Callanish, con’t

Looked through a book of woman/Goddess images with quotes, from collections used in a series of engagement calendars: Return of the Great Goddess, by Burleigh Mutén. Two quotes:

“In the start of time, splendor appeared … It was the Mother. She was all that was. She divided the sky from the sea and danced upon the waves. A wind gathered behind Her from Her swift dancing. When she rubbed this wind between her hands, it became the Great Serpent. She took him to Her and loved him, and a great egg grew within Her and She became a Dove. The Dove-Mother brooded over the egg until it was ready. Then out of the egg came all things – sun, moon, stars, earth, mountains, rivers, and all living creatures. The splendor of the Mother flowed through everything, through sun and sea, through the veins of the earth into root and leaf, into grain and fruit, into all women and men. And each birth became forever an acceptance of splendor and each death a gift to the Great Mother.” June Rachny Brindel, Ariadne

We say the time of waiting is over.
We say the silence has been broken.
We say there can be no forgetting now.
We say
We are the bones
of your grandmothers’ grandmothers.
We have returned now
We say you cannot forget us now
We say we are with you
And you are us.

Patricia Ries, from “The Ancient Ones.”

Monday, May 15
Dreamed about Bella. I was walking through an old city and trying to make sure she was following me. We also acquired a green puppy who disappeared at one point but then did appear at the house soon after we arrived. Green puppy? Something new – new instinctive potential – potential for being happy? Living in the moment? Green = new growth?
Walked up the road from the guesthouse to the moor & my place sheltered from the wind. I sat and contemplated the landscape and thought about the sense I had last night at the stones of Callanish of a Bread & Puppet like pageant, not so politically oriented but archetypal, mythical, perhaps with clowns, dragons, masks, costumes, hobby-horse, who knows what… And I thought about my imagining a celebration at Stonehenge, and how I longed for “my people” and how they said “We are both the past and the future, we are where the circle meets itself, never fear, you too are enclosed by the circle.”

From The Feminine of History is Mystery, left-hand page opposite p 133:
“in the pale pre-dawn light, men, women, and children, wearing skins and bright colored woven cloth, carry banners and flutes and tambourines. down the hill, through the valley of the avon, up the shoulder past the mound and the heelstone, a sense of joyful expectancy, of reverence, but no rigid formality, dogs bark, children laugh. there is a moment of solemn silence at the sun’s first flash, then they will sing old songs and new, dance thousand-year-old dances with new variations, feast and share the year’s gossip, and wander home again… o my people, how I envy you, what a sense of loss that I am not there too – are you the past or the future? we are both the past and the future, we are where the circle meets itself, never fear, you too are enclosed by the circle.”

When I wrote this passage, describing a solstice celebration at Stonehenge, I thought I was writing how it might have been in the past. Then my homesickness for these people, my tribe, became so great that I called out in my imagination, and they answered, in that way that characters in fiction often do, something completely unexpected. Years later I found “Sacred Circle Dancing”, built Neskaya, and was celebrating solstice there in 2004 when I realized that I had found the people of my vision and we were there, where the circle meets itself.

During the afternoon we went out on the moor with Margaret and Ron to see two circle sites. One very near the guesthouse, just above where I’ve been sitting. Only one stone was still standing, the positions of the rest could only be told by the roughly circular groups of packing stones. We walked all around the circle and Margaret showed us the packing stones and some broken fragments. The stones were probably taken and used as building material. After seeing the extent of the whole circle, we each took a place where a stone had been. I chose the north position. Ron and Peter both took pictures of us enacting the stone circle.

I’m the one in the center front wearing a magenta parka
The second site was the one Margaret had taken us to in 2000. It’s now marked as a site, with a sign and path and bench. Again we stood where the stones had been. At this site, at major lunar standstill, the moon can be seen to rise out of Sleeping Beauty’s womb.

We were sitting in the living room after dinner talking about the ritual we will do at the stones tonight – the night of lowest moon. I turned to look out the window and everything was lit up with garish golden light. It took me a moment to realize it was the sun. I pointed and Sue realized at the same moment. We all jumped up and ran for the bus. But by the time we got to the stones the sun had gone into the lowest cloud. There was still golden light in the sky and on the stones. We took pictures and wandered about until the light was gone. I walked around the circle and watched the stones dance against the background.

Tuesday, May 16
We got up at 1:15AM to go over to the stones and do a ritual — in the rain and wind. We were timed for the moonrise over Sleeping Beauty but of course couldn’t see it. We sang in the crescent between the stones at the end of the avenue, then walked up the avenue and gathered in a circle around the big stone. Sue said an invocation, and April (perhaps) spoke a poem – I am the wind, I am the fire, etc. We sang our Gaelic Blessing of the pilgrim while walking around the stone. Then we each went to one of the stones in the circle and took turns standing alone in front of the big stone. The only light was a flashlight at its base. It was amazingly easy to see the stones once my eyes got dark-adapted. Sue & I went out to the place Margaret helped us mark earlier – the alignment at lowest moon when an observer in the avenue would see the moon behind the stones. We climbed the stile in the rain. I stood at the marked place with Sue behind me with a powerful flashlight. When she turned it on, I saw my shadow stretch and tower toward the stones – it felt like shamanic energy. We got totally soaking wet, but it was worth it, something primitive and wonderful about being out with the great powers swirling around us. We gathered once again to sing our blessing song, then went back to the bus and home to sleep.
Major Standstill of the Moon
A web cam has been set up at Callanish by Victor Reijs, so you can see what is happening right at this moment. Remember that Scotland is on GMT, five hours earlier than Eastern Time. One camera is set toward the NE horizon, and the other shows part of Sleeping Beauty and the stones of Callanish I.
At the visitor center. Most of the rest have gone to Stornoway. I hung out with the stones in a slight drizzle. When it stopped raining, visibility opened up. I went over the fence to check out the view from the highest knob, but the stones almost disappear into the background houses. I found the place where I stood last night, but there were other markers to the west, and looking through the stones to the white house and the end stone it looked to me as though the outer ones made a better alignment. It turned clear and beautiful, with lovely colors – steel of the loch, rusty gold on the hills, a little green, the farther hills purple (though no sign of the farthest, Sleeping Beauty and the Clisham notch) – so I walked to Callanish III. A beautiful walk, the landscape so colorful, the stones of II and then III visible against the sky. Looking back I could see the backbone of the main site against the far hill. Got to III, took some pictures – I managed to get the stones I had seen silhouetted against the moon. Went all the way out to the far hill, and then it looked like rain was coming in again, so I came back. Through the singing gate (the rusty hinge sounded almost like Gregorian Chant) and along the road where I saw Lana coming the other way. “Fancy meeting you here!” I ducked under the odd roofed shape for shelter while I put my jacket back on, and then came back here to the visitor center where I’m sitting and writing.
There is an adorable little fluffy scotty dog on a key ring. I think of buying it and dying it green in honor of my dream. I’m reluctant to spend $7.50 on something so frivolous. (Later I saw that the same animal was offered as a refrigerator magnet with magnets in its four paws. I couldn’t resist, so I got it and I will dye it green…)
Looking at the stones, especially walking around the outside and watching them “dance”, I realize how perfect a preparation it was to see the Rothko paintings.

I’m reading a book by Paul Devereux which I’m finding fascinating. (Symbolic Landscapes, Gothic Image Press) He talks about the “Interworld”, the world “between” the physical and the spiritual, the shamanic realm – what I used to call the “heraldic world”. We who celebrate the landscape and the seasons, birth and death, sorrow and healing – that’s where we live. We are both the past and the future. We are where the circle meets itself. You too are enclosed by the circle.
When I first was dropped off at the stones, there was a lark singing ecstatically, fluttering high up – he went on and on and on – I had the sense that the stones are made happy by our coming and celebrating them.

Wednesday, May 17
10PM – in Traigh Bhan on Iona. A long exhausting day, a very wet walk from the ferry – even my journal got wet. “A gale” is due tomorrow.

Thursday May 18
On the porch. Sun has gone under so it’s not too hot to sit here as it was earlier. We look across the channel to Mull. A seagull is barely holding his own against the wind. White surf breaking on the rocks. (Later) The sky has opened up again, the sun shines, the water is blue.
We walked over to the other side of the island, to the beach. I was walking more slowly and began to fall behind. I saw a snail slowly crossing the path and turned to see if anybody was coming. Natsuki was right there. He momentarily took a stance as though to protect the snail from anyone who might come. I wondered if we should just move it to the side of the path and he did it. That started me wondering if there were beings, as much larger and more complex than we as we are to the snail, who step in and help us when we are trying to move somewhere. It started raining hard when we got to the beach, so I just picked up a few stones and came back almost immediately. By the time I got past the town, the rain had stopped and the wind was strong enough so that my clothes were almost dry by the time I got back to Traigh Bhan.

I wasn’t very cold but my ankles hurt a lot, so after washing my hair and a cup of tea I went out again – out the gate and down to the shore (which was only a few yards away.) I found a sheltered spot and rested for a bit. Round cobbles on the beach, metamorphic outcrops of rock with surf breaking, it looked almost like East Point in Maine, except for the moss and lichen and some magenta flowers.

A rainbow is visible in the East, over Mull. Both sides are there, the top is faint. The left side is very bright but broken by radial lines which are darker. I’ve never seen anything like that and wonder what causes it. It has changed while I’ve been writing, gotten softer, now fading away.

Friday, May 19
Dream: I was to put on a dress – white, strapless, full length, full skirt. There was also a white veil. I was waiting for mother to show up and help me with it. There was a sense of frustration. I was wondering if I should just go ahead and try the dress on to make sure it fit before the actual celebration.
We gathered in the Sanctuary yesterday. Before the meditation started, I looked out the window and saw a lamb rolling ecstatically. When I began to meditate, I had a sense of great depths opening beneath me, light and joy springing up through me, and a sense that I didn’t have to do anything, just being was enough.
I’ve been reading the book about Traigh Bhan and the ritual that was done here to link Iona with Findhorn and to ground the “new age” or “Cosmic Christ” energies on Iona. There was a lot of information about “power points”, etheric network, etc. Also that sites that had been used for a long time had gathered negative energies as well as positive, and they needed to be cleansed, so the ritual included that piece. This was all recorded in very careful and detailed language, almost technical – which is how I wrote about my experiences at the sites in ’78 and ’79. Now the detailed language seems almost silly to me – though I can appreciate its importance before we have some sense of the significance of the whole. Like dreaming, you never know what detail may be significant – or may be the “key” for one interpretation – since all details are significant and all interpretations valid.
My sense of it now is that we are all blind men trying to get a handle on the elephant. I don’t doubt the existence of power points, etheric networks, angels, or that rituals can accomplish real things – or maybe I should say that rituals can have consequences in the material world. Perhaps it’s that I’m now more content to leave them as shadowy hints rather than trying to pin them down to specific images. I was interested to see that the people doing the ritual were told that what they were doing was more important than they knew, the top of a hidden iceberg.

Dear Guides and Guardian Spirits, I am at Traigh Bhan and feeling peaceful and joyous. Have you any messages for me?
Dear Jenny, we love you a lot. We are watching over Bella and Lynelle while you are gone. What you are doing on this pilgrimage is more important than you know. As you make efforts: to be compassionate, to bring good energy and blessings – larger agencies and beings are available to help you. In your action you also give them a doorway, a place to ground, a channel to work through, so their energies can be effective on this planet. Be of good cheer, dear one, all is well, all shall be well.

We had a formal tour of the Abbey. As I walked down the nave I had a sense of many voices singing one great chord of praise. I went to the ruins of St Mary’s chapel with Sue, saw lots of snails and a bee hard at work on a flower. Spent a little time in St Michael’s Chapel as well. There’s an icon of a Black Madonna – African. After lunch I walked down on the beach with Carol, along the sand and all the way out to the point. We had a festive supper with all the tables on the sun porch so we could all be in the same room. There was wine and mead. I liked the mead and got a little silly on three mouthfuls. We went to Oran’s chapel and sang some of the “fonns” Sue had taught us. Then we went back to Jane’s B&B, to her nice big living room where we danced “Peace of Iona.” I did my best to show Peter the Tibetan Invocation, gave him the CD and stepsheet I had brought. He told me Pablo is supposed to come to Findhorn sometime soon – that will get it there much much more efficiently.

Saturday, May 20
In the Universal bungalow at Findhorn. I’ve managed to find a ride to the train station tomorrow, and left a message for Diana that I won’t be in until 11PM.

Felt sad all day – a grey day with some rain – as our bus took us from Iona to Findhorn. I was sad to leave Iona. It was also the breaking of our fellowship: we dropped four people at Craigmuir for the Oban Ferry, and another in Fort William. Stopped for a cream tea at Glengarry castle which was delicious and served in a very elegant library.

Sunday, May 21
On the train in Inverness. It leaves 9:40 but I won’t get to London til 10:30. I’m feeling homesick, started feeling that way yesterday – wanting to get back to my friends, my dancing circle, my house and Bella. Saw the moon in the sky for the first time in a week, it’s at 3rd quarter, pale among the clouds.

I got to Diana and Michael’s in time for dinner, much earlier than I had thought. I think I must have been lucky and caught an earlier train after they bussed us from Newcastle to Darlington. So I was able to share my trip with them.

Monday, May 22
Home! In time to pick up Bella. I lucked out again, managed to catch the 1:30 bus to Concord which was a surprise as the plane wasn’t supposed to get in until 1:23. I guess the devas who watch over travel helped me out.

Tuesday, May 23
Dream: in a house made like a cave – rounded spaces – the floor was at different levels, there were even things like benches or tables and it was all covered with carpet like thick golden fur. There was plenty of light – can’t figure out now where it was coming from. I don’t remember windows or skylights, didn’t see the ceiling – it felt more like a nest than a cave. There were pieces of furniture, little beds in the children’s room and perhaps some chairs or toys. A curved corridor connected the kids’ room to the parents’ room, there was a big double bed, a brightly painted table and chairs. I said to the parents: “You should have lots of children. This is a wonderful place for children.” What a nice dream for my first night in my own house.

Saturday, May 27
Wanted to put down the major learnings from my trip. One was seeing Callanish as a kind of stage set for archetypal pageantry, that the astronomical alignments are really only of secondary importance. They indicate the time of year for celebration, but the stones are not a scientific instrument, but a sacred space for celebration. The preservation of the site and archeological reconstruction are part of what goes on, but not essential. The stone circles are more like a folk dance, still living, still to be celebrated, but trying to get things back they way they once were is stultifying, and besides there is really no way to know “how they once were”. Changes happen, they are part of a living process. This doesn’t mean that wanton destruction is OK. The site needs to be treated with respect, but also needs to be enjoyed.
Another was the realization that came when we moved the snail, that the great powers are mindful of us, willing to help us, but we have to perform an action, no matter how small, in order to give them an entry point into physical reality. So it is often true that actions that we take are more significant than we know.