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Briagha is a community leader
who ran OakDragon,
an outdoor educational organization that brings people back to Nature.
She is a Wiccan teacher and ceremonialist who is also adept at divination.
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What is Geomancy?
Strata Florida June 2005
Mitchells Fold June 2005
Coed_Hills September 2005
Gower December 2005
Gors Fawr December 2005
Callinish June 2006
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The Eight Festivals
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The Coed Marros stone circle
by Ros Briagha and Jon Appleton
This is our latest stone circle, following on our successful collaboration at Temple Druid and Brithdir Mawr. It is a completely new circle, though it is thought that there may well have been a circle here hundreds of years ago that has been destroyed. The site, where a smallholding once stood, is known as Merrimans Gate.
The owners of the woodland, Caz and Mike, approached us after the completion
of the megalithic complex at Temple Druid (see Club Meg News # 15 and #16), and work started with a visit to their site and the quarry within the woods where the stones were to come from. The site has a public footpath running alongside it, so it has potential to be seen and used by many folk, despite being on private land. The local stone is limestone, and the stones are also streaked with rich orange hues where iron ore has colored them.
Ed note: Ros Briagha lives and works in Wales. She can be reached at :firstname.lastname@example.org
On that visit to the quarry we chose the best stones for the circle, and in due course, these were pulled out and moved to the site of a big barn being built by Caz and Mike, rather nearer to where the circle would eventually go. We ended up picking out around 20 stones that felt suitable, ranging from 3 feet to 7 feet tall, with an average girth of 2 to 3 feet. These were duly drawn and measured, so that we could begin to design the appearance and layout of the finished circle. They were also blessed with sacred smudge smoke, and told what was happening to them, and how they were to become part of a circle.
The location of the circle within the woodlands meant that once the new trees have grown up - trees that have been planted to replace the old pines - there would not be good lines of sight to the various sun and moon rising and setting points that we would mark with the stones of the circle. However, Caz and Mike plan to cut rides, or walkways, through the new trees along the sight lines, so that they will be visible. In winter, the sunrises will be more visible as the trees lose their leaves.
|| We then looked at various circle layouts, and decided to try one of the classic styles that Professor Thom described in his pioneering studies of ancient circles, a Type B flattened circle. We decided to create this by having two centers (or foci) to the circle rather than one, and marking some of the solar and lunar points using the second center, rather than simply sighting through the first center each time. This, in its turn, creates a vesica pisces shape and a part of this will be marked by a central hearth.
Having done the head work to draw this up on paper, we then set off for the site to mark it out on the ground. When working at Temple Druid I had become very aware that it is no good simply to mark each stone’s position on the circle, as when the JCB (backhoe) came along, the markers had to be moved and then the position was lost. So this time we marked out the four cardinal points first, starting with North, and placed the bamboo poles we had brought as markers at the very extreme edge of our working area, outside the actual circumference of the circle. Having decided on a diameter of 21 MY (megalithic yards), this was then established by more poles in the southern half of the circle. We then plotted the two smaller circles in the northern half, and marked their centers, and were then ready to start marking the actual sun and moon points relating to the Eight Festivals, as our seasonal calendar.
As we worked round the circle, using compasses to find directions, it seemed that some of our measurements were not quite matching, and we realized that we might well have a minor geomagnetic anomaly here. This was reinforced by finding a hole roughly eight inches across, within the circle, where a borehole had been drilled, and then filled in. However, it has reappeared, indicating that the soil has dropped down, and there is water visible at the bottom, maybe 20 feet down. A lot of ancient circles have been dowsed as having blind springs beneath, and it looks as if this one has one too, which is actually visible! More on this as we progress.
So we carried on, marking an inner circle of poles which are on the exact spot where each stone will go, and an outer ring around 4-5 feet further out, with welsh dragon flags on the poles, to give a clear marker of positions even when the inner ones are taken down. We also decided to put each stone to one side of the compass point so that it will be by standing on one side of the circle, and looking between the near stone and the one on the far side, that the sight lines will be marked. This gives a very tight and exact focus, as the Sun or Moon rises or sets in-between the two stones.
It felt important to use the dragon flags, bringing in the energy of the dragon spirit that is so strong here in Wales, and asking it to bless our work. Apparently the Chinese reckon that any project that has a dragon as a symbol will succeed well, so it felt doubly auspicious, honoring both Wales and the spirit of the land.
The next step came on Monday, July 27th, when the JCB team met with me and Ros to start taking the stones up to the circle. Some were so big that they were taken up individually by the big JCB, and the other smaller ones were put in a dumper truck and taken up that way. I felt it was important to take them up in roughly the order they were to go in, so the biggest stone, for the north, went first and was laid down on the track ready to go in. This moving process did not take long, and by 10.00 am I was able to go round and smudge them all again, telling them that it was now time to become a circle. One of the JCB guys asked me if I had blessed them already, and said that he had been surprised at how easily his small machine had lifted 2 to 3-ton stones, “almost as if they wanted to go...”
Jon at the North stone.
|We stopped for a tea break, and Jon arrived, having driven up from Wiltshire that morning, an early start! We had a look at our sketch map of the stones’ positions, and then work started on erecting the north stone. It was quite a challenge, and took some time, as it was first brought into the circle by the big JCB and then roped and lifted and slowly guided into place.
I knew that it was crucial to get this stone in right and that it would open up the space for all the other stones to come into. Sure enough, once that one was in and the JCB team realized what to do, and what we were seeking to achieve, it became easier. We pressed on, and by lunch time, we had got the top arc of the circle, the first seven stones, into place and looking great.
I was particularly thrilled that my idea of placing the outer poles with flags to guide us in really worked well! I would stand at the actual location of the next stone, then step back to the outer pole, and stand there with my open arms showing the width of the hole I wanted, and the digger guy, Toby, could then see exactly where to dig. This was such an improvement on what had happened at Temple Druid, and really helped make the circle a more accurate representation of the yearly calendar.
After lunch we started on the next section, placing the West stone and the southerly arcs and the South stone. Jon pointed out that one stone had a nice ledge on it, and by careful positioning we ended up with it in the West making a neat seat, facing into the circle and ideal for someone to sit on and view proceedings inside. It was tested right away by Caz and her daughter Grace, 6 months old, who sat and watched us for a bit.
These southerly sections were where we incorporated the second center, and where we marked both the Imbolc/Samhain sunrises and sets, and the winter solstice positions too, with just one stone on each side of the south stone. Then came the stones for the most southerly rising and setting of the Moon, and then two “fillers” each side as well, extra stones to fill the gaps and give a better aesthetic to the ring. These are marked as crosses on the diagram.
The size of the stones gradually shrank as we worked round the circle, as happens in many ancient circles, perhaps because they too had to work with what was available! We had decided that this was the best way to deal with the different sizes, and it looked right as it all unfolded. This also meant that it got easier and easier to put them in, as the JCB team became positively expert at bringing them in, putting on the chain or rope, suspending them above their hole, and then neatly guiding them in as I showed them which face to have on the inside, and which way up to put them in. Because the team worked together so well, we did not lose too much height on the smaller stones, so they ended up not looking that much smaller than the northerly ones.
We had a beautiful sunnyish day, with no rain, rather than the predicted heavy showers! This was crucial, as it would have become a mud bath if it had rained. To me, this is an indication that the unseen forces, the astral realms, and their inhabitants, are wholly supportive, and pleased by this work.
So the afternoon went by, and by 5.30 the last stone was in! Then Toby went around and carefully flattened every inch of the circle, removing the huge tire ruts and general rocks and sticks that had littered the place. He also did the area around the back of the stones, where we had left a ring for folk to be able to walk around the outside. I then went round and smudged the stones again, welcoming them into their new home, and thanking them for being so good to work with. As I did so, the local Wise Woman arrived, and gave her blessing too, which felt very good!
Later that evening, after a much needed supper, we went up and lit a fire in the center, to bring the blessing of Fire to the circle, and within minutes the rain came too, to bring a Water blessing! The instant mud really made it clear that we could not have done it if it had rained earlier, so we gave extra thanks to the rain deva for holding off! As we looked at the circle, it really felt as if it had always been there, that each and every stone looked right in its place, and that we had created a very special space for ourselves, and all the generations to come. It was lovely to have Grace there as a representative of the future, and know that this will be a marvelous place for her to grow up with, and make use of down the years.
You can find out more about Jon Appleton at his website by clicking here