The Stones of Callanish

Photograph by Kenny Fenton, husband of visiting writer Valorie Wells Fenton

“Four rows of stone lead into a circle from the four directions, forming a Celtic cross in the landscape. Like both Stonehenge and the ring of Brodgar on Orkney, Callanish is a megalithic astronomical observatory aligned to the solstice sunrises and sunsets as well as to the sun’s equinoctial movements.”- Kindling the Celtic Spirit by Mara Freeman

 The Isle of Lewis is presumed to be the home of my ancient Druid ancestors and so, after being married by the sea, at sunset, on the Isle of Islay and visiting the ruins of my ancestral enemies, I was really excited to set foot at Callanish.

 Legends abound about the powers of Callanish. In fact, some are wonderful and some are quite awful: a farmer who has great success in growing helpful herbs is said to be “of the stone”. (check out my urban garden and blue-white ceramic pots of herbs). But it was also said to have been a place of “heathenism and human sacrifice”.

Generally, the legend states that on Beltaine (May 1) the cuckoo perches on the Callanish stones to call the folks in to celebrate the beginning of summer.

And at sunrise on Summer Solstice, the cuckoo (female, always) returns to herald in the Shining One, appearing as a brilliant white beam of sunlight filling the long stone way.

 To that end, then, I was not prepared for my own reaction to the place.

When we drove up to the site, it was just a wee hilltop, set aside from a small village with the most trivial of fencing and a gravel parking area. That’s it. No signage, no ticker-sellers and not even a plaque!

So, of course, himself proceeds to break out the gear and disappears under the black hood and I begin to walk gingerly around the outer-most circle.

Someone has thoughtfully provided a gravel foot path from the parking area right up to the sacred circle.

 And the moment my foot left that modern gravel path, I was beset with the horrific sound of a million bees in my ears!  As I stepped back in time, to the new path, it ceased.

I tried again to enter the circle from another direction, as it was nearing sunset on an early September eve, I thought it best to try a more westerly entrance.

Whoa….intense vertigo!

Who wouldn’t jump back, I thought?

 So, I sat on a nearby recently placed stone and kindly asked the Great Spirits if I might enter and watch the sunset in reverence to my ancestors.

A warm humming began in my head as my heart increased it’s beat.  I stood and took one step closer, humming a wordless song of sharps and flats that seemed to flow from the sound in my mind.

Blam!  I had only taken a total of three steps (can you say trinity?) when I clearly heard a chorus of strong female voices say, “You shall not enter this place again.”

 The message that rushed through me was filled with a deep power and yet decidedly maternal intent in this protective pronouncement.

 After this shove from the brink of a long-lost time, I was back into the now orange-glow of another stealthy Scottish sunset, met with the excited grin of my shining new, red-headed husband, beaming with the revelation of yet some more “great shots”.

And, as good Druid princesses know, on Summer Solstice in Scotland, the sun remains as a great fiery ball until nearly midnight, filling the night air with a golden, musky whisper of a long, long night of love.

Ahh, Bonnie Scotland indeed.

4 thoughts on “The Stones of Callanish

  1. I played amongst those stones 50 plus years ago when there were no tourists, less mystical fancifiers.
    It was a place of sacrifice as we were told even as children.
    It was also a protective place.
    Lewis is a place of mixed blood.
    Some people of weak spirit others of tremendous Viking energy.
    There is wildness and brutality, tremendous kindness and bonds of loyalty.
    There are many things that are not so far in the past as people would like to think – not now but within memory of the generations.

    A stopping place for vikings going across to as far as Canada. The stones are a calendar, for when its good to set sail…

    I doubt they noticed you

  2. Wish I was there and wonder what my reaction would have been. Would they allow a sister of the earth to enter and gain wisdom or remain outside the arms of their reach?

  3. I really really like pre historic sites and standing stones. When in England we got a great after hours tour of Stone Henge and went to other alignments. In Carnac France there are also a great many standing stones, so if anyone gets the chance, go there, too.

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