OUTLANDS 7 – SOMETHING OF A SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE

 

If this blog adheres to a style, it is the presentation of a single image that I feel has some merit, along with some words about it – short and sweet or rather prolix.  Images are really my thing, and I have long thought that the posting of single images serves to focus attention on each one.  And – as my ABOUT page affirms – I’m not really into images with stories, narratives and hidden meanings.  Others sometimes read things into my images, things which I can sometimes appreciate after they’ve been pointed out, and I admire those people and am grateful to them.

However, with the introduction of this new Outlands category of images, I am trying to look at different approaches – and so to this post, which contains images which I feel adequate for the purpose of providing illustration for something that happened to me as I walked along a little country lane not long ago.  (Hint – click onto the landscape format images here to open larger versions in separate windows)

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And here is that lane, more or less single track, doubtless originating in the days before motor transport, and with the dubious distinction of being a county boundary.  Looking along the lane in this picture, the county of Wiltshire is on the right, while South Gloucestershire, formerly a part of the much older Gloucestershire, is to the left.  Both Wiltshire and Gloucestershire are English counties originating in Anglo-Saxon times, over 1,000 years ago.  In stark contrast, South Gloucestershire emerged only in 1996 – would it be uncharitable to think of it as a recent irrelevance?  Well, I’m going to anyway …

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As I walked along this lane, a field opened to my right (that is, in Wiltshire) and I looked up a fence line towards a tall oak tree, whose stout trunk was thickly festooned with ivy.  A  recently cut tree lay along the fence line and, below the oak, was a pile of what appeared to be agricultural refuse, some dumped soil perhaps – there was a low mound there that rose just above the skyline behind. 

But my 2.5 inch to the mile map quickly told me otherwise, for far from being some “pile of old rubbish”, this was in fact a long barrow, a prehistoric structure, probably a tomb for one or more people, dating back to the Neolithic, the New Stone Age, some 4,000-6,000 years ago.

Well, history – and especially anything over a thousand years old – has always been of great interest to me, and in a moment I was striding up the fence line towards this low mound.

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And here is the barrow’s side looming over me as I stood looking up at it – rough grass, combed downhill, presumably by heavy rain, and spattered with dead, brown leaves from the towering oak.  And, at the top of the frame, as though Modernity could not resist intruding upon this ancient scene, the silhouette against the sky of a towering electricity pylon.

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I climbed up the barrow’s side and, part way up, took this photo of this ancient grassy and bushy mound still standing up above this ploughed field.  Had the farmer been forbidden to plough it under, or did he have some respect for its purpose and antiquity?

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And then I looked up and saw the old oak towering above me, almost animate but not at all threateningly so.  And suddenly I felt completely at peace.

And I stayed there for sometime, thinking about it all, taking it all in.  First, I was standing, quietly and alone, on what was most likely a tomb, but I felt my position in no way to be one of disrespect.  In any case, if this was in fact a grave, there is no guarantee at all that its occupants are still there, rather than having been liberated by means ranging from measured scientific excavation to grave robbery and vandalism during the millennia since they were interred.  But aside from that, in a way, I felt a distinct sense of privilege at being there, I felt in some way a small and very transient part of the place.

And then I started to think about the persons buried here, starting with the reflection that, were they to emerge now, that they would  not  recognise this thoroughly agricultural landscape; they might still recognise some larger topographic features, but the rest would seem like a dream, or perhaps a nightmare.

I started thinking about them, those people from so long ago, and reflected that I myself – and all of us – have people in our family trees that we shall never know about from those times – we shall never know about them, certainly, but they are there nonetheless.  We are all descended from people of those distant ages.  And of course, as has been in the news recently, those ancients that we are descended from are not even all Homo sapiens, our own species, recent studies having shown that most of us also carry genes from another species, the now extinct Neanderthal Man. 

I stood on top of that barrow and thought of those people, reflected on their short, harsh lives – and felt some connection, some sort of spiritual experience that I can only describe as being deep, worthwhile and certainly non-religious.  I am most probably nothing at all to do with those people from past ages but, quite aside from such possibilities, this was a moment of calm, a moment for deep thought, that I found immensely valuable.

Photography: X-T1 with 10-24 (15mm-36mm equiv) Fujinon lens; Silver Efex Pro 2 for the oak silhouette; 7 Dec 2016.

 

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About Adrian Lewis
Photographer working in monochrome, colour and combinations of the two - with a great liking for all sorts of images, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous in my photography, trying new ideas and working in many genres. And I'm fond of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.

10 Responses to OUTLANDS 7 – SOMETHING OF A SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE

  1. bluebrightly says:

    I love it, Adrian. Those experiences that come unbidden and connect one to something bigger and unexpected are such a gift, and often it seems there’s no way one could describe the experience, but you’ve done it well. I look forward to more in the series….but whenever you’re ready, can’t rush it!

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      I’m so glad you like this, Lynn, its very much in the vein of the way you often do things, which I admire. This new “Outlands” series of mine is attempting to do things differently – but whether I’ll be able to repeat this particular format I don’t know – as you say, certainly can’t rush it! As always, very good to hear from you. A 🙂

      Like

  2. Excellent meaningful, personal post. ✋

    Like

  3. Meanderer says:

    What a wonderful experience. Connection, and perhaps oneness.

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Yes, you’ve got it there – connection, oneness – very true. Now all I’ve got to do is wind up the elastic band – ow! – enough to get myself up to “them wild parts” again! Please send uppers + jet fuel soonest! … but seem to have mislaid my after-burner … 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. paula graham says:

    Yea, indeed…one man’s pile of rubbish…..I like your Outlands series lots.

    Like

  5. feralc4t says:

    Interesting and reflective, cheers!

    Like

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