And Down Came The Fog
Halloween/Samhain 97 at the Rollrights by Peter Edwards
Pale orange sun, mist-formed tendrils over the fields and great peace over the landscape.
“I hope this doesn’t turn into fog”, I said to my two passengers. We were on our way to the Samhain Celebration at the Rollrights with the twofold purpose of celebrating, firstly, the successful transfer of guardianship from Pauline Flick, the Stones’ owner for the past 27 years, to the Rollright Trust and, secondly, the seasonal festival of Samhain, or Hallowe’en, the Celtic pagan festival representing the boundary between Autumn and Winter, when the veil between the worlds thins and we honour our ancestors.
As the journey progressed, the fog thickened and was only enlightened by the signs in villages reading “Are you speeding ?” Heaven forfend! We arrived early - surely a first for an event like this - and were greeted by the kindly farmer who had agreed to allow parking in his field by the King Stone. We unloaded the fire dish, my daughter’s pumpkin and went in to await the evening’s festivities.
First we met Karin, one of the Trustees who had spent months working to secure the Rollrights for the Trust despite the actions of some so-called “friends” who deserve to remain nameless.
I lit and placed my pumpkin out by the road to greet those arriving and mused over some of the research done by the Dragon Project at the Rollrights into ultrasonic and radiation abnormalities, presented in Don Robins’ worthy book Circles of Silence. I chuckled over some of the crazier reductionist theories self-styled experts later produced, for instance, that weaknesses in the earth’s crust give rise to magnetic fields causing partial temporal lobe seizures generating hallucinations of UFOs, faeries and the like. For myself, I welcome the Trust’s approach that such sites are precious and should be available to all in the community provided they are treated with respect.
One hundred and fifty people later, a good fire, mulled wine and the evening’s entertainment started. Chicken B are a folk-oriented group and played an excellent acoustic set. They were followed by Mad Mick of B.O.B.B. (Bardic Order of Bullshitting Bastards), a poet to make Roger McGough blush. If he offended one, I’m sure he offended all and he receives my golden toothbrush award for reaching the parts other poets cannot. The well-known storyteller Gordon the Toad was next and recounted several tales, although none so gruesome as that of the lady who followed. No, I will not be opening my door to strangers. Belatedly, due to the fog, Druidspear came on. They suffered from not having played without amplifiers before but despite this they too were good and had to play six encores. I must admit to being biased here as I loved their album “Slow…”
By now the fog had descended, blanking out the lights of nearby Chipping Norton, and we were visibly entering the circle between the worlds outside of time. The Priestess announced the start of the ritual, which was to be a cross-traditional pagan one open to all who wished to attend. It was heartening to see people of many faiths, or none at all, coming together to share our sacred Samhain rite. We stood inside the stones lit by candles which cast shadows revealing ancient faces. Entering from the old entrance in the South, the Priestess’s voice rang out clearly - It is the night between the worlds, when, One with the spirit of our past, One with our ancestors, We celebrate the end of the year and the beginning of the next. This is the time when we reclaim our Sacred Heritage and this our Holy Place.
For those pagans of us from Milton Keynes, this is our nearest sacred site and one that is very dear to our hearts. Many see it as a place where the worm trails, or ley lines, that are aspects of the living Earth energies come together in a major power point. At this time of year we work to re- energise the stone circles and the dragon energy lines between them to protect and heal the land.
The ritual took the form of calling upon the spirits of place, personal ancestors, our Goddesses and Gods and the raising of energy via chanting and invocation to support the re-dedication and awakening of the Stones and their energy paths. Unfortunately, one person was drunk and had to be removed early on; open rituals do always seem to have one joker. Soon, however, the candles we held blazoned a circle of light in the fog above the Stones as those who wished made personal dedications to the Rollrights and the land. Apples and cider, as tokens of wisdom, rebirth and the season, were brought around before the spirits were thanked and the circle closed.
We gathered round the fire dish to chat, share food, jokes and laughter. Some guests were surprised at how beautiful and moving the ritual was and commented that it was not what they had expected Witches to do. I can assure you, most of us are perfectly normal and live far less exciting lives than some tabloids would have you believe.
I returned next morning to collect the cauldron and in the calm clear light of day there was practically no trace to show we had been there. As my children ran round and tried to count the stones, it was if we truly had been in another world the night before. My thanks to Karin, the other Trustees, those who contributed to the Trust, the entertainers, Dagda security crew and all who participated, not forgetting Pauline and the late Jock for their years of service. It was a magical evening to be remembered and recounted to my children’s children.