”The spirit is so closely linked to the body as a thing
that the body never ceases to be haunted.’
We had chosen five of the ancient and sacred sites of the local landscape as inspiration and setting for the story of the Feathered Seer. Unlike the Circles Beyond Time workshop, we could not take our Companions out into the landscape for the rituals. Instead we chose to bring the landscape symbolically within the sacred space created and hallowed by the intent of the Companions. Even so, the village once more saw strangely garbed figures wandering its fields in the pre-dawn light.
It is a measure of the trust we have in each other that we can ask the company to rise before dawn, donning robes and cloaks, to walk though the village streets to the hillside, there to enact whatever ritual we have devised with which to continue the story of the weekend and greet the rising of the sun. These early gatherings are always optional, but this year, we were touched to see that every single participant had joined us on the dew-drenched hillside. Even my son.
Nick had come along to the workshop to observe, wishing to know more of what it is that I am so passionate about and experience the annual workshop that occupies my sewing machine, thoughts and ingenuity for months every year. The electric wheelchair is too bulky for the car, so he had travelled up by train to Derbyshire. On the day of his arrival, he had parked his wheelchair at the side of the road and climbed the stile with us, just to see if he could, standing with us in the field as we paced out the site for the following day. Now he stood within the semicircle of Companions, supported by a pair of strong shoulders. When the time came to step forward, he did so, steadied by those same shoulders. Even in ‘ritual mode’, maternal pride warmed the morning.
Nick, Steve and Stuart
That pride was to continue throughout the weekend as Nick made his way into the temple-space for each meditation and ritual, on his own two feet, using the frame with which he can walk, albeit unsteadily and slowly. There was no shortage of shoulders when the frame would not suffice, always a hand at the ready to help, even though most of those present were strangers to Nick. That too is something that warms the heart…the almost instant bonding and camaraderie that forms at these weekends, with newcomers being welcomed into a friendship born of a common dedication to the spiritual path, even though the paths we walk are many and varied.
Those who choose to come along preferring to ‘just’ observe fill an important role. They are the upholders, those who stand back from the drama that is unfolding within the temple-space and witness it as a whole. The emotive energy they bring adds to that generated by the rituals themselves and changes the dynamics in a tangible way.
For an ‘observer’, Nick took an active role in the discussions, contributing his own insights when our Shaman, Running Elk, addressed the thorny question of what it is to be human and when Morgana spoke of the lineage of the soul and the role of the psychopomp. He had a fair bit to say during the social time and at the pub too, exploring the parallels between the work that we do and his own choice of path.
Nick has written of the sense of isolation he has felt since the brain injury changed the course of his life and how difficult it is to break the vicious cycle of isolation and low self-esteem. His personal journey over the past year has been all about making choices. Choosing to ‘throw himself in at the deep end’ to spend a weekend with a company of strangers is typical of the challenges he sets himself. The openness with which he approached it and the contribution he made is a testament to the distance he has travelled on his own journey to awareness. That Nick was simply accepted as a member of the company is also a testament to the spirit of the Companions. There is a light within each of us, and although it is often veiled, even from ourselves. There are moments, and these weekends are amongst them, when it shines brightly, leaving you in no doubt of the true lineage of the soul or of the spirit that animates humanity. It is a true privilege to work with such people and call them friends.