Originally appeared in Northern Earth Issue 129, March 2012 pg30-31. To order a copy of this issue please visit Northern Earth
THE INNER GUIDE TO THE MEGALITHS
Megalithica Books, 2011. Pbk, 316pp. £12.99. 978-1-905713-53-0
When we talk about sacred experience in the past, and how such experiences were expressed, we call it folklore (or more cloyingly, religion); but today such events are often disparaged as New Age claptrap or even some kind of ‘mental episode’. There is a direct continuum between sacred experience in the past and the present, as most if not all NE readers will know, and it is into accounts of contemporary experience that Richardson ventures.
When we talk of visions, we tend to think of them as something spectacular, but they are more likely to come as brief tantalizing experiences bracketed by the mundane. Clouds don’t have to part, nor bushes to burn – just a curtain is suddenly pulled up, something other is glimpsed, and one is left to make something – or nothing – of it. This book is a collection of such experiences and reflections, shared by those, like ourselves, who regularly visit ancient sites with an open mind. Indeed, many of us will find people we know among the contributors; and we may also find their accounts tally with our own experiences. These are essentially place experiences, tied in with perception, at ancient sites that are not only locations of geography, but of psyche. Although the ancient sites chosen are in Wessex, loosely linked by the travels of a 19th-century antiquarian, the Rev. Edward Duke, one might expect a similar pattern to emerge elsewhere.
Originally published in 2001, under the title Spirits of the Stones (reviewed NE86, p31), I was surprised then that it didn’t make more impact among neo-antiquarians and fellow travellers. I have always considered it one of the most important books in the earth mysteries field, and it is good to see it back in print. It’s not always easy to read, for the best of reasons – I frequently had to stop as half-buried memories of sites and sensations surfaced, and I was imaginatively transported to other places.
Republication, however, implies an obligation to review some of the content, and the ‘Resources’ section is wincingly out of date, irritatingly so as regards NE – it would have been easy and better just to cut this section. [JB]