No 2: Summer Solstice

Text and illustrations
by Sig Lonegren

Benton Castle

On the SouthWest coast of Wales there is a wonderful 13th Century Norman Keep called Benton Castle. It is on a promontory overlooking the Haven,an inlet close to the place where the Bristol Channel meets the Irish Sea.Between the totally white castle and the river is an enormous stone Chartres-type labyrinth. It is sixty- four feet (19.5 meters) in diameter, and the walls are made of old discarded banged up curb stones (they're beautiful - more like rough megalithic stones). The location of each curb stone was dowsed by a wonderful and highly talented septuagenarian Elizabeth Sulivan (pronounced"Soolivan"), the owner of Benton Castle.

I had gone to visit her with Patrick MacManaway, a Scottish Geomancer who had studied with me in Vermont in the early nineties, and is also co anchor of this website.. I asked Elizabeth how she got the idea for this labyrinth that, with the help of two men, had taken her two years to build.

Elizabeth Sulivan says, "It was a gut feeling I cannot explain, buthaving got it in mind, it had to be the Chartres pattern as (she and her now-deceased husband) went there often when we lived in Paris."

Elizabeth also finds close connections between the chakras and labyrinths and healing. (I find this as well.) She goes on, "Having found the chakra full of diseases in the centre, I went full steam ahead wondering if I had tumbled into a technology, lost to this age, by which I could get the sight back in my eye. I have no medical training. My pendulum placed them (the stones) for me... " Every decision was based on her intuition as seen through her dowsing.

Benton Castle Labyrinth
Benton Castle Labyrinth
From the Castle Parapet

(Notice the standing stones on either side of the labyrinth.

There are two stone rings that also are part of this sacred space.)

Draw Me Some Water Please!

There are two stories of special interest concerning the construction and lay out of this new sacred space. The first has to do with primary water. Elizabeth Sulivan is a good water dowser. She has dowsed wells for her farm on the estate. She has used her divining skills to locate missing persons.She dowsed the location of every curb stone that make the walls of her labyrinth. When she began, she dowsed the sloping lawn that she intended to use. At that time, there were no domes of water (blind Springs) under that portion of her lawn. She just dowsed the best place to locate it.

Bill Cooper is a retired Major General in the British Army who is now the President of the British Society of Dowsers. He told me that one day he had been at Benton Castle for lunch (Elizabeth is an outstanding cook), and he found that there was a dome of water under her dining room table. He had dowsed the castle on previous visits, and there had been no domes under the castle. They both found the new dome, and it appeared to be moving slowly towards the labyrinth!

The goal of a labyrinth is in the middle/center of the labyrinth. The term"middle" and "center" are not used because they can be confusing. Is the middle of the labyrinth half way in or at the end? Also, goals of labyrinths are not necessarily in the geometrical center.

When I arrived at Benton Castle, it was several weeks after Bill Cooper's visit. I found the dome to be directly under the goal of Elizabeth's labyrinth! This is not the first time this phenomenon has been observed. Marty Cain, a dowser and labyrinth builder in New England (USA) has been finding this for several years now. I am also hearing talk about this on the Internet.?Labyrinths call in water? Apparently.

Brief Definition of Earth Energy Terms

Primary water comes up from the bowls of the Earth initially as steam, and it moves its way under pressure towards the surface of the Earth in what is called a dome (or blind Spring) until it hits an impermeable layer, at which point, it goes out laterally as veins of primary water through cracks in the wall of the dome. This pattern apparently can be repeated again and again, getting smaller and smaller, as the water moves towards the surface of the Earth. Energy leys are six to eight foot-wide beams of yang energy which sometimes run concurrently with leys - alignments of holy sites.Energy leys Cross over primary water at many sacred spaces. Energy leys come down to the surface of the Earth at power centers like the labyrinth at Benton Castle. These apparent beginnings of energy leys are called downshoots.The energy ley (e ley) then turns ninety degrees over the dome and follows the surface of the Earth in a dead straight line for some distance Crossing other power centers along the way until it goes to Earth at an earthing point. where it turns another ninety degrees and goes down toward the center of the Earth.

BEnton energies

Chartres type Labyrinth and Earth Energies as dowsed by the author at Benton Castle (11 April 1996). Dome and veins are in gray. Energy Leys are in straight thick black lines with their direction of flow indicated with arrows. North is at the top of the picture.

Earth Energies at the Castle: Primary Water

The Earth energies, as I see them, were in place at the Benton Castle Labyrinth when I dowsed it with the dome under the goal, and the energy leys Crossing at the goal as well. The dome under the goal of the Benton Castle Labyrinth had seven veins . The curb stones that make the walls have small gaps in between them. Except for one curb stone in the fourth quarter (the curbstone "containing" the dome where that vein exits the dome), theveins all ran through the gaps between the stones, and when viewed from above, they all curved away from the dome gracefully to the left, or widdershins/counterclockwise!. One of the veins, as I find at all geomantically constructed sacred spaces,exits out the mouth.

Energy Leys

There were two through energy leys and two earthing points meeting overthe dome in the goal of the labyrinth. As you can see from the drawing above,the two e leys that go to earth there are almost opposite each other. At first I dowsed them as a single e ley, but when I was also shooting the azimuths of the e leys, I found, initially by looking at their direction of flow, that they were not one single e ley. In the past, I don't believe I have found more than one earthing point at any given power center. I have never seen two half energy leys (the two earthing points) before at one power center. I hazard to speculate that these two earthing points/ends of e leys could be just a temporary phase as the Earth energies gather and adjust at this new sacred site. I suspect that this odd confluence of e leys will change, and become more stable.

Astronomy at the Benton Castle Labyrinth

Every truly sacred site has a connection to the cosmos through astronomy.I took the magnetic azimuth of each energy ley as well as the angle of elevation to the horizon at those points. I wanted to check for possible astronomical alignments with the energy leys. Before I go any further, I need to talk about archaeoastronomy and the issue of accuracy. Modern science has allowed us to become accurate within millimicrons, no, down to minute bits of atoms.I do not believe it is necessary in the construction of sacred spaces to be that accurate. Aside from the US Government, many divinatory methods have a "fudge factor." In astrology is it called the "orb."In gematria it is called a "colel." Numerology has the same concept."Close enough for government work." It seems that regardless of what tools one uses (I use a Silva Type 60 Compass, a Suunto clinometer (Type PM-5/360 PC), the latest geodetic maps (to correct for magnetic deviation),and an astronomical program on my Mac called Voyager II), each one of the measurements that I took could have been done more accurately with better tools. I've even left out certain calculations like how much the Sun's rays are bent as it comes over the horizon, etc., etc.

Sig at Benton
Sig looking down the major axis of the labyrinth towards the mouth.

Sacred space is created through intent. Elizabeth Sulivan intended to make a place of healing, she dowsed the orientation of her labyrinth. This would be from the goal, through the mouth, to the horizon. I found this to be at a magnetic azimuth of 226 degrees (corrected to 223 degrees True) with an angle of elevation to the horizon of 3 degrees. According to my calculations, at Latitude 51 Degrees 43 Minutes West, Longitude 4 Degrees 53 Minutes West {my thanks to Roy Proctor for these satellite-taken measurements),on the Winter Solstice, December 21st, 1996, with an angle of elevation to the horizon of 3 degrees the Sun will set at 3:37pm GMT at an azimuth of 224 Degrees 45 Minutes! A bit over one degree off. My calculations, as accurate as I attempted to be, could easily be that much off. Well within a geomancer's "orb." And Elizabeth Sulivan dowsed this Winter Solstice Sunset orientation!

There are two stone rings outside the Benton labyrinth (actually, one has part of its circumference within the labyrinth). [see the first photo in this article] Elizabeth also dowsed the necessity of these circles and each stone's location. One of the other energy leys, one of the earthing point leys, is with in a few degrees of the Beltane Sunrise, but it is a bit too far off even with the two degree orb that I am using.

This is a truly amazing labyrinth. It was dowsed for both location and orientation.There were no domes of water there before Elizabeth Sulivan began. Now there are energy leys, a dome, and an orientation of the major axis towards the Winter Solstice Sunset!

A Comparison of Techniques

Alexander Thom, a retired professor from Oxford, went out with his theodalite (accurate surveyor's tool) and measured a number of stone rings in Britain. He found that while some were true circles, most fell into a handful of other geometrical shapes (egg-shaped, ellipse, flattened circles). John Barnatt, an archaeologist in the Peak District of England, got his students to take fifteen or twenty thin sticks, and to make a big circle by eye only. They did this a number of times, and each time John used a theodalite to locate each stick. Using that same concept of fudge factor that I was talking about earlier, John Barnatt found that the rings thus created by eye conformed statistically to Thom's geometrically perfect flattened circles, ellipses,and egg shapes better than the actual British stone rings presently do! Scientists call this orb "statistics."

What For? And Other Questions

First, there's the question about the labyrinth's apparent ability to draw a dome of water to it. In May, I went with Patrick MacManaway to visit Billy Gawn, a fine water dowser who lives in Temple Patrick, Northern Ireland. He is Head of the British Society of Dowsers group set up to look in to the Earth Energies. He is intrigued by this possible labyrinth/dome connection and plans to build several labyrinths to check out this suggested ability. I suspect that if you build a labyrinth and just leave it to see if it willdraw a dome of water, it probably won't work. A labyrinth needs to be used.

Elizabeth Sulivan dowsed her labyrinth every step of the way. Given John Barnatt's experiment with constructing stone rings, is it possible that dowsing, using only the intuition, is also a way to tune in to the same energies that our foremothers and fathers used in the construction of their sacred spaces?

The Benton Castle labyrinth is a truly megalithic monument. Perhaps themost important question is what can this impressive Chartres-type labyrinth be used for? Elizabeth Sulivan says, "This has to be a healing structure and I have to find the key to utilizing it's potential with help from people with ability in this field." Labyrinths have also been used as meditative walks, as a tool for looking at one's life and divining a possible resolution, as a pilgrimage journey (many labyrinths in Gothic Cathedrals were called"Jerusalem), but most important of all, labyrinths are tools that connect us with the One.

Please do not go to Benton Castle without making an appointment. You'll be turned away at the gate. Click here for the Benton Castle Labyrinth Update Article

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by Hipflask McSporran
(alias Patrick Mac Manaway)

Patrick MacManaway

For the corporate capitalist, sleeping is an irksome bother. It is neither cost-effective nor high in productivity, and provides minimal opportunity for social or political advantage. Generally it is experienced as a race to reach unconsciousness with an adequate share of quilt and blankets before one's mate begins to snore. Consciousness is gratefully reclaimed throught he intervention of an alarm clock, and affirmed by the ingestion of coffee and/or other available stimulants…

The dreamers amongst us, on the other hand, would draw us into the magic and mystery of sleep as time to hang oust and party on the astral, to dance with other selves, and to drink deeply from the (oft murky) fountain of perennial wisdom and engrayenment.

One well- known Greensboro, Vermont-based Geomancer assures us of the need to get "grubby" and sleep outdoors. Why should this be? Is it an expression of pathological personal perversion? Or a nostalgic echo back to past-lives warmly recalled from the Paleolithic?

Let us take a furtive peep behind the veil of the mystery of science and see if, as Odin clutching the Runes, we can bring back something of actual value to enhance our daily practice of the Art of Sleeping. Cycles Of Time

Geomancers understand the cyclical nature of time. So do physiologists. Our body - exquisite temple of consciousness and unconsciousness - has innumerable overlapping and interwoven cycles: of breathing; of heart-beating; of eating and digesting; of cellular growth, replacement and repair; of fertility and child-bearing; of wakefulness and sleeping. These are all co-ordinated and synchronized as the music and choreography of ballet.

Living as we do in intimate and inevitable relationship with our environment (and not in fact in an exclusively self-referential vacuum as reductionist medicine would have us believe), our body has developed a wickedly cunning, dazzlingly sophisticated, and beautifully elegant (yes, this applies to you) method of keeping our internal bodily cycles appropriately in time with the dance of the daily, monthly,and yearly cycles that occur around us. (To ensure, for example, that we don't hunt woolly mammoths out of season...) The Pineal Gland & Hearing the Earth's Heartbeat

The key to keeping us in step with the cosmic dance is the pineal gland (associated with the third eye). By varying the relative quantities of the opposing hormones serotonin and melatonin, it switches biological cycles on and off, slows them down and speeds them up, and keeps us happy jivers bobbing and weaving to the rhythm of earth-momma's heart beat. The cunning part is that placed in a vacuum and shielded from all outside influences, the pineal would run us on a twenty-four and a half hour day. That means that it has to check in with mom every single day and reset itself, ensuring a constant synchrony with our environment.

Now the pineal has two ways of hearing the earth's heartbeat, both of which our Western society has brilliantly found ways of evading, leaving us dependent on stimulants such as coffee and depressants such as alcohol to drive our biological sleep/wakefulness cycle rather than leaving it in the capable hands of the pineal.


The first way that the earthbeat is heard is by responding to natural Sunlight. In some species the pineal is placed so as to directly see the light. In humans, it does this by receiving fibers from the optic nerve which carries information from our eyes to our brain. It is particularly the blue-green frequencies of light that the pineal responds to, which are present in natural Sunlight but absent in most artificial light (unless you have "fullspectrum lighting" installed). So those who are unable to spend significant periods of time outdoors, for example during the Winter, and work under artificial lights live in a state of perpetual darkness as far as their pineal is concerned. (This gives rise to the so-called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD).

The Earth's Geomagnetic Field

The second way that the earthbeat is heard is through the pineal's sensitivity to daily fluctuations in the earth's magnetic field, called the geomagnetic field. This is a field whose magnetic flux lines run from the magnetic North to the magnetic South pole, extending around us and reaching out into space where it encounters the solar wind, - a constant stream of charged particles that emanate from the Sun - leading to a compression of the geomagnetic field on the side of the earth exposed to the Sun and an expansion on the dark side of the earth. This compression/ expansion cycle gives rise to very subtle daily fluctuations in the geomagnetic field, which the pineal can "hear". Unless of course you choose to live in an electrified environment where the ever-present subtle hum of 50 or 60 Hz from your house wiring circuits blocks out any chance of hearing the earthbeat. Also significant is that the body depends on periods of deep sleep to implement crucial phases of cellular growth, division and repair, and protein synthesis. During these periods we are particularly dependent on a predictable and quiet electromagnetic environment for the messages between cells and between the brain and the body to be clearly heard. This communication can be distressed and distorted by the electromagnetic fields given off by domestic power circuits, as well as by the distortions in the geomagnetic field caused by water veins, geological faults and some mineral and crystal deposits.

Let us jump back, hastily and horrified, through the veil between science and common sense, and see what this might mean. Altered states of consciousness are available through exposure to electromagnetic fields, either from power frequency under electrical power lines, or earth-generated at sacred sites..But for sleep this is only smart if done consciously and occasionally for specific effect (dream incubation, vision quests, etc.).

For optimal, health-generating sleep we would do well to seek out places of minimal electromagnetic disruption. This means away from water veins, geological faults and other strong geomantic energies such as energy leys. It also means sleeping in a non-electrified place, either outdoors or ina part of the house that is not wired or that has had its power circuitswitched off (demand switches are available to do this). It means salutingeither the Sun or your full-spectrum light after rising.

Dowsing out the best available place to sleep is undoubtedly one of themore important aspects of the Art of Sleeping. Most important of all howeveris to ensure an adequate amount of the quilt and blankets and to reach unconsciousness before one's mate begins to snore.

(Patrick MacManaway is the Scottish anchor of this Mid-Atlantic Geomancy website.)

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