Whitby Weekend: The Crypt at Lastingham

A few of us made our way down the stone steps of St Mary’s in Lastingham, into the crypt where the bones of St Cedd are reputedly buried. To do so is to step back in history and be outside of time; it is a place of quiet reflection, hallowed, one would like to think, by many centuries of prayer… except that, at one point, the crypt was supposed to have also been used as a cock-fighting arena…

Nevertheless, it is the hallowing of space that strikes you… a place to which those of faith have made pilgrimage, when countless have prayed, whether to the God of the saint or to their own vision of divinity. There have always been many who can see beyond the labels of religion to the kernel of truth held in all.

The crypt is part of the original stone church mentioned by the Venerable Bede, built between 664 and 732,  and remains almost untouched since that time. Some believe the stone altar to be even older than the crypt and one single, carved oak beam remains from the early church.

Each of the pillars supporting the vault is carved differently, with a disregard for symmetry typical of the period; artistically, symmetry seems to be a relatively modern concept. From the pillars of the cathedrals at Dunfermline and Durham, to the tiny Saxon crypt at Repton, we have seen this so often. Perhaps the designs had a meaning now lost… or perhaps it was simply the stonemason’s art at play.

There are carved stones and relics of a millennium and more of history ranged around the edges of the crypt, from an old, wooden burial bier to fragments of standing crosses, including the Ana Cross that once stood along the road we had just taken from the moors, to the arms of the great Lastingham Cross, now resting beside the bier.

There are a selection of gravemarkers, carved with crosses or, on one curious stone, what appears to be a chalice and sword as one, which, in esoteric terms, is suggestive of a  melding of the ‘masculine’ and dynamic energies with those that are ‘feminine’ and receptive… the agent of force and the vessel of form as one.

Perhaps the most curious thing, though, was the preponderance of serpents and dragons, from those intertwining up the face of an ancient stone, to the serpentine carvings in the church above and the dragons tucked away in a corner with fragments of masonry. What were they intended to symbolise? The many leys that have been dowsed and reported as meeting in the crypt? Or perhaps the streams that feed the four holy wells in the village?

In spite of there being so much to see in the little crypt, though, its true invitation was to share its silence, in prayer or meditation. Whatever gods the stones now kept here may have served in the far distant past, all may be but fragmentary perceptions of the One, kindled by recognition and reverence to hold a spark of that something that shines in the depths of being.  Joined by the others, we lit our candles together and sent their warmth out into the world.

Full Circle: St Michael and All Angels, Addingham

 

From Little Meg we had a leisurely stroll down a wooded path, to a tiny church we had glimpsed from the circle on our first visit. It had turned out to be one I had stumbled across in my research of the area and well worth a visit, even if, when we arrived, the doors were closed, for in the churchyard is an unusual cross.

The weathered, Anglo-Norse cross is covered in scroll-work. The ends of the arms are carved with saltires …St Andrew’s crosses … which have figured frequently in our wanderings. Only the upper part of the shaft and the cross head remains from the original cross which dates from the 900s. Even the ‘modern’ base into which they are set dates from before the Norman Conquest of 1066.

A close look at the carving seems to suggest that the ends of the scroll work are serpent heads… a nice touch, considering we were looking at the ‘serpent energies’ of the leys on our quest to find the ‘way home’. The leys may well have provided a physical presence as ancient trackways amongst their functions, with the monuments placed upon them being used as navigational aids.

The cross belonged to the village of Addingham, which was an early, Anglo-Saxon settlement. The village was washed away by floods in the mid-fourteenth century, when the River Eden changed its course. The churchyard, though, was still used for burials for some time after the flood.

In 1913, a drought dropped the level of the river and revealed a number of medieval grave markers,  early carved cross shafts and another hogback stone which are now preserved in the porch.

Records show that there was a church on the present site in 1272, although there is no record of whether an early chapel stood here. Interestingly, at that time, it was known as St Mary’s Chapel. The current dedication to St Michael and All Angels, marked by a modern stained glass window by  S.M.Scott, means that two of the major leys of Britain are echoed here as the masculine and feminine energetic polarities are called the Michael and the Mary, which are also symbolised by the red and the white Dragons of Albion, mentioned in the story of Vortigern’s ill-fated Tower.

The chancel of the church was rebuilt in 1512, and much of the rest of the church has been altered and rebuilt over the following centuries. The present building, lovingly cared for and restored, is a simple place of light and calm.

For such a small church, it possesses a number of beautiful stained glass windows, including one that shows vignettes of Martha and Mary of Bethany, the sisters of Lazarus, at the feet of Jesus, with the raising of Jairus’ daughter. These are stories that have been making their presence felt lately as we delve into the Templar mysteries and they are a fairly unusual subject to find.

Near the pulpit is the base of another stone cross, very ancient. It has been carved at a later date with what looks like a game, a variant of Nine men’s Morris, perhaps? Or were the holes designed to hold something?

There are a number of simple memorial plaques set into the walls. Most poignant is the war memorial that commemorates far too many names for such tiny communities.

For our purposes though,as we explore the relationship between the heavens and the leys, the one of particular note is the memorial bearing the sword transpiercing the star. Our meditation asked that each visualise the web of light, joining all sacred places on the earth and see it reflected in the heavens. We asked that each explore the relationship between the star map and the web of light on earth, finding one’s own place within it.

Even more curiously, given what we were doing, voicing the randomly chosen ‘words of truth’, their ‘seeds’, and the intent to which they are linked, the motto on the crest says, ‘Faites bien et laissez dire’… do good and allow (them) to speak. And, as we made our way to the final site of the day, that was exactly what we had in mind…

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WHAT’S UP DOC? Lines of communication V…

*

…Cara… ‘I reign over you, saith the God of Justice.

ELEXARPEH

COMANANU

TABITOM.

Move therefore and show yourselves.

Appear unto us; open the mysteries of your Creation, the balance of

Righteousness and Truth.’

*

Bugs: The three names are the Angels who rule over the Tablet of Union in the Enochian System devised by Doctor John Dee and Edward Kelley…

Cara: So, some questions… What are Angels? Anybody… (discuss)

Bugs: Who numbers them? (we do…)

Cara: Who gives them names? (we do…)

Bugs: What is the Angelic function?

Cara: So… Horizonal polarity, the mundane oppositions of the world which as we have seen are interchangeable and are ever flipping, versus… Vertical polarity… World/Otherworld… Heaven/Earth… Human/Divine, we’d like to propose two definitions.

Bugs: Horizontal Polarity encompasses, ‘Everything we know or think we know.’ … which is mutable.

Cara: Vertical Polarity encompasses, ‘Everything we don’t know or don’t think we know.’ … which is immutable.

Bugs: The Angelic function is to mediate between the poles of a vertical polarity.

Cara: From whom to whom? (discuss)

Bugs: From here to where? (discuss)

Cara: Angelos means, ‘messenger’.  In Christian Mysticism where the divine is regarded as the beloved, the angel is the lovers ‘chaperone’

Bugs: In Sufi Mysticism where the divine is spoken of in terms of an intoxicating beverage

The ‘Wine-house dispenser’, or ‘bar-tender’, is the angel.

Cara: Also, in Islamic mysticism we have Al Khidr –  who is Another Green or Verdant Man…

And, somewhat inevitably, an angel.

Bugs: The function of al-Khiḍr as a ‘person-archetype’ is to reveal each companion to

themselves, to lead each companion to their own theophany, because that theophany

corresponds to their own ‘inner heaven,’ to the form of their own being, to their eternal

individuality.

Cara: This latter, then, conforms to the idea of ‘contact’.

Bugs: And in Magical Tradition to, ‘Conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel’….

Cara: Where language fails in its attempt to adequately describe this state…

Art… Dance…Music… may succeed…

Intro music…

Bugs: So, we would like to conclude this presentation with a piece of music.

This piece of music, in our opinion, possesses the ability to make the ‘beyond’ tangible.

Before we do that for you we would like to rearrange things slightly as a symbolism and an act of sacrifice

Cara: As you move your intent should be ‘I move, in order, to achieve my vertical polarity.’

(seat swap) S1-N9, N8-S2, S3-N7, N6-S4, (S5-N5, already accomplished) S6-N4, N3-S7, S8-N2, N1-S9)

Bugs: (closes curtains and dims any lights.) Explain meditation… Seed thoughts. ‘Never perfect always changing. Ever changing always perfect.’

Music…O Holy One… by John Tavener…

Cara: reads… (over start of music)

Most subtle of the shifting forms and yet most constant too.

Whose moonlit transformation cannot change the heart that’s true.

It harkens to each season’s turn and reads the twilight air

And listens to the inner song and knows both foul and fair.

Between two worlds It journeys and in both It can be seen

In adoration of the moon yet always clothed in green…

END

Rabbit Excerpt abridged from ‘Watership Down’ – by Richard Adams

Thanks to those Companions who acted as Adjudicators, and all those whose contributions to this presentation helped make it work…

WHAT’S UP DOC? Lines of communication IV…

*

…’All colour had faded from the sky and although the big board by the gate creaked slightly in the night wind, there was no passer-by to read the sharp, hard letters that cut straight as black knives across its white surface.
They said…’

Bugs… (pause) CARROTS! (pause) Reads…

THIS IDEALLY SITUATED ESTATE
COMPRISING SIX ACRES
OF EXCELLENT BUILDING LAND
IS TO BE DEVELOPED
WITH HIGH CLASS MODERN RESIDENCES
BY SUTCH AND MARTIN, LIMITED
OF NEWBURY, BERKS

Cara… In the context of the story then, this notice spells doom for the rabbits and the warren…

Bugs… So, what’s going on? Why have we presented you with these cards?

Cara… A spanking, brand new pair of Bunny ears for anyone who can tell us?

(Interplay)

BugsIf no takers… Well, you are all now Rabbits anyway…Why?

Because you are in the same position in relation to the first inscription on the card as the rabbits in the story are to the second… (both Cara and Bugs elaborate on that position) So, to emphasise that position…

*

Cara… In the darkness and warmth of the burrow Hazel suddenly woke, struggling and kicking with his back legs…

Bugs… It was Fiver, who was clambering over him, clawing and grabbing like a rabbit trying to climb a wire fence in panic.

*
Cara… ‘Fiver! Fiver, wake up… It’s Hazel. You’ll hurt me in a moment. Wake up!
He held him down. Fiver struggled and woke.

*
Bugs… “Oh, Hazel! I was dreaming. It was dreadful.
You were there.
We were sitting on water, going down a great, deep stream, and then I realised we were on a board, like that board in the field.
There were other rabbits there but when I looked down the board was made of bones and wires…
I was looking for you everywhere and trying to drag you out of a hole in the bank.
You said, “The Chief Rabbit must go alone, and you floated away down a dark tunnel of water.”

*
Cara… Well, you’ve hurt my ribs, anyway.
Tunnel of water… What rubbish!
Can we go back to sleep now?

*

Bugs… “Hazel – the danger, the bad thing. It hasn’t gone away.

It’s here – all round us.

Don’t tell me to forget about it and go to sleep.

We’ve got to get away before it’s too late.”

*
Cararepeats… ‘The bad thing.

It hasn’t gone away.

It’s here… all around us…’

So, we ask again…

Is our script.

Our unknown script good or bad?

Repeats invocation…

*
Bugs… Is it worthy or unworthy of ridicule?

If any Companions claimed to know at outset let them reveal, alternatively, Reveal…

This is a fragment of angelic language used by Dr John Dee.

It is part of an invocation…

*

Cara… ‘I reign over you, saith the God of Justice.
ELEXARPEH
COMANANU
TABITOM.
Move therefore and show yourselves.
Appear unto us; open the mysteries of your Creation, the balance of
Righteousness and Truth.’

to be continued…

WHAT’S UP DOC? Lines of communication II…

*

…Cara: If we can’t trust the written word what can we trust?

Bugs settles at the West and Cara at the East.

Bugs: Vertical Polarity!

Cara: recites…

OL SONUF VAORSAGI GOHO IADA BALTA.

ELEXARPEH COMANANU TABITOM. ZODAKARA,

EKA ZODAKARE OD ZODAMERANU. ODO KIKLE

QAA PIAP PIAMOEL OD VAOAN.

Bugs: (Addressing the Companions) Don’t say what this is but if anyone does know what it is please raise your hands. (If any hands are raised to each of those who raised their hands) – Just say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Do you know what it means? (if so) – Please don’t take part in the next bit. So, everyone else.  Those of you who feel that this piece holds power, raise your hands.  (If any hands are raised) Would anyone like to expand on that? Would anyone like to categorise how that made them feel.  In a general way was that feeling Good or Bad? We’ll come back to this…

Cara: But first…

Cara walks to the central altar and removes the cover from the Top Hat and Ears, lifting out the rabbit ears in time honoured fashion they are revealed to be part of two rabbit masks…

Bugs: For those with ears to hear…

Bugs walks to the central altar. Cara hands one of the rabbit masks to Bugs (Black) and keeping the other for herself (White) they both don them.

Cara (now wearing a white rabbit mask) … A story about rabbits…

Bugs: (now wearing a black rabbit mask) … ‘What’s up Doc!’

Bugs explains that the cards have two inscriptions, one on either side but that the companions must not turn the cards over to read the second inscription until directed to do so by the utterance of the ‘Trigger’ word- ‘Carrots’ as Cara hands out the cards. After handing out the cards Cara returns to the central altar. Bugs and Cara circle the altar and then Bugs retreats to the east, while Cara retreats to the west.

TO EACH READ, IN TURN, WHILE CIRCLING…

*

Bugs… The primroses were over…

The May sunset was red in clouds, and there was still half an hour to twilight.

The dry slope was dotted with rabbits…

Here and there one sat upright on an ant-heap and looked about:

ears erect

nose to the wind.

The blackbird, singing undisturbed on the outskirts of the wood, gave lie to their caution.

There was nothing to alarm the peace of the warren.

*

Cara… At the top of the bank where the blackbird sang was a group of holes hidden by brambles.

In the green half-light, at the mouth of one of these holes, sat two rabbits side by side.

The larger of the two came out of the hole, slipped along the bank, hopped down into the ditch and then ambled up into the field…

A few moments later the smaller rabbit followed.

The first rabbit stopped in a sunny patch and scratched an ear with rapid movements of a hind-leg.

He looked as though he knew how to take care of himself.

There was a shrewd, buoyant air about him as he sat up, looked round and rubbed both front paws over his nose.

Once satisfied that all was well he laid back his ears and set to work on the grass.

His companion seemed less at ease.

He was small, with wide eyes and a way of raising and turning his head which suggested a sort of ceaseless nervous tension.

His nose moved continually and when a bumble-bee flew, humming, to a thistle bloom behind him he jumped and spun round with a start…

*

to be continued…

WHAT’S UP DOC? Lines of communication…

 

*

For those with eyes to see…

*

Floor Set up

Altar, placed centrally on chequered floor and covered… With, placed on it, top-hat, upended, with, placed in it, rabbit mask and ears x2, and ‘pack-of-cards’, all also covered. South and North lined with nine chairs for Companions.  Adjudicator 1 (male) to sit on central chair of South. Adjudicator 2 (female) to sit on central chair of North. Two chairs in East. One chair in West.

Bugs and Cara initially sit on chairs in East. When all Companions have entered and are seated Cara and Bugs rise to stand, simultaneously, and Cara walks clockwise to stand in front of the west chair.

*

Bugs: Friends, Britons, Countrymen…Welcome to our presentation. In keeping with our Shakespearean theme this year, we have determined to develop some of the concepts of the weekend…

Cara: Horizontal Polarity!

(Bugs and Cara walk anti-clockwise. Bugs to stand before West chair. Cara to stand before East chairs. On the way, Bugs hands Adjudicator 2 Gold Parchment with a sonnet printed on it. On reaching the West Bugs declares…)

Bugs: Love!

Cara:  recites the Shakespearean sonnet as a ‘lover’…

Being your slave, what should I do but tend

Upon the hours and times of your desire?

I have no precious time at all to spend,

Nor services to do, till you require.

Nor dare I chide the world-without-end hour

Whilst I, my sovereign, watch the clock for you,

Nor think the bitterness of absence sour

When you have bid your servant once adieu;

Nor dare I question with my jealous thought

Where you may be, or your affairs suppose,

But, like a sad slave, stay and think of nought

Save, where you are how happy you make those.

   So true a fool is love that in your will,

   Though you do anything, he thinks no ill.

(Adjudicator 2 ‘follows’ the recital from the Gold Parchment. On finishing the reading Cara and Bugs switch positions again but this time they move clockwise. On the way Cara hands Adjudicator 1 Silver Parchment with the sonnet printed on it. On reaching the East, Bugs declares…)

Bugs: Loathing!

Cara: recites the same Shakespearean sonnet but this time as a ‘loather’…

(Adjudicator 1 ‘follows’ the recital from the Silver Parchment. On finishing the reading Cara moves clockwise to the South to collect Adjudicator 1 and leads him to the central altar. Bugs moves clockwise to the North to collect Adjudicator 2 and leads her to the central altar. Both Adjudicators follow the central line of the ‘board’ and square corners around the altar, to stand facing each other centrally as directed by Bugs and Cara. Once at the altar they are asked to verify that both the scripts are the same. When they have done so they swap parchments and then are led to opposite seats and re-seated.)

Bugs returns to East.

Cara returns to West.

(During the following exchange they circle the altar, alternating between East and West as they speak.)

Bugs: Ladies and Gentlemen, please, a hand for our adjudicators…

Cara: And so, we see, that, Horizontal Polarities are interchangeable, and represent two sides of the same coin…

And we can also see, that, opposite ‘emotions’ can be evoked by the self-same words?

Bugs: The written word, it seems, needs context…

Cara: But if we cannot trust the written word what can we trust?

to be continued…

A Bibliomantic Tale VII…

*

Harlech Castle

*

“Patrick McGoohan’s, ‘The Prisoner’, displays many thematic similarities to Franz Kafka’s, ‘The Castle’ and ‘The Trial’.”

Authority

Pages One-Five-Two and One-Five-Three

*

No 8 (Light)

O God, the longer I gaze upon your face, the more acutely do you seem to turn the gaze of your eyes upon me!…Thus when I meditate on how that face is truth and the best measure of all faces, I am expanded into a state of immense wonder…

Those who look upon you with a loving face will find your face looking at them with love… Those who look upon you in hate will similarly find your face hateful. Those who gaze at you in joy will find your face joyfully reflected back at them.

– Nicolas of Cusa

*

*

“Nature reduces all physical constructs to rubble and all mental constructs to hot air.”…

*

No 9 (Dark)

O Divine One, all beauty which can be conceived is less than the beauty of your face.

Though every face is beautiful, no face is beauty’s self but your face, God/ess, has beauty and this having is being.

It is absolute beauty itself, which is the form that gives being to every beautiful form.

– Nicolas of Cusa

*

Dyffryn Ardudwy Dolmen

*

To close the day we repaired to a sacred site and performed a simple but effective turning of the year ritual.

*

*

Pages Two-Two-Seven and Two-Two-Eight.

*

No 2 (Light)

‘To understand the world, knowledge is not enough. You must see it, touch it, live in its presence and drink the vital heart of existence in the very heart of reality.’

– Teilhard de Chardin

*

*

No 3 (Dark)

‘Let us advance one step further. What name should we give to this physio-moral energy of personalisation to which all activities displayed by the stuff of the universe are finally reduced? Only one name is possible, if we are to credit it with the generality and power that it should assume in the cosmic order: love… The conclusion is always the same: Love is the most powerful and still the most unknown energy of the world.’

– Teilhard de Chardin

*

*

to be continued…

A Bibliomantic Tale V…

*

Borth-y-Gest from Portmeirion Beach

*

 “We have Take-Off!”

Resignation

“One-Nine-One, or One-Nine-Two?”

*

No 3 (Light)

‘Suddenly the world

Cracks, the phallos

Slams home, slams the ineluctable stroke.

And the universe splits, the touched-off tinder,

Fired by that blazing torch

Detonates all the tamped and pounded down empacted intensity.’

– William Everson

*

“I think we were all surprised by that reading.”

*

*

“We’ll save the dark reading for back at the Hotel.”

*

No 2 (Dark)

‘How long they lie each never knows.

This prayer, their one worship. A worship

Learned in the years. For youth leans on them:

They are getters of children: known much and have suffered.

In the deeps of the soul have ached for each other,

Accepting suffering…

*

And now in their night

They know the incarnational join: body to body

Twain in one flesh…

*

Out in the night the River runs.

– William Everson

*

*

to be continued…

 

A Bibliomantic Tale II…

*

Llandudno Bay: the Great Orme.

*

Tee minus Two-Four hours and counting…

No 3

‘The greatest religious and moral truth to which man must grow is that we cannot be saved individually. My salvation presupposes the salvation of others also, the salvation of my neighbour, it presupposes universal salvation, the salvation of the whole world, the transfiguration of the world. The very idea of salvation arises from the oppressed condition of man; and it is associated with a forensic conception of Christianity. This ought to be replaced by the idea of creative transformation and enlightenment, by the idea of perfecting all life. “Behold, I make all things new.” It is not only God that makes all things new, it is man too.’

– Nicolas Berdyaev

*

“The prefix ‘Llan’ in a Welsh place name means sacred.”

“So what was sacred about Llandudno?”

“St Tudno dwelt here.”

“And before that?”

“Before that it was the two Ormes, although they wouldn’t have been known as Ormes then. The Vikings named them from the sea. One finds ‘Great’ and ‘Little’ in place names too.”

“If Summer is ‘Big Sun’ and Winter is ‘Small Sun’ then, Summer is also ‘Small Earth’ and Winter is ‘Big Earth’.

“Why are we only using one quotation?”

“Because only one was chosen.”

*

*

“Ahem!”

Brown Rabbit was back.

“…The chosen quotation is the light reading. The non-chosen is the dark. Both are valid but for completely different reasons. The light reading is what can be seen in a given situation, the dark is what has to be intuited.”

*

No 2

‘The greatest error of which historical Christianity is guilty is due to the circumscribing and deadening notion that revelation is finished and that there is nothing more to be expected, that the structure of the Church has been completely built and that the roof has been put on it. Religious controversy is essentially concerned with the problem of the possibility of a new revelation and of a new spiritual era. All other questions are of secondary importance… The revelation of the Spirit cannot be simply waited for; it depends also upon the creative activity of man; it cannot be understood simply as a new revelation of God to man; it is also a revelation of man to God. This means that it will be a divine-human revelation.’

– Nicolas Berdyaev

*

Llandudno Bay: the Little Orme.

*

to be continued…