The day started with thunder and pouring rain. I lay in bed and wondered abut starting my pilgrimage along the Mary Michael Way with these conditions. Actually, it wasn't smart - being out on the rocks with lightening and thunder, while dramatic, was downright dangerous!
So, I lay in bed for a while longer and then got up, organized myself some more, packed for the day and wrote. As I did all of this, the rain lessened, the skies became lighter and the eventually the sun came out.
I ended up getting the 12:30 bus up on the hill above my room. I asked the bus driver if he went through Polgigga, that I pronounced with all hard "g's". He told me that yes, the bus did go through Poljigga - soft "g" in the middle. More and more, I found myself practicing the Cornish way of pronouncing their words - and literally wrapping my mouth around the shape of the sounds and the accents. I am learning Cornish, very slowly. Before coming down here, I listened to the first lesson no less than twenty times - and understand it quite well. I had hoped to listen to the lessons while I walk but I find myself feeling nervous about the amount of juice in my iPhone. It is my map, my camera and my language tutor too - that's a lot to ask for one piece of equipment to do! Right now, it's also my laptop and writing program as well, complete with Bluetooth keyboard!
I walked a short walk from Polgigga down to the sea right past "Far Away" cottage. The rocks of Carn Les Boels were tucked down from the horizon and it wasn't until I literally walked upon them that I experienced their magnificence. Boldly they just out from the cliffs of the coastline just south of Lands End. They are covered with fine green grass and scatteredwith wildflowers in whites, yellows, pinks and purples. Not exactlysure what to do, and wondering how to make this moment special, I sat as far out as I was willing to go, took a few pictures, ate some of my baguette chicken sandwich, and asked outloud some questions! On the way down, I had started to ask for the support and guidance as I walk this path, and here on the rocks, at the point at which the Michael and Mary line intersect and enter into the landmass of England/Cornwall, I took in the magnitude of this journey that I am embarking on.
I feel very connected to this place, this country, this path, and to both Mary and Michael. I also asked Green Man, an embodiment of St. Michael, who has been with me as a guide and presence for five years now, and even more strongly since my first pilgrimage up to Rosslyn five years ago, to join me as well. I always wear a small silver pendant of Green Man that I bought at Rosslyn. My other specific request was for Sarah, my namesake and daugher of Mary, and whose presence I also wear in a small silver pendant that I bought in southern France at Saintes Maries de la Mer where she is revered as the Black Madonna. She provides with me a more personal and feminine guidance, and grounds me in my body as I walk on this earth with my two feet. I asked all of my spirit guides be with me, and to guide, provide and protect me as I walk this path.
I also read outloud the poem that is at the beginning of my Mary Michael guidebook, written by Brenda Desborough:
The Node Stone
Be still, for this is sacred ground,
A place tostand and pause. Reflect
upon the pathway here -
The lessons learned, the gifts received.
Be still, and listen to the voice
That sings a song of unity,
Blessing the journey still to come
With love and deep humility.
With gratitude and excitement, I set off on the path! I first followed the coastal path for a short ways, then turned right up a creek path to reconnect with the path I had walked down not far from Far Away cottage. There was something reassuring about walking something familiar, even though walking it now felt different and connected in a different way. As I walked back toward Polgigga, I walked through beautiful hedgerows painted with many different wildflowers. Today, the Queen Anne's lace felt the most expressive. As I walked, I also sang. I made up my own songs about walking the path of the Magdalenes. This felt reassuring, especially as I could sing whatever words I felt like singing and when I couldn't think of new words, I sang again words I had already sung and made them into the chorus!
I only walked 6-7 miles yesterday into St. Buryan. I did this intentionally as my legs have the red splotches of "walker's legs" again and I don't want to overdue it and then have to rest for several days. This is a condition where the capillaries break, so I am being clearly reminded to walk softly, especially on the tarmacked roads. I walked alot of roads yesterday through quiet wooded countryside and more open farmland, and did not meet another walker.
The highlight of my walk happened at Alsia Well. I thought that I had missed the turning to it because I walked right through Bosfranken Farm and forgot to turn right off the road and onto a footpath. All was okay and instead, I walked down along the road into a sweet little gathering of homes down by a creek. I remembered to look again at my guidebook, which said to climb steep steps through the hedgrow just before the first cottage on the right, Granary Barns. I back tracked to find the steep stone steps, climbed through them to find myself in an open field near a house. It felt different up there, and I was also aware that I was on private property. I looked around a bit, but not seeing any signs of a well, I turned around and started to head back to the street. An older gentleman came out of the house, and asked me if I was lost. I replied that no, I was not lost but looking for the well. He told me that the sign had fallen down, and was the next thing on his list to do. I laughed, and said that of course it was. He responded quite earnestly that it truly was the next thing on his list!
Along with his friend, Pat, I was taken to the well down past the field of his unusual breed of sheep who had just been shorn for the summer. Pat left me there on my own and said to take as much time as I needed. It was truly a beautiful, serene, abundant place. I felt so grateful, honored and blessed to have been guided and taken here. Thank you.
I took off my socks and boots, and dipped my feet into the cool water, and bathed my red splotchy legs with these sacred, healing waters. I sat, gave thanks and even sketched picture of this sweet place. There were so many different types of plants and flowers here - as I really paid deep attention as I drew, I marveled at how many different types of plants there were.
Trevor, the owner of the land and house, and it turns out, this well, told me that is the only well in Cornwell, that was not found by the Church and given a saints name. To this day, it remains the well of the goddess.
I noticed above the stones that were laid over 2500 years ago to protect and house this sacred well, were branches of perhaps an apple tree that wound around like snakes. The presence of the goddess was everywhere in this grove where she is still honored, revered, and protected.
I gave my thanks, and asked for my wishes, as Pat had instructed me to do. Wondering what to give in return, I turned around to leave, and noticed ribbons and such hanging from a few branches just above my head. I knew that this was my clue and invitation to add something I valued to the offering. Immediately, I knew it was the silky thread bracelet that I had made in my time with three of my closest friends right before leaving. We each had chosen a color thread, along with two of their daughters, and we had each made a friendship bracelet to wear during the time of my pilgrimage. I knew that this bracelet, made in the loving circle of sisterhood, and with their daughters, coming into their maturing as young women, was the perfect gift, offering and thanks to the goddess. I undid its tight knot and tied it onto a branch, feeling very grateful to offer a gift of such value and meaning to this sacred place.
I walked back to Trevor's home and was invited in for a glass of sherry. I had a lovely time with both Trevor and Pat, and also bought Trevor's book "There are Pagans at the bottom of my Garden". This is his story of moving to Cornwall from the very northwest of Scotland and finding this sweet spot and its sacred well. I started reading it last night. I know that I was guided to meet Trevor and received the experience with him and the Alsia Well as a loving confirmation of my walking this ancient path.
I then walked the mile into St. Buryan and waited a half hour for the bus back to Penzance. Today I take the10:30 bus back to St. Buryan and walk the 8 or so miles into Penzance and to my room on Morrab Place, which its owner, Susie, tells me is on the Mary line. She was told this by her chimney sweep, who told her that this is the second most special and sacred house that he had experienced. I found it through airbnb.com and have a sweet room in this lovely, mostly undone, eccentric home at the bottom of a lane. I have not met Susie as she is away, but she has lived in Boulder, and spends much time in San Diego! Small world.
Must go and get myself ready for my walk today. Tonight is my last night in Penzance and tomorrow I walk into the unknown, heading east toward Truro and St. Austell over this next week.
I have appreciated taking this first part of my journey in smaller steps. It was a huge step to walk by myself and with each step, each mile, I am appreciating the gifts that come with walking solo. Now the next challenge is to walk to an unknown place to stay for the next night. I will not have a comfortable and known bed for each night. I will walk and trust the path to provide a safe, dry and affordable place to sleep and eat each night along the way, and that even with the predicted rains for Tuesday and Wednesday, that I will be okay, and that Path will guide, provide and protect me every step of the way.