Outside it is blowing a gale and the rain is hammering down, yet as I dived for the car to go to my son’s there was a red kite riding the wind, seemingly motionless in the air. Two miles down the road a sparrowhawk hovered beside the road. At my son’s a magpie landed gracefully on the fence and yet another kite sailed overhead. In spite of the gales birds, even the tiny sparrows… fragile creatures that they are… still fly about their daily business as if at home in their element… which of course, they are.
Yet they are not entirely creatures of air… they are land-bound for many things, even if they seek the high places. Even the water birds rely on land to nest; yet seems as if they have mastered the earth and have been made free of another, higher element and are at home, apparently transcending gravity and the buffeting of winds. To see a gull ride the air or a swan’s grace on water is to watch the mastery of beauty in action.
Perhaps there is something to take from that perception, as we seek to soar on wings of Being yet need the grounding of earth from which to fly and the fluid waters of experience on which to sail.
As we drove down to Glastonbury the other day for the School’s talk this was a topic of conversation. Our route seemed lined with birds… not just the odd ones or normal ones… kites over the first barrows at Avebury, several murmurations of starlings which seem so rare these days I can’t remember the last time I saw one, let alone several… buzzards and hawks, a brace of swans flying over… and the ravens… The AAQ was off the scale.
AAQ, I hear you ask…. ? Avian Activity Quotient. It started in The Initiate… in fact, you could say they started it! We noticed it first before we put pen to paper…when the kites started leading us around the countryside in a pointed and pertinent way that led us to question why… and how they knew where the old sacred places were. Or perhaps, why we have forgotten what they seem to see. It was through the great birds that the deeper connection to the land came into being for us in a way that may seem odd to many. Yet to be part of it seems the most natural thing in the world.
However, I digress. We drove down via Avebury, stopping at Silbury Hill. A bluetit welcomed us to that great man-made pyramid of earth over four and a half thousand years old, where legend says a golden statue of King Sil lies waiting. For those who know the way our minds work you can imagine the solar symbolism, we can read into that. The hill is always breathtaking, but with the surrounding ditch once more filled with water thanks to the rain the pyramid was mirrored in the water… as above, so below, a diamond of earth, sky and water under the sun.
Glastonbury was quiet and wet, Somerset is suffering horrendously from the flooding and from the high places you could see flooded swathes of land. From a distance it may look beautiful, but knowing the homes, fields and wildlife in the waters makes it difficult to see. We were not expecting a huge amount of people to attend the evening’s talks and were grateful to find we had a respectable number.
As with all ‘firsts’, we came away with lessons learned on how best to use the time and space for the next evening in April… and spent the next couple of hours at the George, sitting talking under the umbrellas in the pouring rain with some of those who had joined us for the evening and Morgana West of the Pilgrim Reception centre… a fellow Yorkshire lass and old friend. Morgana had once more honoured us by bringing the Unity Candle to be lit. This is a beautiful symbol of universal Light and as always it left me speechless when asked to light it. All in all a lovely evening.
The next morning the sun dawned bright and we had a buzzard over the town as we paid our respects to Abbey, shrine and chapel, Stu and I, and Steve climbed the Tor. A visit to St John’s preceded lunch and then we turned homewards once more… We stopped at Silbury again on the way home… it felt right somehow, to honour that point of crossing in a sacred landscape as the light faded on the School’s first Glastonbury evening. The nice thing is knowing we have five more to come…