Bridle Rock…

The Bamburgh Beast

*

… 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.

*

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

which is also known as ‘Bridle Rock’.

*

‘Bridal Rocks’ are often climbed by suitors

in order to demonstrate their suitability for an intended.

*

According to legend this one was used by Childy Wynde

to tether his horse before he tackled the Worm.

*

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.

*

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.

*

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…

*

The balled of the Laidley Worm is now

intricately associated with Bamburgh castle.

*

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.

*

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…

Dragon Spawn…

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2b/Nuremberg_chronicles_f_124v_2.jpg

*

… And so the Blessed Isle of Britain flourished

with sumptuous buildings and courageous and valiant Knights.

The land was replenished with cities, and divided into shires and counties…

*

The City of Coventry was the place where the first English Christian was born,

and the first that ever sought for foreign adventures,

whose name to this day all of Europe holds in high regard:

 The valiant Knight, St George of England,

whose golden garter is not only worn by nobles,

but by kings, and in memory of his victories

the Kings of England still fight under his banner.

*

When Nature created him in his mother’s womb,

she dreamed she was to be conceived of a dragon,

which dream she long concealed and kept secret,

until her burden grew so heavy that her womb was scarce able to endure it.

*

So, at last finding opportunity to confide in her husband,

Sir Albert, High-Steward of England, she said:

“My Lord, by birth I am the King of England’s daughter,

and for twenty one years I have been your true and lawful wife.

Yet never was I in hope of a child until now.

Therefore, I entreat you by the dear and natural love you bear the infant

conceived in my womb, that by art, wisdom, or other inspiration,

you interpret my troublesome dreams, and tell me what they signify.

For thirty nights past, my slumbers have been beset by grievous dreams;

and night by night, no sooner did sweet-sleep take possession of my senses,

but I thought myself conceived with a dreadful dragon,

destined to be the cause of its parents death.”

North-easterly…

We were heading for the Castles of the Mind weekend, so time placed a curtain wall around our freedom to meander. For once, therefore, we behaved, managing to resist all temptation to stop and visit places along the road as we made our way northwards. Our destination was Bamburgh and we had to arrive in time for tea. That we arrived early enough to book in to our accommodation and check out two churches before the meeting was our reward for not straying from the road.

The route we had taken was circuitous, avoiding the rush-hour traffic by the simple expedient of going south in order to head north on calmer routes. Thus, the symbolism of the weekend began early, because although the more direct route would undoubtedly have been quicker, we would have arrived bored by motorways and stressed by traffic, where instead we learned something about the land, found new places to explore and arrived eager to greet our friends, who had travelled from across the country and from the Czech Republic for the weekend. The straight road is not always the best from which to learn.

We would begin with a cream tea and a walk on the beach below Bamburgh’s iconic castle, where Steve would introduce us to some of the concepts he wanted to explore during the course of the weekend, using the symbolism of the castle to illustrate the workings of the ego.

No-one really knows how long there has been a fortress on the site, or whether the striking outcrop on the shore began its life as something other than a defensive bastion. What is known is that it was once a place of the Brittonic Celts, who called it Din Guarie, as early as 420AD. It has been an Anglo Saxon palace, a Norman stronghold and seat of rebellion and is now a private home partly open to the public. The castle has seen many changes over the years, but it still imposes its presence upon the landscape.

Castles are strange, contradictory things, when you think about it. They fulfil many functions, from keeping goods and people sheltered within the safety of their walls, to defending against attack, whilst being themselves both bases for armies and for ruling the surrounding land with the proverbial iron fist. They may epitomise strength, will and power, yet they are also rigid, limited and vulnerable. Under attack they may be broken, under siege they will fall to starvation, flame, or fear. The encircling wall which holds everything within it in safety is also its own boundary, through which both ingress and egress are carefully controlled. The bars of the portcullis can keep people in as well shutting them out.

We stood on the outside, looking in. The gates were closed against us and, in a perfect illustration, we were denied its sanctuary as a sudden squall battered us with wind and rain. Surrounded by the elemental forces of the water and air, it would have been easy to choose a retreat, seeking the shelter of stone walls and firesides.

But the rain stopped as suddenly as it had begun, and, after all, only we were wet. The sand still held the warmth of the day, the air still retained a memory of summer and the sea had not quite reached its truly northern chill. Closer to the waves, the sand already held more water than the clouds and the footprints it held told their own story. I was surprised by how many were booted, feet encased in miniature ‘castles’, isolated from the earth. It is undoubtedly a hassle to remove and carry boots and socks, then have to remove the pervasive sand from between the toes, but a few had done so and the very human prints ran with those of the dogs who bounded joyfully across the beach.

Already as wet from the rain as I was likely to get, with the sand soft between my toes, I walked along the edge of the waterline. It is a strange sensation, walking thus in silence with the susurration of the sea drowning all other sound. On one side, the waves roll in, in constant, repetitive motion, yet with each wave unique in form, force and sound. On the other side, the beached water rolls out to sea, levelling the sand as it passes, erasing all trace of what has gone before. You walk the path of balance, poised between the ebb and flow, a fragile creature, able to move forward in face of the elements, isolated by their song, yet part of the dance.

The sea too has its power and its will, the strength to erode the foundations of a castle, and the freedom of fluidity. Bounded only by the shores it creates, water rises to form clouds that travel overland and beyond the ocean’s visible limits. Even so, it is vulnerable and suffers at the hand of Man. It may protect its creatures, but it is dangerous, and like the lords of the castle, must be treated with respect.

Walking the shore, with the castle behind me, I would rather be at one with the sea than the fortress, yet both are neither more, nor less, than what they are, their form and function intimately linked and both serve their purpose. The real question, perhaps, is do I want to remain within the apparent security of the walls of my own nature or take my chances with a wider landscape of adventure… Perhaps the path between is the wisest place to walk.

The Wyrm and the Wyrd: Getting there…

We took our time getting organised, intending to take a leisurely drive cross-country… perhaps stopping along the way, wherever the spirit moved us. In the spirit of the planned walk-and-talk weekend, the prisoners had escaped and were heading for the border. Anyone would think we were on holiday. We did ourselves. We should know better by now.

We may not have been heading for our respective places of work, but the Work that we do  when we are not at work…and even when we are… is not something that can be switched on and off. It cannot be neatly compartmentalised or assigned a designated slot on the timetable, to be dipped into when the fancy takes you; it is a state of being, not doing. Once a pinhole has been opened in consciousness, the pressure of life floods through in an unceasing current.

The problem is that the conscious mind is rather dense. It seems to forget, from moment to moment, that the flow is constant, even if our attention is elsewhere. Which is why the discrete presence plucking at your sleeve may go unnoticed until it sighs, gives up and hits you round the face with a wet kipper.

The first clue that we missed was my apparent reluctance to break our journey at a place we actually want to visit. I came up with no good reason and we sailed blithely by, choosing instead to take the coast road, rather than the more practical route to our destination. There was little to see for some reason. Nothing that caught our interest or eye apart from an odd glimpse of the sea and some rather spectacular castles perched on hillsides, where we could not even stop to take the odd picture.

Consequently, we had not actually broken the journey to Llandudno at all and arrived a bit deflated at our destination. There was a half seen glimpse of a sculpture as we sought the guest house where we would be staying the night, a flurry of activity to get booked in and settled,  then a rather half-hearted decision to go out and find dinner and check out the sculpture.

“It looked like the White Rabbit.”
“Odd, that, because this hotel feels a lot like the Alice-in Wonderland hotel in Cumbria…” That had been the Lutwidge Arms… a strange place with Alice on the ceiling; a last minute discovery on our wander up to Scotland… a trip that had set us off on a whole new phase of adventuring.
I glanced at the pictures on the hotel wall as I opened the door… and there was Alice.
“There must be some connection with Alice and Llandudno…”

We can, I think, be excused at this point. We were tired and the only wet fish we had on our minds came with batter, chips and mushy peas. The word ‘rabbit-hole’ would have had nothing to connect with anyway… The only entry to the earth we had encountered in ages was my accidental glimpse of Thor’s Cave.

We sat on the promenade for a while, beneath the fluttering Red Dragon, watching the sea and the flock of corvids who came to investigate… they too were probably ready for dinner.
“Shall we take a reading?”
At the informal weekends we ask our companions to bring readings that speak to them or capture the theme of the event. We had taken a slightly different approach this time and brought a book of mystical quotations that would be used following the old pronciple of bibliomancy. The pages, chosen at random but with intent, would hold a pair of readings. One of these would be selected numerically to represent the light, the other would be the shadow side.
“The light reading is what can be seen in a given situation, the dark is what has to be intuited.” 

Obviously intuition had already called it a day. We wandered back to the hotel, with its view of the Great Orme to the rear and the Little Orme to the front.
“Orme – worm – wyrm… It’s a dragon.”
“There are ancient mines on the summit…”
“We could have a wander up there before we leave…”

So, although the intuition wasn’t filtering through to consciousness just yet and we had managed to ignore the sleeve-tugging and even failed to register the wet kipper, we were, it seemed, finally getting there. So next morning, after breakfast, we threw the bags in the car and climbed the steep road up the Great Orme…

Weekend workshops – The Silent Eye 2017

The Silent Eye hosts a number of events each year, from our annual Weekend Workshop in Derbyshire to our informal Living Land and Walk and Talk gatherings. This year we will be holding events in England, Scotland and Wales. All events are open to non-members and Companions of the School and they are a great way to meet us, explore the teachings we share and spend time with fellow travellers.

You do not need any previous knowledge or experience. There is no need to be following a particular spiritual path…you are just as likely to be sitting next to a minister as you are to a shaman or a  mystic. There is just an opportunity to share a journey together. You can read what it is like to attend your first workshop here.

Why not come along and join in?

logo

The Feathered Seerindex1

Weekend of 21-23 April 2017

Great Hucklow, Derbyshire Dales. England.

The annual residential workshop is based around a single story played out over the weekend in the manner of the ancient Mystery Plays. The story illustrates a particular aspect of spirituality in a setting that allows the abstract idea to be played out in a symbolic manner that relates it to everyday life. This year we will share the story of a young Seer of the Old Ones, the ancient people of Albion, following her journey through the troubled times of invasion to a place of peace.


prisoner-portmeirion-logoaa

The Prisoner of Portmeirion?

Weekend of 16-18 June 2017

Close to Portmeirion Village. Wales

Set in and around the very real village of Portmeirion, the place where the Prisoner was filmed,  with the backdrop of wonderful Snowdonia on our doorstep, our pre-solstice adventure in the landscape will take the form of a psychological exploration of what it means to ‘fit in’ with the world–and the price of not doing so. We do not intend this to be deadly serious, but many a powerful revelation can come from a dash of humour.


4-copyMaiden, Mother, Crone: Solstice of the Moon

Inverurie, Scotland

15th-17th September 2017

Guided by Running Elk, we will spend a weekend in the beautiful Don valley, exploring some of the ancient and sacred sites that have woven their mysteries for thousands of years. Unique to the area, with the exception of a few examples in Ireland, the circles of the region are of the “recumbent” type; intended for monitoring the “solstices” of the moon, known as the lunar standstill.


Riddles of the nightrs-193

Bakewell, Derbyshire

1st-3rd December 2017

Discover for yourselves the hidden jewels of the night. As the darkness of the winter solstice enfolds the land, join us for a magical weekend pursuing the treasure of understanding .Will you find the jewel at the heart of the mystery? Will you find the way to go?


Full details of each workshop can be found on our Events Page

Click below to

Download our Informal Events Booking Form – pdf

or to book for The Feathered Seer click here:

The Feathered Seer

For further details or to reserve your place: rivingtide@gmail.com