A flash fiction story by Brian Robinson.
There are things you have to do in life but never quite get around to. That’s how it was with Stonehenge. I’m not a religious person, and I’m certainly not into mysticism, but none the less, Stonehenge has always held a deep fascination for me.
My wife was due to accompany me, but unfortunately, she wasn’t feeling well. Perhaps I should have stayed with her, but in fairness she did insist I go.
I was surprised to see how few people there were that day. Perhaps I just happened to visit at an odd time?
The closer you get to the henge the more remarkable it seems. The stones themselves are huge and you cannot help but wonder how they managed to create this without the help of modern technology.
I noticed a young man standing, staring, and I assumed that he too was struck by the wonder of it. He seemed friendly enough and he turned and smiled as I approached. “Have you come far?” I asked. “I’ve noticed several different nationalities here already.”
“No Sir, I’m a guide. I’m here all the time.”
I couldn’t believe my luck. My own personal guide. “You must be asked this question all the time, but why would anyone go to all this trouble? This is a massive endeavour.”
“The answer is simple. They did it to get noticed.”
“Yes, but noticed by whom?”
“By the gods of course.”
“Do we know who their gods were?”
“These men believed in only two gods. But they weren’t distant ethereal gods like ours. These were gods that were up close and personal in every way. The sun god brought the day and the heat. And the moon god brought the night and the cold.”
“And what about the shape of the henge? Why a circle?”
“That’s fairly straightforward too. The circle simply reflects the circular shape of their gods. What better way to try to connect with your gods than to etch their image into the landscape?
These open circles are the cathedrals of the past and you have to see the world through their eyes. For example, Bronze Age Man could never relate to modern churches or cathedrals. They have roofs which effectively means that those who congregate in them could never be noticed, and quite apart from that, the roofs would block their journey to the afterlife.”
“I’ve already noticed something that puzzles me. You probably won’t know the answer, but I’ll ask anyway. On top of the upright pillars they’ve carved small dome shapes. And I assume there is a corresponding hollow in the stones that sit on top of the uprights. This acts as a sort of join? But why go to that trouble? The capping stones are hardly likely to be blown off? They’re huge and must weigh tons.”
“You’re very observant, and you’re right of course. A connection is made between the stones, but it’s not a structural connection, it’s a sexual one. You see the sun god is seen as masculine and the moon god is seen as feminine. The way the stones are arranged represents the sexual union between these two deities. This is what gives the stones their power.
The stones are arranged in a series of spiritual portals which act as doorways to the afterlife. When you die, your body has to go through one of these portals, and it has to be deposited within the circle.”
“I see. So who is buried here.”
“Only high status individuals. They represent a privileged upper class. Stonehenge is not the product of a band of like-minded individuals who came together to build this monument in order to pay their respects to the gods. Stonehenge is the product of the ruling classes. They were prepared to enslave thousands of men in order to enhance their chances of achieving immortality. This monument speaks more of slavery than it does of worship.”
“You’re not an absolute fan then?”
“I see the henge for what it is. And moreover, I’m afraid it was built on a false premise. We do not have to create something as grand as this in order to be noticed by the gods. The truth is, the gods are aware of everything we do. And besides, there is no one portal to immortality. Each and every one of us has to find our own gateway to everlasting life.”
I completed a full tour of the monument with my guide explaining everything as we went. I couldn’t help but be impressed by the depth of his knowledge. He really seemed to understand the ancient ideology. “Thank you so much for taking the trouble to explain things.”
“It’s no trouble Sir. It’s my job.”
We shook hands and as we did so he clasped our handshake with both hands. Usually, this would be seen as a sign of warmth but this was different. One of his hands was bitterly cold while the other was burning hot. I couldn’t help but gasp slightly with the shock. He smiled broadly.
Much of what I had been told was circling around in my head as I made my way back towards the reception area. I don’t usually leave feedback but this time I was determined to make an exception. “I was impressed by your young guide. He has a such a good knowledge of the monument.”
“All our guides are on break Sir. That’s why there are so few people here. You say someone was pretending to be a guide? Can you tell me what he looked like?”
“Early twenties I suppose; he was slim and had a beard; he looked a bit sun-bleached. I assumed that was from being out in the open all the time.”
“We only have two male guides and they are both in their fifties. I’ll make a report though. And thanks for letting us know.”
I told my wife about my encounter with my mysterious guide. “He was probably just some New Age Druid weirdo who hangs about the monument,” she said.
“What about the handshake?”
“Perhaps you shook hands with the gods of day and night?” She laughed.