Summer weather…

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August tomorrow… high summer… when the rush-hour traffic melts away and the roads are driveable, even at eight in the morning. A time of beaches and sandcastles, of ice-cream and strawberries. Of flowerbeds that are a carnival of colour… of sunshine and suntans… Or, in England… fog, rain and plunging temperatures.

Opening the curtains this morning was a waste of time. It didn’t get any lighter, and one look outside was enough to realise that it probably wouldn’t. The dog eyed the rain that battered the roses and went back to bed with a look of disgust. I couldn’t blame her… but like it or not she needed a walk before I left for work. We agreed… eventually… that we would indeed venture beyond the threshold, but Ani displayed none of her usual enthusiasm. To Ani, water should be confined to the pools and streams where she can get a mud bath.

If there is one thing we are good at in England it is weather. The variations we manage are quite stunning. Yesterday I came home beetroot red, in spite of long sleeves and soft cotton. Today, I am thinking seriously about putting the heating on to dispel some of the mouldering and all-pervading dampness that seems to have settled on every surface. I am cold, my bones ache and it feels like December… except that winter is just as likely to be mild and sunny…

I have to wonder though. Is it summer? Or is that just an arbitrary division of the year to which we doggedly hold, bound in place by our ideas of family holidays and the closure of the schools? The earth seems to think otherwise. Technically, I suppose it is, but we are, after all, already closer to the autumnal equinox than summer solstice. The harvest is being gathered, bales of gold dot the fields, there are ripe blackberries on the brambles and many flowers have already set seed.

Maybe it is a question of semantics and association. Speak of summer and the mind wanders to balmy days, leisure and laughter. It is our image, based on the memories that spring to the surface when we say the word… yet time does not stand still and summer melds imperceptibly with autumn, just as it had melted from spring for one brief burst of glory.

We like to have things neat and tidy in our minds and speak of the ‘first day of summertime’ as if the seasons will change at our instigation, or at least with some modicum of punctuality, when in fact there is no immediate transformation, more a gradual blurring as the seasons flow, one into another. I think it may be because Nature is beyond our control that we seek to cage her with our definitions and timescales. No matter how we manipulate genetic coding, defy medical conditions or learn to use the forces of the natural world, we are, at some level, conscious that Mother Nature still looks on with maternal indulgence at our meagre efforts to harness natural laws and bring them to our service.

We can delay, but cannot conquer, death. We can fertilise an embryo in a Petrie dish… but can we actually give it life when we cannot even adequately define it? Or are we merely taking the raw materials that Nature has given us to form a vessel, in the same way that the potter takes clay and water to shape a cup to hold the wine?

As to the weather… we have no chance. Ask an Englishman…

In black and white

 

Shadows, by Nick Verron
Shadows, by Nick Verron

I held out my foot, and pointed the camera… the reflection of black shoe and white skin in the black gloss desk was interesting. Thought provoking… just a reflection… perfect symmetry but as a negative colour. “Our lives are just a collection of images, aren’t they?” said my son. “Just reflections of the images our minds perceive.”

We had been talking about photography again and looking at some of the images he had taken and discussing why they work… or not, as the case may be. One in particular caught my attention… a black and white rendition of ducks on what looks like the edge of the Rimfall of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. It is surprising how much difference the black and white rendering makes to a shot. Uninteresting, everyday objects seem transformed and we look at them in a new way. They evoke a different response.

When I was a very young woman, my grandfather gave me a camera. I had always enjoyed taking pictures, but knew nothing of ‘proper’ photography. This new camera was a pretty basic SLR and I had no idea how to use it and determined to find out. I recall the moment it all changed and I began to see the creative possibilities of photography. I saw something from the top of the bus on my way to work and, that evening, grabbed the new camera, donned the boots, hat and scarf, and tramped through the village in search of a picture. I had never done that before… until that point I had done no more than take snapshots of places, people and events. But the long row of telegraph poles, high on the hilltop stood starkly black against the snowdrifts and I found that I really wanted to take that shot.

 

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I never became a ‘proper’ photographer, amateur or otherwise; I still just take pictures. Grandad’s old  SLR died fairly soon afterwards on a Spanish beach and life had other plans for me than letting me play with cameras. But that brief interlude, learning to see through the restriction of a lens, left its mark. The observation that comes with wielding a camera doesn’t fade, and the world took on a visual richness and a depth of interest that remains.

Processing photos is an interesting thing to observe too. The addition of deeper shadows can make colours sing and light dance and sparkle, changing a picture from mediocre to arresting in seconds. Sometimes a detail may drawn the eye and, with a little judicious cropping, the image of something familiar becomes an abstract work. Or perhaps you capture a moment in glorious colour, but change it to monochrome instead. Such changes can be startling, altering what we percieve and how. They change the mood, make us think; lifting us out of the ordinary and dropping us into unfamiliar territory. Our points of reference are altered, or taken away altogether, and it can be difficult to decipher an image at first glance.

Playing with the settings on the camera and idly snapping away at my son’s home as we talked, perceprion, recognition and memory were all called into question. Our lives, as my son had said, really can be compared to a collection of images, string together as memories. Moments perceived quite often in black and white, then coloured by memory and emotion. Sometimes those inner images are altered by abstraction from their place in time, or we turn up the contrast so high that we can’t really make out what we are seeing. The filters we apply to experience make things feel unfamiliar when we look back at them in memory.

When the shadows are very dark it may seem as if they are all we can see… yet we are not really seeing shadows, or an absence of light, just its interuption. Light and shade go hand in hand. You cannot see one without the other. On a photograph, it is the shadows that throw the light into relief and allow it to illuminate what we are seeing. In our lives, the dark times are the backdrop against which we can see what we have lived and who we are.

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The Creature on the Beach Beyond Thought

It lay there, head in the sky, gazing at the radiance. Its tail was still in the ocean of thought, the gentle waves urging it back where it belonged…

The gaps in the waves had always been there; they were the rhythm of life. But it had never thought to use them as a way through.

To where?

To beauty, certainly. The sights and sounds and smells of newness were all around it, the warm sand beneath. But it was a different newness. It lay there, laughing at the thought that newness could be new. The sea began to analyse this, pulling it, gently, back into its waves, but it pushed out its hands and grasped the glittering sand, and breathed deep the air that could only be new… and knew it was home.

Why had it never seen that, before?

Perhaps you had to be steered; gently guided into the shallows so the edge of the glittering sand became apparent. Behind it, the ocean of thought began to clamour for its attention, perhaps desperately seeing the last chance to put it back into the sleep of thought’s conditioning.

Conditioning: it was a hard word, and yet described the whole ocean; even the parts where it had tried to reason the way out of it. Life had conditioned it to love, to fear, to survive; and yet the very spark of life had not come from that sea of thought and reaction. The sea was only the cradle for that which could not be conditioned – did not react, because the real nature had a sheer power to be with the truth of anything, just being there was its truth, and all else bowed before it…

All else was its child.

The waves called to it in a different voice, now. They sang of love; of a role performed, of the golden drops of sun-kissed water flowing from the rapidly-changing body and finding their way back into the sea, where they shone – briefly – differently.

Stronger, surer by the second, he raised eyes that were new… to the Sun.

©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.

Preparations…

Derbyshire is beautiful as summer comes to the moors. Every road is bordered with wildflowers… swathes of lacy cow parsley and meadowsweet and drifts of yellow loosestrife make the blue of cranesbill almost luminous. Here and there, deep purple thistles and lavender pools of wild thyme add yet another colour to a palette that begins to light the brown sea of heather that will soon paint the hills.

It was just a shame about the weather. Torrential rain waited until we stopped the car and seemed determined to prevent us getting to work on the September workshop, but somehow, we managed to dodge the deluge. In the clear spaces between showers, we were able to visit several of the sites we will be including in the weekend and decide how best to use them.

The process is a curious one, as we let the land itself suggest how to proceed, learning its stories, history and legends, before fitting them to the ideas we wish to share. This time, we will be looking at how an emotion such as fear, which is usually seen as a negative feeling, can give birth to some of the most selfless and beautiful human actions… and how, in our own lives, we might find a key to turn such darkness into light.

With the stories of the land, both historical and legendary, the ancient places we visited over the weekend opened a window into the human heart and soul, allowing us a small glimpse of the grandeur that waits within the shadows that can touch us all throughout our lives. Join us in Derbyshire this September to learn more…

The Silent Eye hosts a number of events each year, from our annual Weekend Workshop in Derbyshire to our informal ‘Living Land’ and ‘Walk and Talk’ gatherings. All events are open to non-members and Companions of the School and they are a great way to meet like-minded people, explore the ideas we share and spend time with fellow travellers.

The weekends are informal, no previous knowledge or experience is required. We ask only that you bring your own presence and thoughts to the moment…

Rites of Passage: Seeing beyond Fear
Tideswell, Derbyshire,

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


The Keys of Heaven

Whitby, North Yorkshire,

December 6th- 8th, 2019

It is the year AD 664. The coastal town of Whitby and its Abbey, under the control of the abbess who became St Hilda, are the setting for a Christian Synod – a court of doctrine established, on the face of it, to unify how priests cut their religious tonsure and what should be the correct basis of the calculation of Easter.

Trivial things? Perhaps to our distant eyes; but the Synod of 664 had a brutal undertone: its decision would determine a single Christianity for Britain – and would condemn the alternative to a slow but inevitable death.

An outstanding scholar, Bishop Cedd, later St Cedd, had been raised and trained on Lindisfarne, yet his role as ‘facilitator’ could not afford to display bias. Torn in mind, faith and kin, the man who became St Cedd walked a treacherous path within the Synod that was to change everyone’s lives.

It is a story reminiscent of one of Shakespeare’s play, full of character, mystery and treachery; one in which the cleverness of argument came to supplant the lore of the land and the local history of the interwoven Christ.

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


Where Beauty Sleeps

Great Hucklow, Derbyshire, 17-19 April, 2020

The Silent Eye Annual Workshop…

There is a lot more to fairytales than the wide eyed child understands, especially in the older versions. The archetypes we meet in these old stories echo many aspects of the human condition and the journey of the soul.

We are born into a magical world, where our childhood is peopled with wonders. We are given gifts and talents yet our soul is held within the body, like the princess in the castle. As we grow to adulthood the magic fades…or more precisely, our awareness of it fades. Like the princess, we fall asleep, lost to the song of the soul as the ‘curse’ takes hold. Alive but slumbering, waiting…

Join us next April to explore the hidden beauty of fairytales… and awaken the beauty that sleeps within.

Fully catered, residential weekend.

Click below to view inclusive prices and
Download a Booking Form – pdf

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

Morning glory…

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It is 4am and I haven’t slept a wink. I’m not entirely happy about that. It is not as if I haven’t tried. My mind whirrs quietly, emotions heightened by a frustrated fatigue. Ani is draped across the sofa snoring softly. For all I would, at this point, much rather be asleep, I love this time of day.

The sun has lit the touchpaper of the horizon and the east is edged in palest gold, the fire of dawn spreading silently over a sleeping land. The first bird just started to sing, Another has joined and the morning chorus has begun. There is a rainwashed freshness in the air and the colour, still absent from the ground, now gilds the sky, shifting the focus upwards.

It is as if the divine Hand has opened a window allowing us a brief glimpse of glory, lifting the eyes away from the earth towards a realm higher and clearer than the one in which we move. That small shift in focus alters perception completely and the world becomes a wider place, filled with a magical possibility as I watch the sun crest the horizon and see its pale eye with my own.

It seems as if the light steals in over the landscape, illuminating each leaf and branch, so softly it cannot be measured, yet bringing them to a life of living colour moment by moment. As it does so, the focus shifts again, back to earth and the glory of the morning sky is forgotten as attention is drawn to the detail of living, familiar green.

Yet it is still there. The sky is still full of light, the sun still rides the heavens all through the day, so bright it cannot be perceived directly but only by looking at the world it holds in light.

I see the analogy in this. A daily, unregarded reminder of the way in which our attention is glued to the details of everyday life, while the essence of the soul need only shift the focus to see whence it comes and in what it has its being.

Most mornings I miss the summer dawn, dreaming of other realms while my own awakens unseen around me as I sleep. Missing too this moment of the daily reminder of the beauty of light as it performs its revelation of reality while slumber holds my eyes closed and my mind absent.

It is a brief miracle every day. In the minutes lost to writing, the sun has risen, the world is flooded with light and had I just awoken, I would look at the earth and not the sky, mesmerised by the colours of leaf and flower. To share a moment with the dawn is a gift.

Writings from the Temple III ~ Briony

Briony, who attended her first workshop with the Silent Eye at Lord of the Deep in April, first shared her thoughts with us a little while ago and continued earlier this week. Here she shares a little more of what came to her after the event.

Feminam
‘It is As it is’
The Mystery of the Feminine
You came like a thief in the night, unbeckoned, unwanted. You came with the Truth of your desire, the creator, urged by your Intention, fuelled by Primordia. You changed me. My Unknowingness, my darkness, my mystery became your resting place, your knowledge. I was wounded, changed forever, the unjudging welcoming the Judgement. I gave my passivity, my dormancy away like petals in the breeze, floating through Time and Space. The prostration was complete. I Am Changed. The darkness swells with the burgeoning Light. I shelter from it’s aching brightness. I cover it with the veils of the Eternal Feminam. There it lies, growing in knowing, changing my mystery. I become the
Cosmic Egg, the Unknowing and Knowing combined in the Eternal Dance of Light and Dark.
I Love You
Masculum
I entered, such bewilderment. The agony of innocence, the ecstasy of sense. How am I to fulfil my vow, my promise? How do I bring knowing to unknowing, the knowledge of Death in the Instance of Birth?
Agony and ecstasy are the same, pain and joy, love and hate, force and inertia, attraction and repulsion.
Living the Thought, speaking the Word. The Light blinds, the Darkness envelopes. Both shock our Non-being into Being.
I am that I am

Writings from the Temple II ~ Briony

Briony, who attended her first workshop with the Silent Eye at Lord of the Deep in April, shared her thoughts with us a little while ago. Here she shares the second part of what came to her after the event.

Fire and Ice, fire and ice. Ice in Fire, Fire in Ice. Melting without transforming, dousing without subduing.

Can these forces live in harmony? Knowledge encased, creates the decay of Time, eroding away the fabric of lost worlds. Civilisations stilled, bound by the potent desire to endure, to immortalise.

We watched the Accession. We listened to the cries of torment, of victory, of the vanquished.

We acted.

The Golem was created, born of Earth, filled with Divine Fire. Such beauty, such harmony! Trust incarnate, knowing no fear, living each solar cycle, each lunar cycle, each planetary movement, obeyed, trusted.

KA incarnate, AMMA flows with you, around you. My child be blessed! The Golem lives, forged in the womb of Earth, suckled by her beasts, given life by the astral fire of the Divine. Born of Earth, innocent of the Descent, no diadem of thorns crowns his brow, he lives, he breathes, the purity of life evidenced as untarnished love.

She came, her mystery entered his consciousness, he was awakened. KAMA IABBA. And so it began.

He knew himself, herself, they danced, she unveiled her mysteries, he learned her magic. The fire flowed with the water. The Child of Earth became Man.

Seeking a light…

Rites of Passage: Seeing beyond Fear

A weekend with the Silent Eye

Derbyshire, UK

Friday 13th – Sunday 15th September 2019

Beyond the serene beauty of the Derbyshire Dales, old stories cast shadows across the landscape. From the veiled rites of prehistory to folklore, from legend to history, we listen with a shiver to tales of another time and place… and yet, the fears faced within these stories still echo our own.

Fear gets a bad press. It is almost always portrayed as a negative emotion, an uncontrolled reaction to the events and circumstances of our lives. When we allow fear to rule us, that can be an accurate description. It can be paralysing, preventing us from following our dreams and embracing the possibilities life offers. And yet, fear helps keep us safe and alive; without fear, we would not step away from danger or take our hand away from the flame.

Without fear, how could we know courage? Bravery is not born from the absence of fear, but from acting in spite of fear… learning how to turn a negative to a positive. Without fear, would we be able to make those choices that serve a greater purpose than our own need?

Is there more to this unseen and often unspoken emotion than meets the eye? How have our ancestors addressed such fears across the centuries? Can we learn from the past a way to see beyond our own 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

Rifts in reality?

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There was a fleeting conversation  that got me thinking again on something I have pondered over for a long time. There are lots of ghost stories flitting about, wafting their sheets for our delight, some making us shiver even more as they approach the reality with which we are more familiar. Somewhere in the back of our minds lurks that question… ‘What would I do if I saw a ghost?’

There is, perhaps, an even better question. Who says you haven’t? How would you know? Unless they adapt their appearance to our preconceptions, how can you be sure that the person you pass in the street is real?

We don’t even know what a ghost is. Everyone seems to have an opinion. Are they the shades of the departed? Undispersed etheric energy, some form of earth energy? Optical illusion or a vision of the soul? Phantom memories of past events imprinted on the ether? Figments of our imagination, created from within our own minds somehow? Or just plain bunkum. There seems to be a general consensus that they are something…

Perhaps the most equivocal, but strangely accurate definition I’ve heard is that they are perceived figures that cannot be physically present. That just leaves it wide open as far as definitions go…

There are the classic signs, like temperature drops and the hairs on your neck standing on end… but does that happen every time…or only sometimes? Unless a ghost does something fairly obvious… like walking through walls, dripping gore or tucking its head under some other part of its ectoplasm, we really can’t know whether or not what we think we see is actually there.

For starters…it isn’t. Nothing is what we perceive it to be… walls are not solid… we know there is space between the various particles that make what we see as a wall and, were we to drink Alice’s potion and become small enough, we could walk right through solid reality. Equally, were our own particles to disperse, we could, in theory, flow through the spaces between.

The ‘space between’ is a good phrase. It reminds me of a conversation shared up on the moors. It is a long story… but to be brief, we wondered about the reality of time and whether ghosts were not perhaps due to a glitch in the veil between ‘nows’… perhaps heightened emotions alter something… When we see phantoms, are we actually seeing reality, but across the veil of time… and would we appear to them as phantoms too?

Time, space, physicality and the true nature of reality comes into such discussions and as soon as you ask one question, another half a dozen appear. And there are no objective answers… only empirical ones. Except for one that seems to make its presence felt fairly rapidly… that we do not fully understand either the nature or extent of reality. Not by a long way.

Which basically means that just about anything is possible. I rather like that idea.