Spirit of place


St. Clether Holy Well, Cornwall

St. Clether Holy Well, Cornwall (Photo credit: saffron100_uk)

So what, exactly IS a sacred site?  Why do we feel different in one place rather than another?  Where does the special quality of a location revered for millennia come from?

We’d come to Cornwall to visit, dowse and experience some of its many sacred sites and to follow the St Michael earth energy line.  Before leaving on this journey, I’d asked those questions of The Council – a group of Spirit Beings channeled by Cynthia and Bob Dukes.  Their answer had initially shocked me:

“The whole reality – your whole planet – is sacred, because you have created it from spirit … you have set up in your mind with others where energy will be felt differently, in different places.”

I shouldn’t be surprised by that, in all honesty.  After all, I wrote a book explaining how we create our own reality.

It’s one thing to read and write about it – believe it, even – and quite another to live it on a day-to-day basis, though.  That’s the challenge Spirit is currently leading me through.

The Council went on to emphasise that the fact that we created these magical places makes them no less special.

“We encourage you to go to these places that would feel uplifting – that would recharge your energy field.”

By the most wonderful of synchronicities (what else should I have expected?) our holiday cottage was within a mile or so of the holy well and chapel of St Clether – one of the sites on our itinerary.

We wandered down a steep wooded sunken lane to find St Clether church in the verdant Inny Valley.  The well and chapel, though, were further on.  A signpost directed us across a sun-baked field with views across nearby Bodmin Moor.

English: St Clether: Inny valley. Looking sout...

The landscape looked deserted, apart from sheep grazing the nearby fields.  No sign of any building.

With a mounting sense of disbelief that there could be any structure hiding in this remote place, coupled with a hint of excitement that maybe we would eventually find something extraordinary, we turned a corner and spotted the tiny granite chapel.

photoIt was a wonderful place – a sense of peace and welcome permeated the whole area.  Coins and ribbons – offerings from passing pilgrims – decorated the tiny wells, for there were two.  The first we discovered was set into the wall of the chapel, the second had its own roofed granite cover.

St Clether chapelThe atmosphere inside the chapel was almost palpable.  The water from the holy well flowed through the building itself, right beneath the megalithic altar and in the stillness, the sound of water flowing over ancient stone could just be heard.

As The Council had predicted, I felt utterly uplifted and energised by my visit to St Clether.  I also felt it had something more to teach me.

Back at the holiday cottage that evening, I sat down to meditate and commune with Koimul – my own Spirit Guide.  What follows is my record of our conversation about the holy well and the Michael energy line.

If such things lie within your reality field, I hope you will be able to draw wisdom from it, as I did.

Koimul, what can you tell me about the little well and chapel at St Clether?


Yes, it is. So you’re saying St Clether was waking me up to that?


Where does the energy come from?


I see. So in the way that water holds vibration as memory, so that place holds memories of those who worship there or treat it as sacred?


Thank you.

Can you speak now about the Michael line and the node points where it crosses other earth energy lines?


I’d never connected ‘divining’ to divinity before. Thank you. I still don’t exactly understand what the energy lines are, though – I mean why they are in one place rather than another.


So you’re saying that generations of humans who have focused our thought on these lines and points are adding to the strength of these places? Is that it?


And what about the Archangel Michael – did we ‘make him up’?


Big Questions – Huge Answers

PhotonQ-Young solar System

“So,” I grinned, “I’m going to give you ten minutes to each come up with your own answers to these questions:  Firstly, was the creation of the universe a random or intentional event?  Secondly, if it was intentional, who or what do you think intended it?”

My audience was a small group of home-educated children, aged between 10 and 14.

We’ve been running our weekly philosophy club for a while now – long enough for them to understand that nothing they say will be ruled out or laughed down; long enough for me to have the highest expectations and to know that I’ll receive some stunning answers to questions that have taxed the greatest minds throughout history.  We’d discussed creation myths, the views of major religions and the big bang theory.  Now it was their turn.

Some chose to jot down thoughts on scraps of paper, some drew pictures or diagrams, one spent his time scribbling ideas and ripping them up at great speed and the rest sat thinking silently.

NO CHAOS“Right,” I said, when seven minutes had passed and all seemed ready.  “Anyone need more time?”

They didn’t.

What follows is just a flavour of the richness and depth of the answers and ideas that flowed around the room.


I think it was random.  Somehow two things came together and that started it…

But nothing’s random.  There’s always a cause.  Even things that seem completely random happen because of something…

Maybe there wasn’t a start.  Maybe it’s always been happening.  Maybe matter just keeps on moving together until the pressure’s too great, then it explodes apart again…

…or maybe none of it’s real anyway – all this could be just a dream or an illusion…

We can never know for sure – unless we could time-travel back to see…

Perhaps one day we’ll be able to do that…

I don’t know how it started, but I believe we evolved – like people say – came out of the sea.  But we’re still evolving…

…I used to know when I was little, but now I’m not so sure.  You hear different things.  It’s so confusing…

Probably something made our universe – something from another world or place or time…

It could have been like a timelord or something…

Perhaps we’re an experiment…



Thinking (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)


No one was certain.  Indeed, most were rather apologetic that they couldn’t give a definitive answer.

When all was done, though, and I’d assured them that the thinking and questing for answers was what really mattered, and that their ideas mirrored those of the world’s wisest philosophers, they smiled and nodded – and suddenly broke into spontaneous mutual applause.

How lucky I am to have the opportunity to listen to children and share their thoughts.  All they need is space to think and a place to talk.

When is a barrier an opportunity?

Chain Link Fence

Chain Link Fence (Photo credit: camknows)

Many years ago I lived in a house that backed on to a huge hospital for people with mental illnesses. (There were such places in those days.)  This hospital was set in acres of beautiful, landscaped grounds.  That was all you could see of it from my home.  There was a 7ft 6in chain link fence separating these grounds from the gardens in our road, which was kept in good repair.

One day I witnessed something there that has left me wondering ever since.  I was standing at my bedroom window, gazing at the autumn leaves, when I noticed two figures.  The first was one of the patients.  He was a middle-aged man, wearing pyjamas, a dressing gown and slippers.  He was running towards the boundary.  The other was a youngish, small, female nurse who was pursuing him.

As I watched, I could see that he was heading straight towards a garden some way down the road from mine.  I was fascinated to see what would happen when he reached the chain link fence.

To my astonishment, as he approached the barrier, he didn’t even break his pace.  He was over it in seconds and racing through the garden, down the side path and out to freedom.  Still more amazingly, the little nurse also mounted the fence with no difficulty and continued to chase him.

What I had seen seemed to defy reason.  Both people had scaled a swaying fence, with no footholds, which was far taller than themselves and they’d done it in very unsuitable clothing.

So how did it work?  As it flashed into my mind this morning, I could see that for the patient, at that moment, the fence didn’t represent a barrier, it represented an opportunity – a gateway to freedom.  To the young nurse, it was simply a part of the path she needed to follow to protect her patient.  Neither had the time for limiting beliefs to kick in and prevent them from achieving their goals.

Reality is far bendier than we tend to expect…

Angry kids – a few strategies

Angry Talk (Comic Style)

Angry Talk (Comic Style) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few days ago, a friend asked me for some hints on dealing with the anger her young son, diagnosed on the autistic spectrum, was experiencing.

My first thought was, ‘What can I teach her? She’s an amazing mum.’  Then I realised that, over the long years of working with kids, I’d actually amassed quite a range of strategies and insights.  So while fully accepting that I don’t have all the answers, or any special training, I’m going to use this post to throw in some ideas that may help parents, teachers and carers to cope with anger in children.

If you hate anecdotes, by all means skip to the bullet point below, but I’m including Jason’s story because he did such a brilliant job of teaching me how, given the chance, children can often find their own ways to deal with extreme anger.

The eight-year-old was beside himself in the days and weeks after his father’s death, from an alcohol-related illness.  He was violent, loud, abusive and unable to listen, concentrate, discuss or acknowledge his problem.  I found him prowling the school corridors with a dangerous glint in his eyes.

“Come on Jason,” I said. “Let’s go and have a chat.”

To my surprise, he followed me into the play room quite readily.

“Want to talk?” I asked, aiming to sound interested but ‘cool’.

Jason yelled, screamed a lot, thumped the sofa and swore profusely.  He clearly didn’t.

My Pet Monster

I threw him a cuddly toy monster – bright blue fur fabric body, a truly horrible face and wearing plastic handcuffs; ideal for expressing deep fears in a totally safe way – like Maurice Sendak’s Wild Things.

“He looks really angry,” I said. “Maybe you could tell me a story about him.  I’ll write it down and draw it if you like.”

I suppose on some subliminal level I’d done the shrink bit and decided that Jason couldn’t handle his own emotions and needed to dump them somewhere else.  I could never have guessed what would follow, though.  It turned out to be a great example of how using puppets, toys, pictures and so on can help children to explore feelings they are unable to address in themselves.

“He’s a horrible monster!  He wants to KILL people.  He’s nasty and ugly and he should be sent to prison.”

He paused and looked at me.  “Draw the monster on your page.” he commanded.  “Write ‘His name is Bignose’ over the top.”

I made a lame but honest attempt to create some sort of likeness of the monster.  Jason continued to berate Bignose.  “Look at his face!  He’s really ugly.  Everyone says he’s horrible and he’s so angry, he just wants to kill everyone.  He ain’t got any friends.”

His mood softened slightly.  “That’s quite a good picture.  It looks just like him.  The hair’s a different red, but it doesn’t matter.”

Then, quite suddenly, he embarked on his story.  “ He used to be alright.  He was a dog.  He was all right then but he drank too much beer and whisky and that turned him into a monster.  Now the police are after him.  He has to go to prison because he’s so bad.”

(While he was saying this, Jason took the monster’s handcuffs off and placed them on himself.  Hmmm.)

He turned and took another cuddly toy – a rather demented but harmless looking red thing with lots of legs.  He told me it was a spider.

“Now draw the spider.  He’s scared of the monster.  The monster wants to eat him.  Draw him in his garden and do a fence – no – I’ll do it!  Give me the pens.  I’ll make a fence right round the spider, like this…”

I watched as Jason took great care to completely encircle the spider with closely packed, black fence panels.

“Now it looks like the spider’s in prison,” I commented.

“No!  He’s in his garden!  He likes the fence.  Draw a big smile on his face.  Write ‘The spider is happy because he is safe in his garden and the monster can’t get him.’  Now draw the handcuffs on the monster,” and, you’ve guessed it, he removed the remaining handcuff from his own wrist and put it on to the monster.

We don’t need a psychoanalyst to tell us what all that was about.

In a 15-minute session Jason had shown me his own uncontrollable anger, his guilt and self-disgust, his desire to be separated from the angry beast inside himself and his need for firm boundaries – the one thing that made him feel safe and happy.  Not a bad start.


So now to some practical strategies:

scream and shout

scream and shout (Photo credit: mdanys)

Expressing anger is important.  Ex-press, as in press it out of your body, rather than bottling it up and leaving it to simmer and grow until it finally explodes or leads to other problems.

When a child is having a fully-fledged tantrum or attack of rage, trying to ‘take them on’ doesn’t help.  I’ve tried to sit with them, telling them gently that I understand the feelings they have and reassuring them that although it feels bad right now, that feeling will pass.

Once they’ve calmed down a bit, I’ve asked them to work with me to come up with some safe and useful anger-management strategies that will work for that child.  I’ve given them the following list to test out.  They then rate each strategy from useless to helpful:

  • ‘Run out of anger’ – literally!  Get the kid racing round a playing field until they are gasping for breath, probably giggling, and able to tell you they’ve totally run out of anger.
  • ‘Draw out the anger’ – red and black are great colours and huge sheets of scrap paper or even old newspapers.  Experiment with crazy scribbling, ugly faces or whatever the child needs to express. (Try not to judge – Jason’s early attempts showed furious gun-toting gangsters on roller skates ‘so they can go fast and kill more people’ but after a few sessions his figures dispensed with the skates, then the guns and began looking sad and – eventually – calm.)
  • Hitting safely.  Crash mats, punch bags, cushions etc. are good – little brothers, pets and brick walls are not.  Discuss the golden rules – don’t hurt yourself or anything that’s alive.  One parent I know bought her son a drum kit!
  • Screaming into a pillow or in the shower.  Warning others in the house that you’re about to do this is often helpful, though.
  • Finding your own boundaries.  Unsurprisingly, this one worked well for Jason.  Walk round the bedroom/garden/school grounds, touching the walls or fences all the way around, telling yourself you’re in a safe place.
  • Safe throwing.  I’ve used a realistic-looking foam brick from a joke shop, but screwing up newspaper and hurling it at a target is just as good.
  • Shredding!  Our very understanding school secretary would often agree to hand over a stack of unwanted papers to one of the angry small people, who could sit and feed them into the shredder.  Very therapeutic!
  • Pounding play dough  – or bread mix, which can be put aside to rise and become light and airy, and eventually be transformed into something good.

Remember that strategies to control anger are exactly that.  I feel it’s important to keep checking back with the child: ‘How are you feeling now?  Has the anger gone away?’  Once they are feeling calm, the activity should stop.  It’s easy to get locked into throwing/screaming/hitting behaviours and that can actually cause more aggression.

A final word on what children can teach us about anger:

The friend who contacted me for advice commented on her young autistic son that the battle seemed always to be in his own head, rather than with anyone else.  I thought about that and realised that that’s where it really is with all of us.  People and situations don’t actually ‘make’ us mad.  We react to them and project our anger on to them.

In my experience, young children – and particularly those on the autistic spectrum – don’t blame others, they just look for ways to express their own feelings.  We should help and maybe learn from them.  Just look around the world at the crazy things that happen when righteous anger is projected on to other people…