The soul in the oven

If ‘life is like a box of chocolates’, then people could be said to be fruitcakes. For once, I am not using a literary colloquialism to cast aspersions upon the relative sanity of mankind. I am speaking literally.

My  favourite fruitcake recipe was handed down by my great grandmother. It is, without a doubt, the simplest fruitcake ever. Let me share it with you and you’ll see what I mean…both about the recipe and how it relates to people.

fruitcake recipe

The recipe didn’t come down all nicely weighed and measured in metric and Imperial. The oven temperatures were descriptive rather than accurate as the old range didn’t possess a thermostat and cooking times were all approximate. Even the ingredients were subject to change. They’d had to be, great granny had been around a long, long time and, as she proudly reminded us, had seen five British monarchs in her lifetime. Six, if you counted  ‘young Edward’….

You could use two eggs instead of one, depending on the size and whether they were pigeon’s eggs or hen’s… or replace one egg with a spoonful of malt vinegar, which has much the same effect and was an old wartime baking trick left over from the days of rationing. For a darker colour, you added gravy salts. For weddings and Christmas cakes, the water became brandy and spices were added…  freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice. Then, the fruit could vary. Perhaps cherries or raisins, sultanas and mixed peel. Or grated apples. Or crushed pineapple. It all depended upon the occasion… and whatever granny happened to have in the cupboard or garden at the time.

And every time, the cake was different. The measurements were judged by eye and hand, so no two cakes were ever  the same. The quality of the ingredients varied… best butter, oil or margarine. Fresh eggs or dried…or the vinegar. Self raising, plain flour with baking powder.. or maybe wholemeal with a bit of extra liquid. Which should have been water, but was sometimes brandy…or rum… or even sherry. Demerara  sugar, dark or light brown, even treacle… the variants were endless, but the basic recipe remained, creating a unique fruitcake with every baking day and occasion.

So the fruitcake seems a pretty good analogy for Man. Especially within the Silent Eye.

We use the symbol of the enneagram, a ninefold system, to explore the human personality that is the vehicle in which the soul moves through the world. The enneagram is better known as a tool for the psychological assessment personality types, often used in companies and corporate situations. It is often forgotten that the word ‘psychology’ comes from ‘psyche’, which means life, breath and soul.


Taking a very different approach, the Silent Eye uses the nine standard personality types only as starting points, illustrating them in our correspondence course through a series of unique archetypes encountered on a magical journey through the imagination. These archetypes are drawn as fictional characters in a three tiered story, with each section of the course looking at their operation on one level of being.

There are a good many personality tests for the enneagram online and, having taken one, the temptation is to say, ‘I am a One’ in the same way we might say, ‘I am a Virgo’ or ‘I am a Gemini’. The system does not work in such a categoric manner. Instead it shows that we contain  all the nine enneatypes, though we will face the world predominantly, but not exclusively, through one of them. At best we could only say, ‘I usually react to events as a One’.

The system looks at the proportions of the mix of the archetypal characters present in each one of us. It looks too at the unique life experience of every person and how that affects the way the ingredients blend together, how they flavour the personality. It acknowledges the different occasions on which certain aspects of the psyche will come to the fore… and it explores how the ‘ingredients’ are expressed through the levels of personality, from the fully human to the Essence, leading us to Being.

The system, unlike some others, does not stop at a definition, but seeks to open the doors to a journey that is both practical and spiritual, leading the seeker to an inner space where all the elements of personality and life experience can work in harmony and be brought to a single point of Light, where we can know that we are whole… that we are One .

Like the fruitcake, the ingredients that make up the human personality can be infinitely varied, from the lower aspects of existence that still shadow each of our lives to the highest expression of humanity. The precise combination and proportion of ingredients will  create something different every time. Like each cake that comes out of the oven, made with a few common ingredients, the life and journey of each person will be a unique experience. What we do in the school is to provide a recipe and a process, just like granny’s, that can be adapted for every occasion and leaves space for spirit to rise… like a candle flame above a birthday cake.

Which reminds me, we have a workshop in less than a week… and I still have a cake to bake…

cake 001

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