Category Archives: The Silent Eye

Going West: Pentre Ifan…

Wales 117

It is a magical place. You are in no doubt of that as you walk along the path to the site. Hoary stones nestle in the hedgerow. Bluebells, those delicate woodland flowers that bloom only in spring, are blooming on the hillside at midsummer, scattered through the grass as if giving warning that here, time holds no sway and to step into the enclosure is to step out of this world’s realm and into another.

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Your first sight of Pentre Ifan takes your breath away. I saw it first many years ago, on a day that invited no other visitors… we had the place to ourselves for hours and time to get a feel for this sacred space. And, although many things here may be debated and pondered upon by minds scientific or spiritually inclined, there is no doubt about the sanctity of the site.

Wales 118

It is the gigantic head of a bird that greets you, its beak held aloft by stone as insubstantial as a feather, looking out over the valley. It is not just the stones that ‘get’ you, it is the place itself. Little wonder, when there are so many tales of the Fair Folk being sighted here, especially as the moon rises on a summer night.

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Some tales tell that they are red-capped and resemble small soldiers. Others, less forthcoming but more believable, speak of insubstantial beings, impossible to capture but who converse with those rare few who can see them.

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Pentre Ifan was built around six thousand years ago and is the oldest of the tombs we visited on this trip. The site sits within its enclosure still; even though the perimeter stones are largely lost within the edges of the oak wood and the hedgerows, the shape of the space can still be traced. There are all the usual debates over the purpose and construction of the site, but it is always referred to as a tomb. Here, I can see that, though not because of the archaeology. Very few artefacts have been discovered here and no finds to show that it was ever a burial chamber, which, in itself, seems a little odd for a tomb. I wonder if the stones were part of the death rites, rather than a final resting place? Or perhaps the death was more symbolic… a ritual initiation… a re-beginning for the shamans.

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One legend about the place says that it was a druidic college. Pentre Ifan was not always its name either… it was once known as Arthur’s Quoit, Coetan Arthur, like the first site we had visited. But Arthur, as a legend, is a mere babe compared to the age of these stones, and I wonder why the warrior-king who sought the Grail was so often associated with them. Perhaps folk memory remembered something we have now lost and saw in these stones a portal to a different mode of being.

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Weather!…

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Getting to the Hurlers proved easy enough…

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Clustered, as they were, around the extremities of Bodmin Moor…

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But the weather closed in…

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Almost as soon as we set foot to turf…

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Which made the prospect of a climb up to the Cheesewring, and Stowe’s Pound, a decidely unlikely event…

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We walked as far as we could before caution proved the better part of valour…

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And then, the sun came out…

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Somebody, somewhere, muttered something about stones and humour.

Playing Place…

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Well, it didn’t take us long to get there did it?

But let’s ponder a moment

what this structure could mean…

We could call the two flanking uprights,

Summer and Winter,

or Night and Day,

or Them and Us,

and it would not really matter which was which.

If we did that though, what would we call the holed stone?

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The Rock of Brentor…

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‘…A church, full bleak, and weather beaten, all alone, as it were forsaken…’

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“St Michael de Rupe?”

“St Michael the Rock.”

“I thought St Peter was supposed to be the ‘Rock’?”

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“The rock referred to here, is volcanic.”

“Nice.”

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“Though you would never know it now…”

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“…The church-tower can still serve as a beacon.”

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“Curioser and curioser…”

“Wait till we get inside, Alice.”

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Circle of Stone…

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If ever there was a monument that ought to be regarded as fake.

This is surely it.

So far as we know it is unique,

although there are many holed stones.

The others are usually uprights, stand alone, and have much smaller holes.

But if it is authentic, and we have never come across

any suggestion that it is not,

then it is an indication that the ancients

ritualised, and that they thought symbolically.

This should not come as a surprise.

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The Marsh King’s Daughter III…

 

barbrook III (14)

Hi-ho the Carrion Crow, bow and bend to me…

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…There usually is.

Perhaps one reason for the tale’s obscurity these days is its perceived, overtly, Christian message.

This takes the form of a priest who is captured and tortured by Helga’s Viking fosterers, provokes in her the first stirrings of love and compassion and affords the young girl opportunity to embrace the process which results in the fusing of her day/night time personalities and her achievement of wholeness in mind and form.

However, the culmination of this process is complicated somewhat by the priest’s death at the hands of robbers and his subsequent appearance in a dream vision and by the denouement of the tale which sees the Changeling Child whisked away to heaven by the priest only to return a short time later and find her original home now long lost to the ravishes of time.

The Rip Van Winkle like nature of the priest’s ‘heaven’ may give inkling  to the original story source for this episode, as might his appearance on horse-back wielding his cross much like a knight would wield his sword.

As an other-world component of the story the Christian priest is perhaps less dramatically successful than he might be as a ‘Fairy King’ or ‘Lord of Light’ but still gives us pause for thought and contemplation as to the precise mode of consciousness his figure represents.

That’s almost all, folks…

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 ‘What would the world be, once bereft

Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,

O let them be left, wildness and wet;

long live the weeds and the wildness yet.’

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All photos – Sue Vincent.

All epithets – The Grateful Dead, ‘Mountains of the Moon’.

Epitaph -‘Inversnaid’, Gerard Manly Hopkins.

Hackpen Hill…

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Even our ‘elusive barrow’ was bigger than we expected.

We couldn’t help being reminded of the Fairy Mine.

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And we would have got a lot closer still

but for the seven-foot-tall stinging nettles.

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“We were pressed for time the last time we visited Hackpen Hill.”

“Ilkley wasn’t it by way of Marlborough to pick up the staves?”

“Staffs not staves.”

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“That’s the ‘fella’.”

“The fellow with half a face?”

“Sounds like the title of something.”

“It doubtless is.”

“Or should be.”

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“Strange, how patterns in the landscape,

figures of speech,

modes of mind,

attract some people…”

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“Yet not others.”

 

 

Fringe Benefits…

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Another one of those ‘green-worm-holes’ presented itself.

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And we were hardly likely to refuse.

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A decision with consequences which we both found quite pleasing.

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A couple of small stones caught our attention.

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But upon closer inspection they turned out to be rather large stones.

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But then, this was Avebury after all…

 

Infinite Regress…

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THE INFINITE HIGHWAY

If one always returns to where one came from,

then one’s destination is halfway between where

one came from and where one is going to.

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HALFWAY TO INFINITY

Every step along the infinite highway is simultaneously

an equal distance between an infinite future

and an infinite past, that is, it is halfway to and from infinity.

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EQUAL PARTS OF INFINITY

To find the halfway point of any distance,

one first splits the distance into equal parts then,

when the number of equal parts remaining is equal

to those that have passed one has one’s halfway point.

The equal parts of infinity, however, are all infinite.

Infinity is the only thing that can be split into… infinities.

This is known as counting the for evers of forever.

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FOREVER YOURS

Reflecting upon all this it appears…

‘The Ancient of Days’

Is a good poetic name for infinity.

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THE INFINITE HOTEL

A Traveller approaches the Infinite Hotel and asks The Ancient of Days for a room.

Now, there are an infinite number of rooms in the Infinite Hotel, however, the Traveller is informed by the Ancient of Days that all the rooms in the Infinite Hotel are taken.

Q: How does the Traveller get a room in the Infinite Hotel ?

A: The Ancient of Days asks the occupants of Room 1 to move into Room 2 and the occupants of Room 2 to move into Room 3…and so on… and on… Infinitely, thus making room for the Traveller.

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INFINITE EXPANSE

At any one time in the Infinite Hotel then, there will be any number of people on the corridors moving from one room to the next, and this number will be dependent on how many Travellers are seeking a room in the Infinite Hotel…

Consider this…

All the rooms in the Infinite Hotel have a name…

All the rooms in the Infinite Hotel have the same name…

The name of all the rooms in the Infinite Hotel is ‘After-Life’.

Consider this…

All the corridors in the Infinite Hotel have a name…

All the corridors in the Infinite Hotel have the same name…

The name of all the corridors in the Infinite Hotel is ‘Life’.

By extension…

The occupants of each room in the Infinite Hotel have names…

The occupants in the room before yours are called ‘Parents’

The occupants in the room after yours are called ‘Children.’

The act of moving from room to corridor is called ‘Birth’.

The act of moving from corridor to room is called ‘Death’.

‘Life Duration’ in the Infinite Hotel can be defined as,

the amount of time spent in the corridor

 before moving into the next room…

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IN FIN…

Once one

Never none

Forever one.

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