Interlude: Looking Back…

The mere idea of “saving the ‘best’ till last” was feeling all too prophetic. Especially as ‘best’ is debatable anyway.’ Most iconic, perhaps, best known worldwide, most unusual… but just ‘best’ is  too subjective. From the magic of mountain-girt Castlerigg, to the intimacy of Barbrook, where ancestral voices still whisper, each circle has its own feel and character. Perhaps Stonehenge is the Westminster Abbey of stone circles… but it is in the quiet chapels of the tiny parish churches where the prayers of centuries are most often felt.

Where we ought to have been recently, on the Orkney Islands, we might have touched something similar, something older, for there are theories that the Megalithic culture spread from those isles… or perhaps they too were just another stepping stone back towards an even more ancient vision.

But we were here and now. It had been a long day. I had already driven for hours and would have hours more to drive before we were home. I was ill, struggling and, had we had any sense whatsoever, we would not have even considered such a trip under the circumstances.

But then, sense does not come into it when you are called… and there had been far too many synchronicities for us to think otherwise. Even the group who would finally be allowed within the circle was less than half its usual permitted number; it was a mere handful of strangers, therefore, spread across two buses, who would be free to wander within the stones of Stonehenge.

“I saw you at the stones wrapped in wings,” had said my healer-friend, so I had worn my favourite scarf, surprised it was warm enough to be without a decent shawl at this time of year and evening. I would have liked to walk to the great stones, each step carrying me one step closer to both past and future across the long-sacred earth. A pilgrimage, of sorts and a homage to memories of my own long-ago. But the ravens walked with me as I lagged behind, failing to keep up, even on the short path from the bus.

I was not at all in the frame of mind that I should have been. I think, most of all, I was afraid that the circle would have closed down… that it would no longer feel ‘right’ after so much attention by so many people…many of whom are simply gawping at something they will tick off their tour list as having ‘done’. Were my memories of the place, of the feel of it, anywhere near accurate… or any reflection of what was left, now the site was under corporate protection?

I desperately wanted Stuart to be able to feel some trace of what I had known when the stones stood free to the wind and to the worship. Not how they had felt from outside when last I had brought someone here, milling around the edges with thousands of others…

Our guide and guardian, a storyteller, took us to the edge of the grass, allowing us a few minutes to take people-less photographs of the circle before we went inside. And as soon as my feet touched the forbidden green beyond the barriers, seeing all the faces emerge from the stones, I knew my fears were groundless.

The circle opened its heart to welcome me back… and ‘welcoming’ was exactly the feeling Stuart reported later, with a good deal of surprise. It was not what he had expected from the place at all. It is hard to find words that describe it… as if each of the different types of stone… the sarsens, bluestones, gneiss and many others… all sing a different note, but no matter how beautifully they harmonise, their song needs to pass through the human heart in order to be heard, felt and lived. So it was with tears of gratitude streaming… and probably a very silly grin… that we finally entered the circle of stones.

 

50 thoughts on “Interlude: Looking Back…

  1. I am pleased all the thousands of visitors thave not affected the feeling of the stones. I can feel your emotions through your words. It was right for you to go back, in spite of your illness. The stones wanted to see you again.

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    1. I don’t know what it would be like on a normal year, but covid has definitely helped the place to rebalance and recharge.
      It did feel exactly right to be there at this time…

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  2. A wonderful post, Sue. The last photo is priceless along with your words, “…the different types of stone… the sarsens, bluestones, gneiss and many others… all sing a different note, but no matter how beautifully they harmonise, their song needs to pass through the human heart in order to be heard, felt and lived.” It is a bit how our songs we sing, whether or not we know we do, are meant to be heard my other hearts. Beautiful post, Sue. I find this piece so incredibly written with an underlying emotion because of the way you live… “The mere idea of “saving the ‘best’ till last” was feeling all too prophetic…” You seem to take every day with this attitude, and is why you are such an inspiration. These days, even more of an inspiration. And yes, I think every moment we have is “just another stepping stone back towards an even more ancient vision.” This thought gives me comfort.

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    1. I think you are right, Randall. We are not supposed to sing alone… or for ourselves alone. Nor are the stones. The relationship in which we stand to each other… every living creature, every being with a life to great or too small for us to see… will change how the song is sung. I would liketo hear it in harmony.

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  3. I remember when you could walk up to The Stones and touch them. Walking round the perimeter is not the same. We felt the hair on the back of our necks rise when we passed across ley lines, felt a kind of energy and change in atmosphere. I am not surprised you were welcomed back.

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  4. I love that last picture. I didn’t see you at first. You blend right in with the stones. I’m so glad you made the effort to visit them. A heartfelt post.

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  5. To take the words of Bob Dylan slightly out of context …

    ‘…I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form
    “Come in,” She said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”
    And if I pass this way again, you can rest assured
    I’ll always do my best for Her, on that I give my word…’

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  6. It was 1979 when I was at Stonehenge and it was the first year it was closed to the public. There had been graffiti on the stones. Who would DO that? So I never got to walk inside, but I did at least see other stone circles, several little magic ones in odd places that weren’t even in the most detailed guide books. And Garry and I saw some interesting ones — none in any book — in Ireland. One of the B&Bs in which we stayed had one in their backyard.

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    1. There is neither rhyme nor reason to why some people do what they do. For the same reason… lack of respect… many churches that should stand open now have to lock their doors. All and any place where the heart feels it can touch Spirit, by whatever name, should be open to all…
      It is a shame you were not able to walk within the stones, but the smaller places are often the best for that. And I do envy you Ireland. I have wanted to go there since I was tiny and my grandfather brought me back a real, live leprechaun. (Okay, it had turned into a guinea pig en route as they can’t leave the country… I was about three at the time 😉 ). Maybe there will be time yet.

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