G is for… Groves

I haven’t yet been able to plant a real sacred grove, so for the time being mine are public parks and spaces, and those which exist in my imagination. Please don’t think that the latter is any less important for being insubstantial.

Usually I visualise the sacred grove – full size around me, not in my ‘mind’s eye’ wherever that is – as completely enclosing me. Often there are holly bushes forming a protective hedge, and oak trees rising tall to the sky. Sometimes I can see that the oaks have been struck by lightening, but I’ve never seen the storm.

Sometimes the grove is a small open area. At the centre there is often a campfire pit and a fire (and sometimes Merlin is waiting beside it for a chat), but at other times there is a pool there, something like a small version of one of the baths from Aquae Sulis. I have also found a standing stone there – a long, leaning one like the stone at the centre of Boscanwen-Un.

I visit the grove both at night and during the day – the sun in the grove does not relate to the sun in the outer world, and neither does the weather. I don’t think it relates to my emotions either, or not directly. Rather, it seems to reflect the purpose of my visit: if I am there to see Merlin, or to conduct a Bardic Grove Ritual, I usually find the campfire alight and the stars shining above, but if I am there to connect with water and Aphrodite, I expect to find the pool, sparkling in the sunshine.

Although, as I have said, it is usually a small open area thickly ringed by trees and shrubs, sometimes I am at the top of a long slope, the treeline curving around behind me and sweeping away down the hillside. From this vantage point, I can look out over a landscape of rolling chalk hills – they are usually clearly if not specifically somewhere in the Chilterns – and see a wide stretch of sky without losing the sense of being surrounded by trees. This is a sunrise/sunset landscape in which the power of Sky is prominent.

I sometimes notice that animals are present – squirrels, butterflies, ants, for example, and once even a wolf – depending where I focus my attention and why I am there.

As I practice with the Sacred Grove, I find new places and ways to use it, and it takes new forms.

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