Castles of the Mind (ii)

Castles of Mind new logo

Continued from Part One

As the group walk through the arched entranceway to the interior of the castle, a new feeling emerges: one of ‘being in it, together’. The transition from outer to inner space of the newly considered ‘organism’ of the castle brings with it other changes of perspective. One of these is that a process – that of the weekend, itself, has begun.

One of the weekend’s companions, new to what the Silent Eye does, asks a question:

“Is this – she points to the entire interior of the walled space – to be looked at as a representation of life, and the possibilities of spiritual work within that life?”

Warkworth tease of interior

The answer is unhesitating. “For the purposes of this weekend, we are using several of the Northumberland Castles to be exactly that.” He pauses, “So, this, as the beginning, is the place where the elements of that search, that quest, begin to work towards the goal.”

The new companion considers this. “So, what is our start point? What is the core idea that powers the rest?”

Castles of the Mind 2 tower and sun

Its a great question. The man looks around him, seeking, not inspiration, for he has begun such discussions many times, but the spirit of the moment. Then he smiles, as an image forms in his mind…

“This is a medieval castle; imagine a shield…”

The new companion is listening. Alert and as keyed into the moment as the group leader. She waits… silent and attentive.

“A shield that belongs to you – that has grown to defend you.” He uses his fingers to draw a circle in the air, and then lets the hand fall and draws it down towards the ground, describing an outline around the group that mirrors the interior shape of the castle.

“So the castle perimeter – the walls – is the shield?” asks the companion. “But why call it a shield. Wouldn’t ‘castle wall’ have been sufficient?”

Castles of the Mind 2 Outer walls

“It would,” the man answers. “but the image of a shield is more useful as a symbol of something that belongs to you.”

“My shield, then…”

“Exactly so. A deeply personal object, one you have crafted and groomed for all of your life.”

She’s getting into this. “A shield alone… I don’t have a matching sword?”

She smiles, as does he. “We’ll get to swords, later. One symbol at once – your shield, alone, took a very long time to make…”

“It defends me, this shield?”

“Look around you – don’t you feel defended? Or would have in the days when this was a functioning structure?”

“Yes,” she hesitates, clutching a the edge of a thought, an important one. “But it’s sad, too.”

“Why sad?” his eyes flash in the morning sun. The smile is one of deep encouragement.

“Because it cuts me off from all that beautiful world, outside…”

Castles of the Mind 2 Country beyond

Everyone in the group is silent – as though the words of a very important prayer or salutation have just been whispered.

“Yes,” he says, softly. “It does, but it keeps you alive…”

The sadness of her realisation has affected her voice. “Must it be that way?”

“No,” he says, running with the hidden wild horses in the moment. “Which is why the shield, your personal shield, has the most beautiful outer face.”

Not wanting to dwell on the sadness, she laughs. “Tell me?” she turns to see the smiling faces of the group. “Tell me…”

“The shield, your beautiful shield, has nine powerful jewels set into its face. They defend, too, but they can be something different.”

She is laughing now. “What can they do?”

“They can be a map back out into the beautiful world.”

Castles of the Mind 2 - staircase up

“Couldn’t I just turn round and make a run for it now?”

Now he is laughing. “You could… but you’d still be a servant. Wouldn’t you rather leave the castle as a King or a Queen?”

You can see she wasn’t expecting anything like this. “A King or a Queen? A shield has this power?”

“Not alone, but the jewels, and their arrangement do…”

Other parts of this series:

Part One, 

To be continued…

Castles of the Mind is the forthcoming September 2018 workshop of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit teaching organisation that promotes and enables the investigation of our true self, using a combination of modern spiritual psychology and traditional magical symbolism. The workshop is open to all, not just existing Companions of the Silent Eye School.

The dates are 14-16 September. The workshop will be centred on the Northumberland town of Seahouses, but will involve travel to other locations along the coast.

The Silent Eye holds four workshops per year – in April, June, September and December, mirroring the major events of the solar cycle. The April event is the main one, and is always held in Derbyshire. The other three are ‘Living Land’ or ‘walk and talk’ events such as that described above, and are held in different locations each year. The administrative cost is £50.00 per person which does not include accommodation and meals. Meals are usually taken together, in a local pub, and the costs shared.

To register your interest, or for more details email us at rivingtide@gmail.com.

©Stephen Tanham

Castles of the Mind (i)

Castles of Mind new logo

Like the best of ideas, it begins with a partly-seen ghost, the glimmer of an edge of something that will work…. Ideas are great, but, unless something is practical and consistent on the day, its value is limited to fuelling a ‘greater’ idea that will be.

And then the right idea expands, filling out, not linearly, but with emotions that billow like a spinnaker on a sailing ship, catching a wind that is not of the individual creator’s making. If the goal is a spiritual one, then that catching of an inner wind has the taste of something that will have a shared effect on a group of people who have come to experience transformation.

The setting for the September 2018 weekend workshop ‘Castles of the Mind’ is the beautiful coastline of historic Northumberland, the border county between England and Scotland, the home of the terrible land-pirates known as the Reivers; and, before that, the place of skirmish, battle and blood between the Scots and the English.

Small wonder, then, that this beautiful coastline has more than its fair share of castles, whose use dates back over a thousand years. They provide the basis of a wonderful chain of historic visits, but their use in this coming Silent Eye weekend (14-16 September) is based on far more than their strong and ancient stone.

Castles of the Mind is based on how we think, feel, act and behave now...

Warkworth full wall

The weekend of 14-16 September will be a mixture of companionship, adventure and fun. We will begin on the afternoon of Friday 14th, assembling for an Italian coffee or English tea, in the lovely town of Warkworth, fifteen miles south of Bamburgh. This classic Northumbrian market town provides a pleasant venue for us to gather and discuss the structure of the weekend.

From there it is short walk (or drive) up the nearby hill to the car park of Warkworth Castle, our first site, and the basis for the rest. Warkworth castle is a unique medieval building. The castle was the favourite residence of the well-known Percy family – the Earls and Dukes of Northumberland. It was occupied by their family from the 14th to the 17th centuries.

Below, on the banks of the river Coquet, and often missed by those visiting, are the ruins of a hermitage, which was carved directly out of the rock.

As a group, we will consider the impact that this imposing castle has on our combined consciousness. We will look at the sheer mass of its presence, and consider the nature of authority and achievement… We may also reflect that, though the purpose of its design is still visible, it is a ruin…

Warkworth Gatehouse and wall

The functions of this mighty power were focussed on the gateway. Though the building’s primary purpose was defence, its real use – the exercise of the authority that security brought – came only when that structure allowed people in… or out.

Warkworth Gatehouse

In this, the castle mirrors the basic building-block of organic life: the cell. A cell’s function is to isolate its organic mechanisms from the ‘soup’ of the world around it. Only through this isolation can the processes of individual life take place. It is ironic that, here, in a world where the castle was one of the largest ‘things’ in the world, its function mirrored that of the smallest structure of life.

One of the ‘shocks’ on the path of mystical study is to discover how closely the physical processes of life are mirrored on a higher level within the structures of consciousness. We will discuss this as we peer through the ‘tunnel’ of the castle’s portcullis and gatehouse, beginning to perceive that, beyond the ‘wall that excludes’ there are internal stone structures that hint at a more sophisticated life in the interior – though only able to operate while the protection of the walls continue to operate.

Here, we will consider where fear fits into all this? Is it primal in its power; so deeply rooted that we cannot afford to go near it? Or have we forgotten that, once, it was layered over the foundational mechanisms of our lives… and is therefore a ‘man-made’ reaction?

Warkworth tease of interior

And then something remarkable will happen. We say this with confidence, since it always does. When a group intends to raise its ‘level’ of consciousness by working together, there occurs a moment – early in the event – when everything comes to a point of harmony and productive endeavour.

In the tunnel of the gatehouse, the constricted space that will lead to the essential nature of the weekend, we will ask each person to imagine they are being born into a vision of their own interior nature…

To be continued…

Castles of the Mind is the September 2018 workshop of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit teaching organisation that promotes and enables the investigation of our true self, using a combination of modern consciousness methods and traditional magical symbolism. The workshop is open to all. not just Companions of the Silent Eye School.

The Silent Eye holds four workshops per year – in April, June, September and December, mirroring the major events of the solar cycle. The April event is the main one, and is always held in Derbyshire. The other three are ‘Living Land’ or ‘walk and talk’ events such as that described above, and are held in different locations each year. The administrative cost is £50.00 per person which does not include accommodation and meals. Meals are usually taken in local pubs and the costs shared.

For more details email us at rivingtide@gmail.com.

©Stephen Tanham

Rings of Earth and Sky

To find that time and circumstance

Had placed us in an isle of fertile space

Where others led us to a place

A ring wherein the sky and earth would quarter meet

There is no sense of wonder deeper

Than that of being ‘brought’ and left

To gaze as heavens’ hand caress the land and sea

And consciousness completes the longing three

Strange markers lined the way

As if to say: be sure; discretion is required

Before that letting go of owning self

Surrenders to the land of higher health

And then the ring of bright companions forms

Called, named and present

From far and distant lands

To be here, to be now, to be

Brought forth: the moment birthed

For which no words have face

Where vision sees the depth of beauty’s kiss

And all are silent, knowing touch of grace

A sharing cake and golden mead

A silent, spellbound walk along the road

A bus to catch – mundane but vital in the gathering cold!

No-one speaks… we are so lost in gold

©️Copyright Stephen Tanham

Images taken at Beltane, Ring of Brodgar, Orkney.