So come all you ramblers, hear my tale - when you look into the darkness beyond the trees lining your route, consider that things dreadful and marvellous may lurk there. ROY BAYFIELD Bypass Pilgrim
Serpentine is a rare and beautiful mineral - in Britain found only in a small area in the extreme south west called the Lizard Peninsula. On my recent coastal walk I'd been looking forward to buying a piece. The bigger objects - worked and polished into lighthouses, table lamps and such - were much too heavy to carry in my pack, so I settled for the amulet photographed above.
Green emerald, jade or malachite are no match for the mystery of this sea-green mineral-stone - here buffed as smooth as snakeskin, and laced with thin rivulets of yellow fire. Its oily, olivaceous surface is mottled like a lizard. Formed by slow alchemies of fire and water, serpentine is part of the ocean's crust made visible through the immensity of deep time. My piece feels like a Druid's ceremonial stone, a magical amulet, a shining quern of healing power. I wore it round my neck to encourage the marvellous and protect against the dreadful (though what we fear may not be as dreadful as all that, and may contain little marvels).