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which includes the trilogy:
The Tall Stones
The Temple of the Sun
Shadow on the Stones
and the sequel:
The Silver Vortex
I believe that the Neolithic Stone Circles found throughout Britain formed a grid of spiritual energy which linked and sustained the isolated communities which existed in the Bronze Age. Their power could be manipulated by the well-intentioned, as well as the unscrupulous.
I: The Tall Stones
The Tall Stones is the first of four books. It is set in a small, isolated community in Bronze-Age Scotland. Threatened by the evil designs of Wardyke, a corrupt and ambitious priest, the village finds its only defence in the courage of Kyra, a young girl possessed of amazing psychic powers. In order to overcome Wardyke and break his hold, Kyra forces herself to enter the forbidden Sacred Stone Circle, the spiritual heart of her village, and to invoke the great powers of that mysterious place —powers which she does not understand and cannot control.
The writing of the book:
As a child I had various experiences which I suppose could be put under the general heading of 'psychic'. Moments of telepathy were not unusual for me, nor were sudden sensations of being distanced from my surroundings while powerful insights would come to me, well beyond my years. Sometimes I even felt I was slipping out of my body and could watch events fromabove. These last sensations (which I later was told were the beginnings of 'astral travel') I hated, for they were accompanied by panic that I would not be able to get back in and would die.
After those early years when the paranormal seemed normal to me, I embarked on a rigorous academic education which made me doubt everything that had happened. I enjoyed university and studied hard for degrees in English literature and philosophy, subsequently becoming a lecturer myself. In 1951 I married a very intelligent, rational man who had no time for 'fuzzy brained' thinking. Everything had to be proved scientifically or dismissed as nonsense or wishful thinking. Having grown up in South Africa and been sickened by the apartheid regime of the country, we emigrated to England in 1951 and there took part in many protests and rallies against oppression and injustice. We were also very active in the anti-nuclear movement. We had three children and very little money, and everyday life was not easy. But after my thirty-sixth birthday I began to notice that I was still having those strange, inexplicable experiences I had as a child —and no matter how much I tried to explain them away with my rational mind, I could not. After some time my husband began to be less dismissive and gradually opened his mind to the possibility that there might be 'more things in heaven and earth' ... He remained to the end of his days a wise observer supporting me in every way he could, while taking care not to take on any idea that seemed ridiculous to him after careful examination. For ten years he ran a publishing house, Wildwood House, with a friend, Dieter Pevsner, and published many books on complementary healing and alternative realities. Ideas excited him and he enjoyed exploring them, but he was always cautious of 'channelled' manuscripts. I remember he sometimes wore a badge that read: 'Just because I am dead, doesn't mean I'm smart.'
In my forties I suffered from severe and unstable angina and recovered dramatically and miraculously after sessions with Dennis Barrett, a spirit healer. This was perhaps a turning point for my husband —as it was for me.
When I was young I wrote a great deal without actually having enough experience of life to make any real contribution. I was driven by a most persistent desire to be a WRITER. It was not surprising therefore that all of my manuscripts were rejected. Looking back on it now I suspect I had to go through that frustration in order to learn how to write. Each manuscript was better than the last, but still the rejection slips came in. When my little daughter saw a fat packet come through the letter box, she asked me: 'Are you going to cry, Mummy?' I invariably did.
Finally, aged forty-seven, I gave up, burned my manuscripts and sold my typewriter. I experienced a wonderful feeling of release as though someone who had enslaved me had suddenly let me go. The burden of trying to be a WRITER had been taken from me. I could turn my attention to something easier.
And then on 23 July 1975 I had an experience that I can only describe as an initiation into what it really means to be a writer.
We were staying with our friends at Newton Hill, near Aberdeen in Scotland. I had angina at this time and was limited in the amount of physical activity I could manage. The pain that gripped my heart from time to time and the belief that at any time I could have a serious heart attack and die, heightened my awareness of everything around me and gave the life of my mind and spirit a daily intensity I had only had before in isolated visionary moments.
My daughter Rachel's Norwegian friend, Elizabeth, staying with us for the summer, wanted to go horse riding. We took her to stables near Dyce and left her there for a few hours. Exploring the district to kill time until we needed to fetch her, we came upon an ancient stone circle on the top of a hill. The tall stones, threaded liberally with quartz crystals, overlooked forests on one side, and the distant gleam of the sea on the other. Oliver at once started sketching and Rachel wandered off. I sat down in the circle, at first noticing only the plants, the bird calls, the landscape ... and then my consciousness seemed to slip into another dimension —or time. It seemed to me I was part of an ongoing story. Invisible people were around me. I knew their names. I knew what they believed. I knew what they were doing.
When Oliver called me to leave I stared at him in bewilderment, struggling back to the twentieth century and my current persona.
When we returned to London I began to write my experience down. Rachel had picked up a little piece of granite lying within the circle and when I held it the story flowed almost without my having to think about it —as though the stone were transmitting in some way. When I put it aside I struggled for words. It became very important for me to record everything I had learned in the circle. I believed I was about to die and had been given a task by invisible beings that I must complete.
In fact I finished the first of the Quartet, The Tall Stones, in hospital, one long and lonely night after a heart attack. Years later, in 2007, I am still alive and the book is still in print.
My early novels had all been for adults, serious sociological studies about racial prejudice, dysfunctional families and pacifist issues. The last book I wrote, before I gave up, was for children, The Weapons of the Wolfhound. I had submitted it to be published and had almost forgotten it when it was accepted. It was my first published book and an advance copy of it was brought to me in hospital by Stratford and Leonie on 1 April 1976. I will never forget the joy of holding it in my hand for the first time.
Rex Collings was interested to see my next book and I think he expected it to be for children. But I wrote it as it came and it can be read at any age. In fact I did not care if it was published or not. Since then I have rarely written a story that does not spring from a passionate and disturbing encounter with the numinous, the supernatural, the spirit-realms, and I know the difference between the slow struggle of writing with my own everyday competence, and the times when my pen is running away with me in a desperate attempt to keep up with thoughts that seem to be pouring in from a higher realm. I would not say I was 'channelling' to another person's dictation, but rather responding to inspiration in a way that uses all the latent possibilities of my own extended consciousness.
The highest sages are at home in many realities, though none I think have ever penetrated to the Most High while still in this world. Most of us have moments when we slip from one reality to another. Some have bad experiences with regions below this one; others experience heights they never dreamed they were capable of. When we insist on the existence of only one reality (as most people do) and try to explain all our experiences in terms of that one reality, not only are we wasting our potential shamefully, but are in danger of becoming ill. The Tall Stones was the first story I wrote of any real significance. It came to me powerfully and strangely when I was not looking for it; it expressed things I didn't know I knew, and it wouldn't let me go.
My own experiences of other realities that I had previously been taught to dismiss as 'coincidence', 'hallucination', 'chance', etc. began to make sense as they were written down.
At first I was so excited to discover that I was right to believe that the life we have is multi-dimensional, that I rushed about sampling anything and everything that was connected with this 'other reality' —dowsing, astral travelling, telepathy, psychometry, mediumship...
And then I had a dream...
I was on a great ocean liner and we were expecting a visit from some Shining Beings from a Higher Realm. I was laying the table for the feast and excitedly helping myself to little portions from each of the bowls of delicious food I was carrying in from the galley. As a result I was violently sick and had to be put to bed, missing the visit of the Shining Beings altogether.
I knew when I woke that this was one of those 'teaching' dreams that stay with you until you have understood its message fully. I remembered every detail vividly. I knew what it was saying. I gave up rushing around trying to sample any and every possible psychic experience, and concentrated on what seemed to me to be my task, the one my whole life had been a preparation for —the writing down in easy story form the insights I had received and was still receiving.
I was having the most amazing and relevant dreams, and when I opened a book at 'random', with a particular question in mind, I invariably received an answer. Friends and strangers fed me information in apparently unrelated conversations, and I frequently felt I was slipping in time and experiencing other lives. Thoughts and ideas and knowledge I had had for years seemed suddenly to join together to make a significant pattern. In a sense I wasn't learning anything new, but what I had known was being illuminated. It was as though I was looking at a familiar landscape for the thousandth time, but a sudden ray of sunlight lit up certain features showing their significance to me for the first time.
The angina made me almost an invalid, but I was living an active and adventurous life without ever leaving the house.
The one book grew into three, which have now been put together to form "Guardians of the Tall Stones". A sequel, The Silver Vortex, brought the number up to four. The story would still not leave me alone. Quilla, the young bull leaper in The Tall Stones, appeared again in The Lily and the Bull as an aged seer. My novel, Daughter Of Amun, set in Egypt, is about the female pharaoh Hatshepsut, but Kyra's daughter from the "Guardians of the Tall Stones" pursues her vocation as a priestess and a healer in that book too.
One of the things that has prompted me to believe that when I write these books I'm in touch with something beyond my ordinary self, is that I so often have confirmation after I have written something that it is indeed so.
Questioning why I had written so many 'yogic' ideas into Bronze Age Britain, particularly as the time I was writing about was probably before the time of the Vedas and the Upanishads, I read in the Bhagavad-Gita about 'an imperishable yoga ... handed down ... in succession, by the king-sages from ancient times and yet lost, by long lapse of time, and having to be retaught...'
I believe in the cyclical nature of most things, including knowledge. A Greek scientist, Aristarchus of Samos, taught in the third century BC that the earth and the planets moved round the sun, yet for centuries afterwards people denied it.
Kyra's experiences of spirit-travel, which in a fumbling and terrified way I had shared in my own life, I found described in Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrine by W.Y. Evans-Wentz (pub. OUP, 1935). 'The art of going out from the body, or of transferring the consciousness from the earth-plane to the after-death plane, or to any other plane, is still practised in Tibet, where it is known as Pho-wa'. A reader of mine was shown a slab of stone in Australia by an aboriginal 'wise man', and told it was where the shaman in ancient times had prepared himself to leave his body so that he could spirit-travel to distant places.
I read about astral travel, which I had not read about before, and I had an experience of my own that was difficult to explain if it is not possible for the 'spirit' of someone to leave its body behind and 'travel'. One evening in May 1976 I was in a state of mystical excitement writing poem after poem on the meaning of the 'Fish' symbol in connection with Christ. Later I met a stranger who claimed I had appeared in her dream and prevented her committing suicide. 'But,' she said, 'why did you keep talking about fish?' It turned out it was exactly the time I had been writing those poems about Christ.
I was also very interested to read about Abaris, a priest of the Hyperboreans, described by Pindar, Herodotus, Pliny and Diodorus of Sicily, who visited Pythagoras, flying in on 'Apollo's golden arrow' and not eating anything the whole time he was with the community. No one knows where Hyperborea is, though the description of it fits Britain very well. If Abaris came from Britain by a kind of spirit-travel, to sojourn, learn and teach with Pythagoras, I wondered if the Pythagorian's belief in reincarnation and the indestructibility of the human spirit came about before or after the visit from Abaris?
Copyright © 2007, Moyra Caldecott.