelled the lines of the web of light, this time in person, and brought them back to a central node.
We know that we will be working with what we learned in these few days for a very long time to come; our first adventure took three years to filter through into conscious realisation… and yet, it was all there, already, when we wrote the story soon afterwards in The Initiate.
Perhaps we are learning, though, for we had pulled the threads together, and Long Meg had a final gift… one that even we found hard to believe. Leaning against one of the old trees that stand guard over the circle, there was a staff. Not just any staff either… its top was carved with Celtic interlacing and its length decked with a rainbow of ribbons.
Perhaps it was an offering to the spirit of place, perhaps it had been forgotten, but from the feather at its feet to the ever-present rainbow, it could not have been more appropriate, especially after the Chalice at the church we had just left. We both felt the staff was ‘ours’… but we took only a photograph, we did not take it from where it had been placed. “No-one will ever believe it…” but such moments do not require the belief of others… they are gifts, graces… and they leave their mark in the soul.
And that was it. We drove back to Sheffield… without another ‘wrong turn’… in a state of wonder, less than a week after we had left. Next morning, we would drive south, back to work for me, and where the wide-eyed processing would begin… and where we could look at the photographs and relive an adventure across two and a half thousand miles of road, beauty, history and magic.