On a bright evening at the end of July I travelled with two newfound friends – and fellow celebrants – to work some celebratory magic up at Arbor Low Stone Circle, in Derbyshire.
We had done some rudimentary planning in advance but the three of us were keen to hold fast to our intuition and the spirit of the place and not have things too rigidly set in stone (no pun intended!). We knew that being outdoors and being in such a beautiful space would spark our hearts and creativity and evoke words of truth and power from us when the time was right…
… we were not wrong.
After travelling along winding country roads we approached Arbor Low under the shadow of some rather energetic storm clouds, that were casting thunder and rain of quite epic proprtions all around us. The car windows had turned to liquid glass and the roads were slick and (at some points) lake-like. As we pulled into the car park I felt the tiniest tug of uncertainty… what would we do if the rain continued? How would we mark this special time – of Lammas and our first collaboration together – if we had to leave, thwarted by the elements? What would we do if no-one turned up?
Once again the World was asking me to trust and thankfully Jason (driver and fellow celebrant) was able to articulate its wishes wonderfully well. He showed no sign of doubt, certain as he was that the skies would clear for us.
And they did! As we reached a half hour before start time the sky began to lighten ahead and then suddenly, as if someone had flipped a switch, the rain stopped. Instantaneously. I have rarely seen rain behave like this before, particularly in England where it loves to fade in and fade out slowly, but it simply ceased to be, between one breath and the next. It really strenghtened Jason’s previous assertations; that the Land was being cleansed and that once it was ready the rain would stop and we could move out.
So we did; me having gained a needed boost of trust and confidence not in myself but in the Land, in the time and the space and most of all in our intention. We were there to celebate Lammas and celebrate it we would; not just because we wanted to, but because the World wanted us to.
As if I needed even more proof of the rightness of the situation, the ground underfoot once we reached the circle was mostly dry and certainly warm. The Sun had reappeared and stayed with us throughout the evening till it was replaced by a beautifully clear waxing crescent moon. We were able to set up our central shrine and gather people together in comfort and ease until finally the drums started and we all (20-30 of us) gathered together in circle.
The variety of participants was inspiring and a blessing; families, solo attendees, couples and groups of friends. Everyone brought with them their own path, their own beliefs, their own experiences and shared them with open hearts; also allowing the ideas and inspirations of we three celebrants to reach in and inspire them with grace and acceptance. There was no sign of resistance or discomfort, everyone seemed to find something they could enjoy, appreciate and connect to. The unified energy was a testament both to the collaborative techniques we employed (inspired by our training with Glennie Kindred and Annie Keeling) and to the Spirit of Arbor Low itself.
Arbor Low is one of my favourite stone circles although I have visited only twice. On my first fleeting visit I sensed a landscape that was still very much alive, very much in use and attuned to sacred and spiritual practise. There is a solidity and strength to the stones – which lay flat on the ground, not standing upright – and the earthworks, but also a fluidity and flow that seems to emenate from the pockmarked limestone and pools of water that are ever present.
On this my second visit, I was able to expeirence all this more fully and directly, by taking part in sacred celebration myself. The Land of Arbor Low definitely knew what was happening and held the space safe and strong for all of us and the energies we raised. I would go so far as to say the Land itself took pleasure in what we were doing. I felt welcomed, accepted and connected in a very simple but honest sense; something which can be difficult at some sacred sites where the mass of people/energies can leave you feeling baffled or overwhelmed.
It was a beautiful place to celebrate and an active part of our celebration, especailly as we honoured and gave thanks for the gifts and the sacrifice of the Land at this Harvest time.
Together we blessed and laid a stone on the Earth, as marker and memorial for all the fruits and grains that will be taken and consumed by we humans in the months ahead. We then offered back some of the Land’s gifts with offerings of beer, along with our own gratitude, to the Earth at our feet. And finally we chanted, drummed and sang to honour Lammas, the Land and our own Harvests; raising energy and offering it back to the Land itself in gratitude and with love. Finally we were blessed with Lammas loaves, butter and honey so that we might carry with us the blessings and abundance of this time as we departed from the space.
I was buzzing afterwards, buzzing in a way that only working on the Land can leave you. The thrill of feeling the wind and the ground responding to your words and your heart’s intentions is something that can’t easily be described but is never forgotten once it has been felt. It’s been some time since I’ve celebrated out on the Land, in a wild place, with others present and I had forgotten (until that night) how powerful it can be. The community feeling was strong and everyone was able to laugh and share and smile afterwards. Lots of kind words and kind thoughts were passed around as we slowly packed ourselves away and followed the sinking Sun towards the horizon and home.
I am so grateful to Nicola and Jason of Way Of The Buzzard for asking me to co-create this celebration with them. I am also thankful to the Land and Spirit of Arbor Low for being so welcoming and so active a participant in our activities.
Most of all I am grateful to the Flow; for leading me to this time, this place and this happening that truly opened my heart to the Spirit of Lammas and gave me inspiration and energy to feed into the season ahead.
If you want to read Nicola’s account of the celebration you can find it here.
1) English Heritage
3) Nicola @ Way Of The Buzzard