I took a pilgrimage through the north of England in the early part of July 2022.
I didn’t know it would be a pilgrimage – just visits with friends – but it turns out the Subtle Realms had other plans.
I started with a road trip with a friend from Findhorn Ecovillage to Roman and medieval Corbridge in Northumberland – staying in a cottage right opposite the medieval castle of Aydon. Occupied for 700 years and now a jewel in the county inspiring art that captures the shape of doors (cast in 3 brass vessels), rough hewn chairs made by hand as they would have been done in earlier days, and the deep textures of stone walls and wood rafters erected for one family and feudal fealty, then quickly garrisoned by Royal troops (requiring the building of a second kitchen to feed them) then returned to more peaceful uses as working farm – whose ancient orchard, pregnant with apples – now hides behind stone walls overlooking Cor brook and forest.
The amble through Corbridge town gave us views over the river Tyne, past cottage gardens in tumultuous high summer bloom right into the Spokes coffee shop where bikers and their bikes were as equally welcome, as lazy tourists like us. We shared the back patio after many had returned from or were en route to Hadrian’s wall which traverses the northern edge of the town.
Little remains of Hadrian’s stone wall except the ditch which demarked its path from east to west coast – reminding us of the Roman commitment to the defence from the “wild” clans of the north.
This was my first stop on the pilgrimage where the influence of the “ancestors” was palpable in the landscape, visible in human hand on the countryside and imposed on the structures that defended English royalty from Scottish incursions and was still visible more the 7 generations later.
The jumble of historical times reminded me of my own history backtracking from birthplace Canada, to emigrate to Findhorn Scotland, birth nation of my grandmother. I am reminded that I could make a voluntary peaceful choice of that continental move – so different than those who today are forced to flee their home countries as refugees from war and/or climate change – whether that be Ukraine, Syria or Mogadishu.
This first stop on my pilgrimage gave me a chance to rest and appreciate the blessings of my life alive as friendship, cultural history, freedom to move and systems that ancestors have made in the past which care for me in the present.
Ancestors, sky people be here today … hear my heart’s song, here my respect …