Briagha is a community leader
journeys - number 4. At the time of Autumn Equinox last year, 2005,
At the front the amazing dry stone walling of the horned forecourt is still intact, showing what incredible craftsmen the builders were. These forecourts are like arms reaching forward each side of the dolmen/ chamber, like a funnel into the tomb. They may well have been where folk gathered for the ceremonies and burials, rather than inside the tomb itself.
Certainly nowadays folk gather inside this tomb, as the various bits of burnt wood and butts indicated. What a wonderful place to come and be, out from the city, communing with the ancestors. Bit of a shame about the power lines, though they were not that noticeable. The well worn path shows that many people are drawn here, even if they know nothing about its history, or use, simply because it is a place of power and beauty. it was time to move on to the stone circle inauguration, and so we headed on down the road to Coed Hills. This is a very interesting place, where there are both artistic installations, dotted about the 60 acre site, and also some interesting examples of alternative structures to live in. We were lucky enough to have a guided tour of the woods, which had some great stuff within, including two “gnomes” in a living “house” and a spiral space, over 30 foot across, which apparently won an award. One of my favourites was the travelling yurt, a fold down yurt on wheels, ready to be pulled along by a willing horse.
After our tour, there was a very interesting talk by the designer of the stone circle, Robin Heath, about his new book, Power Points. This looks at some new power points in the landscape, such as power stations, and the intriguing 5,12,13, triangle formed by Cardiff, Edinburgh and London, which is quite bizarre! Then we all shared some lovely food, and prepared to gather for the ceremony. We assembled first in another circle created by the community, planted with trees and flowers, and were given a brief rundown of the plan for the ceremony, then, after a suprising number of folk, both adult and children, had gathered, off we went! The new circle is 365 feet in circumference, and our group just managed to encircle it and join hands, quite a sight in the grassy field, with its amazing views of the south and west horizons. It is quite high up here, and if there had not been heavy cloud, we could have seen a good sunset. The coast of Devon was visible though, so I wonder if anyone there saw our fires as they blazed out in the darkness?!
We were then asked to run widdershins, anticlockwise, round the circle, to build up some energy, which is not how I would do it! So I went round sunwise, clockwise, as everyone else rushed round the other way, and this felt rather good, like being a dynamo brush! Then, to the accompaniment of some eerie and exciting percussion, we each entered the ring, some taking a fire torch to light from the central fire that was already burning. Each person went to stand in the ring, with the torch bearers at each of the 28 outer stones, and also at the four inner stones, which are larger than the rest and placed around the centre. This was an amazing experience, seeing the fire appear by each stone, and the calls of the kids and the laughter as folk found their place. When all were in position, we did some whoops and cries, and then, as the torches started to die, we gradually moved into the centre, to gaze at the fire and breathe in the atmosphere of the circle, which felt fully awake and enlivened.
It is just possible to make out one of the inner stones in the centre of this picture, with two big torches above it, and the far stones beyond, with their torches at a lower level. This ceremony may not sound like a big deal, but the actual impact of the fire, percussion and stones was very powerful, and felt as if it was a close replica of how our ancestors might have done things themselves. I particularly liked the fact that so many kids came along, and that there was no real hierarchy, just some folk helping to focus it with the torches and music.
The layout of the circle is most interesting, with a strong focus on sacred geometry and numbers. As I said, there are 28 outer stones, and 4 inner ones, and this apparently means that various celestial phenomena can be predicted and marked. Certainly these would include some sunsets and moonsets, over that coastline in the southwest direction, but not rising points, which are hidden by the woods whose silhouette is visible at the back of the picture. This felt like a good addition to the growing number of new stone monuments being created at this time, and well worth a visit if you are in the area.
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