Castles of the Mind (i)

Castles of Mind new logo

Like the best of ideas, it begins with a partly-seen ghost, the glimmer of an edge of something that will work…. Ideas are great, but, unless something is practical and consistent on the day, its value is limited to fuelling a ‘greater’ idea that will be.

And then the right idea expands, filling out, not linearly, but with emotions that billow like a spinnaker on a sailing ship, catching a wind that is not of the individual creator’s making. If the goal is a spiritual one, then that catching of an inner wind has the taste of something that will have a shared effect on a group of people who have come to experience transformation.

The setting for the September 2018 weekend workshop ‘Castles of the Mind’ is the beautiful coastline of historic Northumberland, the border county between England and Scotland, the home of the terrible land-pirates known as the Reivers; and, before that, the place of skirmish, battle and blood between the Scots and the English.

Small wonder, then, that this beautiful coastline has more than its fair share of castles, whose use dates back over a thousand years. They provide the basis of a wonderful chain of historic visits, but their use in this coming Silent Eye weekend (14-16 September) is based on far more than their strong and ancient stone.

Castles of the Mind is based on how we think, feel, act and behave now...

Warkworth full wall

The weekend of 14-16 September will be a mixture of companionship, adventure and fun. We will begin on the afternoon of Friday 14th, assembling for an Italian coffee or English tea, in the lovely town of Warkworth, fifteen miles south of Bamburgh. This classic Northumbrian market town provides a pleasant venue for us to gather and discuss the structure of the weekend.

From there it is short walk (or drive) up the nearby hill to the car park of Warkworth Castle, our first site, and the basis for the rest. Warkworth castle is a unique medieval building. The castle was the favourite residence of the well-known Percy family – the Earls and Dukes of Northumberland. It was occupied by their family from the 14th to the 17th centuries.

Below, on the banks of the river Coquet, and often missed by those visiting, are the ruins of a hermitage, which was carved directly out of the rock.

As a group, we will consider the impact that this imposing castle has on our combined consciousness. We will look at the sheer mass of its presence, and consider the nature of authority and achievement… We may also reflect that, though the purpose of its design is still visible, it is a ruin…

Warkworth Gatehouse and wall

The functions of this mighty power were focussed on the gateway. Though the building’s primary purpose was defence, its real use – the exercise of the authority that security brought – came only when that structure allowed people in… or out.

Warkworth Gatehouse

In this, the castle mirrors the basic building-block of organic life: the cell. A cell’s function is to isolate its organic mechanisms from the ‘soup’ of the world around it. Only through this isolation can the processes of individual life take place. It is ironic that, here, in a world where the castle was one of the largest ‘things’ in the world, its function mirrored that of the smallest structure of life.

One of the ‘shocks’ on the path of mystical study is to discover how closely the physical processes of life are mirrored on a higher level within the structures of consciousness. We will discuss this as we peer through the ‘tunnel’ of the castle’s portcullis and gatehouse, beginning to perceive that, beyond the ‘wall that excludes’ there are internal stone structures that hint at a more sophisticated life in the interior – though only able to operate while the protection of the walls continue to operate.

Here, we will consider where fear fits into all this? Is it primal in its power; so deeply rooted that we cannot afford to go near it? Or have we forgotten that, once, it was layered over the foundational mechanisms of our lives… and is therefore a ‘man-made’ reaction?

Warkworth tease of interior

And then something remarkable will happen. We say this with confidence, since it always does. When a group intends to raise its ‘level’ of consciousness by working together, there occurs a moment – early in the event – when everything comes to a point of harmony and productive endeavour.

In the tunnel of the gatehouse, the constricted space that will lead to the essential nature of the weekend, we will ask each person to imagine they are being born into a vision of their own interior nature…

To be continued…

Castles of the Mind is the September 2018 workshop of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit teaching organisation that promotes and enables the investigation of our true self, using a combination of modern consciousness methods and traditional magical symbolism. The workshop is open to all. not just Companions of the Silent Eye School.

The Silent Eye holds four workshops per year – in April, June, September and December, mirroring the major events of the solar cycle. The April event is the main one, and is always held in Derbyshire. The other three are ‘Living Land’ or ‘walk and talk’ events such as that described above, and are held in different locations each year. The administrative cost is £50.00 per person which does not include accommodation and meals. Meals are usually taken in local pubs and the costs shared.

For more details email us at

©Stephen Tanham

16 thoughts on “Castles of the Mind (i)

  1. Although I will not be able to be there in person, I will definitely be there in spirit. This is such in-depth writing, and I got it. I thought particularly about the concept of security of forts, and then too, I thought about the violent and long-lasting unsettling behaviors of mankind through the many centuries; the need to murder other human beings, often women and children as well as the men, in the most inhumane ways.

    And in the end, what remains is the ruins – always the ruins. And people protect the ruins and seem to make them sacred in their minds if not in the physical maintenance and care. We turn to them because between the stones, between the structural parts, there is a sort of psychic cement that holds them together. Perhaps it is the need of humans to bond with other humans not only to protect their fellow persons, but to feel protected themselves. Some of the humans have perhaps lived their lives never feeling safe and protected, and never know what it is to be “cemented” together with others. They are that odd stone that sits alone and mute out in the field, somehow safe from attention or deterioration. Those odd stones have perhaps nothing to tell us, or do they?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a response full of insight, Anne. You did indeed get it! It’s an obvious ‘model’ of the human condition, but I’m not sure if anyone has used it in this way before – as a teaching tool. It’s quite dramatic to stand in the middle of castle and see everything around you as a metaphor! There will be other posts in this series, as we move nearer to September.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you very kindly, Steve, Sue, and Stuart. Reading these posts seems to open a new door or gate as it may be every day for me. There is definitely a kind of recognition of behavior of others and of self, and it is an opening into the world, not only the physical world, but the world of consciousness and of spirit. We live in a world where the only thing we can really count on is change – always change. And either we are able to go through the change and remain immutable, or we, like the ruins, begin to lose that cement. I am trying to remember the name of the philosopher I wrote about near the beginning of my studies who noted that even the movement of a simple grain of sand can set in motion a whole chain of events that one could not have imagined. But perhaps it is not so much about remaining immutable, but becoming the change as did the great alchemists. It is something huge to envision one way or the other, for those who hang onto the foundations they have known and held sacred seem to suffer as do those who become the change. I believe there is further life after this life we know of. I cannot imagine that the spirit of humans just disappears from this world ever. I have thought of it as a form of energy, and if I remember my reading, I don’t think energy can be destroyed. It may indeed be changed in form, but the entire universe is one of energy. The fact that human beings can indeed come to know Gods in this world and to revere them and keep them “alive” through the centuries in whatever forms shows that in some manner we all recognize this energy or this spirit or whatever we choose to recognize and name them. We are perhaps the Gods – the good Gods, as well as those Gods who were the destroyers. We are all those things at one point or another in life, whether consciously or unconsciously.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Our first job is to be aware in more depth, and with more force. When we observe ‘the world’, and at the same time ourselves observing the world, then there is the opportunity for something new to evolve. This is the real beginning.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thank you, Steve. I began to think about being aware in more depth, and especially with more force. And so there is this sense of wonder and amazement at observing ourselves observing the world. I look forward to evolving into something or someone new, and to seeing what evolves from that.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. And there you have it, Anne. The real starting point in our self-studies and inner work. The Book of Yourself is what you need to understand. All the rest is just others’ interpretation, which may help, but will be less than perfectly tuned to your own life…

              Liked by 1 person

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