Growing up in America, you take certain things for granted when you think about history.
‘Old’ is the monument left by the Anasazi, or the Cliff-dwelling Pueblos, long since abandoned.
‘Old’ is the Pilgrims landing on Plymouth Rock in 1620.
‘Old’ is the Revolutionary War and the artefacts that still remain.
But most Americans, myself included, cannot even begin to conceive of history the way the United Kingdom has experienced it until they’re seeing it with their own eyes and feeling it while they’re experiencing it. Reading about Stonehenge, Glastonbury and the Avebury Circle and seeing pictures of these historic and legendary places pales in comparison to the experience.
Driving down narrow country roads, cresting a hill and seeing the patchwork of fields bordered with trees, the sun breaking through the clouds stippling the hills with dots of light create an Impressionist’s painting of the land.
Coming down from the crest of a hill, the road narrows even more, and then darkens as we travel beneath a tunnel of ancient trees. One tree growing out of the side of the roadside banking grew so precariously that I wondered how much more erosion would have to occur before its roots lost their grip on the soil and it toppled into the road. This would be a tragedy on so many levels because the trunk of this tree was easily as wide as our Galaxy is long. Thick, gnarled branches grew at awkward angles, stretching out helter-skelter like arthritic limbs, while smaller branches grew upward, desperately reaching for the warmth of the summer sun.
Though we quickly passed that tree, the memory of it has stayed with me, leaving me to wonder what historical events it had seen in its long life. It was, without a doubt, a Grandfather tree, old and wise, and my only regret was that I didn’t have the time to stop and really examine it.
The road widened and we came into a small village with old Elizabethan-era houses, some well kept and brightly painted, others clearly tired and passing into time. Again, we rolled past farms and harvested countryside, and back through a passage of trees and hedges rife with brambles – until suddenly we had a clear view of the near and distant hills…. and the White Horse of Wiltshire came into view.
Created by a local man in the 1700’s (and most likely inspired by the older and better-known one in Uffington), it’s no less impressive. It really brought home to me how different lands developed: that horse was carved out of the chalk on that hillside at a time when a very young America was starting to get tired of paying taxes to its Mother Country – England. There, there were uprisings; in England an eccentric man used a megaphone to shout instructions to the people carving out the horse!
I was still excited about having seen this particular monument when I looked to my left and saw at first what I thought was either a very large hill or a very small mountain.
I then noticed it was terraced, so clearly it was man-made. A sign told me it was Silbury Hill; the oldest purpose-built structure in Europe. The thing is – scientists and archaeologists have no idea WHY it was built. There’s plenty of speculation – and astronomical observatory? A watchtower? Ritual site? Grave or cemetery? No one knows. The few archaeological digs there haven’t found any trace of bones or burials, so science tends to lean away from that, but the reality is, no one really knows – and may never know the reason why Silbury Hill was ever built.
And then suddenly we were on a long straight road, going down the gentle hill when immediately to my right a massive stone suddenly appeared…then another…and another until it almost looked like an honour guard standing at attentions lining either side of the road…. the Avenue into Avebury.
We rounded the gentle bend in the road and ahead of us was the Red Lion Inn….and across from it, Avebury Circle.
Nothing could have prepared me for the feeling of seeing these ancient markers for the first time.
Sitting with a pint outside the Red Lion and looking across and then again behind the Inn, the stones stood everywhere….and you can truly feel a sort of electrical current run through you because the Red Lion is actually built INSIDE the stone circles.
When we finally finished our drinks and began walking closer to the gate, the feeling intensified for all of us.
It wasn’t particularly busy at the Circle that day, but I could overhear German, French and several Eastern European languages taking tours around the stones.
The only attendees unimpressed with the presence of the stones were the sheep grazing placidly among them. Interestingly, the entire flock stayed well within the centre of the stones the entire time we were there, although they’d certainly strayed outside it at times, judging by the frequently encountered piles of sheep poop everywhere! J
As I approached the first stone, I was planning in my head which ones I wanted to photograph, and where I wanted to explore outside the circle – but the stones seemed to have a different plan for me.
Beginning at the first stone, and continuing around the entire circle took some time, as I felt compelled to touch each one. I can honestly say I’ve never been anywhere that’s caused such a powerful reaction for me. That circle (despite having had many stones removed during the Dark and Middle Ages (!) because people saw them as symbols of devil worship, then being re-erected in the 1930’s), still maintain an incredible amount of power.
Archaeologists have ‘reconstructed’ in drawings what they believe the original circles looked like – and it was MASSIVE. What remains seems very small unless you’re seeing aerial shots of it – then you begin to get an idea of how powerful a location it might have been in its heyday. The remains of the enormous ditch that runs around part of the circle is between 9 feet and 15 feet deep in places, but scientists estimate that at one time, it was something near 55 feet deep – all created at a time when machinery didn’t exist, some 2500-3000 years ago.
I ended up walking around the entire circle, stopping at each and every stone to touch and photograph, and I can honestly say that by the time I was walking away from the third stone, I was light-headed and ‘fluffy’ lol…. and definitely not all ‘there’. I have no idea how long it took me to walk the entire circle because I lost track of all time.
Each stone has its own energy, its own personality. Some felt warm to the touch, others seemed to radiate heat and energy that could be felt several feet away.
One of the stones is called ‘The Devil’s Seat’. Legend says that if you sit on the small ‘seat’ that’s naturally formed part of the stone, the devil will appear. I didn’t bother, seeing’s how I don’t believe in some dude with a bad sunburn sitting at his computer punching out a list of ‘Bad Things for (insert name here) To Do Today’: P. However, I did lean into that stone because a hole formed by the elements over the years sits just above where someone’s head would be if they were sitting on the little ‘seat’.
At one point, I broke away just long enough to explore underneath three enormous yew trees at the top of the hill overlooking the circle. Again, I was struck at the age of these living things, roots twisted and contorted. Though they are nowhere near the age of the circle, I suspect they probably saw occasions when the stones were pulled down to be used for building materials….
We finally finished with the main circle, then walked around the back of the Inn to see the stones there.
What remains in that location is more of a half circle of stones; obviously one of the larger circles that surrounded the first one I’d walked through. Again, my plan to just walk, enjoy and photograph was foiled – I spent time with each and every one of those stones as well. And overall, I was filled with such peace – and such energy!
Just as I approached the last stone, I noticed a large tree to my left about 15 feet away, the only one that could be considered ‘within’ the circle. As I watched, a group of 9 ravens flew out of the tree one by one. None of them acted panicked; they were quite leisurely in taking flight, one after the other.
I turned to walk back to the last stone once again, and was half-way turned around when out of nowhere, a small, fluffy white feather drifted down and landed at my feet. I looked around; there was no wind, no other birds, and no trees close enough that it could have just fallen straight down to my feet. I just whispered ‘Thank you’…and walked away.
So what did I take away from my trip to Avebury? So many things it’s hard to put them all into words.
Firstly, that it’s far more powerful than Stonehenge is today. I’m not sure that that’s not always been the case, and I can only speak for myself. The energy of Avebury is also very healing and protective.
Secondly, that of all the places I’ve wanted to see, I understand now why Avebury was important to me and to so many others. It still has a great deal to offer in many ways, but above all, it has a powerfully peaceful and spiritual energy that time and destruction haven’t dissipated. There is no question that the visit paid off for me.
Avebury is a place of healing for me. I’m stronger and healthier; more centred and am seeing things with more clarity than I have in years. I’ve found my Joy again, something I wasn’t sure would be possible. I smile and laugh more readily.
I’m also more connected than I’ve been in a long time - both to the earth and to spirit. I don’t feel any insurmountable obstacles in front of me. Something in me changed, shifted, and all for the better.
From a more practical perspective, I’m utterly fascinated with Avebury. The brilliance of the engineering is astounding, and when I say that, it’s not just about what remains, but what has been discovered about the circles through science and archaeology. I know we’ll never have all the answers, but I think I have enough to get me started J. The rest will come in time – or they won’t.
For anyone reading this who hasn’t been fortunate enough to visit do everything you can to go. Some of you reading this are in the US, and probably can’t imagine how you’ll manage to get here. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, the Universe has a funny way of making things happen if they’re meant to be.
All you need to do is to set a goal. The Universe will help you reach it. / | \
Marisa Ward is the founder/CEO of White Light Enterprises UK, Reiki Master and Teacher, and professional Psychic/Intuitive Reader.