The Bedouin

Image by Cuyahoga from Pixabay

It is said we learn most from those we would wish to emulate. Not copy, perhaps, but take from them an essence of thought, of action. If we are younger, of style, even…

There must have been a thousand people in the room. The university hall was full. When he stood up to speak, his movements were relaxed. His body language gentle, open.

What was it, that air? It wasn’t bravado…. just a sense of being at home, there.

Before him, there had been a speaker giving lots of do’s and don’ts – mainly don’ts. The celebratory mood with which we had all gathered had been blunted. The new speaker looked around the room to encompass the space – as though drawing in all the negative energy and using it as raw material for something very different – like crushed stones in roadbuilding. That act, alone, taught me so much; that you can always ‘dance on’ negativity and treat it as a foundation layer, thereby giving it a home, rather than resisting it. Therein is true magic…

He looked around, drawing in breath to begin. Then smiled…. just that; a silent smile. I swear that all of us leaned forward when he did that, waiting for him to fill the pause: the not-thing, the empty glass he had just created. Instead of words, he filled it with gesture. There was a hush as everyone realised that they were not smiling and addressed it accordingly.

We smiled….

“Good morning,” he said, not looking or sounding like anyone should after a recent transatlantic flight.

Everyone responded, some twice and more loudly the second time. Laughing, good-natured. So far all he had done was to speak those three words; yet most of those watching were already with him, already a joyous part of what was being created.

And that was when I had the mind-picture of drifting sand; sand making lazy, curling and twisting patterns in the hot breeze…

“So the question is…” He spoke fluently, breathing and talking in measured beats, letting the rounded language sink in before moving to the next idea in what he was building. The rise and fall reminded me of a wave… and then I saw where the wave and the tumbling sand were headed. And I saw the dune – a vast wind-blown barchan, set in the middle of a hot desert, with a beautiful blue sky. A savage place to be, perhaps, but not in this projected mental space.

“I need a couple of people to help me?”

My raised hand was too far back to be noticed. His playful eyes ranged over the first few rows, picking out a man and a woman. They rose from their chairs as assured as I was that they would form part of something wonderful – that they needed to have no apprehension, let alone fear, in the spiritual composition to come.

He gave them each a simple prop and asked them to describe it, moving with the microphone to stand alongside them – not across – as they spoke. He nodded at the answers, taking what he needed from each.

“So what happens when we combine any two of these?” he asked.

As in a dance, he moved the two of them around the small stage, being playful but purposeful. At each key angle of his imagined circle, he stopped to check the arrangement and smiled. Whatever was being built grew…. there was no doubt in anyone’s mind; we could feel it. We might recognise the elements being used, and the circular pattern, but what he was creating was still a mystery.

“And now any three of them…” From his battered leather document case he produced a crescent of silver… and the beautiful desert in my mind was suddenly under faint stars and a bright moon. His two volunteers saw the pattern, and each, independently, began moving towards their host.

Three figures stood at the top of the dune. He took their hands and aligned them, stepping behind both and disappearing…

For a moment before the thunder of applause struck, the hall was full of a beauty that could never be rehearsed. Then the wind blew and the beautiful grains of desert sand dispersed into the imagined night…

I never forgot the Bedouin… and I have carried his lesson with me ever since.

©Copyright Stephen Tanham

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

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

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

A journey with the Silent Eye ~ Anne Copeland

Anne Copeland, a Companion of the Silent Eye, writes of her journey with the School:

The Little Match Girl by Anne Copeland

I came across The Silent Eye Mystery School quite by accident, if anything can be truly considered an accident. I have studied a lot of psychology, archaeology, history, geography, spirituality, world religions, mythology, and other studies for many years, trying to discover just where I fit in within this world and this universe.  I sought to understand the meaning of the many things I encountered daily in the ways I related to others, or the meanings of things that cannot readily be seen, but which we all are conscious of. Somehow I never seemed to quite find the answers I was seeking.

Have you felt that you are somewhat alone with a world that seems to have so many problems and people doing wrong that it feels out of control?  Do you wonder if you will ever find peace and genuine happiness and understanding of the things of this place, this time of life? Will you ever feel at one with the light of this world? Perhaps most importantly, will you ever encounter the love and respect that you have wished for?

The school studies consist of a combination of contemporary psychological and ancient esoteric teachings that have been carefully selected to take you on a wonderful and magical journey into the light, wonder and color of the universe. As you venture into the guided journeys, you will begin to see how lost we can become as we attempt to relate to many things and people that exist outside of our sacred being. You will steadily find your way home as you have perhaps never known it.

 

This is the start of my second year of the three-year study, and I have never enjoyed any of my many studies as much as this. Not only have I come to know the archaeology, history, religions, mythology and geography of England; I have also come to know myself and to have a sense of how in the past I have reacted to so many aspects of my own life rather than interacting with them in a way that is beneficial to both sides. I have discovered a tremendous amount of personal peace and well-being even when I am surrounded by turmoil and disintegration. This is part of the great alchemy that brings us into a sense of oneness with all that is, all that ever has been, and all that will be.

Founded in 2012 by three amazing, knowledgeable people in England, Steve Tanham, Sue Vincent and Stuart France, The Silent Eye Mystery School is a wonderful correspondence course that is supplemented by in-person workshops and exciting events which are optional for students to attend if they are able. The course is extremely reasonable, and each student is assigned a “supervisor” who will assist you with gaining a deeper understanding of your studies, and who will answer all of your questions along the way.

You can find out more about Anne at her blog, All in a Day’s Breath


Would you like to know more?

For details of the School and our methods, how to join our Correspondence Course, or to find out more about our Workshops and Events please explore our website or email The Silent Eye at rivingtide@gmail.com

The Modern Mysteries

The ‘mysteries’ have been with mankind as long as we have existed. They are a collection of paths that take us inwards; restoring a sense of self deeper than that which reacts, and showing us that mankind is much more than a biological animal – though animals, and their focus on the ‘now’ have much to teach us, too.

The reason these paths work is that we are more than we appear to be. The reactive nature of the self-in-the-world, the personality, fixes it into a certain relationship with its world. This is vital for survival but not so for our potential evolution. Mankind is not a finished project. Nature can only take us so far, beyond that point we have take responsibility for our own self-development, and the power for this comes from within. To begin this, we have to loosen the grip of the world on our reactive self. When this is done, a new space emerges within our mind and heart.; a quiet, creative place that feels wholly our own. Unlike the everyday world, our energy is not robbed in this place, in fact the former reactions, seen in their true perspective, actually feed the strength of this private chamber… there is a bubbling of laughter, a lightness of being.

Developments in psychology over the past hundred years have given teachers of the spiritual a powerful vocabulary to describe the nature of the reactive self, the self-in-the-world. We see that our essential self is not what has grown up, like layers of paint, around our experience of the world. For the first time, we see that what is truly ‘us’ is not only difficult to define, but also not the layers of painted self-consciousness that have developed, year on year, since we came into the world.

At this point we begin to sense the weight of the baggage we carry. As the time spent on self-study lengthens, we see that we can let go a lot of what we thought was us, and delight in the rush of powerful energy when the unnecessary is let go. As the reactive gravity is released, we begin to sense an entirely new relationship with the world in which we live – the outer world… or is it?

With the letting go of what we thought we were, we enter a new field of confidence. This confidence is reinforced when events in our lives seems to conspire to teach us each next step that we need to learn. We look up at the sky – inner and outer and ask, “Did that really just happen?” And it did, and it goes on happening as the door of perception opens onto true relationship and we come re-evaluate our whole lives.

There comes a point where we know enough to show others parts of it. We feel a honourable debt and a desire to do this. We experiment; finding what techniques work for us and which don’t. The personality is not done away with, rather it is realigned in the service of this inner relationship – spirit will do nicely as a word, but there are many more words that can serve us well. We may even change our vocabulary as we speak to different audiences. We need have no fear, for each challenge brings its own way of speaking and showing – if we remain true to the inner vibration, which, day by day, is becoming us.

These, then, are the mysteries. They are not, nor have ever been, bound up in a fixed set of teachings, They belong to all of us, they are our birthright. They are the new world we have always had. Only the self-in-the-world was ever in the way of this, and now it serves something higher and more noble as we reach for the sky.

©️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.

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?”

*

 

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

Rites of Passage: Seeing beyond fear

Rites of Passage: Seeing beyond fear

 A weekend with the Silent Eye

Derbyshire, UK

Friday 13th – Sunday 15th September 2019

We are all afraid of something.

There are the fears of the everyday world, from arachnophobia to a fear of the dark, and the deeper fears of the personality, that play upon the mind and heart.

What purpose might such fears serve, beyond protecting us from potentially harmful situations?

How have our ancestors addressed such fears across the centuries? Can we learn from the past a way to see beyond our fears to a future lit by serenity and hope?

Join us on Friday the thirteenth of September, 2019, in the ancient landscape of Derbyshire as we explore how to lay our personal gremlins to rest.

Based in the landscape around Tideswell, Bakewell and beyond, this weekend will entail some relatively easy walking on moorland paths.

The weekend runs from Friday afternoon to early Sunday afternoon, and costs £50 per person. Meals and accomodation are not included and should be booked separately by all attendees. meals are often taken together at a convenient pub or cafe.

Click below to
Download our Events Booking Form – pdf

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

Religious Syncretism: iconotropy…

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… “Is he meant to be a giant?”

“In the story he is two-thirds divine, one third-man.”

“Which doesn’t actually answer my question.”

“I don’t know, is he meant to be a giant?”

“Ah, I see… Well, if that is a full grown lion, then he is very definitely a giant.”

“The Hebrew story-tellers saw fit to make the lion, a cub.”

“With the express aim of de-gigantisising him I expect.”

“Is that a word?”

“I shouldn’t think so.”

“So why would they downsize him?”

“Because the strength of their hero didn’t come from his size. It came from God.”

“The Spirit of the Lord.”

“The Spirit of the Lord, that’s right.”

“But if Gilgamesh is two-thirds divine, doesn’t his strength come from ‘God’ too?”

“Gilgamesh has a divine mother, Ninsun, and a father who was born human but later became divine.”

“Ninsun, is a name to conjure with,” murmurs Wen and then, “this becoming divine business is interesting.”

“And the crux of their reasoning for a change. The Hebrews did not go in for that kind of truck with the Gods. Their God was transcendent. Only his feminine aspect was immanent and because of that she was not regarded as a Goddess. She was known as the Shekinah but even this, later became all but forgotten. At least officially.”

“That is not the jaw-bone of an ass is it?”

“I very much doubt it.”

“Do we have any idea what it actually is?”

“Nope. None whatsoever, but I expect it will reveal its identity at some point during the proceedings.”

“Research!” proclaims Wen, triumphantly.

“If you insist,” but this is a form of research too. The Greeks called it dialectic… three, six, nine… lots of maybe’s, lots of supposes…”

“So, why should transcendence be considered the ‘be all and end all’?”

“I don’t know, why should transcendence be considered the ‘be all and end all’?”

“Well, it has to do with the outer, and hierarchy, and objectivity.”

“None of which are intrinsically unsound concepts.”

“Until they are regarded as ends in themselves and not as integral parts of process and cycle. I like his hair.”

“Not so sure about the chain-mail beard though.”

“Did Samson have a beard?”

“I expect so, although I suspect the ban on the razor only extended to his head.”

“Oh really, and why would one suspect that?”

“I’m not totally sure, but I think it has something to do with the sun, and its rays.”

“If most of the Hebrew males wore long hair and beards anyway, why was there a need for the razor ban?” pondered Wen.

“Ah, is that the sound of trumpets scaling the ramparts of heaven?”

*

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

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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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North-easterly II – Beyond the walls

Next morning, we gathered at the gates of Bamburgh castle. We had seen it from beyond its walls, considering how we could glimpse our own ‘inner fortifications’ from a perspective beyond the control of the ego, and now we were about to voluntarily enter a place that could be, like the conditioned defences of the personality, both a haven or a prison.

We had a little time to explore the outer shell and the façade that the stronghold presents to the world, as well as to see how it sat within, yet dominating, the landscape… a landscape largely shaped because of the castle’s very presence. Its landward face looks over the moat to the village that grew in its shadow. The old beehive dove-cote seems a reminder that the homes that cluster close to the castle walls once housed those in thrall to the castle’s lord.

To the seaward side, the imposing defences and lines of cannon send a clear message to any invaders seeking to attack. While where the land and sea meet, a medieval burial ground holds the memory of the dead. As an egoic analogy, it could hardly have been better chosen.

Passing beneath the arch of the gate, you are funnelled through a narrow and easily defended lane, where any visitor to the domain is immediately taken under control.  Our own defences are very much the same, allowing others to approach us only through certain channels, even though our ‘gates’ may appear… even to us… to stand open to the world. It is only when you have gained entry …or approval… that there is the freedom to explore.

Climbing the winding path that leads into the courtyard, you are met with defences of another kind. Although the walls are high and thick, especially on the Norman Keep, the real power that is now on display is that of wealth and position.

From the Tudor windows to the ornately carved shields, the inner facade of the castle seems designed to assert social dominance. Magnificently restored and well cared for, there are reminders of its martial past as well as its political position in history writ large in its stones.

Yet, for all it may be amongst the best of its kind, it looks very much like every other restored castle. Castles are serious. They evolve over time, taking on the forms and fashions of the day and yet the plans, well-tested by the centuries, conform to a relatively rigid form; one that serves its purpose admirably, but which appears to leave little room for joy. We see the desire to make a strong statement or to create an impression of solid and established power. The outer face of the inner castle leaves you in little doubt of how its lord sees himself, and here too the analogy is pretty apt.

We ‘let people in’… but just a little way at first. We still have our defences… often prominently displayed. But we seldom let anyone all the way in… not at first. We still have an image of ourselves that we project, a subtle and almost invisible line of defence that hides the reality behind something that looks interesting and attractive… but what happens when you look a little deeper?

Quite appropriately, given the symbolism we were exploring, we would have to wait to see beyond the inner doors, as the interior opens an hour later than the grounds. Stuart sat on the throne of Northumberland… a reconstruction based upon a carved stone found close by… and shared his first reading from Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Then we wandered the grounds for a while until the State Rooms were opened and we were allowed to delve further.

I was drawn to an odd rectangle of grass, surrounded by some broken stone walling. There has obviously been another building here once upon a time, and the curved end of the space looked like the remains of windows in the apse of a chapel… which is exactly as it turned out to be.

St Peter’s Chapel was an important place of worship long ago, the spiritual heart of the castle. It held relics of King Oswald, a saintly ruler credited with much good during his lifetime and many miracles after his death. He died in 642 in battle against the pagan king Penda, who dismembered his body on the battlefield. Amidst all the glory of temporal splendour, this sacred place has been left unrestored, open to the winds and with a congregation of birds. The apse, where the altar and relics once stood, now holds only a bell that was taken down because it annoyed the lady of the castle and the villagers… and piles of small change, like a dragon’s hoard, now replace the votive offerings.

There may well be a new chapel somewhere within the castle, where there is indeed a wealth of religious symbolism, but for the purpose of our weekend, this sacred space left derelict in favour of worldly display seemed a poignant symbol for the unchecked ego that cannot see beyond its own projected image to the sacred heart within.

And yet, the chapel was not entirely barren, for within it is a single grave…or so I thought. The cross bears an inscription to ‘The first Lord Armstrong… a genius in his time’. He had loved Northumberland, had bought and restored the castle… it seemed only fitting that he should be buried within the chapel and remain at its heart. The records, however, show that he was buried at Rothbury, some miles away. Is the apparent grave no more than a memorial? An empty tomb… or a sign of love and respect? Perhaps the castle has a heart after all… and if so, it is a very human one.  Perhaps I had not looked far enough? And who am I to judge what any heart may hold… even that of a castle?

Over the centuries, many people have used the symbolism of the castle to explore spiritual and psychological concepts.  The intellectual exercise is, however, nowhere near as graphic as when you walk through these spaces and get the feeling of an idea built in stone. It was proving to be an interesting experience… and the State Rooms were about to open…