The most amazing thing happens when you stop, turn off the phone and climb a tor in the middle of the United Kingdom – you begin to see your place and connection to time and land.
A few days ago we had tried to organise a day trip with friends to Dartmoor National Park in the middle of England. Our ancestral witch lineage was ignited as we flicked through a local history book detailing sacred stone circles used for spells and story telling. It is called ‘The Nine Maidens’ or ‘Seventeen Brothers’ depending on who you talk too. What ever the name, this circle or at least the history of witch craft was something I felt deeply connected too. I only had to hear the words witch or magic and the hairs on my arms stood erect, as if reminding me to be respectful of something.
I get the same heightened feeling for many reasons but mostly when I need to pay attention or trust some intuitive sense. Its like the energies within my physical form react to the passing of time and all its memories.
My worst memory was of drowing. All my life I felt terrified of drowning. I didn’t convey this to many as water sports and camping near beaches was how I spent my holidays. I was also into surf life saving, rescuing tourists and stray kids on flotation devices on mnay a weekend. This fear stayed within the fibres of my knowing throughout most of my adulthood. I never could quite explain the strong urge to scream every time I felt waters rising above my head. I learned to ignore my fears but never felt at ease.
Then in my early thirties a friend took me to see a beautiful intuitive healer, who welcomed me into her home and heart. Our session began by placing crystal rocks on particular parts of my body. After a bit of unusual shaking from myself which I thought was due to coolness or nerves, the process of sorting through the layers of my past began.
The first and most enlightening detail of the healing arose within a few minuets. I had been accused of being a witch (but was not) and thrown down a well where I had drowned. This happened only a few short lifetimes ago.
My healer stated this fact with such calmness but each and every-one of my cells reacted to her words. I shook like a dog trying to get warm, cried, almost peeded myself and laughed until my heart-felt heavy. Raels the healer, soothed my disbelief with gentle hands, replacing the crystals I had shaken off and continued to allow the unfolding of my path. I saw myself, head held low, with long tendrils of hair dragging in the dirt as I crawled my way towards a curved rock wall. I re-lived the accusations, felt every stone and coughed until I couldn’t breathe as the dust rose in my nostrils. Dirty, full-skirted women shouted abuse as I held up my hands in protection. Leaning now against the wall I looked out at the confused people realising I was in mortal danger. The final push came from behind, knocking me forwards over the stone ledge. I was falling fast. My head collided with a rough, moss wall on the way down.
Stillness came and a cool, blurred sensation filled my eyes. Was I crying? I saw the red of blood stained sunlight from overhead as my shirt lifted upwards and wrapped softly around my head. I sank deeper. I was cold and alone. I was leaving behind my land and the animals I cared for. Flashes of nature and light surrounded me. I was gone – into an eternal garden.
The ‘Nine Maidens’ was a 3 hour round trip from where we were staying, not including the walk out onto the moorland to find the stones. Our dear friends needed to be back in Bristol for an important pre-arranged teenage date before 7 so we traded in stone circles this day for glorious coastline views and fields of buttercups, finishing up our adventures well before the cut off time.
Today though, as we plan to move from one house sitting job to the next we pass straight by the magnificent wind-swept tors of Belstone. The exact position of the Nine Maidens. It was a chance I didn’t want to pass up.
Afterb a 4o minuet drive,Belstone appeared through the hedges, opening her secrets to us. Countryside charm and hospitality, delivered by an old mans generous directions made us feel like we had returned to something homely.
Jumping off the bus, the girls tore off their shoes, gliding their feet over grass and sheep nuggets. We met an old guy in the town who was about to go stamping (UK’s geocaching equivalent) who provided us with some varied information about the location of the stone circle. We headed out on the plains of the Dartmoor National Park.
The four of us meandered with the sheep for almost half an hour and intuitively found ourselves at the base of a large tor. We began our climb while my youngest daughter turned her jacket inside out, rolled in the odorous dung and made munching motions to gain the trust of these free roaming sheep. It worked a little but mostly just stunk.
Following the lead of the winds we climbed to the sheltered side of the rocks. Roving these hills I couldn’t help but feel a connection to the land and thought about how the people who lived here hundreds if not thousands of years ago survived. I imagined where I would have taken shelter with my animals in particular seasons, where I would bathe, sleep and light fire. I envisioned picking berries by the stream and trapping animals. It would have been a cold, tough but authentic experience.
As I stumbled over thistles and rock, gazing upon the vastness of cleared land I almost missed the solitary rock formation that looked like a small flock of sheep lying in a circle at the bottom of the hill. There they were, silent and resting. I had found the ‘Nine Maidens’. Sliding on rocks and jamming more prickles in my naked soles I made a direct line for the stones. I felt the grass became softer the more I descended and my soul quickened its vibration.
With the circle about 200 yards off I sensed a change in energies that emanated from beneath me. A heavy, more sinister feeling. The right side of my body felt like it was moving a little slower than my left and my heart chakra retreated inside itself. Slowing my pace I noticed a large inverted bowl shape about 40 meters across that was covered with grass and a rubble of age worn rocks. The circular shape opened towards the west of the moor, towards Glastonbury and although it didn’t look like much aesthetically it definitely held some energetic force that grabbed my attention.
As my daughters passed each one slowed and stated something distinctly intuitive.
Nakeela “that looks a bit like a cave that has fallen in where people have lived – weird sort of area”
Jasarla “look at that, I wonder what happened here, I don’t like that hole”
As four little feet bolted towards the Nine Maidens, mine remained. Closing my eyes I realised my body was telling me to not stay long. I pictured rituals and sacrifice, fires and crying, along with crowds of joyous youth and women. Time must surely hold the answers we search for as nothing else remains in constant being. Time is always present.
I knew from my readings that the Dartmoor land had seen Vikings, Saxons and Kings up until 1348 when the Black Death wiped out most that lived in this area. Before this time the neolithic people had been building cambered tombs and prehistoric people began erecting standing stones, stone rows and circles and burying their dead beneath cairns.
Could this land I stand on now hold the remains of the dead and trapped energetic souls?
Cautiously my path opened between prickle bush and sheep droppings as I made my way towards the Nine Maidens. Here, I sat silently and pondered nomadic life along the creek banks, taking in the fresh clear airs of elevated existence.
I don’t remember much about the walk back to our bus. Most of it was a continuation of the silent appreciation I had observed back on the moors. Silence is my path to connection.
Thanks for this great site Quick history of Dartmoor National Park