Category Archives: Earth Goddess

‘Holding the Light’ for Angela on St. Michael’s Mount

'Holding the Light', Photograph taken with a pinhole camera, by Angela Shaw.

‘Holding the Light’,
photograph taken with a pinhole camera, by Angela Shaw.

In the middle of Mounts Bay in West Cornwall, there is a tiny island that rises out of the sea just off-shore, near Penzance.   It is here, on top of this Mount in 495 AD, that the vision of Archangel Michael appeared to a group of fisherman in the Bay below.  8th May marks the anniversary of this sighting.


View of Mounts Bay, St Michael’s Mount in the distance

Living on the hill above the bay, I can see the castellations of the castle on top of the Mount and catch whole glimpses of it when I walk the moors around my home, or the dogs along the beach at Longrock.  The storms this winter exposed remnants of the petrified forest that is normally covered by sand in the bay, reminding us of a time when it was merely a hill in the midst of a landlocked forest.


St Michael’s Mount is a tidal island 366 m off the Mount’s Bay coast of Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It is a civil parish and is united with the town of Marazion by a man-made causeway of granite setts, passable between mid-tide and low water’ (Wiki). 

The causeway that links the island with the mainland

The causeway that links the island with the mainland

There is something rather magical about the Mount.  Standing alone in the bay like a figure from Arthurian legend, I feel its constant presence and is always a comforting reminder of home.



This tiny island has a twin, connected by an invisible thread across the Channel, which lies just off the coast of France.  ‘Mont Saint-Michel is an island commune in Normandy, France. It is located approximately one kilometre off the country’s northwestern coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches. 100 hectares in size, the island has a population of 44′ (Wiki).   Here, I have been told, the tide races in at the speed of a galloping horse.  Both St. Michael islands get cut off from the mainland twice in every 24 hours.  Both have been monasteries at some time in their lives and both are dedicated to the Archangel, Michael.  More significantly for me, both lie on the Michael earth energy line where it crosses with its sister, the Mary Line, making them both pivotal points of powerful Gaia energy.

8th May, 2014.  ‘Holding the Light’.

Lantern and pin-hole camera placed on the Michael Line, St Michael's Mount.

Angela’s Lantern and pin-hole camera placed on the Mary / Michael Line, St Michael’s Mount.


The lantern on the Michael line, looking out to sea at the spot where the fisherman in the Bay first saw the vision of St. Michael.

The lantern looking out to sea at the spot where the fisherman in the Bay first saw the vision of St. Michael.

Angela's carefully prepared pinhole, primed and ready to go a few minutes before the 8pm start

Angela’s carefully prepared pinhole camera, primed and ready to go a few minutes before the 8pm start


Last week I met up with Angela Shaw (, an MA student on the Art & Environment course at Falmouth, for a special visit to the Mount.  Angela was on a recce to check out a suitable location for her ‘Holding the Light’ project and I was on a mission to identify ‘chakra’ points for a walk I am organising for FFT (more later in a new post).  It turned out to be a very fruitful visit for both of us and I ended up offering to help in her ‘Holding the Light’ project: an 8-point photo work and light sculpture.

The 8 positions of Light

The 8 positions of Light Holders (Cudden Point is just off the map in the bottom right corner, my crop!)


Angela’s invitation to join in the ‘Light Sculpture’.

I was given charge of the St Michael’s Mount ‘watch’.  In her ‘Guidelines for light holders/ witnesses, Thursday, 8th May, 2014’, she explains, ‘the aim is to ‘hold the light’ metaphorically, to give time and attention to the light……in a synchronised pause, knowing that 7 other light holders, over a 10 mile radius are doing the same’.  Each light holder is issued with a lantern, candle and matches, a pinhole camera, notepad and pen to record thoughts and impressions.

8th May arrived and at 7.30 in the evening, I was picked up from the slip at Marazion by a castle Landrover and driven over the causeway to the Mount, now closed to daily visitors.  From there, the castle manager, Pete, and I jumped into a golf buggy and bumped up the cobbled pilgrim path to the castle at the top where I laid out the lantern and pinhole in exactly the place Angela had identified as the chosen spot on our previous visit together, the very same spot where the Archangel had appeared to the fisherman below.

the setting sun just bursting through the mist before sinking behind the horizon

on the boat back, watching the setting sun just bursting through the mist before sinking behind the horizon.  (For more ‘on the move’ pics for this weeks photo challenge see here).

At 8 pm precisely, I opened the aperture on the pinhole camera and whilst I watched the family of Ravens playing on the cliffs just below us, Pete and Adam (and his lovely dog, Eve) went to turn on the spotlights to illuminate the castle.  At exactly 8.20, the tab was replaced over the hole in the pinhole, the candle extinguished and with the lantern packed away, we bumped our way back down the path from where I climbed into the motor craft that was waiting to take me back across the now flooded bay to the mainland, being dropped off at Chapel Rock where Victoria was recording my arrival with her film camera.

leaving the island behind me

leaving the island behind me

With the light now beginning to fade, Victoria and I walked up the hill above Marazion to watch Angela light the prepared beacon.  A few gusts of wind and the fire roared into life, easily sustaining the 20 minutes for the pinhole there to do its work.  The gentle light from the chalky lanterns now replaced by the larger flames of the beacon.  Standing there completely mesmerised by the spriggans dancing in the gloom and the glowing flames fill the darkness, I felt it had all been a rather wonderful experience and a privilege to have been part of something really special.  So thank you, Angela, for inviting me to take part in your project.  I have particularly enjoyed being a ‘light worker’.  And particularly grateful to all those who had made my visit to the Mount possible.  I can’t wait to see the resulting images from the pinholes and how Angela finally interprets her ‘synchronised pause’.

Angela lights the beacon

Angela lights the beacon.

Victoria recording the event, the lit up castle on St Michael's Mount illuminated in the distance.

Victoria recording the event, the illuminated castle on St Michael’s Mount in the distance.











Light is fading as the fire burns brighter

Light is fading as the fire burns brighter


20 minutes later and the mission is accomplished.



Filed under Art Works, Earth Goddess, St. Michael's Way, Wordpress Photo Challenge

The Sun and the Stones


This video is an extract taken from Cassandra, a film Anja and I made last year for KerstenWoods Productions.   This sequence is beautiful and I thought it could be a stand alone piece in its own right.   This section is called, The Sun and the Stones, and is a joyful celebration of the mid-Summer sun rising above the circle of stones at Boscawen-un.  It will form the inspiration for the Summer Solstice festivity in our new series of Earth Goddess films charting the cycle of the year.  Some of the raw footage will be re-edited, together with new material and a brand new soundtrack to explore the theme of the The Earth Goddess at the height of her Serpent powers, nourished by the energy of the sun at it’s zenith in the sky.

(The full version of Cassandra is available on DVD from KerstenWoods Productions)

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Filed under Earth Goddess, Films, my sketchbook pages

The Thin Veil

Welcome to a new project that Anja and I have hatched with a new working title, Earth Goddess, for which I have created a new category for this blog.   This project has actually been brewing for more than a couple of years and now gathering momentum as Anja and I discover a growing area of interest that is captivating to both of us: the boundary that exists between this world and the next.

The subject of transitions between realities will form the thread of glue that runs throughout the project and specifically deals with the veil, – sometimes opaque, at other times transparent – that exists between two different dimensions: this earthly, physical reality and the ethereal, ‘other’ world, inhabited by the spirits of our ancestors and the collective wisdom of the universe.   A realm beyond our own familiar world where we can feel, see, hear and even touch realities in other dimensions.  This world is timeless and infinite and cannot be measured (as far as I am aware) by normal scientific means.

Into this world of expanded consciousness an archeatypical figure from the past is brought into sharp focus: The Earth Goddess who represents the spirit of the land (played by Anja and filmed by me), a go-between, sacred figure of Pagan or even earlier origin.  We plan to bring her back to life to find out what she represents for us in a modern context.  In our project, she forms the central character in a series of short films that focus on the ancient pattern of ritual celebration and a belief system that intimately connected our ancestors to the cycle of seasonal changes.  A belief that the earth is imbued with a living spirit in which the yearly wheel perfectly mirrored the human cycle of birth, death and rebirth.  (Think Mandala!)

The Earth Goddess, therefore, is the embodiment of the Sacred Mother who possesses abstract powers of love, beauty, promiscuity, and even death.  The most potent aspect of Mother Earth though, is her ability to give birth to new life and thus regenerates and sustains all living creatures.  These are the very themes we will be exploring in our films.

The attached images are stills from a short film (the first of three) that I made with Anja for another project called Anastasia, in response to a project we were working on with Ghost Writer (Spiritual Medium, Angie Kruger; Joe Kruger; and Leona Coombe) and sound engineer and performer, Jordan Jackson.  (I have posted it onto our KerstenWoods Productions blog if you would like to see it.).  Some of the raw footage will be re-mixed, given a different soundtrack and a new title, to celebrate the Celtic festival of Samhain, on 1st November (more commonly known as Halloween), which is a traditional time of year when the boundaries between the spirit world and the physical world are very close.  It is the time when the Earth Mother begins her retreat into the depths of the underworld and the land becomes dormant.

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Filed under Earth Goddess, my sketchbook pages