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Jan 2007 - Cheryl Straffon

Earth Mysteries of Cornwall

- a talk at North Hill Village Hall

One of the great delights of being absorbed into the dowsing dimension is that you get to meet such interesting and inspiring people.

Author, archivist and antiquarian, Cheryl Straffon, is one of those rare speakers who can switch seamlessly from the scientific, to the social, to the spiritual. Her knowledge and experience of the ancient sites and legends of the Cornish peninsula is immense and personal, and this comes across in the way she merges the hard edge of modern archaeology with the tapestry of tradition - the spade with the spirit.

Cheryl has produced the local journal Meyn Mamvro, now in its 20th year, as a way of preserving her own work for future generations. Still published endearingly in the format of the age of the duplicator, the content has transferred effortlessly into the world of the internet. The media may change, but the song remains the same.

The talk itself attracted an audience of over 40 TDs, friends and members of the public. From the feedback afterwards, people were clearly fascinated by the content and delighted with the delivery.

The subject matter ranged across such areas as the Ley lines of Cornwall – some of their locations, their origins and their potential purpose; the astronomical alignments of ancient sites; processional paths and sacred ways, and the role of dowsers and dowsing in uncovering both the physical remains and the energetic remanences of these places.

Cheryl’s attitude to dowsing accords very much with my own. Dowsing is a tool; a key to open the door of deeper understanding. The key and the lock may be of great interest in themselves, but it’s the view on the other side of the door that’s the real revelation. The Earth Mysteries Group, which she runs in West Cornwall translates this outlook into direct experience.

The talk included slides of, and references to, the many Holy Wells in the county. Her book on the subject, Fentynyow Kernow, has just come back into print and has been updated by new site inspections - and it disappeared off the sale table in some numbers.

The latter part of the presentation concerned the unusual lights and ethereal sounds that can sometimes be experience at sacred sites and special places. Again the merging of the geological with the geomantic was most comforting. If Stephen Hawking really wanted to find a unified ‘theory of everything’ perhaps he too should visit Cornwall.

For too long we have compartmentalised our personal experience and private understanding of the world around us. We have deferred to erudite experts, perhaps with just cause, but in so doing we have lost confidence in trusting our intuition. Increasingly, people are reawakening to this innate talent – some through the direct experience of dowsing. This in no way reduces the contribution that Newtonian science has made in bringing the cosmos into sharper focus, but in our drive to examine the material world in ever greater detail, and with ever greater certainty, we have nearly lost the awareness of the bigger, fuzzier picture.

Thankfully there are people like Cheryl Straffon, who have come to understand that – and are able to put it across to lay audiences in a manner that both portrays the ‘facts’ and ignites the enthusiasm.

From the queue of people who formed to talk to Cheryl afterwards and the number of TDs who delayed their departure to have a word in my ear, this talk was particularly well received – and hopefully we will have CS with us again at some point in the future. It was pleasing too, that Cheryl clearly also enjoyed her visit to the other end of the county. Despite the occasionally tumultuous hail, we had a distinctly pleasant afternoon.

Cheryl’s books include:

Fentynyow Kernow In Search of Cornwall’s Holy Wells

(ISBN: 0 9518859 5 2)

Megalithic Mysteries of Cornwall (ISBN: 0 9518859 8 7)

Pagan Cornwall Land of the Goddess (ISBN: 0 9 518859 2 8)

Details of Meyn Mamvro and the Cornwall Earth Mysteries Group can be found on the internet.

Many thanks to Cheryl for taking time out on a bitterly cold Cornish Sunday to come to talk to us – and, as ever, to all those that helped at the hall and with the refreshments, who actually made this event happen.

Nigel Twinn

Tamar Dowsers

January 2007


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