It is difficult to describe the feeling when we arrived at ‘our’ stone circle. The last time we had been there, we had spent hours in the landscape, just sitting and absorbing the feel and the vibrant serenity of the place. Looking at the devastation we found when we arrived to check the site prior to the workshop, it was as if that previous visit had been in a different time-frame altogether. As if centuries, rather than months, had slowly eroded the memory of joy and left the site bereft of presence. Or as if the hours we had spent had been passed in some ‘otherwhere’ that took no account of the passing of time in our world.
It is even more difficult to describe why it should be so. The stones, small and typical of Derbyshire’s circles, are always half-buried in the grass. The reeds that have begun to invade the site have been there all along, though not as prominent as at this time of year. The small offerings of coins, feathers and flowers were still present… yet there was something indefinably ‘missing’. As if the stones, that had so recently seemed awake and aware, had been put to sleep. It was profoundly shocking.
Our plan was to work in the little circle the following day, demonstrating how we thought it might have been used by the seer who kept the stones. As we walked around the overgrown lawn, we both came to the same conclusion… we would have to do something else too; try to help somehow…. though quite how we could do that, we didn’t know.
Our carefully laid plans were altered; we had no idea what we would end up doing there. All we could do would be wait and see, trusting, as always, that what was needed would come with the moment.
The rest of the moor looked just as it should. The fading heather cast patches of soft purple, the rowans were full of berries and the bracken was high, sending up waves of sharp, fragrant incense as we brushed against its fronds.
Across the brook we saw deer grazing in the mists. Nothing too unusual at that time of morning; we had encountered deer here before… but for some reason, their presence was reassuring.
So was that of the furry caterpillar. We have found them at almost every significant moment of our adventures and watching the little creature make its determined progress across the damp grass was almost as if we were being given a nod of approval.
It is hard to say why it matters. The heyday of the stones is long since gone… but what was behind their builders’ quest for understanding has barely changed across millennia. The faces and shapes of the old gods are forgotten, but the land that inspired their creation remains beneath the vault of the heavens; Man has always been rooted in earth and yet turned his face to the stars.
We left the moor quiet, grateful for the silent wings of the hawk as it passed over the far hills. We would be returning the next day with our companions and would see what happened then. Our aim was to open a pathway to the ancestral wisdom of the past, tracing that link back beyond the generations of Man to the planetary heart and beyond, to the Source of Being.
You can never tell how such work will unfold, only know how you think you will approach it, knowing too that, when you listen to the whisper of ancient voices on the wind, all plans may bend like a rowan in the breeze. For the moment, we headed back to breakfast and to prepare a first encounter with the Old Man of the Fort…