This is the final instalment in my account of my weekend away with The Silent Eye. Please click here for parts one, two, three, four, five and six. And thanks for reading!
After our dawn excursion I returned to the hotel for breakfast, then packed and checked out, as Arbor Low was the last stop on our weekend adventure before I had to head to the train station. I was picked up by two of the companions and we set off, sun shining as we wove through the countryside. The Peak District was glowing with late summer, green fields lush with grass and replete with cattle, the rising slopes rustbrown with bracken and heather. Before Arbor Low, we were to have a quick stop at Monsal, where ice cream could be had while taking in a glorious view of the valley and viaduct below.
Ice cream, however, was not forthcoming – the proprietor teasing us by bringing out the wagon but not opening it, despite the sunshine and crowds. So we stood for a little while taking in the view, while Sue told us the sad story of an ancient settlement on the hilltop nearby – archaeology has found that the only inhabitants were female, except for boys under the age of four, and it seemed to have been a place of some importance, fortified by a large stone wall. However, invaders came, as they often did in those times…
…the painted people…
…and the settlement was destroyed. Appallingly, the great stone wall was apparently pushed onto the gathered women and small children, condemning them to a painful death. Over forty skeletons of women, children and babies were discovered under the stones, grouped together in one final terrifying moment. It was a sobering story, and so it was in a reflective frame of mind that we continued on to our destination.
Arbor Low is a large Neolithic stone circle within an embankment, and is often described as the Avebury of the North. But I’ve been to Avebury, and Arbor Low, while of a similar grandeur, feels quite different. Set high in a field along a slight slope, Arbor Low is part of a working farm – we had to walk through the farmyard to get to the burial barrow and great circle beyond. Our entry fee was paid via an honesty system, into a padlocked metal box alongside the stony driveway. We paid our pounds, gold coins rattling into the box, then joined the small group of people heading through. As I walked along, I happened to look down and a piece of stone caught my eye. Broken into smaller fragments, it gleamed in the bright sunlight – I passed it before registering what it was, then realised and went back, picking up a sharp edged chunk, crystal gleaming in the sunlight.
‘That looks like local fluorspar,’ said Sue. ‘That’s for communication.’
As we exited the farmyard, I could see the earthworks rising to the left of us, like a crown upon the hill. Straight ahead the curved shape of an ancient burial mound loomed and I hung back from the group, unsure for a moment.
She clutched the stone in her pocket, feeling the smooth sharp edges digging into her skin. A voice spoke.
‘Go with them,’ it said. ‘Then come to me.’
She listened, wondering if there would be any other instruction, but all she felt was the reverberation of those seven words, like a smile in her mind.
We reached the burial mound, climbing to the top where it was pointed out that, if we looked around, similar mounds crowned many of the hills we could see. Clearly, this had been a place of great importance. After looking around a bit longer we descended, leaving the barrow to enter the circle itself, via the old processional way. Once inside, we were invited to wander around, get a feel for the place, and see whether any of the stones ‘spoke’ to us. I found a stone I liked, sitting there for a while before deciding to walk the circle, starting along one half of the earthworks, then descending into the circle, moving among the stones. All at once I felt joy, as though this were a dance. I started to move in and out of the stones, feeling as though that was the way to do it, as though I were being guided.
Once I’d woven my way through half of the circle, I walked the other part of the earthworks, enjoying the view across the countryside, cloud shadows drifting across the land. Then I descended once more, dancing my way in and out of the stones, feeling laughter bubble in my chest as I did so, pure joy.
Upon joining Sue and Stu in the centre of the circle, we were invited to lie on ‘our’ stone, and see what happened. But someone else had claimed ‘mine’, so I went to another one across the circle, lying back along the ancient sloped surface. It seemed strange to be doing so, yet natural, at the same time. I stared into the sky and let my mind drift.
She could feel energy here, bright and clean as a new penny or a mountain stream, running around the circle counter-clockwise, like a silver rope.
Or a green serpent. She could see it now, its great head entering the base of the circle where the goddess lay, golden eyes aglow with the knowledge it had to impart, golden tongue flickering.
‘Stop trying to force it,’ a voice said. ‘Just look at the sky.’ And so she obeyed, gazing up into the deep blue beyond the clouds, letting herself drift as they did…
I may have dozed a little, I’m not sure. But then the faint sound of a bell brought me back to myself. It was quite comfortable, lying there, and at first I wasn’t really willing to move. But then the bell rang again, and I turned my head to see the others starting to move towards the large centre stones. I also realised I was getting hungry – unsure how long I’d been lying there.
At the centre of the circle ritual was observed once more, though more to honour the space than anything else – it needed no help awakening. We were invited to share anything we’d experienced while lying on the stones but I said nothing, still not quite trusting what I’d seen. Then, as we left, exiting through the lower part of the circle, Sue pointed out a stone that she said looked like a serpent’s head.
‘Did you say serpent’s head, Sue?’ I asked. She stopped, turning to me.
‘Yes. Did you get a serpent?’ I nodded, sharing what I had ‘seen.’ She smiled.
‘We think the people here were the people of the serpent,’ she said, and I shook my head. That was a pretty big sign I needed to trust my instincts. After all I had seen and experienced over the weekend, the land speaking to me in ways unexpected, this final synchronicity seemed a fitting end to an extraordinary time away.
Well, it wasn’t quite the end. Lunch beckoned, and a last chance to spend time in conversation with good company. Wasps drove us indoors but bright sun shone in through the open doorway, illuminating our table. After lunch, once farewells had been made, two of the companions were kind enough to take me to the train station, saving me part of the journey. I boarded my train, feeling strangely out of time, the city landscape jarring after days spent among green hills and ancient stones. As I settled back into my comfortable seat and watched the countryside flash past, tiredness overtook me. I finally reached home as the sun set, bookending the day that had begun at dawn on a distant peak.
With thanks to The Silent Eye and all the companions for a wonderful weekend away.
The serpent people…Two of the other companions saw serpents in the stones too…and a certain bear who doesn’t duck fast enough had something to say when we took him there too. 😉
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences here…and with us on the weekend, Helen. I hope you might join us again for another jaunt one day… and meanwhile, there is still the odd place locally I’d love to share with you.
That’s so fascinating, Sue – I love when things like that come together, people experiencing the same thing separately, then realising after the fact. Makes it all the more legitimate, I think.
And thank you to you and Stu and all the companions for such a lovely weekend – I truly felt welcomed. Oh, and I would love love love to do some more exploring with you 🙂
It does. 🙂 We’d picked up the serpents on an earlier visit.. couldn’t miss them really. I’ll try and dig out a photo!
We’ll have to sort some dates out…and I have a couple of pics to get over to you when I’ve finished going through tem too 🙂
PS..I think it is fluorspar, not feldspar…it’s a local mineral.
Oops! Thank you – I will make the amendment. And I’d love to see the pics, when you get the chance x
I’ll probably use some of the old ones for my post on Arbor Low… and email some of you across 😉
Thanks, Sue 🙂 Again I didn’t take many while I was in the circle, for some reason…
But you got some really good ones 🙂
I’m having to rely on old photos and revisits… we went back to Arbor Low too afterwards.
You were both pretty busy at the time… 😀
It just wouldn’t have been right just then 😉
Sad the journey has come to an end. Have really enjoyed exploring the landscape with you, Helen. Thanks for sharing! 😀 xx
Thanks for reading along with me – I’m so glad you enjoyed the series. I don’t imagine it will be the last of my adventures with this lot… 🙂 x
Oh, they are moreish, right enough… 😉 xx
Moreish indeed 🙂
Trusting our instincts, our Selves, our Knowing, is quite the Journey, quite apart from serpents on the Land. 😀 … thank you for sharing yours with those of us from all over the globe. 🙂
Thank you so much for reading – I’m so glad you enjoyed the series. It was quite a wonderful experience on a lot of levels, and part of it was learning to trust myself more – it is a journey, as you say 🙂
What an amazing journey you’ve been on Helen! I get quite emotional about the land and landscape—it really moves me. It awes me with its beauty—nothing beats it for beauty—and its vastness, and reminds me that we are small and fleeting. I feel quite connected to it when I’m out in it. I miss it if I don’t get a chance to run barefoot upon it or let the soil slip through my fingers or feel the wind and rain against my skin. I love feeling as if I’m a part of it, and I am a part of it—ashes to ashes and dust to dust, and all that—and I feel connected to our ancestors through it. It stirs me spiritually, in the same way music does. Thanks for sharing all of this. x
Thanks, Louise – it was quite a journey, definitely, emotional and otherwise. As to all the things I experienced, one could say it was imagination – but then other people experienced them too. There are still mysteries in this world, I guess 🙂
I love how you write about the land – it’s how I feel as well (though strangely, I dislike camping immensely). But being out in the vastness of the moors, away from everything ‘modern’, was a wonderful feeling. And the landscape in Australia had a different energy again, as did Canada. I’m really glad you enjoyed reading the series x
Reblogged this on The Silent Eye.
Thanks for sharing, Stu 🙂
Thanks for a lovely series of posts, Helen. You are welcome to come adventuring with us anytime you like… You looked very comfortable on that stone by the way, even if it was your ‘second choice’… x
Thanks, Stuart – that’s very kind of you, and I’m sure I’ll be adventuring with you again at some point 🙂
And I was pretty comfortable, you know. So maybe it wasn’t so much my second choice as it was the best choice… 😉
Reblogged this on Suzie Speaks and commented:
This is the final in a seven part series from Helen. I have loved every single one of them – go and check out the other parts too!
Thanks so much for the reblog, Suzie! Really pleased you enjoyed the series 🙂
It was sooooo good – seriously one of my favourite things I’ve read on your blog
Really? Thanks so much 🙂 I wasn’t sure how it would go down, because of the visions etc, but I felt it was an experience I needed to share xx
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Thanks so much for sharing your journey and experiences, Helen. It’s been fascinating.
Thank you for reading, Mary – so glad you enjoyed it 🙂
I always follow Sue’s journeys and adventures so it was really interesting to read of the same places from a different perspective.
Yes, I’m the same – it was really great to actually go there with her and see the places in real life. Endlessly fascinating – I really didn’t want to go home, I would have happily kept exploring for another few days 🙂
What a lovely wrap-up to this journey.
Thanks, Angelika – it was a lovely way to end the weekend 🙂
Really enjoyed this journey, Helen!!
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What a beautifully written (and photographed) Series of posts about an amazing experience. Thank you so much for sharing.
(Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
– ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
“It takes a village to transform a world!”
Thank you, Madelyn – both for reading through and for your kind comments. I’m really pleased you enjoyed the posts – it was an extraordinary weekend for so many reasons, so it’s been nice to share it with others 🙂
You are most welcome. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip with you.
As you’ve probably gathered, I read all of these in one sitting, Helen. I’d also read Sue’s posts about the weekend and it’s interesting to see the different perspectives, especially as they blended together at times.
Funnily enough, Sue did ask about meeting up that weekend but, if I remember rightly, I was travelling back from holiday. Sorry I missed you. Fortunately, I will get together with Sue and Stuart next weekend – though in a different part of the Peaks.
Thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts.
Hi Graeme – thanks for reading all the posts, and I’m so glad you enjoyed them. Writing about those sorts of experiences can be a bit hard to do, so it’s been nice to see so many people reading them. Too bad you weren’t there for the weekend too – it would have been nice to catch up again. Hope you’ve had a lovely time in the Peaks this weekend, lucky you – it’s a beautiful place, isn’t it? Perhaps we’ll catch up on another weekend in the future 🙂
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I doubt we’d have made it for the whole weekend anyway, Helen. When Sue mentioned it to me, it was one weekend of several that she was proposing that we get together, so by comparison any meet would have been fleeting.
And apologies if I misled you, it wasn’t this weekend I was seeing them, it’s next weekend. Considering the Peaks are almost on our doorstep, we don’t go enough. Then again, I’m more inclined to go on water, so I have other priorities. It’s good to get out there once in a while though.
One way or another, I’m sure I’ll see you again before too long.
Oh no, sorry, it was probably me reading it wrong! Hope you have a great time next weekend and yes, I’m sure we’ll catch up at some point soon 🙂
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