Secrets of Land and Story
Restoring our kinship with the earth in powerful
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A holiday maker in England is walking along a beautiful beach one morning when they see a curious structure protruding above the waves beyond the tide line and decides to take a closer look at it....
Getting as near as they can, the structure reveals itself as a wooden circle comprised of some 65 pillars emerging from beneath the waves. The most fascinating thing about it is the centre piece of the circle which is made from the trunk of an oak tree turned upside down so that its roots are spread out wide into the air above. Curious to know more about this strange artifact the tourist diligently contacts the National Trust and so starts the long saga which becomes known as 'Seahenge'. For as it turns out, the National Trust up to that point knew nothing of its existence at all!
The whole thing remained blissfully concealed in a peat bank beneath the sand for millennia until heavy storms and strong waves during the previous winter blew it's cover and exposed it again for all the world to see. Noticed only by the locals up to now who largely regarded it as just another curiosity of their local environment it soon becomes the focus of national media attention. Interested parties of all shapes and colors descend on it from all directions. Groups ranging from environmental and pagan interests on one side to archaeology and research academics on the other all quickly get involved. Speculation, excitement and delight are the order of the day, at first. The structure itself has never known such a frenzy of activity in its whole 4000 years of existence.
Funny How Opinions Can Differ So Much!!
And true to form after the initial excitement and enthusiasm calms a little, the rows and debates inevitably begin. The fervor with which all sides argue and defend their particular point of view is very impressive. Soon broad alliances emerge as the legions split into two diametrically opposing camps. On the left of the battlefield we have the broad alliance of environmental and pagan interest groups strongly arguing that the site should be left absolutely untouched where it stands for a wide variety of natural and spiritual reasons. On the right of the battlefield we have the forces of archaeology and research dismissing this idea entirely while countering that the only correct way forward lies in disassembling the whole thing and taking it away into the care of a museum some place. Furthermore they emphasize how marvelous an opportunity this gives to learn more about the nature and lifestyle of the people who built the piece. As with all such disputes these days the whole thing ends up in the courts, many courts. And the outcome of it all in the end is that the National Trust wins the day and gets court backing to dismantle the structure and take it away for preservation.
The Moment of Truth
And so finally the day of this monumental event arrives. Many protesting interest groups gather at the scene as you can imagine. Some of the new age pagan group in their customary manner of defiance manage to secure themselves to the top of the centerpiece clambering among the roots, curiously unaware it seems of the damage and disrespect they themselves are inflicting on the very treasure they are claiming to defend. Eventually the protesters are all cleared away, their protest made, their television interviews given and the moment comes for the work itself to get under way in earnest.
The woman who is leading the project explains to a documentary film crew covering the event how patient and gentle the work has to be in this case. With a genuine concern in her voice she speaks plainly about the age of each wooden piece involved and particularly the upturned trunk in the centre. She has no way of knowing, because of its great age and the long time it has spent in the water, if the centerpiece will simply break apart when the effort is made to lift it away from the ground. Everyone holds their breath as first wrapping material and then strong metal chains are secured in place around the trunk. One last check and the order is given to lift it slowly away. Apart from the possibility that the centre piece may break apart any moment there's a palpable additional air of anticipation as to what may be found under the trunk when it's lifted. Miraculously after 4000 years resting in place the centerpiece rises intact and is lifted clear of the earth in one piece. Looking into the remaining socket confirms that there is nothing exotic there at all save the material of the recess itself which was sunk in the ground originally before the trunk was inserted. Everyone falls silent for a moment.
The Spiritual Shaman And The Land
At this point a woman who has been watching quite still at a distance slowly steps forward from the crowd. She walks up completely unnoticed. She's from no special interest group or anything. She wears no badge or title of any kind. She is moved forward by the simple generosity of her own heart and her sense of true empathy with the land. Calmly she touches the leading lady on the shoulder and the woman instinctively turns around. Their eyes meet and presently both women smile. "If it is not too much trouble" she begins "could you please place these few flowers in the recess where the trunk has been resting. If it is too much trouble just say so and I'll understand." With that, she takes the small bunch of wild flowers which she's been holding and offers them openly to this woman now waiting to receive them. The lady accepts them graciously without a thought indicating in her gesture how it is really no trouble at all. And so carrying the flowers, moving forward she quietly bends to her knees and carefully places them as an offering in the center of the vacant recess. It is a simple profound and deeply spiritual moment. All the charged energies and confusion in both the place and the people there dissolve in the genuine love and the care of this timeless natural act of sincere veneration.
Afterwards, meticulously all the pieces are collected and gradually taken away to be examined, tested, labeled, catalogued and preserved in the usual manner. Much is learned from their analysis and the parts themselves are preserved in a museum in Norfolk where incidentally they can still be seen to this day. Following the whole episode the television crew holds a one on one interview with the leader of the project herself. During this they ask her if, looking back on the whole thing, she would do anything at all differently in the work. She pauses for a moment before admitting that throughout whole long adventure she hadn't fully grasped the spiritual dynamic which can be such a factor when monuments like this one are being disturbed. She remarks how the warmth of the woman with the flowers and even more so her own simple act of placing them in the recess, had brought this all home to her in a powerful very sacred way she had never experienced before. Such moments reawaken in us ever greater realization of how these wonderful ancient places may have held deep spiritual resonance for the ancestral people who originally built and used them.
A Few Remarks
In the scientific world in which we live there are many fine technical advances but in truth we have paid a great price for our modern 'strictly ordered' way of life Most people no longer have the traditional sense of being in the land instead they walk on the land and on each other too some of the time. The land has become alien and distant to many people. In a survey carried out some time ago into reservations people have about buying organic produce, the number one misconception they found was that organic vegetables were unclean and dirty. Cleanliness and proper hygiene are absolutely to be applauded always but many of us have lost all balance of perspective in these matters. By praying on people's natural traditional alertness in such things consumer marketing has amplified normal common sense into a veritable paranoia of super-germ proportions. With this mindset it is far safer to watch panoramic nature serials on the television rather than get your hands dirty in the garden. Today also, the natural human inclination to come together in communities and groups has been replaced by strongly divided networks of narrow self-serving interest groups. In this system everybody debates and nobody listens so that some groups which defiantly proclaim to support nature are at times unwittingly undermining Her instead.
This ‘nature’ we separate ourselves from sits patiently waiting for us just outside the door. And the natural way of living is a heritage each one of us holds in our heart. The beat of the land inside us cannot be undone in a few generations when it informed the hearts of our ancestors over hundreds of thousands of years!!
The spiritual kinship our ancestors shared with the land goes all the way back through our family line. It's indelibly marked on our souls. The key to unlocking this wisdom again lies in taking time out to look into traditional ways. Timeless practices like divining and singing and sharing and meditation soon reawaken the heart and the soul. These outwardly simple practices open the pathways to our vast inner gardens of traditional awareness.
In the real life story above, the woman with the flowers was absolutely in the land. And because she carried no other agenda save a genuine wish to honor the place, her offering of flowers was truly unconditional and as such it met no resistance at all. Instead she found in the project leader a heart as genuine as her own. It happens so often that nature and place manifest these things in strange ways. From my point of view it is no accident that this genuine lady came to be the leader of the project in the first place, nor that these two women came to meet. For as I so often remind people, places have a curious influence sometimes in selecting the people who work or live there.
Returning To The Family
When you start naturally relating with a place, your family kinship with the land becomes fully restored. The result of this homecoming is best explained in the following way. If today you walked into your parent’s family home or equivalent you would hardly say, "Please can I plug in the kettle" or " is it okay if I sit down in a chair". If you did so your family would see it as really very strange. That's because you're a member of the family and this intimacy brings a natural ness and freedom in the house for you that outsiders just don't have. The land is exactly the same. Once your kinship here is restored, trust is restored, intimacy is restored, in short everything is restored. You are no longer on the land, you are back home in the land once more.
Once that happens, places feel completely free to share their deeper insights with you. Insights such as how mankind lost respect for the land and nature herself when man lost respect for woman. How the mistreatment of woman by man and his objectification of her has run hand-in-hand with mankind's growing disrespect for and abuse of Mother Earth Herself. Place will often share insight too, into the heartfelt grief many places suffer now continually because of the present day indifference of mankind.
The Consequences of 'Oppisition' Thinking
And the land can remind you also of the consequences in how the modern world defines itself scientifically, choosing to set things up in terms of opposites. You may come to see how this practice sows the germ of conflict in society at all levels. The christian is in opposition to the pagan, the city dweller is in opposition to the farmer, the medical doctor is in opposition to the holistic therapist, rational thinking is in opposition to intuitive knowing, the head is in opposition to the heart and so the list goes on. And for one side to win the other side must lose. It's a tragic error to be sure when all the while the truth of it is, that each of these wonders is in fact the complementary of the other. Each one learns deeply about themselves in appreciating, honoring and respecting difference. Indeed without this natural inclusiveness no real happiness or peace is possible at all. There is a whole traditional world of difference between cold mutual tolerance and warm mutual respect.
All these things return to us from the land in each moment as we sit and share with Her once more. She is after all the home of our heart and soul.
Joe Mullally has been a Traditional Diviner and Land Healer with over 25 years. His new book The Healer’s Secret, from which much of this material is taken, is available thought the link below or tel: 086 8156609
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