Full Circle: Long Meg


Our final site of the day was to be one of the most astonishing circles we have visited. It is not the biggest, nor are the stones themselves the largest, but it has a ‘feel’ unlike any other. Castlerigg. That we would visit on our final day of the workshop, may rightly be accounted one of the most beautiful of circles, but what Long Meg and her Daughters lack in aesthetics, they more than make up for in sheer presence.

On our very first visit, the light had been going and the winter dusk had been bitterly cold. We thought we knew what to expect…after all, we had seen enough photographs of the place. I had even a vague memory of having been taken there as a child. Yet, we had rounded the corner and been ambushed by the stones. Getting out of the car, we had literally bounced with excitement, like children at Christmas. The site was more, far more, than we had expected.


For a start, the narrow farm track that is signposted for the ‘Druid Circle’ gives no warning when you are about to arrive. It does not stop at the edge of an enclosure or parking space… it carries on, straight through the circle, skirting stones that divide the track at one point. When we arrived with our party for the workshop, our passenger too felt that ‘psychic shock’ and was, moments later, out of the car and bouncing up and down like an excited child.

The short winter’s day was drawing to a close and we would be in the circle at sundown. Unlike our last visit, equipped with cameras, the fading light would not linger and we lost no time in sending our party out to explore and attune with the stones.

Captured from Google Earth

The circle is huge, the sixth largest in Northern Europe, and not really a circle at all. It is an oval, formed from the geometric form of the vesica, and some three hundred and forty feet across its longest axis. Although legends say that it is bad luck to try and count the stones, the usual count puts them at fifty nine stones still in situ out of the seventy original stones. The whole thing was once surrounded by a low embankment, which may have been white-faced with gypsum, allowing it to glow.

Long Meg herself is the solitary standing stone who watches over her ‘daughters’, which are the stones of this Bronze Age circle. Legend says a coven of witches were put to sleep and petrified by a Scottish wizard named Michael Scot. His surname may indicate his origin north of the border, but Michael harks back to the Saint of that name who is so often shown with the dragon held quiescent on the point of his lance. The dragon power of old Albion, associated with the leys, was seen as pagan and therefore ‘evil’ by nascent Christianity and knowledge of its ways driven underground. Perhaps the dragons, like the stones, merely sleep…


The circle was built as part of the megalithic tradition which began around five and a half thousand years ago. The exact date of the circle and the surrounding enclosures and embankments is uncertain and its precise purpose is unknown, though much can be deduced. For a people who, like our ancestors, constructed interrelated sites across vast swathes of the landscape, it is probable that there is a relationship between this site and others in the area, including Little Meg, two fields away, and the henges we had visited. Not far away is the sacred landscape and Avenue at Shap… and you have to wonder if, as at Avebury and Stonehenge, these features formed part of a greater plan…and if so, did it echo the map of the heavens as our ancestors once saw it?

There are larger stones in circles across the country, but the stones are far from small. The four quarter-stones are not local and are quartz-bearing. Most circles are built from a single type of stone, perhaps with a quartz-bearing stone, or even an entire boulder of quartz, such as we had seen at Boscawen-Un. Here, however, Long Meg herself is a column of red sandstone that sparkles in the sunlight and which, with the quartz-rocks, differs from the rest of the circle. The technology of stone as it was known to our ancestors may be lost to us, but we have echoes in the use of crystal for both healing and communications technologies. Their choices of stone were not only deliberate but significant.


The arrangement of the stones suggests a calendrical function that would work by standing outside the circle and sighting across to the to the quartz stones. Long Meg herself, standing outside the circle, is part of a Samhain alignment with a portal stone and one of the quartz rocks.

Long Meg is a magnificent presence. Standing twelve feet tall, she is ‘tattooed’ with concentric circles and her uppermost surface is notched in the manner we have so often seen. This may be simple erosion as is often averred, or the weather may have exaggerated an existing feature, but whenever we see this kind of notch we are struck by its similarity to the sight on an old-fashioned firearm. And this, we believe, was its function.

Between anecdotal observations and the mathematical precision survey work such as that conducted by Professor Thom’s, a good many astronomical alignments have been proposed and observed, indicating alignments at solstice and equinox and particularly with Deneb, the brightest star in the constellation Cygnus. Deneb heads the Northern Cross in the heavens and, along with Vega and Altair, is one of the three stars known as the Summer Triangle that was used for navigation right up until the twentieth century, helping pilots find their way home. There are physical alignments within the landscape too and while the entrance to the circle frames the hills, their form is shadowed in he contours of the stones.

As the day drew to its end, we gathered around Long Meg, focussing our minds and breathing. Closing our eyes, we once more sounded our ‘words of truth’, this time giving voice to the vowels which are the flowing seeds of sound. It is odd, but the voice changes when you work in this way; sound emerges unrecognisable from your throat as if illuminating hidden corners of your being. The words ‘breath of Creation’ passed through my mind, listening to the anonymous voices joined in unplanned harmony.
As we ended our day, the light failed and the clouds broke, allowing a final glimpse of the sun setting behind Long Meg. Wishing I had not left the camera in the car, I reached for my phone, just to mark the moment. The stones were alive, glad, I felt, for our presence and glowing faintly in the twilight as the sky itself offered us a final gift.

Full Circle: A Seat at the Round Table?

Three weeks before the workshop, Stuart and I had headed north to walk the ground. Most of the sites we already knew, but there were a couple we had not visited in person and, if at all possible, we will check each site before taking others there. Small details like where to park, warning of muddy paths, unadvertised entrance charges and the proximity of coffee and conveniences can make the difference between a successful weekend and an uncomfortable disaster.

These reconnoitring trips serve a dual purpose though. They are not only practical, but they allow us to get a feel for the landscape too and will, fairly often, see us change an itinerary we thought was set in stone. This trip did just that, although it waited until the very last minute to tell us so.

Lacy’s Caves ~ Geograph © Copyright Andrew Curtis, Creative Commons Licence.

We had finished for the weekend, seen all the places we needed to see, except one of the sites which had been going to play a central part in the workshop. We thought we had found a perfect place, sheltered from the wind and any foul weather, but every way we attempted to reach it seemed intent upon putting barriers in our path. Impassable mud and fallen riverbanks meant that we had to reconsider taking the party to Lacy’s Caves, a folly built by the man who had wanted to blow up the local stone circle. The story goes that the attempt ended in disaster and Lacy had a change of heart. The caves were later built for some unknown purpose, and although they may simply have been a folly, there has been suggestions of ritual activity on the site. Subsequent investigations made us feel we had not been meant to go there. Some types of ritual activity can leave behind an unpleasant psychic atmosphere… and these caves reminded us of the Hellfire caves infamously used by Sir Francis Dashwood.

Image result for hellfire sue vincent
Hellfire caves, Sue Vincent

So, by the end of our ‘recce’, we were a site down, but had replaced it with another small visit. We would have enough…but it felt as if something were missing as we began the long trek south and east. Before we left, though, we would try and find another place we had heard of that tied in loosely with our theme…

“What’s that?”

“What the…?”

Our simultaneous exclamation would have left a casual observer wondering what on earth we were talking about. Driving down the road in search of the site, we had both seen a field bounded by walls and traffic…and both been hit by that phenomenon of recognition that we are calling ‘psychic shock’. Thinking back, there was little to actually see from within the low car. We should barely have registered the site… and yet it had hit us like a ton of bricks. Parking the car, we went to investigate… and within a very few minutes, had added two more sites to our list for the weekend as well as expanding the theme quite considerably. So, on the second day of the workshop, we gathered close to the site and walked our companions to King Arthur’s Round Table.

King Arthur’s Round Table is a late Neolithic henge, around four thousand years old. The circular ditches and embankments are what constitutes a henge, enclosing a central flat platform which was used by the community. These sites are feats of engineering and would have needed a substantial community to come together, united by leaders, belief and a shared vision of what was really important to the life of the community. While some speculate that these are purely practical affairs, designed to be used as marketplaces, arenas for entertainment and gatherings, it seems unlikely that such a space would be constructed, with so much human effort and then hallowed by burials, for a purely pragmatic use.

It is far more likely that these monuments, especially when they invariably form part of a much wider sacred landscape, were designed primarily for ceremonial use. Exactly what those rituals and ceremonies might be we cannot know for certain, but we can make a few deductions given the archaeological evidence, a knowledge of so-called ‘primitive’ civilisations worldwide and the sites’ alignments with astronomical events.

It is likely that the turning of the year…the solstices and equinoxes… were observed, measured and predicted at many of these ancient sites. Stellar, solar and lunar alignments are common, as are alignments with other sites in the area and there are many close to the Round Table.

There may be burials or inhumed cremations, placing these sites in the realms of the ancestors, where the elders of the clan might mediate between this world and the Otherworld. One companion suggested that this might be a place where the clan Elders were ‘made’… a ceremonial installing of one who has reached venerable status.

King Arthur’s Round Table at Eamont Bridge, after William Stukeley, 1725, also showing the now-destroyed Little Round Table to the right.

King Arthur’s Round Table has been much damaged in the modern era and is sliced through by modern roads. There used to be two entrances, marked by standing stones. Excavations revealed a central trench had once existed where burial or cremation ceremonies may have taken place. The banks would have been higher than they now stand, the ditches lower, and the whole part of the wider ritual landscape which includes the many sites around Shap. There was once another  and much smaller henge, the Little Table, now almost entirely destroyed by roads and building, just a couple of hundred yards away.

The modern A6 that runs alongside the Table was once, in part, a Roman road. Many of these Roman roads, characterised, as we are taught in school, by the way they run straight across the landscape, may themselves be part of a much more ancient network of ‘old straight tracks’ that link many of the ancient sites. Kemp Howe stone circle now lays largely beneath another ‘straight track’ just ten miles away… mostly obliterated by the modern railway line. It is one of many circles and monuments in the remarkable Shap complex that we would have loved time to explore.

For now, though, we encouraged our companions to explore the Round Table, where legends say Arthur’s knights once jousted. The site is thousands of years older than the legends of Arthur and Merlin, but perhaps not older than the archetypes they may represent… the warrior-king whose fitness to rule depends upon his ability to bridge the worlds, and the mage-priest who was his bridge, his messenger and the gateway to the Otherworld.

We gathered for a meditation before leaving the site. We were impressed… only confirmed megalithomaniacs, we thought, would find this site interesting for more than a few minutes, but they had chosen to spend almost an hour there. What, we wondered, would they make of the next site… and what we wanted them to do there…

Captured from Google Earth

Being Beyond Seeing…

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One of the ‘hardy perennials’ on many of our workshops is the thorny problem of intent.

Thorny because much of what we now see may not have been originally intended by the erstwhile perpetrator or perpetrators, yet some of what remains most definitely was!

On our recent sojourn around Cornwall, having been cruelly divested of our guide book, we still managed to find one particular unsought spot ‘blind’, as it were, and this is pretty much the task we had now set our Companions…

The telluric current we were ‘following’ passed through the remains of Penrith Castle and on through the site of the Old Church.

The legends that attach themselves to these sites in many cases assume the outward appearance of unbelievable ‘gibberish’ and most certainly do not follow the reasonably delineated form of history, official or otherwise…

And yet, the wry smile which they inievitably engender, the moments reflection which they sometimes inspire, if held onto, and wondered about, and returned to, and nurtured, may well turn into a personal revelation carrying more truth than any spuriously contrived history.

Did Arthur’s Knights ever fight Dragons was the unspoken question gnawing away at the fringes of consciousness? There were none which immediately sprang to mind. And if not, then why not? Given their raison d’etre it would, at first sight, be an obvious way for them to spend their time.

The telluric current we were ‘following’ specifically passed through the body of Penrith Parish Church and was marked on either side by a Sun Dial and a conglomeration of stones which now goes by the moniker of the Giant’s Grave.

The plinth on which the Sun Dial now stands is undeniably late, but has it recently replaced a much earlier one? The conglomeration of stones are much, much, earlier but how long have they been associated with a Giant?

Perhaps, at least as long as the story of Yvain and his friendly lion…

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The Anunnaki…

 

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The Anunnaki… Cometh!

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…They drinketh the dew of Heaven.

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…They eateth the fruit of Earth.

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LORD OF THE DEEP: THE QUEST FOR IMMORTALITY
A DRAMATIC RETELLING OF THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH

The Oldest written story known to man…
What spiritual treasures lie hidden in this, five thousand-year old, Epic?
What can this ancient civilisation teach us about the questions of existence?
Join us on this quest of a life-time, next April, to find out…

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‘Gilgamesh is among the greatest things that can ever happen to a person.’
– Rainer Maria Rilke.

Fully catered weekend package, including room, meals and workshop: £235 – £260

Click here to download Booking Form

Contexts: kingship…

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Kingship was the only form of government in Ancient Mesopotamia.

It was ordained by the Gods for the guidance and prosperity of people and cities, to maintain order and to protect the wealth in society.

Among the kingly duties were military leadership, priestly functions, law-giving and city building.

When kingship broke down so did law and order, with terrible consequences.

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 … “We are talking ‘Divine Kingship’ here, are we not?” asks Wen.

“Possibly… Possibly, not. It is not exactly clear is it? One thing is apparent though.”

“Oh yes?”

“At this juncture in time the institution was already ancient.”

“What makes you so sure?”

“The kingly duties listed here would originally have fallen to different individuals.”

“You mean, our king has been busy usurping the functions of his ruling elite?”

“Something like that.”

“Naughty, naughty, Mister Kingship!”

“Indeed! In cases such as these we may even have to consider the introduction of terrible consequences before the break down of this venerable institution.”

“Oh, Don, you say the kindest things.”

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LORD OF THE DEEP: THE QUEST FOR IMMORTALITY
A DRAMATIC RETELLING OF THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH

The Oldest written story known to man…
What spiritual treasures lie hidden in this, five thousand-year old, Epic?
What can this ancient civilisation teach us about the questions of existence?
Join us on this quest of a life-time, next April, to find out…

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‘Gilgamesh is among the greatest things that can ever happen to a person.’
– Rainer Maria Rilke.

Fully catered weekend package, including room, meals and workshop: £235 – £260

Click here to download Booking Form

Religious Syncretism…

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“Then, Samson went down to the vineyards of Timnath and a young lion roared against him.

The Spirit of the Lord came upon him so that, with nothing in his hands, he rent mightily the lion as though it were a young goat.”

Judges 14

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“And then Samson found a jawbone of an ass and he took it and with it he slew heaps upon heaps of men to the number of a thousand.”

– Judges 16

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“You know, I’m not sure syncretism is quite the right word,” says Wen, eyeing the icon of Gilgamesh with some trepidation.

We are in the British Museum doing ‘research’ as Wen likes to call it.

‘Pick up your staff and pen,’ she said, ‘we have work to do.’

Which means in Wen-Speak, among other things, more churches…

“Your doubts are probably well founded. Mr Graves called it ‘iconotropy’ – turning religious iconography to new religious purpose.”

“Oh, him again. No one knows who Robert Graves is.”

“Well, they should! Anyway, in ‘King Jesus’ he has a Priestess of Astarte and Joshua-ben-Miriam go through a whole series of cave-bound images with each of them giving a different yet perfectly valid interpretation of the self same icon.”

“Cave-bound?”

“Inscribed in a cave.”

“It hardly seems possible.”

“Religious interpretation, I should have said.”

“It still hardly seems possible.”

“Why isn’t anything, anything else?”

“You’re being obscure again,” says Wen.

“It’s what we bring to the table!”

“I like that,” says Wen, looking slightly perturbed as I hone in with a Gob-Stopper to hand.

“ifzattthicklynekxazzery,” says Wen, her mouth full of Gob-Stopper.

“Our own journey is entirely imaginary,” I continue in my obscure way, “that is its strength. Longman says so and he is never wrong.”

“Oooh, the Long-Man of Wilmington,” says Wen having now unceremoniously discarded the Gob-Stopper, “now there’s a thought.”

“So, that’s that then…”

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LORD OF THE DEEP: THE QUEST FOR IMMORTALITY

A DRAMATIC RETELLING OF THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH

The Oldest written story known to man…
What spiritual treasures lie hidden in this, five thousand-year old, Epic?
What can this ancient civilisation teach us about the questions of existence?
Join us on this quest of a life-time, next April, to find out…

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‘Gilgamesh is among the greatest things that can ever happen to a person.’
– Rainer Maria Rilke.

Fully catered weekend package, including room, meals and workshop: £235 – £260

Click here to download Booking Form

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Why Myth? IV…

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‘Gilgamesh is among the greatest things that can ever happen to a person.’
– Rainer Maria Rilke.

Those of you with an eagle eye will have realised that next year’s Silent Eye, Spring Workshop has a mythological theme.

It is based upon The Epic of Gilgamesh which is a story worked up into its present form over four thousand years ago.

Prior to its re-incarnation as an epic poem it existed as five independant mythological episodes, which, as we traditionally split our April Workshops into five ritual dramas tends to suit our purposes rather well.

But why do we insist on revisiting the past in this way?

It is our contention that drama as we now have it derives from sacred drama as practised in the mystery temples of old where it was used to develop the psyche of the neophyte and initiate them into the sacred and secret realms of higher living and life.

A contention spectacularly borne out whilst working on Leaf and Flame in 2016, when the Arthurian Mythos which we used as the basis for the weekend revealed itself to be one strand of the Hibernian initiation sequence.

This year we will concern ourselves with the nature of the Planetary Being and how the processes worked out in the here and now relate to and body forth the wider workings of the Cosmic Undertaking.

We will be retaining the Sumerian setting of Gilgamesh’s epic tale but drawing on all currently available sources of the story and feeding this through the matrix of the Enneagram in order to bring you five dramatic rituals of high magic, no little mayhem, and the customary dose of madcap mysticism which we hope will ultimately culminate in something of a spiritual transformation for all those involved.

But that is also down to the participants.

With an interactive agenda of talks, meditations and practical presentations we think that the Nightingale Centre, nestled deep in the Derbyshire hills, is the place to be on the weekend of 26th – 28th April 2019.

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A Dramatic adaptation of The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Oldest written story known to man…
What spiritual treasures lie hidden in this, five thousand-year old, Epic?
What can this ancient civilisation teach us about the questions of existence?
Join us on this quest of a life-time, next April, to find out…

Fully catered weekend package, including room, meals and workshop: £235 – £260

Click here to download the Booking Form

For further details or to reserve your place: rivingtide@gmail.com

Lord of the Deep: The Quest for Immortality

26-28 April, 2019 – Great Hucklow, Derbyshire

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Derbyshire Delights…

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It was over 14 years ago now in March 2004 that I first sampled the delights of Derbyshire at a Mystical Weekend in the Nightingale Centre, Great Hucklow.

In those days I was a relativley new member of a worldwide Mystical Order and the idea of a ‘Weekend Retreat’ amongst strangers was unfamiliar and rather daunting.

I recall a moment of panic on my way to this remote spot as the bus from Sheffield headed deeper and deeper into the Derbyshire wilds… ‘It’s in the middle of nowhere,’ I thought with mounting hysteria, ‘we could all be murdered in our sleep and no one would ever know…’ I can now smile at such momentary fears brought on no doubt by a teenage staple of Dennis Wheatley and H.P. Lovecraft but there is a legitimate question here for those with no experience of such matters.

‘What does one do on a Mystical Retreat?’

Well that depends of course on which particular school is running the retreat and what the particular brief or theme for the weekend is.

My first retreat was a heady mix of group and private meditations, and informative and engaging talks and presentations by members of the Order of which I was then part.

But that is to describe only the formal aspects of such events; there is usually between the scheduled programmes plenty of time to commune with fellow participants or if one prefers time enough, to simply be alone with nature in the peaceful surrounds of the centre.

…But really the best answer to such an enquiry is, ‘one needn’t do anything on a Mystical Retreat, it is far more effective to simply be… and see where it leads.’

The annual trips to Derbyshire became something of a pilgrimage for me and with continued presence my involvement in the formal running of such events grew…

…In 2011 and now under the aegis of a Magical School but again back at the Nightingale for a weekend retreat our lodge staged a four act dramatic ritual which focused on the search for the philosopher’s stone.

Very ‘Harry Potter’ and all rather grand sounding but really it is just a group of life-affirming people with common purpose exploring together the notion of that which is more than the sum of its parts.

And in 2013 and now as the inaugural event of The Silent Eye School of Consciousness, the four act drama had become five acts and a tradition had been put in place which we hope will continue long into the future…

The dramas are script led and no prior experience is assumed.
There is no audience because everybody participates so there is no pressure and no one to mind if a ‘mistake’ is made…

In the words of one recent attendee: ‘It’s beautiful, it’s fun, and it’s profound.’

No one has been murdered, of course, but a goodly number of folk have returned from our events with their sense of life purpose refreshed and renewed and their belief in the spirit released to soar…

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We hope you can join us in 2019 for, Lord of the Deep: The Quest for Immortality

A DRAMATIC RETELLING OF THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH

The Oldest written story known to man…
What spiritual treasures lie hidden in this, five thousand-year old, Epic?
What can this ancient civilisation teach us about the questions of existence?
Join us on this quest of a life-time, next April, to find out…

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‘Gilgamesh is among the greatest things that can ever happen to a person.’
– Rainer Maria Rilke.

We will be delighted to see you.

Fully catered weekend package, including room, meals and workshop: £235 – £260

Click here to download the Booking Form

For further details or to reserve your place: rivingtide@gmail.com

Lord of the Deep: The quest for Immortality

26-28 April, 2019 – Great Hucklow, Derbyshire

Hunting the ‘Tree Demon’…

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…”Where Hu-Wa-Wa comes and goes becomes a track and all those ways are well trodden.

As Hu-Wa-Wa passes through the forest the birds begin to sing…

Wood-Pigeon moans.

Turtle-Dove coos in answer.

As Hu-Wa-Wa passes through the forest the animals call…

Monkey-Mother shouts.

Monkey-Child shrieks.

Like a band of musicians and drummers the birds and animals

bash out their rhythm daily in the presence of Hu-Wa-Wa.

Hu-Wa-Wa hears all the sounds of the forest.

Even the faintest rustling amongst the leaves.

Who amongst Gods or Men can enter his domain and defeat him?”…

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The Silent Eye’s Spring workshop for 2019

THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH

The Oldest written story known to man…
What spiritual treasures lie hidden in this, five thousand-year old, Epic?
What can this ancient civilisation teach us about the questions of existence?
Join us on this quest of a life-time, next April, to find out…

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‘Gilgamesh is among the greatest things that can ever happen to a person.’
– Rainer Maria Rilke.

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Fully catered weekend package, including room, meals and workshop: £235 – £260

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Click here to download the Booking Form

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For further details or to reserve your place: rivingtide@gmail.com

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Lord of the Deep: The Quest for Immortality

26-28 April, 2019 – Great Hucklow, Derbyshire

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