Solstice at the Avebury Stones

To mark the longest (or shortest, if you are “down south”!) day of the year, here are two of the tallest standing stones at Avebury, the remarkable site that draws many people to it every Solstice.

This picture gives you an idea just how immense these stones are…

I’ve been to Avebury many times, but you won’t find me there today. I prefer to be there when the place is quiet, if possible (preferably at sun-up or sundown). On my last visit, I stood beneath the slopes of Silbury Hill as twilight deepened, watching a barn owl quartering over the fields, like a white moth under the Moon.

I shall be returning to Avebury again this Saturday. Thanks to Esther and John, the managers of the Henge Shop in the village, Watchers is now on sale there. I’ll be doing an informal book-signing event over lunchtime/the early afternoon. So, if you are planning a solstice-weekend visit to one of the most extraordinary sites in Britain, do pop in to say hello!

If you can’t come this weekend but are going to visit the stone circles another time, I recommend a visit to the Henge shop before you leave. It has a wonderful assortment of books covering a wide area of interests (plenty of titles on crop circles, history, healing, lore, legend etc). It also stocks some carefully-chosen crystals, ceramics and a selection of unique souvenirs. I’ve never left without a new treasure of some kind.

Outside the Henge Shop, Avebury, last week

The Avebury complex itself is a wonderful place, for so many reasons. We do not know who set the great avenues and circles of stones in place, but it was a long, long time ago (Avebury is older than Stonehenge).

Was it the hands of giants that rolled the great sarsens so carefully into place? Were the Annunaki or the Nephilim involved? Or did our ancestors have some now-forgotten technology that enabled them to manoeuvre these huge, unwieldy objects with such precision – something we cannot do as well as they did? No one knows for sure. (I’d love to be able to duck back in time in order to find out!)

Evening sun on some of the Avebury stones

Sadly, many of the stones were knocked down and broken into pieces or we would know much more about them. Such is the way of things. Yet what remains is, I believe, still as powerful as it always was. For there is deep magic to be found at Avebury: the dancing dragon-magic of old that weaves its way beneath the surface of the land, no matter what we humans do above it.

It is for this reason that Avebury is crucial to the plot of the whole Tilly Greenway series. In Book One we do not visit the stone circle itself, but we do go to the West Kennet Long Barrow (that ghostly dolmen that lies just south of Avebury itself), before passing between the sarsens of The Avenue and heading on to Silbury Hill.

Yggdrasil-bury Hill, oldest of man-made earthworks of Europe. Inside there is a step-pyramid as old as those at Saqqara in Egypt…

It’s at Silbury that we meet (most of) the dragons who feature in the tale. Yggdrasil is one of them. She is the Ash Tree Dragon, the gentle spear whose actions usher in a new dawn for human consciousness.

It’s a piece of fun to have Silbury as her home. As one of the characters notes, the hill is named after her: Yggdrasil-bury Hill being the place where she was laid to rest until such a time as the world was in dire need of dragon-deeds once more. The hill was once known as the Dragontop, however, because it was said to be scorched black on top by the fiery breath of the dragons who guard its secrets…

I’ll be writing more about what makes particular sites that little bit extra-special very soon, but for now my best wishes for a Solstice full of wonder. Wherever you are in the North or the South, today marks a turning point in the year as the great wheel of the seasons rolls onward. It is a time of endings and beginnings, of hope and renewal: accompanied, as ever, by the thinnest sliver of the waxing Moon. Enjoy!

Watchers is now available in most Waterstones stores. Signed copies are also in the Henge Shop at Avebury and The Goddess and Green Man and in Dicketts in Glastonbury. Or you can purchase your copy via amazon.

Paperback amazon.co.uk      Paperback amazon.com

Kindle: amazon.com         Kindle: amazon.co.uk

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Sacred Sites in the Tilly Greenway Saga

Glastonbury Tor by Meraylah Allwood

The world of Tilly Greenway and the Secrets of the Ancient Keys is not like any other. Yes, it is a tale of fantasy and magic, but whilst there are mythical creatures and others that you might think are “made up”, the action takes place in the real world and is very much of our time. I wanted to contrast the two worlds – real and imagined – but also to link them through actual places that you can visit.

Myths and legends often grow up around a particular place because that place holds some unique resonance for people. Often this resonance is to do with magnetic lines under the earth or water courses of some sort, which is why so many sacred sites are either where two leylines cross, or on the bend or a river or stream. The names of these places still refer back to stories that are now only part of folklore, but which used to be regarded as true.

For instance, there is a place in Wales called Dol-y-Carrog, which means “Hill of the Monster” in Welsh, so I used this as one of the locations where the last 12 dragons are lying in wait for the time when the world is facing imminent tragedy, when they will be woken so that they can fly to the rescue!

Another resting place for one of the dragons is Silbury Hill, which (in the story) is named after a dragon called Yggdrasil, the Ash Tree Dragon. Yggdrasil is sleeping soundly beneath the ancient dome of Silbury Hill, which used to be called “Yggdrasil-Bury-Hill” as a result, but which in time has been abbreviated to “Silbury Hill”. Of course, this is pure fiction on my part – but the fact is that Silbury Hill and the Stones of Avebury DO align with the constellation Draconis, or Dragon, in the night sky. On top of that, the hill itself hides a step pyramid as old as those in Sakkara in Egypt…which is important to the plot of the books.

I love this blending of an entirely imagined/fictitious world with that which is right under our noses. For me, it’s one of the things that keeps real magic very much alive and kicking.

In Book One, Watchers, Tilly and her stepbrother Zack visit a number of Sacred Sites in the UK. These include Glastonbury, The Chalice Well Gardens, Silbury Hill, the West Kennet Long Barrow, Old Winchester Hill and the Avebury Stones. Part of the fun of reading the story is that you can visit these places, find out more about them, connect with sites that our ancestors regarded as special (and which many of us still do).

In the rest of the books (starting with The Hidden Hand) you’ll find out about a lot more sacred sites in different countries as the search for the mysterious ME Keys takes Tilly and Zack further afield.

I hope you enjoy visiting them as much as I do!

With best wishes,

Essi.

Find out more at:

Kindle: amazon.com

Kindle: amazon.co.uk