I didn't know there was a good chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis.
Somehow those notifications had passed me by until after the main event. Nicola and I are always keen to be present with what's going on in our landscape and always try to witness the moon cycles, the tidal changes and of course the wheel of the year. So it was with some surprise that I learned we had missed the best cosmic lightshow that northern England has seen perhaps in my lifetime.
The vast array of photos on social media was the first I knew about it, but this was the morning after. As the sky flared with greens, purples and reds Nicola and I were in our front room watching another show - chilling out together after a busy day.
There was however a moment of unexpected serendipity, and that was our drum journey circle that we were holding that evening, the day after the main event. We had been guided to work with the element of Air with our Mystery School community during this regular monthly gathering and as I deepened into my research I found a link between the Air elemental beings, Sylphs, and the Aurora.
The Air Elementals
In some quarters the light display is seen as a physical manifestation of the presence of the Air elementals who have links with both sky and earth and the Fae. We do know of course the scientific reasons for the Auroras but it's always wise to give weight to the beliefs of our ancestors too, especially where otherworldy beings are concerned.
So, as we journeyed a hundred or so folk to the element of Air I was very aware of the far too coincidental appearance of the Aurora. Perhaps testament to this cosmic linking was the depth to which our circle members journeyed and felt taken by the wind, reinvigorated and energised by it as they travelled on the beat of the drum together.
If you are a member of our Mystery School and missed the evening here's the link to the replay where you can deepen into the 30 minute or so guided journey and enjoy the 'Meditations on Air' film that sets the scene.
There was much talk about the Aurora and I learned the next day that at the very time of our journey there was indeed a brilliant light show in progress above our local stone circle, Summerhouses. Another coincidence? Perhaps, but maybe not.
A nocturnal visit to Jack Scout
During the circle one of our members mentioned a website which runs an alert service for Aurora watchers, here's the link to that, so I downloaded the recommended app once we'd finished and discovered that there might still be a chance for me at ten o'clock that night, in half an hours time. So I fought off my fatigue from the long day, packed my camera bag, donned my warm clothes and grabbed my head torch.
One of my favourite night time haunts is a headland called Jack Scout and I reckoned this spot would give me a northerly view, essential for seeing the Aurora. I drove off into the darkness having seen the clouds begin to part, and walked for ten minutes to a particular outcrop of rocks that jutted out into the bay.
I set up my camera on a sturdy tripod, perched myself precariously on the limestone rocks and took a few long exposure photos to get my eye in so to speak. Although the Aurora had been quite visible to the naked eye during this event this was not usually the case. We usually see it as a light grey smudge in our part of the world. The camera however can see the full colour version even when we can't. This is because at night our eyes switch to a monochrome mode as our colour receptors are less effective in twilight conditions. Cameras have no such limitations.
As the mudflats rippled below me and clouds scudded by I took more pictures. The growing moon lit my landscape, casting an eerie glow on the Blackthorns that tangled around me, giving life to the candle flame Gorse flowers.
Tawny Owl hoots hung in the silence, nocturnal exclamation marks. Who, who? they asked. I introduced myself. I'm still new here, they don't yet know me.
Journeys with the Aurora
After an hour, an auroraless hour, I watched as the clouds closed in. The bright quarter moon shone through a thin veil, a halo of ice particles framing her.
It was not to be. The Aurora had evaded me. However it had blessed our journey circle, fed our connection and granted illuminating insights to so many of our group. I drove home and downloaded the photos of the bay overlooked by the orange glow of Ulverston's street lights. Pretty in it's own way, too beautiful to be called mere 'light pollution'.
It was now nearing midnight and as I set to the job of editing the recording of our evening's journey circle gathering I pondered on my night. The dash through the darkness to stand on the lonely headland, waiting for a long hour. Woowooed by Owl, bloodied by Blackthorn, lit by a cold moon and soothed by the hiss and sway of the Bay. There was no where I would rather have been.
A night of connections, a hundred friends in circle, Venus and Jupiter (can you see them in the photo?), and a reminder to be out there catching the stories. What's not to love.