Synchronicities…

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It has been our policy for some time now to ask Companions to bring readings for inclusion in our Landscape Weekends…

We first tried this on the Glastonbury Walk-and-Talk weekend and were delighted with the results.

The energies of the earth it seems respond favourably to the human voice, especially when it is utilised to bring forth heartfelt emotion…

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…Our readings to date have ranged far and wide over a spectrum of traditions and forms although it seems that the shorter pieces, generally, have more effect.

On the now distant ‘Circles Beyond Time: Seeking the Seer’ weekend one of our Companions chose to give a rendition, unaccompanied of a Robin Williamson composition, October Song.

Coincidentally, we were due to attend a Robin Williamson concert later that week and so the opportunity to tie these two events together became irresistible…

It is a relatively old song now, if age has any meaning for a song, and it was once described by Bob Dylan as ‘quite good’…

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‘I’ll sing you this October song,
Oh, there is no song before it.
The words and tune are none of my own,
for my joys and sorrows bore it…’

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‘…Beside the sea
The brambly briars, in the still of evening,
Birds fly out behind the sun,
and with them, I’ll be leaving…’

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‘…The fallen leaves that jewel the ground,
They know the art of dying,
And leave with joy their glad gold hearts,
In the scarlet shadows lying…’

‘…When hunger calls my footsteps home,
The morning follows after,
I swim the seas within my mind,
And the pine-trees laugh green laughter…’

‘…I used to search for happiness,
And I used to follow pleasure,
But I found a door behind my mind,
And that’s the greatest treasure…’

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‘…For rulers like to lay down laws,
And rebels like to break them,
And the poor priests like to walk in chains,
And God likes to forsake them…’

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‘…I met a man whose name was Time,
And he said, “I must be going, ”
But just how long ago that was,
I have no way of knowing…’

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‘…Sometimes I want to murder time,
Sometimes when my heart’s aching,
But mostly I just stroll along,
The path that he is taking…’

October Song, Robin Williamson.

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I rather think that the stones of Carl Wark enjoyed our Companion’s rendition of this song, and I’d also like to think that Robin would have been pleased with it too…

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Bridle Rock…

The Bamburgh Beast

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… The Great Stone in the ballad is known as Spindleston Heugh(s),

and is a dolerite crag on the Whin Sill (‘Dark Flat’) escarpment in the parish of Easington.

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 The Spindle Stone is a natural stone column standing out from the crag,

which is also known as ‘Bridle Rock’.

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‘Bridal Rocks’ are often climbed by suitors

in order to demonstrate their suitability for an intended.

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According to legend this one was used by Childy Wynde

to tether his horse before he tackled the Worm.

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A feature below the crag is marked ‘Laidley Worm’s Trough’ on the map

but the nearby ‘Laidley Worm’s Cave’ was destroyed in the 19th century.

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It is sometimes easy to forget our links to the land

in which we move and have our being

especially when we have been couped up in doors

for any length of time, by choice or otherwise.

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This, though, does not seem to have been so much of a problem

for our ancient ancestors, and perhaps,

this is because it was all so new to them…

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The balled of the Laidley Worm is now

intricately associated with Bamburgh castle.

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This large fortified house is perched atop a dolerite outcrop

which is decidedly wormlike in shape, and was formerly the stronghold

of Celtic Britons, the Din Guarie.

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The church at the back of the castle,

holds the relics of St Aiden.

Entry to the church is free, and is well worth a visit…

The Laidley Wyrm…

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I weird you a Laidly Worm,

Until the end-of-days,

And freed ne’er shall you be,

Until the king’s successor,

Approach the Heugh,

And give you kisses three…

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Before a legend ‘goes national’ it will first have been local.

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There are lots of ‘merlins’ and ‘arthurs’ in the land of Britain,

although not all of them are known by those names or titles.

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There are too, lots of dragon slayers,

few of which are called George.

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Before George became our Patron Saint,

our Patron Saint was called Edmund.

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Edmund was shot full of arrows then decapitated,

and his decapitated head was stolen, by a wolf…

Which is, perhaps, not very heroic.

Not heroic enough for some, certainly.

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Before George became our Patron Saint

there was a ‘dragon slayer’ in Northumbria,

here is his tale…

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“And so to Bamburgh castle, the king a new wife did bring.

But his queen took an instant dislike to her husband’s daughter, Margaret,

And transformed her into a Laidly Wyrm which coiled itself about a Great Stone,

And laid waste the land for seven miles around.

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Daily, the milk of seven cows was brought the Wyrm but all to no avail,

For the enchantment could only be lifted by Childy Wynd,

Margaret’s brother, but he lived far away over the sea.

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Word of the dark doings in his homeland eventually reached Childy,

Who built a ship with a rowan-tree mast and silken sails,

And set out to rid Bamburgh of its blight.

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The queen, she spied the ship and sent out ‘witch-wives’ to sink it,

But they were powerless ‘gainst the magical mast.

As the ship came into land, the Wyrm leapt up,

The Wyrm leapt down, and plaiting ’round the stane,

Banged it out to sea again.

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Undaunted, Childy put in on Budle Sand and waded ashore.

Finally encountering the Wyrm, Childy laid his sword upon its head,

Yet gave it kisses three,

And though it crept back into its hole a Wyrm,

It stepped out, a Lady.

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Together, brother and sister returned to Bamburgh,

To be greeted by their joyful father, the king.

The queen was transformed, by Childy, into a toad,

Which to this day spits venom on young girls out walking.”

Duncan Frasier  AD 1270

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Spindle-Stone Heugh…

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“And so to Bamburgh castle, the king a new wife did bring.

But his queen took an instant dislike to her husband’s daughter, Margaret,

And transformed her into a Laidly Wyrm which coiled itself about a Great Stone,

And laid waste the land for seven miles around.

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Daily, the milk of seven cows was brought the Wyrm but all to no avail,

For the enchantment could only be lifted by Childy Wynd,

Margaret’s brother, but he lived far away over the sea.

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‘The Pilgrims’ sally forth…

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Word of the dark doings in his homeland eventually reached Childy,

Who built a ship with a rowan-tree mast and silken sails,

And set out to rid Bamburgh of its blight.

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The queen, she spied the ship and sent out ‘witch-wives’ to sink it,

But they were powerless ‘gainst the magical mast.

As the ship came into land, the Wyrm leapt up,

The Wyrm leapt down, and plaiting ’round the stane,

Banged it out to sea again.

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Dunstanburgh: ‘A ruinous ego’?…

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Undaunted, Childy put in on Budle Sand and waded ashore.

Finally encountering the Wyrm, Childy laid his sword upon its head,

Yet gave it kisses three,

And though it crept back into its hole a Wyrm,

It stepped out, a Lady.

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Together, brother and sister returned to Bamburgh,

To be greeted by their joyful father, the king.

The queen was transformed, by Childy, into a toad,

Which to this day spits venom on girls out walking.”

Duncan Frasier  AD 1270

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