I am finding it hard to get back into the energies of place. My spirit is still roaming the West Coast of the US. I am awake and sleeping at the 'wrong' hours and my 'being' is still processing my experiences.
This the last full moon of the decade, taken on the 12th day of the 12th month. In the High Sierra Mountains. The Cold Moon. A portal moon. It was captured whilst bathed in 104°F of warm swirling waters, of an outdoor Jacuzzi, surrounded by snow during ritual space, to the sounds of the surrounding forest. By Lake Tahoe. Pure Peace.
I asked 'Them Upstairs' what came next? Flooded with a torrent of Joy, and the Spirit and Egrigore of Place, images of thousands of seeds being planted in fertile and lush fields all over the Earth flashed into my vision. It was thus the moment when I took another quantum leap into that deep place of Oneness, our human ability to feel that Divine connection with all that exists, and the Knowing of all that we might create together when we feel united in that place. Aho.
Alongside the Glastonbury Unity Candle, I look forward, in my Crone Years, to planting more seeds in lush and fertile ground over this upcoming new decade, my 70th one on this planet.
I look forward to sharing our oneness, our connectedness, so that we might allow our global community to be further strengthened and grow in love, understanding, and inclusivity. My hope is that this might go some way towards aiding us to find the strength to face the challenge of our dying global conditions, and the polarisation of our ideologies...together. Fancy helping me? I can’t do this alone.
(The next photo is of me connecting with the great Cedar, as my last ceremony, by the waters of The Great Spirit Lake known as Tahoe and thanking the Spirit and Ancestors of Place.)
Last Saturday, the Unity Candle and I entered a 12th century sacred space to share in the joy of two people becoming one. St. Michael and All Angels, Knight's Enham is a small Saxon Church on an ancient site in a hamlet on the edge of Andover. In 1008, a Council was held here with King Ethelred and St. Alphege the Archbishop of Canterbury, at which Christian laws were codified for England. In medieval times, the Church was a resting place for knights, close to the crossroads of the two ancient routes from north to south and London to the South West
The door in the Unity Candle lantern shows a stained glassed representation of the path up Glastonbury Tor with a quartz crystal representing St Michael's Tower on the summit. I liken the symbolism of the steep physical climb up to the top of the hill to the spiritual journey we are all on and reaching the summit, is a goal we all might have, no matter our beliefs.
In alignment with the magnificent stained-glass window, letting in the light of the East through the depiction of St Michael, the flame of the Unity Candle was lit. Closing the little glass door, light shot through the crystal tower on the Tor. This small church, thick with emotions, memories and impressions of the past 800 years of humanity suddenly became illuminated in an oh-so familiar and all-embracing light. Pure love. On this day, witnessing a marriage between two people, the Light shone not only out of the Candle Flame, but from all of those of us there, especially the couple standing before me.
Irrespective of our beliefs, sacred space is sacred space. It doesn’t matter who we are, where we came from, what our history and our backgrounds are, I truly believe we are all one in the light; all we need do is to connect with the people and the place we are in, open our hearts and minds, and believe that it is possible, no matter our differences, to come together in love and respect. Regardless of religion, The flame of the Unity Candle helps me to do just that. Blessed Be.
We are the Wounded Healers, and only be entering the darkest places, can we find the hidden parts of the Light and bring it back into the world. Manifested. Only the strong can visit these realms and Maya Angelou was one of those people.
On the 26th April, just before the Beltane weekend, our ancient tree guardian, known as Gog, was set aflame. More than 2000 years old, Gog is partner to Magog and this is a plea to all those that that have ever used a candle (and ribbons) out on the land. There is someone out there, possibly still in the Avalon landscape, sitting with the knowledge that, in their misguided understanding of ‘honouring the trees’, they instead have burnt the bugger down.
These two ancient oak trees –with the traditional and biblical names of giant beings – stand in one of the further reaches of the sacred Avalon landscape, where they are in a relationship of alignment with other aspects of the sacred landscape such as the nearby Tor, Chalice Hill, the Abbey and Wearyall Hill. The Oaks gained their names from a legendary race of giants who, save for Gog and Magog, were slaughtered by Brutus and his Trojan army. Gog and Magog, marched to London, were held chained to walls of the city palace and their effigies can still be seen in the Guildhall to this day.
Known as the ‘Oaks of Avalon’, the two trees are said to be a traditional point of entry onto the island, and part of a ceremonial Druidic avenue of oak trees running towards the Tor and beyond. Gog has been dead these past ten years, and indeed has burnt once before, [Edit: It was Magog that was previously set alight] but stood strong, keeping vigil with Magog as she too let go of her long life. To make a pilgrimage to these two sentries is to take a walk through time. They have stood witness to ever-changing populaces, beliefs and cultures, and watched whilst individual humans, long forgotten, have come and gone, passing beneath the leafy canopies fed by roots reaching deep into the sacred land. Nowadays, a conscientious visitor, paying homage to the Oaks, is shocked to see spent night-lights placed at the base of the trees, some even in the bowls of the tree themselves and it took such foolish actions to turn Gog into a funereal pyre for 2000 years of myth and history.
Hey folks, have a care! Consider how leaving behind a metal casing, harmful to both flora and fauna and something that ‘hangs around on our planet’ for a very long time, can ever be considered ‘honour’. Muse a while also on how placing a burning flame at the foot of a tree, especially a 2000-year old dead one, is up there with the most stupid of actions. JUST. DON’T. DO. IT! Leave nothing behind save your love.
I might as well mention that the same people who leave their night-lights might also be about the landscape tying ribbons to a tree. DON’T DO THAT EITHER! This particular practice stems back to pilgrimages to holy wells, often places that would always have a tree growing by the side or nearby. The pieces of cloth, known as clooties, were dipped into the water before being tied to a branch with a prayer, often to cure an ailment, believing that as the rag rotted away, the ailment would disappear with it. Our forebears would use natural fabrics such as a strip of cotton petticoat and these would quickly rot away without harming the tree. Modern day ribbons are made from plastic and take an extraordinary amount of time to break down; tied to the branches of a tree, they strangle and prevent new growth whilst leeching chemical dyes into the wood.
I'm asking, as I am sure you are too, are both of these acts of ‘homage’ something to be undertaken by one who professes to care for the land and its spirit? No way, Jose! They are entirely selfish deeds, symbolic only of our own needs and desires. There are hundred’s of different ways in which we can serve those, but proclaiming that we are also working for spirit is to make a complete error of judgement. We are not serving anything, other than ourselves. This is a one-way street. We are no more re-enchanting the land and connecting with the Spirit of Place than we are when we drop litter. Leaving non-biodegradable products of the modern age is about as non-magical as it gets and, if we claim to be ‘of the land’, should these ever really feature in our thinking?
The careless act of the person that lit and placed a flame within the dead heartwood of Gog is hard for some to bear. Grief strikes at our own hearts and if we allow it, sinks into the soul. In 2010, another hallowed tree was destroyed in these sacred precincts when the Glastonbury Thorn on Wearyall Hill was chopped down, by persons unknown, in an act of wanton vandalism. A community came together and wept. Bridges across voids were built. Pagans and Christians held each other and mourned…and a shift of consciousness took place. In the seven years since the Thorn gave up its life, understanding, acceptance and mutual explorations have taken place. Bridges that didn’t exist previously have been created between secular and spiritual communities. The death of the Wearyall Thorn can, if we wish, be seen as an emblem of new understanding arising out of the collapse of an era. A new period where possibilities and positive actions are born out of the desire to connect and give way to a time where the re-connections of a community give rise to the re-enchantment of the land.
More than 2000 years ago, a seed in the ground reached up towards the light. It grew into a mighty oak that people named Gog. Saddened though we are in this time, what a privilege it is to be the ones bearing witness to 2000 years of presence becoming the fires of transformation. On a practical, outer level, it is a timely reminder, as we draw ever closer to war, not to be careless in our own conduct within our own environs. On an internal level perhaps it can be seen as a timely reminder of who we might be becoming. Destroyers? Or those that construct? Builders? Or those that tear down? Perhaps we are both? These are our choices to make now and our application of conscious thinking and learned wisdom will help us to plot our course. A funeral pyre made of the heartwood of ancient Gog marks a transition and, as we move into a new era for the world, let him be a reminder that only from death, can a new beginning be wrought. How those beginnings play out, is up to us, as is our own interpretation of the burning of Gog.
Whoever you are, that happened to light a small flame in a tree - your guilt will be a heavy burden to bear. Take heart though and learn from your error of judgement. Mistakes are something we all make, how we rectify them is the key to how we grow. Leave these sacred precincts now, plant seeds wherever you go; kernals of Hope, Awareness, Consideration, Understanding, Love and all those qualities that help humankind to grow. Plant a new tree and dedicate it to the memories of Gog and Magog. Remind yourself that it is the Light within your own self that is the True Flame, the Divine Spark that links us all. From this place, everything is possible. For the rest of us, perhaps Gog can serve to remind us of how our own actions can have an effect we might not intend and incite us also, to have a care.
In the comments below is a message from a member of the family who are the guardians of the land on which Gog and Magog stand. I post it here for your reference.
"Around 10 years ago, when Magog was set alight (not Gog), the tree expert dated it at around 500 years (and not 2000 as is being bandied about). My in-laws have been looking out for Gog and Magog all of their lives (the trees are within the boundaries of their land), and as such, you might call them guardians of the trees. However, often they have been accused of being the opposite of that, by many a misguided soul, which is such a shame. Not only was Wednesday another very sad night for our family (and many others), the brave fire crews had to be called on 3 separate occasions, for something which could have been avoided. And low and behold, just the very next day, there was another tea light left inside the trunk. As advised by the fire brigade and Mendip Council, the area has been fenced off in the interest of public safety, while Gog is assessed." Tara White
The 2000-year old reference is an anecdotal one, and can be be found in Glastonbury: Maker of Myths, by Frances Howard-Gordon. Published by Gothic Image. (ISBN: 9780906362730)
‘This avenue was cut down around 1906 to clear the ground of a farm, but someone from the timber firm remembers one of the oaks being 11 feet in diameter and more than 2000 season rings were counted."
Three years of investigation brought the trial to Exeter Crown Court in February 2017. Whilst testimonies were offered up, the jury requested recess in order to process all the pain and horror they had witnessed. On verdict day, as we sat and waited, the victims taking comfort from each other and their supporters, I shared that I have a similar past; sparking the connection only abuse survivors can feel. On the return of the jury, not one of us was breathing. The sharp expulsion of any remaining air was audible when the verdict of the first charge was announced.
"Guilty", said the spokesman.
Followed by guilty on the next fifteen counts. Sat just a few feet away, a bullet-proof opaque glass partition separating us from this pathetic example of a human being, we held each other and wept. The Judge asked if the victims were willing to give an Impact Statement. The prosecutor read these out and my brave, brave friend, stood up in front of all, including the convicted, to read out her own. My friend, you are a warrior and I am so proud to know you.
When it came to sentencing, the judge was clearly saddened in his restrictions. Had the offences occurred in present time, he'd have been able to give life on one of the counts. If the case had needed to rely solely on his offences when he was under-seventeen, he'd have shockingly received even less than he was about to give; the law at that time stating that young people could not be sent to prison. However, Owen was over that age for one of the charges, thus meaning he could be sentenced as an adult and for that, he got 16 years.
Standard sentencing means they serve half, so in reality a sixteen year sentence means only eight years for his crimes. Totalling up the years sentenced on each charge, Owen received 62 years - to run concurrently. Putting a licence on him for parole, meaning he won't automatically qualify for release after half- time and must go before a Board, will keep him away for 10 years as it's not customary to release them at first sit.
It is a very personal decision to bring such matters to the eyes of the law and the public, it takes so much out of us as we endure the experiences and pain of flashbacks; the impact that abuse has had on our lives, there for all to see.
As young men and women, we might have been on the edge of society due to being thought of as 'difficult'. Due to feelings of worthlessness and being out-of-sync with the world, we could well have sojourned down roads of promiscuity, in the need to be 'loved', spiralling into self-destructive patterns, picking abusers as our 'lovers'.
Alcohol and drug abuse are common, Mental and physical health issues are typical. Many abuse survivors resort to cutting themselves - the flow of red blood somehow validating the torture we have experienced, and, in its release into the outer world, pain too hard to bear is discharged for the briefest of moments. Extreme ongoing stress brings about painful physical conditions as our bodies become exhausted and worn out. Finding the strength to carry on is an elusive battle that can be fought over and over again; and sadly, is one that many do not win.
Having our traumas, and their effects, aired in public, is not an easy decision to make. The kind treatment, combined with the respect and admiration of all those involved in the case of Owen Hill, along with the validation and subsequent sentencing has, I hope, offered comfort that will assist his victims in the healing process. I hope their strength might even give other victims an opportunity to use their own voices and speak out.
Our original experiences were harrowing and damaging. Sitting through this case has been equally harrowing, but by all that I hold dear, I have never been more proud of my 'kin' then I am today. I myself can't prosecute my own abusers, they are all dead now, and so this has, in some small measure, allowed me the deep satisfaction that for at least ten years, society is protected from one bit of scum. My gratitude goes to those brave and courageous men and women who put him away.
I'm going to finish with the words of DC Brown;
"I would like to thank the victims in this case for the bravery and patience that they have shown throughout the course of this investigation, which has been ongoing over the last three years and involved the resurrection of two cold-case files from the 1990s. I would also like to thank them for their strength and courage in court during this difficult time.
An NSPCC spokesperson for South West England said:
"These disturbing offences will have caused the victims and their families an enormous amount of distress and we hope they are receiving the right support to overcome these traumatic experiences.
You can read the news report here.
Any adult concerned about the welfare of a child or young person can call the NSPCC helpline for free, 24/7, on 0808 800 5000. Children can call Childline on 0800 1111.
Images below contain links to various organisations that might be of help.
My experiences are as yours - filled with challenges, pain, joy, laughter and love.
The settings of our scenes might be different but along our journey together, we will discover similarities and shared experiences.
Adventure with me for a while, for it is in the Journey, we become One.
High Sierra Winter Solstice
Postcards from America (1)
God's Own Country
An Avalonian Anniversary
..'And did those feet?'
Glastonbury/Avalon of the Heart
Finding Colour in the Grey
Lessons from Morocco
Under African Skies
The Earth Mother
The Glastonbury Unity Candle goes to Knight's Enham