The wooded mound was in the grounds of a country house. It was a long hogsback shape and was topped by three large beech trees and a small folly of a Greek temple.
Alphedia stepped forward and made an offering of honey in a scallop shell there beneath the most imposing of the beech trees. Me and Auraengus closed our eyes and tuned in to what was going on, and then we stepped forward too...
We were immediately surrounded by tall, slim, imposing beings in white robes with a serene air about them. These were the trooping faeries, or the Sidhe. Alphedia was speaking to them, but I don't remember what she was saying as at that moment I was approached by a rather flamboyant looking male Fae wearing a lace-fringed shirt. He had long, straight, dark hair and eyes that were upturned at the corners. He took me aside and gave me information that was for my ears alone.
"I am Atheron", he said, "I will be your guide. You are a faery-friend. You work for us and you will work alone. You must collect some crystals to plant."
He took out a silver necklace hung with a large, blue, teardrop-shaped gem and hung it around my neck.
"You will get one of these for real", he told me, "Wear it with white clothes to show that you are a lightworker. When your work is done you will be rewarded. Your fairy-maiden awaits."
That was all he would tell me for now.
Alphedia was still performing her ritual so I joined her again. It seemed right to keep this information to myself for now. He had specifically told me to work alone, and Alphedia was busy pursuing so many other avenues that would just be a distraction to me.
When Alphedia was done we left the mound. My guide Atheron accompanied me until we reached the exit between two tall trees and then I couldn't see him anymore. Alphedia told me that there would be a gathering here at the winter solstice where clans of Sidhe from many raths would meet. This was going to be a very special winter solstice with a full moon and a total lunar eclipse!
It seemed like at last I had a mission, but as usual it left more questions than answers. What crystals should I use? Where should I plant them? The only answer I could get was that I would be guided. And why did they consider me a faery-friend? And who was this faery-maiden??
Answers would be revealed to me slowly over the coming months and years, and my understanding of them would one day change my whole perception of myself and the world around me!
Rob Wildwood (Aurvandil) has now released a book containing hundreds of his own stunning full colour photos of many of the magical places he has visited in his travels. The images capture the magic and mystery of each place and are enhanced by extracts of local folklore that reveal the magical lore of each place and tempt deeper investigation. Every site listed has full directions and map grid references that can be checked online, so join Rob Wildwood as you discover Britain's magical places at www.themagicalplaces.com