Eldest

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

“Just how old are you?”
Although youth has long died,
“As young as the moment,”
My body replied.
“If I want to play out
In the sun, or climb trees,
Run laughing through dewdrops,
…I’ll do as I please.
I have a few wrinkles,
My hair’s going grey…
Inside I’m a child
And I still need to play.”

“Just how old are you then?”
My body asked mind,
“As old as conception,
Just think and you’ll find
I’ve been here all along,
In your cells and your brain,
Learning forever and seeking to gain
From experience, wisdom
That I can impart…
But perhaps we should ask
Just how old is the heart?”

“Just how old are you?”
Said the heart, “Here’s the deal…
I’m living two lives,
One to beat, one to feel.”
To the body, heart answered,
“My beating is yours.”
To the mind it replied,
“When you feel…

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The Lion’s Share

 

 

“Tell me,” said Joshua, “why is that person carrying a lamb to the city ?”

Judas Thomas said, “So that he may kill it and eat it.”

Joshua said, “Whoever has come to know the world has discovered a carcass, and whoever has discovered a carcass, of that person the world is not worthy.

Damn the soul that depends on the flesh.

Damn the flesh that depends on the soul.

How miserable is the body that depends on these two ?

Together they are like a dog in a cattle manger, where neither the dog nor the cattle can eat hay.

During the days when you eat what is dead you make it alive, but when you are in the light, where the dead are not alive and the living will not die, what will you do ?

If the body came into being because of the spirit then it is a marvel: if the spirit came into being because of the body then it is a marvel of marvels; I marvel that such great wealth dwells in so much poverty.

Cursed be the man who eats a lion

that the lion becomes human.

Blessed be the lion that eats a man

when the lion becomes human.”

Extract from The Living One

 

A Bibliomantic Tale IX…

*

*

Our encounter with Dyffryn Ardudwy on the previous day had whetted our prehistoric appetite.

The challenge now was to find a suitable site on our journey back en-route to Llandudno.

There was no shortage of possible contenders although many of them involved steep climbs and the hot June weather was becoming a reckoning factor.

*

*

The sensible thing would have been to keep driving.

The flow of air at high speed was proving an effective enough coolant.

But legend reached us of a disturbed and reconstructed cairn not far from Betws-y-Coed.

*

Capel Garmon Burial-Chamber

*

No 8 (Light)

God is nearer to us than our own soul and God is the means whereby our Substance and our Sensuality are kept together so as never to be apart.’

– Julian of Norwich

*

*

No 9 (Dark)

‘I saw that God never began to love us… We have always been in God’s foreknowledge, known and loved from without beginning… We were made for love.

– Julian of Norwich

*

“That’s the reverse of the reading we got at the summit of the Great Orme.”

“I thought I recognised it.”

“The same story holds good both on a height and in a tomb.”

*

*

“That’s probably a fitting enough conclusion to the readings.”

“Until the next time.”

“You’ll need a different book.”

“Undoubtedly, but I’ll leave it to them to furnish me with one.”

*

‘Be seeing you.’

*

With thanks to Steve Tanham and Barbara Walsh, event organisers, and the Companions of the Silent Eye who joined us for the event and contributed their own readings.

Readings taken from ‘Christian Mystics’ by Matthew Fox.

*

 

 

 

 

A Bibliomantic Tale VIII…

*

Pennant Valley

*

A slight change to the Sunday Morning plans means that there are two readings for one location this time.

Escape

*

Pages Two-One-One and Two-One-Two

No 4 (Light)

‘The profoundest disclosure in the religious experience is the awareness that the individual is not alone. What he discovers as being true and valid for himself must at last be a universal experience or else it ultimately loses all of its personal significance. His experience is personal, private, but in no sense exclusive. All of the vision of God and holiness which he experiences, he must achieve in the context of the social situation by which his day-by-day life is defined. What is disclosed in this religious experience, he must define in his community.’

– Howard Thurman

*

*

No 5 (Dark)

‘Jesus rests his case for the ultimate significance of his life on the love ethic. Love is the intelligent, kindly, but stern expression of kinship of one individual for another having as its purpose the maintenance and furtherance of life at its highest level… If we accept the basic proposition that life is one, arising out of a common centre – all expressions of love are acts of God. Hate, then, becomes a form of annihilation of self and others; in short – suicide.’

– Howard Thurman

*

*

But that we could escape to such an idyllic green world.

*

No 9 (Light)

‘The strictly scientific view of the universe needs this dimension of love and play, which it sorely lacks. That is one thing I like about space flights: at last there is something of cosmic play getting into the sombre, unimaginative, and super serious world of science. But what is a little play of astronauts against the great, gloomy, dogmatic seriousness of the death game, nuclear war? Can we recover from the titanic humourless of our civilisation?

– Thomas Merton

*

*

No 8 (Dark)

‘The contemplative life should liberate and purify the imagination which passively absorbs all kinds of things without our realising it: liberate and purify it from the influence of so much violence done by the bombardment of social images. There is a kind of contagion that affects the imagination unconsciously much more than we realise. It emanates from things like advertisements and from all the spurious fantasies that are thrown at us by our commercial society. These fantasies are deliberately intended to exercise a powerful effect on our conscious and subconscious minds. They are directed right at our instincts and appetites and there is no question but that they exercise a real transforming power on our whole psychic structures. The contemplative life should liberate us from that kind of pressure which is really a form of tyranny.’

– Thomas Merton

*

*

We concluded our reading reveries with a walk along the valley in an an attempt to draw closer to this green idyll and, perchance, enter in, beyond its sacred veil.

What we discovered was ‘Big Farmer’.

*

*

to be continued…

A Bibliomantic Tale VII…

*

Harlech Castle

*

“Patrick McGoohan’s, ‘The Prisoner’, displays many thematic similarities to Franz Kafka’s, ‘The Castle’ and ‘The Trial’.”

Authority

Pages One-Five-Two and One-Five-Three

*

No 8 (Light)

O God, the longer I gaze upon your face, the more acutely do you seem to turn the gaze of your eyes upon me!…Thus when I meditate on how that face is truth and the best measure of all faces, I am expanded into a state of immense wonder…

Those who look upon you with a loving face will find your face looking at them with love… Those who look upon you in hate will similarly find your face hateful. Those who gaze at you in joy will find your face joyfully reflected back at them.

– Nicolas of Cusa

*

*

“Nature reduces all physical constructs to rubble and all mental constructs to hot air.”…

*

No 9 (Dark)

O Divine One, all beauty which can be conceived is less than the beauty of your face.

Though every face is beautiful, no face is beauty’s self but your face, God/ess, has beauty and this having is being.

It is absolute beauty itself, which is the form that gives being to every beautiful form.

– Nicolas of Cusa

*

Dyffryn Ardudwy Dolmen

*

To close the day we repaired to a sacred site and performed a simple but effective turning of the year ritual.

*

*

Pages Two-Two-Seven and Two-Two-Eight.

*

No 2 (Light)

‘To understand the world, knowledge is not enough. You must see it, touch it, live in its presence and drink the vital heart of existence in the very heart of reality.’

– Teilhard de Chardin

*

*

No 3 (Dark)

‘Let us advance one step further. What name should we give to this physio-moral energy of personalisation to which all activities displayed by the stuff of the universe are finally reduced? Only one name is possible, if we are to credit it with the generality and power that it should assume in the cosmic order: love… The conclusion is always the same: Love is the most powerful and still the most unknown energy of the world.’

– Teilhard de Chardin

*

*

to be continued…

A Bibliomantic Tale VI…

*

A Prisoner of Portmeirion?

*

Resistance

“Pages Two-Five-One and Two-Five-Two”

*

No 8 (Light)

‘The sexual origin of the lingam is, of course, obvious, but this only brings out the extraordinary depth of understanding in ancient India. Sex was always regarded as something ‘holy’ – I think it still is, except where the Indian spirit has been corrupted by the West. The lingam was therefore a natural symbol of the sacred ‘source of life’… The natural reaction of a European is to think that this is something ‘obscene’; but to me it seemed a touching expression of the sense of the sacred, the awareness of the essential holiness of nature and of faith in her generative powers.’

– Bede Griffiths

*

It would be easy to be distracted by the Candy-House allure of Clough Williams-Ellis’s nothing-is-quite-what-it-seems creation.

But soon enough the false facade’s and painted-on windows lead one to the inescapable conclusion that not only was this an architect with a wicked, if anti-authoritarian, sense of humour but also that he was one with a complete mastery of ‘living-space’.

*

*

There is not one unpleasing angle for the photographer and the prospects and backdrops work precisely as intended to integrate man-made structures with their natural surroundings.

*

*

That there should be a ‘Japanese Water Garden’, then, now seems entirely appropriate.

What is nurtured here, is an ‘Eastern Ethic’.

As ‘Portmeirion Village’ begins to fill up with its western holiday makers it is difficult not to be reminded of the inhabitants of McGoohan’s village. Prisoners all of both State and a self imposed state of mind. We prepare to take our leave.

*

*

No 9 (Dark)

‘Perhaps this is the deepest impression left by life in India, the sense of the sacred as something pervading the whole order of nature. Every hill, tree and river is holy, and the simplest human acts of eating and drinking, still more of birth and marriage, have all retained their sacred character…In the West everything has become ‘profane’; it has been deliberately emptied of all religious meaning… it is here that the West needs to learn from the East the sense of ‘holy’, of a transcendent mystery which is immanent in everything and which gives ultimate meaning to life…

The Western world must recover this ancient vision of the three dimensions of reality. Then everything is sacred. That is what one finds in India; everything is sacred – eating, drinking or taking a bath; in any of the normal events of life there is always a sacred action… We have lost that awareness… This sacramentality of the universe. The whole creation is pervaded by God.’

– Bede Griffiths

*

*

Perhaps, that is what the readings are trying to tell us?

Cherish the past.

Adorn the present.

Construct the future.

*

*

to be continued…

 

A Bibliomantic Tale V…

*

Borth-y-Gest from Portmeirion Beach

*

 “We have Take-Off!”

Resignation

“One-Nine-One, or One-Nine-Two?”

*

No 3 (Light)

‘Suddenly the world

Cracks, the phallos

Slams home, slams the ineluctable stroke.

And the universe splits, the touched-off tinder,

Fired by that blazing torch

Detonates all the tamped and pounded down empacted intensity.’

– William Everson

*

“I think we were all surprised by that reading.”

*

*

“We’ll save the dark reading for back at the Hotel.”

*

No 2 (Dark)

‘How long they lie each never knows.

This prayer, their one worship. A worship

Learned in the years. For youth leans on them:

They are getters of children: known much and have suffered.

In the deeps of the soul have ached for each other,

Accepting suffering…

*

And now in their night

They know the incarnational join: body to body

Twain in one flesh…

*

Out in the night the River runs.

– William Everson

*

*

to be continued…

 

A Bibliomantic Tale IV…

*

*

“Somewhere in all that cloud stands a Druid at the head of a circle.”

“Let’s go see if we can find him.” …

*

The Pillars: Penmaenmawr.

*

Tee minus Six hours and counting…

“It’s odd, I had no recollection of these pillars, yet now that I see them I do remember and it seems like only yesterday. We went that way, which is, I believe, the long way round, so we’re going to go in the opposite direction.”

“Not before we’ve taken a reading we’re not.”

“It is working isn’t it?”

“It seems to be. One-Five-Eight, so that’s Five, or One-Five Nine, or Six?”

“Five.”

*

No 5 (Light)

‘The Logos of creation in whom all things were created can be nothing other than divine wisdom. Thus it is that wisdom is eternal, for it precedes every beginning and all created reality.’

– Nicolas of Cusa

*

“Ha ha ha! Eternal Wisdom on our way to meet a Druid, I like that.”

“It does seem to be having some fun with us. So what’s the shadow side?”

*

No 6 (Dark)

‘Humanity will find that it is not a diversity of creeds, but the very same creed which is everywhere proposed. There cannot but be one wisdom. If it were possible to have many wisdoms these would have to be from one; for before any plurality exists there must first be unity. Humans must therefore all agree that there is but one most simple wisdom whose power is infinite; and everyone, in explaining the intensity of this beauty, must discover that it is a supreme and terrible beauty.’

-Nicolas of Cusa

*

“Spoken like a true Druid.”

“Three-Zero minutes this way, according to the book.”…

*

*

Nine-Zero minutes later…

“We’re going to be late.”

“We’ll have to skip drinks and meet them at the restaurant.”

“At least we found the Druid.”

*

*

“So now we’ve found him, what does he have to say for himself?”

“One-Six-Four, so Two or, One-Six-Five, Three?”

*

No 3 (Light)

‘It is necessary for one who wants to attain understanding to raise the intellect above the meaning of words rather than to insist upon their properties which, in any case, cannot be properly adapted to such great mindful mysteries.

Intellectual knowledge, alone and unaided,

desires and exaggerates

the victory of words

and it is far from that

to God

who is our peace.’

– Nicolas of Cusa

*

“Cusa, again, he seems to have an affinity with this place.”

“One can hardly blame him.”

*

*

“It’s a nice spot for a circle, and there’s a smaller five stone ring further down.”

“Let’s do the shadow reading from there.”

*

No 2 (Dark)

‘The relationship of our intellect to the truth is like that of a polygon to a circle: the resemblance to the circle grows with the multiplication of the angles of the polygon; but short of the polygon actually becoming a circle, no multiplication of its angles, even if it were infinite would make the polygon equal to the circle. It is therefore clear that all we know of truth is that the Absolute Truth, as it is, is beyond our grasp. The more mindfully we learn this lesson of ignorance, the closer we will draw to truth itself.’

– Nicolas of Cusa

*

“It’s not possible.”

“What’s not possible?”

“To move from an excessively peaceful stone circle where a randomly chosen reading speaks of peace, and then move to a collection of stones arranged in a polygon and get a reading that talks about the relationship between a circle and a polygon.”

“It does seem a bit odd.”

“A bit odd?”

“At least we now know it is definitely working.”

“Next stop Borth-Y-Gest.”

*

*

to be continued…

 

 

A Bibliomantic Tale III…

*

The Great Orme: summit.

*

Tee minus One-Zero hours and counting…

“Pages Four-Four and Four-Five.”

“It’ll have to be Nine.”

*

No 9 (Light)

‘I saw that God never began to love us… We have always been in God’s foreknowledge, known and loved from without beginning… We were made for love.’

– Julian of Norwich

*

“I mean, I know they’re designated Christian Mystics, but some of these don’t appear to be talking about the Christian God at all.”

“Not the exoteric Christian God at any rate, Julian was a woman. She wrote in the medieval period, hence the pseudonym.”

“A mystic and a woman, I’m surprised she survived.”

*

No 8 (Dark)

‘God is nearer to us than our own soul and God is the means whereby our Substance and our Sensuality are kept together so as never to be apart.’

– Julian of Norwich

*

*

“Last time I was here we walked up, the Orme, and work unearthing the Bronze Age mine had only just commenced.”

“Substance and Sensuality could easily be applied to both miners and archaeologists.”

“Let’s go take a look at what kind of job they made of it.”

*

*

“Well, looking at it from this distance, I’d be bound to wonder whether or not our, previously regarded as both ‘savage’ and ‘barbaric’, forbears had discovered the art of ‘fractal mining’.”

“If you mean, in marked contrast to the ‘war on earth’ that our ‘civilisation’ currently propagates, I’d be inclined to agree.”

*

*

“Shall we explore further?”

“Lead on, Mole, lead on…”

*

*

“Now we’ve gained the ‘heart of the earth’…”

“Gained, or were gifted…”

“…It may be time to take another reading.”

“Pages One-Nine-Nine and Two-Zero-Zero.”

“Let’s start with One.”

*

No 1 (Light)

‘Faith is certitude in existence. I think mysticism professes this. It is the mystic’s faith which enables him to transcend quotidian consciousness… The prophet takes over where the mystic stops. The mystic is ascent; the prophet descent.’

– William Everson

*

“And we’ve just come from the top of the headland!”

“I may have to look up ‘quotidian’.”

“It has to do with days.”

“Approaching the Ancient of Days.”

“Possibly, go on then, give us the shadow…”

*

No 2 (Dark)

‘Before the Pill the primacy of procreation in the sex life was so overwhelming that it had to be repressed, placed under taboo, strictly confined to the married state with enforced ignorance of its dynamic mechanism, because of the responsibility for the fate of children. The sex act could only be implied in legitimate expression. The explicit was confined to the pornographic and sold under the counter. With the invention of contraception in the modern world the taboo was softened and we began to get fairly explicit renditions, but there was nothing like amnesty. Not until the invention of the Pill was mankind’s apprehension sufficiently relaxed to feel safe with spontaneity.’

– William Everson

*

“Okay… That’s thrown me.”

“We are deep in the body of the Mother.”

“That’s true, but I think the quotation only holds for modern man.”

“Expound.”

“Spontaneity was afforded our ancestors because they still possessed maternal community.”

“It’s an interesting thought.”

*

*

to be continued…