I know. It’s been a while since I’ve been here. And I’m still officially on a blog break. However, a few weeks ago I spent a weekend in Dorset with The Silent Eye, which I really wanted to write about, so here we are.
It usually takes me a little while after such weekends for me to process everything that happened. There are layers upon layers, some of which only become apparent once I’ve had a chance to reflect. There is magic, and impressions – whether they are valid or simply a product of my over-active imagination, I’ll leave to you to decide. There is always joy. And so the weekend began…
I took a train, as I usually do – I don’t drive much and there is something I love about travelling through the landscape where roads don’t tend to go, seeing the way the colours change, subtle tints of leaf and stone and sky. This trip was a long one – first into the bustle of London, then out, past glimpses of the Houses of Parliament and the Thames before heading south through leafy suburbs into open countryside. We crossed the New Forest, past wild ponies grazing in tree-lined clearings, skirted the coastline at Southampton before turning right and ending up in Dorchester, where Sue and Stuart were waiting for me.
It was such a pleasure to see them again. The sun was shining, and it seemed an auspicious start to a weekend that would be spent exploring a sacred landscape close to the midsummer solstice. Once I’d decanted my luggage into the car, we hit the road, heading for our first stop, Cadbury.
South Cadbury is a small and charming village located just over the county border in Somerset. It’s a quiet place with houses built of mellow golden stone, where roses climb and foxes dance along thatched roofs. It is also, according to long-standing tradition, the location of the legendary Camelot, court of King Arthur (I’m not 100% sure about this, as there are several other solid theories, but that’s another blog post). There is a ‘castle’ here of sorts – Cadbury Castle, an impressive Iron Age earthwork crowning the hill that overlooks the village. Evidence suggests it has been inhabited since Neolithic times, and excavations in the 1960s did, in fact, uncover an Arthurian-era feasting hall on the site, reinforcing the legend. We were going to make the trek up the hill to the castle, but our first stop was the small church that sat almost in the shadow of the hill. And so the companions converged…
…the church was quiet, empty feeling. Pretty enough, with roses and tree avenues, views out over the long fields. But there was no power there…
It was a lovely reunion with familiar faces, as well as new, with two lovely Americans making up our group of seven. Once we’d exchanged greetings and spent some time in the church, we took a short walk along the road to the entrance to the castle. It is accessed via a track with a gate – there is no entry fee and the way is deep and hollow, trees curving along its length. I started up the steep path and…
… it was as though she were being pulled up on a string, forging far ahead of the group, feet sure on the rocky path, a hollow way of green. As she neared the end of the path, her attention was drawn to two high points to the left of her, festooned in leaves and branches. Yet there seemed to be someone up there, a host of presences waving their arms. ‘You are welcome here,’ they cried. ‘We are so pleased to see you all! Come join us’. And she knew that on the field ahead there would be tents as far as she could see, white and blue and cloth-of-gold, all come to this place for the dance. But when she reached the field, it was empty, and sorrow overwhelmed her. ‘Do not worry,’ they said, still smiling, still welcoming. ‘We are still here. Come, join the dance…
It was a very strange feeling. I can’t explain it any other way except to say it felt almost as if I could have flown up that hill, the clear joy of being there thrumming through me. Even though I was already far ahead of the group, I had to temper my pace so as not to lose them entirely. It reminded me of another place that had affected me profoundly, somewhere I’d also had impressions of blue and cloth-of-gold – Carl Wark.
I waited at the top of the track for the rest of the group, all of us taken by the trees and air and landscape that undulated for miles around. Notches and earthworks were visible in the landscape around us and, in the distance, like an island rising from a green patchwork sea, was Glastonbury Tor.
…as she looked out to the distant Tor (distant, yet somehow close at the same time), it seemed as though there was a thread between it and where she stood, the low landscape between bursting with light and energy like fireworks, building to midsummer…
We stood for a little while, looking at the view and the impressive earthworks, listening to a short history of the place. It had been overthrown by Romans, who had stationed their legions there, but soon came back under local control. While this did happen occasionally, the scale and success of such an attack would, according to historians, have to have been led by a powerful local leader or king, adding fuel to the Arthurian legend. It was a fascinating site and I was still buzzing, whether from the energy of the place, the simple joy of being there with like-minded people, or a combination of the two, I wasn’t sure. We split up to explore the ramparts, with a plan to meet at the summit point. However, something had other plans for me…
…’Come up and over,’ they said, pulling her across the field. ‘Come dance with us!’ She hesitated, feeling a brief shadow, a time when this place had been rent with sorrow and violence. ‘Do not worry,’ they said. ‘It is but part of this place, and a small part at that. There is nothing but joy here now.’ And so she followed them up and over the green hill, butterflies dancing around her feet as she reached the summit. And there she could see the land stretching away, though this time rumpled and folded, rolling hills and deep valleys, a patchwork of summer green. She twirled, caught up in the joy of the place, of the dance….
I did twirl. Ah well. There was no one to see me except the cows, the undulating nature of the hilltop hiding the others from view. I carried on up and over, the landscape unfurling around me as I took a narrow path through the grass and wildflowers to the summit…
…’ Was King Arthur here, once?’ she asked. Laughter. ‘There have been many kings here’…
Hmmm. I rejoined the group at the very topmost point of the fort, where a stone pillar indicated the direction of so many sacred and important sites: Stonehenge, Glastonbury, Avebury, Maiden Castle… This was a very important landscape, connecting with other sites as far afield as Wales (the hillfort of Dinas Powys). If you are familiar with the concept of ley lines, energy lines within the landscape, it was interesting to note that Cadbury stands on the St Michael line, one of the most well-known. After a moment’s reflection, we made our way along the high earthworks towards the track. I could have stayed up there longer, (as I think could most of the group) but there were hotels to check into, plus a dinner reservation we needed to get to. However, we paused briefly, amused by a romantic message left below, and noted a strange phenomenon in one of the fields. There was no fence keeping those cattle in that line, and there was an earthwork visible on the hillside directly above them. Hmmm again. This was a very interesting place, and a suitably wonderful start to the weekend.
All too soon, it was time to leave, to head down the hollow path and back to the real world. Although, I think we would have been welcome to stay longer…
…’Where are you going?’ The stone hit the pathway with a sharp crack!, just missing her. ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry!’ She stopped, turning to see where the stone had come from. The bramble-tangled banks rose high either side of her, seemingly deserted. Still, it felt as though someone was waiting for a response. ‘I’m sorry I have to leave. But I’ll be back. And I thank you for your welcome.’ It seemed there was a sigh, and acceptance of her apology, and she proceeded down the path once more, unimpeded…
I guess this means I’ll have to go back there again.
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Reblogged this on The Silent Eye and commented:
Helen Jones begins her account of the Silent Eye’s weekend workshop in Dorset…
I wanted to comment earlier, Helen, but the phone wouldn’t let me 🙂
It was, as always, lovely to have you with us and I am so glad we managed to sort things so you could get to Cadbury!
That connection with the Tor and the other sacred sites is one we ‘saw’ too on our first visit. We have the odd theory about that … ‘odd’ being the operative word 😉 xx
Ooh really? I’d love to hear it 🙂 It remains a very strong image from my time on the hill, and it was a wonderful start to the weekend. Am already looking at the next one I can attend, plus we have an adventure to do at some point 😉 It was lovely to be with you all too, and thanks again for arranging it so I could go to this wonderful place with you all xx
As to the adventure…whenever you are free, just let me know 😉
The connection with the Tor ties in with the idea of the Seven League Boots. Seven leagues is the distance a man can comfortably walk in a day… though it may tie in with the idea of days in more ways than one.But what if there were a way of traversing the ‘seven leagues’ in one step, like the wearers of the fairytale boots? Astral projection…telelpathy or simply clairvoyance might do the trick and the fairytales may hold a whole different layer of meaning…
Well, we are back to school after Sept 5th so I will be a bit more free then 🙂 Will message you. And… that doesn’t sound odd to me at all!
We’re in Northumberland for hte next workshop the weekend of the 14th for a few days, but I should be free for a while after that 🙂
Lovely! I’ll send you a message 🙂
A lovely post, Helen. I really enjoyed reading about your experience here and how much you were connected to this place through time. ❤
Thanks, Alethea 🙂 It was a special place, wasn’t it? And oh, do I have a lot to write about Maiden Castle…
I’m looking forward to the next post…
Thanks 🙂 I’d better write it then! x
You bring us into the whole experience so well, Helen, like we sit on your shoulder as you do that twirl looking for he source of the voices beyond. Funny how landscapes can do that, one minute as still as death the next abuzz with wind born words – and those cows, oh those mysteriously held cows, playthings of what exactly? Who knows? and does it really matter?
Thanks, Geoff 🙂 I’m really glad you enjoyed it, and didn’t think I was going completely mad with it all. It was a most unusual place and I’d love to go back there again.
Reblogged this on Stuart France.
Thanks for sharing, Stuart 🙂
Reblogged this on Not Tomatoes and commented:
Helen Jone’s experience at Cadbury back in June during the Silent Eye’s workshop:
Thanks for sharing, Alethea 🙂 x
My pleasure 🙂
Pingback: A Dorset Weekend With The Silent Eye, Part One ~ Helen Jones | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo
A wonderful adventure. 🙂
It really was! 🙂
So…when you do go back there, I’m going with you. ❤ I LOVED this area. And Glastonbury Tor…I can't express how I felt there. I would love to spend a weekend with you and Sue and this group someday – wherever you're going. Lovely post, Helen.
Thanks, Sarah 🙂 And that would be awesome – I’d love to hang out in Glastonbury with you x
I wish you could too, Sarah! get yourself over here and we’ll do it 🙂
Reblogged this on Campbells World.
Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂
Yep, I guess it does. 🙂
Reblogged this on Where Genres Collide.
Thanks for sharing, Traci! 🙂
You’re welcome, Helen!
That looks absolutely beautiful. I have been to Shaftesbury and that is a lovely town. It’s really nice around the Hampshire/ Dorset border as well, in the New Forest. I also work in Wincanton which is near the Somerset/Dorset border and that’s a nice place too.
Lucky you to live in such a lovely place 🙂 Cadbury was really lovely, I’d recommend a visit if you can get there – the views alone are worth the climb to the top!
Wow! This place literally came alive for me with your writing. It is amazing all the different wonderful views we get of each place from all of you. It is wonderful that so many of you are involved with this because we get to experience it through all of your eyes, and that makes it very special indeed.
Thanks so much, Anne! I’m so pleased you enjoyed the post. It was a wonderful weekend, that’s for sure. I’m continuing to write it up – there’s a lot to reflect upon and it always takes me a little while to process 🙂
Me too! I appreciate everything I read about all these places and the ruins, etc. Have a great week.
Thanks, Anne – you too 🙂
Pingback: A Dorset Weekend With The Silent Eye – Part 2 | Journey To Ambeth
Reblogged on Google.com. You are a genius the way you slip so easily from the present to some mysterious time with the ancient ones. I especially LOVED this! I have gone back and reread this several times now. Thank you so much!
Thank you so much, Anne 🙂 Both for sharing, and for your kind comments. The time-slips are just what seems to happen on the weekends – something about the places we visit and being with like-minded people, I think. It’s something I look forward to every single time 🙂
You are welcome Helen. I can relate though I have not been in person yet. Never know what lies in store for me either. Hugs and blessings, Anne
Thank you, Anne, and the same to you 🙂
Pingback: A Dorset Weekend With The Silent Eye – Part 2 ~ Helen Jones | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo
Looking forward to hearing about the rest of this trip, Helen. Sue and Stu do find some interesting places, don’t they?
Thanks, Graeme 🙂 They certainly do!
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Gorgeous and pastoral. I kept thinking Wordsworth. “And I have felt a presence that disturbs me with the joy of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime of something far more deeply interfused, whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, and the round ocean and the living air, and the blue sky, and in the mind of man: a motion and a spirit, that impels all thinking things, all objects of all thoughts, and rolls through all things. Therefore I am still… A lover of the meadows and the woods and the mountains; and of all that we behold from this green earth…”
Happy New Year, Linda! That’s a beautiful quote, and very apt for the weekend I had. The landscape definitely had a presence… 🙂
Happy New Year!!
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