Sunday, May 27, 2007

Wayland’s Smithy

Tuesday May 22, 2007

We had trudged up steep hills and across sheep scattered fields and we still couldn’t find it! The sun grew low on the horizon and the birds began to sing their evensong. Riders were out in the late evening sunshine. Everyone we asked pointed us in the same direction.

As they said we would, we found the 5000 year old long barrow amongst a circle of beaches, on the other side of a corn field, beyond a stand of poplars, hard by The Ridgeway, just down from The Uffington White Horse.

The beeches circled the mound protectively. I wondered who had planted them, as they could not have been more than about fifty years old. As we walked into their shelter, I felt held in a leafy loving embrace.

The grass-covered mound was surprisingly long. Small megaliths guarded the entrance. Three dark low stone lined chambers lay inside it. We crawled into the larger of the two side chambers and sat down.

I laid out the alter and quietly cast the circle, breathing deeply the mingled odours of incense, sage and earth. Sitting on the ground, amongst dried leaves and twigs, I felt deeply at peace and very safe.

Only the birds continued their song to the sinking sun outside. The evening breeze rippled the leaves. Inside all was silent, bar our breathing, low and even.

I climbed down into a small chamber and sat down. In front of me, in the shadow, stood a figure. Her face and body up lit by some kind of golden light. It played across the planes of her beautiful brown face, gilding it with copper.

“Who are you” I asked her, over and over again. She looked back at me silently and the golden light played across the plains of her strong face and powerful body.

The light changed and I saw myself in front of me, naked and still. I gazed in surprise and watched my body change into that of another figure, another woman, half horse half woman. Now she was standing and held a large wheel, and now she was made of flowers. She was tall and thin, she was small and round. She was a giantess; she was a figure neither male nor female. He was the horned one and then she the veiled crone. ON and on, the figure transformed and moved into a thousand representations of the goddess.

The figure was gone. I was alone. I knelt down where she had stood and gave thanks. I thanked all those who had come before and the deities they had brought and worshipped here. I honoured them for the wishes they had made, the spells they had wrought and the ceremonies they had performed. I felt that the goddess was present and I prayed that all humankind might learn to love and protect the earth.

Laughter echoed in the beech grove outside. Voices, mingled in casual conversation dulled the sweet beauty of the birdsong. For a moment I wished them gone.

I picked up a drum and began beating a heartbeat rhythm. The chamber threw it back to me, magnifying the rhythm as I beat more strongly. I began to sing:

“The stones are bones, the stones are bones,
The stones, the bones of Mother Earth.
Deep in the ground, deep in the ground,
We hear the Mother’s heartbeat sound.”

Voice and drum faded into silence. Stiffly we crawled out, yawning and stretching, emerging into a red sunset. We were roaring hungry and it was definitely time for dinner!


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