Into the Deep…

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…Shiduri, the tavern keeper, sat,

at the edge of the Great Ocean,

her golden brewing-vat resting by her side.

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Gilgamesh, whose heart was still full of anguish,

strode toward her…

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‘This desperate man must be a murderer,’ thought Shiduri,

‘Why else would he be heading straight for me?’

She locked the lid of her brewing-vat and stood in front of it.

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Gilgamesh heard the lock click and looked up.

There stood Shiduri staring at him, “Who are you,

and where are you going?” she said.

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“I am the king of Wall-Girt Uruk,” said Gilgamesh, “I am

going to find Utnapishtim, so that I can ask him about the Herb of Immortality.”

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“Why is there so much grief in your heart?” said Shiduri.

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“My beloved friend, Enkidu, is turned to clay,” said Gilgamesh,

“Won’t I too, one day, lie down in the dirt like him

and never again rise?”

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“There are none who can cross the Great Ocean

to Utnapishtim,” said Shiduri,

“Only Shamash, who traverses the sky, is brave enough!”

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“But I am the man who slew the tree demon, Humbaba.

And it was I who tore the Bull of Heaven limb from limb.

There must be a way!” cried Gilgamesh, drawing his knife…

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

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The Silent Eye’s Spring workshop for 2019

A Dramatic adaptation of the Epic of Gilgamesh…

Full details, cost and booking form are available by clicking HERE

 

Getting there…

January…and the clock is ticking down to spring. Work that has been going on all year  now changes gear. It began in earnest last year, with a research trip to the British Museum to see the art and artefacts of an ancient civilisation that was at least the equal of Egypt, but which is less well known today… Sumer.

Over seven thousand years ago, long before the pyramids were dreamed of, the people who would become the Sumerians settled in Mesopotamia. Their culture was rich and colourful. We know that music and the arts were of great importance to them…and their city of Uruk, home to up to eighty thousand people at its height, was the centre of their world.

Gilgamesh ruled in Uruk almost five thousand years ago and his story passed into legend and thence into myth. It comes down to us, echoing through the ages, as the Epic of Gilgamesh, which is regarded as the earliest great work of literature known to Man. The earliest version we now have was found in Nineveh. It was already ancient when a scribe named Sîn-lēqi-unninni collected the tales and wrote them down, over a thousand years before the birth of Jesus.

The story, though, is not ‘old’ in anything other than age. It tells of the adventures of the king, a story in which he is both villain and hero by turns. It is a very human story, though the gods of old walk through its pages, and although it can be read as ‘no more’ than a myth and an ancient curiosity, it can also be read as a representation of a human journey through life to the dawning of a greater awareness.

It is a magical story, wholly relevant to any seeker who has set their feet on a path towards self-development and a wider consciousness. It is also a story that resonates with our own time, where we encroach upon the natural world with little respect for its life and purpose.

The art and craftwork that we saw at the museum was beautiful and delicate. Tiny cylinder seals, intaglio carved and small enough to be worn in a ring, roll out scenes of gods, animals and starscapes.Jewellry of pure gold rests, fragile, on tiny springs so that leaves and flowers tremble with every movement. Ancient texts in cunieform, possibly the earliest form of writing and one of the greatest achievements of Sumer, tell forgotten tales…  It was a good place to begin and we left the museum aware that the text we would use for our April workshop sprang from a great civilisation with a deep understanding of the workings of the human mind and heart.

But, no matter how early you begin, the last few months are always against the clock as so much must be put into place when we begin to have an idea of numbers. This year, we know that once again, people will be converging from as far afield as Europe and the US to meet in a village in the Derbyshire Dales. Thousands of miles will be travelled between us as our various wheels turn and we head, from many different directions, to that central point of meeting.

It is easy to compare those diverse journeys to the greater one we have all taken as we come together at this point. Only a few who will be attending are Companions of the School, and we have each taken very different spiritual paths towards this moment in time. There are those who have followed a Shamanic path; there are Qabalists and one who refers to herself laughingly as a witch… yet who lives the life of a priestess of the old ways with all her being. There are ritualists and those who simply follow where their heart leads; Rosicrucians and mystics, Druids, housewives, magicians and scholars. We have all walked our individual paths alone, some have also studied with other groups and schools, some tend the hearthfire and many still forge their own way towards the goal we all share.

So what brings such a diverse crowd together, to share the adventure of a weekend workshop? That there will be fun goes without saying; these events are always a time of laughter. There is friendship of course… some old, some still to begin. Some are ‘old hands’, for others this will be a first time and a first meeting face to face with those only known through the ether.

Yet beyond the smiles and greetings there is something else at work. Each of us, from our own unique place in the great tapestry of life, is seeking a common understanding of something we feel to be greater than our normal human consciousness can fully grasp. We each have our own vision, our own guiding light… we may call it by many names, or know it only as a vague yet insistent pull at the heartstrings. Yet the further you walk along your chosen path, the less the details matter, you see only the light that floods both the paths and the space between them… and that light is the same.

This year the workshop takes us back five thousand years to the great civilisation of Sumeria. In exploring a world long dead, walking with the shadows of an ancient land, we are not harping back to the ‘olden days’ or hankering after times gone by… we are taking our own minds and placing them in an unfamiliar frame, where our perspective can shift. From fabric and gilding an illusion is born and, as within a dream, the illusion holds its own reality while it lasts. A ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ allows us to walk within that illusion and, as with a dream, what remains when we wake may cast the glow of understanding on our path.

We are holding up the jewel of being and letting it refract a thousand rainbows from many facets… and in those moments we may catch a glimpse of their colours. Such a moment does not bring the kind of knowledge that can be learned from books, nor the understanding of conscious thought, though these too have their place alongside what is learned through experience. What is reaped from such gatherings is no more than a seed… yet a seed may contain a tree, and a tree a forest. At the end of the weekend, each will take from this time out of time something unique to them alone which we hope will serve to shed a mirrored rainbow on their own journey.

As the wheel of the year turns towards Beltane, the time of renewal and Union, our gathering too will seek in the dark flame of a shadowy past a light for the future and perhaps move a small step closer to that greater Union between our human selves and that spark of Divine Fire that glows within every heart.

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

The Silent Eye’s Spring workshop for 2019

Full details, cost and booking form are available by clicking HERE

Our Song of Truth…

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We circle the Long Stone, feet planted gently but firmly on the earth…

Arms and hands hang loosely by our sides…

We close our eyes…

We breathe deeply…

We perform our breathing exercise…

And then again breathe deeply, listening only to the sound of our own breath…

After a time, the silence is broken by the Seed Sound of someone’s Word of Truth…

Nobody knows who sounded…

Nobody cares…

We are leaving the world of personalities behind…

Before the first Seed Sound has ended, another has sounded, and another, and then another, as our Song of Truth is raised…

Emboldened by the anonymity, carefree in the rising Song of Power we each sound out our Truth, chanting it again and again, delighting as each Seed bounces of each other, one or two entwining, playing and cascading off one another…

Until finally…

As the light of day fades…

Only one sound can again be heard…

Echoing off deep in to the starry far distance…

Everything returns to silence…

And we again focus on our breathing…

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I and the Telescope

Do we have automatic filters of perception that screen out the magical?

How many miraculous events in the natural world occur before our eyes each day yet are not noticed by our everyday awareness? We often feel this to be our experience – but it happens within an adult ‘self’ which has grown from infancy to adulthood, and therefore is to be trusted, Such childish and fanciful notions are to be put to one side in favour of a world-picture that sees all such things as coincidental and purposeless.

Much of this ‘structure’ of skeptical perception can be investigated by a useful metaphor: the antique telescope. Imagine that, instead of our eyes, we look, permanently, through two nautical-style telescopes at the world. But these are not ordinary optical instruments; rather, they divide our simple act of ‘seeing’ into three stages. The first and second are related to the world of raw perception and the near-instantaneous emotional response to it. The third stage of this ‘telescopic vision’ is that of the intellect – more usually described as the mind. These three stages are learned as we mature and fold out of the flattened telescope like the kind of brass antique that we see on collectors’ TV programmes.

What we actually ‘see’ is conditioned by the expanded telescope such that our final experience drops through each of those stages of perception before settling in our consciousness. We do not need to think about it; it just happens. The older we get the more set this pattern becomes. Some of this programming develops to reduce the energy needed to perceive. The mind is really good at taking the essence of a repeated experience and simply replaying what it considers to be the ‘skeleton’ of the event. It can add the precise details, such as whether the car in front of us is turning left or right, in real-time. Working swiftly, it both reduces our energy consumption and knows where to ‘insert’ the life-saving bits into the whole…

But it’s no longer the whole, and year on year repetition of this historical way of seeing things gradually takes the intellectual, emotional and ‘something more primal’ magic out of what would otherwise be a constant state of wonder. When we’re driving a car, this is essential. We would otherwise be overwhelmed by the data and the intensity of the experience. Our ‘robotic’ perception is fast and reliable. But when we are staring at a sunset or sunrise, and the sky makes patterns that are both beautiful and meaningful to our lives, then we might want to consider how to ‘collapse’ our telescopes and be prepared to stand more naked in front of the splendour before us.

We might then discover a much more personal and intimate relationship with the world – our world.

©️Stephen Tanham


Stephen Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit organisation 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.

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

The Anunnaki…

 

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The Anunnaki… Cometh!

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…They drinketh the dew of Heaven.

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…They eateth the fruit of Earth.

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

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

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

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

Click here to download Booking Form

Contexts: scribes…

Image result for sumerian cylinder seals - beer and planets

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With the advent of cuneiform, the Oral Tradition continued to develop alongside ‘written literature’, but the primary purpose of recording stories in writing was not necessarily to supply individual readers with a coherent or connected account of ‘historical’ events.

Ancient stories were used for a multitude of purposes, often in extracts attached to ritual, to give authenticity, or to provide an aetiology, i.e. a reason for the way things are as they are, to lend weight to ancient traditions, or customs, or to an incantation.

Many of the ancient scribes were Incantation Priests.

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“When in doubt,” smiles Wen, producing a battered copy of Longmans from the murky depths of her shoulder bag, and, rather too conspicuously, for my liking, clearing her throat…

Sure enough, this unwarranted live event has now started to draw the attention of some idle strays who sidle over and form a crescent around Wen as she finally gets her reading specs onto her conk and launches into the definition…

“Incantation – noun the use of spoken or sung spells as part of a magic ritual; also, a written or recited magical formula of words designed to produce a particular effect fr Latin incantus, past participle of incatare, to enchant…”

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“That’s not too bad, considering,” I concede, after I have finished dragging Wen away from our unsolicited audience of now somewhat bemused looking spectators.

“It’s bloody brilliant,” says Wen, “and so precise!”

“A chorus, it is then.”

“The chorus is Greek,” says Wen, “So we may have to call the chorus, ‘the fates’.”

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

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

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

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

Click here to download Booking Form

Contexts: creation…

Image result for sumerian cylinder seals

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‘In Mesopotamian mythology a Mother Goddess, with the assistance of a God of Wisdom created men out of clay, mixed with the blood of a slain God.

The Primeval male and female human beings were not allotted a life-span.

People originally only died as the result of natural disasters such as plague, famine or flood, or by internecine strife.

The Epic of Gilgamesh culminated with the introduction of a limited life-span for Mankind.

Man’s original purpose in being was to relieve the Gods and Goddesses of hard labour.

Gods and Goddesses associated with birth and fertility were also patrons of mining, smelting, and metal work.’

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“We find the information contained on this board to be ever so slightly uncomfortable.”

“It’s slave mentality.”

“And it’s metallic mind.”

 “’The blood of the slain God’ is perhaps most perplexing.”

“It might be more than that if the Gods were Planetary Beings.”

“How so?”

“There is an asteroid belt orbiting the earth which some claim used to be a planet.”

“Which makes my next question even more pertinent.”

“Shouldn’t that be impertinent?”

“Who, or what, slew the God?”

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

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

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

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

Click here to download Booking Form

Too much light…

The soft colours of dawn were painting the sky as I left for work. The village streets, preternaturally quiet now that the schools were on holiday, were, for once, easy to negotiate. Parked cars take up half the width of every street and, on a school day and with oncoming traffic, getting out of the village becomes a slalom exercise in courtesy and patience.

By the time I reached the long stretch into town, the sun was cresting the horizon, setting fire to the skyline and casting long shadows across the road. Another mile, a bend in the road, and the brilliant disc had revealed itself in all its golden glory. I, and every other motorist in the now-queuing traffic, hit the brakes, dazzled by the low-lying orb on a road that runs due east.

There is, I thought, such a thing as too much light.

As the traffic crawled into town, I thought about that from another perspective. Is there ever such a thing as too much Light on the spiritual path? That Light could be said to be our goal, and so you would not immediately think so, and yet I concluded that yes, it was entirely possible.

As far back as I can remember, aspects of the spiritual path were part of my life. I was brought up in a family whose members each found their own way towards a shared goal. Their paths took many forms, encompassing the magical, mystical, spiritual and religious, but their goal seemed essentially the same, and whether they sought to attain the Christian Heaven, a Buddhist Nirvana, or a more abstract Union, each saw Light… formless, timeless and ineffable… as a perfect symbol for what drew and guided them. How could there be too much of that?

The car in front came to an abrupt halt, brake lights blazing. I saw the driver pull down the sun visor. He could not see the road ahead nor its hazards, any more than I could and had reacted by almost causing an accident.

That’s the problem with too much Light. The road we travel through life has hazards enough as it is, without our eyes being so firmly fixed on the Light that we fail to see them. We are, I believe, here for a purpose. Whether we are an incredible accident of Nature as evolutionary science would have us believe, or part of the design of some Cosmic Intelligence, we are here for a reason and with a purpose to fulfil, whether we are thinking at species level or as individuals.

If you accept that we are part of the design, and that there is a spiritual purpose to that design, there comes a point when you have to ask yourself, “Why right here? Why right now?” And, if there is indeed a purpose to our individual presence here and now, surely we need to be paying attention to where we are? This is practically impossible if your eyes are fixed firmly on the dazzling Light ahead and are blinded to all else.

 

The true mystic sees that Light and seeks to become one with it. Worldly considerations cease to matter… all else is but a shadow. While this is a rare and beautiful path to follow, it is a path for the few who feel called to that life. Those who follow the esoteric path see the Light and seek to align themselves with it, moving towards it while moving through the world with attention. This path is open to all. No path is better than another, as long as you are following the one that speaks to your heart.

My personal belief is that we may need the mystics to show us the way, but that for most of us, paying heed to the lessons, possibilities and opportunities of this life is more likely to answer the need of the inner self, allowing us a chance to learn why here and why now.  Few of us are able to divorce ourselves from the mundane business of living, but that need not mean that we cannot address those needs with due regard to spirit.

The spiritual path should not need to separate us from the earthly and physical life we have been given; it should enhance our awareness of it and bring us to an understanding that shows us that living is a spiritual journey.

Why Myth? IV…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But that is also down to the participants.

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

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A Dramatic adaptation of The Epic of Gilgamesh

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

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

Click here to download the Booking Form

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

Lord of the Deep: The Quest for Immortality

26-28 April, 2019 – Great Hucklow, Derbyshire

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