As I walked around the stones and counted them - the legend states that they cannot be counted three times with the same number - I was drawn to the magic of being in Wales and in England. The very ground of the United Kingdom breathes myth, mystery, and magic. NOTE: These are two separate countries that form part of the UK! As well as Scotland and Northern Ireland and there IS a great deal of national pride. Do not refer to Wales as part of England - It's like saying Oregon is part of Texas!)
Greeted with snow, rain, sodden ground, and a cold that penetrated our winter jackets, we retreated to the Crown and Cushion in Long Compton for lunch by the fireside. Again I was struck by the very British tradition of visiting. One eats and then one sits and shares their life, thoughts, dreams, news, family, and self. A table near us was filled with a collection of locals, raising a pint as they laughed and talked. We in America rush through life with instant this and that. What shall we remember at journey's end? I take more time now to see, to listen, and to enjoy.
After lunch, a warm sit within the cozy atmosphere of C & C's pub, and clearing skies, we journeyed back and visited The King Stone and were delighted to find David Gosling’s newly placed art installation, the witch who tradition says turned the king and his men to stone. Our photo fairy was working overtime as we got just the right angle to see the witch look eerily out of the branches that compose her body.
The Whispering Knights are across the road from the King Stone and a field away from the King's Men stone circle. It is said that you can hear your future if you listen quietly to the whispers of the Knights. Evidently the legend holds, as the fallen stone in front was liberally peppered with coin of the realm from pence to pound.
Late that night, we watched the Cotswold Druids perform their Samhain Ceremony, circling the stone with drum and rattles. Calling for the four portals to be opened, they honored their kindred dead, shared refreshment, and danced beneath the cloud covered sky. Researching, I sat unobtrusively on a fallen stone and watched three female Druids dance with fairy lights to what sounded like a medieval rendition of "My Lady Sleeps." Eerie, haunting and beautiful.
Week 8 was taken up in intense classes back on campus, while I tried to unpack the impressions of the Druidic celebration and to convert emotion into text, imbuing words with the magical setting I had witnessed, and trying to remember, to capture, and to give form to the gift of this experience.
The colors are changing and this past week-end was spent just outside of London with new friends, a road trip of colors and comraderie. I was introspective as I thought of the passing of life, remembering my loved ones who have passed the portals of mortality, combined with the joy of the present as I see my two newest grands learn to crawl and my first grandchild accept a mission call to Brazil... at 4 AM... on Skype. Life is good.
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