Being present

It was weird. I had set up the blog for while I was away with every post I would usually publish. During my absence, I still managed to visit the blogs I would usually read and answered all the comments. In fact, there was absolutely nothing to show I was not at home and at my desk. Even so, the number of page views halved. That happens every so often for no apparent reason and it is not worth even thinking about. This time, though, the stats had been that way for exactly the duration of my absence. I can understand the change when it is obvious that I am away, when posts and responses might be erratic, but on this occasion, there was nothing at all to even hint that I might not be at home.

“So, in effect,” said my friend as I pondered the enigma, “the only thing that is different is your presence.” He was right and that was an interesting idea. There was no observable alteration in my usual routine, but somehow, my lack of presence was communicating itself.

I suppose it is the same sort of thing as when you are speaking to someone who makes all the right noises at the right moments, but who is not really listening. They may be genuinely preoccupied with something else, or simply not interested, but what they are not is present… and you can feel it.

That you can feel it is easy enough to explain in terms of those infinitesimal changes in tone and body language that we learn to read from the earliest age. But you can generally feel it just as clearly even without the visual and auditory cues. Silence and stillness can communicate presence just as powerfully as they can show disinterest… so I got to thinking about the whole idea of being present.

 

We talk a lot about ‘living in the present’…as if we could ever live anywhere else. We might focus on the past or future, but we can only be in the present. Are we always present though? The answer, for most of us, is ‘probably not’. We spend a lot of our time living on autopilot… a useful knack for routine actions, but not the most effective way to drink the essence of every moment. Our attention, instead of being open wide, is either tight-beamed onto one focus or so diffuse that we take in no more than a general impression. Either way, we can miss not only the details but the heart of the moment too.

Many of us are not even present to our own professed beliefs. We say the words, without paying them a great deal of attention, but fail to put into practice what we truly believe we believe. Most of us are horrified by examples of injustice, prejudice and cruelty… and most of us will be guilty of them at some point in our lives. Teachings of love and kindness are ignored in the pursuit of success, ambition can overrule conscience and ego blinds us to our own reflection.

One of the things we do in the Silent Eye course is to share techniques to combat this lack of presence, and even the simplest exercises can dramatically increase our sense of ‘being here’ and our awareness of the world around and within us. It is surprising how small the changes need to be to open ourselves to being aware of our own presence in the moment. I wonder if it was through some trace of far memory or prescience that we learned to call a ‘present’ a ‘gift’…

For there is another kind of Presence too, that is only felt as we learn to be present. Call it what you will, define it as you must… it is heard in that still, small voice within, that echoes across eons and touches heart, mind and soul, opening the doors of perception to a wider experience of life.

In your own words…

There is a long tradition in esoteric circles of keeping a journal. It is a tradition to which Companions of the Silent Eye adhere, making a record of the thoughts, questions and realisations that arise from their own meditations and the work of the correspondence course.  There are many reasons for doing this, from the simple discipline of writing down these ideas to ‘earth’ them, helping to fix them in memory… for like dreams, such tenuous thoughts can easily dissipate…to leaving a record that might just help someone else who comes after us and reads them one day. Their most important function, though, is as a record for the writer.

When engaged on this inner journey, we stumble into strange areas of the mind, heart and soul and, like a traveller on an unknown path, we may bring back traces of meaning like dust upon our feet. We do not always know the value of what we carry until much later, when we and our understanding have begun to grow.

I picked up one of my early journals and, as is often the way, things written long ago come to my eyes as if written by another hand and heart. Meaning leaps from the page, revelations lurk behind each word and understanding dawns as if for the first time. And yet, the words which bring these gifts are my own.

How could I write what I did not understand? Where did the words arise to capture such ephemeral wisps of thought? Ideas, teachings, wisdom I do not possess stare back at me from the page as if they have materialised from some other reality where the hand that wrote them had far greater depth than I. And yet, I know that hand was mine.

The words written years ago have become part of the yellowed paper. Thoughts were manifested within the letters scrawled across the page. They have not changed. Yet I might have written in invisible ink for all the understanding I had brought to what I wrote. So, what has changed? The only thing that can have changed is me. The years, the continuous learning curve of life, the multitude of experiences, knowledge gained and illusions lost… all contribute to a changed perspective from which many things look different now from how they looked then.

Some revelations are simply that transition from knowledge to understanding; from an abstract and intellectualised concept to a living awareness. Some ideas become clearer as we are distanced from them; we can be so close sometimes that we cannot see anything but the detail and the shift in perception afforded by the passage of time allows us to take a wider view. There are many things in those pages that I did not even know I knew, but on some level, at least, I must have done so or they would not now be staring back at me from the past. It is an interesting experience when you realise that you have become your own teacher.

Although, we always are. No matter what life gives us to work with, we can only shape what we can hold in awareness… what we can perceive… and our perception is not pure but clouded by the accumulated layers of experience and reaction that have built up around us, so that anything that comes to us is seen only ‘through a glass darkly’. It can be a lifetime and the devil’s own job to chip away that accretion and change our perspective, because, , first we have to realise how securely we have immured ourselves, and the walls built by our emotions can be a veritable bastion.

Occasionally, though, the mortar crumbles and a gleam of light blazes through, illuminating that which was before our eyes all the time and then we sit back in wonder at how we missed something so obvious that it shines. And yet, when the gem we have missed comes from our own pen, we have to wonder where it sprang from in the first place.

Perhaps it was there all along. Perhaps there is a part of each of us that Knows… that doesn’t need to seek the answers, but which needs our conscious mind and heart to seek the questions.

I think, that on some level of being, we do have both the questions and the answers. We just don’t realise that we do. We can spend a lifetime in our search, only to find that what we sought had never been lost. The words on these old pages are gifts laid unknowingly aside in our blindness, waiting, like slumbering seeds, to spring into life and bloom when we are ready.

WHAT’S UP DOC? Lines of communication III…

*

… Bugs… The small rabbit came closer to his companion, lolloping on long hind legs.

“Let’s go a bit further, Hazel,’ he said. “You know, there’s something strange about the warren this evening, although I can’t tell exactly what it is. Shall we go down to the brook?”

*

Cara… “All right, Fiver,” answered Hazel, “and you can find me a cowslip when we’re there. If you can’t find one, no-one can.”

*

Bugs… Hazel led the way down the slope, his shadow stretching behind him on the grass.

They reached the brook and began nibbling and searching beside the wheel-ruts of the track.

It was not long before Fiver found what they were looking for.

Cowslips are a delicacy among rabbits, and as a rule there are very few left by late May in the neighbourhood of even a small warren.

This one had not bloomed, and its flat spread of leaves was almost hidden under the long grass.

They were just starting on it when two large rabbits came running across from the other side of the near-by cattle-wade.

Fiver had already turned away.

*

Cara… Hazel caught up with him by the culvert, “I tell you what, let’s go across the brook. There’ll be fewer rabbits and we can have a bit of peace, so long as you think it’s safe?”

*

Bugs… “No, it’s safe enough,” answered Fiver. “If I start feeling there’s any danger I’ll tell you. It’s not danger I feel tonight, it’s, oh, I don’t know, something oppressive, like thunder. I’m not sure what, but it worries me. All the same, I’ll come across the brook with you.”

*

Cara… The two rabbits ran over the culvert.

The grass was wet and thick near the stream and they made their way up the opposite slope, looking for drier ground.

Part of the slope was in shadow, for the sun was sinking ahead of them, and Hazel, who wanted a warm, sunny spot, went on until they were quite near the lane.

As they approached the gate he stopped, staring…

“Fiver, what’s that? Look!”

*

Bugs… A little way in front of them, the ground had been freshly disturbed.

Two piles of earth lay on the grass.

Heavy posts reeking of creosote and paint, towered up as high as the holly trees in the hedge, and the board they carried threw a long shadow across the top of the field.

Near one of the posts, a hammer and a few nails had been left behind.

The two rabbits went up to the board at a hopping run and crouched in a patch of nettles on the far side, wrinkling their noses at the smell of a dead cigarette-end somewhere in the grass.

*

Cara… Suddenly Fiver shivered and cowered down. “Oh, Hazel! This it where it comes from! I know now – something very bad! Some terrible thing – coming closer and closer.”

He began to whimper…

*

Bugs… “What sort of thing – what do you mean?  I thought you said there was no danger? “

Cara… “I don’t know what it is,” answered Fiver wretchedly. “There isn’t any danger here, at this moment. But it’s coming – it’s coming. Oh, Hazel, look! The field! It’s covered in blood!”

*

Bugs… “Don’t be silly, it’s only the light of the sunset. Fiver, come on, don’t talk like this, you’re frightening me!”

*

Cara…The sun set behind the opposite slope.

The wind turned colder, with a scatter of rain, and in less than an hour it was dark.

All colour had faded from the sky and although the big board by the gate creaked slightly in the night wind, there was no passer-by to read the sharp, hard letters that cut straight as black knives across its white surface.

They said…

to be continued…

Non-linear thought

“How could they have known?”
This is a question I have often asked myself… how could those who have gone before us have known where to begin with an idea that has changed the human world. Take radio, for example. Wiki says that ‘James Clerk Maxwell showed in theoretical and mathematical form in 1864 that electromagnetic waves could propagate through free space…’ That’s all well and dandy, but why and how did he ever start thinking along those lines in the first place? What was it that made him start looking for ways in which it might work? Where did he get the idea?

Where do ideas come from? You can imagine that faced, for instance, with a sealed can of beans, someone might come up with the idea of a can opener… but where did the idea of the tin can come from? Or, for that matter, the idea of pre-cooking already-preserved beans and putting them in metal tubes? You can see where necessity may have prompted that idea, but a can of beans is, after all, a small thing when placed against the grand scheme of human evolution. What about the big ideas? Those that have transformed the human condition and fuelled a leap forward in knowledge and understanding?

“Reverse reincarnation…” Stuart‘s descriptive definition was perhaps less than accurate, but it captured the essence of the conversation perfectly. It was one of those long and involved discussions where inspiration flows as freely as water. We had been talking about time, evolution and how the very first spark of an idea might come into being.

The concept of reincarnation is, for many, not so much a matter of faith but one of inexplicable certainty. A study conducted in 2016 by the Global Research Society and the Institute for Social Research suggests that over half the world’s population believes in some form of reincarnation. The details may vary, tradition to tradition, but the basic premise is the same. The soul, that fragment of the divine at the core of our being, returns life after life, in order to learn, assimilating the knowledge and understanding gleaned during each lifetime before moving on to the next.

It is a commonly held belief in esoteric circles that what has been learned in a previous life can be rapidly regained in this one if a person is exposed to the right circumstances. It has also been argued that those exceptionally gifted individuals, like child prodigies and those who bring something special to the world may have ‘carried over’ skills and talents acquired in former lifetimes.

We are accustomed to think of reincarnation as a linear progression over time, with souls coming into being early in the life of the earth and evolving with it. Perhaps a lifetime in ancient Egypt…always a favourite… followed by Rome, then the Dark Ages, the Renaissance…and so on. What, we wondered, if this was not the case?

Within the Mysteries, it has long been held that time is not linear, only our need for organised perception makes it appear so to the human mind. It might explain those glitches in memory we call déjà vu. Science puts it down to a processing fault in the mind where we only think we have recalled an event prior to its happening. If time is non-linear, perhaps the explanation is simpler than that and the phenomenon is merely a momentary widening of temporal perception.

The concept of non-linear time is now being ever more widely explored and accepted by reputable physicists and, while we of the ‘lunatic fringe’ may rejoice at science and mysticism approaching each other by yet another step, it does raise some interesting questions. Some of them can tie your mind in knots or make your head explode, but they are well worth exploring…

What, we thought, if non-linear time means that we do not necessarily reincarnate in a neat and linear fashion? If all time is but one time, we could begin a new life at any point in past, present or future. What if the man who made, say, the first radio, knew at some deep and unconscious level, that it could be done… because he had already experienced it in a previous but future life? It could explain the birth of so many incredible ideas and so many of the apparent leaps mankind has made over the millennia…

The conversation went on for some time becoming ever more complex and convoluted…and throwing up many more possibilities for consideration. But how could it possibly be of any use in day-to-day life to think that everything that will happen has already happened? There is little point in theoretical knowledge unless it can be applied and fulfil a practical purpose.

Within the Mysteries we are taught to ‘ask the question’…and that is where such theories may find their home. If the soul stands outside of temporal constraints and carries with it the essence of all experience, life upon life…and if time is not a straight line, heading off into the unseen distance…then we each carry within us all the answers we will ever need. ‘The answers are within you’ is one of those oft quoted phrases that may offer little practical help to life’s problems. Yet maybe it is more practical than it seems… and maybe those elusive answers really are within us, because we have already lived enough to know…

The go-ons and the come-ons…

Georgette Heyer is probably best known for her Regency romances and her knack of capturing an era and bringing it to light-hearted life. She also wrote detective novels and the two works for which I admire her the most… An Infamous Army, which is an account of the Battle of Waterloo and The Spanish Bride, about the Peninsula campaign of the Napoleonic wars. In both cases, the author builds her story around the lives of individuals, making the trials of the campaign personal and engaging the reader’s emotions.

In The Spanish Bride, Heyer tells the romantic and true story of Juana María de los Dolores de León, a child just out of the convent who was brought to the battlefield and consigned to the care of the British troops by her sister when their home was sacked after the fourth siege of Badajos. Fourteen year-old Juana was married a few days later to Harry Smith, a young officer with the 95th Rifles. It was no marriage of convenience, but a love-match and, refusing to be sent to England, Juana ‘followed the drum’, accompanying her firebrand of a husband on almost all of his campaigns.

Juana Maria de los Delores Ponce de Leon Smith, at the age of 17.

In spite of the romance of Juana and Harry Smith’s tale, the books are exceptionally well crafted. Heyer draws upon historical documents  and journals such as John Kinkaid’s ‘Adventures in the Rifle Brigade’ to capture the small details and atmosphere of the army on campaign. The books were responsible for an early fascination with the people who had lived and died during those wars and I spent a good deal of time as a teenager trawling through reference libraries to learn more about them in their own words.

Lt General Sir Harry Smith in later life

It is impossible, without delving back through those forgotten tomes, to say with any certainty which parts are dramatised fact and which are pure invention. One phrase that had a ring of truth came to mind, however,  when we were discussing the spiritual teachers, genuine and otherwise and how they gather a following in spiritual circles.

“The men say there are only two kinds of officers; the go-ons and the come-ons.”
Harry Smith in The Spanish Bride by Georgette Heyer.

The ‘go-ons and the come-ons’… it is an evocative phrase. In battle, it refers to the difference between those officers who lead the charge, inspiring their men to follow their example and those officers who stand safely behind the lines, urging the men onwards from the rear. There are practical considerations that may excuse the latter… but for the men in the field, risking their lives, it was clear that it was the ‘come-ons’, those officers who led from the front and shared the dirt and danger, who inspired the troops and gained their respect and loyalty.

It struck me how apt this phrase could be for describing some of those who become spiritual leaders and teachers. Most of them genuinely try to lead from the front… accepting their own role as no more than one amongst many, with just as much work to do as everyone else, teaching only that which they attempt to put into practice in their own lives. But there are undoubtedly a few ‘go-ons’… those who seem to sit safely ‘behind the lines’, raking in money and/or adulation from their followers, yet seeming to feel themselves above the need to adhere to their own teachings. Sadly, they can be very plausible too, presenting themselves as immaculate examples of humanity clad in souls of purest white.

Where does that leave the seeker trying to find a guide for those first steps on a spiritual journey? Myself, I think it leaves them in need of the very first of the ‘magical weapons’ with which he or she will have to gird themselves… wielding common sense in one hand and discernment in the other.

Spiritual teachings that speak directly to you can come from anywhere… a phrase in a book or conversation, an image or a dream, the lyrics of a song or poem… or even the life and land around you. You can stumble across them in the oddest places… and the source matters not at all. Only the effect on your life and understanding. The worst facets of human nature can still teach valuable lessons or be inadvertent agents of enlightenment… but you would not wish to follow their example.

The ideal situation for the seeker would be to follow the lead of that inner voice that never lies, but it is not always easy to hear above the ‘white noise’ of everyday life and uncertainty. Most of us will look for more accessible guidance in one form or another. It may be found in as abstract a manner as through the writings of a favourite author. We may seek it through a group or organisation…or we may choose to follow one of those charismatic people who are seen as spiritual teachers.

Before you commit your time, attention and energy to any path, system or organisation, let common sense be your guide. Does your chosen guide inspire you and lead you forward? Are they doing their best to walk the path they preach? Or do they make claims about themselves that make you feel uneasy? Ask for unreasonable contributions to their cause or coffers in either time or money? It is one thing to pay for a service, another altogether to be expected to put your wallet at their service.

It is to be expected that you should commit time to your progress and studies… you may have to buy books or pay for formal lessons, you will have to set aside time and attention for the work. You may choose to attend courses, seminars or workshops. But there is a vast difference between covering reasonable costs for which you can see a return and the demands made by those ‘prophets’ who appear to be pursuing nothing but profit.

Speak to other students or observe for yourself how or if their chosen path has changed them; the results of any spiritual path should be measurable. Those who  have walked away may not give the truest insight, but those who have followed any valid path should be marked by a growing joy, confidence and awareness of both themselves and the world. The best teachers are not always those who shine the brightest, but those who serve both their fellow seekers and the Light that guides us all.

The heart and the quiet inner voice will always lead us forward if we listen. The spiritual journey should not be a battle, but a joy… and the best guides we have are within.

Feeding the imagination

“We were not Gods, but were of God, the strands of our existence
not yet teased apart by Becoming, our function not yet defined.”

So much for a Saturday evening… the night of the week most folk sit relaxing by the hearth or meet with friends. Me? I was taking dictation from a Goddess…or that was what it felt like as I wrote.

I had done plenty of research, burying myself under a small mountain of respectable tomes to remind me of the details of the great story I was working with as I wrote The Osiriad. The names on the spines… Budge, Spence and Frazer, Iamblichus and Herodotus… suggested that ancient Egypt had something to do with the whole process, as would the printed papyri that littered the table. I had been feeding my imagination on tales of Egypt for years.

“There was a time we did not walk the earth.
A time when our nascent essence flowed, undifferentiated, in the Source of Being.”

But research isn’t everything. There are scholarly accounts in abundance out there with an academic weight I could never match. Nor did I intend to try. I hoped to speak to the emotions and imagination instead, so it was enough to get a broad overview of the subject. Having immersed myself in the  scholarly works, I set them aside to write, hoping to weave the disjointed myths of Egypt into a single story. Which is where it began to feel as if I was taking dictation… and I wrote non-stop until the book was done.

“We wore flesh like a garment, clothing our immanence…”

It is a curious process when, with the first keystrokes, the tenor of language changes and takes on a flavour all of its own. Even stranger when the character who is speaking in the narrative comes to life under your fingers and starts to ‘dictate’ aand you find yourself typing concepts you were not consciously aware of before writing them down. I think I speak for many who write with this. It is a well-known phenomenon that our heroes and heroines begin to act independently in the imagination and the writer becomes little more than an observer and reporter of events over which, it almost feels, they have no control.

I found as I wrote that tale that I was tapping into areas of understanding that had lain unexplored in mind and memory, shrouded in the cobwebs of neglect. There is far more stored away in our minds than we notice. We tap into it through practices like meditation and the creative process. The two, I think, are more closely aligned than we generally realise. Many who paint  slip into another state of mind, very similar to that experienced in meditation. Many who write will go back and find things they barely remember having written, things beyond their usual scope that they hardly recognise as their own. Things that surprise them with their depth or intensity.

Imagination is such a powerful thing. It is at the root of so many aspects of our lives yet we often dismiss it or fail to notice it. We even train our children away from its magic by telling them not to daydream or imagine things, pulling them back to reality. Yet every design, every concept, begins the process of its manifestation within the imagination of its creator. Every object we use began with a ‘what if’, every story was once just the germ of an idea.

It is imagination that fuels our emotions. What would we fear without that mental picture that haunts us? Would we strive to attain a goal without the image of success imprinted upon our mind? Yet it is a two-way process, for imagination feeds on memory and emotion too and they paint a vivid picture for it to work with. Think of the possibilities for change we could have by consciously harnessing these natural gifts we all have in abundance. It is this power of the imagination that is drawn upon by all the methods of positive thinking, and though many of the concepts they present may be flawed by the desire for profit and worldly success, the basic premise, that we can shape our own vision of reality through imagination, is sound.

Mystery Schools, including the Silent Eye, have always taught the power of the controlled imagination. Very often, though, in my experience, the power of the heart is neglected by the student, overlooked in their concentration on study, with the result that the focus becomes purely intellectual and loses the true meaning of such a path, which is to take understanding out into the life of the world and live it. It is by engaging the emotions in full awareness, in conjunction with the imagination, that the inner vision opens to allow exploration of the hidden corners of the mind and the realisations that come in this way can be truly astounding.

A Bibliomantic Tale III…

*

The Great Orme: summit.

*

Tee minus One-Zero hours and counting…

“Pages Four-Four and Four-Five.”

“It’ll have to be Nine.”

*

No 9 (Light)

‘I saw that God never began to love us… We have always been in God’s foreknowledge, known and loved from without beginning… We were made for love.’

– Julian of Norwich

*

“I mean, I know they’re designated Christian Mystics, but some of these don’t appear to be talking about the Christian God at all.”

“Not the exoteric Christian God at any rate, Julian was a woman. She wrote in the medieval period, hence the pseudonym.”

“A mystic and a woman, I’m surprised she survived.”

*

No 8 (Dark)

‘God is nearer to us than our own soul and God is the means whereby our Substance and our Sensuality are kept together so as never to be apart.’

– Julian of Norwich

*

*

“Last time I was here we walked up, the Orme, and work unearthing the Bronze Age mine had only just commenced.”

“Substance and Sensuality could easily be applied to both miners and archaeologists.”

“Let’s go take a look at what kind of job they made of it.”

*

*

“Well, looking at it from this distance, I’d be bound to wonder whether or not our, previously regarded as both ‘savage’ and ‘barbaric’, forbears had discovered the art of ‘fractal mining’.”

“If you mean, in marked contrast to the ‘war on earth’ that our ‘civilisation’ currently propagates, I’d be inclined to agree.”

*

*

“Shall we explore further?”

“Lead on, Mole, lead on…”

*

*

“Now we’ve gained the ‘heart of the earth’…”

“Gained, or were gifted…”

“…It may be time to take another reading.”

“Pages One-Nine-Nine and Two-Zero-Zero.”

“Let’s start with One.”

*

No 1 (Light)

‘Faith is certitude in existence. I think mysticism professes this. It is the mystic’s faith which enables him to transcend quotidian consciousness… The prophet takes over where the mystic stops. The mystic is ascent; the prophet descent.’

– William Everson

*

“And we’ve just come from the top of the headland!”

“I may have to look up ‘quotidian’.”

“It has to do with days.”

“Approaching the Ancient of Days.”

“Possibly, go on then, give us the shadow…”

*

No 2 (Dark)

‘Before the Pill the primacy of procreation in the sex life was so overwhelming that it had to be repressed, placed under taboo, strictly confined to the married state with enforced ignorance of its dynamic mechanism, because of the responsibility for the fate of children. The sex act could only be implied in legitimate expression. The explicit was confined to the pornographic and sold under the counter. With the invention of contraception in the modern world the taboo was softened and we began to get fairly explicit renditions, but there was nothing like amnesty. Not until the invention of the Pill was mankind’s apprehension sufficiently relaxed to feel safe with spontaneity.’

– William Everson

*

“Okay… That’s thrown me.”

“We are deep in the body of the Mother.”

“That’s true, but I think the quotation only holds for modern man.”

“Expound.”

“Spontaneity was afforded our ancestors because they still possessed maternal community.”

“It’s an interesting thought.”

*

*

to be continued…

A Bibliomantic Tale II…

*

Llandudno Bay: the Great Orme.

*

Tee minus Two-Four hours and counting…

No 3

‘The greatest religious and moral truth to which man must grow is that we cannot be saved individually. My salvation presupposes the salvation of others also, the salvation of my neighbour, it presupposes universal salvation, the salvation of the whole world, the transfiguration of the world. The very idea of salvation arises from the oppressed condition of man; and it is associated with a forensic conception of Christianity. This ought to be replaced by the idea of creative transformation and enlightenment, by the idea of perfecting all life. “Behold, I make all things new.” It is not only God that makes all things new, it is man too.’

– Nicolas Berdyaev

*

“The prefix ‘Llan’ in a Welsh place name means sacred.”

“So what was sacred about Llandudno?”

“St Tudno dwelt here.”

“And before that?”

“Before that it was the two Ormes, although they wouldn’t have been known as Ormes then. The Vikings named them from the sea. One finds ‘Great’ and ‘Little’ in place names too.”

“If Summer is ‘Big Sun’ and Winter is ‘Small Sun’ then, Summer is also ‘Small Earth’ and Winter is ‘Big Earth’.

“Why are we only using one quotation?”

“Because only one was chosen.”

*

*

“Ahem!”

Brown Rabbit was back.

“…The chosen quotation is the light reading. The non-chosen is the dark. Both are valid but for completely different reasons. The light reading is what can be seen in a given situation, the dark is what has to be intuited.”

*

No 2

‘The greatest error of which historical Christianity is guilty is due to the circumscribing and deadening notion that revelation is finished and that there is nothing more to be expected, that the structure of the Church has been completely built and that the roof has been put on it. Religious controversy is essentially concerned with the problem of the possibility of a new revelation and of a new spiritual era. All other questions are of secondary importance… The revelation of the Spirit cannot be simply waited for; it depends also upon the creative activity of man; it cannot be understood simply as a new revelation of God to man; it is also a revelation of man to God. This means that it will be a divine-human revelation.’

– Nicolas Berdyaev

*

Llandudno Bay: the Little Orme.

*

to be continued…

 

The Wyrm and the Wyrd: Getting there…

We took our time getting organised, intending to take a leisurely drive cross-country… perhaps stopping along the way, wherever the spirit moved us. In the spirit of the planned walk-and-talk weekend, the prisoners had escaped and were heading for the border. Anyone would think we were on holiday. We did ourselves. We should know better by now.

We may not have been heading for our respective places of work, but the Work that we do  when we are not at work…and even when we are… is not something that can be switched on and off. It cannot be neatly compartmentalised or assigned a designated slot on the timetable, to be dipped into when the fancy takes you; it is a state of being, not doing. Once a pinhole has been opened in consciousness, the pressure of life floods through in an unceasing current.

The problem is that the conscious mind is rather dense. It seems to forget, from moment to moment, that the flow is constant, even if our attention is elsewhere. Which is why the discrete presence plucking at your sleeve may go unnoticed until it sighs, gives up and hits you round the face with a wet kipper.

The first clue that we missed was my apparent reluctance to break our journey at a place we actually want to visit. I came up with no good reason and we sailed blithely by, choosing instead to take the coast road, rather than the more practical route to our destination. There was little to see for some reason. Nothing that caught our interest or eye apart from an odd glimpse of the sea and some rather spectacular castles perched on hillsides, where we could not even stop to take the odd picture.

Consequently, we had not actually broken the journey to Llandudno at all and arrived a bit deflated at our destination. There was a half seen glimpse of a sculpture as we sought the guest house where we would be staying the night, a flurry of activity to get booked in and settled,  then a rather half-hearted decision to go out and find dinner and check out the sculpture.

“It looked like the White Rabbit.”
“Odd, that, because this hotel feels a lot like the Alice-in Wonderland hotel in Cumbria…” That had been the Lutwidge Arms… a strange place with Alice on the ceiling; a last minute discovery on our wander up to Scotland… a trip that had set us off on a whole new phase of adventuring.
I glanced at the pictures on the hotel wall as I opened the door… and there was Alice.
“There must be some connection with Alice and Llandudno…”

We can, I think, be excused at this point. We were tired and the only wet fish we had on our minds came with batter, chips and mushy peas. The word ‘rabbit-hole’ would have had nothing to connect with anyway… The only entry to the earth we had encountered in ages was my accidental glimpse of Thor’s Cave.

We sat on the promenade for a while, beneath the fluttering Red Dragon, watching the sea and the flock of corvids who came to investigate… they too were probably ready for dinner.
“Shall we take a reading?”
At the informal weekends we ask our companions to bring readings that speak to them or capture the theme of the event. We had taken a slightly different approach this time and brought a book of mystical quotations that would be used following the old pronciple of bibliomancy. The pages, chosen at random but with intent, would hold a pair of readings. One of these would be selected numerically to represent the light, the other would be the shadow side.
“The light reading is what can be seen in a given situation, the dark is what has to be intuited.” 

Obviously intuition had already called it a day. We wandered back to the hotel, with its view of the Great Orme to the rear and the Little Orme to the front.
“Orme – worm – wyrm… It’s a dragon.”
“There are ancient mines on the summit…”
“We could have a wander up there before we leave…”

So, although the intuition wasn’t filtering through to consciousness just yet and we had managed to ignore the sleeve-tugging and even failed to register the wet kipper, we were, it seemed, finally getting there. So next morning, after breakfast, we threw the bags in the car and climbed the steep road up the Great Orme…