Category Archives: Ancient Stones…

In the mists of time, the people created monoliths and stone circles, and engraved spirals into stone pillars…why?

Gobekli-Tepe and The Outer Limits, First Series

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Gobekli-Tepe and The Outer Limits

This photo of the face at Gobekli-Tepe reminded me of something and suddenly I knew what–the first episode of The Outer Limits, First Series, in which Cliff Robertson defends an alien visitor.

Gobekli-Tepe and The Outer Limits

That first episode has stayed with me for such a long time, the haunting image and theme it had. The similarity to the stone monument is mesmerizing! What accounts for the convergence of like entities thousands of years apart?

The Gobekli-Tepe site, discovered in Anatolia in 1994, is awesome…beyond awesome. See the National Geographic article on it, with photos that seem to enter an alternate reality, at
http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/06/gobekli-tepe/musi-photography

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Stonehenge An Hour Before Dawn

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Stonehenge before dawn

In the summer of 2006 I visited Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England. Before heading overseas, I arranged with the English Heritage Society to have a pre-dawn hour at Stonehenge, which cost just 25£. It was dark when I arrived before 5 a.m., after the 39-mile drive down from Somerset, where I had been staying. I found myself in a small parking lot that lay on the other side of a highway running past the ancient monolith. A park ranger was in an office that lay beneath the road, but for awhile I thought no one was there and that I’d not get in at all. To this day I don’t know if he was there just for me or if he was on the night shift, guarding the place. He directed me through a tunnel that ran under the highway and under a fence. I went up some stairs in the dark, and stepped out into Stonehenge.

I had the hour to myself. The person who had driven me down had been there, done that, he said, and so he stayed outside the circle, though he took several photos, like the one here, and the one after dawn had come that is on the slider on the Home page of this website.

I moved among the stones, touching each one, aware of nothing else. It was a time of no thought. I felt an energy and power I absorbed but had no words to explain, nor wanted any.

I left England a week later, and did not return for two years. I’ll write of that 2008 visit in another post, for then I visited other ancient stones, including Avebury, and that set in motion a major shift in perception. But the experience in Stonehenge was the catalyst that drew me back.

Stonehenge and Prehistoric Britain

Over six thousand years ago the people in Britain created massive monuments and stone circles and dolmens and passage graves, all to honor their dead. We don’t know how they did it without technology and with only stone tools. What did they use to lift tons of stone blocks and lay them upon other stones in the circle? What ceremonies did they perform then, and why? Such mystery rises out of that time. It is a wonder with the many invasions of Britain by the Romans, by marauders like the Vikings, by Germanic tribes, by the Normans–the endless trail of men seeking to own other men and land–yet these monuments stayed far more intact than seems possible.

They are magnificent. They are more than signs from the past. In their presence, we change.

Atacama Desert in Chile

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Atacama DesertAtacama Desert

The Atacama Desert of Chile is a vast, empty plain, as barren as the surface of Mars, and as mesmerizing. Anything can be imagined in that landscape. Going there would bring to the senses something primal and whole that exists for the most part free of the influence of humankind. Like going back to the beginning. And so will I go there, if time and fate allow.

This desert has figured in two things I’ve written, a screenplay titled “Masquerade, Anyone?” and a novel, Gene Pool. The screenplay is a caper about a private detective and thieves; the novel is about genetic engineering. In both, the Atacama Desert, the most arid desert in the world, is just a backdrop in short sequences, but in the backstory, it was a place that I couldn’t get out of my mind. It is in truth in a few locations the center of astonishing discoveries and research in astronomy and unmanned space exploration.

(Photos courtesy of Danielle Pereira)

Walking the Walls of York

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Walls of York

One of the most memorable journeys I have taken to the U.K. included walking the walls of York. I hadn’t planned to do so. Coming in by train, I saw York Minster first, built in 637 A.D., a testament to the endurance of faith, and it was my primary destination. I went there as soon as I had settled in to the B & B. It was March and still a bit chilly. The cathedral, though, was in bright sunlight. I had been inside cathedrals before, but none like this. As I entered, the organist was rehearsing a piece and the music thundered through the massive space. The stained glass windows held me in thrall, and for a few minutes that was all I did, listen to the music and gaze on the color and light that filled the space.

York Minster

I went out after a couple of hours, aware that the place had entered my spirit and would never leave.

I then went strolling through the center of York, itself a delight. There were lace shops and narrow medieval streets in The Shambles and the people were welcoming and friendly. A highlight was having a cream tea in Betty’s Café Tea Room in St. Helen’s Square, not far from the Minster. I still remember the luxury of it, the warm environment, the feeling of all being right with the world. York seemed to emanate that feeling. I know I was happy there, watching the world go by amidst sunlight and tea, and on a chair beside me were precious gifts made by local artists to bring home.

Betty's Cafe Tea Room York

When I left Betty’s I wandered through what I thought was an alleyway, but it wasn’t. I kept seeing people walking up stone stairs, dressed in business suits, some of them, others casual, but all of them obviously climbing up to the walls. It was the shortest way to get where they wanted to go! The walls were originally built to protect the city against the constant sea of invaders who coursed over to the British Isles to pillage and conquer (not all successfully, but alas, most were). Gatehouses like the Monk’s Bar and Micklegate Bar still exist, once used to control traffic (walking and animal) in medieval times and also to serve as toll houses—extracting monies from travelers.

There was nothing for it but that I had to see the walls for myself, and I went up to them somewhere near Lendal Bridge, I think. I didn’t come back down again until I had walked the whole 2.6 miles, which took about an hour. The whole time I could see York Minster rising up, and the city itself and lands beyond it for miles and miles. What I recall most of all were the daffodils growing wild everywhere. Some parts of the wall were not traveled much and I was alone for a short while in those places, with only the stones and the green grass and daffodils to see, and it felt as if I could be walking in medieval times, and sometimes I have wondered if, for an interval, perhaps I was.

Walls of York and Daffodils

York is a grand place to see and know and experience.

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