It was wet in the stone circle; so wet that Allan, our guide to the ancient monuments of this wonderful part of North-East Scotland, remarked that his belly-button was actually ‘filling up with water’.
The comment has been immortalised in Silent Eye history, and songs about it will will be sung around soggy campfires in the years to come, one suspects…
It is, of course, at moments like this that the Silent Eye’s dedication to the investigation of higher consciousness, past and present, is tested to its limits, but, with a gentle giant like Allan in charge, easily triumphs over the elements, though there is now ample evidence, as Stuart was later to remark, that several of us have graduated to be rain gods.
That’s Allan on the left… It would be churlish to point out that he is somewhat less apparelled to deal with the usual Scottish deluge than the slim lady hermetically sealed in walker’s neoprene nearer the camera. There is a tradition among some in the Silent Eye that one can ‘feel’ the essence of a place better in a frozen and/or sodden state than safely tucked into a Barbour jacket with hat and long boots, watching the curtain of rain dripping off the brim with a certain smug satisfaction.
I admit to not being of the former tribe, unless it’s mid-summer, and confess to the dry grin of the latter, though I have been known to offer souls dying of exposure many a spare hat and coat from the depths of my car’s boot.
But then, sometimes there are dreams, and it’s all different.
East Aquhorthies does not easily roll off the non-Scottish tongue. I had to say it as ‘east aqua-worthies’ for two days before I got it to flow by dropping the linguistic training wheels of the ‘a’. It’s the name of a recumbent stone circle, so-called because of a single large stone set horizontally on its edge in the south-west arc of the circle.
Allan, our guide, has asked us to walk around the circle until we find a spot with which we are either happy or unhappy. Its a very clever move, it’s the kind of direct language that wakes you from the normal sleep of everyday consciousness. Unhappy? What can he mean?
Awakened and in our chosen spots, we look back at him standing near the recumbent stone, which, he explains, is of a different type of rock from the rest of the eleven stones. The recumbent comes from a nearby mountain, the place of an ancient hill-fort, (invisible in the mist) whose shape resembles a conical breast – coinciding with ancient traditions that this circle, this temple, is a place of women…
I’ve chosen a small stone, one that marks more of a gap in the ring than anything else; but it called to me, so here I am. As I settle, a small glow begins down the back of my right side. From ankle to back, I feel like that half of my body is glowing.
Allan gives me ‘that’ look and asks, through the curtain of rain, if I’m comfortable. I am, if a little energetically so, and I tell him. He calls me forward and asks me to stand on the marker stone in front of the recumbent, asking if I would prefer to be there. I feel no need to leave my little stone, which is practically a gap in the circle of the eleven.
I walk back and re-take my place. The glowing intensifies, but I haven’t told anyone yet. Such things do not normally happen to me in stone circles. Allan is smiling up the slope at me and points over my shoulder at where the conical mountain is hiding in the mist.
“You’re standing on the point where the ley-line comes into the stone circle,” he says. “Where I am is the place where it infuses the whole circle with its energy.” He laughs.
I wish I had said something about the heat in my right side, but I tell it now. Allan grins at me, nodding, and tells me that the energy burning into me is the female current and that there are twin lines of male current that flow around the site but not into it. This is well and truly the place of the female.
Allan points to the smaller marker in front of the recumbent. It’s just a small circle in the grass. “A girl was buried here,” he says. “Just a single grave… and two thousand years later they built this temple on the same spot.”
In my head I do the sums. The stone circle is Neolithic, so that’s four to five thousand years old. If the original grave was created two thousand years prior, that’s a very long time ago. Allan tells us that this circle is one of the most intact in the world and has remained as it was designed for at least four thousand years. That’s back to Jesus and the same time interval beyond. We all fall silent as it sinks in.
“It is the place of the priestesses,” he explains. “The men really had no role here.”
Our weekend is named ‘Maiden, Mother, Crone’.
Here, in this most ancient and intact temple of the ancient and wise women, it has begun…
Later, the rain drives us away and I take a final few shots of us all, drenched but still smiling as we prepare to leave. I put one of them on Facebook. The day after, Allan comes to me, excitedly and asks if I know what I have photographed. I don’t, so he points out that that I should study the women I have photographed, below:
To be continued…
Stephen Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people find the reality and essence of their existence via low-cost, supervised correspondence courses.
His personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com