(ii) Cosmic Parents

I am still examining the photograph of the Swastika Stone when Paul speaks of a second landmark he wants to show me: a circle of twelve standing stones known as the Twelve Apostles.

Again the tingling at the back of my skull, the sense of uncanny wonder. Just as the first sphere on the Tree of Life is symbolized by a Swastika, so the second is symbolized by a standing stone.

Even more appropriate, the sphere is deeply connected to the number twelve: one of its main correspondences is the Zodiac, the starry circle divided into twelve parts.

If a monument were built to Chokmah, the second sphere on the Tree of Life, a circle of twelve standing stones would be as appropriate as it gets.


Some weeks later I come across the following description of the Temple of Chokmah:

A step forward takes us through the arch onto a grassy plain, the air is clear and frosty… The grass stretches on every side but ends in the same starry space, as if it had been hung in time for this very purpose. Before us stands a circle of massive rough hewn stones, twelve in all…

Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki, The Shining Paths

The Twelve Apostles of Ilkley Moor may not be massive, but the rest of the description is spot on.

The most obvious route to the Twelve Apostles is to drive to the moor’s northeastern rim before striking out on foot across the wild heathland. At the start of the path, like a sentinel guarding the entrance to the uplands, stands the third and most famous of Ilkley’s Landmarks: the Cow and Calf Rocks.

Another perfect fit. Binah, the third sphere on the Tree, is known as the Great Mother. Attributed to this sphere are archetypes and imagery of the Mother Goddess. Isis holding the infant Horus would be placed upon this sphere, as would Mary with the baby Jesus. A mother with her child: a cow with her calf.

And if one were to climb the Tree taking each sphere in turn, Binah would stand at the start of the path to Chokmah just as the Cow and Calf Rocks stand at the start of the path to the Twelve Apostles.


Local legend tells of the site’s creation when a giant on the run from his angry wife landed heavily upon the rocky crag, birthing the huge Calf boulder from its rugged mother.

Adjacent to the Cow rock is Hangingstone Quarry, formed to feed a demand for millstone grit when Ilkley was part of the spa town boom of the nineteenth century. Its narrow entrance opens into a rectangular enclosure, a roofless room carved out of living rock. This involution creates the female equivalent to the standing stone – negative space, the womb of the Universal Mother.

In The Shining Paths, the Temple of Binah is described as a simple chamber consisting of –

plain stone walls, rough hewn, and a floor of packed earth

- a description that fits the quarry remarkably well, while the temple’s altar -

a boulder with an uneven top

- perfectly matches the huge Calf rock nearby.

It is in this chapter of The Shining Paths, which covers the path from Binah to Chokmah, that the Temple of Chokmah is described: a circle of twelve standing stones set upon a lofty plain.

It is all metaphor, an imaginative rendering of things that don’t really exist, and yet the similarity to these real-world locations is uncanny.

It is extraordinary the way in which the three landmarks have arisen during the course of the day. I’ve only just started researching the Tree of Life and already its principles are manifesting in the external world. Something is taking shape, a mystery unfolding across the wilds of Ilkley Moor. Where it’s all leading is still unclear; I only know that I am compelled to follow the trail.