At heart, the essence of the latest work by Gary Biltcliffe and Caroline Hoare is quite simple. Every country, region, urban area and terroir has a centre.
While the original forays made by Gary and Caroline may have been inspired by both the dowsing quests and the physical journeys of the late Hamish Miller, they are now comfortably well out into their own distinctive field – making their own challenging discoveries, and writing their own riveting adventure stories.
Here, the Dorset-based duo, once again, bring the landscape histories, folklore and legends of various parts of the British Isles together with their painstaking, firmly-grounded, personal research and their dowsing experiences.
At first sight, the whole idea of power centres seems so straightforward, that it’s surprising that it has not been highlighted before. However, as the musty pages of history are turned, it becomes apparent that, over time, there have in fact been many central points throughout the land being considered as the ‘real’ focal points of their patches – if viewed from a certain chosen perspective, of course.
The first issue to get our heads around is why anyone would bother to determine a ‘centre’ in the first place. Yet, even a cursory exploration of the concept soon unearths the inherent power and the cultural vitality of the geomantic centre – be it military, commercial, administrative, psychological or spiritual. In sociological terms, whoever controls the physical and/or the psychic centre of a group entity also controls the heart and the soul of that group. We have to think no further than the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem to appreciate just how hard any number of competing groups will strive to gain, and to regain, that pivotal position.
However, in dowsing terms, perhaps one of the more obvious examples of the use of such a ‘centre’ was the hugely beneficial application of just such a concept by Colin Bloy’s Fountain Group in the 1970s. Colin considered that an idea (what today we might term a meme) could be fanned out subliminally throughout a town – in his case Brighton, in Sussex – by focusing positive intent onto one significant place, and then using it to influence a whole non-physical network of energies. Gary and Caroline have taken this proposition, and have scaled it up to look at the potential impact on whole countries.
Trying to define the central point of the geographical space of a topographical area, such as the British Isles or England, will certainly give us an academic output. This is not to be derided, but it is just one mathematical interpretation. And, needless to say, even this robustly delineated approach breaks down pretty quickly, depending on whether you include outlying islands – such as Shetland and Scilly – or previously distinct kingdoms or fiefdoms – such as Penwith in West Cornwall. This direct geophysical approach has its promoters, and almost every administrative area, however crudely defined, seems to have a number of quite closely located ‘centres’, each vying for relative prominence.
Another of G&C’s methods of approaching the subject has been to examine the significance of sacred mountains (or, in some cases, more modest hilltops) that are close to the apparent centres of the countries and regions they have studied. Many of these have a mythology and a reverence, which far outweighs their height or stature. In this instance, the mountain has become both the visual symbol and the spiritual embodiment of the community.
However, the real fascination of the PoC journey comes to the fore when we start to consider tribal identity and social coherence in relation to a specific node point. Long before the modern ideas of capital cities and seats of government were determined by sheer economic wealth and armed presence, cardinal points were already well established. Gary and Caroline make a strong case for tribal groups dividing naturally defined geographic regions into five or seven semi-self-governing communities, spaced around a smaller (and usually land-locked) central, shared space, where key decisions and emerging social issues could be considered for their mutual benefit. Not only would this tend to reduce internal conflict, but it could also produce a more corporate approach – one that enhanced the prospects of peace and prosperity for all concerned.
As ever, Gary and Caroline’s work has been thoroughly researched and meticulously documented. Yet it still derives many of its core ideas, and much of its momentum, from the structured intuition of the dowsing model.
So many of the ‘centres’ are located intuitively and squarely on the crossing points and meeting places of long distance energy lines. Faults, leys, ancient trackways and major currents abound – and all are probably too deeply rooted in the landscape to be capable of disentanglement, even by an ambitious investigation such as this.
While it is clearly a concept that could be spread throughout the world, this first phase of The Power of Centreproject concentrates on the Celtic and the Britannic. The countries of the UK and Ireland, together with some of their component parts, are each given detailed attention. The resulting ‘centres’ are all too often places barely recognised by today’s local inhabitants! The centre of Cornwall at Lanivet? It’s time to get the rods out!
Like Hamish before them, G&C’s pursuit of the chase has lead them to re-discover folk tales and historical events that have all but faded from current awareness. Half-forgotten villages and isolated monuments are given new reasons for having come into existence, and a new purpose for their futures.
Many thanks to Gary and Caroline for including us on their Grand Tour. If this TDs event was anything to go by, the venture will pick up impetus and momentum as it proceeds. Judging from the number of books sold, and questions asked, a good number of those attending were prompted to think about the centres of their own communities – and, indeed, of themselves.
Nigel Twinn – Tamar Dowsers – October 2018
The Power of Centre – Sacred Lands Publishing – ISBN 978-0-9572382-1-3