Weird and Wonderful Places

These places have been chosen because they have some kind of Weird Shit significance – either a particular atmosphere or a tendency for Weird Shit to happen there. A lot of people ask “How can I go about experiencing Weird Shit?” – well, a good start would be to try visiting these places. More about “how to experience weird shit” will appear in a later article.

The Rollright Stones

This is possibly my favourite place on earth. The Rollright stones, found in Oxfordshire about half an hours drive from Oxford itself, are a fantastic stone circle. However, if you go expecting a second Stone Henge you’ll be disappointed – the stones are a rough circle, much smaller than those of Stone Henge, and made from heavily weathered limestone, not bloody great chunks of granite.

However, it’s not the sight of the stones that you visit for – it’s simply the atmosphere of the place. No other site I’ve been to has such a rich, positive atmosphere to it. Although I dislike having to use such badly defined terms, the place has a very powerful energy.

Many people feel something special about the circle as soon as they arrive – if you sit and watch new arrivals you’ll often see them march into the circle in a “so what’s all this about then” way, but then their pace slow, and their body relax as tension slowly slides out of it. What may have been planned as a quick five minutes to have a look at a bunch of old stones can often turn into a leisurely hour of just quietly strolling around, sitting looking at the surrounding fields, and just doing nothing more than being somewhere peaceful. The Rollrights seem to relax you like a warm bath, making stresses and problems fade, but still leaving you with a creative energy and positive attitude to take away.

Which seems a bit much for a bunch of stones in a field. And perhaps the above sounds a bit hippy and crap compared to some of the more determined scepticism of the rest of this site. But I can’t help it – I just *really* like the Rollright stones, and I always have. The world feels good there, and although I can’t justify why standing surrounded by a bunch of all knackered looking stones in a field should make you feel differently, it just does. It has done every time I’ve visited, and it affects a large number of people in exactly the same way. I’ll say now that not everyone is moved by the Rollrights, some people just don’t seem to pick up on the atmosphere of locations, but go and try it for yourself and see what you think.

Things to try when you’re there:

Meditation – If you know how to meditate, take the time to sit, slip into a light trance, and just feel, as vividly as possible, the energy and atmosphere of the stones. I find this incredibly soothing, and often find it’s an excellent time to think about what’s going on in my life. Bad things don’t seem so bad, good things seem so much more worthwhile. If you don’t know how to meditate (but really, there’s no great trick to it) just sit quietly for ten minutes, and gently think about whatever comes to mind. You may well find you develop an excellent clarity of thought.

Dowsing – One of the nice things about the Rollright stones is that they are often overseen by some friendly volunteers. Often they have dowsing rods that they’ll lend to anyone who asks nicely. Have a play with them whilst wandering around and across the circle, and see what happens.

Further information: http://www.rollrightstones.co.uk/.

Temple Church

Right in the centre of London, this has to be one of the eeriest places you’re likely to come across. Temple Church is about ten minutes walk from Temple Tube station, surrounded by the chambers of the barristers that work at the nearby Royal Courts. Built in the 12th Century by the Templar order of knights, one of the most obvious peculiarities about it is that the main part of the church is round. The rectangular chancel was added in 1240.

Now, if you want peculiarity and weird shit, the Templars are always a good place to look. I have a long standing rule that a conspiracy theory isn’t a proper conspiracy theory unless the Templars are involved somewhere. So much has been written about them (much of it fantastically entertaining drivel) I’ll leave you to Google into their history if you’re interested. But hints of dark deeds, occult goings on, and hidden mysteries have stuck to them throughout history. Much of it, sadly, I’m sceptical about. But what I do believe is that the Temple Church is a very peculiar building indeed.

From a purely historical viewpoint the church is interesting – over eight hundred years old, the church was consecrated by the then Patriarch of Jerusalem. The church contains life size effigies of knights that were buried there. It has been popular and unpopular with various Kings and rulers down the years. The Knights were not always the most generous and compassionate of souls – there's a story that a man who was in debt to the Knights was placed in a cage within the Temple Church, and left to starve to death because he could not pay them. This may help explain some of the darker atmosphere of the place, and the Knights own rather dubious reputation.

From a weird shit point of view the church has much to recommend it too – although this is, as ever, rather more subjective and difficult to describe. The easiest way to express it is that the church has an incredibly powerful, almost overwhelming, atmosphere to it. This atmosphere, or energy, is particularly concentrated in the oldest part of the church, the round area. To me the air feels thick there, as if a great weight is pushing down. It’s on the verge of being uncomfortable, but is surprisingly soothing after a while – I’ve spent quite a bit of time just sitting within it, thinking about the history of the place, and enjoying the intensity of the atmosphere.

The first time I visited the church I was part of a group, and we performed a guided meditation within the church (A simple technique – someone describes a series of images for you to visualise, designed to help you relax, feel the energy of the location, and then allow you to form your own images based on being inspired by the atmosphere). I found that this experience generated a lot of powerful Templar based images and ideas. This may have been partly due to what I know about the history of the Templars, but the experience was powerful and interesting enough that I've returned several times to try to open my mind to more of the same.

Temple Church is an interesting place to visit, and a very good place to seek out some simple, and interesting, weird shit experiences.

Note: Temple Church has a habit of being closed at random times, so if you’re travelling to it specially it’s worth checking whether they’ll be open or not.

Things to try when you’re there:

Meditation – A good way to really get a feel for a location is to meditate whilst there – Temple Church has a very powerful atmosphere indeed, and losing yourself in it for a few minutes can be very interesting. I would make one note of caution, however: being in the Church can be a very intense experience, and it’s not the most friendly atmosphere you’ll ever experience. If you are particular ‘sensitive’ in a psychic way, and easily un-nerved, be a little cautious in opening yourself up to the place. For everyone else – open your mind, and see what images and ideas pop into it.

Feel the atmosphere – For those who don’t do that whole meditation thing, well just try and concentrate on the atmosphere of the place. If you want to experiment and see if you are at all sensitive to ‘energies’ of locations, this is a fine place to start – the naïve and circular part of the church have a very different feel to them, the church being much more intense. Just wonder around and see how your mood shifts and changes.

Opening up to images – As I said, I tried this the first time I went to the Church and it was very effective. There are many techniques for achieving this, and at some point I’ll write some up for the site. But basically you want to get yourself into a light trance, using some kind of meditation technique, and then open yourself to whatever images your surroundings inspire. Allow anything to come to mind – be sceptical about the ‘truth’ of them later, but when they are happening let anything that appears just bubble through. Spend ten minutes or so letting odd images appear, make a mental note of them, then analyse them later. This is often most interesting when done with other people – there can be an interesting correspondence between what different minds come up with.

Further information: http://www.templechurch.com/

Know something more about these subjects? Know of somewhere else you think I should have a look at? Please contact me, I'm always interested to hear more.