Harnessing Our Power

The theme of the white horse began for me as a small child and the haunting but compelling tune of ‘White Horses‘ (from the old BBC children’s programme, sung by  Jackie Lee) that I played over and over again on my parent’s record player. I didn’t understand the fascination, nor did I ever want to ride a horse as many other girls did; what I loved were images of wild horses, manes a-flow, as they galloped across plains, representing for me absolute freedom to be. The metaphor of the horse as a symbol of the freedom to harness personal power is widespread; from the ancient horse goddesses Epona and Rhiannon to the Windhorse of the Buddhist tradition; the white horse is archetypal and powerful.

In the Celtic myth of Old Briton; the 13 Treasures, it is the 5th treasure which represents the theme of today’s show: the Halter of Clydno Eiddyn could bring any horse to us to take us swiftly to where we want to go. Back in the Bronze Age when wild horses were first being tamed an unparalleled phenomena was taking place across Eurasia; millennia old wandering tribes of Hunter Gatherers and settling farming communities were beginning a long process of assimilation and change. As the two peoples met and separated at the edges where hunting and foraging grounds met territorial boundaries of villages, then towns, then cities, difference began to emerge, not as a thing to be celebrated, but as a cause of disconcert, unease and fear.

It is said that the biblical tales of Eden and the notion of Other, and of good and bad began there, as the farming settlers troubled by every nuance of climate from a flash flood or a drought to climate change on a grand scale, began to both resent and despise the freedom of the wandering tribes, who in turn, as the settlements grew ever larger to incorporate more and more growing land on which to guarantee a good harvest to feed an ever growing populace, seemed ever to remove from their lost Eden more and more of the landscape the  Nomads held sacred & revered. It could be said that it is here that fear took a hold of our ancestors in such a way as to be overwhelming, to be held back and repressed lest it reduced them to powerlessness.

And so it was that by the Age of Chivalry the Arthurian cycle of tales told of the wounded masculine, the Fisher King, the forever wounded monarch and consort of the land.

On a magical journey with a siblinghood of fellow seekers at the Elmhirst Centre on the Dartington Estate our bard sang to the ancient old yew grandmother. …

We sing beneath

2000 year old yew

But I am drawn

To her son


A magnificent specimen

Just there to one side

He speaks to me

Of a connection to be made


I speak to Yew

It is I who am sick

Says he

The castrated male


See me

Know me

So that I may know myself

From the inside

In the gardens I wandered on a shamanic journeying to feel into the deepest roots of the unfeeling pain of our times. I entered an old oak split by lightening, stood in its centre, & picked up from where he had fallen a broken branch, the castrated male within. Took him home and placed him in the midst of the large tropical love plant that grows toward the light on my stairs, there to ponder daily, this question, this piece of our wholeness I have felt called to find.

The sacred feminine is not dead, she merely waits, bides her time, for the king, her consort to be healed and the land replenished by his grace, his humility, his love.

In the myth of Parzival we find the answers to this eternal dilemma. Parzival is young, impulsive, rash and foolish; the perfect young fool; hero in the making. He leaves the woman he loves to roam the lands as a knight, seeking out fights, chopping off heads at the slightest provocation, looking for his glory, seeking fame and honours. So head strong and ego centric is he that even though he is chosen to enter the kingdom of the grail, where none but a few are called, he fails to carry out the task he was destined to undertake; to ask a question of the ailing fisher king.

Many there are that seek to tell of why the consort of the land incurred such a wound, in his groin, that would not heal, caused him endless pain, yet did not kill him but I like the interpretation of Irish wise woman Sharon Blackie who tells of the Well Women, the keepers of the sacred waters of the earth and of how they, free, virgin, sacred servers of the feminine grail, were raped by the masculine warriors who had lost their senses; that rather than guardians of the land their sovereign, they served their own desires instead, and the balance of the world was lost. African myth tells us that fire, the element of the warrior, is ever in relationship with earth, the element of the sovereign, and only when fire serves earth is balance restored.

Parzival, having failed to do the deed he was called to do must leave the wondrous kingdom of the grail, where the lands have lain barren and dead, since the time of the king’s wounding and wanders ever more dismal till he meets an old hermit with whom he stays and learns many truths till he is dejected and finally ready to listen to advice.

Did you ask the Question?

No, I did not.

Things go and things come as they are wont to do in story and by and by Parzival finds himself back in the realm of the grail and once more before the fisher king.

“What ails you uncle?” asks he

And at once all is well. The old king is healed of his wound and the land all around begins immediately to lose its pallor, new shoots spring, and life has returned to the kingdom of the grail, and more, Parzival is its new king, is reunited with the woman he loves. who has waited for him, and all is well.

The myth speaks of the hero’s journey from fool to king. It is only when the warrior learns humility, to act out of love for others, nor fear and rash violence, that things change, the earth has her consort once more and the true nature of courage, as inner surrender, is learnt and balance restored.


Could to do nothing

Be the greatest act of all?

Could to stand witness

And mourn


Be sacred work?

To then let the joy

Of passion

Guide us


To play our part?



We venerated you



We’re gone

And you still stand

We exist to feel


To feel, my friends

To feel

To feel our connection

And then to joyously


Connect with all our glorious physicality

The hairs on the fox’s paws

Shiver in resonance

You get it



This is it

Your purpose

The visceral





To life itself


‘Twas your control that

Fucked it

After all,

Wasn’t it?


Your fear of annihilation

Brought iron clad prison walls

 to bear

On paradise


You feared the deluge

The flood and the desert

You feared the fire and brimstone

The earthquake and the tidal wave


Cyclone and dust bowl

Landslide and mudslide

You feared for your life

And in doing so


Took it yourself


You locked away every last cell of magic

From yourself and your kin


Your children

And their children’s children

You took imagination

And twisted it unmercilessly


Into a parody of itself

Created monsters

And places to hide

From your self made fear


We are here to feel,

my friend

To live

And to die



On the edge

Of ecstasy

In every moment


The enemy, my friend

Lies not in politicians’ words

Subcontractors rude actions

The steady onslaught of technological progress


The enemy lies within

Loose your fear onto the world

Let it show

And let it feel


We are small vulnerable creatures

We bleed, we bruise,

 we break

And that is our power


We feel the rawness

Of a January day

We feel the

Cold slippery mud


We feel



And afraid


Look at it


This fear

Of what are we afraid?


To lose that tender sensation of exquisite sensitivity?

Hasn’t it gone already?

What have we got to lose?

Only our fear, my friends.


We cling to a parody of life

For deep down we deeply honour this

Time in our bodies

We know its precious vulnerable essence


We protect it in iron clad prisons

We may as well be dead

We are our own gaolers

And how well we perform that role



And feel

Wail at the loss of beauty

Till you are spent


Then feel your passion rise

And dance

My friend

The dance of life itself


It will tell you all you need to know

Is wrapped up

In one precious moment

Called Now


Storyweaver Clarissa Pinkola Estés, in her Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype: “Women Who Run With the Wolves” has this to say:

The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious.
If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door.
If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door.
If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.

And Derek Tasker this:

I wonder what would happen if
I treated everyone like I was in love
with them, whether I like them or not
and whether they respond or not and no matter
what they say or do to me and even if I see
things in them which are ugly twisted petty
cruel vain deceitful indifferent, just accept
all that and turn my attention to some small
weak tender hidden part and keep my eyes on
that until it shines like a beam of light
like a bonfire I can warm my hands by and trust
it to burn away all the waste which is not
never was my business to meddle with.

Romeck van Zeijl posted on facebook that we have the power to make things worse in every moment. Fitting words for a Fisher King blog. Here he is in conversation with me on this month’s “Stories with Steph” talking about Circling, Trauma and Ecology, and authentic relationship.


In every moment we can choose fear or we can choose love; re-visioning ourselves with every breath.  Perhaps when we understand that both change the world, and it is our choice what changes happen, we will realise our divine natures and act responsibly.

Thanks to Romeck van Zeijl

Boe Huntress

Michael Holt Music

Lua Maria Wild White Horses

Derek Tasker

and Clarrissa Pinkola Estes “Women Who Run with Wolves”


Old Story New Story

Today I have uploaded all the blogs from my facebook page The Warriors’ Way – A Journey to the Heart onto my blog here so that you can follow the story of my walk across Wales all in one place…Enjoy!


The Pilgrimage Begins – 31st May 2015
We live in changing times; the great turning as Joanna Macy calls it, transition times, a time when some of us are living the story we have been accustomed to since birth, the prevailing story our recent ancestors believed and passed down to us in their genes and their beliefs, and others are challenging that story, in their own lives and in what they tell their children. Of course many of us are living the paradox of both as we struggle to envision a future based on quite different principles whilst still needing to survive in a system that has certain expectations of us.
It can feel as if we have arrived in a time that has never been and of course in some senses that is true; we have never yet inhabited a planet where our species has used so much of the resources it finds around it that we have seriously impacted on the wellbeing of many other species including many of our own kind. At the same time,however, we are simply reliving a very familiar story; that of the dominant culture being challenged by another. Our history books are full of such turning points. It seems to be how humans evolve.
Today I left my peaceful Devon village, with my cat trying hard to walk with me, till my resourceful cat sitter tempted her back with biscuits, for a new foray into the world I live in. First stop Totnes, where the market was in full swing. Under the butterwalk two stalls set up side by side proclaimed very different messages yet both clearly manifestations of a new story emerging.
In recent times this area of our ancient market town has become known as a bit of a speakers corner albeit in a quiet understated way. Today a stall calling for the end of austerity stood beside one that was looking to the future in a rather less confrontational way; it was folk from the most recent transition initiative to have seeded in the area; a move to grow and process our own oats in the south hams. The transition team were offering free homemade flapjacks and crowd funding to purchase processing machinery for the town.
Across the road Dr Bike was in his usual pitch beside an ailing bicycle already set upside down ready for transition co founder Ben Brangwyn to work his magic on.Dr Bike can be found on the Saturday market most weeks repairing bikes in exchange for hugs, cakes and other such feel good exchanges.
Good tales to carry with me from Devon to Wales, where I am about to begin a month long storywalk.
Tonight I am in Caerleon, legendary court of king Arthur, though its actually an iron age hill fort closer to Caerwent where I am headed tomorrow that is more likely to have been the stronghold of the Briton’s king.

Without doubt though, Caerleon was a Roman fortress town. The magnificent amphitheatre is testimony to that, along with an impressive immaculately cared for museum filled to the brim with Roman artefacts uncovered in digs in the town from fine glassware to a stone coffin complete with its skeleton and burial goods.
I didn’t get much if a feel for Arthur’s presence here, even in the very well preserved amphitheatre that legend says was originally his round table but that may have been because of the teenage group who were chilling on its banks with their ghetto blaster pounding out rap of the kind that would feel appropriate in downtown Manhattan.
An elderly man with his newspaper shook his head and left his quiet seat on the outer edge and left.
School boys in soccer kits played tag and a couple of pairs of lovers sat in sheltered alcoves amongst the old stonework whilst I walked in the arena trying to feel the raw emotions that must have been present in this most barbaric of entertainment arenas.
Nothing. Carefully manicured grass and neat display boards.
The Briton’s and the Romans coexisted here once. How must that change of times have felt? Later the Angles overran the isle and the Britons were left to their Welsh and Cornish strongholds.
In the Hanbury arms I eat an early evening meal as the locals watch the cup final. They speak Welsh amongst themselves and I remember that I am in another country now. I am one of those Angles. I think of my great grandmother who was Welsh. Did she speak this language? Did she have to learn English when she crossed the border to work as housekeeper in a big house? I wonder how difficult it would be for me to to write in this our native language.
Tennyson sat in the hanbury Arms overlooking the river as I did this evening. He wrote of king arthur. I have a similar quest but it is Merlin whom I seek. I find him in an impressive sculpture of oak in an otherwise rather garish sculpture garden, its art rather subsumed by the quantity of pieces and the new age crystal shop that inevitably follows Arthurian legend about britain.
Why do I seek Merlin? Well I may be able to answer that question better at the end of this pilgrimage that will end on Bardsey island at the end of the month. Suffice to say for now that in this old story new story time in which we are living one of the themes that keeps reemerging for me is that if how important it is that we examine our roots before we choose how to live.
I suspect that the Arthurian legends, that body of story that so stirs us century after century, is likely to contain all that remains of the old teaching stories of our aboriginal peoples. That contained deep within its motifs are essential truths ..not so much for how we live in the world as how we manage our inner lives …and that now more than ever we have need of that wisdom.
Merlin has been a constant in my life. The grey bearded elder, Tolkien’s Gandalf, Rowling’s Dumbledore, exerts such a benign presence in our lives that the essence of that archetypal image has inspired poets and storytellers for time immemorial. What does he really represent? This is one of the questions I am carrying with me as I traverse these lands where the Briton’s took their culture when the Angles spread ever westwards.
Merlin carried with him when he journeyed this way that I will walk, this that I have christened the warriors way, the 13 treasures of Britain. You may think you don’t know this legend but the adventures of the hobbits and of Harry Potter are full of its symbology. Merlin took these treasures to the house of glass on Bardsey island. Why, and what did they represent? I hope to discover this as I walk. Was this last walk of his after he had fallen in love be with the maiden Nimue who patriarchal myths tell us took away his power?
Walk with me then on this journey of discovery, and discover with me what were these ancient teaching tales were telling us. What is the essential wisdom of the Britons that we lost sight of as the story of the invaders gradually became mainstream and what went before relegated to myth and faery tale?

Traces of Long Forgotten Truths

June 2015 Day 1
Leaving the Great House, the charming old Welsh long house where I’d spent the night in a room overlooking the river Usk far from the madding crowds of Newport, I was struck by the rightness of the huge wooden sculpture carved from oak tree roots at the end of the road from whence my warriors way commenced. It was a giant head entitled ‘warrior’. It looked calm, stoic, aligned with purpose.
I was thrilled the BnB I had chosen, part through chance, part through liking the look of the old stone building was within yards of the start of the Usk valley way, where my journey was to start.
As I set out through woodland following the Usk at my left I mused on my first impressions of the country so similar yet not to my own. The people reminded me of my native Lancashire, friendly and helpful, easy to smile. I’d noticed as I’d walked through Newport the previous day how some of the young women openly stared at me, an uncomfortable phenomenon that took me back to my childhood so that I forgot for a moment that I am now a mature woman of 50. On reflection my sense of not being quite right, not quite fitting in, seemed to be because my stature is so very different from the curvaceous, voluptuous nature of those that stared. I so wished to look like them, I realise now they probably wanted to look like me!
My musings on people types, these women have their counterparts in men who are broad and stocky, led me to wonder if the different races that came to inhabit these isles are still visible in our body types. My maternal grandfather had this stocky build. My grandmother came from Irish stock and she was delicate, birdlike.
I am soon pulled from my reverie by my arrival at the first golf course of this journey. I know them of old from my storywalk around England in 2010. Their neatly shorn greens make a mockery of maps and they contain fiercely shot missiles of the small white variety. This one was hosting an Open and was full of people, most of whom were not local enough to give me directions. Even the stewards were so intent in directing the new arrivals that their replies to my questions were short and sent me off route over and over. After what felt like an interminable amount of time wondering around in what felt suspiciously like circles I finally hit the road but as I walked I began to feel something was wrong…was I going the right way? I couldn’t follow my map because I didn’t know exactly where I was. For a moment I enjoyed thinking about that. How often do we follow other people’s frameworks for life without knowing where on that framework we ourselves stand. If you don’t know where you are to start with you might end up anywhere…unless,wont is to happen to me, a guide, a knight, turns up out of the blue. Today he rode a large quiet impressive looking motorbike. My gentlemanly courtier checked where I was going, told me I was the right road, but going the wrong way! How often I wonder in life do we do such a thing?
I turn about and stride firmly trying to make up for lost time. I don’t feel comfortable until I am beyond the golf resort and clearly further east than when I set out. I have spent my first hour walking around in circles. I feel cross and resolve to stick to the roads for the rest of the day. Privately owned land cannot always be trusted to have maintained public footpaths the way they are depicted on maps.
Now the way becomes straightforward and surprisingly pleasurable. After a little way I notice two things; B roads in these parts are quiet and the A road has a pavement protected from the roadway by a wide grassy verge., and the once Roman road the Usk valley way followed is beneath these main roads I now follow. I have walked out of Caerleon with its amphitheatre and picked up the straight Roman road just as those soldiers would have done. The walk feels so easy I wonder if the road itself is drawing me, used as it must have been to thousands of foot passengers.
The road to Caerwent has other foot passengers too, a gentlemanly young man of African descent on his way to work and a very sprightly elderly lady walk its way with ease. I am delighted. A place where walking is seen as so normal the pavement continues mile after mile.
Then I find Penhow castle. I’ve been looking out for it. I know it as soon as I see it. Its tree topped green hillside covered in ancient boulders calls me as if it is my home. I cross the road but see that it is private property. I follow the public right of way around its edges. Round the back I see that a castle has been added onto over the years and made into a home. It stands next to an old chapel to John the baptist. I try to go inside to taste its peace. It is locked. I sit in its porch and eat my lunch with a view of the churchyard yew.
As I leave, grateful I have had a little shelter and place to sit and eat, I am planning to stop at the next pub to relieve myself when I am amazed by a green portaloo right next to the porch. Almost as if life is providing for all of my needs. I return to the road passing the ancient boulders once more. I know that the current building with its castle walls was not the original building to stand on this site. I know it deep within myself. This was once a place dedicated to the feminine. A place of healing. A little way on I come to an old inn, recently refurbished, called the Rock and Fountain and I have my confirmation. Here was a place of healing waters. I know deep inside that I can trust my inner knowing to tell me what is beneath the things that are visible to the eye.
Now I leave the Roman road to veer off left to follow the lanes for the main purpose of today’s walk; I am headed north east to Llanmelin hill fort, some sources say that it is here that king arthur held court rather than in the Roman fortressed town. It is the site of an iron age hillfort. I reach it by village hopping, my favourite way to travel. Little yellow C roads I know are little more than lanes and quite delicious to follow and the settlements found along the way often full of surprises.
I am not wrong; the lanes are as quiet as my home Devon ones, and the locked chapel at Penhow is more than made up for by the beautiful church of St Mary beneath the woods in the village of the same name; Llanvair Discoed. It is a lovely grey stone chapel similar in appearance to Penhow chapel and inside full of deep peace. There is a remembrance tree and I shed a few tears for my father who loved country lanes too and write a card to hang onto the tree.it feels good to have a little private space in which to honour the love we shared.
Would that all churches would remember that one of their functions has always been a place of sanctuary and to regard that above fear of theft.
I walk on and skirt the wooded mound that was king Arthur’s stronghold. It feels majestic, full of oaks. It is a place of masculinity different in feel to the mound of Penhow. I follow the lane round to the entrance and walk a while on a trail through woodland, climbing gently all the while till it gives in a gate into a well grown meadowlandfull of humps.at first I don’t know where to look than my eyes adjust and I head for the circular enclosure to my right. I sit on the grassy edge looking in. I see at once how similar it must have been to Landmatters.
I am struck by circular patterns; the amphitheatre with its 8 entrances which inevitably had me thinking of the seasons and the 8 points of the year our ancestors observed and now this enclosure, and the roundhouses of Landmatters. When we are left to create naturally it is in circles that we build.
Now I am nearly home for the night. I return through the woods the sunlight dappling the trees and earth.it has a feel of faery land. I feel the first stirrings of the magic that being alone in nature always brings.
I haven’t seen a soul for several hours. The land becomes mine,my experience,my adventure.
Now I reach Shire newton my home for the night. I have booked in at the hunstmans. My map shows four pubs. It is the last I find. The Sunday lunch for dinner I order is fit for a king with six types of fresh vegetables accompanying. In the morning, the best cooked breakfast I have ever eaten away from home. I have been really honest about exactly what I want. A good lesson.
It’s raining outside.it was full moon last night. The weather always turns then. Pay attention next full moon.

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