Simon Calder: So, did the earth move for you?

The Man Who Pays His Way

"Ommm". To see if it works for you, recruit half a dozen pals, hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, find a sacred rock, hold hands, press your torso against the stone, and go "Ommm".

"Ommm". To see if it works for you, recruit half a dozen pals, hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, find a sacred rock, hold hands, press your torso against the stone, and go "Ommm".

I hope the earth moves for you, or at least gives a faint, echoing hum in response. That'll be better than the stony silence that I experienced, while my six friends (who I had met only minutes earlier, and happened to be visiting the Peruvian altiplano from California) entered various stages of ommm-induced trance.

Each Saturday during the month of August, this travel section will focus on one of the ancient elements: earth, wind, fire and water, in successive weeks. Of these universal essentials, the one I find hardest to get to grips with is earth – easy to travel across, tricky to regard as more than a handy way to deal with gravity.

To try to delve more deeply, I set off along the A44. As a thoroughfare, the road from Oxford to Evesham is not quite in the same scenic league as the Inca Trail. But it has the advantage of allowing a crew from BBC 1's Heaven and Earth Show, with whom I was working, to turn up in a van to film events at the Rollright Stones.

If you are unacquainted with this 5,000-year-old circle of boulders, and the related adjacent monoliths, make it a priority for this summer. It's nearer than Machu Picchu; admission, at 50p, is a lot cheaper than most ancient sites; and the spectacle is more entertaining than those equally timeworn neolithic wonders, the Rolling Stones.

The Venue is significant: it lies where ley lines converge, astride the border between Oxfordshire and Warwickshire. The boundary is marked by the ancient ridgeway track known as the Jurassic Way, which runs along the line of a ridge of Jurassic limestone and forms the watershed between the Thames and Severn basins.

Some of the uncountable stones possess chillingly human shapes, and all kinds of powers and purposes have been ascribed to them, from a landing place for extra-terrestrials to "gathering and distribution points for Mother Earth's wisdom and energy".

On Lonely Planet's website, a recent visitor reports a strange experience: "I took my video camera into the circle and found that the tape stopped running and my batteries all went dead," writes Peter Kerr from Australia. "When I arrived home and tried to play the tape, it had been completely erased. A lady who was also there had terrible trouble with her hearing aid."

For a cameraman or a sound recordist, such phenomena might prompt a more profane utterance than "Ommm". But they didn't cuss, and neither did I. I said "Hello, Veronica".

Veronica Hammond is Arch-Druid of the Cotswold Order of Druids. She had arrived on the back of a motorcycle for an interview about the forces harboured by the Rollrights. She talked with passion about the energy she feels in the stones.

Each, apparently, is predominantly positive or negative, and polarities change six days after the new moon. And then we ran off to the warden's hut to escape the rain – only to meet another spiritual figure, a witch called Cassandra Latham.

Where's your cat? How do you pilot a broomstick? Cast any good spells lately? These were among the questions I failed to ask. Instead, the conversation with Cassandra embarked on the relative merits of Golden Virginia and Old Holborn as hand-rolling tobaccos (she's Golden Virginia, if that is not a blasphemous term in pagan circles).

As the rain outside bucketted down on five millennia of history, we turned to her professional life. "Rites of passage £30 (plus expenses)", promises her price list. Other services include psychic house cleansings, exorcisms and "removing curses, warts and negative energies". Happily, "works of magic are only performed with the recipient's full knowledge and permission".

Just as I was about to start on the cat/broomstick/spell line of questioning, and probably earn a well-deserved turning-to-stone, the director yelled from beneath her umbrella that the rain had abated enough to carry on filming.

A miracle – and the videotape apparently survived too, though it is unwise to rule out subterranean forces disrupting the transmission of The Heaven and Earth Show (BBC 1, 10am, tomorrow).

People who regard cold lumps of granite as inanimate may find it easy to mock those who believe that the earth has more going for it than mere gravity . But perhaps, as Shakespeare maintained, "The Earth has music for those who listen."

The Rollright Stones site (01295 277244, www.rollrightstones.co.uk) opens daily, sunrise to sunset. 'The Heaven and Earth Show' will feature sacred sites in Britain each Sunday in August; visit www.bbc.co.uk/religion/tv_radio/hande

Simon.Calder@independent.co.uk

Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all