I visited Haytor in Dartmoor twice this May.
The first time was to see the Beltane Border morris dancers at sunrise on May 1st.
A gorgeous morning with clear sky to view sunrise, a bright full moon,
and this to entertain:
We walked to the top of Haytor at sunrise
My second visit was on a walk with Peter Knight, author of Dartmoor Mindscapes.
We explored Haytor and Saddle Tor,
honouring the little-known triangular stones,
climbing into crevices,
finding dragons, giants, eagles and lions in the rocky tors,
beating the drum and chanting under the overhangs,
and performing a thanks-giving ceremony to Dartmoor
Another MA Project complete... and it's a great one!
Do the Starling murmurations at Ham Wall enhance the sacredness of the Somerset Levels?
Northern lights teaching shoaling fish teaching
swarming flies teaching clouding ink
would never learn the –
Ghostly swirling surging whirling melting
murmuration of starling flock.
- Robert MacFarlane
The aim of this study is to discuss the meaning of sacred landscape by exploring the Somerset Levels phenomenologically, and to answer these questions: is the Somerset Levels a sacred landscape? Does the presence of Starling murmurations enhance that sacredness? Is sacredness a human construct?
The most spiritual encounter I have had around Glastonbury is observing the Starling murmurations, which occur on the Somerset Levels at sunrise and sunset every day between November and February. Glastonbury and the surrounding landscape have many sacred features and stories: mythological, archaeological and historical. So what is it about this phenomenon of the Starling murmurations that has drawn me in and made me feel more connected to the landscape of my chosen home?
I am proud to be a Companion of Chalice Well Gardens in Glastonbury, a place to wander, sit, contemplate and simply be.
Chalice Well is one of the best loved, most ancient wells in England. Pilgrims come to visit from all over the world, to drink its sacred waters and sit in its peaceful gardens.
Last year I visited almost every month during the summer for the Full Moon music events held on the lawn, always a relaxed yet celebratory evening. And I have been to the Imbolc and Beltane meditations at the well itself, usually very popular events but beautifully done.
Ark Redwood is the head gardener in the gardens, and he wrote (among others) a wonderful book called The Art of Mindful Gardening, which I read in raptures. The book takes you through the year, celebrating the seasons and giving mindfulness exercises to do while performing everyday gardening tasks.
The photos below take you through the gardens, from the pool at the bottom, in the shape of Chalice Well with the two intertwining circles, up to the waterfall and the pool in which you can paddle or bathe, up to the drinking water fountain, through the abundant flowers to the well itself, a place of quiet contemplation, and up again to the top of the garden,
with views of Glastonbury Tor.
I saw an awe-inspiring sight.
At sunset on the marshes.
Thousands of starlings swarmed the skies.
An immense wave.
I felt a slight glint of fear underneath my delight.
Something so big, so many, so powerful.
Nature has a distinct way of being beautiful and fear-inducing at the same time.
Autumn trees and chilly breeze
Crunchy colours underfoot
Align my soul with seasons past
And all those moments yet to pass
Nature is thriving abundance, where all creatures live in harmony
Nature is ancient, like the timeless hills and marshes
Nature is never-ending variation and always surprising
Nature is the unknown mystery... what lies beneath?