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Monday, July 27, 2015

Steven Lawhead: The Magic of Stone Circles

Deep-shadowed and dark, with an air of imponderable mystery emanating from the thick-corded trunks and twisting limbs, and even the soil itself, the sacred druid grove seemed a world unto itself.

In the center of the grove stood a small stone circle. The moment I set foot in the ring of stones I could feel ancient power, flowing like an invisible river around the hilltop, which was an eddy in the ever-streaming current. The feeling of being surrounded by swirling forces, of being picked up and carried off on the relentless waves of this unseen river nearly took my breath; I labored to walk upright against it, my flesh tingling with every step.

The others did not feel it in the same way, or if they did gave no indication and said nothing about it. This, of course, was why the hilltop was chosen in the first place, but still I wondered that Hafgan and Blaise did not appear to notice the power flowing around and over them. 

--from Merlin by Steven Lawhead

I thought about Steven Lawhead's books when I visited Stonehenge. His novels often interweave the rich history of England's past with the myths, legends, and beliefs of previous centuries. Stone circles, such as Stonehenge and the one featured in Merlin, can be found all over Great Britain. These places, we believe, played a meaningful role in the spiritual lives of those who erected them. 

When the owner of a Bed & Breakfast asked us about our visit to Stonehenge, I mentioned the procession we passed as we headed back to the tour bus. He said, "Oh yes, there's always a bunch of kooks out there," or words to that effect. His response reminds me of my visit to the little church in Falmer, on my previous visit to England in 2013. The priest, who also served as a counselor at a local university, felt the students saw him as largely irrelevant. The students, he believed, were influenced by the British media, which was entirely secular, if not anti-religion.

Recently a priest spoke at my local church on the difference between Science and Scientism. He preached that every field of human interest had its purpose. Science had its purpose, to help us understand the world we live in, but so did religion. Scientism, he suggested, is the attempt to make Science explain fields of human interest that it is not designed to explain. Like Science, he believed Religion played an equally valid role in human society. 

Just as theories in Science come and go, so do beliefs about the spiritual realm. We apply the role of evolution broadly these days, to all fields of human interest, as if to suggest that our progress as a species is constantly following an upward trend, that we are continually getting closer and closer to the "truth." But really, isn't it just that we humans are changeable people, that we are always hunting for something new and different to excite us, enliven us, and add a new dimension to our lives? Is the "New" always "Better", or is it really just "New"?

So, should I regard the procession I saw at Stonehenge as a bunch of kooks? Or were they people holding beliefs different yet equally valid to my own, who are as intelligent as the most prominent scientists, and sense a power I cannot that enriches their lives? What do you think? 

Dragon Dave

Related Dragon Cache entries
St. Laurence in Falmer

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