Astrologer, geographer, peace activist, historian, dowser – Palden Jenkins is a man with several sturdy arrows in his quiver. Having had the good fortune to have more-than-rubbed-shoulders-with some the passing greats of our modern understanding of geomancy (John Michel, Hamish Miller and Sig Lonegren, to name but a few), he has clearly taken on board their corporate decades of experience – and added to them a few of his own. Palden may be engagingly self-deprecating about some of his youthful misdemeanours, but a life changing shamanic experience as a wayward teenager, in a stone circle on Orkney in the 1970s, came to reshape his worldview for later in life.
The first part of his talk concerned the history, distribution and construction of the many menhirs and monoliths of West Penwith. We considered the sequence of their erection, and what this might have meant for their significance and function. The sheer density of standing stones, quoits, barrows, rows and circles in the far southwestern peninsula of the UK only becomes apparent when they are all plotted on a map as one group. The incredible effort put in to designing and building such a profusion of huge archaeological artifacts starts to hit home, when we appreciate that we are looking at around 500 structures of various types (and these are just the survivors of several thousand years of mining and farming) crammed into a landscape barely 14 miles by 12, west of a virtual vertical line stretched between St Michael’s Mount and St Ive’s Head. No community, and certainly not one with the limited physical and numerical resources of the ancient Britons would put that much input to anything which didn’t have a solid practical purpose – and that, of course, is where, what we now call earth energy comes in to play.
Palden is too wily to suggest an exact use for the conglomeration of monoliths, but he ran through a number of possibilities – many of which had members of the audience nodding in agreement. Did they attract beneficial energy, take away detrimental energy, promote fertility or provide places to commune with Mother Earth? Maybe it was all of these – or maybe these human interventions came in to play at different places, and at different times of the year, the century, or of the solar or lunar cycle.
Palden is scathing of the explanations of ‘burial chambers’ and ‘hill forts’ put forward by Victorian excavators, some of which are still supported by many modern-day archeologists. His scorn is not so much directed at the analysis of the finds, as at the lack of imagination of those interpreting (or not interpreting) the landscape as a whole. As a society, he feels we seem to be stuck in the rut of assuming that just because 21st Century humanity is warlike, selfish and isolationist then this must also have been the outlook of those who erected the magnificent astronomically-aligned, perfectly-placed stone circles and structures. Assumptions are rife in all belief systems.
In a densely-forested part of the countryside, where the open skies were hemmed in by the tree canopy, the monuments must have exhibited an even greater significance than the remnants that we see today, dotted around, as they seem, in the neat open fields and empty moorlands left by centuries of increasingly intensive industry and husbandry.
In the second part of his presentation, Palden moved on from describing the monoliths themselves to examining the relationships between them.
His maps showed a blizzard of straight lines, each of which represented one of the 150 or so alignments of 4 or more sites in Penwith – augmented by a few even more ancient alignments, based specifically on the remaining quoits in the area. While the audience rightly queried the validity of the data, given the density of sites in such a tiny terroir, and the probability that at least some of them could be there by pure chance – Palden was quick to point out that, using state-of-the-art satellite mapping, the alignments on his maps were accurate to within three metres over 40 km – which is actually quite difficult to refute.
He feels that these configurations are simply arrangements on the ground and that only in a minority of cases do they coincide with ‘earth energy’ lines. This, of course, opens up the whole snake pit of Ley Line debates, which we were obliged to gloss over to some extent (although we do hope to return to it as a specific TDs topic later in the year).
Most of us taught to dowse originally by Alan Neal are probably quite comfortable with the idea that the long straight alignments were originally laid down by thought or sight, mainly hilltop to hilltop, possibly as navigation aids in hostile terrain. Clearly, Palden was used to a more vitriolic response to this idea!
As a parting shot, Palden mentioned that his latest project is to map some of the alignments leading to and from the Atlantic coast in even more detail and is seeking the support of dowsers from Penwith and beyond to assist him. Now, there’s a challenge some of us may find difficult to resist.
Many thanks to Palden for travelling up from St Just to be with us, and for giving us such a thought-provoking talk in such a well-articulated and nicely-paced manner. Thanks, too, to his driver, Matt, for getting him to North Hill at all! And, of course, profuse thanks to everyone who helped to get the show on the road. The previous couple of weeks had been fraught with issues of health, dowsable energies, equipment failure – even inclement weather. Yet, some things seem destined to happen – and, thanks to the work of many TDs, this presentation, thankfully, was one of them.
Nigel Twinn, Tamar Dowsers, January 2016
Palden Jenkins’ website describing the above presentation can be accessed at www.ancientpenwith.org – and his latest book, which spans the astronomical/astrological/human interface – Power Points in Time – is published by, and available from, Penwith Press – ISBN 978-0-9533316-7-3