Bridle Rock…

The Bamburgh Beast


… The Great Stone in the ballad is known as Spindleston Heugh(s),

and is a dolerite crag on the Whin Sill (‘Dark Flat’) escarpment in the parish of Easington.


 The Spindle Stone is a natural stone column standing out from the crag,

which is also known as ‘Bridle Rock’.


‘Bridal Rocks’ are often climbed by suitors

in order to demonstrate their suitability for an intended.


According to legend this one was used by Childy Wynde

to tether his horse before he tackled the Worm.


A feature below the crag is marked ‘Laidley Worm’s Trough’ on the map

but the nearby ‘Laidley Worm’s Cave’ was destroyed in the 19th century.


It is sometimes easy to forget our links to the land

in which we move and have our being

especially when we have been couped up in doors

for any length of time, by choice or otherwise.


This, though, does not seem to have been so much of a problem

for our ancient ancestors, and perhaps,

this is because it was all so new to them…


The balled of the Laidley Worm is now

intricately associated with Bamburgh castle.


This large fortified house is perched atop a dolerite outcrop

which is decidedly wormlike in shape, and was formerly the stronghold

of Celtic Britons, the Din Guarie.


The church at the back of the castle,

holds the relics of St Aiden.

Entry to the church is free, and is well worth a visit…

The Laidley Wyrm…


I weird you a Laidly Worm,

Until the end-of-days,

And freed ne’er shall you be,

Until the king’s successor,

Approach the Heugh,

And give you kisses three…


Before a legend ‘goes national’ it will first have been local.


There are lots of ‘merlins’ and ‘arthurs’ in the land of Britain,

although not all of them are known by those names or titles.


There are too, lots of dragon slayers,

few of which are called George.


Before George became our Patron Saint,

our Patron Saint was called Edmund.


Edmund was shot full of arrows then decapitated,

and his decapitated head was stolen, by a wolf…

Which is, perhaps, not very heroic.

Not heroic enough for some, certainly.


Before George became our Patron Saint

there was a ‘dragon slayer’ in Northumbria,

here is his tale…


“And so to Bamburgh castle, the king a new wife did bring.

But his queen took an instant dislike to her husband’s daughter, Margaret,

And transformed her into a Laidly Wyrm which coiled itself about a Great Stone,

And laid waste the land for seven miles around.


Daily, the milk of seven cows was brought the Wyrm but all to no avail,

For the enchantment could only be lifted by Childy Wynd,

Margaret’s brother, but he lived far away over the sea.


Word of the dark doings in his homeland eventually reached Childy,

Who built a ship with a rowan-tree mast and silken sails,

And set out to rid Bamburgh of its blight.


The queen, she spied the ship and sent out ‘witch-wives’ to sink it,

But they were powerless ‘gainst the magical mast.

As the ship came into land, the Wyrm leapt up,

The Wyrm leapt down, and plaiting ’round the stane,

Banged it out to sea again.


Undaunted, Childy put in on Budle Sand and waded ashore.

Finally encountering the Wyrm, Childy laid his sword upon its head,

Yet gave it kisses three,

And though it crept back into its hole a Wyrm,

It stepped out, a Lady.


Together, brother and sister returned to Bamburgh,

To be greeted by their joyful father, the king.

The queen was transformed, by Childy, into a toad,

Which to this day spits venom on young girls out walking.”

Duncan Frasier  AD 1270



Defining Relationships (2) look-again

In Part One, we looked at the anatomy of relationships, in a general sense. We considered how the birth separation from our mother sets off a chain of reactions that strengthen us – as individuals in the world – but isolate us in a bubble of self, from which we form more distant relationships, perhaps only really opening ourselves to our world and others a few times in our lives…

Does our self’s journey hold an invitation to do more than this? There is a contradiction in our lives: the developed sense of self protects us from, among other things, emotional hurt. But it also ‘numbs’ the quality of experience, since everything is seen with reference to this self rather than being experienced for what it is.

Philosophers have always postulated that there is a world ‘out-there’, but that we abstract it within the mind and so deal only with a copy of reduced intensity; our minds filled with ‘routines’ that recognise a situation and replay what we historically feel about it.

In this way, we live in the past rather than the present. It’s a sobering thought…

To consider that there might be something that ‘is’ beyond the ‘me’ is challenging. The me has been carefully nurtured into our maturity so that we have fortress of self, where only what we choose can reach us – in the sense of affecting us. Even those choices become habitual, resulting us being almost machine-like, though few of us are brave enough to contemplate that.

There are various methods to loosening this barrier of self and world. One of the simplest is to learn to look again. Consider an object; say a flower. Let yourself look at it in the habitual way, but then go back, a second later, and look again. Deliberately pick out details that you missed in your usual cursory inspection. The changing hue of colour, the fragrance, the nature of the flower’s centre… Make them all vivid and challenge your mind’s usual perception.

With a little practice, you will be able to literally ‘lose yourself’ in the flower or whatever object you’ve settled on. Traditional approaches to consciousness state that we create an internal representation of the flower in our minds. The flower has reality – it’s really ‘out there’, but our consciousness of it is largely historical. Our look-again flower has much more vividness than before.

At this point, we face a challenge: do we content ourselves with the brightening of our world by doing more of the look-again process? Or do we plunge much deeper into ourselves to discover some startling truths about the very nature of awareness, itself.

In final part of this series, next week, we will look at the journey into our own consciousness in search of the real nature of awareness – and the dramatically different picture it paints of our outer lives.

End 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. and

A Hebridean Diary (6 end) Great Bernera

Our two-week trip, ending in the Hebridean Island of Lewis, was coming to an end. The following morning, we would be on a ferry from Stornoway to Ullapool, then a fast route directly to Inverness, where we could pick up the main A9 to Perth, stopping in a travel motel, before setting off early for Cumbria and home.

(Above: the location of the Island of Bernera)

We decided to spend our last day in the Western Isles (we had adopted the native name for this beautiful place) exploring the island of Bernera. Two of the party had a specific interest in the story of the Picts, a tribe of skilled and artistic people who settled across northern Scotland in the period 200-800 AD. We were intrigued to find that a Pictish settlement had been uncovered and excavated on Bernera.

We hadn’t taken the title ‘Isle of ‘Bernera’ too seriously, but, arriving at the long stretch of ocean in our path, the dramatic presence of two bridges, one built in 1953, the other recently, brought home to us the changes made to life by such structures…

(Above: how life used to be, pre-1953: even lorries had to cross the waters by local boats)

The two bridges literally cross the Atlantic- a part of it – and say so on their notice boards!

Having ‘crossed over the Atlantic’ we now stood on Great Bernera, looking back at the ‘mainland’.

(Above: the two bridges across the Atlantic! The new bridge, just finished (left) and the ‘old one’ bult in 1953 (right))
(Upper left is the village of Bosta)

The welcome board gave a helpful greeting:

‘Having crossed over the Atlantic you are now standing on the beautiful island of Great Bernera. There is much to see and explore on this small island, starting with the unique semi-circular standing stones just above Bernera Bridge here at the southern end, and ending with the Iron Age House and village site at Bosta Beach in the north.

Along the way there are marked walks to Dun Bharabhat (a well-preserved small broch), the renovated Norse Mill and the west coast circular walk starting at the Community Centre and going via Bosta.

The scenery is amazing with moorland, lochs, coves, hills and cliffs to find and watch out for some truly wonderful wildlife including Otters, Seals, Dolphins, Golden and Whitetailed Eagles and many bird species.

The Community Centre, café and museum are centrally located and are open during the summer season. There you will find more detailed information on places to visit on the island.’

Once on the island of Bernera, we headed for the small village of Bosta, (see map, above) on the north coast and opposite the smaller island of Little Bernera. Beyond here is only the Atlantic Ocean.

We were here to see the ancient Pictish village, but the first thing we noticed was the quality of the many beaches; even better than those at Uig!

(A small village, filled with wonderful scenery)

The Labrador and the Collie loved the beaches. Getting the ‘Lab’ out of the clear blue sea was a challenge. Tess the Collie is more of a paddler…

Then it was time to make our way along the path to the Pictish village we had come to see…

(Above: the path to the Pictish village)

The Pictish house that can be visited is a reconstruction based upon what is known about the tribe, plus artefacts found at the site.

The guide explained that the Picts’ closeness to nature is helping archeologists understand that style of living, which may prove useful to mankind’s future!

(Above; the interior of the house)

The reconstructed house is made in such a way that you can see how it was built. Certain sections are left bare to emphasise this. The house is a reconstruction of one of the late Iron Age ‘jelly baby’ houses excavated nearby. It was built using the techniques that were available in Pictish times. The excavation site is not yet open to visitors.

(The interior was actually quite dark, making photography difficult without flash – which was prohibited)

No physical evidence of the design of the original roof survives. The style of the roof was dictated by the shape and strength of the walls. For this reason they were built high, so the roof could be kept simple. Also, high walls, surrounded and banked by earth, would keep the interior warmer in the winter.

The dividing walls between the two ‘cells’ of the interior would have been too weak to support a superstructure. The ridged roof found in Pictish houses of later periods is a major departure from the circular roofs of the wheelhouses and brochs of the earlier Iron Age, and a precursor of the traditional ‘roof’ was we know it.

(Above: the stone-lined entrance to the Pictish dwelling is a masterpiece of early engineering – being curved to ‘foil’ the winds, and sloping downwards to protect the interior)

The entrance passage was curved to break the strength of high winds and sloped from ground level to the interior floor level. The purpose of the small secondary chamber is unknown. The main living space may have been subdivided into living and sleeping areas. The small space may have been used by the women for their work.

The central hearth is aligned north to south. This may have been for practical or ritual purposes. It is not known if there was any form of lighting. The summer nights are very long, the winter darkness can be total. This was – and is – a place of beautiful extremes… Parts of the roof may simply have been lifted – or not – to suit each day.

The ridged roof is a major departure from the circular roofs of the wheelhouses and brochs of the earlier Iron Age, and a precursor of the traditional blackhouse roof.

(Above: a single bone comb survived as a relic of their social life)
(Soon, it was time to go…)

Soon it was time to go. We had spent half our time on the wonderful beaches, and the dogs were delighted and sleepy. Tomorrow would see the start of our long journey home.

©Stephen Tanham 2022

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

Part One:

Part Two,

Part Three,

Part Four,

Part Five:

Continuation onto the Hebridean Island of Lewis:

A Hebridean Diary: Part One – Impressions of Lewis

A Hebridean Diary: Part Two – Long Road to Uig

A Hebridean Diary: Part Three – Of Coats and Kings

A Hebridean Diary: Part Four – The Drowned Lands

A Hebridean Diary Part Five – When power is unchecked

This is Part Six the final post in the 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. and

Freezing Brass Castles…


‘A fleet hoofed horse

moves swift as quick wit’

Old English Proverb


…’ After spiriting George away from his mother’s side,

Kalyb, the fell enchantress tended to him as the apple of her eye,

and appointed twelve Satyrs to attend his every whim.’


Twelve of anything usually refers to months of the year.


‘When he was fourteen years old George

demanded to know who were his parents.

Kalyb told him and showed him a castle of burnished brass

wherein she held captive the six bravest Knights of Christendom’…


The seven champions are the planetary bodies again.

George would naturally have to be the Sun,

which if they are given in correct order makes Mars

Spain which for this period in history works rather well!


There is also a salient point here, though.

The energies of what the Hebrews used to call the Elohim

are ordinarily shut up, or banked, in the subconscious,

and can only be ‘set free’ by the Id at which point

they emerge to form a natural component of the Identity.


The Subconscious Mind could even be regarded,

for most people, as an Unseen Presence.


‘Kalyb promised that if only George stayed with her

she would equip him as a knight

and make him the leader of those in the castle.’


‘George tricked his knightly accoutrements from Kalyb,

tricked her into her own rock-hewn dungeon,

and freed the knights to go dragon slaying’…


Which pretty much means that George,

the Patron Saint of England, is a Trickster!


‘Hearing of a foul beast terrorising the country of Egypt,

George set his will, and charger, in that direction’…


Egypt, presumably, because ‘she’ is

the Old World exemplar for Christianity.


Structures of the Soul…


… We should not be surprised to find distinctly ‘Freudian’

concepts under the surface of this set-up.


Freud’s ‘Oedipal Complex’, after all, was derived from

a Greek Tragic Play current in the Fifth Century BC.


George is ‘Ich’, the ‘I’, or Ego.

His parents are ‘Uber Ich’, the ‘Over I’, or Super Ego.

The dragon is ‘Das Es’, the ‘It’, or Id.


The ‘Witch-of-the Wood’ is the Shadow in the subconscious mind

where the Id is forced to reside.


The Ego and Super Ego reside in the conscious mind.


The Ego is predominantly subjective.


The Super Ego is predominantly objective.


Under ‘normal circumstances’ the Ego and Super Ego

subdue the Id, moulding it to societal demands

and creating an eidolon, or false image, to satisfy the status quo.


In the case of the Hero,

the Ego ‘kills’, or overcomes, the Super Ego,

and is then ‘swallowed’, or taken into

the subconscious mind where it encounters the Id…


This was the ‘subconscious fear’,

or ‘prophetic dream’, of the Super Ego,

which intuitively recognises its child as the Id, or dragon.


‘Fire should guard fire!’


But what happens next?

Defining Relationships (1)

We treat the word ‘relationship’ casually. We don’t mean to – we probably don’t know we are dealing with one of the most fundamental parts of our existence. If we could see the full implications of the idea of relationships, we might be better equipped to see how much symbolic ‘gold’ there is in them.

To consider this, we should step back and examine how we come to have any relationships at all…

Relationships, as we know them, exist because of certain assumptions we make from our early years onwards. We are born into a world where an unthinkable separation is happening.

Our mother – the mother that has nurtured ‘us’ as part of her, must, for our own future, distance her body from ours; connecting us, instead, with warmth and sustaining milk as substitute for a shared existence.

Our lives in the world begin with a biological separation, and, though we are not conscious of it at the time, there is already a duality which, until we mature spiritually, will never equal that former unity.

This is tightly related to the mystery of the feminine principle and its power in our consciousness and our relationship with Nature.

If I didn’t have a strong sense of ‘me’, there would be no-one else with whom to have a relationship. Because I am certain there is a me, and that this me is separate from everything around me, I create an other, which is not-me.

From that point on, I live in a world which is largely body-centric – the body being the identified boundary between the me and the other.

The adult has fixed this into a worldview. The child, however, still lives in a world where there is magic…

That magic is part their sense of connectedness with ‘out there’, which is seen as far closer (particularly emotionally) than the adults’ picture where ‘me’ ends with the edges of the body- or the body of a lover. For the adult, the majority of ‘food’ for the soul comes through the senses and the intellect, leaving a chasm of ‘hunger’ at a deeper and unconscious level of the self.

Early psychologists, like Carl Jung, made much of this archetypal ‘divine feminine’, and its part in each of us in the shape of the anima and animus.

But not everything begins in the body.

‘I’ have the keenest senses to tell me what are my thoughts, emotions and hungers – all of which have a self-evident nature, and what are the secondary things that emanate from the world around me – the other.

Much of my education in life is about learning the logic of how other things affect me, in-here, from sources in the apparent out-there. There is great wisdom in investigating these channels of perception and finding the truth about what we actually know of the out-there objects, and what is the automated result of our world-picture…

The generic ‘relationship’ has a central part to play in our understanding. It could be said that having any relationship has the capacity to put the magic back into our worldview… That is, if the relationship is explored to the full, in a spirit of self-truth.

End Part One

©Stephen Tanham 2022

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

In the gardens of coughton court

(Above: the interior courtyard that leads to the garden; in many ways the best view of the main part of the ancestral house)

Coughton Court in Warwickshire, fifteen miles from Stratford-on-Avon, is the ancestral home of the Throckmortons, one of the UK’s oldest catholic families and a place of great intrigue during the time of religious persecution. It still possesses some of the best concealed ‘priest holes’ in the country.

It also boasts a beautiful walled garden, worth visiting in its own right…

(One of my favourite views: one of two churches (one catholic, the other Anglican, just beyond the walled garden)

The name Coughton (pronounce “Coat-un”) is believed to mean a settlement or farm known for the hunting of game birds. I’m no fan of the hunting-shooting-fishing brigade but I can separate out the experience of the beautiful gardens from such traditions.

(Above: paths lead off in mysterious directions and you find yourself asking “have I already been here?” the answer is usually negative – there is so many perspectives…)
(Above: the large courtyard at the back of the house leads through to the walled garden)

It is believed that there was a medieval house on the site when John de Throckmorton arrived in 1409 to marry into the de Spiney family. Since that time, Coughton Court has been home to the Throckmortons, one of the UK’s oldest catholic families and a major name in the City of London’s development as one of the world’s most important financial centres.

(Above: the centre of the walled garden has a period water feature)

Coughton Court still has many of its original features including its flamboyant sixteenth-century gate tower. It is one of the last remaining Roman Catholic houses in the country to retain its historic treasures, housing one of the very best collections of portraits and memorabilia of one family from the early Tudor times.

(Above: arches and pergolas – each leading into further enchanting spaces)

Alongside family items on display, there are pieces such as the chemise reputedly worn by Mary Queen of Scots when she was executed and a bishop’s Cope, with intricate needlework, believed to have been worked upon by Catherine of Aragon.

(Above: Bee heaven. An entire bed dedicated to Lavender)

I will do a separate post on the interior of the house. We were so impressed with the gardens, I felt it was worth a photo-tour, if only to show the best of the photos taken on the day.

(Above: The beautiful and historic interior of the house deserves its own post, which will follow)

Coughton Court was gifted to the National Trust in 1946 by the Throckmortons, the family continues to live there, extending a staggering six centuries of unbroken tradition.

©Stephen Tanham 2022

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

Seven Champions?…


The story of St George which we have been following is by

all accounts strange.


It was committed to writing in the late sixteenth century

and was penned by Richard Johnson,

a fabulist possibly most famous for writing the ‘Fairy Stories’

Tom Thumb and Dick Whittington’s Cat.


In it St George takes his place amongst six other

‘Champions of Christendom’, to wit,

St Denis, St James, St Anthony, St Andrew,

St Patrick and St David,

who are the patron saints of France, Spain, Italy,

Scotland, Ireland and Wales respectivley.


Johnson’s ‘history’ makes knights errant of the christian saints

and given that it was written during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I

clearly seeks to set the new Anglicanism on equal footing with Catholicism.


St George seems also to be cast in a distinctly ‘Arthurian Light’.


But leaving the politics to one side this ‘famous history’

of St George is also pertinent for

more salient psychological reasons….