Walking The Well Worn Path - Dovedale
An Occasional Series on Lesser Known Goddesses
There are many beautiful places to discover, without having to travel outside the United Kingdom. This is a blessing for a disabled priestess such as I.
An awareness of the goddess of the peaks came to me quite by accident on a visit to Dovedale in the Peak District. A day out as it always does when dictated to by Goddess, turning from a simple walk and appreciation of natural beauty, into a mystical adventure.
Surprisingly, I have only just discovered this wonderful part of the UK, and tourist spots aside, it astounds in its richness of energy and the magic of its elemental kingdoms.
As you will find with all my posts, I like to take the well worn path, and look beyond the mark of mortal man, to touch what lies beneath, and is the hidden or lost enchantment of the many beautiful natural spots that still exist. If we care to strip away any conditioning we then extend our fingers into a magical pool of wonders that awakens our hearts and souls, and restores our spirits.
Let's just spend a few moments though, in a potted history, in case you know nothing about this wonderful location.
The Peak District national park, the first in Britain, was established in 1951 and embraces several counties. It has been inhabited by man from the Neolithic era, and he has left remnants of his habitation here and there in scattered ancient hill forts, barrows and earthworks. In the Bronze Age the area was well populated and farmed, and small henges and circles still survive in such places as Arbor Low between Monyash and Youlgreave, or the Nine Ladies Stone Circle at Stanton Moor. Later on an Anglo Saxon tribe, called the Peaklanders, inhabited the central and northern parts of this area when it fell within the large Anglian kingdom of Mercia.
I couldn't help but feel the resonance from deep within the earth of my beloved birth stone, Blue John, a type of fluorite unique to this area, and which in its beauty is a unique expression of the rugged resonance of this locality. Other minerals such as lunar silver, marble, copper and lead were once also found here, the lead being exploited by the Romans who exported it along their well worn routes. The high reaches of the dark and white peak are the source of many interesting caves, rivers, pure springs and reservoirs that flow between picture perfect valleys, glittering and burbling in the enchanting dialect of our nature Goddess. It is no wonder that so many famous writers felt inspired to write here.
Sat beneath a tree in trance, it was on the banks of the beautiful river Dove that I contacted the lesser known Goddess Arnemetia, although at the time I was unaware she even existed. Later, I discovered Arnemetia is a Roman British Goddess, although it is certain her energies existed long before the Romans visited our shores. Her name, Celtic in origin means 'against', and 'nemeton', - sacred grove, an interesting point for a druid such as I.
Roman occupation here was sparse, but there was a substantial settlement at Buxton.
Known as "Aquae Arnemetiae" in recognition of its spring, dedicated to this local goddess, Arnemetia's magic inhabits the core of the Buxton waters, making it a sacred place, and which may or may not have also included the sacred grove forming part of her name. The important point is her source arises within a place where two springs entwine their energies, making it a center of power for healing and sickness, this energy thus carried forth deeper into the Peak energies.
Falling prey to Christianity the power and magic of this site of pilgrimage, was as so many sacred sites and Goddesses are - obliterated and veiled, by their replacement, by often a saint's name. In the case of Arnemetia's spring, it became known as Saint Ann's well, and is still dressed with clootie ribbons and mementos to this day.
It is important to remember that the history of a place or Goddess is important, but what is more important is how we translate her energies into ourselves, and what we can draw from her vast reservoir of energetic wisdom.
The river Dove as it slices open the valley and brings forth the waters of Goddess enchanted me and spirited me away. On this occasion my visit with the goddess took place in the evening when the light bounced from the valley walls and cast interesting configurations on the water. This water which moved slow and serenely most of the time, often morphed into robust chuckling, gurgling and spiral dances over rocks and boulders. It seemed to change colour at every glance.
The afternoon walkers who dawdled and many of whom, seduced by this spot, spent their time sitting and snoozing on the banks, were dispersing, as I set off along the banks of the River Dove, heading between the breast like undulations of the great mother. It is at places like this we are most aware of the female presence - of the opening of the land to birth fourth the waters of life, the land itself becoming the mirror of our own mortality. We pause in these moments wrapped within the embrace of the Great Mother's arms and we let the emotional content of the water wash into and through us, cleansing, and renewing our connection to the source of all waters on earth, and the divine earth mother we celebrate.
My impressions that day were how intrinsic Arnemetia's energies are to the entire watery network of the Peak District. She flows with gentle grace, her voice soft and sweet as she meanders forth.
I spent some time in meditation beneath a twisted tree on the riverbank, dabbling my feet in the water. It was silent now as the valley darkened and the sun was snuffed out by the high peaks. Arnemetia spoke and she told me of how to heal on the molecular level, as I grounded my energies and allowed her own spiraling blue ones to ascend slowly upward. Arnemetia possesses an unforced magical sweetness that needs to be felt to be believed. She is acutely intelligent as she extracts the healing properties of fluorite from deep within this sacred earth. Harnessing our mentality within the purple ray we allow Arnemetia to work her magic, to repair body and mind.
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