A 'Circle of Nine' pebbles chosen from a Devon beach
Pebbles 440 million years old
My publishers, Red Wheel Weiser, have produced one of my favourite covers ever for The Circle of Nine. Its circle of pebbles echoes the story of the Nine Ladies stone circle in Derbyshire, which triggered the nine archetypes as I describe in the book. But whereas a stone circle is monumental and set into the landscape, pebbles have the quality of being something individual and personal, that we can pick up and admire.
Near where we live in Devon is a beach which is covered with amazing pebbles. They were formed 440 million years ago, then washed over from what is now Brittany by a giant river in Triassic period, 220 million years ago. Since then, they continue to spill out of the cliffs and form the sea shore that we see today. I love to sit on that beach and turn the pebbles over in my hands, admiring each one as a unique miracle. They are smooth ovals or spheres, some huge and some neat and small; their colours and markings vary but together they have a sense of unity. Yesterday, I decided to pick out nine pebbles that could form a circle akin to our Circle of Nine. I did it just from where I was sitting, choosing ones which had individuality but which would lie in harmony together. Here they are, arranged in a pattern which is pleasing to my eye, but which you could rearrange a hundred times into a different configuration.
Symbols are often thought of as something elusive, and almost beyond our grasp. It’s true that symbols can be profound, and help us to transcend normal boundaries. But it’s also true that they are often right within our grasp. The humblest, most commonplace objects can be symbols of great significance – think of a cup, a ball of wool, or a knife, for instance. Such things have been a part of women’s lives for thousands of years, and have perhaps been entry points to worlds of greater meaning. Wherever you are, whatever your circumstances, you are within reach of objects that can be transformative.
Sitting on a beach, walking along a path, wandering through a garden – why not find your own Circle of Nine stones? They can act as a focus for the way that you perceive the nine archetypes – the three Queens, Mothers and Ladies. You can arrange, re-order them, and see what insights they bring. They need not be a permanent marker for you. I will return these stones to the beach at some point, and let them go back to join the great sweep of pebbles that have such a history to tell.