On Tuesday, I spent the afternoon at Kingley Vale in Sussex.
I haven’t been there for five years and I’m not sure why I haven’t returned sooner. It’s about 20 miles away from where I live: distance shouldn’t be an excuse.
If you have the chance, you must visit Kingley Vale. It has beautiful yew trees that are said to be 2,000 years old and when you are amongst them, you can feel ancient energy permeating your skin. It’s a spot used regularly by local pagans for ritual so there’s always magic in the air (as you can see from this video clip of the late Maureen Wheeler).
When I am amongst the trees, I remember the connection to the land and the ancestors and I’m left with a desire to belong. I don’t feel this way when I’m at the sea, which I adore, because the sea feels limitless and I’m reminded of my significance/insignificance in the whole scheme of the Universe.
But those trees really tug at my roots.
I feel as if I’ve been forever searching for a spiritual connection to England. I know my family history for some 500 years back and apart from the odd Irish or Scottish inclusion, my maternal and paternal lines didn’t extend further than southern England (Sussex for my mum’s side and London & Oxfordshire on my father’s). The spiritual essence of this land has escaped me so far.
I love my eclectic approach to spirituality but I want to include my heritage to the mix. I think the problem is that there is no definite description to what British spirituality means because we’re an island of conquests with each conqueror happily overwriting what was there before. Christianity, of course, was instrumental in both destroying the old ways and preserving some of the little knowledge with have, albeit through the tainted quill of monks.
It’s harder to find the way but I’m getting closer.
There’s an ancestral voice calling me.
After Kingley Vale, I went to a talk on English Runes by Suzanne Rance in a little village called Sompting, which is the area where my maternal family tree congregates. I heard Old English being spoken for the very first time and it was like a song through time.
I also felt motivated to learn more about the runes. It’s my husband’s area of expertise and I’ve only dabbled but the talk enticed me to give the runes more consideration. Tarot is my divination of choice so it also brought up the question that has plagued me for decades: “What am I so afraid of finding if I veer my spiritual path to this land?”.
But times are changing. I’m changing.
This day in Sussex, home of my maternal ancestors and last Pagan county of England, renewed my spirit. I am putting roots down in the English soil for my spirituality to grow. Maybe I’ll stop searching because what I was looking for was under my feet the whole time.