Anyway, with that in mind, here are a few pictures of places I associate with Albion. Meditation on these images or, even better, in the course of a visit to them can bring one into contact with a spiritual quality that we associate with the idea of Albion. One should add that traditionally guardian angels exist in many places, both national and regional. Albion is the guardian angel of England, and perhaps the whole of Britain, but other places have their own angels. Though under the overall rulership of Albion, there will be many more local angels with their own special qualities.
Let's start with the Seven Sisters because I didn't explain why I think these cliffs have an Albion connection.
The origin of the name Albion is not known for certain but one suggestion is that it is linked to the Proto-Indo-European word for white (albho-) and so could refer to the chalk cliffs on the south of the island. These cliffs date back to the late Cretaceous period which was between 60 and 100 million years ago and were formed when microscopic skeletons of plankton that had drifted down to the sea bed were transformed into rock by the dual processes of heat and pressure. But another, more esoteric, interpretation could be that Britain was the White Island in a spiritual sense, a haven set apart where the gods walked in a kind of dream time of the archaic past. Pure speculation, of course, but carrying a poetic resonance that seems not out of place when you walk along these cliffs which lead eastwards to the equally powerful site at Beachy Head. Is this a major entry point to the island of Albion? When you consider that Pevensey Bay, where William the Conqueror landed in 1066 and where, around 600 hundred years before him, invading Saxons attacked these shores, is just down the road, the idea is not so fanciful.
More sea and cliffs but of a very different, much wilder, sort. This is Tintagel on the Cornish Atlantic coast, now inevitably a big tourist destination but, at one time, sufficiently out of the way to attract few visitors and therefore retain much of its mystery, though that could be said of many sites around the coasts of Cornwall. But the association of Tintagel with King Arthur can't be ignored in any overview of places significant to Albion. Even setting aside the doubts over his actual existence, Arthur was never really a king of England. He was, and perhaps still is, the king in Albion. He inhabits the land of imagination that lies between this world and the next and, as such, he carries in his mythic personality a link to Albion that all places associated with him pick up on. Tintagel's physical connection to Arthur may be tenuous but in the magical world of imagination and vision, that is not so important. If the stories are believed in, they become real (in a mythical sense) and the association is then valid.
Here are pictures of some of the stones at Avebury and of Silbury Hill. They are near each other in the county of Wiltshire, and are surely part of the same religious complex or sacred landscape. Avebury consists of an outer henge (a henge being a circular embankment of earth with an internal ditch which you can see in the top photo) which contains a large stone circle of about 100 stones (not all of which have survived) within which are two smaller stone circles. Its construction and expansion spanned the 600 years between 2,800 BC and 2,200 BC, a long period of time which tells us that this site was once of great spiritual significance. I think it also tells us of a community that was highly developed in a way that may not make much sense to 21st century materialists but should not be dismissed on that account. To walk around Avebury with one's imagination sympathetically engaged can open the inner mind up to feelings and ideas that have slipped far below the threshold of consciousness in modern man. An awareness of the sacred quality of the land and an insight into the oneness of earth, sky and human soul can be felt if one suspends the strictly rationalist attitude. This largely passive awareness is not one we should seek to fall back into completely, but we can be inspired by it to move beyond our limited form of self-consciousness to something higher and more in keeping with our divine origins.
Silbury Hill, which was built around 2,400 BC, is the largest prehistoric man-made mound in Europe but its purpose is not known. There doesn't seem to be a burial inside so one is free to speculate. Is it a crude pyramid, an astronomical site, a temple that brings one closer to the gods as one ascends to the top? You can't climb the hill now because of the damage hundreds of pounding feet would cause but years ago you were allowed to and I remember doing just that and feeling quite elated on reaching the summit. The land around is fairly flat so the views are extensive but the most dramatic sensation up there comes from experiencing the vastness of the sky which comes into greater prominence when one is part removed from the earth. For early man, unused to any great heights, it must have been been awe-inspiring in the true meaning of that over-used phrase.
Just over the way from Silbury Hill is West Kennet Long Barrow which is a burial site. It dates back to 3,600 BC and there were up to 50 people buried here though the inner chambers must have been used, presumably as a place of ritual, over a very long period of time since the tomb was not sealed until around 2,500 BC. If Silbury Hill opens one up to the sense of the infinite then this place, which is effectively a cave, takes one in the other direction, deep inside oneself. These are the two principal religious experiences that our forefathers would have known and their constructions were probably aimed at stimulating them. They can be related to height and depth, and associated with Father and Mother, the two parents of Creation.
Wiltshire is a county that still seems to speak of the Neolithic period in many ways. Not only does it contain a host of structures from that time, Stonehenge being the best known, but the landscape itself, while clearly very changed, retains a strong connection to the past. Many walks have convinced me that the communities that lived here thousands of years ago have left a mark on the land that has endured down through the ages. Were they in touch with Albion in a way we cannot comprehend now? Did they actually live in Albion?
The Cherhill White Horse near Calne was only cut out of the chalk in the 18th century but it seems to hark back to something much older. The hill itself is almost like a natural semi-amphitheatre.
To be continued.