First Anniversary at Dode

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The stone circle at Dode where we were handfasted (and where we renewed our vows this year). You can see both the church and the retreat in the background

It’s been a long time since I’ve been around, due to moving house (at last!) and my laptop getting sent away to be fixed. However, the laptop’s now with me again and we’ve settled into our new place (which I’ll probably write about later), so I thought it would be a good time to talk about our recent get-away to Dode, the “Lost Village” where my husband and I got married and handfasted, in order to celebrate our first anniversary together.

There’s a beautiful little rustic retreat beside the church at Dode, and although we did stay the night there for our wedding, we didn’t feel as if we had a proper stay there as we had to be up early the next day and leave (we also didn’t get to explore much of the surrounding area). So going to Dode for our anniversary seemed perfect for having a break away together.

We arrived on Friday evening and had some quality time checking out the retreat where we stayed. It’s a beautiful little cottage designed by Doug, the man who was also responsible for the rebuilding of Dode church.

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These little cups were above the sink. One was filled with salt, which I suspect (given Doug’s Pagan leanings!) was intended as an offering / purification

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There was also a little bowl of dried lavender

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This walking stick was apparently made by Doug or his wife for ramblers to use…

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….There was even a sheet explaining how it was made and its significance!

The next day (a beautiful summer’s day), I spent the morning exploring the grounds of Dode I love so well. I actually felt quite overwhelmed to stand at the top of the mound and look down towards the fields – it’s such a beautiful place with so many amazing memories that I was almost moved to tears. I spent some time walking among the standing stones and even sat down and meditated for a while.

And in the afternoon, we were joined by my sister, brother-in-law and my nephews and we had a picnic outside the church! In the evening, we went out for dinner with my parents.

Returning in the evening, it was still so warm and lovely that I went out to the stones again. Again I sat down and meditated, chanting the “Hi-fu-mi” norito as both a means of getting into a meditative state and a way of expressing my gratitude and awe to the spirits of the place.

The next day was our anniversary itself. We spent the day walking the countryside around Dode. Here’s some of the things we saw…

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When the sun set, we performed a simple ceremony among the standing stones to renew our vows. It was incredibly atmospheric – owls were hooting and bats were flying overhead as we stood there! We gave thanks to the spirits of Dode and the seven deities whom we called upon at our handfasting for their blessings, and asked them to continue to bless us. We also pledged to keep upholding the seven vows made one year ago, and ended by feeding each other “cakes and ale” (this was actually bread and a letftover bottle of Cava from our wedding!)

It was an absolutely wonderful way to spend our anniversary, especially as the day we returned we also had to start our house moving! A fantastic “calm before the storm” – we’re already thinking about returning next year!

If you want to visit Dode (and I think you must certainly do so if you find yourself in Kent), their website is here.

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Filed under Places, Rituals & Festivals

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