In my recent posts, I have made repeated references to my shamanically-based spiritual beliefs and practices, including the presence of a Goddess. She has asked to be introduced, so I will tell the tale of how I met Her.
This is a true telling.
In 2010, my destiny moved me to a remote village in a river valley on the border of County Durham and Northumberland but ‘belonging’ to neither. Created to staff a local coalmine, the village had slipped into the legends of miners, but now deep in the clutches of post-industrial and social neglect, it has become a village of many poor.
I had come to the North East as a prisoner in 2003, transferred by Her Majesty’s Prison Service from HMP New Hall to the women’s wing at HMP Durham, on my birthday. From my temporary cell after arrival, I could see the full moon rise. Shaman are inclined to notice such coincidences… but I was not aware of how significantly different my change of circumstance actually was until I was ‘ghosted’ (prison transfer with 15 minute notice, usually occurring during lock-down) to HMP Low Newton the following July. Low Newton was a local prison then – it has since become high security following the closure of the women’s wing at Durham. I finished my sentence there and it was Prison staff who successfully arranged to resettle me in this village, where I have been able to pursue my both my shamanic and desistance disciplines.
The staff at Low Newton knew I was a shaman – I used to use my healing skills on them for the benefit of my peers. Staff who are bent out of shape can hurt prisoners because they’re hurting. I could fix some of those problems; it would have been irresponsible not to offer. Sometimes the offers were accepted. It still amuses me that they ‘freed’ to Little Moscow but given my experience of my Otherworld acting in the real one (like my birthday ‘gift’ in 2003), it’s quite possible they didn’t realise quite what they were doing to my shamanic narratives.
Since release, I have occasionally been asked to perform shamanic work; sometimes I have offered and the offer has been accepted, but I had still not met the Goddess I am about to introduce.
In October 2014, I found myself in a shamanic ‘weaving’ of synchronicity that began when a book *found* me ~ a history of the Northumbryian Kings. I found a history my shaman’s eye found riveting.
It tells the history of the first Northumbrian king, Aethelfrith, but my story begins with Ida – a man who, legend says, came from the sea and claimed Dinguoaroy as his own, going on to become king of Bernicia. Dinguoaroy and Bernicia’s kingship passed first to his son and thence to his grandson, Aethelfrith.
To cement his kingship of Bernicia, Aethelfrith takes to Queen a pagan woman of the Pictish matrilineal royal line. Her name is Bebbab, and his bridal gift to her is the first jewel in his grandfather’s crown.
Aethelfrith gives Dinguoaroy to Bebbab and the significance of the gift is marked by the change in name. Dinguoaroy, henceforth, is to be called Bebbanburth in honour of a Queen of the pagan women’s royal line. It is still known by her name, though changed by time to Bamburgh.
A shaman’s eye cannot fail to notice such a story, nor a shaman’s imagination begin to start responding.
I wondered what kind of land was Bamburgh ‘made of’ and this was when I first became aware of the Whin Sill’s existence. Soon after came very late news of the death of a close spiritual friend and teacher and, in the few days prior to the winter solstice, came an unmistakable Call to shamanic service. It was during this work that I met the female Spirit of the Great Whin Sill at the Cawfields Quarry of my Otherworld, where Spirit and human may interact.
A few days following that ‘shaman’s flight’, and with the assistance of my late friend’s widower, I visited Cawfield’s Quarry, near Haltwhistle, Northumberland in person to leave gifts of thanks for the honour She had bestowed on me.
It was during this visit I learned Haltwhistle lays claim to being the centre of mainland Britain. A shaman might take note of this claim as ‘interesting’.
This same shaman’s eye also noticed my Goddess flaunting Her connection to the universe in the month’s that followed. The opening photograph of this blog, the winner of the Northumberland Dark Skies photography competition, and was taken during the following year at… Cawfield’s Quarry.
This shaman also noticed a surprising and very marked change in British social and political narratives some nine months afterwards following her Otherworld flight.
If there is any power at work here, it belongs to the energy I call Goddess who is but a single aspect of Greatgrandmother Earth, who is but a single aspect of a Mystery so great I cannot even begin to imagine it. This aspect is the Goddess I serve.
Her Creation tale has been told to me like this:
Some 295 million years ago, when Earth wore the face of Pangaea, my Goddess came into existence in the form of magma rising from the deep. She squeezed Herself into the layers of Earth above Her, without ever reaching the surface. Through shafts from below, She spread out into galleries until She formed a huge plain. And here She stopped… for there was nowhere else for Her to go, overflowing with the heat from core of Greatgrandmother Earth.
It took sixty years for that heat to cool. So hot was She at the beginning, that the earth around Her was transformed into crystal. Today, men call the substance of Her body Dolerite, the transformed earth around Her they call Calcite, and the names local men gave to Her structure have since become generic terms for all other geological sill formations like Her.
In the eons since the Spirit of the Great Whin Sill was formed, Greatgrandmother Earth has changed Her face many times. Now the Whin Sill formation dwells in North East England (shaded region (source)), at the centre of mainland Britain, in a land once known as Albion.
Today, although Her main form continues to remain subterranean…
…where She has broken surface…
…She is spectacularly beautiful…
…no matter how hard men may have tried.
When I speak of my Goddess, this is of whom I speak.
We thank you for your interest.