There has been a lot of discussion on the NEReaders Forum about transpersonal experiences at ancient sites. This inspired David Taylor to share with NE readers two of his own experiences at Avebury a few years ago.
A Flash of Inspiration
In the Winter on 1992 a series of events were about to be set in motion that were to lead me to question my established views of reality.
Late one mid-week evening in January my peace was shattered by the telephone ringing. It was late, but it was something I was used to – late night calls from people wanting to report a variety of paranormal experiences. But this phone call was different. The voice on the other end of he line was different, strange even. A very deep gruff voice asked to speak to me. When I replied it was me speaking the voice became even deeper, almost more animal. In a deep, snorting voice it said “Averbury. The 9th. All of you”. Thinking fast I tried to stall for time, and mumbled something about Avebury. Before I could finish the voice continued “Avebury. The 9th. 9 o’clock. All of you”. And before I could open my mouth, the phone went dead!
The experience left me a little shaken. Before I could compose myself the phone rang. Not again I thought! This time it was my friend Jane from Coventry. She asked, rather sheepishly if I had just had a strange phone call. I replied that I had and asked her why. She recounted that she had had a similar phone call to the one I had just had. The only difference is that her mysterious caller had told her to ring me! This was getting stranger by the minute, and it had only just begun!
We worked it out that the voice was asking, even telling us to go to Avebury, the stone circle in Wiltshire. The next ‘9th’ was in a couple of weeks – Saturday 9th February. The ‘all of you’ could only relate to a small group of researchers, psychics and mediums that met in the Warwicksire area of which I was a member. Unfortunately it proved impossible to get the others to go at short notice. So the afternoon of the 9th saw three of us, Jane, myself and our friend Robin, travelling down the motorway to Wiltshire, unsure exactly what to expect.
It was dark by the time we arrived in Avebury. The majestic splendour of the largest neolithic stone circle in Europe was lost on us due to the dark. The occasional road side stone was illuminated in the car headlights, adding to the eerie atmosphere of the whole journey.
Unsure exactly what to do or expect, we had a drink in the village pub. At 8.30pm we made our way down towards the church. The voice had not been specific about where in Avebury we should go. As we crunched our way up the church path the church clock struck 9. We all jumped out of our skins before bursting into laughter. This was getting tense! It was then that Jane commented that she had the feeling we were being watched. With my heart still beating from the shock of the church bells and with my tongue in my check, I addressed whatever ‘it’ was that had sent us all this was on this supernatural errand. I said we had come a long way, that we weren’t expecting much, nothing too spectacular, a couple of flashes of light would do. We waited. And of course, nothing happened!
Feeling that we had been made proper fools of, we decided to cut our losses and have another drink in the pub before the long journey back to Coventry. But before we entered the pub I noticed a gate opposite the pub car park. Perhaps, I suggested, we should have a look in the field, see what was there.
Grudgingly we crossed over the road and into the field opposite. Three huge stones loomed up out of the darkness. We examined them, and decided that the pub was still looking like a better idea. It was then that we saw a bright white flash of light in the clouds above the pub infront of us. We stopped in our tracks and waited. Nothing. It was then that Robin suggested we stand by one of the stones and meditate. With nothing to loose we did just that. After 10-15 minutes we opened our eyes. The spiritual soon gave was to the practical – we could still get a drink in the pub! Before we could move there was another bright white flash of light in the clouds above the pub. Again we waited for it to happen again. We must have stood there for 20 minutes. Nothing happened. Our minds raced back to earlier at the church and Jane’s feeling of being watched. Had we got what we had asked or – a couple of flashes of light?
We drove back to Coventry in silence and puzzlement. Why had we been instructed to go to Avebury? Who or what was the voice? What had caused the flashes of light?
The Eyes have it
In the late 1990’s I instigated an experiment based on the ongoing dream incubation experiments undertaken by Paul Devereux at the Dragon Project Trust. The Trust had been founded by Paul, to investigate claims that ‘energies’ existed at ancient sacred sites. One of the many ongoing projects of the Trust was ‘Project Interface’. In its simplest form, this was set up to see if human consciousness could interact with the ‘spirit of place’ at ancient sites. The easiest way to achieve this was by getting volunteers to sleep and hopefully dream at a series of selected sites around the country.
My little experiment was on a much smaller scale than this, but I hoped that it would yield some interesting results. The ancient site I had chosen was West Kennet Long Barrow near Avebury in Wiltshire. Accompanying me on my visit was my friend Owen. This should be an ideal location. It is a place of mythic liminality and its associated folklore was ideal for the experiment.
We had spent the day in Glastonbury, arriving in Avebury in the early evening. After fortifying ourselves with food at the local pub, we made our way to the barrow. Any expectations that we would be on our own were soon dashed. A neolithic burial chamber is obviously the place to be on a Saturday night in Wiltshire if the hoards of people were anything to go by. As the night drew on, the crowds grew less, until only three or four other people remained. We quietly retired to the inside of the chamber with our sleeping bags. As we settled ourselves on the hard, cold floor, Owen appeared to have fallen asleep instantly, while I lay there trying not to think of the various creepy-crawlies that could be making their way towards my nose and ears as I lay blissfully unaware in the dark. Spending nights in haunted houses perched over gaping hell-mouths was easy, but a night in the dark with spiders and ear wigs – forget it!
As my resolve finally broke, I found myself sat on top of the burial chamber wrapped in my sleeping bag. In all directions I was surrounded by the inky blackness of the rural Wiltshire countryside. It was now the early hours of the morning and all was quiet. To keep myself warm and my mind occupied I began to slowly pace along the top of the mound. The repetition of walking meant that I soon entered a mild altered state of consciousness. It was then, as a paced towards the far end of the mound that I caught a brief glimpse of two glowing red ‘eyes’. It all happened so quickly, but a few feet in front of me, about the same height off the ground as dog’s eyes would be, were two glowing red points of light, which my brain interpreted as eyes. In an instant they was gone, and I was left all alone in the darkness.
The intended dream incubation experiment may not have been a success, but perhaps I had experienced something far more interesting and important.
Interestingly, the mound is traditionally visited by a white spectral figure accompanied by a white red-eared hound at sunrise on Midsummer’s day. Our visit had been in August, but still interesting. There is a slim possibility that this tradition is a folk memory of a ritual event or at least a time thought to have been significant in the use of the barrow.
Published in NE127 (Autumn 2011), pp.22-23
The Eyes of the Goddess at West Kennet Long Barrow
In NE167 (March 2022), John Palmer sent us this account of a personal experience very similar to David Taylor’s
This story harks back to those days when one of my favourite ancient sacred sites, the neolithic Avebury henge in Wiltshire, was still cared for by the Ministry of Works, long before English Heritage took over and ‘promoted’ this neolithic marvel.
Having arrived one afternoon at Avebury, I sojourned around the ancient stones. latter I visited the local pub, where I had a pint of fine cider. It was getting late, I needed to find a place to crash; I put out my thumb and soon I was on my way towards West Kennet Long Barrow. I was dropped nearby; the weather was fair, the farmer was burning the stubble and slowly the fires crept across the field.
The sun had gone beyond the horizon and with darkness descending I unrolled my sleeping bag within one of the cells of the tomb.
After a while, I thought I heard voices, and looking up, I saw the passage immersed in golden light. By then I was wondering whether the farmer’s son was playing a joke on me, following which I decided to await the prankster behind the huge blocking stone. I looked out intently at the stile, the customary approach to the monument. The fires had died out. Even so, I distinctly saw a black figure standing at the stile. It was most convincing, though it was not moving at all.
While I was waiting for the figure to move and approach the barrow entrance, suddenly there was a lightning flash, but no thunder. I could see for miles, but the landscape which then unfolded before my eyes, down to the very horizon, was a different landscape from that I’d seen prior to entering the tomb.
And when I returned to my Neolithic/megalithic ‘cell’, I saw, emblazoned on the ancient stone wall, two large shallow circles. The illusion was most real indeed – I touched those ‘engravings’, marvelling how smooth they were! Gosh, what an amazing discovery, not mentioned anywhere in the archaeological reports! Note that all this happened long before the present widespread Goddess association with megalithic monuments. The next day, I informed the caretaker at Avebury Museum about the ‘overlooked’ engravings, a surprising discovery indeed.
Many years later I returned to the site – but I found no trace of the Eyes of the Goddess, though what I’d experienced was not a dream, but in-depth reality, an experience I recall in every detail.
Please do not publish this story without adding a request to ‘respect the site, light no fires, leave no litter’!
David Talor preplied in NE168 (June 2022):
I was interested to read John Palmer’s experience at West Kennet long barrow (NE167, p24). Sometime around 1997/8, inspired by the Dragon Project Trust’s experiment of dreaming at ancient sites, I had set off to Avebury with my friend Owen to see if we could replicate these experiments.
Spending most of the day in Glastonbury, we set off to Avebury. After walking around the henge and grabbing something to eat, as twilight loomed, we set off to West Kennet long barrow.
We had expected to be on our own at the site, but we were greeted by an assortment of pagans and New Age types. As it got darker and colder the masses made a hasty retreat, leaving just Owen and myself. We settled ourselves in one of the side-chambers of the barrow, each snugly wrapped in our sleeping bags. It had been a long day, and Owen went out like a light, leaving me to contemplate the possibility of spiders crawling up my nose! Spirits of the prehistoric dead I can deal with, but not spiders.
So it was a few minutes later that I found myself sat cross-legged atop the capstone directly above the entrance, using my sleeping bag as a giant padded cape. Around me was utter darkness and silence.
To keep myself warm and occupied I had decided to pace from one end of the barrow to the other, I suppose entering some mild altered state of consciousness. Because of this I am unsure of the time, but I suppose it was sometime between 2-3am.
As I approached the halfway point of the barrow, walking away from the entrance, I was startled by the sight before my eyes. For a fraction of a second, directly in front of me were two glowing red points of light. Their size, distance apart and height off the ground strongly suggested to me that they were the glowing red eyes of some creature, like a hound. As quickly as they appeared, they were gone; and to be honest, so were we. I quickly woke Owen inside the barrow and we stumbled our way back down the field to the safety of the car!