Heroes in a Landscape (3) Learning from Nature

(Above: Castlerigg on the Friday. We had to begin, storm or no…)

Continued from Part Two…

My phone wasn’t dead – it looked perfectly bright against the dark landscape, but it wasn’t responding to any finger gestures. And it contained my copy of the script, now locked away by the storm.

I reached into my ‘Fool’s’ kit bag, a sturdy old canvas friend that I’ve used for years. Often in the run up to workshops, I will, at the last minute, throw in a paper version of a script as an absolute backup. My wet fingers encountered paper and I extracted what turned out to be a last but one version. That would be okay, as long as I remembered the final changes we had made.

(Above: ‘The Cove’ within Castlerigg Circle! Photographed on the Sunday)

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.

I held it up at chest level and began reading. The group let out a collective sigh of relief, but they couldn’t see the heavy raindrops dissolving the ink and melting the paper as it became increasingly saturated.

(Above: Castlerigg at Sunset)

I had the idea to memorise the next few lines, then fold the paper along its original creases and hold its axis vertical to the descending water. It worked – after a fashion – but every time I reopened it, the text was less legible and the paper itself had continued its journey to mush.

We have survived a few scrapes; Stuart, Sue and I, and found that it’s not unusual for something unseen to come to the aid of the drowning performer. But in this case, only we had the scripts. Our companions were being guided by our words, alone. Their faces expressed empathy, but they were powerless to help.

It’s difficult to remember at exactly what point I abandoned the ‘toilet paper’, as Stuart later christened it. He could see the change, he said, because I began to relax… simply letting what we have always called ‘the flow’ take over. And trusting…

…simply letting what we have always called ‘the flow’ take over. And trusting…

It did… Instead of behaving like someone reading a book, I let the flow take me and improvised in the moment, thankfully recalling from memory what we needed the Fool/Magician to do to get the companions through to the final gate and release them into their symbolic strange, new world, where – within the context of our play – nothing would behave as it had in the previous place. A fitting tribute to what we had just endured.

Somewhat post-storm, we left the Castlerigg circle. We would return here for the final act in our landscape play, but not before seeing the site from a mystery great height – fitting for a Hero looking down on the end of the quest.

The rain was abating but we had another problem. One of our companions – who had confirmed and paid for his attendance – was missing. During the damp ceremonials, I had thought he might be sitting it out in the car, having arrived late. But he was nowhere to be seen.

I didn’t have his mobile number but sent him an email as we left the circle. He had the information sheet and would know where we were headed next.

We had two important things to do…

The first was to escort everyone to a specific car park on the outskirts of Keswick. This would be our meeting point for the rest of the weekend, and it was essential that everyone knew its location.

The second was to have an early dinner. Weather, tension and stress had taken their toll… We were starving.

Our usual format for a first evening in Keswick is to have an inexpensive fish and chip supper. The central Moot Square boasts a fine chippy with upstairs restaurant, which offers vegetarian options. The small convoy drove the short distance to the car park and, now on foot, we followed the path of the river along the park and over the bridge into Keswick centre.

Dinner was a joyous affair. We laughed about the difficulties of open-air mystical theatre and resolved to learn the lessons of the day. This will be covered in the next post. Part way through the meal, the evening was brightened by the arrival of our missing companion. He had endured a nightmare journey up the M6 motorway with tyres that had been wrongly inflated by a defective pump at a service station near his home. At one point he felt the car was ‘floating’ and going to crash. He had the good sense to stop at the next services and get the problem diagnosed and fixed. But it had cost him the afternoon.

Stuart and I both had the thought that we might be able to do something creative about that…

The skies were clearing. The evening sun was mellow and promised a better day tomorrow. We had little idea how much better, though the long Saturday would not be without its challenges…

(Above: The day was ending gently)

To be continued in Part Four.

Previous parts in this series:

Part One, Part Two

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

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