A pre-panic lunch at the Queen Anne is traditional. By this point in the proceedings, however, some stomachs are not at all cooperative, only being willing to be fed out of necessity. Food is not really the focus, though….it is at the Queen Anne that the team gather and early arrivals know where to find us. Once we are in the Nightingale Centre, we are less easy to pin down, but can usually be identified as the set of frazzled whirlwinds… the storm before the calm.
It is in the low-beamed inn that the first hugs of the day are exchanged as old friends arrive, fortify themselves and roll up their sleeves to help us set up the place of working for the ritual drama. Our temple is a simple place, a circular mat with the School’s version of the enneagram forms a central space around which the Companions will work. In the East, a symbolic altar marks the focus of our sacred intent and it is by this that the room becomes, through presence, a sacred space. It is the hearts of the people who work there, not the trappings, that sanctifies any Temple of the Mysteries.
Having said that, the details do help to create the right atmosphere… a kind of window dressing for the soul. The space is arranged and dressed with small touches to suggest a mood, a time or an era… and we had a few other things lined up to encourage that ‘willing suspension of disbelief ‘ that brings a ritual drama to life.
The team set to work and had the Temple readied and the room for the welcome arranged… then it was time to play with the props and effects we hoped would work. Having a giant beheaded is no easy feat without proper lighting, special effects and/or CGI. Especially when, according to the ancient tale, that giant then has to saunter back through the Court of King Arthur headless and mocking…
We did have a few ideas though… it remained to see if they would work.
The afternoon sped by. The once-tidy bedroom was a bombsite. Swords, bow and axe bristled from piles of silk and velvet, staffs leaned against the wall and the fabled ‘instruments of torture’ littered the chest of drawers. There was just time for a quick gulp of coffee… then it was time to welcome the Companions who had gathered from so far away. Old friends, new faces… no-one a stranger for long… and smiles bright enough to melt any heart. A brief tour of the working space… then time to change. Jeans and sweaters were replaced by the knightly robes and shimmering gowns of Camelot… and the clock turned back to an earlier time in the halls of Arthur and Guinevere…
The story was about to begin.