It has been an interesting few months. The winter has been long and I really did not feel like going out much. Winter is never my time, energetically anyway, my time begins at Imbolc, the beginning of February. This is the time of female fertility, when plants emerge once more from the womb of winter and begin their growth towards the sun.
This February, we explored a part of Winchester that has always beckoned but never quite seemed to be the right time. Because there are now so many people walking the places we usually frequent, we wanted to explore some place quieter. We found ourselves on Magdalene Hill Down and the five Bronze Age burial mounds there.
It took two days, a week apart, to receive this information, so I will focus for this entry, on the first visit to the burial mounds.
On the slope of the Down, there are five Bronze Age burial mounds. Three are still intact, albeit with dips in the centre. The other two are barely discernible. We stood on the first large one in the row and tuned in as usual. This brought me back to the past in a wonderful way. The story is a female story.
Moving into the past is like re-experiencing past events in a physical way. I become part of it. Standing on the barrow, I am in the distant past and I am aware of being a woman, wearing white. There is a huge sense of joy and celebration and I am calling to the clans from the settlements to the east of the barrows. Many women and girls hear the call and they come, joyously, dressed in white, to join me. There is much excitement and I am aware of how important these sites are for the women. They are not merely places to bury their dead, but sites of great significance, of birth, of renewal, of life.
They come from their settlements with a sense of urgency. This is the time they have been waiting for. It has to be now – today! They connect with each other on a telepathic level so they are all working together with one mind. There is no separation here. Together, all holding hands, while I remain on the mound, the women dance around the barrow. Collectively, we call in an energy, which I recognise as dragon-energy, but they identify as something else, a creative-force, a tangible thing, alive. To me, with my modern mind, it is the white-dragon, which is highly creative and inspirational and feminine. To them it is a living energy, the same energy but we each have our own ways, through time, of experiencing it.
When the women call in this beautiful, creative force, it rises from the barrow and travels along an energetic path to St. Catherine’s Hill. They watch it, holding its energy with their Will and hearts until it reaches the summit of the hill, where it then encircles the top.
The process they are initiating will culminate in May. There is a corridor of time and energy between the beginning of Feb and the beginning of May in which to do this work.
On the second barrow, there was a distinctly masculine energy. It comes in the form of an Elder, with grey hair and beard and he is dressed in a grey robe. This energy is about male fertility, symbolised by the fish. It feels hot here, and a spring flame, which I call Brigit’s flame, is burning.
(We didn’t get any more on the male energy rituals until the next time we visited.)
Next, we stand on the third barrow, which after the heat of the previous one, feels really cold. This one is female again. I can see the women who had joined in celebration but now they are creating a tunnel of Blackthorn boughs in blossom, holding them in an arched corridor above their heads. Each girl takes her turn, like a dance, going through the blossom arch and as they travel, the energy of the blossom permeates them so they become the same energy. It is a fertility dance and they are being imparted with the fertile energy of the Spring Blossom which makes them fertile too. It is an energetic process, not a simply ritual one. They absorb the fertile energy of the blossom into their bodies, by osmosis until they and the energy of the Blackthorn are One.
Individually, they dance through, until the ones at the beginning of the archway, are now at the end, until each has had her turn. When Mayday, in their calendar, arrives they will process to St. Catherine’s Hill to complete the ritual. Everything they do is in preparation for that day and it all takes time. They know how to wait for the processes of nature and nothing is rushed.
When May arrives, one woman is chosen to be the representative of the earth’s creative energies and one man is chosen to represent the fertility aspects of water and sun. Together, each holding their respective energy, they reign until the following year, when a new couple is chosen. The couple chosen do not know who they were going to be paired with until the day of choosing, and the two are chosen because they showed the right qualities of dedication and learning over the preceding year.
The newly crowned couple hold the energies for the surrounding areas for a year, enacting rituals that ensure the fertility of the area around the hill. They know their work will ensure the continuance of life for everyone and that the Mother and father will continue to care for them, providing them with food and shelter for another year.
This was a beautiful thing to witness. The Queen and King of the May are such an ancient tradition but it was interesting to see just how far this tradition went back. In modern times, the ritual is a re-enactment, but in times past it played an important role and was very real. The female group in the ritual were young women that appeared to be part of a group of women who trained to play this part. Only they were trained to hold the energy and to work with the necessary energies.
(The same applied to the young men, who had their own training, which we discovered when we returned the following week. But on this visit, we were shown the female aspect).
In May, they joined together, each representing, and holding, the masculine and feminine forces of creation.
This entire experience seemed to be a process through time, where the celebrations and calling happened first, followed by the blossom-archway and then the celebration on St. Catherine’s.
On the fourth barrow, we were given the same information about the Queen’s awakening. Between February and May, she awakened, life returned. This was her time. Perhaps this is also about the Queen’s representative awakening to her role. The fact that this all happened around St. Catherine’s Hill was also magical. Maybe we should reinstate it?