Petals of the Rose

Petals of the Rose

Guided Journeys

Sue Vincent

A collection of guided meditations, designed to open aspects of the personality in as gentle and natural way as the petals of the rose open at the touch of the sun. Each inner journey will carry you to a haven within your own psyche from which to explore layers of your own being, learning their meaning and purpose.

From mystical and silent castles, to the song of the unicorn… each journey takes you deeper into your inner being and carries you out beyond the stars.

Stories stir the imagination, casting images upon the screen of mind that allow us to explore, in safety, aspects of our lives and being that we might otherwise avoid or overlook. There is a rich vein of experience in memory that can be mined for its treasures. One of the simplest and best ways of exploring the labyrinths of the mind is to do so through a guided journey.

Meditation and visualisation are not arcane practices in which a few indulge… we all use these tools every day, to navigate our way around the world and our lives. We ask ourselves ‘what if?’, creating imaginary scenarios before we act. We visualise the route we walk to work, or what the basket full of ingredients will look like, once assembled and cooked, on a dinner plate.

There is no mystery in meditation… but when you give time and attention to the practice, it can open the door to many mysteries… including those of our own being…

Available via Amazon.com, Amazon UK and worldwide in Paperback and for Kindle

St Just…

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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…

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Which is just as well, really,

for we were up, and off, and away

long before breakfast would ordinarily

ever have been dreamed of…

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However, by nine bells one might be forgiven

for expecting the local sea-front eateries to be offering

something in the way of refreshment?

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Not so!

So, we headed for St Just…

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How to disguise your sacred monument…

 

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Firstly, cover it with the Dragon’s Breath…

Secondly, consign it to a relatively late historical period…

Thirdly, invent for it a plausible name…

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“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.” …

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“And what did St Just do?”

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“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.”

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

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

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A Sacred and Profane Memoir

 by Alfred John Prufrock

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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…

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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

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The watchers

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We were being watched. It was palpable. In fact, as I raised the camera to watch the watchers, others could see it too… we weren’t imagining it. They had been following us all day, dark, hooded figures flitting in and out of vision, all across the Derbyshire landscape. Sitting on fences, following our footsteps, watching our every move at every site we visited. We even had evidence in bag and pocket… and the camera had quietly documented their stealthy observation…

Sitting in the little courtyard of the pub in Castleton, by some miracle on the part of my companion, the staid half of shandy I had reluctantly asked for had been transformed into a nicely chilled Stowford’s … I love Derbyshire!… and we were surrounded.

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There were jackdaws on the low rooftops, on the chimneys… whole families of them, including the young one that misjudged and went flying in a way that failed to involve wings.

I snapped away happily while the pint of Guinness and half of Stowford’s slowly disappeared, then passed the camera across to my companion so he could see the day’s photographic haul. As always I wait, judging his reaction by the tilt of his head and the set of his lips.

“We’ve got our Dark Sage.”

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Yes… it looked a bit that way. We had been waiting to be ‘given’ a picture for the cover of the next book… Doomsday: The Ætheling Thing is in the final stages of editing and the second book in the series is about to begin. Honestly, with all the stuff we have at present we barely dare go out in case we find some more! Not that we have to… from north and south of the land the pages of books rustle, the keyboard taps research terms and texts and emails fly between… some of them so weird that they sound like coded messages. The latest research has seen me rifling the tool box in search of a saw and soldering iron…nothing like some practical experience! Mind, the scalpel should be interesting…

But we had a meeting to attend, so it was time to go, reluctantly and promising ourselves a return trip in the not-too-far-distant future.

We had a lovely evening; the meeting went well and in spite of absent friends everyone seemed to bring something beautiful and individual to the mix and we took the long road home much later feeling relaxed and awake… which may explain the late night talking in our accustomed positions… my companion on two legs of the chair, I on the ‘hobbit cushion’ on the kitchen step.

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Saturday morning brought rain. For once we decided to avoid getting wet and drove to the pub… only for coffee and toasted teacakes, I might add, and access to the internet… and there we played with pictures and created the cover for Dark Sage. It is odd, but it isn’t until we have a cover that we feel we have a book, and starting with the cover always seems to be the point of departure for the next phase of the adventure.

Then, as the heavens continued to douse the world in water and with continued determination not to get wet again, we very sensibly turned the car towards Chesterfield and the ancient cathedral with the twisted spire….

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Sidetracked to breakfast

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The Haystack seems a misnomer for the huge rock that sits beside the path that leads towards Backstone Beck and looks down to the Cow and Calf. It is a very special rock. Between archaeology, myth and the stories woven by my grandfather, it has a very unique life for me. It is an altar, a place of ancient sanctity as sacred as any other.

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It stands at the edge of the Green Crag cairn-fields… a place of the dead from a time when the dead were honoured; their presence sought, their wisdom valued, and their place in the Otherworld perhaps not so far removed from the hearths of the living. This huge, altar shaped boulder, covered in carvings stands at the entrance to the necropolis which extends across Green Crag and beyond.

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My grandfather showed me how to pace out the two circles of small, almost buried boulders that surround the stone and told me that this was a place of sacrifice where the groove in the rock carried the blood out to the edge of the moor. In spring you can faintly see a strip of lighter green… Of course, the lurid tale delighted the child I was, sending those delicious shivers down my spine, yet I never saw a problem with sacrifice in essence, only in the bloody practice. It always seemed to me as if they had the right idea, but had misinterpreted the deeper meaning and the death need not be physical. Then, you see, I was an odd child, I suppose, with an even odder upbringing.

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These days, I still delight in sharing that tale, although the circles may now be officially classed as prehistoric walling dividing, perhaps, the realms of life and death. I feel that this may have been an altar upon which the dead rested on their journey to the cairns to be brought to birth in the Otherworld. Perhaps the carvings map the heavens or the journey through the veil to that Land of the Dead… perhaps they map the moor itself… We do not know. My grandfather told me the figure carved there was the sun god… perhaps he was right. Or perhaps it is simply a man… or a woman, a goddess, about to give birth… Or maybe it is something we cannot know. It doesn’t matter. It matters only that it shapes our thoughts and fires the imagination as it points across to the Pancake Rock.

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This stone too is covered with faded carvings. It juts out from the edge of the moor with the necropolis behind it. From one angle it looks like a hawk poised for flight, but most of the time it is the profile of a face, the flat rocking stone on the top his hair, or his hat. It is said that only an honest man can move the rocking stone. It is also said, with a certain amount of local pride, that no Yorkshireman ever has… Some say it is the face of a druid, some that of a god; I was told it is Giant Rombald who sleeps there… he for whom the moor is named… guarding the sleep of the dead. These are the legends and stories of my childhood, and these are the tales I wove into the adventure in Swords of Destiny. So much more could have been written… maybe one day I will, before the old tales are lost.

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We walked down to the beck, drinking first, then washing the peat stains from feet and my shoes… which, made of soft fabric, we already soaked and could dry on my feet. The menfolk were hungry and ready for breakfast by this time. We had been out for around five hours and it was only about nine in the morning. I, however, wanted to show them a hidden place, Rocky Valley, where the great stones cling to the crags like monumental totems. “We’ll never get her down…” I heard the mutter of despair, but set off up the track. They waited a while as I climbed the ridge that separates the valley from the little wood where another godlike creature is carved in a stone, and where memory lay in ashes for me. They joined me in silent companionship and we looked across the beauty of the moor.

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Retracing our steps we crossed the beck a final time. I showed them the little waterfalls and the pools where I had played as a child, where my sons had dammed the stream and where my memories were all of laughter. Then we passed once more through the heather and headed down for breakfast.

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El Drac? …

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Geography!

Never our strongest suit.

There are some places though, where we seem to already know the lay-out.

Edinburgh for one, and Durham.

Tavistock proved to be another of those.

And coming so soon after our Elizabethan workshop, one has to wonder…

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Not to be outdone, our ‘Old Friend’, Kempe, decided to get in on the act.

Insisting we ponder again the expedience of canonising angels.

“Isn’t it obvious,” says Wen, with a twinkle.

“Only when you already know.”

“It’s about opening lines…”

“Of communication?”

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Anyway, our ‘heavenly overseers’, had clearly, not quite done with us, yet.

Fittingly fortified, we finally headed off for a reunion, and the start of our adventure…

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Solstice dawn

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We rose as the moon still sailed the heavens and left our hotel just before four on Saturday morning, greeted by our ibis who seemed intent on managing the whole dawn chorus single handed. Now, there may be a case for suggesting our ibis is actually a curlew. Odd as it may seem, given our fascination with birds, we do not care. For us, on such a magical morning, this particular bird was unquestionably an ibis… the bird of the Egyptian Thoth, a symbolic completion of the triad of the hawk of Horus and Isis’ kite.

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Three were meeting in the car park below the Cow and Calf to watch the dawn. We were not alone, of course; it was the solstice sunrise and this stretch of moorland is so rich in history, carved with ancient symbols and graced by circles of stone, it has long been a place which draws those who seek the touch of the numinous in the land.

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The grass was misted with dew in the pale light, drenching our shoes as we climbed together to the top of the rocks and waited for the sun to crest the eastern hills. Colours were muted, details lost in the last shreds of night, there was a softness, a gentleness to the morning. The sky was already that palest of blues, the sun had risen beyond the Pennines but had yet to climb above them and our ascent mirrored that of the dawn. Above the eastern horizon a dark line of clouds veiled the golden glow that suffused the sky; to the west great banks of cloud came down to play in the valley, touched with the reflected pink of morning.

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From our vantage point the hotel was very close; a few cars were parked by the little café that would not open until breakfast, many hours from now, and in the valley lights twinkled as the world began to wake. It is a familiar landscape, one we recognise in time and place as our world. But turn to the moors and time falls away into the breathless wonder of a life older, deeper and slower than the little life of man. We think we are the crown of creation? Merely jewels, perhaps, embellishments that sparkle briefly as light touches the heart; as transient as dew, but just as beautiful too… maybe all the more so for our very impermanence.

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We watched the light grow until the pre-dawn chill forced movement, then turned to climb a little higher as we waited for the disc to clear the enshrouding clouds. We walked to the quarry where Steve had three stones to return to the land before heading for Backstone Beck, a clear stream that tumbles down from its source on the summit of the moor near the Thimble Stones.

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A line of molten gold outlined the clouds before the sun opened its Eye on the land, lighting the misty morning from within, painting the mists in the pastel blush of a goddess and setting a fire in the heart of the dew that glistened with the light of a thousand rainbows.

It was a beautiful dawn.

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Pasta and petroglyphs

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“Ow, ooh, ouch… ow..”

“What’s up?” he asked, locking the door of the flat as I descended the steep stairs. I grinned through the pain… he’d know soon enough… the calf muscles had taken a hit from three days climbing hills. Which is why, we had decided, Sunday would be leisurely.

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The pub was shut; we had gone in search of a late breakfast and wifi and, finding neither, headed off to the park instead, where toasted teacakes and coffee would keep us going for a while. The housekeeping arrangements on these weekend visits are beautifully simple. Neither of us tend to eat huge amounts and are quite happy to go with the flow.

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We hadn’t planned on being out all that long, but by the time we had investigated the rest of the pubs in the area and found some wonderful pasta for a late lunch, my eyes were smarting and starting to swell. They do it at the most inconvenient moments, and for no reason I can put my finger on. Some kind of allergy I suppose, but I could happily live without looking as if I’d gone several rounds in a boxing ring. Between us we were not in the best of visible states; having caught the sun the day before one of us was rather pink and glowing, the other needing dark glasses.

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We decided to pay a visit to the wood-stone. On the Friday we had sought out some of the petro-glyphs on Ilkley Moor and it felt right to wander back and look at the stone. You could see the similarities in the ancient carved stones, although the relief on the wood stone is far deeper than the petro-glyphs on the moor. Was that erosion from the exposed site or had they been made that way? The latter, probably. Having seen them so close together in time, our theories seemed to be stronger than ever.

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The bluebells were out in the woods and the air full of their perfume. I love this time of year! Just a few weeks since our last visit and the wood has burst into life. Beech leaves throw a delicate canopy of golden green against the sky, distance melts away with the blue mist of flowers and even time seems to take a holiday. There is a peace in the little glade through the portal of trees that brings the perfect end to a sleepy afternoon.

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Leisurely, though, seems to be a variable thing. We worked our socks off in the evening. As the experiences of the weekend shaped themselves, the cover for Doomsday was designed and agreed and rituals built for next year’s Silent Eye workshop. Not a bad evening’s work all told. Monday, my last day, we had plans… a further visit to a stone circle. There were ideas to put to the test…

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Bah’t ‘at

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Well, two of us were up there on Ilkley Moor bah’t ‘at… the third stubbornly clung to the trademark headgear that makes him look like something feral. To be fair, it was a little chilly up there.

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We had arrived early and, after fortifying ourselves with a toasted teacake and a coffee apiece, headed off to the parish church to look at the ancient Saxon crosses and Roman altars, now safely ensconced in the base of the bell tower to protect them from the depredations of the elements. We had an hour before Steve was due to arrive, and that was enough to see what we needed to see and wander out into the morning sunshine. It was going to be a long day.

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We… the inner team of the Silent Eye… were meeting to tramp the moors in search of a landscape for use in a private School event. From the Cow and Calf to the Swastika Stone, by way of White Wells, Heber’s Ghyll and the ancient petroglyphs I took them to the places of my childhood, places where I have dreamed, wept, laughed and played.

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It was a beautiful day. Regardless of the fact I will be returning there soon, there were the inevitable tears on leaving. I cannot help it, the place has a home in my heart deeper than any other or perhaps it is that my heart has its home there. As we turned the car off the moorside road a red kite flew over… I have not seen them there before… the sight of that distinctive silhouette in the air, wings outstretched, felt like a blessing. A perfect way to end the day.

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Tall the cliffs of stone
That mark the entry to my heart’s domain,
Wild and empty in its vastness
The solitude of living earth.
The wind lifts the heart
And bears it through the storm
To where the lichen crusted rocks
Cling to the clouds.
Part of my heart remains there
Scattered with the ashes of a lost love
Mingled with the joy and pain of memory,
Of childhood wonder and a lover’s kiss.
Deep the roots which bind me to that land,
Like the weathered pines that cling for life
To the purple hillside…
Genuflecting, but standing, still,
Naked in the mist.
Or the great stones,
Ice carved in aeons past
Into a landscape of dreams,
Marked by ancient hands
With figures of Light,
That I may stand beside them,
Millennia apart,
And recognise my kin.

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