Thursday, 28th January, 2021
12 noon local time
Sun in Aquarius, Air, the Truth-Seeker;
Moon in Leo, Element of Fire, the Leader.
River Barle, Simonsbath, Exmoor..
Seeking the truth behind the myths and wisdoms of our ancestors in order to guide a new vision of the Inner Mysteries of the ‘ Wheel of Life’, follow the Solar Cycle of Seasons and to recreate the age-old myths of our ancestors and their initiatory paths in the landscape.
Aquarius represents the ‘truth seeker’ within us, and is the sign of universal friendship, creative collaboration and individual spiritual paths. We recreate all that is good from the previous age of Pisces and become our own mystic and contemplative, modern planetary citizen. Opposite Leo, our quest is to understand what collaborative leadership looks like: how do we lead from our radiant heart- wisdom, with generosity of heart and mind integrated? By honouring the seasons, the solar cycles tell a story of our own inner quest for enlightenment and wisdom. As we journey to the sanctuaries in the Dartmoor and Exmoor landscapes, we find a symbolic story unfolding.
As an Aquarian project, the Gatekeeper Trust Wheel of Life events seek to follow on from the spiritual truths hidden in star maps, and the hidden cycle of psychological transformation. As we walk, we reflect and learn from the ‘inner intuitive response’ within and the ‘songs of the earth’ in the landscape. We are evolving ‘alchemical’ paths to our true selves when we become aware more deeply of the effect of Nature on our senses, emotions and thoughts… bringing us closer to a ‘cosmic self’ of pure light and creative generativity (the ability to create new form and initiate growth and evolution from the deepest part of our nature). The landscapes offer us a map to follow in these times of deep challenge and change: stirring and shake-up calling for our inner creative selves or archetypal ‘heroes’ to recreate an environment of sacred space, harmonious growth, releasing healing energies for mankind and our planet.
This could be the time when the Arthur/Merlin/Round Table archetype and example can be of most help and guidance to us. The wisdom of the star maps in the landscape inspire new research as we reflect on the Somerset/Glastonbury zodiac documented by Mary Cain, and travelled by groups lead by John Wadsworth.
Working collaboratively with group intuition: During the last decade, the Gatekeeper group of South Hams in Devon have practiced collaborative leadership in devising annual pilgrimage programmes throughout Dartmoor and South Devon. Intuitive feedback, research, listening to the landscape angel and each other, as well as meditation and visualisation, completes a winter ceremony of giving thanks for the year. This is a real innovation for group planning, using Aquarian qualities of collaborative and creative intuition to create a plan of action incorporating each individual’s feedback.
Identifying the Exmoor landscape zodiac
To discover the Exmoor Zodiac I have been walking and researching for six years in this moorland of the oldest rocks on the planet. There seemed to be three confirming clues for Capricorn, Virgo (The Black Venus pub named after a species of sheep – grazing on the nearby hill (named ‘Black Venus’ after Virgo an earth sign symbol of the idea of purity, beauty and craftsmanship).
The Black Venus Inn, a place of nurture, good food and beautiful landscape views in the heart of the moor and associated with Virgo the Virgin or ‘Black Madonna’ of tradition?
Also Sagittarius (where we find Oare a village where there used to be a priory, the name from an Old-English word for the qualities of Jupiter: ‘generous godhead, awe, expansiveness, and abundance’; and Scorpio (Lynton – ‘lynd-worm’ or dragon energy). In the landscape, next to Capricorn, a shape of a ‘sea goat’ which has a village called Horner just at the base of a horn shape in the landscape.
A clue for Cancer might be that there is an almost perfect heart-shaped small road, which loops into the centre with an ‘inner heart’, linking three villages. There is only farmland and a few houses, but you can drive round. I think South Molton is near enough to Cancer to be fulfilling that function: protective shell, heartland, market town (nurturing, protecting Crab, ruler of the house to do with cultural roots and family cohesion, farming and market gardening).
Cow Castle seems to be perfectly set for a geographic centre to this zodiac, within a circle where some features are equidistant. There are other researchers who believe that Dunkery Beacon is at the heart of Exmoor, around which there are many burial mounds and it was obviously a sacred centre for the ancients.
To get to the prehistoric settlement, follow the river path SE from Simonsbath until you get to a fortified hill with a little one next to it, three rivers coming in around it. On the way there are magnificent hills and lots of dragon energy. On day, on the way to the river junctions at Cow Castle – a sure sign that it was regarded as a sanctuary, with white quartz boulders lining the paths – I had a vision of a mother dragon giving birth to dragonettes galloping down the streams and brooks and valleys in spring. One of the streams comes in from a farm, and along its valley are a couple of white stones which must be procession markers. Follow these, go over the stream at the gate and take the right hand path up the hill to the brow. This overlooks Cow Castle and has a strong uplifting energy linking to the hills around the fort. The lordly ones are certainly hovering there!
Inspired, I made a collage of Cow Castle: the Bronze Age fortlet with the junction of three rivulets in the valley of River Barle, a revered landscape of hills and meeting
places [Collage art: Charlotte Yonge, sculptures by Michael Loxton].
I sensed that the landscape ‘spirit of place’ was responding through my creative imagination, and I felt an increased sense of harmony in myself.
Further inspired, I began singing to the water and rocks in Ashcombe Garden, Simonsbath 2020-02-19.
The white quartz ancestor stones hold the energy as a ‘hub’ in the centre of the moor. Using sound and song, harmonic resonances are said to be embedded in the rocks underfoot, particularly quartz and its link to the planetary core.
Ashcombe: Hidden quartz boulders with moss and sprouting saplings. Singing at these vertical boulders, we can imagine the resonance reaching down into the crust of the earth. Nearby the brook bubbles out to join the Barle, and the dank woodland is covered with moist lichen and moss.
A SPECULATIVE DARTMOOR LANDSCAPE ZODIAC
A working draft of the Dartmoor Zodiac (Charlotte Yonge 2018). This locates the centre on Wistman’s Wood, agreed by Peter Dawkins in the 1990’s. Later the group agreed to leave the hypothesis as a work-in-progress. Merrivale ritual complex can be found on the hypothetical cusp of Aquarius and Pisces.
In 2016 I began making a photobook of pilgrimages. In Dartmoor, I found secret wells in the village of Sheepstor. The root name means ‘archer’ so it was naturally the key sacred site representing Sagittarius in the Dartmoor landscape zodiac. Together with the South Hams Gatekeeper group’s journey to bless a well at Thurlestone, and the ‘Seven Sisters Well’ near Culbone, Exmoor, this composite linked the waters of the two moors. Artistically it symbolised the Aquarian ‘water carrier’ of universal knowledge and wisdom. Our ancestors knew the value of pure water, and protected springs through well dressing and pilgrimage.
THE SOUTH HAMS GATEKEEPER PILGRIMAGES
Reports from pilgrimages:
‘Last Saturday, which was a glorious sunny day, 10 of us set off on an ‘Arthurian Quest’! This was our first exploration of the Arthur Line discovered by Sean Ferris. We chose the section between Bantham and Thurlestone. With the help of the dowsers and intuitives amongst us we found that, having flowed down the hill from Bigbury Golf Course, it crossed the Avon, passing through Bantham Boat House, a beautiful old thatched building down on the quay, not far from where the ferry leaves. It then crossed the road above (leading into the car park) exactly at the gateway there! We walked along the ridge above Bantham and found where it flowed through a stone wall and on to Thurlestone Church. We were amazed to discover amongst the beautiful, modern stained glass windows, one which portrayed three Arthurian knights! We held a ceremony there and most of us experienced a very potent energy at the Crown Centre/Chakra. We didn’t want to leave!’
Thurlstone Church window with three Arthurian Knights,
and a well blessing at Malborough spring.
‘Fourteen of us gathered on the full moon for a ceremony in Thurlestone church where we linked with the national GK group and the ‘Dancing Round the British Landscape Zodiac’ project. As the South Hams falls within the sign of Aquarius (according to the sidereal zodiac), we were among the first to ‘turn this Wheel of Life’!
We then focussed on the Arthur Line, which flows through Thurlestone church, followed by a short ceremony at Malborough Spring through which the Guinevere Line flows. By dowsing before and after our ceremony, an intuitive participant was able to be able to detect that the width of the line had increased from 7 to 11 paces – and had moved slightly!
The Arthur and Guinevere Line.
‘Finally, we walked up to the village, then along a section of the Arthur Line to Malborough church where the two Lines cross/meet. After processing through the church with conscious awareness, we meditated and then gathered at the spot where they meet – on the central aisle within the Throat Chakra. We sent out the full moon energies with 3 final OMs. Margaret was surprised to find that again, the lines had moved slightly.
Some of us went on for tea at the Cottage Hotel, Hope Cove, where we watched the sun setting into the sea – a perfect ending to the day. Driving home the full moon shone directly ahead of our route.’
WISTMAN’S (WISE MAN’S) WOOD
near Two Bridges, in the centre of the proposed zodiac:
The natural, dwarf oak woodland comprises stone, moss and lichens, all blended and camouflaged in subtle tones of colour and the beautiful merging natural forms of trunks, leaves and lichens. [artwork by Caroline Danby].
Group song at Wistman’s Wood.
Dewdrops on stones.
Mist and moss,
The mushroom and dung
We are guided
And protected for ever.
Blessing your feet.
Mysty track of life,
As ages pass.
Settled on moist moss,
The roots of the past
Are all around.
MERRIVALE PILGRIMAGE 2017-06-30
Merrivale ritual complex is a very inspiring collection of stone rows, stone circles and hut circles, the wide open horizons seem to emphasize its importance as a place of future vision. It seems appropriate that it might perch on the cusp of Aquarius and Pisces.
Measuring the stones.
‘Seven of us participated in a pilgrimage to Merrivale. We believe this sacred site lies within Pisces in the Dartmoor Zodiac – there was certainly a lot of water around! The leat flowing down the side of the site, boggy ground beneath u, quite a few showers and pools of water in the cists/initiation chambers and around the standing stones!
Having processed both up and down the long double stone rows, Margaret demonstrated that the nearby stone circle isn’t actually circular. In photo you can see her pacing out (with a six metre long rope) two interlocking circles – thus creating the vesica piscis/almond shaped sacred symbol. You can just see one end of this marked by the rope on the ground.
The Stone Cist [By Herbythyme – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7634757]
The Standing stone in the circle.
The Merrivale Stone Row.
‘At the standing stone we met a Dartmoor Park Guide who, rather surprisingly, told us that dowsers had detected seven energy levels up the stone. She also confirmed the exact notch in a distant tor on the horizon where the sun sets on the Summer Solstice. After she’d gone we sounded seven OMs to the seven chakras of the standing stone.’
‘Measurements showed significant symbolic alignments with the stars. using the 6 metre rope:
The megalithic yard (a term coined by researcher Alexander Thom) is a distance of 2.72 feet; the Merrivale circle measures 20 megalithic yards by 23. I had to calculate what length would give me the correct one for plotting out the vesica. Merrivale equates with Aquarius, and links to Kings Tor by cusping with Capricorn… the seats of kings are traditionally found in this section of a star map.]’
A DARTMOOR ZODIAC ‘MILKY WAY’?
A pilgrimage from Bittaford along the route towards Belstone Tor:
We walked along the Multiple Stone Rows, which follow a North-South direction towards White Hill: Along the way we sang and danced to bless the landscape. The symbology follows the traditional path of an axis line between the cusp of Scorpio and Sagittarius, meeting at the cusp of Taurus and Gemini. In between we find White Hill, Big Whit Hill and White Horse Hill to match the symbol of the Milky Way in this star map.
The Dartmoor Zodiac equates to the archaeological findings in the moors, and can be located by following the Two Moors Way towards Belstone in the north.
Sagittarius is represented by ‘Sheepstor’, a name derived from an Old English word meaning ‘shuttle’, ‘archer’ or ‘dart shooter’. What could be more evident than a name that evokes the ‘projectile’ of the archer who shoots the arrow of desire at the godhead?
Scorpio is represented symbolically by the local traditions of the iron working in the area of South Brent. Scorpio is traditionally ruled by Mars, the god of war, and element of iron.
Kings Tor – on the cusp of Capricorn and Aquarius – this tor overlooks Merrivale, and represents the fulcrum of the ‘Masonic compass’ researched by Peter Dawkins. In the centre of the angle made between these two signs of the zodiac, is Princeton. The bisecting angle allowed a line to travel from the fulcrum out into the Leo quadrant. There we find Marden Down’s circle, and along the way the Tottiford reservoir where archaeologist found a complex ritual landscape containing a stone row and circle.
Kings Tor Bards, Dartmoor 2014
In a pilgrimage to Kings Tor, we shared them Lammas Loaf, and wrote poetry sitting amongst the rocks.
Kings Tor ‘Heart Rock’ beneath which we had a picnic sharing a ‘Lammas loaf’ .
Kings Tor bards at work.
Sleeping giants surrounded by rocks
scattered by a past awakening,
Yellow bright flower summons the bee.
Still, as eternal love olds our fleeting minds,
Rocky summit reflects the singing swan.
Wild horses are free.
I sit and watch the changes,
And offer silence carved by the zephyr of my love.
[By the Kings Tor bards]
The zodiac research by Peter Dawkins shows that the mathematical ratio was significant in matching the alchemical tradition leading to the symbolism of the ‘Sphinx line’ (following a bisecting line between Leo and Virgo, ‘the sphinx’ a combination of human head and lions body). This was associated with the incarnation of human spirit within matter, a combination of the animalistic body (the lion) and the human head of the ‘thinker’, meaning ‘man the thinker’.
The orientation takes in the Hatytor area as ‘Virgo’ suggested by David Matthews, and confirmed by its legend.
Haytor, where the legend is of a bride of pure heart refusing to marry for tradition, and instead chose her true love and thereby earned the right to wear the ancestor wedding veil. Virgo is the sign indicated here, and the two rocky outcrops seen from afar represent the bride’s ‘paps’.
HAYTOR BARDIC SONG – July 2012.
A mystery tour of creative glory,
Soft cumulus clouds drift above gigantic granite outcrops.
I grew up on your heartland.
Space is freedom,
This forever land in forever time I honour.
Gently the feminine embraces even the hardest stone.
The stone lion, unmoving since time began, crouches without intent.
Haytor’s outline is of feminine power and beauty.
Dark shadows melt across the shifting landscape.
Journey’s end – a vast wooded valley:
Be calm. Be still, Honour Me.
[By the Haytor Bards].
The ‘sacred crescent’ (https://www.legendarydartmoor.co.uk/sacred_crescent.htm) is a set of eight stone circles which can be found in our speculative zodiac to curve in the sign of Cancer, ruled by the moon.
‘White Moor Down; the two Butterns; Scorhill; Fernworthy and the Grey Wethers are quite evenly spaced, standing at intervals of ‘a fairly consistent 2 kilometres (11⁄4 miles) suggesting each was constructed as part of a comprehensive design and hence contemporary in planning and execution.’, (Burl, 2000, p.152 – quoting Butler, 1991, p.192).’
[See Legendary Darkmoor: https://www.legendarydartmoor.co.uk]
The latest stone circle to be discovered is below Sittaford Tor, completing the ‘crescent’ of seven circles. They seem to represent a coherent system symbolic of a crescent moon and the astrological ‘ruler’ of the sign Cancer.
SCORHILL STONE CIRCLE.
This circle is found as one of a ‘sacred crescent’ of stone circles in the sign of Cancer which seems to confirm the guiding quality of the moon – a reflective, sensitive quality that calls for our ‘inner guardian’ to create protective boundaries. It’s stone seemed to be arranged with four sets of three, like the claws of a crab. Scorhill circle is overlooked by Scorhill Tor, where there rests a large standing stone, a spiral of stones, and a long avenue of stones reaching along the ridge from the spiral.
Two groups split up at the circle, with an agreement to tune in at the same time of 12 noon. The hill walkers and the non-walkers were a complementary team, the first aiming for the ridge above, and the second staying round the circle and river exploring the area and building a small mandala in the centre. They came together for a joint attunement and feedback before returning. The alchemy of the ‘centre and periphery’ provides an imaginative focus for artwork that makes the energetic group of walkers become grounded and ‘held’ in stability.
The OS map of the crescent of circles from Heritage Journal: https://heritageaction.wordpress.com/2020/03/10/fascinating-facts-dartmoors-sacred-crescent/
The Gatekeeper Research Trust provides working notes and articles that explore the traditions of landscape symbology, which encapsulated an early science of astrology in the mythical narratives of astrology. From these beginnings, our modern sciences developed. Creating a tap root of cultural significance, our research helps illustrate the continuum of spiritual thought and philosophy over the millennia.
Edited with gratitude for support from: Peter Dawkins, Charlotte Yonge, Jane withers and the Gatekeeper local contact group.