Tag Archives: St Michael’s Mount

Healing Chakra Walks on St. Michael’s Mount

light coming through the C16 stained-glass window, in the chapel dedicated to Archangel Michael, St Michael's Mount.

light coming through the C16 stained-glass window, in the chapel dedicated to Archangel Michael, St Michael’s Mount.

For the past few weeks, I have been creating a special Chakra Walk  to take place on St. Michael’s Mount, the culmination of the St. Michael’s Way.  I offered to run one of these walks in aid of Freedom from Torture, the former medical branch of Amnesty International, with kind permission from the St. Aubyn family and help from the management team on the Mount.

I want to limit the numbers to 12, so I have decided to run two walks and have chosen 2 dates that coincide with a favourable tide as  walking across the causeway is an important element of the walk.  Hopefully, one of these dates might suit you?

chakra walk - plain doc copy

If you, or anyone you know, might be interested in doing one of the walks, or you just need more information, please do get in touch with me:

email: caro@carowoods.co.uk,  or call me: 01736 874388

or download the above flyer: chakra walks – with contact details.

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Filed under Mandalas, my sketchbook pages, Pilgrimage Walks, St. Michael's Way, The Artist as Pilgrim, Walks

‘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.

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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.

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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 (www.angelashaw.org), 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!)

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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

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20 minutes later and the mission is accomplished.

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

Communal Walking as Art: a Human Bar Code

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Certain weather conditions create different atmospheric ‘hues’.   Sunday’s stormy weather was no exception.   For me, the drama began the previous night when I was woken, not by the thunder and lightning, but by the sound of a very frightened whippet frantically digging up the rug in search of a hiding place.  I consequently spent much of the night trying to sooth her frazzled nerves.  As the new day dawned I just wanted to pull the covers up and ease myself into it by reading the papers in bed with a bowl of porridge and a double espresso.

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However, this was no ordinary Sunday morning.  After all, how often do you get the opportunity to be part of a ‘Hamish Fulton communal walk’?   Sunday’s walk was to be the second walk organized by the ‘walking artist’, as part of The Cornwall Workshop.  There is an excellent account of the first walk on Saturday, here, posted by Ellen Mara De Wachter, one of the Cornwall Workshop participants whom I met over a welcome mug of home-made soup at the Exchange afterwards.

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This communal walk was to be an orchestrated walk on the beach at Mounts Bay.  Nearly 200 people answered the call-up for volunteers, some travelling from as far away as London and who knows where else?  Low level rumbles of thunder could be heard in the distance as we gathered at Penzance station.  Most of us were muffled up against the storm clouds that not only threatened but also delivered their load of showers at intervals.  We had been told that once we started the walk we must not leave the line and that a lightning strike (a very real possibility) was the only thing that would cause it to be abandoned.

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The ‘collective’ snaked their way from the station along the sea wall beside the railway line, down the steps spilling out onto the beach.

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The walk had been timed to coincide with the lowest point of the spring tide, and having forded the river that runs onto the beach we once more gathered on the flat expanse of sand to await instructions.

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The plan: Two lines of 100 people in each, an arm’s distance apart, walking at a VERY SLOW shuffle in opposite directions like two trains passing each other on the tracks until the first in line comes level with the last in line on the opposite side.  In complete silence.  The whole event timed to take exactly one hour, with monitors placed in the middle of the line, scheduled to pass each other at the half way point – which they did, apparently.  At noon, on the dot, Hamish Fulton, at the front of ‘my’ line began the slow shoe-shuffle action and Jesse Leroy Smith began the procession of the opposite line, inch by slow inch along the sand.

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As queues go, these two were extremely well behaved.  I wondered if this might be possible anywhere else in the world?  I even felt guilty turning around to take a look down the line but did manage to take a few photos.  I turned my face towards the welcome rays of sunshine to counteract the icy blast coming from the west realizing too late I was facing the wrong way and should have been in the other line-up!   But as a normally solo walker, this experience felt very inclusive, and I was aware that I was participating in something unique.

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It was surprisingly peaceful.  The rain had stopped and except for a few inquisitive dogs and their walkers and the professional photographers with their cameras and tripods circling around us like predatory animals, we had this whole stretch of beach to ourselves.  A truly sentient experience: feeling the direction and strength of the wind on my face; measuring the distance my foot travelled at every step; the gentle sway of my body as it slowly moved forward at an imperceptibly slow pace; noticing where I directed my gaze, recognizing a few faces in the crowd of strangers; enjoying the wide assortment of foot-ware (and marveling at a couple of pairs of bare feet); a yellow coat providing a welcome accent of colour against the dark jackets; shadow shapes on wet sand looking like glazed pottery; hearing the roar of the wind and sea when I closed my eyes; feeling my body getting colder and my legs getting heavier whilst at the same time gradually becoming more tuned into the moment.

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200 people moving as one, converging to become a double exposure as seen from the inside.   The light on the beach at that moment could not have been more beautiful or the setting more spectacular with the backdrop of St Michael’s Mount.   As an observer, from the shore line and viewed against the light, the dark vertical lines must have appeared like a human bar code.  The angle from that viewpoint would be the more familiar one in Hamish Fulton’s imagery.  As a participant in this artwork, this was the hue of me: an anonymous black line in a slow-moving, human bar code.

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On the dot of one o’clock and at the climax of the synchronized lines, the crocodile just fell apart and we all dispersed as if we were on a film set and someone had shouted ‘cut’ though not a word had been spoken.   Groups of people began to drift off to resume their normal Sunday afternoon activities.

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I am aware my pictures tell their own story.

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I wonder what Hamish Fulton will make of it all?

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(See more The Hue of You, this week’s photo challenge, here.)

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Filed under my sketchbook pages, The Artist as Pilgrim, Walks, Wordpress Photo Challenge