Saturday, 31 October 2015

Dolaucothi Gold

The temple of stars is amazing.

It is not a natural cave; it is a mine, made by Victorians, using child and adult labour; people who only one hundred years ago saw one day sunlight in a week, working in terrible and dangerous conditions. A child would hold a metal spike taller than himself, while an adult hammered it with a sledgehammer. They did this by the light of one candle. The rock is shale, containing quartz, which contains trace elements of fools gold (iron pyrite) and a tiny amount of gold. Where water has found its way through cracks over the millennia and into the quartz, cavities which grow naturally and where volcanic gas which has been released into fissures in the shale, where the quartz has grown over millennia; here the quartz is discoloured with orange, the rust from the iron. Little flecks of pyrite and occasionally gold, find their way down stream. I imagine the original discoverer found a heap of the stuff along the edges of a spring stream meandering through the forest. 

After a day of hammering into the rock, dynamite was placed inside the hole. All of these were exploded after everyone had left the mine for the night, long tapers lit from a distance. That night, the dust settled inside the mine and the next day, instead of making holes, everyone would load the rubble into metal train carts, push them - a ton of metal and a ton of rock - outside the mine so it could be panned using troughs of water. The whole site is in a sunken valley because the romans heard from the stone age tribes that there was gold here, and they stripped the mountain down into a pit. This is the working theory until in 2010 a French team of archeologists discovered antler scrapings inside one of the mines, which means that not all of the mines were made by Victorians using dynamite or Romans using the slower method of heating and cooling the rock with fires and water until it cracked from the quick change in temperature; thus burning up all the local forests. 

A lot of what is called ‘indigenous British woodland’ is all around the region now including surrounding the mining camp. It is now made of a few corrugated tin buildings from world war two housing the visitor center and Victorian machines. It is crazy seeing these machines, painted with thick layers of rustproof paint the same as the sheds, but still operable using hand crafted components. The age of industry which seems ridiculous considering that we now know how to make free energy devices, although mostly everyone is still using the civic grids because all of that can be capitalized on very easily. 

For ten tons of rock, there is one ton of quartz - and from all of that, the average was enough gold to make 1 ring. It is now regarded as insanity by most people because the energy spent to get something which has only the value we assign to it, which is a lot of money to the rich, a lot of respect from energy healers, and not really very much at all by any of the people whose lives were dedicated to getting the stuff for their bosses to sell. 

The temple of stars is what has happened since the mines were re-opened and then closed again a hundred years ago. What happens inside the cave, is water comes down through tiny fissures in the rock and a curious life form i can’t remember the latin word for it, a hybrid between lichen and moss, grows. It covers the ceiling not only with a pale green creamy softness, in paths between the dark rock; but it also extracts and collects the fools gold, perhaps even the real gold, on its tips where their weight brings them to dangle off the plant, but they stick too well for the water to knock them off when it eventually drips down. After at least a hundred years, there are only a few patches of it growing. To touch it with your fingertips destroys it instantly, it takes many human lifetimes to create even the temple of stars as it is. Beneath it, with a dozen visitors shining miner helmets up onto it, with heavy lights on top of their heads; the gold reflects against the light, through the water; and because every sparkle of it glows, the stone looks pitch black even against the lights. It is really beautiful, and it does not come out very well at all on camera. I did not have my camera with me :(

For me, the most exciting thing of all was, while staring at the ceiling, tasting the drip of water which inevitably found its way onto my lips, into my mouth open in amazement, feeling the ancientness of the whole place - i am still integrating cave-man mentality, the hardness and oldness of stone, the experience is shamanic, going below the earth, into the mother. I saw three tiny worms clinging to the ceiling. The largest was a cm long. They are white but translucent, i guess they are parasites of some type. Their bodies contained two tubes, not quite from top to bottom of each worm, which were light brown the same colour as the mud brought down by the water over the centuries, to help hold the lichen-moss stuff in place; and in the centre of their body is a strip of gold (iron pyrite probably). Their bodies filter the elements they eat; and like us, they pass out mud much more easily than metal, which is stored and which ultimately causes us to mutate; usually it makes us sick and kills us, we use turmeric to detox from metal-build-up. In petrochemical environments where we handle plastics and metals, breathe it in, wash ourselves in metal and petrol based bleach; we build up a lot of this stuff in our bodies over a lifetime. It causes alzheimers etc. Nitrates in food and all those additives, its all shit. In the worms lifetime, it shows how much it builds up in their bodies. They were beautiful too, a strip of gold in a semi-transparent, white leech thing wriggling across the temple of stars. 

The woman who gave the guided tour around the caves, it being the day before halloween, was dressed in a red devil costume although with pointy horns and ... now  I remember her as holding a lantern like the Hermit in the Tarot, although she was not actually holding a lantern so much as telling us how switch on the damn heavy battery packs and lamps on the heads of our mining hats. It being Wales and all... a woman dressed in red leading a troupe into the dark caves of Wales, where her hoard of gold lays buried... the imagery is too good not to mention. 

Me... I prefer redstone. 

I would like to thank my son's friends dad who, recognizing us from the school, asked if we would like to go with them on a halloween trip. I left the village two or three months ago for a medical interview in Carmarthen... before that I left the village (night of my mates gig in Carmarthen) two years ago... Since becoming pedestrian my finances have picked up, my anxiety has massively reduced, I have quit coffee, basically I have quit stress-now-culture-of-immediacy. Panning for flecks of gold was not about greed so much as therapeutic.

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