Wednesday, 3 July 2013

My Native Sacred Landscape

When you grow up somewhere the places around you may seem mundane, ordinary and unexciting; when you move away somewhere this new place may be the very opposite, because it is different. When I left home to go off to University hundreds of miles away (both in the UK) I found exactly this; however, each time I returned home I found that home became more and more interesting and now I feel a great fondness towards it.

At my University home (locations will be kept private for this posting) I am surrounded by a rich area of cultural, historical and natural beauty and intrigue. I am in love with the place; but, when I walk through the woodlands and hills, and look upon the historical sites I don't feel a sense of personal identity and belonging. My own ancestral and cultural heritage has been an uncertain void for me, since coming to know Paganism. I thought I had left home and been given all I needed from that place, to move on, but I was wrong. Now when I come home and walk in the familiar fields and modest remaining woodlands I feel a sense of pride and belonging; this is my land, my heritage, the place where my roots are planted.

Upon traveling from one land to another and entering the familiar surroundings of home I definitely sense a different energy in each area. This is beyond explaining in words and really is something you have to feel (and that through connecting to the earth, everyone can learn to recognize with time). All I can say is that the feeling of the different places, the places spirit, ancestral memory, gods, energy - whatever you wish to call it, is noticeably different. 

The gods of my birth place are for the most past unnamed due to being lost by history, contrasting to the gods and mythologies of my University's area, which are largely known. But naming these gods is not necessary. My home county is actually very rich in history and has been occupied for thousands of years - but this is why comparatively little ancient remains, remain; constant occupation, industrialization and population increase has removed many ancient sites. Pagan myths were not written down by their followers and only the Christian clergy much later were able to record their religious teachings in writing. So what is left here?

There is something so obvious yet so under-appreciated that I have only just seen it for what it is. Behind a suburban area where our past school is located is a relatively steep hill, overlooking a gently rolling landscape and the villages lining the river. Already in this gentle landscape this hill stands out today, and it must have for our Prehistoric ancestors too because upon this hill is a round barrow mound, possibly of the Iron Age. For most people (myself previously included) the mound is not much to look at, and the view is not one of outstanding beauty, but this site is indeed significant to our local cultural (and for some, Pagan) heritage. When so many other sites are buried beneath houses, industry, and even water, here we have a site from our earliest past still standing high up overlooking it all. It appears to go unnoticed by locals, vandals and Pagans. I, myself, in my early Pagan years thought little of it. Now it is fueled with meaning for me. A beacon of our past stands there atop that hill, surviving the test of time, overlooking us upon the belly of the Mother Goddess in the landscape.

Currently for me this is the most noticeable site of interest, but there are many more places that I am yet to explore further. Many areas are rich in history, ancient and modern which could be discussed elsewhere, but little physical actually remains to visit (the area was a particular spot for the witch hunts of the 17th Century; the village nearby to my home village is still a famous 'witch haunt' today). There are no stone circles, but I have traced recorded Saracen stones, of which are unfortunately dismantled, privately claimed or discarded. A few later ruins exist, such as old churches and a particular castle overlooking a river that I rather like! I have also traced a holy spring that I plan to visit. Less attached to a historical sites is the local landscape living today. Aforementioned is the hill with the ancient mound upon it; local to me is also a sacred river, and I am surrounded by humble farm land, and remember being greeted by the sun shining through the clouds over the yellow fields as we travelled towards a our house at the end of each day. This is very simple, yet familiar and special in its own right.

There are many more sites of local significance for me. Local fields, local churches, local rivers (however muddy!) and other special sites remain, to be discussed elsewhere. It is a shame that I have not found this information until I had moved away (without intent to move back honestly), but it means I can soak in the energy in my treasured trips home.

I am looking forward to learning more about the home of my family and birthplace.

1 comment:

  1. This was a very beautiful post :-) I hope to go back to Puerto Rico someday and visit the rainforests and beaches once more.
    =^ v ^=