Ambresbury Banks, Epping Forest, Essex

Breaking my own listening rules

All sorts of myths and legends have arisen surrounding Ambresbury Banks: according to some it was the site of the last stand of Boudica against the Romans in AD 61; according to others, it was re-purposed by Aurelianus Ambrosius against the invading Saxons sometime in the 5th century. Who knows? What is known is that it is part of a group of Iron Age hill forts in the area that were probably built to defend the Trinovantes (Essex area) against the Catuvellauni (Hertfordshire area). 

Other legends talk of ghostly sightings and eerie presences: Romans, black dogs, highwaymen, Boudica herself. Take your pick. But, take it from me, there’s something a bit weird going on here. There’s definitely an unwelcoming vibe. Its not malevolent exactly. If I had to put my finger on it, I would say the place felt wary of me.

Ambresbury banks did not want to be found. I had a right job locating it, far more so than I should have done. When I finally found it, I asked if I could approach as I always do. The answer was no. I pushed a bit and felt quite an energetic push back; I took a step forward and sank down to the level of my ankles in a leaf bog. I absolutely should have taken that as a no and I would have done and left any other time. That’s my rule. But, for some reason, I didn’t. I think it was because the place felt like it was protecting itself against me and I wanted, in my human hubris, to show it that it had nothing to be frightened of. I wanted to see if I could help it. So I pushed forward.

I sat on the bank and listened. The wariness had turned to sadness, tinged with bitterness. What had happened here??? My attention became fixed on the sound of the traffic on the nearby road. I’m up against traffic noise all the time and (with the exception of motorbikes And military jets) I’ve become adept at filtering it out. But today, I could not get beyond the traffic sound. Was that the problem? Not the energetic remains of a battle at all, but something as simple as the natural frequency of the place being disturbed by a road? It seemed crazy, but the more I sat there, the more convinced I became that that was the problem. I told the place that I understood and that I was truly sorry for the traffic noise. I then asked whether it would like to share its true song with me. Nothing for about 25 minutes. Then I heard the song. With tears streaming down my face, I began to sing along out loud, gifting back the song that the place had been deprived of by my own kind.

This is simple healing work. Its not complicated to hear and sing the song of the land, but it does require patience, stillness and a willingness to listen deeply. As I learned today, it also requires the occasional breaking of rules – and the intuition to know when to do so.

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