Connectedness; the Dartmoor Pony who met ‘the friend’ who’d met the Dalai Lama.

“All beings tremble before violence. All fear death, all love life. See yourself in others.                                                                       Then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do?”                                                                                                                    – Buddha


Metta. ‘kindness’

On an August morning – several years ago – when Tom was nine years old – we decided to visit an impressive Dartmoor maen; a tall, solitary standing stone – called, the Beardown Man.  It was a moody, atmospheric day – grey and overcast – and not that warm. As we set off in the car towards Dartmoor – we hoped the rain would hold off.

The Beardown Man - Dartmoor

Impressive Beardown Man. (‘maen’ – Celtic for stone)

On the way – just outside the small market town of Hatherleigh, I noticed a man standing at the roadside – dressed in colourful, full-length robes – signalling for a lift with his thumb. In what seemed like nanoseconds to weigh up the possibilities – I decided there was enough room in the car for one Buddhist monk with an extraordinarily large rucksack – and decisively, he was hitchhiking from a safe place for me to stop.

Through the nearside door – we established where we were both going.  He said that he was on his way to a meditation weekend at Totnes – but he wasn’t certain whether he was on the right road.  I explained that we were going to Dartmoor and I showed him on the map exactly where I was heading for.  I put forward an idea that he would be able to catch a bus – or hopefully thumb another lift from my drop-off point on the main road to Ashburton – and from there it would be straightforward to Totnes.   After helping him to put all his worldly possessions in the boot of the car – he got in with us – and we travelled on…

Gracing my backseat with humility and wisdom, this once-in-a-lifetime passenger – illuminated us about his gentle way in the world as a wandering artist monk. His name was Shenyen.

Because our journey together was impromptu – I mused a little while driving, about what first impression Shenyen may have made on my nine-year old son – who was sitting uncharacteristically quietly – out the corner of my eye, in the front passenger seat…

Suddenly and unexpectedly, a bald stranger with an unfamiliar dress-code, had entered the confined space of mum’s car – and was now sitting at the rear – unseen without the use of my driver’s mirror!

What was a boy to make of this experience?

Several years on – Tom remembers Shenyen – and our journey with him to Dartmoor; vividly and with happiness.

Too swiftly, time and landscape whizzed-by – and we arrived at the turn-off to Holming Beam; the start point to our planned walk. I parked the car on the grass verge – just off the B3357- the main road between Princetown and Ashburton.  We all got out into the fresh Dartmoor air; Shenyen wisely put his hat on – then heaved his load up on to his strong, ‘broad’ shoulders…

It was time to say our good-byes before the parting of our ways.

Just then – a wild pony came to us unbidden – and stopped unafraid at Shenyen’s feet; probably inquisitive about who this colourful moorland visitor was.  Apart from Shenyen’s XL backpack and stout walking-boots – he looked like no other Dartmoor rambler! Shenyen patted and stroked the pony on its forelock – as if in benediction; a fitting conclusion to an all-round, karmic encounter.

Animals just know.

Animals know.

Shenyen means – ‘the friend’.

Good karma maen! It didn't rain either.

Good karma ‘maen’!  It didn’t rain either.

While compiling my previous post about the magic of Hawthorn trees – I came across this image; something about the colours – inspired me to follow on with this one.

Connectedness through colour and all living, breathing things.

Interconnectedness through colour – and all living things under the Sun.  

Silhouette.  Hawthorn Tree betwixt and between the Staple Tors – Dartmoor.

Hawthorn: In praise of Crataegus monogyna.

Hawthorn, Quickthorn, May, Mayblossom, Whitethorn, Haw, Faery Tree…

Inspirational Hawthorn

Inspirational Hawthorn.

‘Just’ one of the things that I love about Dartmoor – are the small, hardy Hawthorns that grow amid the granite clitter of the moorland slopes…

New life - May Blossom on Dartmoor

New life under the May.

With sturdy, gnarled trunks – and thick, thorny tangles, of wind-sculpted branches – they give shelter from the biting chill of a Dartmoor Winter – to animals and birds that inhabit the Moor.  And in Summer – their dense canopies of dark, green foliage provide a cool refuge – shielding sheep and wild ponies – and even a weary wayfarer – from the heat of the day.

Sheep under the Quickthorn

Sheep under the Quickthorn.

Crown of Thorns


Gnarled and knobbly - and as old as the hills!

Gnarled and knobbly…and as old as the hills!

Dartmoor Hawthorn under waxing gibbous Moon.

Dartmoor Hawthorn and waxing gibbous Moon.

Anytime now, Hawthorns will be budding with soft, new leaves – heralding longer, warmer days ahead – and Mayblossom…

Hawthorn in a wooded area near Burrator

Faery Tree near Burrator.

For me though – Autumn is the time when the Hawthorn is at its zenith – laden with blood-red berries – it presents the crowning glory of the turning year.

Crowning Glory

Hawthorn near Lanehead, Dartmoor.

A glut of berries help sustain the bird population throughout the harsher season…

Winter Hawthorn - Dartmoor

Winter Haws – beside the B3357 Tavistock to Pricetown Rd – Dartmoor.

The ‘humble’ Dartmoor Hawthorn – and its holy cousin, the fabled Thorn of Glastonbury – both grow upon sites that are linked by an invisible energy – a mystical ley line that tracks across ancient and sacred places – from Cornwall to the Norfolk coast – and beyond…

Several Dartmoor Tors – most notably Brentor…

Brent Tor - Dartmoor

Rock of ages.  St. Michael de Rupe – Brentor – Dartmoor.

– are directly linked by the Saint Michael Alignment

Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury Tor –


Pilgrimage.  And did those feet in ancient time…

St. Michaels' Tower - Glastonbury Tor.

St. Michael’s Tower atop Glastonbury Tor.

as are Glastonbury Tor – and the Hurlers stone circle, near Pensilva – the place where I was born!  (The house that I was born in – is fascinatingly documented here on the Pensilva History Group website.)

Hurler hugging. Bodmin Moor.

Touchstone.  Hurlers – Bodmin Moor.

It is probably no coincidence then – that I always feel energised by the simple act of touching a Hawthorn tree – or an ancient stone – when visiting these sacred places and when walking on the hills…

Hawthorn near Rowtor.

Hawthorn at Cheesewring.  Near site of Hurlers Stone Circles - Bodmin Moor.

Wind-sculpted Hawthorn on Stowe’s Hill (Cheesewring right).  Near site of Hurlers – Bodmin Moor.

Om.  (Cheesewring detail.)

Om. (Cheesewring detail.)

Touchable, huggable, tappable

Strokeable. Huggable. Tappable.  Weathered Hawthorn – Dartmoor.

Refuge in the grounds of Glastonbury Abbey

Ancient bole in the grounds of Glastonbury Abbey.

Inspired by Hawthorns here, there and everywhere – and especially those closest to my heart – on Dartmoor, Bodmin and at Glastonbury – I made a token sprig to hang within my home – to me it symbolises the powerful, magical, inspirational – and everyday practical virtues of this most characterful of native trees…

Perch for swallows and life-giving host to Mistletoe

Life-giving host; Mistletoe and Swallows.  Hawthorn on Glastonbury Tor.

In tree lore – it is considered unlucky to bring real Hawthorn inside – so a small sprig crafted from glass, copper and lead is a wise precaution…

In-fused; glass, copper and lead

In-fused; glass, copper and lead.

In situ.

In situ.


Dryad; the living tree – Dartmoor.

Shadowland.  Hawthorn at Hurlers, Bodmin Moor.

Shadowland. Hawthorn at Hurlers, Bodmin Moor.

Avebury eye.

Saint Michael Alignment.   Avebury ‘eye’ and beyond…