Wish you were here?

We regularly share the stories of our workshop weekends on these pages. What is impossible to share on these pages is the sense of warmth, the laughter and the camaraderie that attends these weekends. Those who come along are not all members of the Silent Eye… in fact, the majority are not. It is not a requirement. They come for the sake of friendship, companionship and a shared curiosity about the mysteries of this land and the even deeper mysteries our human lives.

Three times a year we gather for informal workshops in the landscape, exploring historic sites and the spiritual history of those who built them. Sometimes we take a more modern landscape and seek a symbolic meaning, finding ways to apply what we learn to or own daily lives. Spirituality is not a noun, but a verb…

In April, we host a different kind of workshop, using a form of ritualistic drama such as was used in the Mystery Schools of old, where a single story is woven through the weekend, touching the imagination through the emotions, and allowing us to illustrate and understand deeper spiritual principles. This too is open to all, and every year people travel across the globe to attend.

Laughter, companionship and understanding are the threads that bind these weekends together. They are designed to explore, not dictate, spiritual principles. We do not teach so much as open a book that we can all learn from together, each as much as they wish.

If you would like to join us for one of our informal Living Land, or Annual April weekends, full details can be found on our Events page. You can also read about past events and what it is like to attend your first workshop with the Silent Eye.

We currently taking bookings for the next two events for 2018, with further informal weekends to be announced for September and December:

The Jewel in the Claw
A residential workshop in Great Hucklow, Derbyshire
20-22 April, 2018
Intrigue at the court of Queen Elizabeth I of England. William Shakespeare holds a conversation with Death. “There was one story untold,” says the Bard. “One story that could not be told or it would have hurt her soul and her life… a story of the beloved Queen’s darkest hour.” Death leans in and listens. “Tell it now,” he whispers…


The Giant and the Sun
An informal weekend, based in Cerne Abbas, Dorset
15-17 June 2018
Tradition tells of a mischievous Giant who after devouring several sheep lay down on the side of a hill to sleep off his breakfast. The people of Blackmoor Vale tied him down and killed him. The tiny village of Cerne Abbas is today still overlooked by the Giant’s effigy cut in chalk on the side of the hill. But what other secrets does the landscape within and around the village hold.


For further details, booking forms and prices, please visit our Events page.


Spirit Animals by Running Elk

The Feathered Seer – Patterns of enchantment

 

 

‘The hidden world has its clouds and rain, but of a different kind. Its sky and sunshine are of a different kind. This is made apparent to those not deceived by the seeming completeness of the ordinary world.’

Jalaluddin Rumi

For the final ritual, the setting we chose was Arbor Low, the great stone circle within a henge. Its is unusual as it contains a central cove beneath which ancient human remains were found and the stones lay flat as if gazing at the pattern of the heavens; there seems little evidence that they were ever standing. Our own experiences at the stones were to provide the basis for the ritual… but as the essence of the workshop evolved, so did its final form of re-enchanting the land.

It is odd how things work out sometimes. One aspect of the five rituals had been put in place before we had even considered the Feathered Seer as a workshop. We had planned to incorporate the idea the year before during Leaf and Flame and were all set to do so, right up until the moment came. Then, without really knowing why, we felt it had to be put to one side. It was part of one of the unscripted sequences, so only two of us realised that we had skipped a portion of what was planned.

We work with the symbolism of the enneagram, a nine pointed schematic that we use to represent the journey of the human personality, the soul and the universal process of Becoming. Part of this journey is represented by a pattern of movement around the stations. We had planned to ‘move’ each of the Companions to a station representing what could be called a higher aspect of themselves. It was only afterwards that we realised how wrong that would have been. What happens within these rital dramas is symbolic of a wider reality…and in this case, a very personal one. We could not move them… it is something each of us must do for ourselves, journeying through life until we reach where we need to be. Thus it was that, this year, each of the Companions symbolically walked the Paths of Being and Becoming for themselves in a dance that married process to progress.

The simple movement was a beautiful sight, with each Companion walking the pattern from their own unique place and perspective, carrying with them the light of consciousness. For those who watched, it was a glimpse of something very special.

There is a tendency to separate the sacred from the mundane, the physical from the spiritual… to see the two as somehow different, even though they are two sides of the same coin. Movement is an expression of life and life an expression of spirit. As the flame was passed around the circle of Companions, we saw spirit in motion; creating a pattern, warp and weft of the soul.

There were other patterns woven, less obvious but no less potent, triangles within and without… keepers of lore and wisdom and those who bring those qualities into the everyday world, joined at a place where the inner and outer worlds touch. It was from here that we built another pattern. In meditation, a web of light as woven that would be seeded with stones, symbols of inner peace, all around the world.

Quite how the idea had arisen would be impossible to say, but it too had grown, weaving itself through the work of the weekend. In yet another of those odd synchronicities, we learned during the course of the workshop that two of our Companions were already initiating an almost identical idea within their own groups. Yet again, there was the touch of something beyond ourselves at work.

“Warp and weft,” said the Lore Keepers. The warp is the vertical matrix through which the weft is woven. We are neither the warp nor the designer of the fabric of life. We are threads of the weft, but each of us has a place on the loom and without just one of us, the pattern would be incomplete.

“Man’s life is laid in the loom of time, to a pattern he does not see…” but sometimes, just sometimes, we are graced with a glimpse.

The Feathered Seer – The bitter drop

‘If you have not lived through something it is not true’

Kabir

The fourth ritual took us to a place of fear. Within the local landscape there is a high place that had, for a long time, remained hidden from notice, even though we had passed it many times over the years. It was never hidden from sight… there are no trees to give seasonal camouflage, no houses or obstructions…it was only, somehow, hidden from awareness. Even though we must have seen it, the mound had never impinged upon consciousness. And it is really too big, too imposing, to miss.

It was inevitable that, once noticed, we would visit the site. The story that was born of that first encounter has been told elsewhere. The encounter itself was unlike any other, beginning an unease that grew with each successive visit and leaving me an emotional wreck. The tale that the hills whispered would furnish the inspiration for the fourth ritual.

Prior to that, however, Morgana was to speak to the group of soul-lineage and the work of the psychopomp. It was one of the many striking synchronicities of the weekend. We had issued the invitation but had no idea what subject she would choose, what she would say or how she would present it. The subject could not have fitted more perfectly had it been pre-planned and scripted… and the symbols beside her as we walked in, black  and white, would exactly mirror what we had planned for another unscripted sequence in the very next ritual and about which only two of us knew. In such seemingly impossible ‘coincidences’ there is a reassurance that we are doing something right.

Fear was addressed on many levels throughout the weekend, from the fragilities of the ego that affect our day-to-day lives and the way we perceive the world, through to the deeper, often unspoken fears that hide in the shadows. Morgana spoke of death and dying and, for many those are the ultimate fears.

To those for whom death itself holds no fear, the manner of dying is one of some concern. We seldom have a choice in the manner of our passing and for most, if not all of us, there is the conscious hope of a gentle ending for ourselves and those we love. Death itself may be feared because we do not know what lies beyond… it is unknown territory and even our certainties cannot be proven before we pass beyond that veil. Death may also be feared because we cannot imagine a place or state of being when we are not. The ego is designed for life; it clings to its familiar state of being and, for existence to continue without its presence in some form or another, is an unencompassable idea to many.

The initiatory theme of the ritual took us to a place of fear… and moved beyond it. The word ‘initiate’ means ‘to begin’  or to ‘set in motion’ and, as there can be no beginning without the ending of a previous state, the symbolism of death and birth into a new state of being, of the fear and its facing, is an apt analogy. In the Tarot, the Death card symbolises not only physical death, but also endings and change… and a change is a new beginning.

Our society has, in many ways, become inured to death. It’s horrors are so often in our homes through the news and media, both in reality and as ‘entertainment’, that we no longer recoil from many of the images with which we are confronted. Yet both the fear and the mystery of death remain.

Before the workshop, I spoke with someone about the value of life and, in particular, about the role of its limits. Would we achieve anything much if we were immortal, beyond the ability to perfect the art of procrastination? With unlimited time, would we seek a cure for cancer or a path to peace? Our limitations may give our lives meaning. By being aware of and accepting our mortality, we create a virtual time machine for ourselves. We are all aware of how time itself seems to slow or speed up depending on our levels of boredom or engagement with the moment. By acknowledging the finite nature of our lives, time takes on a new level of meaning and we live each moment with greater intensity. Kahlil Gibran said, “It is life in quest of life in bodies that fear the grave.” The sadness is that our very fear of death is caused by our consciousness of life and, in turning away from its inevitability, perhaps we are also failing to embrace life as fully as we could.

The Feathered Seer – Divining meaning

‘In former times the soul was feathered all over’

Plato

The third ritual of the workshop weekend was named Deadshaw Sick after the strip of land that divides the lands of the living from the lands of the dead at Barbrook. On one side of the stream are the hut circles that mark the place of a settlement, on the other, the stone circles and cairns of their dead. It was there that the Seer had come into consciousness, and there too that we had spent a strange afternoon after the previous workshop. The land had seemed alive in an indescribable way, as if we had somehow ‘lost’ centuries and were vouchsafed a glimpse into a distant past and the stone circle ‘showed’ us how it could have been used. On that day, the land itself formed the ritual space of purification and offering and we could see quite clearly how it lent itself to the needs of the Seer…  but that is another story. Seated on the Companion Stone, we had, in a matter of minutes, mapped out the entire workshop in great detail… detail that was almost immediately lost. But the seeds had been planted and ideas sown that would, in the way of such things, germinate in their own time.

Like flowers, ideas respond to the conditions in which they grow and to what elements are brought to bear on their  evolution. Much of the workshop had to wait to be written until thoughts, strewn as unidentified seeds across the landscape of possibility, revealed their inner nature. Some things could not be written until they were understood… others could not be understood until they were written. Others still may not be understood until they are brought into being in our lives. It was a waiting game… elucidation came in its own time and under many guises, impossible to predict where, when or how the ideas might bloom.

One idea we wished to carry into the temple was that of divination. Bratha, whose name, as far as I can discover, comes from an ancient word for ‘knowledge’, was a seer to her people. They lived at a time when technology meant stone… from the tools of everyday living to the cairns and circles of their rites. We had, on that strange day after Leaf and Flame, gathered heather-wood amid the cairns, thinking to carve divination sticks from their twisted forms. Every time I tried to work on them, I seemed to get distracted…until we realised that wood had more to do with the story we had just told than the one we were yet to tell.

If Bratha’s people had used stone for all else…what else would they use for divination?

We gathered crystals instead.

Melding the traditional attributes of the crystals with the characteristics attributed to the higher spheres of operation of the nine stations of the enneagram, we devised a table of meaning and a mode of divination that we played out, within the circle of stones, during the Circles Beyond Time weekend. The questions that were brought to the seer were not voiced to her, as she would have been no more than a conduit. The answers given were taken from the stones… the seer would herself have listened, to stone or to ancestral echoes perhaps, and the querent would find the meaning within the answer…an answer that sought to elicit the truth they already held within them, rather than to impose an external interpretation that might have little relevance and less value.

Signs, dreams, symbols, portents and the many methods of divination, all share a common thread… they speak to us in ways that are uniquely personal if they are to have any value. It is of little use to  learn the ‘rules’ and stick to them; while there seems to be a universal understanding of symbolism at an intuitive level, the cultural, temporal and geographical differences within which we are raised will each add their own shades and colours to the emotive response such things awaken in the individual. Their value resides in what these things may  awaken within us or can open in our hearts and understanding. A stone is neither more, nor less, than a stone, until we give it meaning.

Yet there is something else at work too… an unseen presence that seems to evoke synchronicities that we can neither miss nor ignore, that guides the hand or allows us to notice the flight of a bird across our path. When the seeker seeks, on whatever path he may follow, a portal is opened between the ego and the Self and, for a brief moment, the two may commune in harmony, combining the essence of the human experience with the flight of the soul, each shedding their own light and clarity on the moment. The heightening of awareness allows us to see beyond form and interpretation to glimpse what is true, though how, whether or when we can accept or understand it depends upon where we are on our individual journey. As humans we can be very good at fooling ourselves, convincing ourselves of things that are not. We may even fool others for a time.. We take the fragments of truth that we garner and build for ourselves a version of reality in which we live out our days, calling it ‘ours’. But the feathered wings of the soul carry us towards Truth itself. We cannot fool the essence of our Being… and Truth belongs to no man… only to itself.

Flight of the Seer VI…

Alethea Kehas and Barbara Walsh holding a photograph of Obi.

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For those Companions who study the Silent Eye Correspondence Course the Sunday morning of our April Workshop is a special time.

It is then that we mark their progress through the three degrees of the course with a ceremony designed to ratify each stage of that process.

This year we were delighted to acknowledge Alethea Kehas and Barbara Walsh who completed their Second Degrees and Maurice Obioha Nwankwor (Obi) who completed the Third Degree of the course and thereby became the first of our students to achieve this beginning…

‘Initiation cannot be conferred by human hands.

Not all who reach the Portal will pass the Threshold.

Not all who knock will see that door held open to the Light.

Initiation cannot be bought, nor can it be earned through effort.

It is not a goal, but a beginning.

It is a recognition of the soul and symbol of the contract between the Initiate and the Inner Light.

It comes not as a reward, but as a Grace.’

We would like to thank all those who attended the April Workshop this year.

As an indication of the calibre of our attendees for, ‘The Feathered Seer’ we need only consider, that the early Saturday morning, ‘Greeting the Dawn’ ritual which has always been an optional event, drew a full complement of Companions!

With heartfelt thanks to Allan Pringle and Morgana West who delivered such relevant and inspiring presentations for us.

Finally, we would like to end with a special mention for ‘Our Shaman’…

‘All is One’

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Intimate Flames – #Silenti

What is it to be intimate? The touch  of a lover’s hand or lips, perhaps?  Two bodies locked together in desire for a common fulfilment; the intellect muted while the emotional and sexual energies dance their own bolero?

We generally associate intimacy with the body, but it’s not always so, and the exceptions can point the way to something much deeper…

The body has its own wisdom, and lives by an organic truth. We can play all sorts of games with our minds, but a bodily ‘state’ is just that – an undeniable and persistent experience that has no form outside of its representation as pleasure or pain. As such it exists at a level beyond misrepresentation. 

The ability to move, especially two beings together – like when we dance – might be considered another physical aspect of intimacy, and certainly forms an abiding part of physical passion.

Can we move beyond the physical and retain intimacy? Can intimacy also be exchanged around a dining table, when the pressures of the day give way to a sudden sharing of moment? Or at a meeting with a close, but non-sexual friend, one that we might not see for another decade or so?

Encounter is a good word to set the scene for real intimacy. It implies something new in that meeting of body, heart and sometimes mind – although our usual level of mind can introduce as many problems as it seeks to solve. 

We might substitute encounter for what happens in this intimate context; yet how can there be anything new from two organisms that have shared much, before? We could have said ‘different’ and our minds might have felt more secure. Mind can understand different – it builds its picture of the world – our lives – out of differences…

The essence of these kinds of intimacy lies in their potential for opening a new level of awareness – even if that lasts only for seconds or less. In that moment we can glimpse a far more peaceful, harmonious and ‘speaking-to-me’ level of life, as though a liquid nectar has poured from another world into this one.

The deeper level of  ‘speaking-to-me’ is not an experience, it is a certainty. There is no room for doubt in one who finds it. The finder moves from possibility into knowing. 

Many kinds of love can point the way. Some of them, like the moment of orgasm, are brief, though wonderful. Others are calmer and longer-lasting. Mysticism is founded in the the personal unveiling of the deep intimacy of something behind the self. Many words have been used to describe the qualities of what is found, yet all are doomed to be approximations. Words come from the mind, and the mind is incapable of experiencing what is known without reason. 

Only the heart, understood fully and not the subject of romantic trivialisation, will take us there. This is true meditation. To follow that path is to take the openness and trust that normally accompanies physical intimacy and offer it, internally, to that which lies above the mind and is wedded with the heart. This state, if spoken of at all, is referred to in hushed or symbolic terms. One of the best of these is what the Sufi mystics have called ‘The Beloved’.

There is a deep mystery about the beloved that can only be found through a personal journey. She has always been present. She waits; and the only key that will open her chamber is that offering of love, trust and presence spoken of above.

We may think that we already possess these qualities, but life, in its development of the personality, takes the ‘brilliance’ away from our existence – it becomes more important to be secure than to be occasionally touched by the inner parts of who we really are. A certain resolve is needed to re-learn the essential qualities, and then refine them from the darker clay that the outer ‘us’ has become. It’s not an easy journey, but it is mapped out, in many reliable forms, including the Silent Eye’s three-year correspondence course.

We might liken the quest for this deepest of intimacies to the re-finding of a ruby jewel, given by Mother to us in childhood, and which was subsequently lost. For years we searched for it, gradually surrendering to the fact that the vague and fading memory of its glory was all we had left of what was once so precious.

And then, one day, we enter a room in a strange and quiet inner state, to find a drawer in an old cabinet whose existence we had forgotten. Inside is a glowing red jewel, more intimately connected to everything in our lives than we could possibly have imagined.

From then on, the journey becomes one of the heart rather than just the mind, though the mind also finds renewal in the ruby rays, allowing something special to happen to its nature, too…

©️Copyright Stephen Tanham 2017

Steve Tanham is one of three directors of the Silent Eye School. Steve updates his personal blog several times a week at  https://stevetanham.wordpress.com/

Phantoms of the past…

When I met her, I thought her no more than a dream of the landscape, born of the mists and the magic. Imagination. Fantasy. Perhaps she is. Perhaps I delude myself with my listening. Perhaps my tears have fallen for a will-o-the-wisp. Who can say?

Do I believe in ghosts? The dead have better things to do with their lives than linger here in longing, clinging to a world they cannot touch and wishes they cannot hold. Do we call them back with our desire? Are we children tugging at their apron strings as they move forwards through the layers of existence, passing through otherworlds we try to glimpse in our fear and curiosity, in our inability to let them lie?

The Old Ones honoured their dead, giving them a place of peace by the hearthfire or laying them in the womb of earth to be reborn to a new life. The ancestors were invited in and those who lived carried the stories of those who were gone. Why grieve when there is no goodbye, only a farewell? Our sterile deaths, hidden behind closed doors and commercially sanitised, do not permit us such familiarity. I saw her death in all its raw beauty; saw her bones cleaned to white and marked with love.

mist-butterflies-flowers-nick-017

Yet there are tales of those who return, those whose Work is unfinished and who wait, outside of time, for completion. Is she such a one? Is hers a life that might have, should have, could have been? Or is she the spirit of the land itself, whispering and teaching, opening me to wonder?

I do not care what she might have been in a reality bounded by science and experiment. I care only for the vivid life that has touched mine and opened my eyes to a past forgotten. Perhaps she is no more than a waking dream. Or a deeper part of myself rising to the surface and clothed in her form. It matters little. Such as she is, she has touched heart and mind, bringing me to wonder as I learn from a wisdom deeper than my own.

For a long time she was nameless. I first saw her vision fly with the red feathered kites as the great birds soared above a sacred landscape. I have seen her, life on life, passing the ages of Man; some almost-living memory that waited and watched, until she could complete her Work. For a long time I knew her only as the Feathered Seer.

Now I know her name.

The Feathered Seer.

The Silent Eye Annual Workshop, April 2017

index1

“In a time before memory…
when the land was yet young and Albion unborn,
I dreamed the stars of a time yet to be.
I dreamed your becoming.
…I see you.
I called and you have come.
The time is now.”

Join us as we journey back beyond recorded history to a time known only in dreams and a place that still casts its shadow in stone upon our landscape. It is a time of peace and bright learning, a time when wisdom flourishes in the sacred colleges and a young Seer is nearing the end of her training. They came with sword and spear, raveners of the land, seeking to pervert and destroy the Keepers of Wisdom. Torches in the night… a world forever changed…

All are welcome. No special knowledge is required and you do not have to be a Companion of the Silent Eye to attend. These events are held so that people from all traditions may come together, share laughter and explore together what it eans to live a spiritual life in today’s busy world.

In the tradition of the Mystery Schools of old, we will each play our part in a series of fully scripted ritual dramas. The script will be read, it does not need to be memorised, nor is there any need to be able to act. Each person will carry a single role throughout the weekend. These ritual dramas are a psychological device through which we can explore spiritual concepts in a way that makes them come alive. The dramatic stories speak to the subconscious through the emotions; all of those who accompany us on this journey through time and imagination will find something unique and personal to carry out into the world and enhance their own lives.

Dates: Weekend of 21-23 April 2017

Location: Great Hucklow, Derbyshire Dales. England.

Accommodation is provided full board at the Nightingale Centre with inclusive prices for the weekend: £245 – £265 per person.

Click the link to download a pdf Booking Form for The Feathered Seer and reserve your place

For any queries please email: rivingtide@gmail.com

The Unseen Sea – 16: The Envy of Self

 

luca-scarabaa-basis-numsixteen

Part Sixteen of The Unseen Sea

Jason Rowbrook, our Foreign Office diplomat, is an example of an Enneagram Type Four.

We talked about the three primary figures on the enneagram’s nine points: Nine, itself, Three and Six. These three express the primary polarities of personality in the underlying trinity of how the self is formed.

To the left and right of these lie two other points, referred to as ‘Wings’. The Type Three, therefore, has Types Two and Four as its Wings; the type Six has Types Five and Seven as its Wings. Finally, the Type Nine has Types Eight and One.

These are illustrated below.

se-enneagram-for-wings

These are not simply arbitrary. Type Three is the home of the Image. Type Six is the home of Fear. A Type Three ‘pulled’ towards the characteristics of Type Six, is a good way of describing the Type Four, and would be a person who was strongly image-centric but fearful. This is simplifying things, but still sufficiently accurate for our purposes in this overview.

It is important to remember that these Types – expressed as characters in our narrative – are not separate within us, but form constellations within our psychological and spiritual makeup. We each have all nine of these types. But we have them in different proportions. One of them, however, will be dominant, and that will form the entire personality’s Outlook on the world and its life.

The detailed formation of that adult personality is beyond the scope of this series of posts, but it does conform to both psychology’s mapping of development and to what knowledge we have of the soul, which shares the journey through life with the body, in a beautiful dance of shifting polarities.

We may think of ourselves as a body which aspires to contact its soul, believing that the soul embodies that higher level of being and goodness. As we travel the landscape that is the magical enneagram, we find that we are, in fact, a Soul that has a body, rather than the other way round. The complex possession we call a self is really an artificial centre, formed in the brain after countless interactions between the body and the world, each of which produced a reaction, thereby obscuring the pristine world of the Soul which lies at our heart. The ego is made from reactions. Little wonder, then, that it is so fragile…

The ‘recovery’ of this true-self perspective is not as difficult as it may sound, since we are already that soul. We do need to be prepared to see the personality – the ego – for what it is. It has done what it was supposed to do, equipping us for the difficulties of adult life, in an often brutal and demanding world. Few people walk a truly spiritual path, for to do so is to cast off the familiarity of ego, and to work to see things as they are, which can be uncomfortable – though a much deeper level of comfort awaits us at the end of that rainbow of personal truth.

We have to start somewhere, and the enneagram gives us a good mapping as to our dominant Type and the relationship of that type to its world and the other aspects of our psyche. From there, we can work our way backwards into deeper and deeper realities – as long as we are prepared to counter the force of ego which colours our beliefs and perceptions and does not want its dominance threatened.

There is nothing negative about the ego; it does what it’s supposed to do. But those whose life has brought them to know the ego’s increasing weight cry, “enough!” and are on the verge of a new world when they view their egos as fuel for the spiritual journey, rather than the centre of life.

The enneagram is both precise and exacting in its instruction. It is worth learning the basics to make sense of what follows. It is a map–a map of a journey home. There can be nothing more spiritual than that.

Next time we will consider how the enneagram integrates the ideas of the Soul-Child and the Heart-Point. We will use all of this to reveal the true nature of Jason Rowbrook, and the challenges he faces with Maria, to whom he seems strangely bound…

End Part Sixteen

The Unseen Sea is an innovative, serialised introduction to the magical enneagram.

The Silent Eye School of Consciousness offers a low-cost, three-year home study programme which delivers a deep and experiential understanding of the Magical Enneagram.

For more information, email us at rivingtide@gmail.com.

Read the previous parts of this series:

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, Part Nine, Part Ten, Part Eleven, Part Twelve, Part Thirteen, Part Fourteen, Part Fifteen,

©Copyright Stephen Tanham, 2016 images and text. All rights reserved.