Codes, Codices and Codas…

ss‘Ego and Essence’

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To synthesise and to decipher symbolism requires contemplation.

Contemplation involves the mind in a simultaneous three-fold operation;
Review, Analysis and Enquiry…
When performed with honest intent the essence inevitably reveals itself.

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The Codices of the New Testament offer great scope for contemplation.

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A psychological approach to storytelling opens to us Esoteric Christianity.

Exoteric Christianity insists upon the historical authenticity of the Gospels…
…And posits the notion of a vicarious salvation via belief.
Esoteric Christianity insists upon neither of these two tenets.

Below is a comprehensive analysis of the story of the Marriage of Cana.

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Marriage at Cana

1. The Third Day…was a marriage at Cana of Galilee and the Mother of Jesus was there and also Jesus was called…
2. And wine having failed the Mother of Jesus said to him, ‘Wine they have not.’
3. Jesus said to her, “What… to me and to thee Woman? Not yet is mine hour come.”
4. His Mother said to the Ministrants, “Whatever he may say to you… do.”
5. There were six water jugs of stone placed according to the purification of the Jews holding each three measures.
6. Jesus said to them, “Fill the stone jugs with water.” And they filled them… up to the brim.
7. And then he said to them, “Draw out now and bear to the Director of the Apartment.” And they did so.
8. And the Director of the Apartment tasted the water becoming wine and knew not whence it is, yet the Disciples knew from whence they had drawn it, the Director of the Feast did then call the Bridegroom and said to him, “everyman at first the good wine set forth and when they have drunk freely only then the inferior but you have kept the good wine for Now.”
9. This, the first Sign of Jesus in his manifest glory at Cana in Galilee.

– John 2…

Relationships

Mother – Son = Stone = ‘Letter of Law’
Bridegroom – (Bride) = Water = ‘Spirit of Law’
(Husband) – (Wife) = Wine = ‘Divine Law’

Psychology

Director of the Apartment = Ego
Director of the Feast = Essence
Ministrants = Unredeemed aspects of personality
Disciples= Redeemed aspects of personality
Woman = Active Receptivity.

Teaching

All aspects of the personality are redeemed by active receptivity to Divine Dispensation.

 

Perspectives on Perception…

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ENNEAGRAM

The Circle is Time.

Six of the Nine: one-two-four-five-seven-and-eight,
Process through time.

Three of the Nine: three-six-and-nine,
Are outside time…

And Divine.

Yet still impact,
And impinge in time,
By impelling this processional motion.

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Six of the Nine can be represented by the six faces of a cube:
Enfolded and encased outlooks on the world.

Three of the Nine can be represented by the three dimensions of a cube
for dimension is always an adequate symbol for Divinity.

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Movement from one dimension to the next is a shock!

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What is the antithesis of one?
None, two or many…?

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For many years I laboured under the misapprehension that to glean the gist of a thing was to
have the mere rudiments of it which is almost the exact opposite of the word’s actual
meaning.

This can happen because of the context in which words are used and context
which has at least two viewpoints if not many more is really just another word for perspective.

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The World is predicated on number.
Mineral, Plant and Animal growth are all governed by number.
Music is number in time.
Geometry is number in space.

Neither the World, Music nor Geometry initially ‘looks’ very much like number but that is what they are.

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The qualities of number are the key to understanding this, which really means their properties and their relationships, each one conceived as distinct from all the others yet linked by natural sequence and logical progression.

Strictly speaking there are only seven numbers.
Zero is not a number because it is the negation of number
and is therefore both the ‘tomb’ and ‘womb’ of number…
One is not a number because it is everything, without which there would be no thing:
Not One Thing…
Nine is not a number because it is a completion and possesses all the qualities of Zero:
And although numbers go on for ever they always repeat from Nine…

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But Geometry can help here too because the way we see things affects the way we think about things and vice-versa. Whenever we come across a reversible we have reflection and the world, it has been claimed, is merely a domain of perceived reflections.

Plato’s Cave is the classic simile for this idea.
In order to affect the shadow play of the world screen one has to access the light source.

The outer can only be affected by changing the inner.

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Written in stone

Nine Stones Close
Nine Stones Close

There has been a bit of a preoccupation around here lately with stone. Between the recent and forthcoming workshops we will have visited a fair number of stone circles, standing stones and burial chambers and it might be tempting to think we are simply indulging our curiosity or even wafting around the stones of the past, in denial of the fact that evolution has taken humanity thousands of years away from the time and spiritual climate in which these stones were erected.

There is a temptation also to look at these stones and call them primitive constructions, or crude symbols, yet the planetary and seasonal alignments present at many of these sites, let alone the scale and sheer number of them across the landscape, suggests we need to reassess that misconception. While arguments smoulder about their purpose and significance, their beauty, mystery and the power of standing in their presence is undeniable.

Castlerigg
Castlerigg

We look upon these enigmatic stones from a position of greater knowledge of the world and indeed, the universe than at any other time in human history, yet we still look at the precision and beauty with which they were built with awe… and wonder if, for all our knowledge, we may have lost something. Did the Old Ones understand the world in a way we have forgotten? There are so many questions that will remain unanswered and any answers we are given will be accepted or denied according to our own predisposition.

Yet there are still things we can learn from looking at these monuments to our own distant past. Not all of those lessons need to be about the stones themselves, even if we simply observe through modern eyes, the stones can act as catalysts for our own progress towards understanding.

I remember a very interesting talk given by Steve some years ago, based on the work of Maurice Nicoll, in which he looked at some elements of the Gospels from a symbolic, rather than a literal viewpoint. He suggested that certain words refer not to physical objects, but to more abstract concepts. Three of the words he looked at were wine, water and stone. I can’t recall the exact terms he used, but roughly, wine symbolised spiritual truth, water living truth and stone the rigidity of dogma. Within the context of the Gospels stories, those terms work to shed an extra level of illumination on the parables. Such apparently coded symbols may have been common knowledge in an earlier era, much as the symbolism of the medieval wall paintings that look so strange to our eyes yet conveyed a clear message, in their day, even to the unlettered peasantry. Like any code of symbols, though, just because it works within one era and arena, it does not necessarily follow that the same meaning would be applied across all others.

Gardoms
Gardoms

Of the three words that Steve examined, his symbolic definition of stone is closest to our general use of the term. We speak of things being ‘written in stone’… like the Ten Commandments that were inscribed on the tablets… and therefore both unchanging and unchangeable. It is for this reason that it is so apt for describing the decline of living truth into mere dogma. Yet, I wonder if even the common definition of ‘written in stone’ should be set in stone?

Rock is part of the very fabric of our planet. You could say that it was formed from cosmic energies operating in earth. The elements that existed before the formation of rocks were gradually solidified to form the basis of our lands. Man recognises stone as a symbol of solidity and permanency; even today, we use it for our monuments because of its longevity and durability. In a more abstract sense, because of these same qualities, it represents truth and it is true that the truth as we see it, when it is set in stone and not allowed to grow can indeed become dogmatic.

When our ancestors built their monuments they began by using wood, a material in plentiful supply and relatively easy to work. Traces of vast monuments, such as Woodhenge and Seahenge, still remain. Yet timber circles were not enough. Our ancestors too chose to build their monuments… and in Britain that means the circles, the monoliths, cairns and chambers… in stone. The organisation and work involved with the simple tools we are told they had available at the time is staggering. You cannot imagine that they would have cut, shaped and carried up to eighty stones weighing up to four tons each, over the 150 miles from Wales to Stonehenge, for instance, unless they saw some great virtue in doing so.

long-meg
Long Meg

It can have been no arbitrary decision. Perhaps it was something to do with the Prescelli hills where the stones were formed, perhaps something to do with the qualities of the stone itself. We may never know. Either way, it was an incredible undertaking. The precision of the stones at Stonehenge, both their crafting and their placement, is well documented and many books have been written exploring the astronomical alignments built into the circle. It can only have been conceived with some kind of sacred purpose in mind, especially considering the labour it took, the manpower and the time, in order to raise the monument and the vast, sacred landscape in which it stands. Stonehenge may be the best known and visually the most impressive, yet there are over a thousand stone circles in Britain.

You can imagine the Old Ones lifting the stone with reverence from the earth, shaping it both to their needs and to its place in the landscape. You can see them placing it with care to exemplify and illustrate a living truth which made sense of their world, raising their beliefs to be written in the permanent language of stone.

stonehenge
Stonehenge

Yet stone is continually open to change. It is constantly being eroded and reshaped by the weather, even by the touch of human hands. It is destroyed by progress, cleared away, moved, re-used to suit the needs of later generations.  Its meaning, both as a symbol and as an exemplar of our ancestors’ beliefs, may be lost. Yet, the original message… the essence of what was ‘written in stone’… although invisible to later eyes, still remains encapsulated in the living stone they raised.

We will continue to build our monuments in stone to the truth that we see and their meaning too will one day be lost in the mists of time. Unlike our ancestors, we record our world… with new technologies that will also become obsolete. Five thousand years from now, there may be some knowledge left of the meaning and purpose of what remains of what we now build, but the true import, the understanding of the emotional, social, religious and political context, will have been lost. Stone is not a permanency, it just has a longer, slower life than we mere humans. It is in a constant state of change, just like the truth it symbolises. Even dogma will have its day and either self-destruct or slowly fade, replaced in the heart of Man with a new paradigm. But behind the truth and the reality we know and profess, there is a greater Truth, eternal and immutable. We may not be able to see it, but somewhere beyond our differences and arguments, beyond our ever-changing beliefs, doubts and systems, we know it is there. It is in this greater Truth that understanding grows and sometimes we may be able to catch a glimpse of it, written in the very stones of this little planet we call home.

avebury
Avebury

The Way to Dusty Death?

We were in Ulverston, Dean and I. We’d just climbed the famous ‘Hoad’ – a tall monument on the top of a tall hill that looks like a lighthouse… but isn’t. There’s some important symbology in that, but we’ll return to it later.

Light and dark….a walk in Glenlivet…including a view from the stone circle at the Doune of Dalmore toward Drumin castle…both scenes of coming derring-do on Sunday. Photo: Dean Powell.

He was on his way back from Somerset to northern Scotland – the Glenlivet area of the North Cairngorms, where he and his loved ones have their home. Our house in Cumbria is en-route, so the door is always open to break his journey. After a night involving Bernie’s excellent cooking and a glass of red wine or two, we decided that a local (ish) walk would put some air into the bloodstream for his second leg and return to the far north.

Ulverston is one of our local favourites. It’s about a half-hour journey up the fast Barrow road. A coffee in Ford Park and then the short but taxing climb up ‘The Hoad’ to get to the famous lighthouse that isn’t. It can be seen all over the expanse of Morecambe Bay. It’s actually a monument to the famous engineer Sir John Barrow.

We’d got our breath back by the time we got to the monument. The Silent Eye had recently carried out the ‘Jewel in the Claw’ spring workshop at Great Hucklow – our annual biggie. We had used a Shakespearean theme, casting one of our Californian visitors as Queen Elizabeth – ruling over a giant chessboard which was the royal court; and upon which the players moved with great caution… under her watchful eye.

Dean and Alionora had played two of the central characters: Lord Mortido and Lady Libido – death and life in the fullest sense. They were superb. Leaving the tiny village Dean had reflected that there might be scope for doing something else ‘Shakespearean’, in the form of a journey around Macbeth Country, centred in Grantown-on-Spey, not far from where he and Gordon live.

Now, on top of the world and next to the faux lighthouse, we began to discuss it in earnest.

It would involve several kinds of journey. First, it was a long way to travel; but we had all driven down to Dorset the year before for the similar summer weekend, so we knew we’d get the support from our hardy regulars…

Second, there had to be a dual journey in terms of both spiritual discovery and visiting the landscape. The event was to take place in a triangle of land between Grantown, the Findhorn Coast and the Macbeth castles just south of Inverness. There would be no lack of scenery! Dean had already assembled a set of places with that ‘special feel’, including a mysterious old church and a stone circle. Within this combined landscape he proposed leading a journey of self-discovery using an ancient magical symbol. Macbeth’s ‘witches’ had to be honoured – they were a very real force in the time of James VI of Scotland – and subsequently the English king on the death of Elizabeth I. Dean has an intensely esoteric background and is a qualified NLP therapist and teacher as well as the local leader of Lodge Unicorn n’ha Alba. He has recently developed the idea of the ‘magical matrix’ and proposed to use this to accompany our journey in the highland landscape.

I hadn’t realised until he told me that the Unicorn is the national animal of Scotland. The event would mix his Scottish team and the Silent Eye, and we proposed it be called the Silent Unicorn.

Somewhat pleased with the plan, we took the long and winding path down from the Hoad to have a fruitful cafe lunch in Ulverston.

And now it is upon us. Like Macbeth we must earn our keep (sorry) and ‘strut and fret’ upon the magnificent stage of the highlands. Our weekend’s tower must be a true one and not false. Only with that intent – that something deeper is afoot, will we attract the intellectual and emotional harmony that so typifies these Silent Eye ‘landscape journeys’. By the time this is published, we will be leaving Cumbria, to join up with friends old and new from across the UK. We all face a long journey; but a very rewarding one.

For more information on joining us for one of the Silent Eye ‘discovery in the landscape’ weekends, click to see our forthcoming events, here.

The road to Inverness awaits….

©Copyright Stephen Tanham

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit teaching school of modern mysticism that helps people find a personal path to a deeper place within their internal and external lives.

The Silent Eye provides home-based, practical courses which are low-cost and personally supervised. The course materials and corresponding supervision are provided month by month without further commitment.

Steve’s personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com.

A Harmony of Eight…

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The point sits at the centre of the square,

where its two diagonals intersect.

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From the same intersection, another square

can be drawn at right angles to the first.

Like this, we create eight equidistant points.

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By taking the original squares and extending all

eight sides, a new set of intersections is generated.

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The new Octagon, bigger than the first,

 is perfectly derived from its archetype.

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https://silenteyeblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/domeplan.gif

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Extending the sides of the Octagon generates another pair of larger squares.

The pattern is infinitely extendable around the point of origin with

perfect symmetry in every direction…

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A point indicates a location in space which is present but has no dimension…

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https://silenteyeblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/dragon.jpg

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Where be dragons?…

What links sacred sites, ancient and modern?

Are the clues all around us?

Do the keys to heaven lie hidden in the earth or are there keys to earth hidden in the heavens?

Where earth and time and heavens meet

Look to the dragons’ soaring might

To seek the circle’s treasure trove

And solve the riddles of the night.

Riddles of the Night…

Hidden in plain sight.

1st-3rd December 2017, Bakewell, Derbyshire.

Join us in Bakewell in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales to explore some of the ancient and sacred sites of our ancestors. The weekend will take the Companions on a true quest, seeking out the hidden magic in the landscape that echoes the magic of heart and soul.

The weekend is informal, no previous knowledge or experience is required. We ask only that you bring your own presence and thoughts to the moment.

The workshop costs £50 per person. Accomodation and meals are not included and bed and breakfast/hotel in Bakewell should be booked separately by all attendees. Lunch and dinner are usually shared meals.

Click below to

Download our Events Booking Form – pdf

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

 

Going west – the painted church

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It is difficult for our modern eyes to imagine the colour that would once have been present within our oldest churches. The carved and decorated facades, often covered with statuary, would have been brightly painted. Walls that we are used to seeing in mellow stone and whitewash, touched by the ochre ghosts of medieval paintings, would once have gleamed in the flickering candlelight as the frescos borrowed life from the flames and processed through the shadowed aisles.

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It is in the great cathedrals that we can still get a glimpse of the light and colour that provided such a contrast to the homespun world when dyes were expensive luxuries reserved only for the wealthy. At St Davids, a high, painted lantern still crowns the arches of the Crossing, drawing the eye ever upwards to the heavens.

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Delicate traceries of contrasting stone mark the vaulted ceilings of the chapels, punctuated by highly coloured shields and bosses displaying designs both armorial and symbolic. In the 13th century Lady Chapel at the Easternmost end of the cathedral, I saw a symbol I recognised, the three hares who share their ears.Each hare has two ears…yet only three ears are depicted.

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In Christian terms, it symbolises the Trinity, though it has older and other meanings that include and transcend the artificial barriers that we erect between our various cultures and religions. It is a symbol I frequently wear, reminding me of a much-loved friend whose physical presence is far across the ocean yet who is never far from my heart. Other bosses in the little chapel show the Dragon, the symbol of Wales as well as demonic creatures apparently devouring the unholy or perhaps just those who are tempted.

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Today our churches are comparatively pallid affairs with colour used sparingly, mainly in stained glass and textiles. There is still a sense of awe inspired by the scale and beauty with which you are greeted when you walk through their doors. In the older places though, with their vast proportions, lofty, lighted vaults and rich decoration, you can see how they must have appeared to those who visited them.

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To the lords and princes, the vast, ornate space would have spoken of power, both temporal and divine. From the ordinary folk, the overwhelming presence of that power must have evoked automatic obedience. To the pious, the beauty and craftsmanship would have seemed a fitting externalisation of faith made manifest in an attempt to echo the glory their inner hearts could see, while to some it must have seemed as if they were afforded a glimpse of a fragment of Heaven itself.

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There is much colour remaining at St Davids, from the painted ceilings to the stonework, from the fragmentary frescos to the gilded reredos behind the High Altar and the stained glass that punctuates the clear.

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Yet for me, it is the smaller details that may well pass unnoticed that, in bypassing the sense of majesty, truly capture something of the long history of the people who have passed through the portals of this ancient church. It is the traces of polished colour on the memorial brasses, like those on the tomb of Edmund Tudor, that speak of the touch of reverent hands or overzealous cleaning…

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It is the intricate rendering of Celtic designs whose symbolic meanings are probably far more potent than we now know but which speak to the inner mind in a language of geometry that seems to bypass logic and reach straight for the wordless understanding of the heart…

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Undoubtedly for me, it was the painted birds I was shown that bring the majesty down to human proportions. Such a simple painting, two magpies and an owl, hidden behind the arch of the carved stone screen of the pulpitum. Few would know it was there… few may notice it today, yet the birds seemed to bring something of the natural world into the unnatural magnificence of the cathedral.

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They reminded me instantly of another church… this one, just a tiny, single cell building that stands on a site held sacred since prehistory. It is the place where many of our adventures began and its peace and simplicity hold a very special corner of my heart. On the walls there too, an owl and a flock of birds were painted half a millennium ago in the simple ochres of the time. There, St Francis stretches out his hand to them, speaking to his fellow creatures with love… and, within the vast interior of the cathedral, it is the little painted birds that remind me that Love is the central tenet of the Christian religion, so often lost beneath the politics and power-play of man’s ambition.

St Francis and the birds, All Saints, Little Kimble.
St Cecilia, St Francis and the birds, All Saints, Little Kimble.

Going west – Pentre Ifan

Wales 117

It is a magical place. You are in no doubt of that as you walk along the path to the site. Hoary stones nestle in the hedgerow. Bluebells, those delicate woodland flowers that bloom only in spring, are blooming on the hillside at midsummer, scattered through the grass as if giving warning that here, time holds no sway and to step into the enclosure is to step out of this world’s realm and into another.

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Your first sight of Pentre Ifan takes your breath away. I saw it many years ago, on a day that invited no other visitors… we had the place to ourselves for hours and time to get a feel for this sacred space. And, although many things here may be debated and pondered upon by minds scientific or spiritually inclined, there is no doubt about its sanctity.

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It is the gigantic head of a bird that greets you, its beak held aloft by stone as insubstantial as a feather, looking out over the valley. Here, it is not just the stones that ‘get’ you. It is the place itself. Little wonder, when there are so many tales of the Fair Folk being sighted here, especially as the moon rises on a summer night.

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Some tales tell that they are red-capped and resemble small soldiers. Others, less forthcoming but more believable, speak of insubstantial beings, impossible to capture but who converse with those rare few who can see them.

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It was built around six thousand years ago and is the oldest of those we visited on this trip. The site sits within its enclosure still, even though the stones are largely lost within the edges of the oak wood and the hedgerows, the shape of the space can still be traced. There are all the usual debates over the purpose and construction of the site, and it is always referred to as a tomb. Here, I can see that, though not because of the archaeology. Very few finds have been discovered here and nothing to show that it was ever a burial chamber, which, in itself, seems a little odd for a tomb.  I wonder if it was part of the death rites, rather than a final resting place?  Or perhaps the death was more symbolic…a ritual initiation …a re-beginning…for the shamans.

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One legend about the place says that it was a druidic college.  Pentre Ifan was not always its name either… it was once known as Arthur’s Quoit, Coetan Arthur, like the first site we had visited. Arthur, as a legend, is a mere babe compared to the age of these stones, and I wonder why the warrior-king who sought the Grail was associated with them. Perhaps folk memory remembered something we have now lost and saw in these stones a portal to a different mode of being.

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A recent CGI reconstruction of the site by CADW inadvertently confirms my avian impression. My first thought when I came across it a couple of years ago was that the stone cladding of the mound that enclosed the stones and the sunken chamber that once lay within, looked remarkably like the hooded wings of our red kites  Thus, if the reconstruction is anywhere near correct, the Old Ones were enfolding those within in the protective wings of a great bird that turned its head back to watch the approach from the lowlands.

It seems almost irrelevant to give facts and figures about this place. The capstone is over 16 feet long and weighs around 17 tonnes. It is held on three orthostats, some 8 feet above the ground as it now stands; the sunken chamber would have made the distance even greater. It appears that the earliest structure on the site was an oval cairn flanked by dry stone walls. Later it was extended and became a long barrow around 130 feet long.

Wales 147

The central stone of the portal may have been the blocking stone for the final form of the tomb, or it may have originally been a standing stone on its own. Within the chamber was a felled stone, deliberately left, with traces of burning and older stone-holes. Eventually, a semi circular forecourt was created beyond the wider end of the capstone, which is blocked, but not supported by, the central monolith… a stone that looks remarkably like something I painted several years ago.

Wales 123

The top of the capstone slopes down towards the valley, as does the peak of Carningli that forms the western horizon of this remarkable site. But it is not the size, or the shape that is the overriding impression that seeing these stones makes upon you. It is not even the fact that, as Robin Heath points out in his book Bluestone Magic, Pentre Ifan, with Llech y Drybedd and Bardsey Island, form a precise north-south alignment that goes a long way to establishing the credentials of the long-distance surveying in which our ancestors were engaged.

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No, it is the elegance of the stones themselves.  Their delicacy and poise. The fact that the great capstone is held by nothing more than three needle-points of stone… that have held  it thus for millennia. Seventeen tonnes of stone that appear to hover above the ground, as lightly as a feather on the breeze, carried on slender shards with a precision that is simply stunning.

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If the CGI interpretation is anything like accurate, all this would have been buried under tonnes of earth. No one would have seen it. Is this, then, on a par with the sumptuous wall paintings of Egyptian tombs? A last gift to the dead?  Or maybe the stones were never covered at all? Or is it because they believed that those within saw with an otherworldly sight?

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The elegant poise of the stones is a confident expression of both skill and beauty. The false fragility of Pentre Ifan makes the earlier sites we had seen look like country cousins… heavier, cruder of construction, though not less powerful for that. It is as if the ancient ones tried their hands at the other sites before attaining perfection here…yet of the ones we had seen, Pentre Ifan is the oldest. Perhaps, then, this is the cathedral, built to show where the seat of power lies and the others are the parish churches where the ordinary folk do the real work of living and dying; simpler, but always full of life. But there is something about the place… something I would like to sit with in the silence and listen to on the wind. Perhaps it is that feeling that has given rise to the tales of the Fair Folk.

Wales 132

For the third and final time, our company gathered beneath the capstone and shared the Gorsedd Prayer. This time, we were granted the gift of hearing it read in Welsh and in that language it took on its true form, as if, like the stones, what we had known on the outside was only a pale reflection of its inner soul… a soul we were privileged to be touched by as it shone for a moment in the midsummer sun. We had not enough time to spend there, but we had enough. As we had arrived, a party was leaving the stones. As we left, another party arrived. It is often the way… as if by finding space for Spirit, It creates a space for us. That too is a gift.

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Seeing the sacred

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A recent trip to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford brought us face to face with history, covering many centuries and many cultures. One of the things that struck me was the quantity of objects that were associated with the sacred. It is perfectly understandable that this should be so as those things that are considered to be sacred, or be representative of the sacred, would doubtless have had a special value, both artistically and emotionally, and would thus have been more likely to be preserved for posterity than a cooking pot or hair comb, for instance and even more so than a simple jewel of mere financial value.

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The details of religious belief have differed widely throughout human history and across the world, but the underlying idea of sacredness in itself is common to all. There is a veneration of something we see as being greater than our human selves, worthy of respect and reverence. For our early ancestors the Earth itself was sacred. Later, gods and goddesses personified aspects of Deity with stories not unlike our own; we could begin to understand the abstract principles behind the Forces that were given such forms and understanding them began to be an intellectual pursuit as much as a question of faith.

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Many of the symbols of these ancient beliefs seem strange to our eyes, yet they are no stranger than, say, a crucifix would look to someone who knew nothing of Christianity. The symbols of religious belief encapsulate stories… and the stories themselves are symbols for a greater reality beyond conscious thought, but which speak to us on a level deeper than emotion. It is as if we have a capacity to understand the message of a symbol, even if we do not know its story. We have an inherent, if basic,  understanding of common symbols. The Horus Hawk speaks to us of soaring flight… the crucifix of suffering… the solar disc of light… and the green gods of fertile life.

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We recognise the sacred from across time and space, even if its symbols are not familiar and not our own. We may couch our understanding of them in terms of our own beliefs and fail to see their depth of meaning… but we recognise them as having been symbols of the sacred once upon a time. Some will reject them utterly, others accord them respect because of the faith they once inspired, but even to reject them as ‘pagan’ is to own their erstwhile sacrality.

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What is perhaps the oldest faith needs no symbols. We have only to look. We live, breathe and have our being within it. The fruitful earth is beneath our feet, the starry canopy of the heavens above us, the great fiery eye wakes every morning and warms the soil and its tears fall as life-giving rain. Our world qualifies as ‘bigger than Man’ and worthy of revernce.

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The sacred nature of our home is all too often overlooked and our modern consumer society treats our planet as a soulless resource upon which it can prey or scavenge without consequence, even though we, as individuals, know that to be untrue. If we render our home unfit for human habitation, it is we who will perish, not our planet. It may take a few thousand years, but Man’s depredations will be erased by the fertile earth when we are no more than a crumbling forgotten memory.

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Our ancestors knew a thing or two worth the knowing. We have only to look at the inner meanings of ancient myths to realise their phenomenal understanding of the human psyche. We have only to study the stellar alignments and geometries of their monuments to see how advanced their practical knowledge may have been without the benefit of our telescopes and computerised instrumentation. Perhaps it would be worth according their belief in the sacredness of the earth a little respect too. We are surrounded by miracles every day. They are not forgotten symbols of ancient faith… they are cherry trees in flower… bluebell woods… a soaring hawk… a loving touch or a laughing child. They are all the small, familiar things that are not gods, not gilded or jewelled… but they are reminders, symbols, of a life greater than our own and worthy of reverence.

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