Saturday, 29 August 2015

Synchronicity – Seeking answers at The Psychic Questing Weekender – Avebury, September 2008

We found that our recent visit to Orford Castle has got us thinking quite a bit, particularly in relation to Laura’s experience of being compelled to seek out an ‘object’.

At the time, Laura was of the opinion that this was the first time that she’d encountered this although after some reflection, we eventually recalled that a similar thing had occurred a couple of years ago, when we attended a conference, covering psychic questing, at Avebury, back in 2008.
An invitation to treat - how could we resist?
The conference was organised and hosted by Andrew Collins and sought to examine the history of psychic questing and also cover more recent projects that he was working on.

For those unfamiliar with Collins, he is a respected author in his field, writing almost exclusively about alternative history, science, archaeology and the paranormal for the last 35 years or so and who is also widely credited with rediscovering psychic questing for the 20th Century.

Recently, in April earlier this year, Collins re-issued a revised edition of his cult classic “The Black Alchemist”, to mark 30 years passing since the events documented in the book, which became an immediate best seller.

As for psychic questing, what exactly does the term mean?

Collins himself defines the term as ‘using intuitively inspired thoughts and information for creative purposes, be it the exploration of history, the search for hidden artefacts or simply the quest for enlightenment'.

In simple layman’s terms - you get an ‘inclination’ to go out, seek and discovery something, be it a physical object, or a piece of information.

Looking back, this was very ironic in the context of what we were to experience whilst at the conference.

The fun begins
To cut to the chase, early in the proceedings, Collins revealed that he had concealed, within the henge at Avebury, an artefact that had featured in a previous quest of his and, over the course of the weekend, it would be the task of the assembled audience to attempt to recover the item in true questing fashion.

To set us all up for this ‘quest’, this was then followed by a group meditation session.

Now, mediation is something that I've never been able to manage to do successfully and, I knew that this was something that Laura also struggled with. Regardless, we both were willing to give it our best shot!

During the meditation, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that Laura was busy scribbling on her programme, which obviously piqued my interest.
The programme that Laura had shamefully defaced,
with the profile of the stone middle right.

At the end of the meditation session, Laura turned to me and gave me her programme to look at.

It was covered in scribbles and, amongst some names and dates, she'd drawn the profile of what I took to be one of the standing stones located in the Avebury Henge itself.

In timely fashion, a short refreshment break was announced, so we took the opportunity to return to the car and retrieve the artist sketch pad that Laura often uses to scribble down notes and draw sketches from what she 'senses'.

As we walked back to the car park, Laura told me that during the meditation she had visualized herself standing in front of the stone that she’d drawn on the programme, with the concealed artefact held in the outstretched palm of her hand.

She advised that the artefact was the size of her palm, was made of metal and, was 'copperish' in colour. I made my own mental note of this, with the intention of noting it down later at some point.

Returning to the lectures, Laura continued to make notes and sketches as the morning’s programme progressed, including a remarkably accurate drawing of one of the road junctions that approached the edge of the henge from the south, where she picked up a couple of names that she associated with a traffic fatality and subsequent suicide taking place there, that was linked to the traffic fatality.
A view of the junction, where the B4003 joins Beckhampton Road
Was this the scene of the tragedy seen by Laura?

She also included a another drawing sketch of the standing stone where the article had been concealed that she'd visualised earlier, again showing the identifying angle of one of it's sides.

Laura was also able to draw a quick sketch of what she thought at the time was the concealed artefact, which (to me) looked like the silhouette of the head and shoulders of a bust, surrounded by spikes, similar to the radiated light surrounding a religious icon that you sometimes see.

Interestingly, Laura had also drawn, as part of a map, something that looked like a building that had three gables, or perhaps three terraced houses, the central portion marked with the number ‘81’. The building(s) was located on Reeves Rd.

Beneath the map she had jotted down the name 'KELEHER' and the number '33'.

Although I didn't reveal anything to Laura at this time, the similarity to the surname of Alexander Keiller, was striking.

Keiller was the archaeologist most identified with the Avebury Henge and was active at the site during the 1930's, although not until the latter part of the decade.

In addition, later that afternoon during our tour of the henge, Laura would identify the Alexander Keiller Museum building itself, located in the henge, as the building that she had sketched earlier that morning.

Breaking for lunch, we took the opportunity to take a walk around the henge in the late autumn sunshine and visit some of the shops.

It was whilst visiting one of these shops that Laura suddenly drew my attention to a box full of horse brasses - "that's it!" Laura exclaimed "that’s what the artefact is - a horse brass!"

I could see the similarity with the Laura's sketch, so this was an interesting development, but only time would tell if Laura was correct.

Nothing further of interest was picked up by Laura during the remainder of the day’s sessions, leaving us a lot to discuss before the conference re-commenced the next morning.

Things get interesting
Sunday’s session started with updates on Collins’ recent psychic questing activity, interwoven with a couple of meditation sessions, before the talks turned their focus towards Collins forthcoming book ‘Beneath the Pyramids’, documenting his research of the Crystal Chambers, which was due to be published soon.

As we commenced the first meditation session of the morning, Laura immediately started to draw and make notes in her sketch pad.

Leaning over her shoulder, I could see that she’d written the names (amongst others) Eggerton and Melaya (a reference to Meonia? - discussed later in the day in a talk regarding the green stone saga), but most prominent of all was a crucifix, with what at first sight appeared to be flames shooting up from the base.

As the meditation drew to a close, Laura turned to me and asked me how close we were to the village church? I pointed out that it was immediately opposite the village hall, where the conference was taking place.

“We have to go there” said Laura, explaining that she had a sudden compulsion to visit.

As we quietly discussed the developing situation, proceedings were conveniently brought to a close for a 30 minute break, before we all commenced the hunt for the hidden questing artefact.

This allowed us a bit of time to explore the church grounds and hopefully gain access to the church itself to try and establish the reason behind Laura’s feelings.

Perhaps there was a connection to the traffic fatality (and subsequent suicide linked to the event) that Laura picked up on yesterday?

To the Church
Making our way out of the hall, we quickly headed across the road and into the church grounds.
St James's Church, Avebury
St James’ Church was the archetypical English village church, Anglo Saxon in origin with the oldest part of the building dating back to around 1000 AD. The building that visitors will recognise now, including the tower, dates from the 15th Century, although major work had been underway since the 12th Century.

We both took several photographs as we explored the churchyard, examining the names etched into the memorial stones. Slowly, we made our way towards the church porch, where we were faced with two old heavy wooden doors, complete with wrought iron fittings, barring our way.

I approached the doors and pushed – to my surprise they slowly creaked open. We were in luck!

Upon entering the church we split up, on the basis that we could cover more ground in the limited time we had available to us, Laura turning left towards the tower, whilst I went right, walking through the nave and into the chancel.

As I entered the chancel, I noticed some memorial plaques on the north wall, one immediately capturing my eye.

Constructed of white marble, mounted on black marble, it was dedicated to William and Mary Ann Tanner, who both passed away in the mid 19th Century.
The Tanner Memorial

However, what was striking was the stonemason’s name etched in the lower right corner – ‘Reeves Bath’. Taking into account that Avebury was located just off the A4 roman road to Bath, was this the ‘Reeves Rd’ Laura had picked up on during yesterday’s meditations?
Reeves Road?

Even more surprises were to come.

Continuing deeper into the chancel, on the opposite south wall, I spotted a large brass crucifix, highly ornate, with small fleur-de-lys sprouting out from the main column of the cross.

Again, was this the crucifix that Laura had sketched?

The 'flaming' Crucifix?
There were no ‘flames’, but it didn’t stretch the imagination too much to suggest that the fleur-de-lys could, perhaps, be an alternative take on the flames that Laura saw.

Excited by my find, I went and found Laura to show her the memorial and crucifix.

Laura could see my reasoning with the name on the Tanner memorial, but what did she think about the crucifix?

Laura clarified that she didn’t actually interpret the crucifix in her sketch as having flames, but instead, as having ‘something’ coming up from the base, as opposed to a straight forward cross design.

In this context, the large crucifix stood in front of us could be accepted as a match.

Looking at my watch and conscious of the time, I suggested that we wrap things up in the church and meet up with the others and come back on a later occasion if we felt the need too.

Laura exited the church, whilst I paused to read a notice on the south aisle wall, next to the doors. As I left the church I was faced with Laura, who, with a look of surprise on her face, told me that she thought she’d found a third match with her sketches.

She asked me to walk towards her and turn around to face the doors. I did as I was told and slowly turned around.

I immediately saw the reason for Laura’s excitement.

Were these the 'spikes' that Laura sketched?
Looking at the old church doors, there, to my astonishment, was the ‘bust’, surrounded by spikes, as originally sketched by Laura – the church doors representing the bust, whilst the carvings in the archway over the door representing the spikes.

As we walked quickly to meet up with the rest of the group, we discussed our morning’s findings but still struggled to arrive at a meaning to all this.

We’d possibly found matched for three of Laura’s sketches, but there appeared to be no links, that we knew of at least, to the road fatality and suicide that I’d originally assumed we’d be searching for.

Puzzles answered with even more puzzles. Very frustrating.

Joining up with everyone else back in the Village Hall, all the conversation seemed to be about who would be locating the artefact and, what exactly the artefact itself actually was.

Satisfied that everyone was now assembled, Andrew and his then wife Sue led us into the north east quadrant of the henge, where the search for the artefact was to take place.

As we walked into the field, I noted the stone that I thought visually looked the closest to Laura’s sketch.

Laura herself had changed her mind and now thought that the artefact was actually located elsewhere.

With more of an interest in documenting the event than actually joining in with the search, I made the decision at this point not to take part in the hunt, but take photographs for prosperity instead.

Andrew gathered everyone in the centre of the field and asked people to start walking to where they thought that the artefact was located.

Laura headed westwards, towards her new target.

After a less than a minute, Collins asked everyone to stop and eliminated those, including Laura, on the wrong side of an imaginary line.

He confirmed that those still left were heading for the correct general direction.

Off went the remaining contestants, towards their chosen mark.

The elimination process was repeated a couple of times until the contestants were narrowed down to the final two, who were gathered around, to my surprise, the stone I’d been able to identify from Laura’s sketch.
Laura's sketch of the stone, showing the angle of one of the sides
compared to the actual stone where the artefact was hidden.
The Artefact revealed
After a bit of prompting (and some subtle hands on help from Andrew himself) the artefact, a horse brass with a swan design, was finally recovered by Michael, who proved to be a most popular winner.

Inside I was again surprised – not only had I been able to identify the correct stone from Laura’s sketches, the artefact itself had also been correctly identified by Laura as a horse brass.

More food for thought. Perhaps.

We didn’t have the opportunity to go back to the church to pick up where we had left off and, to this day, we have never returned to Avebury, despite it being one of my favourite venues.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable weekend and, on a personal level for both Laura and myself, it raised a set of whole new questions with no immediate sign of any answers.

What exactly was Laura ‘sensing’?

Was it purely imagination or was there an actual relationship with the real world?

Were the matches we made with this information pure coincidence or just wishful thinking?

Hopefully we’ll find the answers one day!

As a footnote to this account of the events that occurred almost seven years ago now, we know that we will return to Avebury.

We both accept that we will need to go back to the church and continue where we had left off, perhaps then and only then, will we find the answers that we seek.

Laura and Mark.

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