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The Land That Time Forgot

Dreams of the Magus takes you on your own personal quest

One of the exquisite delights of blogging is meeting and having open communication with like minds which the internet and personal ‘pages’ afford. Pete Madstone, author of the revealing personal guidebook to opening doors within – ‘Dreams of the Magus’ – says he was guided to write his Great Work after a lifetime walk through most of the world’s religions. His fascination with global spiritual and magical tradition allowed him to emerge as his own spiritual guide and his focus on non-attachment has kept him on the path – which he tries to walk with simplicity. He and his French wife Cathy are currently building their own home in the countryside of southern France.

Pete and I not only share the addiction of writing and love of the printed word, but we both submitted our books in the James Twyman competition (ongoing) to find the ‘next top spiritual author’. It appeared to us separately and together that the contest had to walk a fine line between maintaining energy levels required to bring a thousand authors into the fold – via a series of ’rounds’ – and the competitive nature of eliminating 99 percent of them. We have both completed round one (voting round), but as of today await confirmation whether or not our books have made it over the first hurdle: enough votes!

I want to thank those kind readers – both Pete’s and mine – who voted for us. Watch this space.

Meantime I invited Madstone to contribute here as a guest author in my occasional series – the Youngblood Guest Blog – and I think you will be as delighted as I am by what you read.

The Land That Time Forgot
‘These caverns are paradise to those who secretly dwell in them’ G. Peter Madstone

Today, I find myself living in the southwest of France in a place I could have never dreamed of. It abounds with life — birds, animals, insects and woodlands. There are more trees than people, and many of the inhabitants of these savage lands live just outside the arena of the physical world that we are so familiar with. In spite of the typical challenges that come with life itself, wherever any of us might live, I would have to say this place is simply “exotic.”

So, let’s begin with Webster’s definition of the word exotic

exotic
1: introduced from another country: not native to the place where found >exotic plants<
2: archaic : foreign, alien
3: strikingly, excitingly, or mysteriously different or unusual
4: of or relating to striptease

Let’s take this step by step –

definition 1. With this, it seems that I am the exotic one here, since I was “introduced” here from America — a member of a not-yet-extinct variety of humanity’s transitional sub-species, the evolutionary inclusionist.

definition 2. Foreign, yes — alien, likely. So this would be me, again. I am foreign and alien to this place (or at least its people), since I come from another with different ways — but from my perspective, this place is what is foreign and alien, so all things can, indeed, be seen in more than one way.

definition 3. Okay — now we’re talking, and not about the “famous” French cuisine (though the food certainly fits with this one, as well). Let me repeat this definition — strikingly, excitingly, or mysteriously different or unusual. If I apply this definition to this place, I would have to say that I couldn’t say it any better — it describes perfectly the environment that surrounds me. Because I cannot say things as simply as Mr. Webster, I will devote much more time and effort to describe this place that is far from south Santa Monica, the place where I cut my teeth on a surfboard. But first…

definition 4. This one is pretty much irrelevant, since the kind of place you might find exotic dancers would be in the nearest city – which for me would be a French city called Bordeaux and, like all French cities, this one is terribly intimidating. On the same note, I will mention that it is not unusual for the French female to tan her chest freely on our summer beaches, just as the males do – and so these beaches could certainly be considered “exotic” in this context, but I don’t live on the beach.

I would now discuss just what is strikingly, excitingly, or mysteriously different or unusual about this place, for this is what I really have to share with you.

It is not that what I will be discussing was never available to me in the variety of other places I have lived; it is just that never have these certain exotic flavors been so apparent to me — so evident, tangible or real. Maybe it is me who has changed, but I would have to surmise that it is my environment that has changed me — this exotic environment.

The Path to Never-Never Land

I live on a half-acre of land, 500 meters (3 “city” blocks) from a medieval village in, as I said, the southwest of France. The road to my house is unpaved and few cars pass by on their way to some scattered homes beyond my own. Splitting off this small road by the gate to my land is an entrance to an old path which is used by the occasional equestrian, hiker or nearby resident of the village on an evening stroll. A couple of winters ago, I was walking this path more than anyone, for I had made a discovery that was reliant upon one condition for this peculiarity, or phenomenon, to be witnessed most easily — I had to be present at a certain place accessed by this path at the time of the “crack between the worlds,” the quarter-hour just before and just after sunset.

So it was out my gate just about every evening, and down this path around 500 meters in the opposite direction from the village into a little tree-lined pasture. On the path were two old oak trees that became a vortex, or portal of sorts for me, for every time I walked past these two trees, everything became silent — there was a definite shift. Far away traffic, birds, insects, and the general buzz of life all stopped here. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was passing into a different time, and a different place — into a land that time forgot.

There, at the far end of this grassy field where three hedgerows join is a small copse closing in an otherwise invisible corner of the field. Directly at the entrance of this little secluded corner is an old water well — a well covered and overgrown by years of non-use and neglect. This is certainly a forgotten place.

The first few times I’d gone to this place, I would feel eyes upon me — many, many eyes from behind and in the trees and branches of overgrowth surrounding me — always blinking off and on, twinkling like bright little stars in a woods bereft of foliage. There was something here, and I certainly felt right at home. It didn’t take me long to begin doing sunset rituals of communion wand-less, and without any of the typical tools, talismans or regalia of the trade. There was certainly a bustle in these hedgerows, and well before the time of the May Queen.

My simple but raw ceremonies became a standard for me, weather permitting.

Upon arriving, I would stop to take in the energy and air of this ancient place, and center myself in the open space defined by the leafless trees. Then I began
walking my circles, and defining my pentagrams, hexagrams and sphere of influence/reality. Salutations would be done, followed by invocations of the cardinal’s overseers. Then, simply stillness and release. It wasn’t a few days before I began sitting at the mouth of the old well after performing my ritual. I wanted just to be with the land and its wild life, curious about the abundance of those shy and reluctant, but always blinking eyes. From the first time I sat at the opening of this well, I could sense the presence of our local Undines working in the watery realms directly below me — however, these were not the ones with the eyes in the woods.

These others, I found quickly, were of the earth realm: beings who never ventured into the light of day unless absolutely necessary (invoked), or simply overwhelmed with curiosity or craftiness — these were the Gnomes, working the same caverns below me that the Undines travelled. These caverns and tunnels are abundant in this region of France, with many of them open to the surface, and all of them are crystalline in some way.

All these caverns are paradise to those who secretly dwell in them.

It's not a hat I wear. It's just my head.

So it was at some point just after the winter solstice that I met this local group of Gnomes — builders they are, if you don’t already know this — and here I was getting ready to build a house. Every evening I was there, they would begin to crowd around me, these little Gnomes. Small they may be, but certainly strong and stout they are, for they are rock workers. Masons they are, Stonemasons, the prototypical Freemasons, and the earth they work is their temple.

So, I decided to ask for one of these earth-dwellers to help me with the building of my house, which had been at a standstill for 2 years. I specifically stated my requirements (I thought) that were as follows —

  • The house needed to be done in 1 year,
  • and I needed funds, materials, support from friends as yet unmade, with the actual physical work,
  • plus support from one of the Gnomes who was considered highly skilled at this work they did so well.
  • Of course, it slipped my mind that these beings were best at rock-work, and other than the rock foundation, the house was to be of wood frame/strawbale construction — but Gnomes are builders, and the best in the world, so why would this matter?

    One of the Gnomes did come for me, knowing it wouldn’t be a full-time job. He would only come around when I was actually working, and besides the other events he was to oversee, he still had his own personal time, and life. He was an A-BAR — this is the title of a Master Rocker, and his name was “Ephrana -yam.” He prefered to be called A-bar, or simply Eff.

    A year passed as agreed, and the rock foundation was done.

    So what of the house? Well, it was far from finished, but at least I did have a floor to build the house upon. Apparently, one year was not enough time for me to build a house, even when partnered with a specialist in rock-work. I still had wood frames to bring up, roofing to do, and everything else up to and past the kitchen sink.

    Of course, A-bar did exactly as he understood — it was I who was somehow vague or a little unfocused/misdirected in my desires. So for my little Gnome friend, a year is what it took to complete his part of the job — a year for the foundation.

    Of course, the funding too did arrive for the project within that time, from an unexpected place, and I could not have continued without that, anyway. So Eff did do his job, as requested, and did it to a Tee.

    So what of this exotic nature of the place that I call home (for now)?

    There is something about it that is so pure, untouched — unqualified even. In the history of man, very little has been done to corrupt, or even direct the energy here, and so it can be a little difficult to work with. It is very still and unmoving and it is used to being still — it is an uncertain energy. It is tentative, having had little experience with outside direction or foreign influence.

    But we can both learn — both me and this energy. Some have said the energy is flat here, but to me, its potential is remarkable, for it has been unused for millennia, maybe since the beginning of time.

    I still have to wonder, though – is this a place that time forgot, or just a place that man forgot?

    ©2010 G. Peter Madstone
    Pete Madstone is author of the spiritual handbook to uncovering one’s own consciousness and inner magic, ‘Dreams of the Magus: where Angels Fear to Tread’. In addition to regular ritual reconnection with his earth paradise, he is publisher at Madstone Mystery Labs.

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    May 4, 2010 Posted by | ancient rites, authors, crystalline, elemental, energy, nature, ritual, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

    Party games and Mnemonics

    Angel of the Festive Spirit

    The festive season is here.

    It’s the time for feeling peaceful, sharing joy and being merry; it’s also time for exercise: not of the body perhaps, but of the mind.

    Trivial Pursuit used to be very fashionable; Scrabble keeps the cogs oiled, but old poems and rhymes that jog the cogs have a place too.

    Whichever way your mind works, the mnemonic that fits the season is one that comes from the far north: its about wood and logs and burning those valuable resources we now cherish so much and burn less frequently. In Scotland, where we still burn logs in woodstoves and open hearths to celebrate solstice and Yule – Christmas and Hanukkah – wherever it is cold enough to warrant a blazing fire, this poem is not only something to remember the season by, but to remember the value of each yule log that we consume. Precious resource, indeed, but what joy it brings.

    Wood for the Season: log burning rhyme
    Beechwood fires burn bright and clear
    If the logs are kept a year;
    Store your beech for Christmastide
    With new-cut holly laid beside;
    Chestnut’s only good, they say,
    If for years ’tis stored away;
    Make a fire of the elder tree,
    A death within the house you’ll see

    But ash green or ash old
    Is fit for a Queen with a crown of gold.

    Fires of the Festive Season

    Birch and fir logs burn too fast
    Blaze too bright and do not last;
    Flames from larch will shoot up high,
    Dangerously the sparks will fly;
    It is by the Irish said
    Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread;
    Elm-wood burns like churchyard mould,
    E’en the very flames are cold;

    But ash wood green and ash wood brown
    Are fit for a Queen with a golden crown.

    Oaken logs, if dry and old,
    Keep away the winter’s cold;
    Poplar gives a bitter smoke,
    Fills your eyes and makes you choke;
    Apple wood will scent the room,
    With an incense like perfume.
    Pear wood smells like flowers in bloom;

    But ash green or ash dry
    For a Queen to warm her slippers by.

    According to my grandfather, a childlike lovable old churchman who never wished to stop learning, the Victorians were great ones for mnemonics: for the wind and compass directions in clockwise order:

    Never Eat Shredded Wheat

    to remembering which side of the ship you were on on an ocean voyage:

    The ship’s left port

    or, more obscure,

    Port wine should be left alone when it is red

    This suggests port (left) red, so starboard (right) green. However, my grandfather also liked an occasional glass of port himself and his explanation was that as after dinner port is always traditionally passed around the table to the left; the “port” light is always red, just as port wine is always red.

    His many interests included classical languages, the rivers of the world, the seven hills of Rome and how to remember them. While I doubt that too many reading this will have a need for mnemonics for such trivia, you never know; it might come in handy one day.

    Firstly, the World’s greatest/longest Rivers:

    NAM-MI YACH-Y

    Nile (Africa) – 4,145 miles
    Amazon (South America) – 4,050 miles
    Mississippi-Missouri (USA) – 3,760 miles
    Irtysh (Russia) – 3,200 miles
    Yangtse (China) – 3,100 miles
    Amur (Asia) – 2,900 miles
    Congo (Africa) – 2,718 miles
    Huang-Ho or Yellow (China) – 2,700 miles

    Capitoline to the Aventine - hills of Rome

    The Great Lakes from West to East:

    Sam’s Horse Must Eat Oats

    The Seven Hills of Rome:

    Can Queen Victoria Eat Cold Apple Pie?
    To remember the seven hills of Rome

    and for those of us who might have to look that one up: they are:
    the Capitoline, Quirinal, Viminal, Esquiline, Caelian, Aventine, and the Palatine hills.

    Roman numerals, too, in ascending order, for the classics scholar with a bad memory:

    Lucky Cows Drink Milk

    L = 50, C = 100, D = 500 and M = 1000.

    And while on number, he had a mnemonic to help him remember the exact decimal value of Pi to the twentieth place! Counting the number of letters in each word of the sentence in order gives the value of Pi = 3.141592653 etc.

    Sir, I send a rhyme excelling
    In sacred truth and rigid spelling
    Numerical sprites elucidate
    For me the lexicon’s dull weight.

    I prefer the simpler version of Pi to a mere seven places:

    May I have a large container of coffee?

    His wide reading brought him into much more esoteric branches of learning, which I won’t elaborate on – such things as Pythagorean theory, [a very non-pc version: ‘The Squaw on the Hippopotamus is equal to the sum of the Squaws on the other two Hides’] Lord Nelson’s injuries(!), remembering the names of world oceans and continents, and the date of the Wright Brothers’ first successful flight.

    The Colours of the Rainbow are worth quoting:

    Richard of York Gave Battle In Vain

    which my mother (his daughter) abbreviated to the acronym: ROYGBIV.

    Henry the Eighth’s six wives:

    ‘Divorced, beheaded, died;
    Divorced, beheaded, survived.’

    They were: Catherine of Aragon, Ann Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Kathryn Howard and Katherine Parr.

    The Bayeux Tapestry recounts the Battle of Hastings

    His greatest mnemonic was, for me, the poem of the succession of the Kings and Queens of England from William the Conqueror, 1066. Not the Scots, or Kings of Picts, mind you; something I wished for at the time and tried in later life to create a mnemonic for and failed miserably. [It is quite difficult to place King Dubh, Kings Aedh, Custantin, Fergus and King Nechtan into a rhyme!]

    This one is still popular and while you have to remember another rhyme to insert each monarch into his/her houses, (Plantaganet, etc.), it has a ring to it:

    Kings and Queens of England from 1066
    Willy, Willy, Harry, Stee,
    Harry, Dick, John, Harry Three;
    One, two, three Neds, Richard Two,
    Harries Four Five Six, then who?
    Edwards Four Five, Richard Three,
    Two Harries, Edward and Bloody Mairee;
    Elizabeth the Virgin Queen
    Two Jameses with Charlies in between

    Coronation of Alexander III at Scone

    [sometimes:
    Mary, Bessie, James ye ken,
    Then Charlie, Charlie, James again)

    William and Mary, Anna Gloria
    Four Georges, William and Victoria
    Edward Seven next, and then
    Came George the Fifth in nineteen ten
    Ned the Eighth soon abdicated
    Then George the Sixth was coronated
    After which Elizabeth
    And that’s all folks until her death.

    The Royal Houses to which those monarchs belonged:

    No Plan Like Yours
    To Study HISTORY Wisely

    (Norman (1066-), Plantaganet (1154-), Lancaster (1399-), York (1461), Tudor (1485-), Stuart (1603-), Hanover (1714-1901), Windsor (1901/1917-present))

    Like Winston Churchill, whom he admired although a younger man, he could recite by heart: Greenleaf Whittier’s Ballad of Barbara Fritchie, a stirring epic from the American Civil War.

    Up from the meadows rich with corn,
    Clear in the cool September morn,

    The clustered spires of Frederick stand
    Green-walled by the hills of Maryland.

    It goes on for another thirty verses, but its most poignant couplet tells of an order from Stonewall Jackson himself:

    ‘Who touches a hair of thon gray head
    Dies like a dog. March on,’ he said.

    It is a fact that Winston Churchill, while visiting Frederick, Maryland in 1943, held up his own welcome party while he stood in front of the house where she is said to have waved the Union flag in Stonewall Jackson’s face; and recited the poem from beginning to end. It is not reported whether his hosts were particularly pleased by this recitation; but my grandfather was!

    Of course the old minister would recite from every verse of ‘Remember, Remember the Fifth of November’, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Wreck of the Hesperus and he was particularly fond of ‘Peter, Andrew, James and John, Hold the Horse while I get on’ -a mnemonic for the first four of the 12 disciples.

    With such a mentor, is it any wonder that my education was, to say the least, eclectic?

    I don’t have to repeat the mnemonic for the months of the year because I think that is one rhyme which has filtered down through oral tradition into the consciousness of now. [Unless someone really doesn’t know and writes me a comment/request to that effect!]

    However I think my grandfather would have loved to hear a hurricane rhyme which I learned in the Bahamas in the early ‘sixties: in these times of changing world climate and strange seasons, it is reassuring to find the hurricane season stays (roughly) the same…

    Hurricane Season
    ‘June, too soon;
    July, stand by;
    August come it must;
    September, remember;
    October, all over.’

    My grandfather had ways of remembering the Arabic names of stars and constellations, too, but I think we’ve covered enough ground for one festive blog. Those gems will have to wait for another time.

    Happy solstice.

    December 14, 2009 Posted by | ancient rites, culture, history, popular, seasonal | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments