WHEEL OF LIFE PROJECT OVERVIEW, 2017-2019

The Wheel of Life Project has developed these last three years with a variety of activities, as we marked the full moon in each of the zodiac areas of the British landscape.  Some themes for future events have emerged in the process, 2018 Seeds of the next year’s Pilgrims’ Weekend came from the pilgrimage to the River Avon in the Pewsey Valley at the Annual Conference weekend in 2018.  The mandala concluding the weekend was composed of leaves and mementos from the river blessing, and the walkers sang the song they had composed.

This newsletter contains some short reports with photos, while we are waiting for longer local feedback articles with more details of pilgrimages and the local landscape orientations within the British Zodiac.  It is the first newsletter of many more, and is part of a selection of reports gathered over the last two years: from Capricorn (Avebury), Pisces, (Arlingham), Norfolk (Barsham), London (Thames).

The first pilgrimage of the new Celtic year’s Wheel of Life programme was to Alton Barnes and Alton Priors, the stone circle beneath All Saints church, and the five springs of the River Avon’s source.

[Pilgrimage ‘sounding the springs’ at Alton Barnes, Wilts, 2018]

You will enjoy the article below about the springs at the source of the River Avon: https://insearchofholywellsandhealingsprings.com/tag/alton-priors/

Throughout our first three years’ programmes, new seeds for the Aquarian age appear to be emerging and clarifying: creative innovation, group consciousness and diversity are key to what we have been doing. Activities included river walks, peace lantern walks, peace lanterns and dancing in cathedrals (St Davids, Lincoln and Wells), city chakra walks, sacred circle dancing in churches (Otley, St Lawrence’s Winchester, St Mary’s Paddington), Paneurhythmy dancing, mandala making, a labyrinth walk (Wensum Park. Norwich), creating improvised poetry, peace lantern attunement in stone circles (Alton Barnes, Stanton Drew, Rollrights, Mitchel’s Field circle, Arbor Low)and creating photo albums for photo collages or videos for wider sharing of experiences and energies of these special places.

Sacred Dancing through the pews at St Mary’s Church, Paddington, London

We follow in the footsteps of the sages of old who knew how the cycle of initiation could be triggered in the landscape, and who created symbolic training paths, using caves, rocks, rivers, hills and stone circles. As modern pilgrims of life, we are learning to listen to Nature with all our senses, to test our intuition, and to express tentatively the needs of Nature and the landscape through art forms and pilgrimage that suit us best as individuals.  

We began the whole project in 2016 at a weekend at Purley Chase Centre, near High Cross and Hartshill, at the centre of the British landscape zodiac.  Dancing Paneurhythmy seemed to anchor a deep commitment to the dialogue of love for the earth, and its message of wisdom, beauty and harmony for mankind:

Purley Chase Centre, 2016
After an attunement with a map and candle mandala, A pilgrimage to Hartshill and High Cross with flowers and lanterns

As a group of experienced and enquiring pilgrims we work together to create celebrations and attunement to the Universal Spirit of Life, to Unconditional Love and to the Spirit of Place where we feel drawn to explore the sacred in Nature.

Collaborative groups, an Aquarian approach:  In Aquarius, diversity and synthesis work together promoting ‘collaborative visioning’, and ‘collaborative leadership’ which are skills that we as a Trust are exploring.  The Wheel of Life Project is facilitated by a collection of small groups, and we collaborate (with the Trust’s secretarial and administrative support), to celebrate the turning of the wheel of the British Zodiac throughout the year, working with the reflective light of the sunon the moon. We can use this as an intuitive tool, to build our receptivity to the voice of Nature, and of the landscape with its communities.  We seek to be a healing presence in collaboration with Nature and her subtle intelligence.  At the same time, individuals and groups of two or three are exploring new areas suggested by friends, or where they have felt drawn to find out more while on pilgrimage.  

Pilgrimage attunement at a holy well in South Devon, (2017) along the Arthur and Guinevere Line seeking the Aquarian Knights of the Round Table

A simple sequence of turning group intuition into events:  At the end of a year of events, in December, some groups are sharing facilitation amongst themselves. For one group, this involves getting together in December to review the year’s activities. After a meditation linking the heart to the Earth and the Cosmos, theyrecord their new insights and they discuss what part of the landscape has ‘spoken’ to them.  A recorder takes notes of new ideas. After few minutes of silence for sending gratitude to the past year, a skeleton programme of seed ideas for the next year is discussed, with offers of individual facilitation. Draft details of time and place, and whether these need to be based on the monthly astrology or the eight festival times of year are agreed. The prospective programme is circulated, and a month of revisions made to it concludes with a mid January final programme.  This works with the ‘seed sowing’ energy of Christmas and the winter-time of incubation that we experience in January.

Small group pilgrimage and meditation.There is an ‘in-breath’ and ‘out-breath’ for all cyclic development, and this applies equally to our Wheel of Life Project, as we collect records and reports for future reflection from large and small groups. The year 2019 presents us with new options to link with other groups (see ‘Soul Sounding’ at Wells Cathedral this February and the work of Rory Duff’s group activities at Stanton Drew: see https://roryduff.com). Also, some look to find how can we link with the landscape symbology through theatre. (See Mike Newton’s talk at last year’s annual conference, about development under way in Prescott to rebuild a 16thcentury playhouse in greater Manchester connecting two ends of the axis of our British landscape as we have come to know it.) The land and its narratives are offering us more options for research. Individual or small group exploration of new sites and sanctuaries might be as important as larger events.  Both our listening to the landscape and our heart-felt intent are very important, perhaps initially held in a ‘grail’ of meditation,followed by quiet contemplative steps of investigation.  This can lead to creative discovery and new ways of celebrating the ‘good dream of beauty’ for the earth and our incarnation as a human soul. From these roots, larger group events evolve in response to the needs of the landscape.

Initiatives that could be developed for the coming year:

Exploring the symbolism of the zodiac’s esoteric themes:

In Lincoln, following from the previous project ‘Encircling the Land with Sacred Dance’, a pilgrimage and dance event using the symbols of Virgo at the autumn equinox, celebrating harvest, ‘the craftsman’ and the fertility of the land.  The river Witham flows into ‘The Pond’ at the bottom of the city, from which the pilgrimage gathers ‘creative energy’ for a sacred circle dance ceremony.

Lincoln event involved sacred circle dancing round a ‘harvest’ mandala, a chakra pilgrimage using lanterns; honouring the art of our ancestors: sacred symbols on the decorative font

Initiatory symbols of the zodiac:

At the Annual Conference 2019 John Wadsworth gave us deeper insights into the Zodiac: “Turning the Wheel of the Zodiac: a Pilgrimage of the Soul”. He presented the zodiac as a wheel of initiation, healing and transformation – twelve gateways to wholeness. He offered us a ‘dynamic map of the soul’s astrological journey’, which is something that we can carry with us as pilgrims, as we revivify the zodiacal landscape ‘that is already hard-wired into our imaginations’.  

Peter Dawkins’ (also gives us an insight into the initiatory qualities of the ‘Knights of the Round Table’ which we can develop consciously within ourselves and the ‘King Arthur’ at the centre of our psyche:  Aquarius  the ‘Truth Seeker’, Pisces the ‘Mystic and Healer’, Aries the ‘Warrior and Pioneer’, Taurus the ‘Builder’, Gemini the ‘Innovator’, Cancer the ‘Guardian’, Leo the ‘Leader’, Virgo the ‘Craftsman’, Libra the ‘Mediator’, Scorpio the ‘Magician’, Sagittarius the ‘Teacher’, Capricorn the ‘Initiator and Consolidator’. These all relate to the ‘Core Truths of the Western Wisdom Traditions’: https://www.zoence.co.uk.  In his view we are all actors on the stage of life,bringing to birth the mystery behind at the heart of our existence. 

Working with the elements – blessing rivers and springs:

Several events have explored river and spring blessings, after Patrick MacManaway gave us some grounded examples in one of our annual conferences in Pewsey.  His articles on ‘water whispering’ can be found on his website: http://patrickmacmanaway.com/video/. 

Cities and their rivers:  In York City a convergence of two rivers, Ouse and Fosse was discovered outside the south end of the heart-shaped city walls. We lit our lanterns there, took pictures, and walked into the city’s heart bringing the river light with us to the Minster.  We used meditation with lanterns at the energy sites to link the flow of heart energy, starting from the ‘root’ at the river junction. 

The black dragon, York Minster, (2018) symbolic of the ‘dark matter’ of the earth and its four elements of earth, fire, water and air; the golden dragon seen as a creative synthesis

York is a city with a history of founding our modern civilization, centered on the work of Constantine the Great whose family came from York, and who created major change in Christendom. We are now entering a new age of creative, multicultural spiritual expression, therefore we seek to enable the harmonious process of this change.  Intuitive aspiration through open-hearted questing can be facilitated through simple ritual with candle light and maps.

Lantern attunement with map of city, preparing for pilgrimage in York, 2018
where we began with a lantern attunement to a guardian tree of the Rive Fosse

The Thames Pilgrimages in London included St Martins in the Fields, a walk along York Water Gate the old boundaries of the Thames, and the poem ‘A River’s Tale’ by Rudyard Kipling composed on one of London’s bridges, and Eleanor’s Cross at Charing Cross, one of the acknowledged geomantic centres of the city.  It completed at St Paul’s Cathedral.

York Watergate – the spirit of the Thames flows through the city, and its story emerges from within the historic icons of the city

In Winchester 2017 we visited the Cathedral water shrine at the east end of the close walls, St Catherine’s Hill water meadows, and the Cathedral well under the high altar. 

Water blessing, Winchester Cathedral, 2017, St Catherine’s Hill and River Itchen 2018

Musical pilgrimages:

In the sign of Capricorn, three of us visited the spring source of the river Avon at Alton Barnes, Wiltshire, to honour our ancestors and the spirit of water through sacred sound.

Improvised sounding the Avon springs at Alton Priors, (together with voice, harmonium and Tibetan bowls) Winter Solstice 2019

From experiences of dowser Rory Duff who joined us at Stanton Drew, the Tibetan Bowls and the human voice are key to the expansion of the ‘harmonic resonance’ of the node within sanctuaries.  From his knowledge of geophysics, rituals of old seemed designed to increase the beneficial effects of these nodes, and where they intersect ‘grail-like’ shapes are created that enhance human intuition: The vortices of low frequencies appear to make shapes similar to the grail cup, cauldron, spear or bowl:  https://roryduff.com/videos

Offering the mandala flowers to the river at Stanton Drew, after the early morning lunar eclipse, January 2019

What is more the sounding bowls and chanting with Paneurhythmy and prayers increased the harmonic node of Stanton Drew large circle by two feet.

In Libra 2017, a group of singers improvised with song in Barsham church, where the sun appeared unexpectedly from a hidden window to light up the crucifix.

Singers ‘Anam Cora’ in Barsham Church, with the sunlight on crucifix, (2017).

New stories from the landscape:

In 2017 pilgrimages at Dulverton on the river Barle (Aquarius), at Arlingham on the river Severn (Pisces), we honoured the rivers and their memories and stories grew out of our receptivity to the spirit of place.  

Pilgrimage on the River Barle, tree trunk shrine and pilgrim dog, Somerset,(2018).
Pilgrimage and enactment of story of fertility (Gk.‘Hieros Gamos’ = ‘holy marriage’), with a symbolic stone and group blessing on River Severn, Arlingham, 2017. [Report available]
Pilgrimage along the River Usk (Pisces), with candle shrine, Wales, 2018
Natural mandala at Stanton Drew, (Capricorn) 2019, The Wrekin (Aries) 2018, using leaves, flowers, twigs, stones, candles or lanterns to honour the beauty of Nature
Candle and card mandala by the Thames, (Sagittarius) 2017.
The mandalas honoured the spirit of the river, and the emerging Wheel of Life Project events, through which we aim to ‘turn’ the landscape energies into harmonic patterns.

City Chakra walks

We would like to hear from those who are beginning to identify the chakras of cities, exploring ancient foundations, the water courses and old stones that remain from earlier times.  

Lantern walks through a city at dusk captures a special spirit of place in the quiet corners.

Pilgrimage round Winchester Cathedral Close, (Capricorn) dancing in St Lawrence’s church, 2019

Pilgrimages in Winchester, York, Lincoln and Colchester investigated the different energy centres that reflect different ‘functions’ of the city, such as water sources at the ‘root’ chakra, or sculptures that hint at hidden narratives.

Pilgrimage along York city walls, 2017 (Leo). The city boundaries with its towers
has its own ‘guardian’ trees,  create places of safety and civilization, for art, culture, relaxation and sciences to flourish.
York minster at the ‘crown’ behind the Roman column at the ‘brow’ chakra,
with its architecture reflecting the heart shaped city walls
 and the trees standing guard along its streets and rivers. (2018)

Connecting different areas of the landscape:

Peak District:  At Arbor Low, the stone circle felt welcoming and inspirational for large group ceremony, its symbolic walls indicating the directions of correspondence to the wider landscape.  Rowtor Rocks and Robin Hood’s Stride with caves and rocky hill crest paths carried different symbolic hints to their purpose.

Arbor Low rampart with alignment ‘groove’, (2017).,Rowtor Rocks as places of initiation, and the Gateway stones to Robin Hood’s Stride, (2018)

Essex:   In 2017 a city chakra pilgrimage in Colchester revealed its sculptural symbology of ‘alchemy’ appropriate to Scorpio (symbol of the magician and transformation): the Sphinx the representing of human incarnation in mammal bodies, and Mercury representing the imagination, eloquence, divination, or communication. In 2018 a pilgrimage to the Templar round church at Little Maplestead expanded our knowledge of the landscape connections.

Pilgrimage through the city chakras of Colchester, 2017
Pilgrimage to Little Maplestead Templar round church emphasizing the heart chakra, with roses on the ceiling; and Stanley Hall, (2018). Artwork often taps into the hidden symbolism in the landscape

The hidden modern symbolism of the landscape:

A pilgrimage to St Helens, Lancashire: where the site of a coal mine has been developed into a park, with sculptures that enhance the symbol of ‘a good dream of the future’. Here seats were designed by local school children. The community’s grief at loosing their work in the mine has been translated into the head of a young girl with her eyes closed, dreaming of a better world.  The Taurus/Gemini cusp in the British Zodiac represents the path of the ‘Milky Way’ constellations as they appear in the sky and represented on land.  See mike Newton’s talk at the Gatekeeper Conference 2018: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ho4Q9Cqr6Q&feature=share

Paneurhythmy at St Helens, (Taurus), 2018, with the ‘dream’ of future of healing,
 and park sculptures designed by school children.
 ‘Ex Terra Lucem: from Earth comes Light’ was the miners’ motto.

Poetry in the landscape:Listening to the teachings of Nature through art  

Through our pilgrimage at the Bullstones Circle, Macclesfield (Gemini), we carried lanterns and composed poetry to enact the ‘innovative imagination and communication’ of this zodiac sign.

Light speaks to light – a light cradle at the centre stone,
 the sheep stand guard on an alignment to over-lighting Shining Tor (2018) .
Pilgrims’ poem to the spirit of place:
 
The dreaming landscape
awakens within our walk, 
within our poetry, 
and our lacing lantern light, 
and the sheep sleep, 
the crags leap
as we lay our shadows down.
 
The nettle feels the wind,
Scudding cloud shadows,
Sunlight, sharp shadows.
Wind waving grasses,
Stones and sheep wool,
Hold the majesty of the holding hills.
 
Happy scudding-cloud shadows
Sweep with billowing sails,
Across table-top skyline,
Anchored deep in rushes.
 
Concrete spire,
A dried grass cross in the sand,
Open, exposed.
You are part of this process.
 
Blue haze horizon stretches away,
Sunlight, sharp shadows of waving grass,
Stones and sheep wool.
Stone-still silence,
Welcome.
 
Whatever you have done or not done,
The nettle feels the wind:
I am still here,
Whether or not you believe
Is nothing to me.

The wisdom of the landscape ‘spirit of place’ comes into focus through improvisation and imaginative flexibility, the key skills bridging the polarities of Gemini the divine twins. It is symbolic of the ‘two voices’ within our throat chakra with its altar major, one responding to the impulse of intuition and the other questioning the relevance of guidance in a grounded context.  By listening to the two, we ground our intuition with precision and timing, the qualities of rationality.  Our two inner voices engage us with our ‘inner warrior’ (Aries) and develops our ‘inner guardian’ (Cancer), artistically building love and friendship (Taurus) as the ‘friends’ of logic and rationality.  

Walking the steep path – hills of illumination:

The pilgrimage on The Wrekin (Aries) was steep and lined with guardian trees. We contemplated the protection of inner resilience on the hard climb of existence. Trees that guarded our path gave us the inner scope of reflection into our own organic resilience through life. 

On the way, the path of light protected by guardian trees.
At the top the horizon and valley below created an illumination 
of clear sightedness and grounded rationality which the ‘warrior/pioneer’ Aries brings: (2018)

Honouring and researching the spirit of our times – Aquarius:

At Stanton Drew on 21stof January 2019, we entered the three stone circles that had witnessed the lunar eclipse on the cusp of Capricorn and Aquarius, with the moon in Leo guiding our inspirations towards resolving issues of leadership.   The sun rises after a blood moon, the stones glow pink and reflect a new dawn. 

The large stone circle at dawn after the eclipse, (2019)

Research and exploration

Our innate spirit of curiosity and awe in Nature provides us with deep motive to explore and discover the secrets of growth, beauty, natural wisdom and a spirituality, which matures through Life’s evolution itself. In questing and raising an enquiry into what draws us along our way, we express a quiet joy of being on a creative path through the unknown to greater knowledge, self-expression and illumination of our understanding.


The following are basic details of events over the last three years, for which there are some short reports and photo-collages available on request:

CAPRICORN:

  • Winchester – Circle Dancing and Chakra Lantern Walk
  • Rollright Stone Circle – pilgrimage with lanterns
  • Alton Barnes and Alton Priors – music improvisation at the 
  • Avon springs

AQUARIUS:                

  • South Devon – Circle Dancing and Pilgrimage
  • SW Somerset – Pilgrimage along the River Barle
  • Wells Cathedral – Circle Dancing

PISCES:                       

  • Arlingham – pilgrimage across the River Severn 
  • and symbolic stone story enactment
  • Leominster Priory, Herefordshire (River Lugg) – pilgrimage
  • River Usk, Wales – Pilgrimage
  • River Barle, Somerset –Pilgrimage
  • St David’s Cathedral, Pembrokeshire – circle dance

ARIES:                        

  • Mitchel’s Fold Stone Circle, Shropshire – Lantern pilgrimage
  • The Wrekin, Shropshire – pilgrimage

TAURUS:                     

  • Paneurythmy at St Helen’s Lancashire

GEMINI:                        

  • Bullstones Stone circle, Macclesfield – Pilgrimage with lanterns 
  • and poetry, local zodiac 

CANCER:                     

  • Arbor Low Stone Circle, The Peaks – lantern pilgrimage
  • Rowtor Rocks – pilgrimage
  • Robin Hood’s Stride – pilgrimage

LEO:                            

  • York – city walls pilgrimage
  • York – city chakra lantern pilgrimage and river blessing

VIRGO:                        

  • Lincoln – chakra pilgrimage and Cathedral circle dancing

LIBRA:                         

  • Barsham Church, Norfolk – sacred sound
  • Wensum Park, Norwich – labyrinth walk

SCORPIO:                    

  • Colchester, Essex – city chakra walk
  • Little Maplestead and Stanley Hall, Essex – pilgrimage

SAGITTARIUS:           

  • River Thames, London – river pilgrimages
  • St Mary’s Paddington, London – circle dance
  • Charing Cross, London – pilgrimage to the new site of the London Stone

Longer reports of some events will be available on request in future.

Please let us know if you would like demonstrations or activity sheets on how to create natural or candle mandalas, poetry or lantern walks, musical improvisation blessings, dance or photo-collage. There are many simple meditational attunements in landscapes, which help focus the inner sense of the spirit of place and the ‘blessing field’ of our heart’s visualization. Some activities can be found in the Gatekeeper Trust’s ‘Pilgrim’s Handbook’ and song-book, copies of which can be purchased when available.

Contact the Secretary for more information on our future programme, or for contacts near you.  There will be a possibility to discuss and share ideas for future events on the second day of this year’s Pilgrims’ Weekend (6thApril).

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