Lethbridge, T C - A Step in the Dark – Ridgeways and the role of Lucifer
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
T C Lethbridge – A Step in the Dark
The ridgeway along the hill tops is one thing and was once cosmopolitan; but the combes, which run up into it are quite another. They are a different world entirely. The flat hilltops are open now for all to see and cultivated for the most part, except for the bracken and heather of Farway Common, on which the great barrows stand like those around Stonehenge.
But the combes are secret wooded retreats, into which man has with great difficulty hacked his way. Any relaxation of his efforts sees them rapidly obscured once again by bramble and bracken, ash, sycamore and hazel. Some are scarcely touched at all and their marshy floors remain undrained with their sides clothed in birch trees and scrub. The time to see them is in winter on a fine clear day. Then the bare birch trees are purple and the dead bracken orange. The marsh grass is yellow ochre and above it all floats the screaming, wheeling buzzard, a small eagle in everything but name.
There is something ageless in these uncleared combes, which takes you in a moment back into the pages of the stories of long ago. In the Welsh tales of the Mabinogion you see glimpses of a countryside like this, into which the Lord of the Underworld can emerge with his phantom pack of white and yellow hounds, or an unearthly boar spread death and destruction over the land.
From the ancient ridgeway, the 'Portage 'Way' as I call it, you look down on all sides into hidden valleys, which do not appear real at all. They are like Renaissance paintings, where strange people move amid surroundings which seem to bear little relationship to the world as we know it. A dragon might flop heavily across the sky carrying some stolen princess, or a knight in incredibly heavy plate armour ride out from the birches in search of some deed to prove his valour. Red stags should stand looking at you with contempt and wolves ought to howl in the winter dark. For this is no prosaic Anglo-Saxon land in which everything is down to earth and practical. This is a little, cut-off patch of old Albion, where names given by Gael and Briton yet remain on the map. Those of the old gods, Lugh and Elva, Baal and Bran are still to be seen in this one parish of Branscombe; while Lugh's own ravens still nest on its chalk cliffs and can be heard croaking almost every day.
Bran was the raven form of the great god Lugh, the Latin 'lux'; Lucifer, the Light. Branscombe is surely derived from Cwm Bran, the raven's combe.