Hidden Avebury…

*

… And from Needles of Stone,

to Avenues,

or at least,

what remains of one…

*

The ‘Mary Line’ which we had been following from Cornwall

runs right through the two ‘small’ stones

that had ‘called’ to us from the roadside,

and would once have been ushered, by these same avenue stones,

all the way into the Avebury Ring…

*

*

Not so small, then…

No, not small at all.

 

Weland Mind-Weld…

14th September 2021…

*

‘On such a day as this two fools who laughed at death

embarked upon the adventure of a lifetime…’

*

…Today, the adventure is all but over

with just a sealing of fire

and water, inevitably, and air, and earth still to accomplish…

‘Stones for the earth,’ he said.

*

Comparisons with our first trip here together are unavoidable.

Dragon Hill looms equally unexpectedly,

and is also just as gracefully, ‘unoccupied’.

*

*

Had we known then what we now know

would things have been different?

‘About the hilt of Albion’s sword…’

Probably.

Small wonder then that it is difficult not to

lose balance when approaching this point.

Think what could have been done.

And still can…

*

*

The ash shadows the grooves of the manger.

A Dragon-Wing,

mirrored in staccato billowing…

‘Deep Breaths of the Fire-Drake.’

Obeisance turns brackish.

*

*

A raking cough greets us from the ‘forge’.

Manifest irony or iron-age humour?

Our grinning Jester emerges from the copse

with dancing dog in tow.

If more magic were required…

What once held no faces now holds hosts.

‘I’ve made a circle with the stones.’

A web-of-light where once the heat-haze rose…

*

*

The manure mounds become

a million hubs of cobbled-corn.

No birds to speak of,

only flying rabbits…

hopping bad, and a rare hare.

*

No fare at an Inn which had previously provided the finest…

The Greyhound, though, ‘salved’ the day.

‘It’s got lights on and everything!’

With an over abundance of those things most needful,

and, incredibly, Red-Kite Ale…

*

*

But what a tale!

Of shooting stars,

and ‘Old Skool’ bars.

Of skirt tails and hair trails,

to tell in the slow, slow, dawns of mourning…

Sue would have been sixty-three years old today,

‘Now, she is everywhere.’

*

Sue, and beloved Ani, at one of her favourite haunts – Photograph courtesy Alethea Kehas

*

The adventure, continues…

*

File:Reconstruction of face A of Leeds cross fragment 2c.jpg

Weland-the-Smith with Swan-Maiden

*

In the Land of the Living Heart

Brig and Weland Mind-Weld are playing fidchell…

Brig: Wen to Blakey-Topping.

Weland: She’ll never get there.

Brig: But I have a poem for her.

Weland: Which she will never receive.

A mist on Blakey-Topping.

A mist of mists on the Old-Wives-Way…

*

… BRIG’S LAY

Lay me down beneath an Iron Sky

In the centred stillness of a Dragon-Eye

And let sweet-odorous heather be my pall

On a speaking hill where angel-feathers fall

With earth beneath my skin and sky above

I shall await, in silence, the descent of love…

Heart of Albion

***

Heart of Albion – Stuart France & Sue Vincent

Wayland: The White Horse…

*

But according to some, Wayland has far more onerous

responsibilities than shoeing the horses of passing way farers…

*

A group of local lads were enjoying a drink

one evening at the White Horse Inn, Woolstone,

when an unknown man wearing old fashioned garb

entered and ordered a pint of the local beverage.

*

He wore a leather apron, a tall hat,

and he took his drink and sat

to one side of the ale-house by himself…

*

After awhile the sound of a horn rang out

and could be heard

echoing eerily through the vale…

*

Startled from his reverie by the horn,

the stranger leapt to his feet and hobbled

out into the night, his pint unfinished.

*

As the uncanny sound faded over the downs

the locals looked out and up to the hillside

to find that the White Horse was gone!

*

When dawn broke the following day

more than a few of the previous night’s imbibers

looked out of their windows

and up at the hill with some trepidation…

*

Only to see the White Horse

back where it should be on the green hillside

but with feet-tips

that seemed to shine in the morning sun light.

 

*

 

Wayland: The Blessed Isles…

*

The tone of the tale once Britain is reached,

becomes very different…

*

Alighting on Berkshire’s High Downs,

Wayland came upon an ancient chambered tomb,

and made it his home.

*

Tradition now has it,

that if ever you are riding the Ridgeway,

and your horse loses a shoe,

you need only tether it nearby,

 leave a silver-sixpence on the uppermost stone of the tomb,

and on your return your horse will be shod and your money gone…

*

Wayland, it seems, never works while being observed.

*

 

 

Wayland: Silver-Smith of Souls…

*

There are a number of intriguing aspects to the legend of Wayland Smithy…

The earliest written sources appear late and are decidedly piecemeal.

*

Wayland is the son of a God, Giant, or King of the Otherworld.

He is schooled in metallurgy by Dwarves, whom, in skill, he quickly surpasses.

He lives, hunts, and works alone in a region associated with wolves and bears.

One day he comes upon a swan-maiden bathing skin-less.

He finds her skin, appropriates it, and she lives with him for nine years.

At the end of which time she discovers her hidden skin and flies away.

*

Wayland is then taken captive by the King of Sweden,

maimed to prevent escape and set to work on an island…

Wayland surreptitiously kills the king’s sons, turns their skulls into goblets

and presents them to the king and queen.

Their teeth he turns into a brooch for the king’s daughter.

The king’s daughter has a ring of Wayland’s, stolen from him by her father,

and when it breaks she asks him to mend it.

Wayland inebriates the king’s daughter and fathers a son on her.

*

At this point, in the tale, Wayland’s swan-wife returns,

with a swan-skin for him and they fly away,

to the Blessed-Isles of Britain, together…

*

 

 

‘Claims to ancient reach’?…

Arbor Low and Stanton Moor Imbolc 001 (15)

Throughout the books written with Stuart France there are visions; moments of a past long fled that ‘Wen’ still sees written in the ancient stone of the landscape and within the circles of the Old Ones. They come when they will, flooding her consciousness with something that may be no more than imagination, no more than a waking dream… or perhaps they are shadows that are cast across the face of time…

The stone is warm beneath her back. Above her the clear blue of the sky is powdered with clouds, barely moving. It is sheltered here in the circle, the earthen banks of the henge protecting the centre from the ceaseless assault of the winds in this high place.

She closes her eyes and waits, feet towards the centre, hands crossed on her breast, relaxing each muscle, each limb in turn, breathing deeply of the clear air.

The shift comes. The world falls away. She can see her companion through closed eyes, across the circle, mirroring her. She does not need to look to feel his presence.

On the screen of inner sight a single glowing point of light that seems farther than the farthest star, yet closer than the sun. Between her and the light nothing but the streaks of passage… a stream of movement, as of a million suns caught racing comets in the blackness of space. A wormhole… dragons… serpents aflame with brilliance… a tunnel through which she is rushing faster than the light itself, falling inwards, forwards, upwards… she does not know.

Then a figure blocking the brightness… a dark silhouette against the torchlight and the tang of smoke. A hand extended, smiling eyes unseen but felt. She takes the hand, stiff after the long vigil in the chill of night, accepting assistance to regain her feet.

The grass is cold, frost biting her bare toes. Above, a million stars streak across the heavens. It is done. The old one smiles, raising his hand…

…. Voices call her back. The sunlight casts a pale golden glow … across the circle her companion opens his eyes. There is something she recognises in them…. She knows not what it is.

***

Arbor Low and Stanton Moor Imbolc 001 (49)

Atop the mound the grass is chill and damp though the sun shines clear. There is no shelter and the wind ruffles her hair, an ancient grandmother caressing her child.

She closes her eyes, folds her hands on her breast beside him, relaxing into the other sight.

The shift comes. The world falls away. She is glad of his presence as the veins of her eyelids are painted green against the grey light… green and grey he had said of the one he had seen….

On the screen of inner sight a single glowing point of light that seems farther than the farthest star, yet closer than the sun. Between her and the light nothing but the streaks of passage… a stream of movement, as of a million suns caught racing comets in the blackness of space. A wormhole… dragons… serpents aflame with brilliance… a tunnel through which she is rushing faster than the light itself, falling backwards, away from the light. The unexpected sensation is sickening, stomach twisting.

Hands reach up from the earth, dragging, clawing… nightmares and hell… women, children… She refuses their hold and turns. Flesh melts from her bones and she dissolves into earth… She is only the wind…

He moves. She opens her eyes to a world wreathed in fog, ghostly shapes, amorphous and shifting…

It takes a moment before reality returns…

“We need to go to Fin Cop.”

Arbor Low and Stanton Moor Imbolc 001 (21)

***

Doomsday:

The Aetheling Thing

Stuart France & Sue Vincent

 ‘Doomsday: The Aetheling Thing’

Author’s Note

Wayland's Smithy
Wayland’s Smithy

On a rather bleak day, when I was feeling low for some unspecified reason, the first complete chapter of Dark Sage landed in my inbox and had me laughing out loud. The story that began in The Ætheling Thing is developing beautifully.

Now, I suppose I shouldn’t say it, but I really love these books. It isn’t just the writing of them… which means the living of their story first. Or the research… which takes us out into the landscape and chasing through history. Or the laughter and the succession of pubs that go into their writing. No matter how often we read them we find they lead to new discoveries, which is odd when you are the writers. There is so much in there!

You might think it would be fairly reasonable for each of us to find things in what is written by the other, but it isn’t just that. We find stuff in what we ourselves have written, largely I suppose because of the context… the framing thoughts that build up around them, the research and the discoveries we make and the ensuing discussions that usually last until the early hours of the morning. There is a cross-fertilisation and what one of us brings to the mix seems to illuminate what the other has laid on the table.

That, I think, is how learning works, adding layers to a seed idea until it takes on form and substance, accumulating myriad correspondences and associations until understanding sets in and takes you beyond simple knowledge towards understanding. So the more I read the books, the more I see and learn.

The 'white horse', Uffington
The ‘white horse’, Uffington

It began with our visit to Uffington and Wayland’s Smithy in Wiltshire, sacred sites from the earliest history of our land and its people. We didn’t realise at the time where it would lead, we knew only that we had shared a truly magical and unexpected experience in the mists. A gift. The first of many. From there the history of our land seemed to respond to our interest, dropping jewels in our lap at every sortie into the landscape, from the sacred sites of pagan worship to ancient churches that now stand on the white hills or in the green henges of our ancestors.

Entwined with our travels and discoveries is the story of a nascent mystery school, taking its first steps into the world after its long preparation, something that is just as deeply entwined within us. Then there is the story of a friendship and Don’s quirky relationship with Wen’s dog. There is laughter and tears, serious philosophical debate, ancient history and mystical symbolism and the visionary passages that took us both by surprise and taught us more than we’d bargained for. And then, of course, there are the birds… and it is only looking back through the pictures of that first misty morning that I realised I had caught the first buzzard on camera.

Early bird - the first buzzard
Early bird

It seems incredible to think that we celebrated the publication of The Initiate on my birthday last year and now our fifth book together has begun, not quite a year later. When we first put pen to paper we had little idea where it would go… we weren’t even sure we would get one book out of our adventures… and now we already have so much we know we will not be able to get it all in this one either. As soon as we push the door ajar on one myth or mystery a whole corridor of portals seem to open up that simply cry out to be explored.

Dragon hill, Uffington
Dragon hill, Uffington

For myself, I can honestly say I’ve never had this much fun learning in my life.

That, I feel, comes from the living of the books. Don and Wen are not Stuart and Sue, but there is much of us in them, and much of them in us. Anu, of course… well… that’s a different story. Yet the stories are real… the events described are largely as they happened, the conversations echo our own… and the adventures?

Well… the adventures continue…

***

DOOMSDAY

The Aetheling Thing     Dark Sage   Scions of Albion

All books available via Amazon in Paperback and for Kindle

Don and Wen, following the breadcrumb trail of arcane lore and ancient knowledge, scattered across the landscape of time, turn their attention to the myths and legends of Old Albion. They delve into the tales of King Arthur, asking some very strange questions about biblical family trees and exploring the many stories that abound in the very landscape of Avalon. Meanwhile, in Derbyshire, the voices of the past still whisper from the stones, opening a passage through time, place and memory to another world…

 

Doomsday: The Ætheling Thing

How is it possible to hide such a story… the hidden history of Christianity in Britain? Oh, there are legends of course… old tales… Yet what if there was truth in them? What was it that gave these blessed isles such a special place in the minds of our forefathers? There are some things you are not taught in Sunday School. From the stone circles of the north to the Isle of Avalon, Don and Wen follow the breadcrumbs of history and forgotten lore to uncover a secret veiled in plain sight.


Doomsday: Dark Sage
…. something was spawned up on the moor… something black that flew on dark wings. It heeds not time or place… but it seems to have developed a penchant for the travels of Don and Wen….
“Are those two still at it?”
“Apparently….”

 


Doomsday: Scions of Albion

Things are getting serious…

Exactly what is Wen doing with that crowbar and why is she wearing a balaclava?

All will be revealed…or will it?

 

Follow the story begun in The Initiate and the Triad of Albion,

as Don and Wen explore the ancient land.

 

St Just…

*

Not only did our last hotel

fail to provide any windows, to speak of, in our room,

  it also failed to provide us with a breakfast…

*

Which is just as well, really,

for we were up, and off, and away

long before breakfast would ordinarily

ever have been dreamed of…

*

However, by nine bells one might be forgiven

for expecting the local sea-front eateries to be offering

something in the way of refreshment?

*

Not so!

So, we headed for St Just…

*

How to disguise your sacred monument…

 

*

Firstly, cover it with the Dragon’s Breath…

Secondly, consign it to a relatively late historical period…

Thirdly, invent for it a plausible name…

*

*

“What is a miracle play, anyway?”

“It’s a medieval drama based on episodes from the life of a saint.”

“What, like St Just?”

“Yes, just like St Just, Hermit and Martyr.” …

*

“And what did St Just do?”

*

*

“Well, apart from displaying his true colours,

and confirming the link between the stonework

of ancient and less ancient sacred sites,

he also reminded us why we’re here.”

*

*

“That’s the church of St Just, what did the real St Just do?”

“Oh, pretty much the same sort of thing, I expect.” …

***

A Sacred and Profane Memoir

 by Alfred John Prufrock

*

Note on Celtic Saints:

These ancient savants seem of an entirely different cast to their Roman Catholic successors.

Like the Bards of old they travel the land far and wide, taking their entourage with them, seeming reluctant to ever settle…

St Samson, though born in Wales of ‘royal stock’, enjoys legendary status on Caldey, in Ireland, Cornwall and Brittany!

These places are all centres of stone.

The official hagiographies of the saints often seek to conceal much more than they reveal.

One charming account has both Samson and Arthur, as children, playing together in their eponymous Dolmen.

The notion of St Samson as Itinerant Pendragon is greatly appealing.

 

Excerpt from Kith ‘n’ Kin by Stuart France and Sue Vincent…

***

 

Lands of Exile:

KITH ‘N’ KIN

Stuart France & Sue Vincent

The Beeley Stone, ‘liberated’ from the churchyard at Bakewell, stands proudly in the centre of its village green once more. While the locals enjoy the fruits of its restoration, Ben, who had led the daring raid against authority, still languishes in jail.

Don and Wen, arrested and released without explanation in Ireland, now plot an erratic course through the wild places of Wales, while Jaw-Dark and Kraas, seeking the legendary stone of Fergus Mac Roy, have been separated in the most uncanny of circumstances…

As the darkness closes around them, the Black Shade haunts the moors above Beeley and, in the shadowy rooms of the old tower, an ancient and even stranger story begins to unfold…

Available via Amazon UK, Amazon.com and worldwide, for Kindle and in full colour illustrated paperback

***

‘The Book of Assassinations’

sheffield chesterfield hare 003

We were determined not to get wet, so we went to Chesterfield, on the general principle that there would be both indoor parking and a cathedral big enough to keep us both dry and occupied for some time. We got those points right… but we failed miserably in the staying dry department as the heavens open and the chill, northern rain pelted down. As my companion made a judicious dive for the porch, I found a convenient tree under which to shelter the camera and get some shots of the famous crooked spire.

sheffield chesterfield hare 004The church dates to the 13th Century and the tower was added in around 1362. The tower is twisted by 45 degrees and leans 9’ 6” from true centre. Several local legends tell how it became so contorted, many have to do with the Devil and the purported virginity of brides. Wikipedia says : “One well established legend goes that a virgin once married in the church, and the church was so surprised that the spire turned around to look at the bride, and continues that if another virgin marries in the church, the spire will return to true again; with only 3 weddings in 2010 in the church it seems that this legend understandably discourages marriages at the church. Another legend is that a Bolsover blacksmith mis-shoed the Devil, who leaped over the spire in pain, knocking it out of shape.” There are others, and it is well worth looking some of them up.

sheffield chesterfield hare 005

I didn’t linger too long under my tree. It was raining quite heavily and my feet were already squelching in the little slippers I habitually wear for some strange and unfathomable reason. You would think I would have learned by now… Even the pigeons had given up and had taken shelter where they could, so I too followed their example.

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For all the church has been embellished over the centuries, being the foremost building in the area, it still retains its atmosphere of calm peace, and every nook and cranny inside hides symbols and artistic treasures, bits of history and the evidence of the faith of hundreds of years.

sheffield chesterfield hare 053

The Lady Chapel, as so often for me, had the most attraction, and a curious Revelations window in the north chapel too had us thinking. There is an eclectic mixture of styles here, from a dreadful neon cross to lovely sculpture with an African feel, from medieval marble tombs to a modern St Francis window full of gentleness.

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The place was full of visitors, though, and that always ends up with me documenting as much as I can with the camera while my companion wanders in search of his own inspiration… we then adjourn, usually to a local pub, and compare notes; knowing we have enough to go on in order to make a decision about coming back on a quieter day. It is these subsequent visits where you begin to really get to know a place, both by its details and by its feel.

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Today was no exception, but, unfortunately for us there was a bookshop and we became a tad sidetracked as we delved through the shelves, exiting with what rapidly became known as the Book of Assassinations as we trawled its pages under an awning while the rain still fell.

sheffield chesterfield hare 072

It is odd, of course, we think we are going to places for our own purposes, but so often, if you are open and ready to go where you are led, you end up finding far more than you had envisioned. We had gone to see a cathedral, but came away with a couple of years of speculative thought confirmed by the well-thumbed pages of a dog-eared book. Not a bad way to spend a rainy Saturday in Chesterfield.

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