Rhossili, Ghosts and the Old Black Man…

The ghostly bones of the shipwreck ‘Helvetia‘, an oak barque, surface at low tide on Rhossili Beach, covered  in algae, seaweed and barnacles. Sea-weathered fingers rise out of the sand,  to stand majestic and haunting. The bay itself was sculpted by the full might of the Atlantic Ocean, and lay in a flat arc of undisturbed sand, punctuated here and there by the scattered skeletons of ancient shipwrecks.

Ghosts race across the sands, under the midnight moon, cloaked in the mist that rolls in thick around these parts. A dark rider desperately searches the beach for washed up treasure from the sunken ships. On stormy nights the Squire Mansell, searches for gold and drives wildly along the beach in his ghostly coach led by four spectral horses. Menhirs, dolmans and barrows are scattered over the Downs above the bay. By day the crystal clear water is inviting,  seahorses and large crab come out to play. The sun shimmers off the water and the breeze whistles in your ears, even on a hot day. Which is extremely refreshing and very welcome.

But even with only a few people dotted about on the beach, this beach is more crowded than most people know. The spirits of the dead roam by day as well as night, and the Spirits of the Land are not very shy about making their presence known. On the way down to the shore, ghosts brushed past, whispers fell upon my ears and once my feet were in the water my Witchery was carried out. A Witchery so simple that my folks, brother and friend Jack (who came with me and were relaxing, or swimming off in the distance along the beach) would have hardly noticed anything, if at all…

That night, after a show of lightening over the bay, the silent flashes lighting up the sky, I lay sleeping in my tiny, caravan bed. The Old Man  came to visit. This was the first time I had encountered the Old Black Man and I must say it made for an unnerving experience. Especially his skin. It’s black you see. I don’t mean ‘black’ as in African, I mean black as in Black! – Black as pitch, black as ebony, black as coal. A blue-black luster that seems to glimmer and glisten in certain light. It’s not black all the time, but more often than not, and this is how He revealed himself to me at first…

He strikes his walking stick on the ground to emphasize his points, but He does not need it to walk. A Ram with huge curling horns sometimes sits by His feet, like a domesticated pet, that He stops to stroke every now and then. Sometimes it’s a black He-Goat. Sometimes He rides His goat through the night. His hair and beard are gray and wild. Sometimes He comes with the horns of His goat. He can be crass, but He knows that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. His eyes are always intense and piercing (though they have a twinkle in them at times – He loves a good joke or a riddle of two). They see straight into your soul. You cannot have secrets from the Old Black Man.


2 responses to “Rhossili, Ghosts and the Old Black Man…

  1. Thanks for sharing!

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