My time in this house and on the land where I’m currently dwelling has been short. I only moved here in July, 2011. That is barely enough time to make introductions, let alone form actual relationships. The focus of my magical work has been to introduce myself, listen to the rhythm and voice of this ridge and valley, and begin the slow process of building trust with those spirits and beings who are here. It’s an enormous task when you think about it. This tiny geographical area is but a speck compared to the entire County, not to mention the Provence or the whole Country!
Yet, it feels to be the proper and expected form of working here. This land feels very tribal to me. It is contrary to the prevailing ideas of our dominant culture. This…. slowness. The world around me is a place of instant gratification, entertainment on demand, and immediate access to tomes of knowledge. It has not always been this way. In some spheres it still is not.
In my back garden is a neolithic standing stone. In fact, there are three stones we have been instructed not to move or alter as they are registered artefacts. Only two of these stones remain upright; one large, at roughly 4 feet, is erect and the center point of our back garden, while the other two are smaller, one recumbent and the other standing. They are not a row and seem to be marker stones of some sort.
I live on the eastern slope of a rather north-south running ridge. The highest point of the ridge acts as a buffer for any south-westerly winds, and since I am only meters from that highest point the view of the valley and surrounding countryside is dramatic. Along the ridge are many neolithic and bronze age monuments.
x (cemetary) —> x (holy well) —-> x (standing stones – mine) —> x (hill fort) —> x(large Crom standing stone) —> xx(two outlier stones) —-> x(mound)
These are just the monuments on the short 3-4 km stretch of ridge where my house is. There are several other ancient structures to either side of the ridge and in the greater surrouding area.
With winter solstice past and the days lengthening, I thought it time to create outdoor altars. So this week, in the back garden where the stones are, I crafted two. There are other parts of the immediate gardens that will eventually have altars but it felt important to honour the marker stones first. This ridge seems to have been an ancient trackway of sorts with something akin to a processional way, from one site to the next.
When we first moved in, altars were erected inside the house. I work from the inside out. My ancestor altar was the first to be consecrated. Placed in a deep Western window with candles, photos, and containers for offerings of water. I needed the land spirits to meet my Dead and show them the respect that I do. The next altar was for my main household spirits; this was set-up in my Studio which acts as both my temple and healing space. They have wonderful incense and candles around their statues. My preferred energy exchange with them is of fire.
With permanent outdoor altars now built, my first offerings were of fresh Irish apples, along with found objects. These were clearly appreciated, as the next morning when I checked no trace of the fruit remained.
My son was here in October. He showed me a feat I have never seen with my own eyes. He leapt, from a still standing position, onto a 6 foot wall. In my amazement he told me how trained athletes can leap much higher structures. Then we mused on the Fianna; the band of ancient hunter / warriors who roamed the wild countrysides of Ireland. They would have leapt walls, hedges, boulders; their massive shapes running across the land, shields slung and spears at the ready.
That ancient energy still pulses along this ridge. Memory of dark forests, wolf pack and bear track still hang thick on a misty night. And it’s when that mist descends like a veil that you must listen. All is not as it seems, and voices you think speak to you from a modern era are truly whispers from some other realm. To wander in that grey white world of water is to risk much. Perhaps the Stone knows the way…