WHAT’S UP DOC? Lines of communication II…

*

…Cara: If we can’t trust the written word what can we trust?

Bugs settles at the West and Cara at the East.

Bugs: Vertical Polarity!

Cara: recites…

OL SONUF VAORSAGI GOHO IADA BALTA.

ELEXARPEH COMANANU TABITOM. ZODAKARA,

EKA ZODAKARE OD ZODAMERANU. ODO KIKLE

QAA PIAP PIAMOEL OD VAOAN.

Bugs: (Addressing the Companions) Don’t say what this is but if anyone does know what it is please raise your hands. (If any hands are raised to each of those who raised their hands) – Just say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Do you know what it means? (if so) – Please don’t take part in the next bit. So, everyone else.  Those of you who feel that this piece holds power, raise your hands.  (If any hands are raised) Would anyone like to expand on that? Would anyone like to categorise how that made them feel.  In a general way was that feeling Good or Bad? We’ll come back to this…

Cara: But first…

Cara walks to the central altar and removes the cover from the Top Hat and Ears, lifting out the rabbit ears in time honoured fashion they are revealed to be part of two rabbit masks…

Bugs: For those with ears to hear…

Bugs walks to the central altar. Cara hands one of the rabbit masks to Bugs (Black) and keeping the other for herself (White) they both don them.

Cara (now wearing a white rabbit mask) … A story about rabbits…

Bugs: (now wearing a black rabbit mask) … ‘What’s up Doc!’

Bugs explains that the cards have two inscriptions, one on either side but that the companions must not turn the cards over to read the second inscription until directed to do so by the utterance of the ‘Trigger’ word- ‘Carrots’ as Cara hands out the cards. After handing out the cards Cara returns to the central altar. Bugs and Cara circle the altar and then Bugs retreats to the east, while Cara retreats to the west.

TO EACH READ, IN TURN, WHILE CIRCLING…

*

Bugs… The primroses were over…

The May sunset was red in clouds, and there was still half an hour to twilight.

The dry slope was dotted with rabbits…

Here and there one sat upright on an ant-heap and looked about:

ears erect

nose to the wind.

The blackbird, singing undisturbed on the outskirts of the wood, gave lie to their caution.

There was nothing to alarm the peace of the warren.

*

Cara… At the top of the bank where the blackbird sang was a group of holes hidden by brambles.

In the green half-light, at the mouth of one of these holes, sat two rabbits side by side.

The larger of the two came out of the hole, slipped along the bank, hopped down into the ditch and then ambled up into the field…

A few moments later the smaller rabbit followed.

The first rabbit stopped in a sunny patch and scratched an ear with rapid movements of a hind-leg.

He looked as though he knew how to take care of himself.

There was a shrewd, buoyant air about him as he sat up, looked round and rubbed both front paws over his nose.

Once satisfied that all was well he laid back his ears and set to work on the grass.

His companion seemed less at ease.

He was small, with wide eyes and a way of raising and turning his head which suggested a sort of ceaseless nervous tension.

His nose moved continually and when a bumble-bee flew, humming, to a thistle bloom behind him he jumped and spun round with a start…

*

to be continued…

Jewels in the Claw (ii) – Steve Tanham

Continued from Part One

He stops in the act of dismantling – the raven directly in line with his left eye. Reluctantly, he climbs onto the chair to unhook the left panel of rubberised black fabric that contains the bird’s image. Then, smiling, he remembers the last minute decision to add the raven panels… such an important part of the Queen’s journey.

Somehow, it seems a sacrilege to take them down…

The stream of consciousness that now belongs to the twenty receivers of the told story opens. It is there, again… and alive…

There is a moment when all the power in the room passes from the artful Marlow, who has lived up to his reputation for skirting the edge of Elizabethan acceptable behaviour, to the Queen. Her regal gaze, a generation older than many in the room, fixes him like a serpent.

“Elizabeth, Queen of England and Ireland…” The playwright bows, backing away and leaving the intricate space of the chequered Court Floor for the sovereign. She rises, the gold dress swirling around her.

Continue reading at Sun in Gemini

Seeds of Change

‘Dr Dee’, ‘Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth I’, ‘Sir Walter Raleigh’ and ‘Master Shakespeare’

Time does strange things. It is just a week since our workshop and already it feels as if it is receding into the mists, and yet, it is also as clear and sharp as if we were about to enter the temple space for another act. In many ways, that last is the truest perception, for, even though we draw our inspiration from tales of bygone eras, any seeds we sow within the ritual drama of the weekend are designed to grow slowly within us and be taken out into the world.

Such seeds are not ours alone. We may plant ideas and nurture thought, but it is in the fertile soil of love and friendship, and the shared experience of working together with a common intent, that such things blossom. Even so, it is only when we pluck those flowers and carry them as part of our daily lives that they begin to bear fruit.

‘Essex’ and ‘Bess of Hardwick’

Although much time, effort and laughter goes into the creation of the ‘five acts’ that form the core of our workshops, the spiritual journey is not a matter of playacting, not is it enough to dip a toe in and out of the water on a whim; the journey is ongoing and ever present, the story…our story… is a perpetual work in progress, as are we.

Every one of those present at our workshops brings their own perspective, adding a unique gift to the weekend. It is in the athanor of friendship that such alchemy produces gold and I would like to think that we each leave the richer for our shared experience. Our personal paths are many and varied, from druid to ordained ministers, mystic to magician, yet ultimately, our goal is a shared service to whatever aspect of the Light we recognise.

For each of us, that service takes on a different hue, but for all of us it is at the heart of life. Being able to work with so many people from so many paths is one of the true joys of these weekends and both the experience of the weekend itself and the intent of our work is amplified by this coming together of many paths and perspectives in a simple acceptance that knows none of the judgement of ‘tolerance’.

‘Dr Dee’ and ‘Mistress Jane Dee’

Egoic myopia, intolerance and prejudice may be played out symbolically within the crafted drama, where they may be brought to healing, understanding and resolution, but outside of the written roles, such things have no place at a Silent Eye weekend… or indeed, within the hearts of any who profess to follow a spiritual path. Our ‘Essex’, admirably portrayed by Russell, sought power and was brought to his knees by his self-serving ego… only to be given into the healing care of those he sought to betray. Our much-reviled Jesuit ‘Gerard’ was embodied with quiet grace and dignity by Jan. In spite of the intolerance shown by most members of the ‘Court’, Gerard showed himself to be a man of great compassion who led the tortured Dr Dee back to life and love.

The Elizabethan Age marked the beginning of a new era in many ways, and so was a perfect vehicle to reflect aspects of the current of change now brushing the shores of the present. Can a small group of people play a part in shaping that change? The answer to that depends upon what we understand by the question, perhaps. What is undeniable is that change can only happen if we, as individuals, choose to make it so. No-one can legislate for the heart and it is there that we can each begin to shape and heal our little corner of the world.

‘Lady Frances Walsingham’ and ‘Sir Francis Drake’

 

The Hieroglyphic Monad of John Dee – by The Patrician Lady

The Hieroglyphic Monad of John Dee 

By The Patrician Lady

A talk given to The Silent Eye’s ‘Jewel in the Claw’ workshop on 21st April 2018

In my talk today I’m going to tell you a little about Dr. John Dee, one of the characters you have met in the drama, and something of his famous symbol the Hieroglyphic Monad or Monas Hieroglyphica. Most people, myself included, know or knew very little about this symbol so I decided to research it. As with all research I started by reading as much about it as I could find. This led me to articles and papers and it grew and grew and grew and I realised that this symbol incorporated the whole of creation and its processes; hence its name – the symbol of One-ness, Monas Hieroglyphica. Today I’m going to try and tell you something of what it means. This is no mean feat to try and tell you about the whole of creation and its processes in 45 minutes. Anyway, I will tell you a little about the history of John Dee, describe the components within the symbol and try and convey some aspects of the deep knowledge held within the symbol.

It is a symbol of creation similar to the Qabalistic Tree of Life but not emanationist, that is flowing from nothing into something, as is the Tree of Life, but creation as it is in the whole – a monad, a unit. This is it:

Those of you familiar with Qabalah will know that the Tree of Life is viewed basically in a series of spheres whereas this symbol is viewed in layers of awareness and meaning from very simple to highly complex.  These layers are very well explained by modern authors who have put articles and papers on the internet, unlike Dee who could only publish information as a booklet and send it to influential people. He understood the processes of the universe on a numerical and geometrical basis. Another person who thought very similarly to Dee was Buckminster Fuller and I’ll tell you a little about him later.

The Hieroglyphic Monad, or the Monas Hieroglyphica, dates from the 16th century. It’s a glyph, a composite symbol, already in existence in 16th century in spiritual circles but augmented by Dr. John Dee, and explained in a short book of the same name the Monas Hieroglyphica. The booklet consists of 24 theorems or statements. This sounds fairly straight-forward until you try reading the book. It starts off quite simply but half way through it gets complicated and by the time you reach the end you’ll wonder what it was all about. But let’s take a look at the symbol and the theorems and see what we can make of them. Trust me, it can be well worth the effort if you’re interested in numbers and metaphysics.

William Gray in his book ‘The Ladder of Lights’ described some qualities of the well-known glyph the Tree of Life and what he says to describe the Tree can very well be said about the Monad symbol: ‘(It) may be likened to a well-designed crossword puzzle with its clues. The entire meaning and value of the puzzle lies with the mental exercise involved in its construction  and solution. In solving it, a mind must be used to some considerable extent, which naturally improves and develops the mind of the thinker. By presenting (it) as a puzzle of mental and spiritual magnitude, an opportunity is afforded for genuine progress of mind and spirit to whomsoever has the wits and endurance to attempt its solution. (What is written about it) must be considered as the clues to the enigma and not its answers except on some broad issues. The real solution must be worked out individually, for it lies in the souls of those who seek it and nowhere else.” Fortunately others have gone a long way before us to unravel the secrets of the Monad.

As a brief history, much of which you already learned in the drama, John Dee was born in 1527. During his life he was a mathematician, astrologer, navigator and magician and a prominent figure in the royal court of Elizabeth 1st . Dee was well-travelled and had great knowledge of navigation and maps.  In 1553 at the age of 26 he became astrologer and close advisor to Queen Elizabeth I. As a member of her court she came to rely on him for navigation of her fleet and for astrology. He calculated for her the most auspicious date for her coronation.  He was an obsessive collector of books and owned a great library of more than 4,000 books which he is said to have kept at his mother’s house at Mortlake in London. In later life at the age of 55 he met and worked with the psychic Edward Kelley who was almost 30 years younger than him. Kelley was a scryer who psychically saw things in a crystal ball. Dee and Kelley started experiments with Angelic Magic, conversing with angels and spirits which became known as Enochian or Chaos Magic but we won’t be dealing with that today. Two dates exist for Dee’s death either in 1608 or 1609 at the age of 81. So we are looking at 16th century magic.

The glyph is made up of 4 symbols:    moon;  sun;  elemental cross or cross of the elements;   and  the zodiac symbol of Aries (the cardinal Fire sign).

Dee presented the symbol on the front of a small book entitled Monas Hieroglyphica, written in Latin.

Essentially it’s a book about numbers and geometry but hidden within it is information on the universe, its structure and how it works. Unfortunately this information is profound, deeply hidden and not easily accessible. Yet for those who take the time and trouble to excavate and unravel the hidden treasures, the wealth of knowledge is tremendous. However he knows it’s going to be difficult and advocates that ‘those who do not understand should keep silent’ – in modern parlance, put up or shut up. It is generally accepted that the book and the glyph were to be backed up by an oral teaching which has since been lost – the book and the symbol are not enough yet they make exciting reading and can carry us from the 16th into the 21st century as you will see in the final section of the talk. Dee completed the work on the Monad in 13 days at the age of 37 in 1564, almost 20 years before he met Kelley.

The symbol is said to represent Unity or Godhead. The meaning of Monas in this context is generally translated as ‘unity’ which implies union of more than one but this is incorrect as Dee was quite clear that he meant it as A Unit, A Monad, The One. The individual fragments of the drawing can be understood on many levels so each has more than one way of being understood. In this way the Monad glyph represents all of creation on all levels, all planes. It represents everything there is in manifestation.

The small book starts with a long preface to Maximilian, King of Bohemia, probably as Dee felt this was a good place to go for sponsorship and support. This was followed by detailed instructions to the printer who was to be sure to include all the Capital letters, all the spacings and ‘other things’ making the printed book an exact copy of the hand-written one because everything had significance.

Let’s look at the parts of the glyph:    Moon + Sun + Cross of Elements + Fire (Aries).
In essence we are looking at a symbol of the process of creation by the union of opposites. Polarity.  Place your imagination on the dot at the centre of the circle depicting the Sun. The moon, although it is depicted as a half-moon and located above the sun is to be imagined as viewed from the central point of the sun ie. not as seen from earth but located as the moon would circle around the sun. Moon represents: Female, silver, receptive, the Below, receiving. Negative polarity.

The Sun represents : Male, gold, active, the Above, radiating. Positive polarity.

Imagine that the dot represents the point of Divine emanation, the point of light that comes into the void at the beginning of creation (here representing the Above of ‘As Above, so Below’), now switch your mind to imagine that the central dot-point represents the Earth in the solar system (thus representing the Below); (Note: The dot at the centre representing Earth appears to imply geocentricity ie. Earth at the centre of the universe, as we see it, which we know is not how things are, but it is to be used as a frame of reference, not a cosmic view. It represents the ‘I’, as the spark of consciousness at the centre receiving forces and influences from around [see Burns and Moore]). You see here how viewpoint is important to meaning.

The cross represents the four-fold cross of the Elements ie Earth, Air, Water and Fire.

The two half-circles at the base represent the astrological glyph for Aries ie: cardinal Fire.

To explain the diagram he presents 24 theorems or statements. However in order to understand the theorems, especially the later ones, he realised he needed to provide more basics so he wrote another booklet called Propaedumata Aphoristica (Preparatory Aphorisms).


An Aphorism is a concise statement, a Theorem is a theoretical proposition. Both booklets can be found on the net at a website on ‘The Works of John Dee’ translated by Jim Egan. Of these Dee says “I realise that these Aphorisms are for the more advanced…… some may find them rather long and difficult” – too true, and we haven’t even got to the theorems yet,so Egan recommends that you read the Preparatory Aphorisms first but only the first 20 or so. As this is only an informational talk and not an in-depth study we won’t go there; however for anyone wishing to investigate further I can provide a list of useful articles in which people have given their own views on explanations; articles which are invaluable if you have the interest. I think by now you might be getting the message that this glyph is deceptively simple.

Moving back to the Monas Hieroglyphica, a very readable though still obtuse version of the Hieroglyphic Monad book is available in Adobe Acrobat created by Benjamin Rowe in the year 2000.

From this I will read you the first 4 theorems:

On the Monad, consider a line from the central point to the circumference.
No. 1. It is by the straight line and the circle that the first and most simple example and representation of all things may be demonstrated, whether such things be either non-existent or merely hidden under Nature’s veils.

No.2. Neither the circle without the line, nor the line without the point, can be artificially produced. It is therefore, by virtue of the point and the Monad that all things commence to emerge in principle. That which is affected at the periphery, however large it may be, cannot in any way lack support of the central point.

No. 3. Therefore the central point which we see in the centre of the hieroglyphic Monad produces the Earth, round which the Sun, the Moon and the other planets follow their respective paths. The Sun has supreme dignity and we represent him by a circle having a visible centre.

No. 4. Although the semicircle of the Moon is placed above the circle of the Sun and would appear to be superior, nevertheless we know that the Sun is ruler and King. We see that the Moon in her shape and her proximity rivals the sun with her grandeur, which is apparent to ordinary men, yet the face, or a semi-sphere of the Moon, always reflects the light of the Sun. It desires so much to be impregnated with solar rays and to be transformed into the Sun that at times it disappears completely from the skies and some days after reappears, and we have represented her by the figure of the Horns (a Cornucopia).

Don’t be deceived. By the time he gets to theorem 24 he is including so much information in every line that your mind will whirl! But not to be daunted, let’s simplify and go through them.

5. The Sun and the Moon represent morning and evening of the first day of creation during which Light was produced.

6. The right-angled cross may represent either the Ternary(3) or Quaternary(4) – the ternary from two straight lines and a crossing point, the quaternary from four straight lines.

7. The four elementary lines are produced by a continual cascade of droplets as in our magic.

8. The four is made up from 1,2,3 and 4. 1+2+3+4 =10 as in the Pythagorus Tetractys and this defines the place where the Ternary conducts into the Septenary (3 goes to 7).
From theorem 9 onwards he then goes into great details providing diagrams and tables.

Theorem 10 deals with Aries, leads into a review of the zodiac 12 and the two halves of the Aries symbol as 12+12=24 being the hours of equal day and night at the equinox. He describes how the hieroglyphs for the planets are made up from the components of the glyph.

And in another table divides them into solar and lunar. He touches and hints at deeper things but does not elaborate. In our modern days of the internet and access to information by Keywords we can find out what he expected the students to determine by contemplation and by the assumed accompanying oral teaching, now lost. He then refers us back to Hermes and the Emerald Tablet.

Much of this makes little or no sense at all to most of us but others have persevered and built upon the knowledge of still others, leaving a trail of explanation for us to follow if we have the will and stamina.

Dee then spends time looking at the cross, its composition and use in Latin letters. You will find much of this information used in Rosicrucian and Golden Dawn rituals especially around the word LUX spelt LVX meaning Light. But these are not just letters they also relate to numerology L 50, V 5, X 10 and secrets of multiplication etc. –what Dee calls qualitative and quantitative virtues.

He moves on to discuss the figure of the egg in the symbol on the front of the book as related to planets and numerology.

He returns to touching on the binary, the ternary, the quaternary, hinting at the great secrets held within, fearing that he has already said too much (not that it was understandable by anyone who does not delve deeply).

By theorem 22 he is becoming extremely obtuse and his diagrams move on to include Greek letters.

He concludes by including some tables and diagrams and finally signs off as “The fourth letter ΔDelta” which is D … his name Dee.

The depth of information and knowledge contained within this simple glyph is hard to accept at first glance but if you have the interest, are fascinated by mysteries, numbers, symbols, alchemy and are willing to follow the trail of elucidation provided by others, the rewards are tremendous, as Dee in his preface promised they would be.

He shows us the ‘Tree of Rarity’ and how the Adept (that is, one who knows and can make use of the hidden information) the Adept is one in a million – in other words, Rare.

The glyph can be viewed as anthropomorphic representing the figure of man with the Aries symbol as feet or legs, the cross as the body with arms, the circle as the head and the moon as the horns of wisdom.  It is also symbolic of alchemy that is life in general, or can represent the combination of ingredients such as metals and elements (relating back to the base metals of the planets) which with the aid of fire, Aries (heat) can be transformed into precious metals, gold and silver (sun and moon).

On leaving the 16th century I can bring you into the 21st century by taking a look at the work of Buckminster Fuller, an engineer known generally as ‘Bucky’. He was not an academic but he painstakingly put down his thoughts in two very long documents called Synergetics 1 and 2 available in pdf, simplified somewhat in ‘A Fuller Explanation’ by Amy Edmonson available in print or pdf.

Bucky was responsible for the Epcot geodesic dome the enormously impressive centrepiece of the Disney park in Florida. You can also see his work in every crane used for high rise construction and made of open struts in triangular geometric pattern providing strength with minimal weight. The basis of Bucky’s calculations is the tetrahedron leading on to the cuboctahedron.

Jim Egan shows how both Dee’s diagrams and Bucky’s lead to the cuboctahedron which both state to be the central constructional form of the universe. The cuboctahedron is an Archimedian composite solid made up of 8 triangles and 6 squares which form a relative sphere, not one of the simple platonic solids.

As it says on the front of the Aphorisms booklet  – the quaternary rests in the ternary, the 4 in the 3. Both Dee and Buckminster Fuller were men of genius minds. Dee was desperate for his discoveries to be made known to a wider audience and so he sent his book to Emperor Maximilian.  Bucky made a living out of his engineering constructions and wrote his theses Synergetics 1 and Synergetics 2 which probably only enthusiasts will have read, yet we owe much of our theoretical and practical knowledge of the working of the universe to these two men and Bucky’s inventions are used to this day although his name is not generally widely known even in engineering circles.

In general John Dee was given a bad press as a black magician. The Hieroglyphic Monad even found a place in a recent TV drama which linked Dee to black magic but this is too simplistic. Like all symbols it can be both good and bad because a prerequisite of all magic is imagination and intention. Intention is the fulcrum on which the direction of magic turns. Good or evil is founded in intention, not on the symbol but on the use of it. As Bill Gray says. ‘The only value of any symbol is the use to which it is put’.

I can tell you what the symbol represents in the physical but take it to a higher plane – what is it at the spiritual level? It is God projected into creation. It is a representation, a picture, a symbol of creation as the thought-form of God. In order to touch the higher levels we have to accept on the mental level that what exists on the physical level is a thought-form in the mind of a creator that we call God. Creation is built from forces and forms existing in rhythms and waves of vibrations. It is all based on number and geometry and from it comes the beauty of life and form that make up our world of existence. We vibrate to a model.

The Monas Hieroglyphica itself will tell you very little – it is a key; it will open doors, portals to other spaces filled with knowledge. For those interested I wish you luck and hope you gain as much intellectual pleasure from following the trails as I have.

Dee’s final words are “Here the vulgar eye will see nothing but obscurity and will despair considerably” and on that I leave you to ponder – or not.

The Patrician Lady
April 2018

Shades of the Golden Age…

As a child, I loved the old movies of the swashbuckling variety. Even then, I knew the stories were not real and the history likely to be wildly innaccurate. Romance and adventure did not wait behind every tree. Magic, though, had its own reality.

With a family who told me a closer-to-true version of the histories portrayed on the screen, I learned early the difference between fantasy, fact and fiction. What was produced for entertainment was never supposed to be a history lesson. I learned not to believe in what I saw… except for the duration of the film, when I could lose myself in make-believe.

The over-the-top acting, the swordplay and implausible heroics delighted me, and that has never really changed as I have grown older. A more mature eye sees the flaws with clarity, but I can still choose to ignore them and daydream about flashing steel, wild gallops through the night and the elaborate gowns of a bygone era. But, let’s be honest, the days when I could even dream of being the romantic, blade-wielding heroine are long gone. Or so I thought, until last weekend.

Fair bristling with concealed weaponry, this Elizabethan lady was not happy when her betrothed attempted to discard her in favour of a rarer prize. Mine was really not supposed to be the role of heroine. But, just for a moment, with ‘Lord Essex’ on his knees, and a wicked blade poised over his heart, all my daydreams came true. (Which might be why my younger son asked if I should be ‘looking so cheery’ with a knife aimed at someone’s chest.)

The pictures were taken after the final ‘curtain’ had fallen on our Elizabethan escapade… we do not take photos until the work is done. I think most of us were on a high, either because of the weekend itself… or because we had survived it! By this point, all that was left to do was discard the costumes for the last time, talk, hug and say our farewells.

Many of the photos that were taken are blurred, and that is why I rendered a few in monochrome. I was immediately struck by how they reminded me of the golden era of Hollywood and my love of old movies.

We had come together to explore a story… a fictitious history that drew upon the lives, dreams and beliefs of some of the prominent people of Shakespeare’s day. It was never supposed to be an accurate history… but in truth, it was crafted as somewhere we could lose our ‘selves’ in make-believe.

The everyday self is left behind in play. We are hidden by the mask of our role and so our true self is free to explore the magical and spiritual concepts presented throughout the weekend, concealed, like my daggers, in velvet folds of imagination, friendship and laughter. And that particular alchemy is always in glorious Technicolor.

Lady in Red – Alienora Browning

Reblogged from Alienora’s Anthology… Ali’s account of a challenging role:

Paired, I was, with my friend, Dean. He was playing Mortido, the force of death and change, to my Libido (love, life and sexual desire) in the recent Silent Eye, Jewel in the Claw weekend.

We work well together, Dean and I, always have: Friends for nigh on forty years (and that’s just in this incarnation), we move and speak instinctively in tune, time and cadence.

But, oh Goddess, it was hard. This has been one of the most challenging roles ever undertaken, and I am feeling horribly tired and down in spirits in the aftermath.

Carrying life, death, love, change and desire for an entire Elizabethan Court (and a rigid, chess-board-controlled one at that) was exhausting. The energy used during five connected ritual dramas is akin to five consecutive performances with Shadow of the Tor the Glastonbury-based Production Company of which I am a member.

Continue reading at Alienora’s Anthology

Silent Eye: Sixth Weekend Draws Nigh! – by Alienora

Reblogged from Alienora’s Anthology:

download

Silent Eye: A Modern Mystery School has been an important part of my life since its birth way back in 2013; though, actually, the story starts even before then…

I first met Stephen Tanham and Sue Vincent (who, along with Stuart France, comprise the Silent Eye Directors) at Savio House, during either an SOL Gathering of the Light weekend or a Ritual with Purpose one. We clicked. I enjoyed the company of both.

I was, therefore, intrigued and tempted when they set up the Silent Eye School of Consciousness – and was keen to be at the Opening.

Five very different ritual experiences later, I can safely say that this initial enthusiasm has never waned, and I am now getting very excited about the forthcoming, Jewel in the Claw, weekend.

The setting is beautiful: The Nightingale Centre in the little village of Great Hucklow, deep in the heart of the Peak District. The drive up is always a journey of magnificence -especially when we leave the motorway and meander through Bakewell (for the tarts, you understand!) and the stark peaks and mountainous roads of this atmospheric part of Britain’s landscape.

Continue reading at Alienora’s Anthology

Esoteric Shipbuilding

It was a ‘stream of consciousness moment’; one of those that acts like a time machine. The flash of memories cut right back to my childhood – seven or eight years old. It included the sight and texture of the old bricks of our primary school playground, the beginnings of art at school, and learning about that most romantic of things – ships, or, to be precise, that arcane institution: the Royal Navy, and its beginnings.

All this was prompted by the cardboard drawing of an Elizabethan ship… We needed a core image for the Jewel in the Claw workshop, something that would sit as a centrepiece on the threefold panel at the back of the room, the place of the mystical East.

I don’t often build ships – not even models, though my childhood bedroom ceiling had a wonderful assortment of Airfix and Frog model planes hanging from pieces of nylon fishing line so that they were arranged in a global dogfight that spanned space and time. Ships were slow and cumbersome… But then I met Elizabeth, the Tudor Queen, and saw them from within her eyes, and another world opened.

Queen Elizabeth I understood ships – as did her deadly enemies, the Spanish, owners of the Armada fleet.

The drawing on the cardboard is a picture of an Elizabethan ship under full sail. It took me the better part of an afternoon to measure the original (bottom right in the opening picture) and scale it onto the cardboard.  Such ships were a symbol of the emerging naval power of Elizabethan England, a beginning that would see the British Empire rise, literally, from the waves. That empire would go on to reach such a powerful peak that ‘the sun would never set’ upon it. And then, as all empires do, it will fade…

Back in Elizabethan time, the navy will become the cornerstone of its eventual global presence.

Royal Navy: playground… why?

A child born in 1954 will grow up to learn that ‘trading’ (at school) in cigarette packets skimmed in competition against the school walls was very cost effective if your parents smoked Senior Service. One packet of those was worth five, or even ten of the less expensive Woodbines. I apologise to those younger folk for whom these terms are meaningless. They were the basis for our playtimes when I was eight and nine years old. Agree terms, then skim one closest to the playground wall (thereby winning) and you collected a multiple of their worth. Potentially lucrative returns, if you are willing to gamble high stakes used cigarette packets like Senior Service… The first taste of the potential of risk and reward, perhaps?

Senior Service: the name for the British navy – to reinforce its longevity and status over the Army and Air Force. Different today, of course. But, in my parents’ youth, very fundamental to ‘Britishness’. One of my uncles was in the Navy. It didn’t mean much, back then.

On the 20th April, 2018, it will mean a lot, as Queen Elizabeth I watches the rest of the ‘actors’ rise and move across the giant chessboard to take their place in the drama that begins with the onset of Shakespeare’s death; then a clever but pushing-his-luck Christopher Marlowe calling out the cast of players from the shadows of the ‘tavern’ and making mischief… Until the Queen raises her head and begins to rise.

All of this started with Elizabeth I; our iconic sovereign who triumphed over expectation to find herself Queen at the age of twenty-five, inheriting a bankrupt kingdom laid waste by a a psychopath – her father, Henry VIII, whose only focus was a son and heir. And to hell with consequence.

So, back to the cardboard ship… the image that sparked the mental and emotional journey. Good theatre props are usually held together with smoke, mirrors and industrial tape. This one will be no exception. The simplified outline will be spray-painted white with white enamel paint – as many coats as it takes to give it a shell-like finish. This will be mounted onto a black cloth and the whole thing hung, like a picture, on the Eastern partition.

Hopefully, it will look good; and the black and white theme will complement the giant chessboard of the Queen’s Court Floor.  But the final touch, if it works, will give it a very special quality, indeed. We’ve sourced two lights that are designed to project a soothing reflection of ‘sunlight on sea’. We’ll be pointing one of these at the white ship… and hoping for the best. If it works it will be lovely… It’s a moving effect, and therefore quite difficult to photograph, but here’s an idea of how it will look – minus the animation. I’m only on the third coat of paint, so the ship has a way to go, yet.

Ship Bess smaller2

This is the kind of deeply-focused thing the three of us do in the Silent Eye’s run-up to our main event – the annual Spring workshop in the tiny hamlet of Great Hucklow, located in the heart of the Derbyshire hills. You only get one shot at that first impression of a Temple of the Mysteries…

The empty but flying Senior Service cigarette packet, the bricks of the primary school yard wall, the ocean waves of Britannia’s coming and the power of an English Queen to shape the history of a small but pivotal country combine and resolve themselves in a flash, as the last piece of cardboard falls away to reveal what will become the ship; seen entire in the mind, even though it is just brown card, yet, in the room.

On that Friday evening a mere two weeks away, the Queen will command silence with her will; overriding the mischief of Marlowe. As she rises to take control of the mysterious chequered chamber of transformation, she will pause for a second, looking across the Court Floor at the blue East.

Then, she will begin a slow walk to her throne, becoming bathed in the soft blue light of reflected waves as she approaches the place from which she will direct the next two and half days of purposeful and very human interaction…

And then it will have begun…


Stephen Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people find the reality and essence of their existence via home-based, practical courses which are low-cost and personally supervised.

His personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com.

You’ll find friends, poetry, literature and photography there…and some great guest posts on related topics.

©Stephen Tanham

The Magical Roundabout

Magical Roundabout

I remember the moment, a few years ago, when Stuart – one of my co-directors of the Silent Eye – said to me: “And that’s it, vanished in an instant: all that work about to be packed up, filed away and forgotten…”

He was referring to the hour at the end of our annual workshop during which we tear down the props, pack the period (or futuristic) costumes and collect up any spare workbooks, each one the better part of two hundred pages of lovingly crafted mystical theatre…

Around us is a scattering of people who don’t want to go home… Old friends, returned for their yearly round of camaraderie, fun and some deeply moving psychodrama, are standing in the residual warmth of a living thing which, like a vessel, has held and nurtured us all for the weekend. New friends, wondering what just happened…

I hate the word ‘psychodrama’ but that’s what it is. Hitchcock has a lot to answer for… ‘psych’ because the weekend is a process that works on ‘the self’, involving everyone in a play – a scripted five-act drama that starts off slow and ends with a rush that is all too real. It’s not drugs or alcohol that fuels this, it’s the largely forgotten state of ‘egregore’ of a group of people ‘playing’ at something with spiritual intentions whose success they are committed to.

We play via scripts and, often, costumes based on the characters enacted. No-one is expected to remember their lines over the five acts of the play. But watch any one of our players reading theirs and you’ll see that person giving total dedication to being the best they can be.

They may be a medieval knight, a soothsayer, a priestess. They may be a jester, a demigod or even a Queen. They might even be a cyborg from the future, struggling to become human, and challenging all our preconceptions in the process.

Sounds serious stuff? Yes, but beneath this is a strong and incredibly supportive layer of fun. A very good pub is next door to our conference venue: the lovely Nightingale Centre in this idyllic part of the Derbyshire hills. We are not averse to a glass of wine or beer to help wind down in the evenings, and the included meals in the venue are very good, indeed – and all this for less than three hundred pounds, per person, inclusive…

We don’t do it to make money, as the annual tax return would demonstrate. We do it because it reflects the best of the various ‘Schools of the Soul’ in which we were brought to a more inclusive state of consciousness. Over the five short years of our existence we have made it our own, and created our own teaching styles, along the way developing some leading-edge approaches to distance learning.

We are not gurus – we don’t believe in them. We are just ordinary folk who enjoy teaching a deeper approach to life… and ‘playing’ in this magical and creative fashion.

This year, 20-22 April, on that final Sunday afternoon, we will be standing among the torn down bits of electronics, cables, fabric, giant chessboard and well-thumbed scripts. Stuart may well be standing there as the last box gets packed into the car and ask, in his customary fashion, ‘Well, was it all worth it?’

He’ll be smiling his ‘it’s not really a question’ smile, and we’ll both chuckle. Oh yes, it will indeed have been worth it!

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For more information on this and future Silent Eye workshops click here or contact us at rivingtide@gmail.com

©Stephen Tanham.