For those of us whose entry point to the realm of earth energy dowsing was Hamish Miller and Paul Broadhurst’s The Sun and the Serpent, chasing a previously uncharted line across the English countryside is like going back to one’s roots. John Moss and myself are two such time-served serpenteers.
The facts behind John’s talk were classic dowsing drama - part myth, part history and lots of
practical discoveries along the way. John was the organiser of South Herefordshire Dowsers (SHDs) back in the 1990’s. He and his colleagues were told
of a legend about the former existence of a circus
of 10 choirs of ‘saints’ (probably monks) who sang their sacred chants continuously to maintain the enchantment of the land. This would have entailed some 2,400 souls working in unison across the Celtic year at monastic sites, maybe over 100 miles apart - and the sites themselves formed a geometric decagon on the surface of the land.
Could this have been possible? There was only one way to find out. The group divided into small groups, each taking on the task of investigating one of the lines that fanned out from an apocryphal central point at White Leaved Oak.
At the base camp, near Ragged Stone Hill in the Malvern Hills, there did indeed used to be a white-leaved oak (a rare, variegated mutation of the tree). However, as so often at the crossroads of dowsing and archaeology, an unenlightened farmer had cut it down to stop it being a place of communal activity. An ancient oak still exists nearby, bedecked with numerous clouties (ribbons or rags of prayer or meditation). However, the SHD chose to use the peak of nearby Ragged Stone Hill as their zero point, especially as the dowsing patterns there suggested it is still a focus of great energetic interest.
John, and his wife Jill, set off on their branch of the web towards Ellesmere, today a busy industrial port on the Manchester Ship Canal. In times gone by, Ellesmere was a very different type of place - The Lake of Light.
The Moss duo’s first discovery was that their line of choice ran straight through a half-forgotten Holy Well near Colwall in Worcestershire. The well was partly overgrown in a roadside bank, but was still used by locals and cognoscenti as a place to fill up their plastic bottles with pure - and perhaps purifying - spring water. Not a bad start.
Their journey took them through, and deep in to, the countryside of Worcestershire, Shropshire and Cheshire - zig-zagging across the line as the back roads and green lanes gave access to it. There were fascinating churches and ruined chapels along the way, together with a whole raft of minor landscape features, which indicated that the hypothetical route was not one of pure imagination - or even if it was, then the imagination of some serious architects and landscape surveyors had preceded them in the previous centuries.
As their line neared Shrewsbury, instead of skirting the town tangentially, as a direct map alignment would indicate, it took a dog-leg into the town itself, marching up the main street, through the abbey and rejoining the alignment to the north of the urban area.
The received dowsing wisdom is that such long-distance energy lines are essentially natural, probably geological, manifestations. Yet, when a deviation on this scale occurs, it makes you wonder if it’s the route that follows the fault-lines, or whether the ancients were more earth energy engineers than mainstream dowsers have given them credit for, to date. Maybe, it’s a bit of both.
The line itself was pockmarked with discoveries of scallop shell impressions, usually in churches and church architecture. Those who know, or have read about, the Templar route to Santiago de Compostella in northern Spain, will be aware that the scallop shell is the sign of the pilgrim. John and Jill became convinced that their seemingly mundane trackway across the fields and byways of the northwest midlands is just such a pilgrimage path.
The end of the journey was suitably magical. Elles-mere, even today, is just that - the mere of sparkling light (well, it is if the weather’s nice). Whatever we humans have done through ignorance and malevolence to the world around us is little more than a scratch on the veneer, compared to the surging undercurrents of the energy welling up from within our blue planet.
Some of the other radial spokes branching out from Ragged Stone Hill, are still under investigation, and one of the SHDs has been about to publish the compiled accounts of the researches for some years. Maybe that will happen soon, or maybe just on a dowsers timescale. If it does, it could be a cracking read - and might set a load of us off in search of the hidden heart of England.
John’s talk ended with a strange and unexpected twist. Just a couple of days previously, both he and I had been contacted by Dave Swan of the New Forest Dowsers. Dave had been alerted to a similar line that runs through his local church at Stubbington in Hampshire. He had called us to ask if we were interested in having a look at that same line down here, as it crossed both Stoke Point in the South Hams and Gunwalloe on the Lizard - on its way, via Stubbington, to Deal in Kent.
The very next day, my friends phoned to ask if I was up for a ramble - something I rarely refuse. They had decided to walk part of the coast path, which just happened to include Stoke Point. So, a man to whom I had never spoken before, called out of the blue to talk about a line I had never heard of, which crossed a site I had not dowsed at for years. The following day, there I was at the Church of St Peter the Poor Fisherman dowsing this very line, followed by a sheltered packed lunch on Stoke Beach, in the warm December sunshine - right inside the ambit of the line. Synchronicity, or what?
Many thanks, as ever, to John for coming over from St Just to talk to us on the occasion of our 10th Anniversary as a dowsing group.