While we continue to share tales of the Silent Eye’s summer weekend in Wales, The Prisoner of Portmeirion, we would like to invite you to join us in Scotland in September, for a Living Land workshop amongst the sacred circles of Aberdeenshire. The Solstice of the Moon weekend will be guided by our friend, Running Elk, with whom we will explore the wonder and magic of these ancient places.
Image Copyright: Mr Tattieheid
From the earliest migration of our most distant ancestors, as they moved from the cradle of our species to colonise the planet, one thing has remained a predominant driving force. Scarcity: the fear of it, and the desire to avoid becoming victim to it.
Until our Neolithic ancestors put down roots, the survival needs of small family groups could be met through a nomadic existence; following the herds and living off that which the Land provided in her seasons. The bounty found in the Summerlands, starkly contrasting with the subsistence of the Winterlands, must have provided significant impetus to adopt an agricultural lifestyle.
Northern latitudes, however, come with a unique challenge to a fledgling agricultural society.
The growing season is short, and impossible to predict from the observable cycles of our natural clock, the moon. Whilst our hunter-gatherer and pastoral forebears in the North would have been very aware of the wax and wane of daylight hours as the year progressed, the sunrise wandering the horizon as they wandered the landscape, they would have had little practical use for deeper knowledge of the changes they observed; relying instead on the other clues of nature to instigate the next stage of their circuitous, nomadic journey.
No-one knows who that first Neolithic Priestess was, who, now firmly planted in a singular location, noted the repetition in the passing of Shadows cast by a stump, a boulder or cairn at the centre of her community. The lengthening days, spinning the sunrise shadow towards warmer winds, shortening it when the Sun was in Her height, and tracing a perfectly symmetrical arc between sunrise and sunset. Most crucially, the recognition of the “Crossing of the Season” as a perfectly straight line of shadow, harbinger of the “best time to plant.”
Sunrise / Sunset diagram prepared for the latitude of Inverurie, Scotland (Equinox position deliberately exaggerated).
Was it an oral tradition initially?
“Standing at the stump of the fallen oak, on the day the sun rises from the great rock where the Eagles live, begin the plantings.”
As the stump rotted did the need to record this critical alignment demand urgent attention, first with the placement of a post, only much later to be permanently memorialised in stone?
Since the landscape itself provided markers enough, what drove the extension of a single post, the “Place of Seeing,” to a fully developed circle?
Here, in the Northern-most reaches of Albion, something “different” arose, or, more likely, persisted, from the Ancestral memory of these Settled Peoples. Not content with marking the Solstices of the Sun, there remained a desire, or need, to mark the Solstices of the Moon.
In the South-West corner of the stone circles, a recumbent stone; not fallen, as some may assume on accidentally stumbling across such a site, but deliberately placed as a key marker of the eternal dance between Sun and Moon by the builders of these truly astounding monuments.
What beliefs did the Bronze Age builders encode within these structures? What ceremonies were performed? How did they choose the site, and what, within their worldview, made such sites sacred?
Join the Silent Eye in Inverurie from 15th – 17th September, for a weekend of exploration among the standing stones of Aberdeenshire.
Traditionally a “walking” weekend, this one will be a little different, with most sites being easily accessible for all abilities. Drums, dowsing tools, dancing shoes optional…
You can learn more about the weekend here.
The weekend is informal, no previous knowledge or experience is required. We ask only that you bring your own presence and thoughts to the moment.
The weekend workshop costs £50 per person. Accomodation and meals are not included and bed and breakfast/hotel in Inverurie should be booked separately by all attendees. Lunch and dinner are usually shared meals.
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For further details or to reserve your place: email@example.com