There had been hugs and welcomes, flurries of suitcases, gorgeously coloured garments peeking shyly from their wrappings, but most of all the joy of meeting old friends, many for the very first time in person.
And then we began.
There was the welcome and a dinner friendlier, warmer, more full of laughter than I have ever seen at one of these gatherings so early in the proceedings. Maybe I am biased… but I was not the only one to remark on the feeling in the air.
We talked through the teaching method and the way the weekend would unfold, then, suddenly it seemed, it was time to begin.
There had been a last minute change of plan, as one of the company could not be there on time. Matt, our fabulous photographer, had stepped in gallantly to cover for most of her role as one of the Keepers of the First Flame, but for some strange reason he did not see himself as Isis. So I had, unexpectedly, opened the drama in the role of the Mother. Not precisely as we had planned, but in the end, it seemed so fitting I could not help but smile as I looked around the circle.
A quick change later then Steve and I, clad in the glorious solar colours of the School, and Stuart, without whom none of this could have ever been the same, were waiting our turn to enter the Temple. And that was quite a moment.
There is an energy to these things that builds slowly through the weekend, becoming deeper and stronger as both drama and understanding unfold, yet this very first moment was filled with a tension and anticipation that was palpable and very moving.
Of course, the companions had probably realised by this point that we were about to sing, Steve and I… and I am not known for my singing, or not in a positive manner anyway….
Yet, it seemed that when Troubadour One took up the guitar and began to sing the song written for this moment, and Troubadour Two stood behind him with her hands on his shoulder and they raised their voices in harmony, as the Child gently woke the Nine from sleep, something fell into place. The Troubadours sang in tune and the simple music woke more than the sleepers.
A story began to unfold, and with the characters’ waking something came alive and began a journey into self-exploration that left none unmoved through the weekend. The ritual drama began to unfold and what seemed a simple story lit up from the inside as the points of the enneagram were brought to life by the archetypal figures so lovingly crafted and beautifully played.
There were experienced ritualists and some for whom this was a first taste, but none who had taken this journey before.
As we filed out in silence, not one was left untouched by the feeling in that room and there was a real reverence as each saluted the simple central Light that symbolises so much. The stairs were lined with white robed figures, quietly waiting for the working space to empty, and that Light was reflected in all eyes.
My mind skipped back to the previous Alchemy weekends here and recognised the thread that ran through them to bring us to this point. Similar, but very different. And then my heart slid forward to the next ritual, the following morning knowing what had been written. If there was so much emotion here already, I could not begin to imagine how that was going to feel.
And I was right.
I could never have imagined such beauty, such warmth, or so much loving joy.