Driving south

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The workshop is over.

The School has celebrated its first official birthday in some style…

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For now, I am back at my desk, uploading photographs and trying to settle with the small dog who seems to have missed me… or her tennis balls. The hallway looks as if a small removal van got lost in a timewarp and spilled its contents in a heap of gold and paper and the fridge defrosted itself behind my back. Yet overhead a kite is wheeling… Isis’ bird… her wings gleaming in the sunlight… wings I envy, for the road that begins and ends at my door is a long one, depending on where you want to go, where you need to go… and where you begin.

 

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At six-thirty this morning I left another door many miles away in the north. It was a beautiful morning… one in which I could not help but rejoice, yet the very beauty of it tore at me as I stopped the car in the first layby on the moors to greet the sun as it gilded the frosted moorlands and mists.

 

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It felt as if a hand snaked up my spine to take hold of my heart and keep it locked in the northern hills as my body drove southwards to where it resides. It tears me apart. Every time. There is a yearning to turn and lose myself in the moors, to lie in a vale of bare rowan trees and take root. My heart is in the hills and dales of the north. Something calls me back there. Always.

 

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Yet I drove southwards, my back to the beloved landscape, as the skies grew more distant and impersonal, ceasing to play amid the hilltops, the fields hemmed with hedgerows instead of stone, blossom veiling the visible world in the ephemeral beauty of spring, yet robbing me of that distant horizon of curving hills. I thought how very lucky I am to live in a land as unarguably beautiful as this. I thought too how the very earth around us can be seen as an analogy for much in our lives.

 

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The heavens recede, become less playful, less joyously close, seemingly less touchable as our attention is caught and held by the road of necessity and the ‘ought to’ that rules our daily lives, driving us towards the duties and requirements of need and should. The distant landscape of Home is hidden behind the transient beauties and glories of the world, distracting our eyes and mind as easily as a tennis ball will distract the small dog. Yet beyond our attention, the sky remains blue and the distance is only illusory; beyond the trappings of success, the prerequisites of survival, or the veiling banners of societal expectations, the hills of Home still wait for us. Whether the yearning is a light touch, vaguely felt, or a deep longing of the soul, Home will be there when, if, we can find our way.

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In just the same way, the workshop is over. Friends old and new who came together in laughter, who shared a story, a moment in time… or out of it… have now departed. They have driven, sailed, and flown back to their own lands… some very far away. Who knows if we will all meet again, regardless of desire or intent? Yet the friendship remains… the memories… the presence. The laughter, smiles, and tears; the touch of life on life, and a shared experience. Beauty remains and its home is the heart. Perhaps we need ask for no more than that.

 

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Looking deeper – Land of the Exiles

Time seems to do strange things sometimes. It seems impossible that it is just a week ago we would have been starting the second of three knowledge lectures… a halfway point of the weekend. We were about to discuss the undertoad… no-one said serious has to be boring… and Steve is our master of presentations. So much so, in fact, that although I had done my bit with the first lecture, Stuart and I absconded for the third in order to prepare the working space for the next ritual. However, we were all there for this one.

UntitledThe lectures underpin the theme of the weekend, exploring and explaining some of the concepts used within the drama. The first had looked at the archetypes represented by the Egyptian pantheon. Most folk who work within the Mysteries on one path or another will have a basic knowledge of the main stories, but that very knowledge often precludes digging any deeper. As with many things in life we accept that we know ‘enough’ and see no need to look in any more detail. Having grown up with the myths of Egypt I thought so too, but the research I did prior to writing The Osiriad soon knocked me off that smug little pedestal and showed me how much I had to learn. The Egyptian gods exemplify more than human personalities and take a deep and abstract look at the roots of creation. Approached from the perspective of science, faith, or curiosity they open windows of realisation and possibility. As we were working with these archetypes it seemed appropriate to explore them.

2 slideThe second presentation looked at the pieces of string, the threads that make up our lives. It took a fairly irreverent turn, as these things often do, yet the subject of the undertoad has a serious side too. It refers, of course, to The World According to Garp by John Irving, where the undertoad is a misnomer for the undertow… the current that is beyond control and which proves too strong for the wrestler’s neck with tragic consequences. It is the hidden currents beyond the surface of life, waiting to drag us down, deny it as we may. Yet in recognising it, accepting its presence, we are able to use it to provide the contrast, the shadow that shows the light of hope.

Untitled3The final lecture took a look at the central symbol used by the school, which features in the sacred space we use… the enneagram. Most people today know the enneagram only through its use for psychometric profiling, yet it is a symbol with a much deeper meaning when used within the spiritual quest, incorporating many layers; from the geometry which speaks of the triune nature to the circle which is the One that encompasses All.

Untitled6We call them lectures or presentations, yet these things are much more than that… they are a time to come together and discuss, sharing viewpoints from many paths as well as giving the background principles upon which we base the workshop. They are also a time for laughter and banter; a meeting of minds and a sharing of knowledge and belief. They are, above all, about communication, for this leads to greater understanding, and in a room where so many paths to the Light converge, that can only be a thing of beauty.

Friday morning – an early start

Sue’s recollections of the second April workshop…

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The little village of Great Hucklow nestles quietly in the Derbyshire Dales, tucked away from any main roads under the sheltering ridge. It is a beautiful place where, you might think, little ever happens. You would, of course, be wrong. In every village, every town, and city, dramas are played out daily; lives begin and end, emotions reach the heights of joy or plumb the depths of despair and fear. There is surprise and laughter, meetings and partings… Every human emotion will have been written in the warm golden stone or walked amid the celandines and daisies.

land of the exiles 029Drama was about to unfold here too. There was, however, a difference on that Friday morning as two excited travellers parked the silver bullet, piled high with bags, boxes and shimmering silks, outside an ancient inn. We knew what was going to happen. Well… partly, at least.

land of the exiles 006We hadn’t predicted, for example, that by half past nine we would be hugging the first of our Companions for the weekend, yet Dominic was already seated outside the pub in the sunshine writing postcards and it was wonderful to meet his eyes and feel the warmth of his smile once again. He had been there for the birth of the School and it wouldn’t have felt right to have anyone else in his role. He was the first of the many friends we were to hug in welcome, as people arrived through the day from Ireland and the Netherlands, from Scotland, Wales and the farthest extremes of England… even from America… all converging on this tiny village that has become very special to the Silent Eye. It is amazing and wonderful that people come so far for these events.

land of the exiles 008Many would be joining us for the weekend… school members, friends, people with whom we have studied in other School; some who walk their own path, some with whom we have shared part of the journey. We all carry the same light, though the lanterns may be different and each illuminates the path in a unique way, adding to the Light we share. A drama would unfold… a ritual drama, carefully crafted to tell the story of the human condition and the search for spiritual growth, allowing the participants to experience the story through imagination, action and emotion, for experience leads to knowledge, and beyond that towards understanding.

land of the exiles 010But first, we had work to do. We had already been high up on the ridge… a sort of tradition. I’ve done it every year… placing myself in the landscape that enfolds us so beautifully. This may be only the second workshop for our own School, but the Nightingale Centre has hosted many others which Steve, Stuart and I have been part of over the years. It has a feeling of coming home… a familiar warmth and comfort and we know the Companions will be well looked after… and even better fed. It is also a bit of a tradition to use the hillside for one of the rituals and this year was no exception, so we had something planned and needed to check out the ground… and a nearby thorn tree.

land of the exiles 026The hillside was ablaze with celandines and daisies in the sunlight… a carpet of gold and white stars. If we could just have this weather the next morning! Last year the celandines had been encased in frost… this year the weather was beautiful on Friday and we had high hopes.

land of the exiles 028By the time we came down from the hillside the pub where we were to meet some of the early arrivals for lunch was about to open. We had time to take a deep breath… and raise a glass… and then there were hugs as old friends arrived, new ones were introduced and a hat essayed by our very own Steve. We started as we hoped to finish… in sunshine, warmth and laughter. It was a good beginning.

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The opening of the Eye – a magical birth

The Opening of The Eye (1)

There are some things for which words are never enough. Things it is almost impossible to share. There are some things which should not be shared, perhaps, but the birth of the School was symbolic and not just for those who could be with us on that Derbyshire dawn.

So here I will share how it was through my eyes, holding nothing back, for it was never mine to keep, only to live.

This telling will be longer than usual, and yet will only skim the surface of that morning.  I offer it from my heart to all those who could not be with us on the hillside on Sunday morning. There were many who were with us in thought and prayer across the world, some who shared with us the weekend yet who could not physically make the climb up the hill. These people, many of whom have been with us every step of the way, who have shared our laughter and tears, have taught so much through their loving support. I offer this telling to those who guided our steps over the years, who held our hands and opened our minds.

We carried you in our hearts. Now see through my eyes.

“…They have always been ready, now you must bring it to birth…”

At 3.20 in the morning I stood outside the centre in my dressing gown under a canopy of deepest velvet blue sprinkled with stars. The sky was clear and mild, lacking the biting frost that had glittered under the previous dawn.

There was no nervousness, just a deep serenity, a knowing and a purpose in the silence.

I breathed deeply, filling myself with the clear air and night’s beauty. Already tears pricked my eyelids, knowing what was to come to birth. Months of constant work, lifetimes of preparation for both of us. The culmination of an incubation nurtured in silence. The birth of a dream.

I closed my eyes and offered a silent prayer, asking the blessing of the One on what we were about to do, quietly reaching out across a sleeping world to touch in thought and love all those who had brought us to this moment, and to the little mother, so far away, whom I have loved so very much for so long. She too is part of this as we carry forward a spark of the Light she showed us.

There was a sadness too, a gentle sadness, as I saw a familiar life slip away and prepared to step onto a new path that will carry me where it must. Though I go willingly and without regret, there is always a sadness when the current lifts you away from the life and love of the past. Though the outer life may seem little different, the inner one also came to birth that morning.

As I showered and robed I could feel love around me, the fleeting caress of other minds and hearts, as if those who watched around the world left butterfly kisses on my brow. I was not alone in my solitary room. The sense of presence was tangible and warm. Following a dream a few nights before I dressed in the gold of dawn with jewels like gilded dew at my throat. I remember looking back at the room, strewn with robes and colour, wondering.

I knocked on Steve’s door to leave my key. He opened it, robed in blue, the Eye of Horus on his breast, golden. In silence he bowed and I walked alone to the temple.

The lights were low, I took my place in the centre of the ancient symbol, hallowed by the hearts and minds of the companions. At my feet the golden chalice, engraved with the symbol of the sun, holding only light. I composed myself and the vigil began.

For a while there were the fleeting thoughts as the mind settled into stillness. Who would come at this unearthly hour? After a night of conviviality in pub and library, little sleep and with long journeys ahead later in the day? A few, I hoped. Few I expected. It was an unfair thing to ask. Yet it was symbolic, it mattered only that we were there and played out in the waking world what we had been given to do.

With my eyes half closed the golden light from the chalice seemed to fill the room. The temple itself was a chalice, itself not important, only its function, to give shape and hold what was pouring into it. At the centre I saw myself, still, golden, unfamiliar. I too was only a cup, a container to hold and shape that fluid Light we serve. Around me, spiralling like leaves in an autumn wind, it seemed as if motes of brightness danced with the shadows and the sparkling expectancy was palpable, like the air before a storm. I felt a strong sense of presence. Myself, siting motionless on the chair, others, unseen, arcing around that tiny point of light in the centre. Holding vigil in the silence with the Mother.

The door opened and he who walked that morning in the robe of the Father came in and sat before me.  The eyes that met seemed not our own, the hands that met in blessing and greeting felt other than our own. He broke the silence, but the few words spoken were not simply his own and had their place in that moment.

He took his place on my right, his left hand outstretched resting on my shoulder and the vigil continued. Like another note added to a song in harmony, the feel of the room changed and took on depth and the sense of presence became more profound. Some time later the Child entered. He too sat before me, with eyes I shall not forget, glowing with love in that moment. A gesture, an offering  that brought serene tears to my eyes. They were not my hands. Then he too took up his place on my left, his right hand on my shoulder, and the harmony deepened.

Shapes touched the edge of vision, whispers of song in the silence, words unspoken that I will seek for a lifetime. I felt caught between worlds in a vast, womblike cavern as an unseen heart beat beneath my feet. Unfamiliar even to myself.

I saw shadows through the tiny window of the door, others were there. The silence was absolute, their gift to the moment. Then the door was opened and the companions filed in, one by one, to take their place before the Mother and silently offer, heart to heart, and receive what was offered in stillness.

And they were all there. All those who could be there, all who could walk up that pre-dawn hillside. All of them.

I cannot describe the feeling in that moment, the outpouring of loving blessing, the gifts given by people who should have been asleep for hours to come, yet who had sacrificed their rest and joined us in silent vigil. The eyes that met mine as I watched through the lens of tears at the beauty before me. Through the other eyes, it seemed, lent to me for a moment out of time. The hearts that were open, the smiles, all gentle, the one who knelt and gave all he was to that moment and the unknown moments to come.

They took their places around the circle, forming what felt like great wings holding the Light within. I closed my eyes and gathered the threads of Light in my heart.

At the appointed time I rose, placed a cloak around my shoulders and led them from the room, pausing to allow them to don their coats, the silence incredible in the soft light.

The morning was mild and beautiful, the sky streaked with colour, the rose and blue, the hint of gold, painted by the Master Hand. We walked slowly through the sleeping village, silent ghosts in strange garb climbing the hill to the gate.

Yet there was no strangeness, only a sense of rightness in the moment…present and not present, watching within and without, and the utter silence. Beyond the low wall to the right a young lamb looked up, bleating, eye to eye, three times. As if we were being given a blessing, recognition, acknowledgement. Such a simple thing, but so very beautiful.

We walked up the dew damp slope, to the little lawn between the tree to the west and the notch in the bare fingered trees in the east, silhouetted against the growing light. We placed the chalice and plate on the altar and Father and Mother stood to greet the dawn.

Those moments of waiting, in the miraculous silence made only deeper by the symphony the birds were singing, are some that will live in my heart forever. The small arc of the companions felt like a great host behind us as we raised our arms to salute the sun in its rising, and the greater Light it symbolises.

Turning to each other, arms still raised, we became the gate of dawn, a portal through which the Child could pass. Our arms extended, eyes holding, unable to see beyond the raised arms, we saw the Child come within our embrace and pass through to the Light as we broke the silence with a single chanted word. Cromaat.

The weight of the cloak against my throat was too much, I let it fall.

Overhead a hawk wheeled in the dawn glow.

One by one the companions passed through the gate that we were, emerging on the other side to be greeted by the Child. They were asked why they had passed through the gates of Light and Life… to the Child who is Love. In turn, they answered, the first giving the response of those who have chosen to walk with us in the School, these were anointed with consecrated oil and accepted. Those who were with us in love and support affirmed the wholeness of the One. Together they formed the wings of morning before the gate.

When all had passed into the east, we proclaimed the birth of the Silent Eye and, blessing bread and wine, we broke our fast in shared communion on a hillside bathed in gold and birdsong.

With laughter, many embraces, very many tears and smiles, our School came to birth as the sun rose and something new was brought into the world with joy and with Love.

The opening of the Eye – the artists eyes

We continue our retrospective of past School events through Sue’s eyes…

Astral Eyes-Painting by the companions, image rendered by Matt Baldwin-Ives

Astral Eyes-Painting by the companions, image rendered by Matt Baldwin-Ives

Looking around the assembled faces as we sat waiting to begin the first of the lectures on the Saturday morning, it occurred to me how many artists of all types were sitting there.

From the professional to the gifted in visual arts, the musicians and the dancers, the writers and poets, our consummately talented photographer, a maker of beautiful things and the creative gifts of the Temple team…it was quite astonishing.

Steve, brush in hand
Steve, brush in hand

I cannot wait to share some more of the photographs created by Matt that show how a simple room can be transformed into a sacred space. I have seen only the unedited shots and they are spectacular. And there is one shot that will, I think, capture the essence of the weekend in the most amazing fashion. But we all have to wait for the work to be done on that image.

Detail from the group painting
Detail from the group painting

There were drums. The most beautiful and profound of music, both visceral and haunting in the temple as Adam used sound in place of incense to symbolically bless and purify the working space. His is a rare gift and those moments when he and the drum seemed to become one, both with each other and with something beyond both, will, I think, live in our hearts and memories a very long time.

Detail from the group painting
Detail from the group painting

There was music. Alienora with fiddle, recorder and piano, joining Adam in the library and filling it with laughter and sound.

There was Steve, the Troubadour, guitar in hand, seated in the Temple as he and I sang the song we had written for the School.

Detail from the group painting
Detail from the group painting

There was the painting created by all. Disjointed impressions, symbols and words that somehow came together to create an energy on canvas that captured the bright spirit of the companions and the time out of time that we shared. Matt’s otherworldly artistic impression of what was created shows, I think, the soul of what was placed on that canvas. And an email from Kevin that reduced me to tears placed Ani’s paw print among the symbols as, he wrote, “she must be an honorary Nerk 1st Degree by now at least.  A trace of her soul should be on it I think, she has journeyed with you all the way.”

Detail from the group painting
Detail from the group painting

There was the cake, decorated with the symbol of the Silent Eye by our wonderful Lil, shared before the companions departed on the Sunday.

The Mother, Benjamin Prewitt
The Mother, Benjamin Prewitt

There were three small paintings from Benjamin, gifted to me before he left me yesterday, that capture the depth and beauty of what was wrought over those few days and how it touches the life and heart of those who take that leap of faith into the inner landscape.

A Sunny Day, Benjamin Prewitt
A Sunny Day, Benjamin Prewitt

And there were words. Humour, banter and wilful misinterpretation causing riotous, and as Alienora describes in her post, of raucous laughter. Small things said in quiet moments that leave an indelible impression on the heart. Words written and spoken in beauty and the overwhelming sense of loving kinship that was shared as we were bound together in our journey. Words unspoken, poems crafted by the heart and written in eyes that met, sharing smiles and love in a place and a moment outside of time.

Ascend, Benjamin Prewitt
Ascend, Benjamin Prewitt

The opening of the Eye – a mother’s tears

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I was up to meet the dawn on Saturday, finding the world covered in a heavy frost and very beautiful. The morning began with a guided meditation. The companions gathered at 7am and closed their eyes. It was a simple journey… that of a seed thrown by an unseen hand to the winds. The tiny point of consciousness watched from inside itself as it grew, illustrating the journey into becoming.

Breakfast and preparation… and then it was time for the second of the ritual dramas.

These dramatic episodes, played with conviction in a place made sacred, have a profound effect, enabling understanding, engaging the emotions as well as the intellect as they bring the teachings to life in a unique manner.  This is one of the ways we will teach, through workshops and teaching sessions and the weekend workshops, open to all.

These do not form an essential part of the School’s course, they are not required, nor is attendance limited to School members… but rather they enhance and enrich it, as well as allowing friendships and companionship to grow. Study can be a lonely thing and the personal journey must be ultimately walked alone… but that does not mean there cannot be company along the way, a hand to hold when the ground seems rough or laughter shared in sunlight.

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The first ritual drama saw the arrival of nine travellers, sheltering from a storm in the monastery of the Keepers of the First Flame. A shamanic drummer and two Troubadours, accompanied by a strange Child also sought shelter. They were following a quest to rescue an imprisoned king, or so they believed, and sought shelter and refuge for the Child while they continued their journey.

The first drama introduced these characters, and ended as the Troubadours left to continue their search, leaving the Child in the care of the nine and the Keepers. On Saturday morning the second drama was to explore the characters further, seeing deeper into their innermost being.

As the Troubadours were ‘absent’, Steve assisted our technician and had placed me in the role of the Great Mother, simply  to bless the individual journey each was about to undertake as they entered the Temple.

And that felt odd. All the very human insecurities raised their head as I had read this point.. me, as Great Mother? How… what could I, just me, bring to this? And that question, I realised, was also the answer. I could bring my Self, it is all we can ever do.

The costume was simple and symbolic, grey veiled in clouds of night, a girdle of stars, dark tears at my throat and a simple nine pointed circlet, beautifully crafted by Katie. All chosen for their  simplicity and symbolism… especially the veil which prevented the pilgrims from seeing Her face, yet allowed them into her embrace. I thought I had it sorted.

I do not know and cannot tell what others felt. Only what I saw and felt myself.  I stood in the silence of the sacred space and waited for the first of the companions to enter, a silent prayer in my heart, not knowing really what to do, simply trusting that I would know when the moment came. The bells called the companions in, and the first saluted the central Light and turned to me.

And it was simple. I just held out my arms and embraced them and the cloudy veil held them like dark wings.

It sounds very little. But, from my heart to yours, I tell you that this was the most profoundly moving thing. Each pair of eyes met mine with radiant joy, each heart was open and full of Light and Life and Love, each face lit with so much beauty. One after another I held them. Overwhelmed and humble, with a glowing, incandescent sun, it seemed, blazing in my heart.

I sat in silence to watch the drama unfold and behind the veil the tears slid across my cheeks to meet my smile.

It was I who was blessed.

The opening of the Eye – the drama begins

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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.

The opening of the eye…. a first glimpse.

The Opening of The Eye (1)

Sue’s account of the Birth of the School, April 22, 2013

The work of a time impossible to count came to a focus in a single point of Light over the weekend as the Silent Eye School of Consciousness was born. For once I am at a loss for words and it is difficult to find expression for what was wrought by the companions who came together in such love, laughter and glorious, vivid technicolour.

To go by the timetable, telling what happened, may give a glimpse into how these weekend workshops run… but it would capture nothing of the exuberance, the emotion, the sheer joy, the profound awe.  To attempt to write these things the way they were felt places them out of context and will possibly sound like exaggeration. Yet, if I used every superlative in the dictionary, I doubt if words could encapsulate what was shared in the cradle of the Derby shire hills.

I can but try.

From across the globe a diverse group of people made their way to the beautiful little village of Great Hucklow. There were threads running through the group connecting us all, some were known to each other, many were meeting for the first time, some have worked together in the past in other times and places, some came to the weekend with little or no practical knowledge of what would be involved. The age range spanned decades, companions came from Europe, Canada, the US and across the UK, north to south, west to east.

Writers, artists, teachers, engineers… the range of experience and knowledge that were brought to the mix was incredible. And you are probably going to hear that word a lot. Yet all shared a simple, single spark of life and Light.

These were not all dedicated School members. Many came simply to give their loving support as friends, some were drawn by something more tenuous and in some strange and beautiful circumstances. One thing we all felt was that everyone was there for a purpose and brought a unique and very personal touch to the company that met in a flurry of robes and suitcases.

The Temple team, one or two others and most of our international travellers converged on the tiny village pub hours before the official start time. The setting up takes a while. It was wonderful to greet old friends, meeting some for the very first time, yet seeing this small group of early arrivals gel almost instantly into something that seems to have been a foretaste of the whole weekend.  There was so much laughter, many hugs, and an instant feeling of warmth and kinship that was beautiful to see, and indescribable to feel around you and through every fibre of being. It was tangible and every pair of eyes seemed lit from within.

The Temple team get pride of place here. They were astonishing. Anne and Lil constructed our working space and made a uniquely beautiful and sacred geometry into a place to hold the Light. They were soon assisted by willing hands and one abiding memory is that of these two wonderful ladies and our fabulous photographer on hands and knees constructing the enneagram.

I have seen them work their particular magic in making a simple room into a sacred space in previous years. But this was special. This was the first time the Silent Eye had a Temple for the drama that forms the core of the weekend’s working. To peek through the doors when all was done and see the deceptively simple layout framing the central Light brought the first round of tears… the first of many… as it dawned on me that the birth of our School now had a home.

We were about to begin.

Damaged vessels

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There are good days and bad ones, and some that are just plain odd. Waking this morning in a cosy bed, emerging from dreams of light and beauty, I lay there in the pre-dawn softness feeling that today was going to be good. Images forming in my mind of the painting to be done, the colours already occupying the table downstairs… all ready for an early start. Time to stretch and get moving. And I’ll finally get my car back today, all fixed from the garage.

I open my eyes… well, that was the general idea. Only nothing much happened.

Any lingering visions of beauty from my dreams faded in front of the bathroom mirror as I contemplated a reflection I was none too keen on. Dripping icy water, the eyes opened just enough to show me it wasn’t a good idea to look. Vanity was not happy with the sight. They were swollen shut. And my hands were as bad. Novel, though. I sort of look as if I’ve done ten rounds in a prizefighter and lost.

Cold compresses for the next hour, anti-inflammatories and antihistamines to be on the safe side, and I could just about switch the computer on, if not actually see it much. By eight, the eyes were open a bit and the hands moveable. The head and neck aches made their presence felt and a call to the doctor was in order. So I await yet more results. Why am I surprised….?

So painting has gone out of the window so far today and writing is a bit of a struggle… but I can’t just sit and twiddle my thumbs and the mind doesn’t switch off regardless. So I await two phone calls… one from the doctor and another from the garage where my little car is in for repair.

I was thinking about the current physical hiccups, all more annoying than anything else, much like the car. She drives like a dream and is my pride and joy, elderly and shabby as she is. The repairs are just down to age and wear. I saw the comparison of course and got to wondering what the purpose might be, what I am supposed to learn and take away from this passage. Quite apart, of course, from the simple realisation that I will not get any younger, even if my mind appears to.

One thing, of course, that stands out in sharp relief is the contrast between my body and I. It is not ‘me’. I am full of energy, raring to go, bursting at the seams with ideas and feel younger and more vibrant than I have for a very long time. This past year seems to have vivified me in some indefinable way and I feel alive and full of laughter, a sort of beaming smile of the soul. The body, however, seems more inclined to indulge in a wry and mocking grin. That it is merely the vehicle in which I move through the world seems patently obvious as I look at the discrepancy and wait for the repair guys to fix it.

I remembered a picture I had seen somewhere a while ago, an example of Kintsugi, the Japanese art of mending broken vessels. The broken pot is fixed together with a lacquer that looks like pure gold, rendering the object even more lovely and precious than before. Almost celebrating the breaking as, it is said, the damage means the vessel has a history and survived to grow in beauty.  Someone cared enough too, to undertake the delicate work.

It is not quite that simple but is analogous, perhaps, to the human condition. In order to grow in beauty through any kind of suffering, we have to pick up the pieces and be prepared to fashion them into something new, taking a little time and care, holding the cracks together with the gold of joy, hope and purpose.

It may be an odd day today, but it is still a good one, even though my plans have changed and I will probably not paint. However, I do need to go and bring my little car home…. And that is a joy in itself.