Tag Archives: Mary line

Contrast Between Joy and Sadness

Summer Solstice, 21st June, 2014:  Walking on Dartmoor.


a pilgrims view of her feet – her most important asset!

This is the third day of a 4 day pilgrimage across Dartmoor, beginning at the church on the hill, St. Michael de Rupe at Brentor and finishing at the Church of the Holy Cross, Crediton, following the Mary/Michael Line.


It is also the Summer Solstice and promises to be another hot, dry day on Dartmoor.  By the time we have finished tucking into Caroline’s delicious breakfast, the mist has dissipated from the tops of the distant moors.   With sun cream liberally applied to exposed areas of skin and full of anticipation for the day ahead, we leave Moorgate Cottage behind us and walk up once more onto the open moorland heading towards a stone circle near Belstone called Nine Stones Cairn Circle.  A couple of pilgrims stop for a quick dip in the stream at Gulliver Steps on the way where I am only prepared to bare my feet to dip into the cooling water.  Nine Stones is a small and intimate circle where we place a couple of heart-shaped stones picked up along the way in celebration of this, the longest day, and re-arrange a bunch of wild flowers left by a previous visitor into a mandala shape around them.


an offering of thanks for the Summer Solstice

I am reminded of the many Summer Solstices I have celebrated in the past at Boscawen-un Stone Circle in Cornwall.

As we head out on the other side of Belstone towards what will be our steepest climb of the pilgrimage, to Cosdon Hill (550 metres above sea level), I am wondering what I should do with the stone that is still in the bottom of my backpack.  It was discovered lying on the river bed at the base of the waterfall at Lydford Gorge which we visited a couple of days ago.  It bears the cross of St Piran on it, the Patron Saint of Cornwall and has been given to me presumably because of my Cornish connections.  I know there has to be a place along the way where I must leave it, but at this point, I don’t know where that place is.  Somehow, I know that when the time comes, it will become clear what I should do with it.


the falls at Lydford Gorge, like a stream of light which reminds me of the depiction of the holy light in the stained-glass window above the altar in Belstone church.

It is a long and hot trudge up to Cosdon, with the benefit of a cooling breeze the higher we climb.  The 6 kilos of weight I am carrying on my back feels more like 12, and sun hats are dunked into Lady Brook on the way up to cool over-heated brows.  The footpath is not always clear, either breaking up into animals tracks or we find ourselves making our way across rough, tussocky ground  between squelchy boggy patches of springy heath and cotton grass.

This long climb is easily the most challenging part of the whole pilgrimage and just before we reach the summit, my mobile phone rings.  I manage to dig it out from one of my zipped trouser pockets.  It is Paul, the vet who is treating Sadie for a ‘spontaneous prolapsed disc’.   He tells me her condition has deteriorated and there is nothing we can do now to reverse the situation.  That the time has come for us to end her suffering.   Barely able to splutter out the words, I make David promise to hold Sadie for both of us so that I can be with her too in her last moments.  In that moment, I understand why I have been carrying the ‘Cornish’ stone.


After my cooling bathe, I decide to walk barefoot up the stone row

On the descent from Cosdon on the other side of the hill, we stop to walk up an ancient stone row.  With the Cornish stone now burning in my hand, I walk up the narrow alley between the stones, imagining Sadie by my side, running up the track for the last time.   I see her elegant body gliding along in slowed, poetic motion, embodying all the runs she has ever done, in joyous harmony.

At the end of this stone row is a small cist or burial mound.  Here I carefully place this stone which now represents my little Cornish whippet, tucking it into a cosy corner amongst the fallen boulders and vegetation that covers the mound.


cotton grass grows in boggy moorland patches (photo taken from image on greetings card)

I discovered later that this stone row is known as ‘the graveyard’.  I know I will come back to this place one day.   After that, the remainder of this joyous Solstice day is a bit vague, except I remember the large granite standing stones at Spinsters’ Rock (Burial Chamber).  I remember them particularly because they were humming.  A low-level hum in response to some toning we had done which I found strangely comforting, and something I have never heard before.  It was hard to comprehend why I was the only one that seemed to hear them.  Then the long road walk to Drewstaignton, and welcome rest.


long winter beach shadows of long narrow dogs – Sadie feels like that shadow now

Sadie’s body now lies buried in a shady corner of my paddock where she once frolicked with her pack.  And I am reminded of the stained glass image of St Michael in the chapel on top of the hill at Brentor at the start of our pilgrimage.   In one hand he holds up a sword-cross and in the other hand he carries a pair of scales.  A reminder that life is a precarious balancing act.  In St Michael’s case, a balancing act between the forces of good and evil: lightness and darkness.   I do not think it is possible to have the one without the other.

Even so, perhaps I should have been more prepared for what was to come knowing that the best laid plans can go wrong.  Before I had even begun this pilgrimage, I had missed my train connection and the bus I was travelling on to catch up with the rest of the party had broken down, its engine simply ‘cutting out’, as if to reinforce the notion that rare incidents do happen.


passengers waiting by the broken down bus for the next one to come along

This pilgrimage for me has represented the fragility of life, the acceptance of unexpected things that happen that probably have some meaning for us if we care to examine them.  The synchronicity of being in certain places at what felt like the right times, and how in a single day, it is possible to experience both the joy of nature at its zenith, and the sadness we feel at the premature passing of a precious life from this earthly world.  Yet another poignant reminder that the cycle of life (and death) goes on regardless of our best laid plans.  Rest in peace, my darling Sadie.






Filed under Pilgrimage Walks, The Artist as Pilgrim, Walks, Whippet Story, Wordpress Photo Challenge

Boscawen-un Stone Circle (SW 412 274)

On Sunday morning, we joined up with West Cornwall Dowsers to take a look at Boscawen-un Stone Circle and Creeg Tol.

A small group of about 10 of us gathered at the pre-arranged, rendevous point at the kissing gate beside the A30.  As we waited for Bart (O’Farrell) to arrive, when he didn’t show up and some people thought he was probably having ‘car’ problems, we headed along the track to our first stopping off point at Creeg Tol, a natural outcrop of granite providing a slightly elevated vantage point from where we could see the stone circle to the south-east.

Having been recently cleared from the undergrowth by CASPN, Creeg Tol was easily assessable.  Legend has it that the Giants laid down these stones and left their foot print in one to prove it (see photo).  We found several radiating earth energies here, and I suggested there was a ‘star’ shaped ‘imprint’ on the ground which in some way was also reflecting a heavenly aspect associated with this site.  An area of ‘feel good” energies in general.

On our way to Boscawen-un, we made a brief detour to a standing stone which we had seen in the landscape from Creeg Tol which turned out to be a gate post, surmising that it had probably been a standing stone at some point.  At the stone circle (see photo), we began to investigate some of the mysteries that surround the site posing questions such as: why 19 stones?; Was the angle of lean of the central standing stone deliberate or accidental?; how far down is it ‘seeded’ in the ground?; what is the significance to the one quartz standing stone in the circle? etc. etc…

Familiar to most of us, I suspect (first visit by West Cornwall Dowsers, however), this bronze-age ring is absolutely steeped in ancient ‘wisdom’ long associated as a point of divine revelation which has been used by many different people for centuries to tap into the collective spiritual wisdom that has accumulated here from our ancestors.  It has been the meeting place of the Cornish Gorsedd, for instance, since their inauguration in 1928. On a personal level, a place of annual hand-fasting, and the final location for the most beautiful and lyrical part of the film, ‘Cassandra’ (The Sun and the Stones) that I made with Anja for KerstenWoods Productions.

On my previous visit to this circle, I had envisaged the ring of stones as some sort of perpetual ancient clock, having no beginning and no end, (and therefore, timeless) with the central standing stone acting like a ‘sun dial’ pointing to the first rays of the rising, mid-Summer sun.  On this occasion, I found the Mary Line running through the centre of the circle and out along a well-defined fox run on the western side leading into the neighbouring field.  Could this be a clue to animals connection to magnetic fields in the ground?

I had the urge to snake around the stones and connect with the serpent energies of this ring, perhaps influenced by the current book I am reading at the moment, ‘The Dance of the Dragon‘, by Paul Broadhurst and Hamish Miller, (2000), a book I would thoroughly recommend for anyone interested in leys, earth energies, sacred sites and dowsing.  Interestingly, I was not alone in this inclination as others also expressed a desire to do the same.  Following the swirling line with my dowsing rod that zig-zagged around the stones, some taking a wider sweep around than others, I felt that once more, I had learned something new from the stones, as indeed I do from every visit to this special place – one of my most favourite in Cornwall.

As always, a pleasure to linger in this place and allow ‘time’ to disappear a little.  However, I missed seeing Bart on this occasion and only hope that the trouble with his car was not terminal and that he himself was in good health.  As a seasoned dowser with even a ley line to his name known as the Bart Line, I would like to have heard his views on the ring and on the outcrop.

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Filed under my sketchbook pages, Walks