Off the northern edge of the Scottish coast, lies a Sacred Place, the Orkney Isles, where Neolithic man made his home in the far distant past, raised Sacred Circles of stone, and built many Sacred tombs for their dead, while they lived in stone built villages and worshipped long forgotten Gods.
When I first climbed the gentle sloping path up the hill to the Neolithic Cuween Burial chamber, above the bay of Finstown, I was accompanied by two friends on the walk. We chatted along the way, the warm October sun on our faces, at the wonderful weather for the time of year, and speculated that the climate for Neolithic man would have been very much warmer than now a days.
Climbing over the style, the atmosphere shifted slightly, and as I opened the little gate to the passage way, and I suggested I go in first… I lit a candle and crawled in down the narrow passage way towards the chamber within, “Like being born backwards,” I mused to myself as my hands and knees got cold and wet as I slowly made my way along the damp flag stones, hued by ancient hands from the shore line thousands of years ago.
Again, I sensed a shift in my perspective.
I opened my “psychic senses” and paused, half way down the narrow tunnel; in my minds eye I saw an old woman; the ancient guardian of the tomb, challenge me, her eyes aflame with power, her wild hair all around her head, writhing in some unfelt wind, as she shook what seemed to be a staff or spear, at me threateningly, her toothless mouth moving to words I could not comprehend, but I knew, I had to beg her permission to enter the inner chamber. If I did not…
So I did so, reverently and with respect. Paused, and moved on, sensing her no more, I assumed I had done the correct thing and pleased the Spirits.
The narrow passage ended, opening up into the chamber-I felt a little afraid at what I might find-even tho’ my rational mind told me the chamber had been emptied long ago… I could sense much and what threw me was the fact that this was in reality a place of the dead. How smelly and dirty had it once been! I checked myself then, not wanting to run screaming from this place, but something deep inside me was urging me to do this NOW! Panic rose up into my throat as the reality of this ancient place took me… I pushed the candle before me and feeling in my bag, found another one and lit it. I had to go on, I just had to!
I lit another candle, then another, the panic subsided, and slowlyI moved on, standing slowly in the chamber, the light gathering as the flames lept up, filling the small interior with flickering light. I saw four side chambers, with their dark openings low to the ground.
My senses reeling, I slowly walked around, aware that from the one corner and energy radiated, my head swimming with it’s power.
I called the boys in and the atmosphere changed-it grew less intent and part of me was disappointed, and left wondering why.
We lit incense, meditated and one played on his flute… but for me the magick had dissipated.
We spend a while in there, with the energies and then left-it felt right to leave the candles burning, and I intended to return to take the holders away the next day. I silently thanked the Spirits and closed the gate behind me, realising I had to go back again.
Standing and turning round into the sunlight, we found a gentleman, patiently waiting, he didn’t want to disturb us, he said in a soft American accent. We thanked him and told him the candles would still be burning and went to go on our way.
I paused to read the information boards and to my surprised I saw, that half way along the chamber the archaeologists had found a skull-facing outwards, as tho’ guarding the tomb from intruders… I went cold and then hot. This was the guardian I had sensed!
We walked on up the hill to take in the view above the tomb, out towards the bay below, when suddenly the man we had spoken to, not five minutes earlier, rushed out of the tomb and took off over the style running down the path as tho’ followed by a thousand screaming spirits!!!!
Guess he never asked for permission to enter….
A true story.
On a Historical Note…
The Cuween Burial Chamber dates back some 3000 years and is known locally as the Fariy Knowe. The actual name, Cuween, is derived from the Old Norse, “kúa-eng”, meaning Cattle Pasture. It lies on a south facing hill some 5 miles outside Finstown, over looking the Bay of Forth.
The lay out of the tomb, is of that of Maes Howe, a long passage way and four side cells of a central chamber. When it was fully excavated in 1901 by M.M. Charleson, remains of eight people were found, including one skull, facing outwards, in the roof of the low passage (less than one meter) way leading into the main chamber. Many animal bones were also found, including some 24 dog skulls.
This has lead to speculation of a dog cult; that the dogs were totems for the tribe, who for many generations used this tomb. Other tombs have also been linked to the remains of animals and birds found in them on Orkney; The Tomb of the Eagles for one