Approach to the Summer Solstice – Friday


As we approach the Summer Solstice, a few pictures from last weekend’s Silent Eye weekend in Avebury. These ancient and grand stones mark the entrance to the West Kennet long barrow. At a suitably private moment we experimented with chanting and found the resonant note for this beautiful place … Quite a sensation when a Neolithic barrow starts singing back at you …

The Morning of the Eye of God

He never thought that on his last Solstice run
He would be chosen
Never dreamed that leagues could fall behind
Leaving the others, younger mostly,
In the dust of his tracks, farther, now, than his hearing.

Ahead, the great rock soars up, black and massive
Its winding path, dark strip in the pre-dawn light
His feet, belonging to something else,
Thunder like heartbeats along the steepening trail

His breathing, earlier ragged, now like the circle
That in his mind, is edging closer,
Forms a perfect symmetry of air drawn in and out
And the song begins . . . .

The ancient song, given to the first
Never elsewhen sung, almost forgotten
Except on this day
As the feet thunder like hooves
And the cleaved air combines with blood
And the harmony is born, again . . .

The breath becomes pain as limits of form are reached
But pain is not death, and so he climbs
His head spinning, as the great mother spins
Uniquely on this morning
To greet her consort
On the the long-day of their love

The pain recedes as he comes closer
The song is singing in his head
Spinning into form on the currents of the morning
Now, there is only the last few feet
And, if the run is good
The blessing
A blessing that will fill the tribe with light
That will crown this, the last year of his running

With fire in his heart he sees
The valley below is lined with a cloudless sky
A perfect line of light has kissed the very edge
Only a few heartbeats and he will be there

The ancient angled stone awaits him now
Dark and sombre, cold and severe
Replete with the wisdom of ages
Unrelenting in its exactness
And the patterned cross in the rocky path
Where, now, he stays his trembling limbs

The circle in the stone is perfect
Carved and honed by ages past
A gift to those who followed
He fixes the vision of the first
Upon and through its centre
And gives himself to the horizon, far beyond

All breath now to the song must go
Its notes rise higher, taking wing
He becomes the singing, calling forth
And the rising God sings back in gold

Streaming over the valley
Lighting the rocks and plants, alike
Filling the singer with life beyond life
And a kiss . . . as he becomes the Eye

©Copyright Stephen Tanham, 2015

The She Sentinel


The She Sentinel


A small festival, where pilgrims, 

unknown to themselves, climb me

Clutching children, 

adorned with picnics, 

They play

And round my ragged peak, 

they stand and point their heads

For the length of a heartbeat

And wonder . . .


But it was not always thus


Over many years he changed my face

Wrought outer magic on my hillside

Created wonder and even let the pilgrims in

Though they were ragged then, and poor


But he never saw my heart

Though his wife would stand and stare

And wonder . . .


But it was not always thus


In older times

Erased now from their memories

When brother fought with brother

And the blood of the kin spilled like water

On my soil

They lit a beacon here

To warn that killing approached

In the time when the head 

Began to rule the heart


And even then

Some, sweating in bloodied armour

Would stop and stare

Or, decorated, stop their steeds

And pause a while

And wonder


But it was not always thus


But of the ancients, I will not speak

For you do not have the ears that hear


And now you . . .


And now you amuse me

For six days you have risen at dawn

To walk your personal trail to me

To stand and stare


But you dare to do this with your heart


I wonder, will I let you in?


Perhaps, tomorrow, when

My sister the wind

Says she will carry the water

That floods the land


Then we will see if you have

The ancient intent

And then, perhaps . . . 


It will not always have been thus.


©Copyright Stephen Tanham 2015