knowing when not to listen
One of the constants of listening to the land is the trouble one often has with finding the more off-the-beaten-track locations. If I do find somewhere after a challenging search, I’m usually a little high with pleasure just to be there. King Arthur’s Cave, however, is the first place I have found after having completely given up looking for it. I’d gone back to the car and pulled into the first available lay-by to turn around. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a noticeboard. I like noticeboards a lot because they always teach you something interesting about the local flora, fauna or geology. So in the hope of learning something new which might mitigate my cave finding failure, I got out of the car to take a look. I liked this noticeboard even more than usual because it informed me that King Arthur’s Cave was ¼ mile away to the east.
When I arrived, it was the golden hour. I could hear red kites calling and sheep in the fields below. As is often the case when I’m on the land, I felt joyful. I sat outside the cave for a while, just soaking in the summer evening. In truth, I was reluctant to venture out of the life-affirming light into the darkness and goodness know what of the cave.
But eventually, the cave called and I entered. As the light from outside dimmed, so did the sound from outside. But soon the quiet of the cave became very loud. I started to feel a little scared, but checked myself and sat on my stool in the dark. I often have difficulty finding the language to describe what I hear and this is one of those occasions. Because what I could hear was the breath of animals that weren’t there.
I sat with that for a while and it was fine and then, suddenly, it wasn’t fine. I got spooked and left. Outside the cave I met a friendly terrier followed by its friendly owner and everything was fine again.
Why did I leave the cave so quickly? One of the tasks in listening to the land is to offer healing in whatever way seems necessary and I and many others do what we can. I’ve encountered some weird stuff on my listening travels and I like to think I’m pretty sturdy when it comes to uncomfortable energies. But this was something that, at the time, felt beyond me. I think its important to acknowledge to ourselves when we come up against something like that. If in any doubt, it really is best – for us and for the land – to venture no further on that visit.