from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Longstone, Merrivale (plus poem)

The West of England and Cornwall are rich in prehistoric remains. West Penwith, the far West of Cornwall, has a particularly dense concentration per square mile of megaliths from the late Neolithic and early Bronze Ages, followed by Dartmoor and Wiltshire.

I've lived on or close to Dartmoor for most of my life. Until recently, at the quarter dates of each year I've led outdoor retreat days in one of the most magical sites on the moor, and am gearing myself up to begin these again. (The inner 'territory' of these Ground of Being days are described a little on the Courses page of my main website, but in much more detail on my new website, dedicated to my eco-soul work, You'll probably need to copy and paste that - seems blogger and wordpress don't like each other much!)

Some of these sites appear to be domestic, social or functional in purpose; others are probably ceremonial, as indicated by a stone row, or often a double stone row, leading towards a stone circle and sometimes too a standing stone. There are many theories as to their origin and purpose; I've spoken of some elsewhere and am currently working on a long essay in relation to all this. What's relevant here and now is that there is an almost tangible atmosphere at these places that seems to engender silence and inwardness, and inspires both the imagination and an activation of what we might call soul.

This is no doubt partly due to our knowledge that our ancestors two or three thousand years ago built and used these monuments, and that might have been a continuous process, one way and another, since. But that by no means explains everything a sensitive person might perceive and experience there, or the impact on our imaginations. I wonder sometimes if there is a continuing process of a quality of energy amplified and transmitted by the site, and that our ancestors chose these sites knowing that they were/are places where, as they say, 'the veil is thin', and their stone structures augment this natural flow, rather like acupuncture needles on meridians and nodes of energy; and that our being there, attending to this aspect, also enhances its flow and potency, in a two-way exchange.

Anyway, my retreat days on Dartmoor take place at Merrivale, where one is led down a double stone row (and there is another, less complete, beside it) leading more or less east-west, and then there is a jink through 90 degrees towards the south, towards a small and welcoming little stone circle, which very much radiates qualities of the feminine principle (here I go again!). Just beyond that is a monolith, a menhir (literally 'long stone'), which is quite obviously 'masculine' in its symbolism. Here's a poem from one of those days:

Longstone, Merrivale




our hopes

and fears

our needs

and disbeliefs

we come

you let us

revere you

your ancient


your stillness

single syllable

thrown from the

earth’s quaking

core, finger of the

gods, piper for

the dancing circle

its stubby punctuations

and you lichen-beard

banded with a current

we can sense but barely

name. Animate and placid

in this small summer rain

you point, menhir, at five

thousand years of petro-

language, your wavelength

of sky and silence so slow

it seems to have no time

so long it cannot be

unfolded by the mind

© Roselle Angwin


  1. This sounds interesting Roselle. Will you be letting us know on your blog when you have dates and places set?

  2. Hi Angie - thanks - yes, I probably will; but thewildways website will contain all that info in future... If you email me your email address I'll file it and let you know? (Help! I haven't already had it - or have I?)

  3. I think I must be one of those sensitive soul... I often have such a reaction at ancient sites...the double row at Merrivale for example! There is a beautiful remote stone circle in West Penwith where I either burst into tears or have images of my self processing in ceremony holding platters of herbs, garbed in ancient around a's all quite full on. Almost like I was there a long time ago.......

  4. Thank you both, Henrietta and Hilaire - and Henrietta, do you mean Boscawen-Un by any chance? If so it's a big one for me, too. Btw the spacing in that poem shouldn't be that wide - the vagaries of Word when copied :-(. xx


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