Tired and needing sustenance, we drove into the car park above our rented house in Cornwall. Our group consisted of six Druid graduates plus two teachers, on a two-week pilgrimage to the sacred places in England and Wales, before doing a graduation ceremony inside the stones at Stonehenge. We had just driven non-stop from Glastonbury, and had explored some of the special sacred places in Dartmoor on the way.
Our home for the next few days was a beautiful house called Sheldrake; I was excited at the name, as Drake is the old name for Dragon. We carried our belongings down the steep track and entered the house. It was perched on the cliffs at Sennen, only a mile from Land’s End, a special, rocky place, which actually does feel like the end of the world.
Stretching away into the distant curve of the Earth danced the turquoise sea; lazy, languid waves rolled in from the deep ocean and crashed rhythmically onto the sandy shore below. What a view! We were all deeply affected, and watched as the sun welcomed us by setting gloriously over the water. A red-gold undulating carpet of pure light connected us to the island of perpetual youth called Tir-na-Nog, which lies over the western horizon. We all felt blessed and welcomed by the realms of the West.
After a communal breakfast the next morning, we decided not to plan an itinerary for the day. Instead, we would individually choose how to spend our time, and we could do it alone, in pairs, or in any combination of people. The weather was glorious and the early-morning sun radiated gold from a deep-blue infinitude of sky. I chose to walk the cliff path to Land’s End, a two-mile hike each way. Recuperating from an illness, this was probably the longest walk I about to take for three years: I was both nervous and excited.
I set off, making sure I brought plenty of water in my backpack. I walked down to the sandy beach and watched the wind creating whitecaps that danced delightedly on top of the cerulean sea. The sun caressed my face and I could feel healthy color emerge onto my skin. We had arrived here before the tourist season and it was a luxury to experience such beauty in near solitude.
I passed the sleepy harbor and started to climb some precipitous steps towards the cliff. It was so steep I stopped after a few steps to catch my breath. On my third pause, I leaned against a fence post, caught my breath, and looked at the flowers beside the path. I enjoyed random clumps of white bluebells, nettles and thick grass, which swayed in the wind… and then my attention was drawn to a plastic bag someone had tossed over the fence. It lay there, only three feet away from my foot, a symbol of humanity’s unconscious and potentially damaging relationship with nature.
I was overcome by guilt and embarrassment for being human. I apologized to nature for our thoughtlessness and all the road kills that resulted from our so-called modern living. I made a heart-felt prayer that we would finally learn and change our ways before it was too late… and then I notices a movement by the side of the plastic. Tingles erupted from my body and my hairs stood on end. There, within touching distance, was an adder, England’s only poisonous snake. It was about two feet long, its color was gray and it sported a black diamond pattern on its back.
What an omen! I immediately understood it to be a gift, a message from the spirit of Britain welcoming me back and an indication of the purpose of my visit – whatever that was. It put me on notice to be alert at all times and await instructions. OK, I thought. Very well.
I carried on climbing the cliff in front of me. It was steep, but manageable. When the trail leveled out I looked about me and saw an amazing rock to my right. Again I felt goose bumps on my skin. It was alive! From my first perspective it looked like the head of a Tyrannosaurus Rex looking directly at me. I had made this same walk many times in my life and I had never seen this blatantly magical rock, a guardian of these realms, alive and in my face. I moved past the rock and viewed it from a different angle, and it changed into the head of a goblin, or ogre, so blatantly obvious! I stayed with it awhile, enjoying its presence on the cliffs of Cornwall.
On I walked. Everything was so beautiful, so alive. I saw faces and shapes in every rock I saw and it was if the land had come alive to play with me as I passed through. I greeted the beings I saw as old friends, manifestations of the spirit of the land, which had singled me out for some magical fun. I then wondered if everyone I met on the path that afternoon was having similar experiences, yet keeping it hidden. Who knows?
As I approached Land’s End, I decided not to walk down to the rocks, and took a short cut instead. I angled up over the moor and entered the tourist complex in an unfamiliar way and found myself at a stone circle! It was quite impressive, with largish stones surrounding a grassy mound, but I was aware it hadn’t been made with Druidic knowledge. I could tell that the situation was very special, however, and I felt that I needed to do something… yet I wasn’t sure quite what.
Then inspiration hit me. Although the stones hadn’t been placed with Druidic skill, it had been created with the awareness that was available – and was what was here. I realized that I had to bless the stones, give them a particular purpose, and activate them. I wondered what their purpose should be, and then it all became obvious. They were there to create sacred space, and to bless everyone who entered the tourist complex.
I knew the general rule: if someone walked close to a stone circle or sacred space of any type, they were not there by chance, and they would somehow be changed by that experience. In addition, as the stone circle was close to the Great Ley that entered the land close to that point, they would also affect the whole of the British Isles, too.
I called the Awen, and it descended on the stones and myself. Everything was the same… yet power was present. It was pleasantly gentle and focused. Although I was completely in the moment and the situation was unplanned, I knew exactly what I had to say and do. I greeted the space and touched every stone, honoring it as one of a magical team of megalithic beings. I invited their roots to grow, and imagined tendrils reaching downward towards the center of the Earth. I then imagined their tops touching the stars, and imagined the stones as bridging the infinite spaces between the two. I spoke to them as equals, gently explaining their duties, and making sure they understood.
They were to become powerful individual stones, yet surrendered and integrated into the whole circle, working as one. They were to create sacred space, blessing both the visitors to the Land’s End complex, and the constant river of energy that entered the land at that point. They were to remind each being of their destiny: to become One with each other and the entire planet Earth, and share in the blessings and healing that would ensue.
I saw them come alive in front of my eyes, and prayed that they could retain, and even increase, the level of life force generated in that moment by the Awen. I stayed awhile and loved them, imagining them fulfilling their new destiny… until the Awen receded and the irresistible lure of an ice cream made me say farewell. With my delicious Cornish ice in hand, I sat down on a seat above the cliffs and watched the sea in its incessant, incandescent dance. What a beautiful day!
On the walk back I met my friend Mark who pointed out to me the seal he had been watching at the base of the cliff. What a graceful, playful, beautiful being! It floated on the surface of the water awhile, filling its lungs, and then nonchalantly dived into the depths for dessert. After a few minutes it rose again to the surface, only to repeat the process. What a life!
I walked back to our rented house, on one hand increasingly tired, and on the other, gaining energy by the second. The walk back to the house that I had dreaded was easy peasy and I watched on, flabbergasted, as I powered back up the sandy trails to the house.
Later, after a fish supper, we watched the sunset over the ocean and related the stories of our experiences to each other. We all had magical adventures to report. Finally, feeling replete and close to each other, we went to bed and rested our tired bodies and minds. What a day!