the mysterious ladder of life

If I asked you to name a famous ladder, it’s likely that something quite ancient would come up as the answer: Jacob’s Ladder. It was the subject of a dream that the biblical Patriarch Jacob had while he was fleeing from his brother Esau, in chapter 28 of the Book of Genesis.

(Above the picture of Jacob’s Ladder from the original Luther Bible of 1534. Source Wikipedia CC by SA)

The biblical God is all-powerful by ‘his’ very nature. He does not ‘transport’ Jacob to heaven – or any other place of safety. He offers him a path; in this case a rather different path to what one might draw on a map of a landscape. The key here is that Jacob still has to climb the ladder; he is not given freedom from the conditions below except by his own efforts. The higher has provide a way. The lower has to climb this narrowly defined route. In so doing, he or she will be transformed. That is the nature of all true developments of the self.

This idea of a vertical path is one taken up in the study of the Qabalah (also Qabala, Kabbalah), whose most famous diagram, the Tree of Life, is often considered to be a ‘ladder of lights’ linking the ordinary ‘earthly’ state of consciousness with a progression to a higher nature that already belongs to us. The Tree of Life is a strange kind of ladder, and offers us multiple routes for most of the journey… but not all.

(Above: the Qabalistic ‘tree of life’ which offers not, one, but two routes between the ground and the heavens)

The idea of stone steps, or, later, a ladder, has always had a magical or mysterious property. In the case of a rugged path up a hill or mountain, the route is created by nature. But in the case of steps or ladders, the making is by the human. It is engineered to take us – all of us who might wish to travel – from one level to another. Not only that but it does so in stages. Each representing an equal amount of effort, safely fashioned to the needs of the human self. A ladder that had gaps of a metre would be little use to us…

The steps may be equal, but the result of taking each one is that our position over the landscape becomes higher each time, and thus introduces an element of risk. If, in the act of mastering the first few steps, we do not learn the importance of staying true to the principles of how the ladder was constructed, we risk moving our balance beyond its centre of gravity and toppling ourselves and the ladder to the ground below. This reflected both the observation skills and the self-discipline of the mystical path. It is no accident that the word disciple resembles discipline.

(From the Ryder-Waite Deck; the card of the ‘Lightning-struck Tower’ is a reminder that the intellect of mankind can only take us so far in our ‘ascent’)

Here, we might be reminded of the Tarot card ‘the lightning-struck tower’. Towers have internal steps leading to a position of greater viewing; a wider perception of the landscape, giving us more contextual information with which to make decisions, though we are now far from the ground and must descend to the world of the ‘ordinary’ if we are to effect changes in the world we inhabit, physically. This is an important point, for the ladder, or set of steps, does grant us the power to better understand the relationship for higher to lower. Careful study and some assistance may allow us to discover a set of ‘creative laws’ by which the lower came into existence from the ‘higher’. To operate with will in this higher ‘plane’ requires a dedication to the truth…

This is the subject of mysticism, or so-called magic. Mysticism is the identification and partaking of a life based on an understanding of how things happen in the higher and lower worlds. Before physics, these were deemed to be ‘God’s work’. Now, we see them as natural results from often invisible causes: for example, electricity. But physics deals with the physical. For the metaphysical, we need to understand our selves.

Magic is the working in harmony with the natural order of creative forces as they ‘descend’ or ascend the invisible ladders of life. The Tree of Life is particularly good at illustrating this, but a deeper discussion beyond the scope of this post.

As humans we have both visible and invisible layers of our ability to do. One of the most powerful of the invisible powers is our gift of imagination, whereby we are able to visualise the state of change we wish to bring about – ideally for the good of all. Morally, this is a tricky issue, for it presumes the practitioner has a better view of reality than other who might be affected as a result…

For this reason, sacred admonitions like ‘Do no harm’ have reverberated down the ages to ward the unwary or the egoic-centred away from use of what is at the top of the ladder.

The mystic tends more towards the contemplative view that we are better to harmonise our consciousness with what we find up the ladder, than to inject our egoic nature to force things… That way lies disaster, most of all for the soul of the practitioner. Seeing oneself as ‘working with the good’ is a sure guide for individual action. Even then, we still turn to the above to understand, in depth, what is truly ‘good’. One person’s good is another’s interference. We cannot venture on such a path without taking responsibility for our actions, and understanding that though we are capable of seeing and feeling the good, we may also miss the subtlety of that which operates in a far more intelligent way than we are capable of grasping.

To close this piece let’s return to the simple ladder…

(Above: the humble wooden ladder, and its most wonderful and often overlooked attribute)

The story of Jacob’s Ladder could just as easily have been ‘Jacob’s steps’; but it wasn’t. I can’t speak for the great minds that wrote this part of the Bible, but it’s noteworthy that a humble ladder was depicted as Jacob’s means of ascent. Our final attribute is that you can take a ladder with you, unlike stone steps. At this level, the ladder becomes a metaphor for method rather than physical object. We begin to see how this method of personal growth is reliable because we can take it step-by-step, but we can also take it with us. Each step brings a new internal view of the ‘landscape’, safely adding its stable revelations to the one before. This may remind us of the ancient initiations, by means of which men and women progressed through degrees of understanding, with time to reflect, digest, and put into action what was learned as they rest between the levels.

Like the best symbols, the humble ladder offers a wealth of consideration, and can form the basis of a meditation where we envisage our present state of being to be the result of a the loss of a forgotten ‘land’ above us. Closing our eyes, we let go our cares for a moment and climb that first rung – one of only three – envisaging that we are in a more peaceful yet powerful state. Above us, now, is something we have no conception of… Dare we risk taking another step to glimpse its nature? Mystery Schools are so named for a reason…

©Stephen Tanham 2021

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

WHAT’S UP DOC? Lines of communication V…

*

…Cara… ‘I reign over you, saith the God of Justice.

ELEXARPEH

COMANANU

TABITOM.

Move therefore and show yourselves.

Appear unto us; open the mysteries of your Creation, the balance of

Righteousness and Truth.’

*

Bugs: The three names are the Angels who rule over the Tablet of Union in the Enochian System devised by Doctor John Dee and Edward Kelley…

Cara: So, some questions… What are Angels? Anybody… (discuss)

Bugs: Who numbers them? (we do…)

Cara: Who gives them names? (we do…)

Bugs: What is the Angelic function?

Cara: So… Horizonal polarity, the mundane oppositions of the world which as we have seen are interchangeable and are ever flipping, versus… Vertical polarity… World/Otherworld… Heaven/Earth… Human/Divine, we’d like to propose two definitions.

Bugs: Horizontal Polarity encompasses, ‘Everything we know or think we know.’ … which is mutable.

Cara: Vertical Polarity encompasses, ‘Everything we don’t know or don’t think we know.’ … which is immutable.

Bugs: The Angelic function is to mediate between the poles of a vertical polarity.

Cara: From whom to whom? (discuss)

Bugs: From here to where? (discuss)

Cara: Angelos means, ‘messenger’.  In Christian Mysticism where the divine is regarded as the beloved, the angel is the lovers ‘chaperone’

Bugs: In Sufi Mysticism where the divine is spoken of in terms of an intoxicating beverage

The ‘Wine-house dispenser’, or ‘bar-tender’, is the angel.

Cara: Also, in Islamic mysticism we have Al Khidr –  who is Another Green or Verdant Man…

And, somewhat inevitably, an angel.

Bugs: The function of al-Khiḍr as a ‘person-archetype’ is to reveal each companion to

themselves, to lead each companion to their own theophany, because that theophany

corresponds to their own ‘inner heaven,’ to the form of their own being, to their eternal

individuality.

Cara: This latter, then, conforms to the idea of ‘contact’.

Bugs: And in Magical Tradition to, ‘Conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel’….

Cara: Where language fails in its attempt to adequately describe this state…

Art… Dance…Music… may succeed…

Intro music…

Bugs: So, we would like to conclude this presentation with a piece of music.

This piece of music, in our opinion, possesses the ability to make the ‘beyond’ tangible.

Before we do that for you we would like to rearrange things slightly as a symbolism and an act of sacrifice

Cara: As you move your intent should be ‘I move, in order, to achieve my vertical polarity.’

(seat swap) S1-N9, N8-S2, S3-N7, N6-S4, (S5-N5, already accomplished) S6-N4, N3-S7, S8-N2, N1-S9)

Bugs: (closes curtains and dims any lights.) Explain meditation… Seed thoughts. ‘Never perfect always changing. Ever changing always perfect.’

Music…O Holy One… by John Tavener…

Cara: reads… (over start of music)

Most subtle of the shifting forms and yet most constant too.

Whose moonlit transformation cannot change the heart that’s true.

It harkens to each season’s turn and reads the twilight air

And listens to the inner song and knows both foul and fair.

Between two worlds It journeys and in both It can be seen

In adoration of the moon yet always clothed in green…

END

Rabbit Excerpt abridged from ‘Watership Down’ – by Richard Adams

Thanks to those Companions who acted as Adjudicators, and all those whose contributions to this presentation helped make it work…

WHAT’S UP DOC? Lines of communication IV…

*

…’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…’

Bugs… (pause) CARROTS! (pause) Reads…

THIS IDEALLY SITUATED ESTATE
COMPRISING SIX ACRES
OF EXCELLENT BUILDING LAND
IS TO BE DEVELOPED
WITH HIGH CLASS MODERN RESIDENCES
BY SUTCH AND MARTIN, LIMITED
OF NEWBURY, BERKS

Cara… In the context of the story then, this notice spells doom for the rabbits and the warren…

Bugs… So, what’s going on? Why have we presented you with these cards?

Cara… A spanking, brand new pair of Bunny ears for anyone who can tell us?

(Interplay)

BugsIf no takers… Well, you are all now Rabbits anyway…Why?

Because you are in the same position in relation to the first inscription on the card as the rabbits in the story are to the second… (both Cara and Bugs elaborate on that position) So, to emphasise that position…

*

Cara… In the darkness and warmth of the burrow Hazel suddenly woke, struggling and kicking with his back legs…

Bugs… It was Fiver, who was clambering over him, clawing and grabbing like a rabbit trying to climb a wire fence in panic.

*
Cara… ‘Fiver! Fiver, wake up… It’s Hazel. You’ll hurt me in a moment. Wake up!
He held him down. Fiver struggled and woke.

*
Bugs… “Oh, Hazel! I was dreaming. It was dreadful.
You were there.
We were sitting on water, going down a great, deep stream, and then I realised we were on a board, like that board in the field.
There were other rabbits there but when I looked down the board was made of bones and wires…
I was looking for you everywhere and trying to drag you out of a hole in the bank.
You said, “The Chief Rabbit must go alone, and you floated away down a dark tunnel of water.”

*
Cara… Well, you’ve hurt my ribs, anyway.
Tunnel of water… What rubbish!
Can we go back to sleep now?

*

Bugs… “Hazel – the danger, the bad thing. It hasn’t gone away.

It’s here – all round us.

Don’t tell me to forget about it and go to sleep.

We’ve got to get away before it’s too late.”

*
Cararepeats… ‘The bad thing.

It hasn’t gone away.

It’s here… all around us…’

So, we ask again…

Is our script.

Our unknown script good or bad?

Repeats invocation…

*
Bugs… Is it worthy or unworthy of ridicule?

If any Companions claimed to know at outset let them reveal, alternatively, Reveal…

This is a fragment of angelic language used by Dr John Dee.

It is part of an invocation…

*

Cara… ‘I reign over you, saith the God of Justice.
ELEXARPEH
COMANANU
TABITOM.
Move therefore and show yourselves.
Appear unto us; open the mysteries of your Creation, the balance of
Righteousness and Truth.’

to be continued…

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…

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…

WHAT’S UP DOC? Lines of communication…

Presentation from, The Jewel in the Claw workshop, April 2018…

 

*

For those with eyes to see…

*

Floor Set up

Altar, placed centrally on chequered floor and covered… With, placed on it, top-hat, upended, with, placed in it, rabbit mask and ears x2, and ‘pack-of-cards’, all also covered. South and North lined with nine chairs for Companions.  Adjudicator 1 (male) to sit on central chair of South. Adjudicator 2 (female) to sit on central chair of North. Two chairs in East. One chair in West.

Bugs and Cara initially sit on chairs in East. When all Companions have entered and are seated Cara and Bugs rise to stand, simultaneously, and Cara walks clockwise to stand in front of the west chair.

*

Bugs: Friends, Britons, Countrymen…Welcome to our presentation. In keeping with our Shakespearean theme this year, we have determined to develop some of the concepts of the weekend…

Cara: Horizontal Polarity!

(Bugs and Cara walk anti-clockwise. Bugs to stand before West chair. Cara to stand before East chairs. On the way, Bugs hands Adjudicator 2 Gold Parchment with a sonnet printed on it. On reaching the West Bugs declares…)

Bugs: Love!

Cara:  recites the Shakespearean sonnet as a ‘lover’…

Being your slave, what should I do but tend

Upon the hours and times of your desire?

I have no precious time at all to spend,

Nor services to do, till you require.

Nor dare I chide the world-without-end hour

Whilst I, my sovereign, watch the clock for you,

Nor think the bitterness of absence sour

When you have bid your servant once adieu;

Nor dare I question with my jealous thought

Where you may be, or your affairs suppose,

But, like a sad slave, stay and think of nought

Save, where you are how happy you make those.

   So true a fool is love that in your will,

   Though you do anything, he thinks no ill.

(Adjudicator 2 ‘follows’ the recital from the Gold Parchment. On finishing the reading Cara and Bugs switch positions again but this time they move clockwise. On the way Cara hands Adjudicator 1 Silver Parchment with the sonnet printed on it. On reaching the East, Bugs declares…)

Bugs: Loathing!

Cara: recites the same Shakespearean sonnet but this time as a ‘loather’…

(Adjudicator 1 ‘follows’ the recital from the Silver Parchment. On finishing the reading Cara moves clockwise to the South to collect Adjudicator 1 and leads him to the central altar. Bugs moves clockwise to the North to collect Adjudicator 2 and leads her to the central altar. Both Adjudicators follow the central line of the ‘board’ and square corners around the altar, to stand facing each other centrally as directed by Bugs and Cara. Once at the altar they are asked to verify that both the scripts are the same. When they have done so they swap parchments and then are led to opposite seats and re-seated.)

Bugs returns to East.

Cara returns to West.

(During the following exchange they circle the altar, alternating between East and West as they speak.)

Bugs: Ladies and Gentlemen, please, a hand for our adjudicators…

Cara: And so, we see, that, Horizontal Polarities are interchangeable, and represent two sides of the same coin…

And we can also see, that, opposite ‘emotions’ can be evoked by the self-same words?

Bugs: The written word, it seems, needs context…

Cara: But if we cannot trust the written word what can we trust?

to be continued…

Seeking Spirit

“You could find something spiritual in doing the dishes,” said my friend, as if this was unusual.

“He’s right. And although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it,” said Stuart, “ you could probably find spirituality in going to the toilet.” Half a dozen themes suggested themselves as he spoke.

“Disposing of the old and outworn…”

“…and how unhealthy hanging onto it too long can be…

“An illustration of how difficult it is to find personal time and peace in modern life… ”

“A meditative interlude…”

“One could talk about chemo constipation and how a breakdown in the system affects every other part of the body and mind…”

“…which shows how health is not static but a process. Nature has worked for thousands of years to create a process that works beautifully…”

“A perfect system. Recycling waste to feed plants and through them the animals that in turn feed us…”

“A completely self-contained system. And we think we can do better… and treat it with little or no respect.”

“We’ve only just got away, in evolutionary and social terms, from living with muck. Manure and its human equivalent were very much part of our everyday lives till recently… now we’ve moved away enough to become squeamish. “

“So we try to feel in control…”

“And fail miserably.” Because, when all is said and done, Nature is a bit bigger, a lot older…and a great deal wiser than we are.

So they were both right… you can find something spiritual in anything. Especially in Nature. It depends, really, on how you define ‘spiritual’.

For some, it is a side of life that is finer than mere flesh and earth. These are elements to be escaped, transcended, left behind as we strive for a higher state of being. For others ‘spiritual’ is something to do… attending a place of worship, perhaps… praying or adhering to the rules of a religion… following a moral code, meditating, or seeking the answers to the age-old questions that have beset the heart of humankind. And it is not by accident that the words ‘question’ and ‘quest’ share the same root.

There are as many ways of approaching spirituality as there are souls. None of them is right or wrong… each must fit the feet that walk their path.

For me, my approach to ‘spirituality’ changed decades ago when I first began to actively study the Tree of Life. I was reading The Mystical Qabalah, the best approach to this glyph and system that has, in my opinion, ever been written. Dion Fortune, undoubtedly one of the most important writers of the past century or so in the magical field, writes with a down-to-earth clarity that illuminates the stuffy corners of the academic approach to mysticism…. two concepts that do not really go well together, but knowledge is a necessary fuel for understanding.

When I read the words ‘God made manifest in Nature’, I knew what I had been missing in my own approach.

When you see divinity, by whatever name you wish to call It or in whatever form you choose to picture It, made manifest in Nature… pervading everything, from the sand on the beach to the plants, animals… and even into the works of humankind, because they are, in many ways, as much part of nature as the nest or mating display of a bird… then you see the world and indeed all creation, through a different lens. There is a rightness about it that even finds space for what we see as ‘wrong’ because, in the wider scheme, everything has a place. Even darkness, pain and evil have something to teach, for how could we choose between two paths were we only to ever encounter one?

And, when you see the world through that lens, then how can you see your own life through any other? The spiritual life is life, warts and all. It is not something to aspire to, nor something to seek… it is neither distant from nor alien to our base human nature… it is everything we see, feel or experience… from going to the loo to washing dishes, from watching the rising of the sun to holding a dead sparrow in our hand. You do not have to find the spiritual in your everyday life, It is already there. It is life… and It is you.

Interlude: Looking Back…

The mere idea of “saving the ‘best’ till last” was feeling all too prophetic. Especially as ‘best’ is debatable anyway.’ Most iconic, perhaps, best known worldwide, most unusual… but just ‘best’ is  too subjective. From the magic of mountain-girt Castlerigg, to the intimacy of Barbrook, where ancestral voices still whisper, each circle has its own feel and character. Perhaps Stonehenge is the Westminster Abbey of stone circles… but it is in the quiet chapels of the tiny parish churches where the prayers of centuries are most often felt.

Where we ought to have been recently, on the Orkney Islands, we might have touched something similar, something older, for there are theories that the Megalithic culture spread from those isles… or perhaps they too were just another stepping stone back towards an even more ancient vision.

But we were here and now. It had been a long day. I had already driven for hours and would have hours more to drive before we were home. I was ill, struggling and, had we had any sense whatsoever, we would not have even considered such a trip under the circumstances.

But then, sense does not come into it when you are called… and there had been far too many synchronicities for us to think otherwise. Even the group who would finally be allowed within the circle was less than half its usual permitted number; it was a mere handful of strangers, therefore, spread across two buses, who would be free to wander within the stones of Stonehenge.

“I saw you at the stones wrapped in wings,” had said my healer-friend, so I had worn my favourite scarf, surprised it was warm enough to be without a decent shawl at this time of year and evening. I would have liked to walk to the great stones, each step carrying me one step closer to both past and future across the long-sacred earth. A pilgrimage, of sorts and a homage to memories of my own long-ago. But the ravens walked with me as I lagged behind, failing to keep up, even on the short path from the bus.

I was not at all in the frame of mind that I should have been. I think, most of all, I was afraid that the circle would have closed down… that it would no longer feel ‘right’ after so much attention by so many people…many of whom are simply gawping at something they will tick off their tour list as having ‘done’. Were my memories of the place, of the feel of it, anywhere near accurate… or any reflection of what was left, now the site was under corporate protection?

I desperately wanted Stuart to be able to feel some trace of what I had known when the stones stood free to the wind and to the worship. Not how they had felt from outside when last I had brought someone here, milling around the edges with thousands of others…

Our guide and guardian, a storyteller, took us to the edge of the grass, allowing us a few minutes to take people-less photographs of the circle before we went inside. And as soon as my feet touched the forbidden green beyond the barriers, seeing all the faces emerge from the stones, I knew my fears were groundless.

The circle opened its heart to welcome me back… and ‘welcoming’ was exactly the feeling Stuart reported later, with a good deal of surprise. It was not what he had expected from the place at all. It is hard to find words that describe it… as if each of the different types of stone… the sarsens, bluestones, gneiss and many others… all sing a different note, but no matter how beautifully they harmonise, their song needs to pass through the human heart in order to be heard, felt and lived. So it was with tears of gratitude streaming… and probably a very silly grin… that we finally entered the circle of stones.

 

A Magical Tradition…

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The Roman Catholic Church’s criteria

for ‘conferring sainthood’ rests upon intercession.

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Intercession can be described as,

‘the predilection of disincarnate entities

to affect the incarnate world in a positive way’.

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If enough people report a successful outcome

or outcomes from their prayers of supplication to such entities

a case can be made for ‘promotion’ to sainthood…

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A history will be written, icons and relics will be manufactured,

more people will pray to the new saint and seek their graces…

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This process, apparently, applies to both humans and angels

which gives us the seemingly incongruous phenomena –

Archangelic Saints!

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Of which, St Michael is one…

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All this is a far cry from the early scriptural tradition

which seemed loath to even name ‘God’s Messengers’.

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Strange as this process might be it does suggest

that calling on the Archangels for help actually works!

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This is easy to explain from the magical point of view:

 engaging in this process manifests will

by giving intent an imaginative agency.

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This is one use of symbology and the Renaissance paintings

of religious entities and other mythological subjects

are particularly efficacious in this regard

because they were conceived and executed during

a magical revival.

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The mediaeval Book of Hours worked in a similar way

for the private devotions of the Aristocracy.

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But, where on earth does St George fit in?