This is the first Tip in a while, but as August First is almost upon us, I felt the need to tell you about a new way I have been relating to this CrossQuarter Day of Lughnasad (pronounced roughly "Loo' na sa"). For the past year I have been attending a course in Exeter, Devon, called "The Gnostic Circle" taught most excellently by Andy White, an artist and Jungian Psychotherapist. Andy has been focusing on the experiential aspects of gnosticism rather than the historical Gnostic Christians. More right brain than left. We have been meeting in a Church called St. Sidwells, which had begun in the seventeenth century out side the town walls in a less affluent area of Exeter, but due to urban development, is now in the heart of the city (it's the non-stop destination of Exeter's Park and Ride system that I use to get there).
After attending several classes, I began to wonder more and more about just who was this St. Sidwells, a Saint I had never heard of before.
There are several different versions about this Exeter Saint. The stories begin in different places with different names, but they have the same ending. She gets her head cut off and a healing spring breaks forth. Here is a succinct version of her life with some salient details:
The story of Saint Sidwells refers to a young woman, Sativola, who lived in Exeter during Anglo Saxon times. She was falsely accused by her brother of sleeping around, and was then persecuted by her stepmother who plotted her death. One day farm workers were persuaded to kill her as she brought them food and sustenance. She was beheaded with a scythe, and a fountain of water immediately sprung up on the spot, and a great oak began to grow as well. But there's more. The girl, meantime, took up her head, walked to her home, put on her head again, reproached her brother, and subsequently dropped down dead. St. Sidwell’s church was built close to the Well that became known as a place where people with various forms of sickness could find healing, health and well-being.
Sidwells has another church dedicated to her at Laneast in Cerniw (Cornwall); however, the association may only date from 1437. Sidwells, the common form of Sadfyl’s name has no doubt, been influenced by the name of her spring or holy well. Her Feast Day is August 1st, the Celtic Cross Quarter Day of Lughnasad.
In the cycle of the Celtic year, Lughnasad, August 1st ±, marks the beginning of the harvest season. In the Christian calendar, Lammas (or loaf mass) is the day that the first loaf of bread is offered to God to mark the first "fruits" of the harvest season - in this case, wheat. So the scythe is a perfectly appropriate weapon to be mentioned as the tool that caused St. Sidwell's decapitation. She is Devon's Anglo Saxon Lady of Harvest.
Now, let's turn inwards. What is being harvested in your life right now? What project have you been working on that you are just now beginning to reap the benefits? May St. Sidwells be with you.
In other news: I am working on an iBook that is a revised version of something that I wrote in the mid-eighties called "The Earth Mystery Handbook: Holistic Non-Intrusive Data Gathering Techniques." It was a report on a project I did for the American Society of Dowsers (ASD) and the New England Antiquities Research Association (NEARA). It was written after visiting over forty underground stone chambers mostly in Vermont (USA). At the time, I am sure that I did this project to gather evidence that would convince archaeologists and other academics that many of these chambers were something other than colonial root cellars. We found that 40% of them had significant solar astronomical alignments, were built using sacred geometry, and were located on Earth Energy power centres.
I became convinced that these were sacred spaces, but I don't believe any academician was convinced by this project. It would have caused them to have to begin to operate in a different paradigm - one that gave the "primitive savages" (read: a culture that was more spiritually advanced than the White colonists were) the ability to do things that had here-to-for been assumed by the new settlers to be impossible. Most archaeologists of the seventies and eighties didn't know anything about astronomy, and certainly did not have the math to do astronomical alignments. So, just they have done with Professor Alexander Thom's archaeoastronomical data here in the UK, modern science just ignored my data.
So why revise a project that didn't (and probably won't) impact on the academic mind? I have recently realised that by doing this work, what had really happened was that I had convinced myself that these humble chambers were indeed sacred spaces. I can only trust that if others use these techniques and gather this mostly left brain data, they can convince themselves of their sanctity as well.
When one's left brain is well fed, one is ready for the experiential (?dare I say Spiritual?) possibilities that can happen at places like this. And, for me, that's what sacred space is really about: left brain activity and knowledge can lead to right brain experience of the spiritual.
In any event, I'll let you know when "The Earth Mystery Handbook: Holistic Non-Intrusive Data Gathering Techniques" becomes available to download to your iPad as soon as I have uploaded it to iTunes.
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