Saturday, February 8, 2020

The Last of the Druids...?



There are many hypotheses on the end of the Druidic order, mostly written by the victors, namely the Roman Empire and the Diocese. I do not feel we can take either of these sources as read, due to their weighted opinions in opposition of this religious group. There is little doubt that the Druids held sway in not only religious circles (no pun intended) but also the political arena. They had the ears of kings, who would not dare to contradict a Druid. A Druid would be heard before a king, for his power was absolute, as he (or she) was believed to be in direct commune with the gods.


The Romans saw that no leader would be swayed to their ideals while a Druid had one ear of the king. The obvious solution then, was to rid the land of Druids, so the Romans had all ears of the countrymen (nicely epitomised in a famous speech). With all ears on Rome, so to speak, the message of the Empire would be better heard. For those Augustii who were of the new Christian faith, the eradication of these heathen ‘vicaris’ would be a necessity. Locally, you can merge deities to please the populous – Sulis Minerva at Bath being a perfect example. But to glean the minds and support of the tribal leaders, the Druids had to be removed from the equation.


Reports suggest that they were forced to flee to what is now ‘Anglesey’ (Angle’s Isle). However, while there may be some feint truth in this cluster of Druids herded north-west by the Romans, I find it hard to digest. These priests of the old religion would have lived and practised across the isle, in all kingdoms. The far reaches of Dumnonia in the south-west of what is now Cornwall, did not see much in the way of Roman invasion. So, how could ‘all’ Druids have been forced to flee to a small location in Wales? For me, it seems entirely possible that, where the reach of Rome was hardly felt, some of these Druids might have survived. Even if they had not openly practised, they may have taken their religion into the caves and secret groves, away from prying eyes of stray Romans, Christian pilgrims and tribal leaders that may betray them.


The latter could be a possibility for such a thorough ‘cleanse’ of the Order. If Rome and the Christian preachers could demonise the Druids in some way, discredit them, then perhaps the leaders of kingdoms would banish them and a distrust might spread to other kingdoms. Once again though, I find it hard to believe ‘all’ Druids would have been removed in this way. Not all kingdoms were willing to bow to Rome and I would imagine some still preferred to trust their Druids than these Latin invaders.


In my second Wolf Spear Saga, my Druids are (apparently) the last of their kind. Having been practising in secret, their time is running out. As Christianity spreads to further tribes around them, distrust of the old religion grows as tribal kingdoms endeavour to secure the lives of their towns as the Diocese strengthens. Despite the existence of the Roman Empire and its subsequent departure, now some fifty years passed, my little secret Order have survived. They have evolved in order to do this and do not perform in public, nor counsel kings. They pray and carry out rituals at sabbats, educating new and young Bards to become Ovates and eventually Druids, keeping the faith alive against adversity.


My main Druid character is a young woman, the heroine, given to the Order at the age of five. It is all she knows and she is all too aware of its fragility in the current political climate. Well-versed in the beliefs of her enemies, she has been taught Druidry, but also the religions of those that surround them, both Christian and barbarian. This, she knows, will keep her alive in such a volatile time.

'WOLF SPEAR SAGA 2' coming soon...



E S MOXON has had a lifelong passion for history and writing. A childhood filled with family visits to ancient burial sites and stone circles fuelled her imagination. Inspired by classic medieval tales and Norse sagas, Elaine imagined herself inhabiting these Dark Ages and exploring the landscapes in her mind and continues to do so through her novels. The first in her ‘Wolf Spear Saga’ series is ‘WULFSUNA’ and books two and three will be out soon. When not lost in pages of the past, she lives in the Midlands with her family and their chocolate Labrador.

Blood, betrayal and brotherhood.
They come to honour a Warrior-Lord’s dream,
An ancient saga weaving their destiny,
But a treacherous rival threatens their fate.
The Wolf Sons are coming.
WULFSUNA

Friday, January 31, 2020

Imbolc Eve Blessings



The first quarter of the Celtic calendar has arrived, following the new year at Samhain (Hallowe’en) and the Winter Solstice at Yule.


The winter Crone becomes the spring Maiden (or Brigit), waiting for new growth to spring forth.


Brigit with her white wand creates germination and fertilisation as we enter February, wolf month.


The maid, her wand, lamp and wolf wander the land encouraging winter to recede.




Brigit carries the mirror and the cup.

The mirror so we may reflect and to divine the future; the cup that holds life, the womb of Mother Earth, so that we may share and imbibe, rejoicing in the fertility of the forthcoming spring awakening.

The time to plough the first furrows in the land.





Imbolc brings hope, regeneration and reflection.



May Brigit cast her light upon the world, spreading fruitfulness and love.



Bright Blessings for Imbolc, one and all xXx

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Lickey Hills Country Park


Visiting this local forest is inspiring and refreshing for the soul.


A short drive from where I live there is a wooded nature reserve of predominantly pine forest. I love to visit for many reasons. I love nature and find it soothing to be among trees. The fresh air provides a welcome reprieve from the often fume-heavy atmosphere of suburbia. The forest is out of time, a place where you could be in any era from the Stone Age to the Renaissance. Trees have stood for hundreds of years, bracken and ferns blanketing the floor year after year.


Often I have been there, with friends and family, absorbing the nourishing clean oxygen beneath the ageing boughs of oak, yew, hawthorn or pine. It never fails to inspire me, whether I have gone simply for fun or for a serious walk (with camera). I feel closer to the divine around us, embraced by mother nature and all she instils. Inevitably, I come away from these visits with ideas that I transcribe into notebooks once I reach home. Photographs I have taken there have become backdrops to scenes for my novels or thoughtful pieces I use in blog posts, or merely as wallpaper on my computer.


An hour’s ramble is worth so much more in prose, adding atmosphere and elements of all the senses. Sometimes, walking among the trees and climbing through groves and clearings, I see my characters milling about. I follow them, seeing where they go and what they do. Then  dash home to log it before I forget!


  • Do you have particular places that are repeatedly inspiring to you?
  • What types of landscape do you find the most inspiring?



E S MOXON has had a lifelong passion for history and writing. A childhood filled with family visits to ancient burial sites and stone circles fuelled her imagination. Inspired by classic medieval tales and Norse sagas, Elaine imagined herself inhabiting these Dark Ages and exploring the landscapes in her mind and continues to do so through her novels. The first in her ‘Wolf Spear Saga’ series is ‘WULFSUNA’ and books two and three will be out soon. When not lost in pages of the past, she lives in the Midlands with her family and their chocolate Labrador.

Blood, betrayal and brotherhood.
They come to honour a Warrior-Lord’s dream,
An ancient saga weaving their destiny,
But a treacherous rival threatens their fate.
The Wolf Sons are coming.
WULFSUNA

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Stonehenge



With a history spanning 4,500 years, Stonehenge had been a national monument I had wanted to visit for a long time. This was our last stop in our Wiltshire weekend and I was the only one, out of three of us, who had never been. My companions reserved their opinions until I had had chance to witness the stones for myself.

Stonehenge is busy, even when other places are out of season. It is an endless movement of people in queues on foot, on buses and around the henge itself. Visitors from several continents are among us as we chatter in the line, waiting to show our prepaid tickets. We bypass the shop and restaurant so we can get to the circle early and avoid most of the crush. But it is still bustling as we wait for a bus to drive us down the long approach. I’m nervous, as I dislike crowds and my claustrophobia begins as we jostle into the bus and stand for the journey. Passing fields, with other burial mounds, and small, relatively young clusters of forest, we eventually arrive.




It’s not as large as I’d envisaged, though exactly how large I thought it was I cannot say! We walk slowly round, moving back from the clusters of foreigners all straining to take selfies in front of the rope fencing. We’d rather try and soak up the atmosphere, except there isn’t any. I’m disappointed to admit it was my least favourite site of the entire weekend. For all its supposed majesty and history, I didn’t feel the closeness to it that I had experienced at Avebury or West Kennet. I felt as though the spirits that had once lingered in this place had long disappeared, deciding to leave the relic to its gaggle of daily visitors with their camera phones. It was all rather impersonal.



We quickly departed and chose to walk back to the visitor centre, as did several others. We spent the time talking history, comparing the monuments we had seen that weekend and identifying burial mounds visible either side of us. We passed a marker stone for a World War I pilot who had crashed nearby and together, gave his memory a few moments of silent, contemplative thought. We had not seen it from the bus, so it made the return journey extra special. Arriving back at the visitor centre, we stopped by the cluster of replica Neolithic houses, where someone in period costume was explaining daily chores and tools to a family with small children. A nice touch, being educational as well as fun.




I found the on-site museum fascinating as it houses over 250 archaeological objects that have been discovered at the site over the years, including jewellery, pottery, tools and human remains. The forensic reconstruction of a man from 5,500 years ago was quite lifelike and it brought the past closer as so often we cannot relate to their way of life, but it’s easier to relate to a face. He could have been anyone walking among us, had he been dressed in modern clothes, which made the past that little bit more tangible. The rolling visual display with voiceover, taking you through the construction history of Stonehenge, gave an insight into how and when it had all arrived in the landscape. I had read most of the information in various books, but I thought it provided a clear linear example. Lastly, the restaurant and shop were expensive, so we did not linger. We planned to lunch somewhere on the way home. I bought some token bookmarks and wrist bangles for the tribe and we bid farewell to arriving coach parties and lengthening queues.

Out of all of the four sites we visited on our soggy weekend in 2016, Avebury was my absolute favourite. It felt spiritually close and an intensely personal experience. Being able to walk among the stones and touch them could possibly have made a difference for me at Stonehenge. I shall allow myself to simply wonder at that.

Solstice Blessings one and all xXx





FACTS: COURTESY OF ENGLISH HERITAGE WEBSITE [link]




E S MOXON has had a lifelong passion for history and writing. A childhood filled with family visits to ancient burial sites and stone circles fuelled her imagination. Inspired by classic medieval tales and Norse sagas, Elaine imagined herself inhabiting these Dark Ages and exploring the landscapes in her mind and continues to do so through her novels. The first in her ‘Wolf Spear Saga’ series is ‘WULFSUNA’ and books two and three will be out soon. When not lost in pages of the past, she lives in the Midlands with her family and their chocolate Labrador.

Blood, betrayal and brotherhood.
They come to honour a Warrior-Lord’s dream,
An ancient saga weaving their destiny,
But a treacherous rival threatens their fate.
The Wolf Sons are coming.
WULFSUNA

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Avebury Stone Circle



Lunching in the English Heritage café to avoid a particularly heavy downpour, our afternoon was once more to be filled with Neolithic treasure, this time from 2,850-2,200BC. Avebury henge is the largest stone circle in Britain (another record-breaker!) that encircles part of the village of Avebury. Once comprising 100 stones, this outer circle encloses two smaller stone henges surrounded by deep ditches. Again, it was marvellous to be able to walk among these structures and touch the surfaces, wondering at their past.


The interior ditch is immense, perhaps at least 30-40 feet deep and at least that wide. One of the henges is within the ditch and had oak trees lining its outer edge, as well as henge stones inside. The sacred trees of the ancient Druids, we wondered who had planted the majestic flora. It continued to rain heavily as we walked round and round the henges, passing through gates and across main roads, up and over narrow pathways through clusters of trees.




The enormity of the task in erecting these magnificent stones over such a vast area is breath-taking. And the spirituality of the place is soothing, especially when bad weather keeps the hordes away and you have the stones almost to yourselves. We hardly spoke as we meandered through the circles, all gripped by a serenity. You could almost sense the footsteps of older, ancient visitors as the sodden grass enveloped our boots.




Finally, on our second day, we visited Stonehenge…




FACTS: COURTESY OF ENGLISH HERITAGE WEBSITE [link]




E S MOXON has had a lifelong passion for history and writing. A childhood filled with family visits to ancient burial sites and stone circles fuelled her imagination. Inspired by classic medieval tales and Norse sagas, Elaine imagined herself inhabiting these Dark Ages and exploring the landscapes in her mind and continues to do so through her novels. The first in her ‘Wolf Spear Saga’ series is ‘WULFSUNA’ and books two and three will be out soon. When not lost in pages of the past, she lives in the Midlands with her family and their chocolate Labrador.

Blood, betrayal and brotherhood.
They come to honour a Warrior-Lord’s dream,
An ancient saga weaving their destiny,
But a treacherous rival threatens their fate.
The Wolf Sons are coming.
WULFSUNA

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Silbury Hill



Standing 30 metres tall and 160 metres wide, it has been estimated that it took 4 million hours and half a million tonnes of chalk to build Silbury Hill. It is another record-breaker; the largest artificial prehistoric mound in Europe, constructed around 2,470-2,350BC.

It’s astonishing to stand beside it, though bizarre to simply find it lurking in a field and beyond a basic gate. Many theories abound as to the uses of the hill, which at one time was surrounded by ditches as the reconstruction drawing below indicates. No, one conclusion has yet been drawn as to what happened at Silbury Hill and this gives it an air of elusiveness. You can ‘feel’ its secrets hovering around you like invisible spirits as you stand and gawp at the enormity of it.

woman versus mound

You cannot climb it for it is fenced off from the public, but it is possible to stand within a couple of metres of the base. There is a fairly visible spiral ridge climbing up around the hill, similar to the Tor at Glastonbury, though on a smaller scale. My companions and I wondered whether it had once been possible to walk clockwise up the hill to perhaps an altar raised on the top. With so many burial mounds in the surrounding area, could it have been an access platform to become closer to sky gods during funerary rituals? We shall never know.



A reconstruction drawing showing Silbury Hill under construction, surrounded by a massive ditch
© Historic England (illustration by Judith Dobie)


Later that day we drove on to the village of Avebury…




FACTS: COURTESY OF ENGLISH HERITAGE WEBSITE [link]





E S MOXON has had a lifelong passion for history and writing. A childhood filled with family visits to ancient burial sites and stone circles fuelled her imagination. Inspired by classic medieval tales and Norse sagas, Elaine imagined herself inhabiting these Dark Ages and exploring the landscapes in her mind and continues to do so through her novels. The first in her ‘Wolf Spear Saga’ series is ‘WULFSUNA’ and books two and three will be out soon. When not lost in pages of the past, she lives in the Midlands with her family and their chocolate Labrador.

Blood, betrayal and brotherhood.
They come to honour a Warrior-Lord’s dream,
An ancient saga weaving their destiny,
But a treacherous rival threatens their fate.
The Wolf Sons are coming.
WULFSUNA

Saturday, September 28, 2019

West Kennet Longbarrow




Meditators on the mound
In 2016 I spent a marvellous weekend in Wiltshire with my sister and her friend. The three of us were looking forward to a couple of days without the children and some social and spiritual replenishment. We found both, as well as plenty of exercise. We were off to burial sites and stone circles nestled amidst rolling countryside and open skies. Before we’d barely unpacked our bags at the guest house (after mentioning we were there to see Avebury and Stonehenge), the owner asked us if we were going to see West Kennet Longbarrow. Apparently, it was only ‘over the hill’ from where we were staying. We dutifully dropped our bags in our rooms and headed straight back out with the idea that it would build us up to walking around Avebury. It did indeed!




West Kennet Longbarrow is “one of the largest, most impressive and most accessible Neolithic chambered tombs in Britain” [English Heritage] dating from 3,000-2,600BC. That is certainly true, for as we drove round a curve in the road Silbury Hill leapt into view, which is opposite the barrow. We dashed into a layby and parked. Access seemed to be through a stile and into a field planted with a cereal crop. After a steep climb through the field we reached the brow of the hill and the barrow was before us. It stands 10.5 feet high, 82 feet wide and 328 feet long! It would originally have been a real eye-catching landmark covered in bare chalk, but today it’s turfed over and the side ditches almost filled in by generations of ploughing. Inside, four burial chambers would have held cremations and partial remains of at least 46 male and female deceased of varying ages. Grave goods of pottery, beads, stone implements and a dagger have been found.


windswept author at the entrance stone
detail of thistle growing in a notch in the entrance stone
The entrance is guarded by a massive Saracen stone, filled with curious holes. I assumed these were either used for poles when moving the stone, or were perhaps holes made for offerings, for minute objects persisted in some here, as well as at Avebury stone circle. I am immensely claustrophobic, but with assistance from my two companions, I managed to enter the tomb and walk a few metres into the cool, dark interior. Contrary to what I imagined I might feel, it was intensely calm and restful. Back outside, the view is amazing. You can turn in any direction and see other burial mounds on the landscape, as well as the striking Silbury Hill, which was our next conquest...



FACTS: COURTESY OF ENGLISH HERITAGE WEBSITE [link]




E S MOXON has had a lifelong passion for history and writing. A childhood filled with family visits to ancient burial sites and stone circles fuelled her imagination. Inspired by classic medieval tales and Norse sagas, Elaine imagined herself inhabiting these Dark Ages and exploring the landscapes in her mind and continues to do so through her novels. The first in her ‘Wolf Spear Saga’ series is ‘WULFSUNA’ and books two and three will be out soon. When not lost in pages of the past, she lives in the Midlands with her family and their chocolate Labrador.

Blood, betrayal and brotherhood.
They come to honour a Warrior-Lord’s dream,
An ancient saga weaving their destiny,
But a treacherous rival threatens their fate.
The Wolf Sons are coming.
WULFSUNA