By Ros Briagha
All my life I have been drawn to the Sacred, starting with my determination, at the age of four, to walk to the place where the fairies lived, up to the top of the hill, turn left and go across the fields. My mum caught me before I had got very far, but the desire always lingered, and at the age of 26 I moved to west Wales and found Elfane, the home of the elves.
That early journey took me to The Camp, which I knew was in the village where I grew up and which I have since found out is a Neolithic camp, made by our ancestors, the ancient people who created the megalithic culture and its monuments. It is thought by some that these early indigenous folk are the origin of the Wee folk, the Fairies, as they hid from the “Celtic” incomers who brought great changes, as they learnt to farm and abandoned the hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
I started visiting ancient sites as an adult in 1972, when I went on a journey to Cornwall to visit Falmouth Art College to see if I should apply there to do my art degree. I went with friends, and we agreed to stop at Stonehenge and Glastonbury Tor on our way. We arrived at Stonehenge early in the morning and wandered round, amazed by these giant beings. This was before the days of a fence or guards, and it was very powerful! We reached Glastonbury late in the evening on the way back and climbed up the Tor in darkness and rain. Again were astounded by the energy and atmosphere of this holy place.
Over the years I visited many sites and found that I particularly liked the stone circles and their feeling of making a strong and sacred place to be, within the living landscape. So when a friend mentioned that he was actually building one, as a commission for a friend, near Guildford, Surrey, I was thrilled to be able to help. It was a long process, taking over 18 months, for we came together once a month and moved and raised the stones by using wooden levers and rollers, just as our ancestors did. Each stone had been chosen at the quarry on Portland Bill headland, famous for its stone that has been used in some of the most amazing buildings in London and abroad. Most of the stones weighed around 6-8 tons. This process gave me new insight into stone circles and fired me up to make some more!
In 2000, I went to Scotland with friends to visit circles in Aberdeen, particularly one called Tomnaverie, which I had dowsed to be a very important place for me, a personal power point. We arrived there expecting to find a rather sad, dilapidated place, as the guide books said it was, only to find that archaeologists had spent months excavating there the preceding winter and had decided, most unusually, to rebuild it. We were the first to go there after they had finished, which felt like a real honor to me.
On my return, I was immediately asked by friends to go to Brithdir Mawr, a community in Pembrokeshire, and while sitting talking, I noticed a picture of a standing stone on the wall. When I asked where it was situated, my friends said it was in their field. They wanted me to look at it as they thought it might be the remnant of a stone circle. Indeed, buried in the ground were 20 or so stones, forming a fairly coherent circle. I offered to help bring them out of the ground to remake the circle for all to see.
I had blithely assumed that the stones would be of a comparable (small) size to the only stone circle left in the area, Gors Fawr, and be around 1-2 tons at most. But when we started digging them out, they were actually more like 5-9 tons, and our original plan to get them up over a weekend had to be abandoned!
Over the next two years we spent several weeks at the site, moving approximately three stones each time, with levers and wooden rollers, until an amazing, beautiful circle emerged. Most of the stones were already in position, i.e., they were suitably placed to mark the rising and setting points of the sun and moon over the course of the years and the months. This seems to have been a major feature of most ancient circles, making them stone calendars. We moved a few to mark points not covered already. The finished circle is an amazing place to be and, when dowsed, has many energy leys running through and around it.
Many people saw this circle, and soon another friend asked me to create a circle for her for a new Community Woodland project. This was also in the Preseli Mountains, and we found many bluestones around the edges of the fields to use for the circle. The old maps of the place showed a stone row and a burial chamber/dolmen. So we decided to make a new dolmen too, and to resurrect at least one stone from the row, in the centre of the field leading up to the circle, and another next to the circle, as an outlier. This is a common feature in Welsh circles.
This megalithic complex, composed of a circle, a dolmen, and eight standing stones, also drew visitors. Soon I was asked to make another circle by friends with woodland nearby. Again, we used stones from the site, though these were from a little quarry on the land and were the ones that simply “refused” to break up or crack for use as rubble on the new tracks through the wood. I spent some time choosing the right stones and telling them what was going to happen. One fine day we took them all to the prepared site, and with the aid of a lovely trio of guys and their heavy machinery, created yet another new circle. I have now done several ceremonies in this circle with the owners of the land, and it feels really good too. Again, the old maps show something here, maybe a settlement, called Merrimans Gate, and we felt that the land welcomed this new sacred place.
All my circles are megalithic calendars as well as places to do ceremony and experience the power of the land. I love to feel that I am following in my ancestors’ footsteps and honoring this wonderful land of west Wales, making sacred places that will last thousands of years—a powerful statement and memorial to me and my fellow workers in stone.
I am a device-less dowser. I feel strong energies directly in my body rather than by using a rod or pendulum, though I have been known to use both of these sometimes as well. My main experiences have always been “felt” ones, where the power of the stones and their inherent energy is intensely obvious to me.
The three circles I describe in this article were all built in locations chosen by the landowners, though the final exact location for the second two we established by “site dowsing.” For me, this means walking around until the spot feels just right, according to some deep inner body sensibility. I then work out the directions of the rising and setting points of the sun and moon throughout their cycles, which creates an 18-stone circle, with rather obvious gaps. It can be nice to put a few stones in these gaps to make the circle look balanced, and I usually do. Sometimes I put more, if they seem to want to be there!
I like to talk to the stones, usually through very low toning and sounding an OM. I think the stones are very receptive to us but so slow in their ways that often we are too fast to understand them when they communicate with us. The stones like to be consulted and prepared for their journey into place, and both times I have worked with machines to move them, the operators have remarked on how easily the stones have moved, and how light they seem. I’m not quite up to floating the stones from Ireland to Stonehenge yet, but I am working on it!