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Archive for the ‘Alderley Edge’ Category

Alban Arthan 2016

In December the Wildwood celebrated Alban Arthan at our Grove on the Edge. The weather was kind to us and we stayed dry which is always a bonus. The altar was decorated with evergreens and fairy lights. The mistletoe was a large bunch from the OBOD Winter Gathering in Glastonbury, and was cut from an apple tree in the same valley as the Stanton Drew complex of stone circles. It was lovely to be able to share it with everyone afterwards.

The rune stick Guy had left at North was still in situ but the little straw figure of Bride we keep in the cleft of a Beech tree had disappeared. A fingertip search revealed her swan feather gown and a length of gold ribbon on the floor – now tied on to the nearby holly as a cloutie. There was nothing at all in the cleft, not even the greenery we use as decoration which was very strange. Either everything had been removed deliberately or it had succumbed to the weather. Maybe the little Bride doll’s time had simply come to an end.

In the Summer we’d noticed that someone had left a Green Man on one of the nearby Rowan trees. This is on a little hummock behind Bride’s tree, overlooking the Grove, and is a lovely place to meditate. There is a little oak, ash and thorn growing on it and it’s very fey. It’s interesting that someone chose the same spot as ourselves to work, considering how big the woods are. The masculine energy of the Green Man compliments that of the Goddess (of course!) and we’ve grown quite fond of him.

Image may contain: tree, plant, outdoor and nature

Our next ritual is Imbolc, which is dedicated to Bride and will be held in the Grove. We’re planning to make another little Bride doll, with input from everyone, and shall be installing her back in her bower.

As part of our Alban Arthan ritual we always recite the poem, The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper, each taking a line until it’s finished.

 

The Shortest Day

So the shortest day came, and the year died,

And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world

Came people singing, dancing,

To drive the dark away.

They lighted candles in the winter trees;

They hung their homes with evergreen;

They burned beseeching fires all night long

To keep the year alive,

And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake

They shouted, revelling.

Through all the frosty ages you can hear them

Echoing behind us – Listen!!

All the long echoes sing the same delight,

This shortest day,

As promise wakens in the sleeping land:

They carol, fest, give thanks,

And dearly love their friends,

And hope for peace.

And so do we, here, now,

This year and every year.

Welcome Yule!!

 

Susan Cooper

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Bride Imbolc

The Wildwood held it’s Imbolc Ceremony last weekend, at our Grove on the Edge – as it’s dedicated to Bride it seemed fitting! The Bride doll is still in situ and has survived a year remarkably intact, although the large quartz point she was holding has disappeared. I’m thinking it may have slipped down into the bole of the tree – there is a deep hollow filled with water under the ledge where she sits. It’s rather comforting to think of it safely resting deep in the black water.

Unfortunately we didn’t have any fine Spring weather, just more rain, which took the form of one of those really drenching drizzles. Despite this we had a wonderful turn out, including two new folk –  I just hope getting so cold and wet hasn’t put them off too much! A hot drink at the cafe afterwards seemed to restore everyone’s spirits.

Lindsey had baked fresh bread and to this we added goats milk as an offering. We had grand plans to make Bride’s crosses from drinking straws but in the end it was just to cold and wet to stand around. Plus a few of us were beginning to lose the feeling in our hands!

As Bride is the goddess of poetry, we shared a few poems during the ritual. I read out this poem which I found on The Melbourne Grove’s Website:

 

The Quickening

Although the chill of winter

Is still settled like a cloak

Resting its cold folds upon the earth

Beneath, her heart is beating

Just waiting for the sign

That signals it is time for life’s rebirth

 

For the seed of light is growing

It reminds us of its warmth

Whisp’ring to new shoots to show their face

And the seed of life now quickens

Responding to its call

Stirring from within earth’s safe embrace

 

The wattle it hangs golden

See it gracing every bough

A promise of the spring that’s yet to come

And the life still lying dormant

Starts to shift in winter’s sleep

Responding to the newly growing sun

 

Each seed has rich potential

Now, to grow into new life

So set your year’s intent without delay

A time so rich with promise

Feel it echoed in our lives

May Brigit bless our growth and light the way

          Jowen, Imbolc 2009

 

We all felt the urge to set an intent for the year and spent a few minutes in contemplation before The Closing.

Imbolc Altar The poem I found for our ritual booklet was this one:

 

Kindling the Fire

This morning,

As I kindle the flame upon my hearth,

I pray that the flame of Brighid may burn in my soul,

And the souls of all I meet today.

I pray that no envy and malice,

No hatred or fear,

May smother the flame.

I pray that indifference and apathy,

Contempt and pride,

May not pour like cold water on the flame.

Instead may the spark of Brighid light the love in my soul,

That it might burn brightly through the day.

And may I warm those that are lonely,

And whose hearts are cold and lifeless,

So that all may know the comfort of Brighid’s love.

 

I thought I’d include a photo from our Alban Arthan ritual which was also held on the Edge and which I missed writing up. We’re planning to resume our nomadic ways for the next nine months, so it will be a while before we hold ritual on the Edge again (although many of us visit the Grove on and off during the year to meditate, perform workings or make offerings) We will be holding our Alban Eiler ceremony on a sandy bank, close to a grove of hornbeams, in a piece of ancient woodland.  Just by the junction of two rivers which meander through our part of East Cheshire, can’t wait!

Altar

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Altar 1

We weren’t actually planning to have an Alban Elfed Ritual as such this year. As the Warrior’s Call are organising their Beacons in the Dark event next week we thought we’d do that instead, to follow on from the Earth Web rite we performed with them last year. We were all set up for a ritual on the Edge when The Way of the Buzzard invited us to join them at their event and as their land is currently under direct threat – licences to test drill have been granted – we thought it would be good to support them, so instead we’ll be travelling over to Lancashire and holding our ritual there!

However, some of our folk are unable to travel so far and after a short think we decided to hold an Alban Elfed after all. It turned out to be a good decision because after frantic discussions on when and where to meet, we had our largest turn out so far!

Awen Honey Bread

It was a beautiful warm and sunny day which was really welcome. We decided to visit our Grove on The Edge and were delighted to find our Guardian still in her bower in the beech tree.

Sarah made a wonderful honey loaf, complete with Awen symbol and we were spoilt rotten by having honey cake and gingerbread too (thanks Dawn and Claire!).

This ritual is the harvest rite, a time when we reflect on what we have brought to fruition from the seeds we sowed at Alban Eiler, the Spring Equinox. It is a time of brief balance, but also the time that the dark begins to gain strength and Nature begins to wind down for the winter months. Plants die down and return to the earth, seeds sleep in the soil, the womb of the Earth Mother, and we too are held and nourished in her arms during the darkness. To dream and heal, rest and revitalise.

The main symbol in the rite is that of the grain of wheat held out by Ceridwen, ‘the seed of wisdom’ and I was happy when I found this poem by Starhawk which combines the themes of seeds, darkness and balance beautifully – I always try to print something appropriate on the spare page at the end of the script!

 

Earth Mother, Star Mother

You who are called by

a thousand names

May all remember

We are cells in your body

And dance together.

You are the grain

And the loaf

That sustains us each day.

And as you are patient

With our struggles to learn.

So shall we be patient

With ourselves and each other.

We are radiant light

And sacred dark

– the balance –

You are the embrace that heartens

And the freedom beyond fear

Within you we are born

We grow, live, and die –

You bring around the circle

to rebirth

Within us you dance

Forever.

Starhawk

 

 

Bride Guardian

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Alban Eiler altar 

On Saturday the Wildwood held our Alban Eiler Ritual up on the Edge. We had it a week after the actual Spring Equinox as someone was off gadding at the Druid Gorsedd that weekend! (more about this in a later post!)

Unfortunately the lovely  spring weather of the weekend before didn’t hold, it was blowing a gale and raining steadily. I didn’t bother spreading the green cloth I’d bought for the Altar as it was so wet. Instead we had the natural carpet of oak and beech leaves. The white eggs were duck eggs, they have a wonderful pearlescent shell – especially when wet -  which unfortunately the photo didn’t pick up. The grey ‘ball’ is actually the round end of a large marble egg. That bowl was full of water by the time we’d finished!

Traditionally in this ritual we plant seeds to symbolise the plans we’re hoping to nurture to fruition during the year. However I was more drawn to explore the theme of balance, which seemed particularly apt given the solar eclipse here in the UK, which coincided with the Equinox this year. I’ve been to many Alban Eiler rituals where eggs are used as decoration or simply as a symbol of Spring, but I wanted to make them the focus of this ritual. The Cosmic Egg after all, holds the balance of all things, light and dark, male and female, conscious and unconscious, expansion and contraction. An egg is potential life, holding the promise of renewal. At this time of Spring, all our plans, which have been incubating in the dark of the year, can now be hatched, brought forth into this, the apparent world.

I adapted the following poem by Nicky Martin and included it in the ritual. The hare of Eaostre was replaced by ‘I am Gaerr, the sacred hare’.

 

I am the hare of Eostre

I am the sweet maidens messenger

I am springing over the fresh green shoots

Look at me run in exaltation

Sun shines brightly

Solar powers ascends

Sap rises urging creation

Surging power, flowing growing

I am the egg potent power protected.

 

egg makingeggsFollowing on from the egg theme I thought it might be fun to make an egg for everyone. I included a little packet of seeds – nasturtium and sunflower mixes, and also a photocopy of one of the bird cards from the Druid Animal Oracle, as well as a chick, a chocolate representation of the Sacred Hare 🙂 and the obligatory eggs .

It’s always interesting to see what lessons and associations you can discover from the card you ‘pick’ I had a really lovely time sitting making these – it’s about as crafty as I get!

Before we left the Grove we visited Bride in her bower and left her the tulips for company.

Bride doll

It was a lovely ritual and the gusty wet weather just seemed to enhance it.

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I was back up on the Edge at the weekend for our Earth Web ritual. The Warrior’s Call have been calling on pagan groups and individuals across the world to join with them, to work ‘magically and practically’ against fracking and on Saturday they held another of their big international ceremonies. The main event was a large public ritual held at Avebury, with other ceremonies, group and solo, taking place on the same day. They had an interactive map where you could log your ritual and see where all the others were taking place.

Earth Web map We were free to organise our own rituals, but were asked to include a ‘painted’ stone. We were to chose a stone from a favourite spot, paint it with the Warriors Call sigil and then ‘charge’ it at the ritual, returning it to where we found it so that could anchor a web of protection around the earth.

The sigil was to be painted in water, I picked a pebble from work, and painted it with water from Chalice Well at Glastonbury. It was the last few drops in the bottle and was a wonderful red colour where the iron had precipitated out. I’m not an artist but gave it my best shot!

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Wildwood Earth Web

The organisers at Avebury did a dreaming to plan their ceremony and the Wildwood decided to do the same, there were interesting similarities in all the journeys. In the end our ceremony was in two parts, calling in Herne to charge the stones with warrior energy, strength and protection, and then the Lady Arianrhod to weave this energy into a web around the globe. I incorporated some of the elements of the Avebury ritual, in particular the Warriors Oath, which is a bit of a tongue twister!

The Avebury organisers decided to use ribbons to illustrate the web, and had worked out how to pass them across the circle to produce a pentagram in the middle. There were only six of us so I knew that would be out of the question for us. Instead I decided to adapt a maypole dance called the Spider’s Web. I placed my staff in the centre and we each attached two lengths of lovely cream chunky wool to it. When we came to weave the web, one of these was attached to a peg in the ground at the perimeter of the circle and the other thread we used to spin the web as we walked around. I’d originally envisioned using staves to hold the threads but we had difficulty getting them to stay upright (the central staff had a system of wooden poles to support it and was still rather wonky until it got pinned down!) Lucky for me, Lindsey had her tent in the boot of her car so we were able to use her tent pegs!

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Un-weaving the web looked like it may be a bit of a challenge so in the end we just wrapped it around the staff as I crouched down holding it upright. It looked like it had been cocooned when we had finished. The ritual went really well, everyone enjoyed it which is always a good sign. The energy and atmosphere on the Edge was absolutely fantastic. It had been raining all morning but became dry and sunny while we were working. The little grove was perfect and we were only disturbed by a couple of dogs! I’m really enjoying writing and performing working rituals – that is a ritual with a definite purpose other than the usual celebration of the seasonal festivals.

Claire treated us to some lovely ginger snaps at the end and after we’d tidied up we finished off by visiting the cafe 🙂

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Engine Vein

Engine Vein

I had a couple of hours up on the Edge again yesterday, doing a recce for the Wildwood event next week. We’re holding it mid afternoon on a Saturday, to coincide with other groups around the world and of course the place is buzzing then. I was guided to a small grove which is far enough off the paths and sheltered enough to perform ritual. All the time I was there I had  a constant background noise of excited kids voices, but I find these things tend to get filtered out when you’re concentrating so it should be OK. The only thing that disturbed me was an old golden retriever who came and sat down next to me on the hummock I had chosen to meditate on. He was obviously bred by the local breeder, who has a stud of dogs that are so pale as to be almost white. I took the event to be a good sign, since it was about as close to a white wolf as you could get around here 🙂

FaceThere are various carved faces on the Edge. I don’t think this has any great age to it, and no, I don’t know what we’re supposed to save!

Goldstone

I stopped and said hello to the Golden Stone, an old merestone, or boundary marker.

Road to HareHill Farm

This is the view along the lane from the Golden Stone towards Hare Hill

Boundary BankA view of the old boundary bank which runs from the Goldenstone, there are a few of these Parish boundaries on the Edge

Quarry

An old quarry working, wherever the rock is at the surface you will find these.

  dog poo2    

I had a lovely time sitting under trees, watching birds and making plans. I found a Nokia smartphone in the undergrowth, which I handed in to the volunteer manning the National Trust tent on my way out. I always seem to find something up there! I was very good and emptied my pockets of all the interesting pebbles I’d found before I left the woods and made a mini mandala with them. Mr Stoatie would have been proud of me!

dog pooThere was one thing that really annoyed me and that was the amount of dog poo! There were heaps of the stuff all along the main paths, white with autumn mould, which was bad enough, but then we also had the lazy dog walkers signature – bagged poo left by the side of the trail! I passed two ladies with dogs on the way back to the car park. One dropped a load and the woman bagged it up and said ‘Are we coming back this way? I’ll leave it here, remind me to pick it up’ grrr! How nice of her to leave it where everyone else can enjoy it all afternoon. And do we think she’ll be back? huh!

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On the Edge

Alderley Edge August 2014

I’ve been meaning to post these pictures all week, I don’t know where the time goes these days!

Last Sunday I went up on the Edge with a friend, it had been pouring with rain for a couple of hours before I set off, but thankfully it stopped about ten minutes before I left the house. It turned into a wonderful warm sunny day.

While I was waiting in the layby at 8.30am, a car pulled up behind me and a group of teenagers got out and staggered towards Castle Rock. One  large bottle of vodka, a large bottle of coke and a soda siphon (yes really!) clasped to their chests, with the obligatory ciggie in hand. In the Victorian era, when the railways first brought the tourists in from Manchester and beyond, there used to be beer tents set up on the Edge, so today’s kids are actually part of a long tradition of boozing. There’s nothing new under the sun!

Wizard's Well August 2014

This is Wizard’s Well.

Alderley Edge Below Castle Rock 2

Above and below, two views of the different layers of sandstone under Castle Rock

Alderley Edge Below Castle Rock

Alderley Edge funghi   Beautiful bracket fungus on a birch log.

De Trafford Well

De Trafford Well. The overflow of water is wearing a channel through the sandstone rock below the soil and leaf litter. It’s only visible in parts and reminds me a little of the red water fall at Chalice Well. This well is the only one with a stream of water, which falls from the rock into the basin, the others are filled by drops seeping out between the rock layers. It’s the best place to collect water – I’d taken a bottle especially!

Holy Well

Holy Well

I found a neon yellow rubber ball by De Trafford Well. There were no dogs or children around so I brought it home with me. Charlie was really excited about the pressie and immediately began his ‘jump on a chair with a ball, roll it off, jump on a chair with a ball, roll it off’ game but unfortunately only got about ten minutes of fun before The Grinch came and took it away. Whenever he has a toy Tilly takes it, when he was a puppy she used to take them upstairs one by one and hide them under the bed in the spare room.

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