Kelly Spencer - Happy Healthy YOU
(A wellness column by Kelly Spencer: writer, life coach, yoga & meditation teacher, holistic healer and a mindful life enthusiast!)
“Our history begins before we are born. We represent the hereditary influences of our race, and our ancestors virtually live in us.” - James Nasmyth
The ancient Celtic dialect of the Welsh transports you to a time in history where one might expect the next sign on the road to point you in the direction of the Ye Olde Shire. The Celtic languages, including Welsh, are thousands of years old, but are still commonly spoke in some parts of the world, including Wales, UK.
The Wales' country landscape is filled with stunning displays and backdrops of hillsides and ancient vales with random wild horses and farmed sheep in every direction that can be accessed from legally-protected rights of way in England and Wales. In England and Wales a public footpath is a path to which the public have a legally-protected right to travel on foot across private property. It is probable that most footpaths in the countryside are hundreds of years old.
The wonderful and varied landscape of the Gower Peninsula (Welsh: Penrhyn Gwyr) was the first place in Britain to be designated as an 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty' (AONB) by the Countryside Agency on behalf of the UK government.
The breathtaking beaches of the Gower Peninsula can be accessed via hefty hikes up generous highland, through lush forest, and saunters across open grasslands peppered with the ruins and rubble of castles and medieval churches of centuries past. The area has a vast populated history, stretching back as far as Lower Paleolithic times (250,000 BC).
The long-established stories, whether they are folklore, legend or fact, are plentiful.
I had the opportunity to visit the Welsh city of Caerleon, a place of considerable archaeological importance as the location of a Roman legionary fortress. It was the headquarters for Legio II Augusta from about 75 to 300 AD. To this day the ruins of the Roman buildings for the 5,000 soldiers that overtook and occupied the land remain. The barracks and training ring foundations allow you to imagine the everyday living of soldier training. The amphitheater structure still encased by the earth invites you to envision the gladiator and prisoner battles, where men met their conquest or demise. The ruins gave a powerful life to the ancient tales.
An hour drive or so from this village, we found ourselves across the England border to the ancient village of Avebury in Wiltshire. Avebury is home to the largest European Neolithic Stone Circles constructed about 5,000-6,000 years ago, believed to be forged for ritual and ceremony. Many ghostly unexplained experiences are legend to this town for centuries.
Wiltshire is also now known for the crop circle phenomena that have appeared over the decades. Whether built by human or otherwise the crop circles are quite amazing in their beauty, complexity and flawless execution.
Glastonbury, another nearby city in England (south of Bristol), is home to the ruins of the Glastonbury Abbey, where the remains of the legendary King Arthur and his Queen were claimed to have been found in 1191. In 1278 King Edward I and Queen Eleanor came to the Abbey to oversee the final transfer of the remains. The bones were wrapped in precious cloth, placed in decorative caskets, then placed into the black marble tomb which remained at the abbey until it was destroyed during The Dissolution in 1539. No one has seen or heard of the bones since then.
Also in the same city, which is believed to be a ley line and hold supernatural significance, the Tor stands majestically in the sky. It's no ordinary hill. It has been recognized as a holy hill for millennia with claims that Jesus was brought to the Tor by his uncle. Folklore has it that the Glastonbury Tor is home to Gwyn ap Nudd, King of the Fairies. (In the human realm it is managed by The National Trust.) There is also tale of the 500 foot hill, topped with the brilliant and impressive Tower of St. Michael, to be a visiting place of Arch Angel Michael.
The Chalice Well and Gardens are also within this vale. The gardens are a world known living sanctuary of peaceful significance. Glastonbury is the heart chakra of our Earth, meaning a place of balance, harmony and love. As I stepped into the garden gates, the serenity was palpable. Although many people lay, sat, and walked within the garden, the conversations were silent. The garden is host to the Chalice Well, one of Britain's most ancient wells, nestling in the Vale of Avalon.
Many legends are attributed the well waters, which flow ceaselessly at a steady rate and temperature that never varies. Legend holds holy significance with the well spring beginning when Joseph of Arimathea buried or washed the cup of Jesus, used at the Last Supper, at this location. For others the waters are acknowledged as the essence of life, the gift from Mother Earth to sustain its living forms and so a continuous spring like Chalice Well is a direct expression of an unbounded life force.
The lands whisper in every town, city and village in the UK a secret history, be it Celtic legends, the magical druids, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Merlin the Magician, Camelot, dragons and unicorns, sea monsters and fairies, mermaids, crop circles, aliens and ley lines, folktales and folklore, ghosts, goblins and leprechauns, haunted houses, mysterious mazes and ancient holy wells, Stonehenge, ancient Romans, pagans, witches and wizards and magic.
With ancestors from this land, we share roots deeply planted in the Earth’s history. Family and roots shared are saturated in the culture and customs delivered and lived now. The past is always asking us something of the present moment. Our history, however ancient and removed it feels, keeps us evolving and aware.
In my twenties I visited the German Concentration Camp of Dachau. I remember reading the quote by historian George Santayana, who famously wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” But not all history is condemning.
Our traditions, our beliefs and our appreciation of legend, come from our ancestors and the generations that lived and learned before us. The myths, legends and folklore allow a playful openness to our history or perhaps even our present.
“The sheer act of telling and retelling stories helps us to understand the divine’s role in the world as well as our own position in a long line of ancestors who have wrestled with similar issues to the ones we wrestle with every day.” - Bruce Feiler
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