The Silence of Walking

“The temple bell stops but I still hear the sound coming out of the flowers.”
Basho

For someone who enjoys silence and solitude I jumped at the chance to be apart of this year Sacred Landscape Yatra. Buddahfield’s Yatra is a walking retreat where the walking is done in single file and in silence. This year the retreatants walked from Goring-on-Thames to Stonehenge across the Rigdway before leaving this ancient trackway to walk across the plains to our destination. We passed through hillforts, places of mythic significance, through Avebury before ending with private access to the stones just as the sun broke clear of the horizon at Stonehenge. I was on the team so I joined the retreatants in walking every other day.

The Yatra was wonderful, so simple in its transience, toucing the ancient and the present as I passed though it, deep and resonating. The first bluebells bursting out to greet the growing days, leaves breaking free from their winter homes, expanding and lifting to the sunlight. The myths, dragon hill where St George slayed the dragon and where the dragon’s blood fell no grass grows again. The ancestors and gods, goddesses that we called on to follow us. There was no pressure on me to conform, to interact, to be any other way then what is me. A break from normal to experience in as close as way to nomadic life as the modern day can provide, following the white chalk trackways. Moving through landscapes, noticing the colours of the dawn and dusk sky, noticing and rejoicing in the raindrops falling on my head. Noticing how my body moves and sways with each new step. Not needing to think, just move and observe whatever caught my attention.

The juxtaposition of modern life against the peace of natural world present every step of the walk. Didcot power station central in the view from the rigdeway, smoke rising against the rolling hills of Oxfordshire. The light pollution from Swindon against the bright moonlight up on Barbury Castle, An ‘A’ road cutting in front and behind the ancient wonder of Stonehenge. Swallowhead spring in Avebury, bone dry, no river to feed, tree roots on the riverbank no longer drinking from water that no longer flows past, such saddness inside a special space. Good and bad is present in all moments in life, like the symbol of the vajra, notice each and find the place of purity that presides in the middle, rest there as often as it feels necessary.

The simplicity is what I am taking with me, the need to not attach my emotions and thoughts to the good or to the bad. The present moment as being the most important moment and to stay away from the problems that sit on my horizon waiting for attention, they are not in this moment so I will not attend to them. I will feed my imagination, I took my family, my ancestors to the stones as well. May my tears for the dragon heal the hill top where he was slain so new life, new dragons can rise from the chalk. May my water bring the spring to the surface once again. Tasty food nourishing my body, warm tea warming my hands and insides on cold frosty mornings, my foot hurts, I’ll look after my foot. I’ll tickle the Ash flowers and stones of Avebury with a pheasant feather and look with wonder at people’s talismans as they offered them in whatever way felt true to them. A staff of security for so many peoples treasures ceremoniously and lovingly carried across the country whilst an egg of new life in the form of a sprouting tendril of a hawthorn is carried in the other hand. A blade of grass is my talisman, forever present wherever I treat, grounding me, humbling me.

Dropping sweet nectar into my inspirations.

I will hold this retreat dearly in my heart of many years to come. Thank you to all that made it special.


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