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Friday, June 03, 2005

A Handfasting is Held!

The whole group of us, minus Bex, Branny and Aud, set off from the George and Pilgrim to work to the Tor. Pete, bless his socks, had only held my bag (containing all the tools for the ceremony) for two seconds, but refused to give it back. I'm not used to gentlemen, but he carried it up there for me. Most of the other blokes were out of view very quickly, having much, much longer legs than the like of Pixie and I. At one point, I said, 'shit, does Dirk know the way up there? Who's he with?' Froggie. Ok! LOL

It was really pleasant walking up. The sun still shining but lower in the sky, coming up towards the sunset. I was sorted until we reached the Tor itself. Froggie after climbing the Tor. Photo by Branny (click for site) I maintain that the Pilgrim's Walk is far worse than the other side. It goes on forever, gradually getting steeper and steeper; the other side starts steep, has two stops, but is over quite quickly. You don't notice the Pilgrim's Walk getting steeper, you just suddenly realize that you want to die or rest, whichever comes first. The other side is bad for those with vertigo, as there's a definite being on the edge of the world sense; but I'd still recommend it over the Pilgrim's Walk. Naturally it was the latter we were climbing.

I was going up cursing (not seriously) Andrea for over-estimating how cold it is in Britain. My robes are beautiful, but very, very hot going up that Tor. Pixie and I were more or less together, stopping every three seconds for a rest, particularly towards the end. St Michael's Tower was in close sight, the path had been taken up for relaying and I'm crying out, 'I need a rest! I'm a smoker!' Pixie the asthmatic was several steps ahead! LOL But eventually we were up there, fighting for breath inside the tower.

It might look from photos that the tower affords some shelter from the elements. Nope. Two open arches to the north and south ensure that any wind from those directions whistle straight through. There's no roof. The only thing you are protected from in there are the direct hits of east and west winds. That was enough. I sat on one of the slab blocks (are they tombs or benches?) and got my breath, with the help of a bit of water. I soon recovered and stepped out into the wind to work out where to hold the ceremony. Pete and Froggie were with me. The place were I would ordinarily have done it was fine, but the work on the path would have been in the background of photos. Two alternatives were to the side of the tower, which was sheltered from some of the wind or on the open plain to its north/north-east. In the end, I fetched the bride and had her decide. She went for the latter, which would have been my choice too.

Then it was backwards and forwards getting the tools and working out where everyone would be. Cabochon joined me and the nerves were showing on his face. I took his hands and was able to do the calming/bonding thing. I'd already done my panicking half an hour or so before. The wind was as blowy as it always is up there. We gave up on the pouring of water etc into the chalices, giving Pete a bottle to hold instead. Then it was time.

Photo by BexPhoto by Bex

Everything there had something to do, be it hold an element, hold the cake or mead, photograph/film or get handfasted. We quickly all got into position and raised the circle. That was stunning. Cabochon did the actual spoken calling, but it was a joint effort raising it. Perhaps we should think on that in future - me, Cabochon and whomever was holding the element ALL concentrating on it, on the Tor... Bex held Air. Soon as we'd called Air, I could feel the wind picking up. I just figured that it was how the wind was rising anyway.

Three times round with Bex, then we're in the South with Aud. I'd lit the candle inside a lantern to give it a change of surviving (Bex had created candles for everyone, with ribbons in case wind stopped flame. They all held them and the ribbons did the job. They were really beautiful!). Aud's candle-flame survived the calling and the first lap, then went out. It wasn't needful. As Scott had called, there was a pause, then behind Aud, on the Levels below, I saw the world get lighter. It was a brief second, as if the sun had come out over the site of the Glastonbury Festival, but definite, and around we went. I whispered to Aud on the second lap not to afret on the loss of the flame. She is fire, concentrate on the flame inside her. She did, you could see it in her. (She was singing 'we shall not, we shall not be moved' when it came to take the circle down later! LOL)

Onto Ian. The rain is spotting and we call water... We got water! Photo by Bex Look at the picture, no discernable rain there. When it came to take it down again, the back of Ian's coat was drenched, while the front wasn't too bad. We all knew that the rain was coming from the west when we tried to leave the Tor, but the back of Ian's jacket was my clue right there. *grin*

Still each of these were made to feel hard to raise in comparison to Earth. Bex, Aud and Ian were air, fire and water sunsigns respectively. The only two earth signs there were myself and Branny - one HPS-ing and one to take the pictures. Froggie, an air sign, was happy enough holding earth, so he got the job. Normally you feel the subtle up as the element is raised, not so here. Cabochon and I went, pulled and it was like tensing yourself to lift a heavy box only to discover it's light. I nearly did the energy-raising equivalent of falling backwards. LOL

The ceremony itself was beautiful. For the first time ever, I had the words colour-coded and bullet-pointed into a book (which Aud had bought me), but the vast majority of the ceremony was improvised right there and then, as these things should be.The Handfasting. Photo by Branny (click for site) Then a beautiful moment of synchroncity...

Earlier, as Froggie and I had left his shop, he'd picked up a staff. He asked if I wanted to use it in the ceremony, but I had my stang for that. He opted to bring it anyway and was holding it during the handfasting. Cabochon and I managed to handfast Pixie and Dirk together, then I turned to find the stang... I'd left it in the tower! I was just about to cut myself a door to run and get it, when Froggie chucked me his staff. I laid it down, the couple, handfast, leapt over it, and there! They were Bride and Groom. I loved it! I loved the pure synchronicity of it! Loved it!

The food and mead were blessed by Bride and Groom, then taken around to share with all. By now, the wind and rain are really starting to lash down. Pixie and Branny look frozen to death, but most everyone else have huge grins on their faces. Once they were back, I announced,
'For those who think that they may die of hypothermia, I'm about to cut a door in the circle. Everyone else, all that's left is to take the circle down.' Branny left quickly; Alan left after Aud kicked him out for 'farting about', everyone else stayed. Pixie and Dirk both looked so cold that I expected them to run too, but Pixie told me later that she didn't think it was right with the rest of us stuck out there.

Me? I was perfect. I was dry. The elements threw their worst at me and my robes kept me completely dry. Afterwards, I was to walk into a room of sopping wet people and announce, 'Ladies and gentlemen! Twin Rose Designs!' as only I and Dirk (in Cabochon's cloak) were dry. Only the people who had been wearing clothes made my Andrea. Aud and Bex both told me later that they never wanted to leave that circle ever, for all the weather. Cabochon was downright intoxicated on the energy by now as well. Ian was running around like a wild thing soon as he was able too. There must have been something in holding the elements or being clergy that got to us. It was such an amazing feeling. Still, I didn't know that right then and I know my own capacity for loving wildness doesn't always translate, so I ran to close the circle as the rain thundered down. Three times round, as Cabochon led those holding the points. I was high as a kite on the energies by then.

We hurriedly packed up, Cabochon asked me what to do with the last of the cake and I suggested that he crumple it up as an offer to deity and the spirits. He went outside just in time to see forked lightning on the horizon behind where fire had been raised. He came back even more hyperactive. People 'fled' (insofar as they were able, with the wind so high and the rain lashing down into our faces), but Ian and I were the last to leave the summit. Even though we just overtook Branny and Cabochon (poor wench had a torn ligament and Cab was helping her), we were only ever a few paces in front. I was only halfway down when I saw Aud go arse over tit near the bottom. She did her knee in, but was apparently on the floor for so long because she was laughing so much.

Laughing about covers us too. In truth I wanted to stay up there, which sounds strange to say, given the weather right then. I was just high, really high. No actual chemicals had entered my body, nor was I drunk. I was just loving every second of this. Beside me Ian was running wild too; behind us, Cabochon was bouncing around and in our little gang, only Branny was being cautious, though that may have been ankle related. She couldn't afford to slip!

Partway down, the path snakes around to face the south-east and I couldn't move! The wind was so strong that I couldn't walk against it. I held out my arms thinking that I could start flying in reality, riding on the wind. Ian and I did that in Wales once, during a strong wind on Cader Idris and I wanted to do it from the Tor; but I must have been too heavy to lift up, even though it was too strong for me to walk into. Like a solid wall, that wind, until Ian grabbed me and pulled me through and us laughing our heads off.

We eventually reached the bottom, getting to just by Dion Fortune's house before Branny went over on her ankle. She just went pure white and you could tell she wanted to cry, but she didn't. I was expecting to learn some new Dutch swearwords, but she was very restrained. Very slowly, covered in two Cancerian males and me, she breathed out and her colour came back. There was nothing we could do, short of her waiting while I fetched the car. That could have been up to half an hour in that rain. She braved the walk over the pneumonia and we went on, swigging mead and whiskey; me and Cabochon being told to slow down every 100 yards, as we got over-excited and started Tigger-ing up the road. Ian kept pace with Branny, with us running backwards and forwards. It was so much fun! (Obviously not for Branny...)

Back at the George and Pilgrim, Froggie was in the bar, but everyone else had gone upstairs to dry off or get changed. We got Branny sat down and I ran to get a stool to put her foot up on. I can't really remember much else, I think I was just way too hyper. I know that I raced up to Pixie and Dirk's room and Pixie asked me to gather everyone up there rather than in the bar below. I did that then, running up and down stairs, trying to get the message to everyone. That took some time! In the finish, I was in the bar gathering Froggie, when Bex and Pete arrived down. I was trying to shepherd them upstairs, when Pixie and Dirk turned up. I was just bouncing around, happy to have a drink anywhere.

We did end up upstairs again. By now, even the outer coating of my robes were dry.Pixie I was in shock, because they had no right to be. I had to call Andrea! I did so and the phone went around the whole room, with Pixie trying to intercept it because it was running my phone-bill up. It came to me, I said hello and passed her to Branny. I think Pixie gave up around then. Bless her.

The standing, half-serious joke of the evening was Pixie, every 20 mins or so, hushing us all up. She'd read the blarb on a sheet which came with the room. 'This is a 700 year old building and, as such, has no soundproofing...' Pixie would get us told with that line and everything would go into low voices for all of 30 seconds, then rise and rise. I had no hope of hearing. I was lip-reading and bouncing around a lot.

The call went for food at around 11. No restaurant in a small town is going to let you in at that time, particularly 11, reasonably drunk people. You'd get fed in a city, but not somewhere like Glastonbury. However, Aud and Bex managed to wing something over at the local Italian restaurant, but only if we seated now. I turned to find no people behind me. I wrapped my shawl around me and headed off back into the rain and night, so loving that rain! (Really, that's not sarcasm, that's why I volunteered to go!) I found the Bride, Groom and assorted stragglers in their room, still in the George and Pilgrim. Then Alan appeared behind me, they were refusing to feed us unless we went NOW.

Off we toddled for a beautiful meal there. Came to pay and found that Cabochon had paid for us all. He's such a wonderful man.

Cabochon, Pixie and Dirk

We were up until the early hours, making way too much noise for a 700 year old building with no soundproofing; drinking mead, wine and whiskey, eating cheese. I felt like I could stay up all night, but married couples might need to go to bed... Crank calling people... probably on my phone bill, but I was way too drunk by then to notice. ;-) It's still cool, if it was.

Branny and I had us a cup of tea in our room. I offered to read her a bedtime story from the free Gideon's Bible, but she declined. Almost as soon as my head hit the pillow, I was asleep.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Five children questioned after boy, 5, left hanging

'Kin hell...

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