Ten days to go. The countdown is on as I begin to pack for Egypt.
No planes or airports involved either… just a nice, leisurely drive to Derbyshire; two hundred miles and over three thousand years back in time to a place where the gods of the ancient ones spoke through their priests and the machinations of a dark figure shadowed the footsteps of Ramases…
Such is the setting for the annual ritual workshop this year.
My home has become what appears to be a costume department. On the airer in the garden a large swathe of velvet, which close inspection would reveal to be a cloak. The sideboard is littered with painted tokens and props and my bedroom festooned with an archaic wardrobe. And this year we’ve kept things simple… I am not actually doing much in the way of sewing for once!
Still, the attention to detail matters. It is part of building the frame for the symbolic picture we, and those who join us for the weekend, will paint in words and thought.
Yet none of the visual preparation really matters. We could do this just as well in jeans and T shirts. It is imagination and intent that fleshes out the simple lines we draw in colour and fabric, words and gesture. But imagination is, as the saying goes, the ass that carries the ark and anything we can do to guide it in the desired direction helps. To continue the analogy, by creating an illusion we are leading the mind with a carrot, rather than beating it with a stick.
It is for this reason we use ritual drama rather than the dry, dusty technique of lectures. We build something the imagination wants to engage with… something fun and different. We tell a story… and in doing so we engage the emotions too. And that is how we both teach and learn. We engage with something that simply goes beyond thought and logic… beyond either intellect or emotions alone, touching something that is far greater than the sum of its parts.
There is one final ritual to write and it falls to me to complete it. Its shape has been mapped for some time. The words had taken shape, given in a single moment on the way home one day. The form had wandered a stately dance across the canvas of the mind, yet I had not committed the words to paper. I didn’t know why. It was bugging me and I wanted to see it finished. I just couldn’t for some reason… and when ‘that’ feeling gets you, there isn’t much you can do if you wish to leave space for inspiration.
It doesn’t just apply in this particular situation, of course. You can try and force things into a shape of your choosing, but in doing so you fix prematurely in stone, as it were, something that is still fluid in the waters of creation. By doggedly filling in the blanks with an eye on the clock, you freeze the space between where possibility awaits and things may come unbidden into being. We have learned to wait in patience and to trust that what comes will be right.
It is all about trust.
Such things unfold in their own good time and only when the moment is right. Last night I was sent a document that filled in the space between. Tonight I will write my part of that final ritual, knowing that I have been given the questions I needed to make sense of the answers I already had. All the fragments are now in my hands… all I have to do is to gently tease them into the shape they need to become, and by the ninth day before the workshop begins… the number of the enneagram with which we work… the form should be complete.
Then I just have to sew and pack….
There is still time to join us for the River of the Sun, a fully catered, residential workshop in Derbyshire, 24-26 April, 2015.
Full brochure, prices and booking form can be downloaded here:
*Images Google search, photographer unknown