The ravens travel the skies above the high cliffs of the moors. They appear to both lead and follow, watching to see if you remember the way to the Nest. There are as many ways to get there as there are travelers, and the keen eyes of the raven know the paths of darkness and of light. They observe and take note, recording each footstep in the stones.
As our car began its climb away from the valley, I felt the pull of the moors, stirring my cells to life. We parked at the foot of a hill where the raven clan dwelled before man forgot how to live in harmony with the land. Here, at the base of the Nest, a river runs turbid memories under a bridge. Its waters sing of fear, but also of hope. They carry the memory of balance.
I turned toward the hill, where a young seer once traveled with her guide to learn the language of the soul. A grove of trees marks the beginning of the ascent, and the fey hold reign of the shadows. They watch like the ravens do. Reading the intent of the seeker, they are eager to play with the mind that likes to wander. I thought of my journey to the Nine Ladies one year ago, remembering the wild urge to roam and never return.
I stood on the threshold, where the uninitiated can become reckless. The impressionable mind is easily confused, and the moors are places of magic. Both dark and light. Voices call from the shadows. Sometimes it sounds like laughter, sometimes like a scream. Here, in the trees below the Raven’s Nest where the canopy breaks open to sun, sorrel blooms white above green.
The path beyond the trees quickly turns to the faded browns of winter. Spring arrives slowly here, and the mind can easily imagine a life amid the forces of the elements. The climb is steep, unless you take your time, and the wind is not gentle. At the side of the hill, there is the face of a stone guardian. For thousands of years he has guarded what lies above, looking outward, watching, warning. Paths are hidden by the folds of the grasses trapped by feet who search, but don’t always find their way.
I felt the urge to climb when my feet left the shelter of the trees. To break away from those who had traveled with me. The force that took over me was so strong, I could do nothing but heed its call. And the call was to walk alone, to find the path by sense and a knowing so deep I felt haunted; not wholly myself, or rather not the self I was used to. But I was unafraid. I knew I was stepping beyond the threshold of time, and Bratha, an unseen, but felt, aspect of the goddess, was with me as my guide.
She seemed to be waiting for me at the base of the Nest, knowing I would come. Knowing it was time to show me the way. Her energy took hold of my hand more firmly than any human grasp, and I willingly followed her urgings, which coursed through my left palm and filled my body with a longing that broke the fears that surround the heart and left me open and raw. I became her willing vessel, feeling everything that she needed to show me with an unfiltered force that defied the language of words. I can only describe it as the deepest longing to return Home. To find, once again, the Sacred.
There is a moment when the heart opens to the Sacred, and the land becomes you, and you become the land. When the individual heart recognizes the heartbeat of the Mother, and they become one pulse. Time has no meaning, but its history is felt as One. It is Joy and also Pain. It is the Dark, and also the Light. It is the language of Life, which also includes Death.
The pull to return; to remember the light, but also the darkness, is like nothing else. One cannot turn away, even though every memory of pain held inside the body of Earth blends with joy and harmony. It is felt with each beat of the heart, now one.
So I walked the path of the stones. My hand, her hand, traveling a truth that needed to remembered, touched their gray bodies to find the wisdom they held within. Each stone tells a different story. You can read the subject in its face. This is only the surface, though, what lies hidden must be found through the open-heart of the seeker. I suspect the story is not told, or felt, the same way for each traveler.
You always get what you need, and not always what the mind seeks.
As the memories of the land, and what it had endured, flooded my being with each touch of stone under my hand, my need to remember intensified, testing my endurance. The pulse inside grew wild with each footstep in the longing to be remember for Her. For me. For Earth. For all who walk her sacred form. I needed to drink the landscape with all of my senses.
The human body has a limit to how much it can absorb and process. It has grown accustomed to deadening its senses.
Somewhere in the distant, reasoning centers of my brain, I knew my human companions were moving around the center, experiencing the Sacred where the rocks form a circle. Although I had left time, I also knew it was counting minutes without me, and there was a limit to how long I would be allowed to stay in this place I didn’t want to leave.
I had no desire to step into the circle of stones, although I did once I was brought back to the group, instead, I felt Her pull to travel the stones at the edge of the cliff. The outer reaches often forgotten and partially hidden by the heather and grass.
The circle may be the center, but the lines run deep and vast. They are all a part of the whole, joining the vast network of forgotten light. They too need to be cleared. Made sacred once again. Their memories are felt as Truth.
Our human guides had already told us that the Sacred here, like other places, had been tampered with, and defiled by darkness. They had cleared it before, but the drive toward darkness still exists within those who choose to turn away from the Light. I was not prepared for what I would be shown by my unseen guide.
She brought me to the place where life was birthed over and over again, and the dead were laid to rest. Two white skulls that could have been the prey of a raven were laid upon the matted grasses, but I knew they were the prey of humans. A dark offering to a force that did not belong. Her sorrow rushed through me with such force, my body folded with grief, and longing. What do you want me to do? I asked without words as my hand reached to feel the sacrifice that needed to be honored.
My heart already knew the answer. It was simple, unchanging. To clear the darkness. To seed the Light again so that it can flow clear and strong through the veins of the Mother, which are within each of her children, born from her body. She wanted me to remember the Sacred, and the deep knowing that we are all connected as One.
My heart bears the grief of her memories, which are now mine. The land holds me in its grasp, but there is hope. The flame she bore, also burns inside of me. It burns within all of us. It is the heartbeat of the Divine. It beats to the rhythm of Truth.
She tells me, as she has told my human guides, and others who seek to hear her story:
I was once a part of the Raven Clan. We lived as One with the Land and the Stars. There was no separation, and we were strong in the Light of Truth. We are here still. You have opened your heart to the Land and to our presence. I have brought you to the Nest, where the dead were buried to be reborn. What you see is not what it once was. The Land is troubled, but it stirs to be awakened back to the Light. Here I was given my wings, just as you were given yours. My task is yours. There is no separation, but there is always choice.
We left the place that held both life and death, to wipe clean my eyes and stand witness to the magic still held within. I stood and looked through her eyes, that were also mine, at the two pyramidal hills in the distance and saw their connection to the stones of the Nest as a part of the Sacred that flows through the body of the Mother. I saw where the Light of the Divine, ever-present, rained through the darkness, waiting for us to thread its golden strands back through Her body. Back through our bodies, as One. I felt the tenuous stands of hope begin to form once again within me as I turned away, reluctantly, to join the others and make our descent down the hill.
I didn’t want to leave the Nest, but I knew this was only a temporary refuge. As I walked, feeling the gradual loosening of her grasp, I found myself wondering if I would find this connection again. Would it fade into a distant memory, or worse, forgotten, after I rejoined the routines of my life? Yet, I also knew I would never be the same. I had felt something profound. I had felt the sacred web that joins us all. I had felt its darkness and its light as one, and this knowing would never leave me. What I did with the gift was up to me.
My journey with Bratha and the Land was not over after we left the Nest. Soon we would travel to two more sacred sites, and with each step, the light of Hope would grow within.
To be continued…