Those familiar with the attempt to hold any kind of drama in the open air will know the difficulties to be faced…
The vagaries of the British climate are well documented but the severity of the rain as we travelled through the blinding spray along the last few miles of the A66 towards the Castlerigg Stone Circle was a thing to be seen.
We had a brief respite, ahead, however. Although hoping to do a run-through in the stones before the arrival of the full complement of participants, we had offered a lift to an old friend who had travelled by train from the south of England, arranging to collect her from the local mainline station at Oxenholme, near Kendal. She asked us if we had time for her to check into the guest house in the centre of Keswick.
We were pleased at the potential this offered for a ‘pit stop’ with refreshments in the town centre. There is nothingof this nature at Castlerigg and a break would be welcome before the workshop was due to start at 2:30 in the afternoon. After a struggle with the satnav, which for some unfathomable reason thought we were in Turkey, we located her lodgings and were able to park outside on the road. Leaving our companion to check in, Stuart and I walked into the heart of the town and located a pub, there to shelter and await her return; at which point we planned to have a snack before returning to the stones to begin our afternoon’s work.
What we hadn’t allowed for was the poor and varying quality of phone signal in Keswick centre. We waited and waited, eventually deciding that something unforeseen had happened and we should try to contact her. Only then did we discover that for both of us, there was no signal at all…
We paid our snack bill and ventured out into the rain. In our final dry moments, we had run through a set of scenarios: she had arrived to find her room unready, but been asked to wait for a short while… which had turned into nearly an hour; she had been fed by a kindly landlady and unsuccessfully tried to contact us, being met by the same technical problem… or she had given up on the signal and was, at this moment walking the streets of Keswick centre, in the rain, in the hope that she might bump into her hosts. She needed our car to get to the stone circle. On foot it would be at least an hour’s walk from the centre of town.
Feeling guilty that our companion might have eaten nothing, we went into a neighbouring baker’s shop and acquired a Cornish pasty, asking for it to be double wrapped against the downpour. As we emerged from the shop, our gleeful missing companion was to be seen walking down the street towards us – also clutching a Cornish pasty – this one half eaten. She was happy to take the second pasty and explained it was her first meal of the day since setting out from Hertfordshire in the early morning.
I remember musing to myself that these are the real things that disrupt or enable a workshop!
It was one of those moments that carry a mixed message: she had found us; therefore ‘something’ was looking after us, but it was also a pointer to the nature of challenges ahead. We could not assume that translating a formula that had begun life in cosy village hall to a rugged hillside would be an easy transition.
We located the car in the middle of a maze of Keswick’s oldest streets, and headed for Castlerigg. Any rehearsal time had vaporised. We were going to have to roll straight into the first drama on arrival – deluge or not.
We parked the car on the small lane alongside stone circle. We had invited the companions to enjoy the famous stones in front of us before gathering together and could see a few of them scattered across the dark landscape ahead.
I had taken the precaution of uploading our script – created by Stuart – onto my phone. I knew that once we started, every second would count, and I couldn’t imagine trying to read from a paper copy in that force of rain. In my experience, the modern phone is the safest and most waterproof place to store such vital information.
We gathered the group of hardy but undeterred companions together, welcoming them and explaining the use of the small rectangle of inner stones called ‘The Cove’. This would be the main site of the day’s drama, with each participant receiving a combination of instructions to allow them to understand the Tarot cards used for this part of the weekend. The Cove was to be the stage for the first three parts of the Monomyth, as described in last week’s post, and summarised below:
1. The hero’s adventure begins in the ordinary world.
2. He/she must leave the ordinary world when they receive a call to adventure. This is sometimes refused – initially.
3. With the help of a mentor, the hero will cross a guarded threshold, leading them to a supernatural world, where familiar laws and order do not apply.
The rain intensified…
I took my phone out of its waterproof pocket and flicked it on, ready to begin speaking my changing role of ‘Fool’ to ‘Magician’. The phone jammed in the opening screen as the waves of water cascaded onto it, and no amount of frantic finger movement or tissue drying would return it to operational normality.
Stuart looked at me, mute. His device was working fine…
I looked up at the heavens…. The rain was winning.
To be continued in Part Three.
Other parts in this series:
©Stephen Tanham 2022
Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.