The Light and the Eye of the Cobra – River of the Sun 2015…

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The water was soft on his skin. He was used to bathing in the river at sunset, but there was something special about today. He looked across at the glittering image of the sun as its reflection folded on the water, bouncing the golden light across the gentle waves at him. A boat had just sailed by and he felt the lapping waves caressing his thighs. It tickled and he giggled to the river.

His reverie was disturbed by the sound of his Grandmother’s voice.”Wash, Amkhren, stop your daydreaming!”

He smiled his cheeky smile back at Snefer, sole guardian to him since the death of his parents many years ago, in the fire that had destroyed their home while they slept. The name, which he had given her, made her smile, though he was too young, yet, to know the kindness behind such tolerance. The name derived from a present from his father, which he still kept. His father had travelled in his own youth – selling his beautifully hand-woven carpets, which he would pile onto his faithful donkey, before leaving for days or even weeks. He always came back with tales of his adventures, and Amkhren’s delight had been to sit, balanced precariously on his knee; and listen . . .

One day, his father had returned with a carved wooden object – a present to his son. He took it from his bedroll and presented it, smiling as he did so. He had carved it out of a block of wood. It was like one of the drawings his father had shown him of the fabulous white pillars that legend said graced the upper parts of the river, just before it spread and flowed into the sea. The wooden carving had a square base, whose four corners rose in two stages, to meet at a single vertical point. The angle of the climbing sides became shallower half way up and this gave the whole things a comic element. His father had said that the place it was located was called Sneferu, and it was known as the bent pillar. The day after that, Amkhren had pointed at his grandmother and said, “Grandma is bent, too! Can we call her Sneferu, like the carving?”. His father had looked at his own mother and smiled in that mischievous way that his young son had inherited. Then he had said, “Well, we don’t want to anger the Gods, so let’s shorten it to Snefer!”

She had sighed, inside, on that day. But now the memory of that time brought back such happiness that old Snefer didn’t mind at all. She looked at the boy, who had finally taken off his loin-cloth and was washing himself. Her heart burned with feeling for him – the sole survivor of a family that had known how to love and to laugh, together. The sight of him always drove away the aches and pains that had begun to afflict her ageing frame . . . and the sad memories.

The sound of footsteps behind her made her whirl in alarm. After that, she could only drop to her knees in the sand.

“High Priestess, forgive me!” She bowed her head to the mud. Before her was one of the most beautiful and stately women she had ever encountered – Neferaset, the woman who led the worship at the Temple of Isis on the island of Philae, across the river a mile or so away. Alongside her brother, Anzety, they were the most powerful of the bright people.

“Do not be frightened, old woman,” said the glowing one, bending down to take the hands in the dust and pull Snefer up to her normal, if bent, standing position. “We are not in the temple, and, if I choose to leave the sanctuary of the island and walk along the river, I am going to meet strangers . . .”

Snefer kept her head bowed. But spoke, “My grandson is bathing in the river. Forgive his rude nakedness.”

Neferaset looked beyond the bowed woman and saw her relative. He was talking to another boy who stood ahead of him in the deeper water.

“And who is that with him?” she asked.

“There is no-one with him, High Priestess . . .”

Neferaset frowned, then moved the sight into place to gain more distance; and blinked her eyes, focusing on the two boys in the shallows. One was plainly visible, his naked form dancing in the water. But he was definitely speaking to another boy – one who stood motionless before him and had a bright but much less distinct outline . . .

Amkhren was delighted with his new friend. As golden as the ripples on the river, he had appeared before him in the beautiful sunset, smiling. He had asked Amkhren’s name, but refused to give his own. Now, the other watched, while Amkhren bathed, as though the act of seeing someone so vividly alive fascinated him. Amkhren was about to press for his name, again, when he heard his grandma calling from the bank.

“Amkhren, put on your garment and come here at once!”

Amkhren, saddened, but obedient, spun back to say goodbye to his friend; but the other boy was gone. He peered deep into the waves in case his friend had swum off, but there was no trace of the other. A second, and sterner call from Snefer dragged him from his searching. Panting, he retrieved his rags and tied them across his wet waistline. Only then did he look up to locate the old woman. She was standing, with her head bowed, next to another woman. This was a day of surprises! He looked harder, narrowing his eyes to carry his vision deeper into the tableau. Then, he stopped walking and his mouth fell open. There on the raised bank, his grandma was talking, though her head was bowed, with the High Priestess of Isis – a woman he had once stolen a look at from the sanctuary of a hastily built log raft, which had floundered shortly thereafter.

The day had been baking hot and Amkhren had walked along the river bank, far from where Snefer had said it was safe for him to travel. He had gradually been extending his exploring, because he knew that the Island of Philae lay somewhere beyond the next twist of the river’s course. On that day, he had caught sight of a temple procession on the sacred isle and had thrown caution to the wind, and trusted his life to a few logs hastily lashed together with the stalks of reeds in the way that his father had shown him, so long ago.

Before the raft had fallen apart, he had caught sight of the winged one, as he thought of her. She had shone in the sun in her finery and splendour. All around her there was total silence, total reverence. Beside her, another of equal stature walked, but this one was a man, tall and purposeful, yet with a hint of gentleness to his bearing.

The reed bindings had given way, the logs parted and, plunging into the river with a cry, he was forced to cling to the largest as it rolled. Gone were the wild thoughts that someday he would find a way to return to Philae to serve them. Choking on the inhaled river water, he clung desperately to the remains of his capsized raft and forced his legs to kick, pushing the log slowly towards the far bank.

Now the Goddess stood before him. Disguised, yes, but it was her . . .

Amkhren took a few more steps and fell to his knees, prostrating himself in the dust.

“I feel I know you, boy?” said the shining one.

“Oh, you couldn’t know us, High Priestess – we are just beggars in your world,” blurted out his grandma, her head still bowed.

Amkhren’s mind raced. Should he tell her of his moment on the raft? Surely it would be to invite death . . . and yet, he didn’t want to miss the only chance that his life might contain to reach for that impossible goal.

“The river has many secrets, High Priestess,” he managed, somewhat proud of his utterance.

“And dreams, perhaps?” the tone of her voice was soft. There was deadliness there, too, but her knives were sheathed.

She knelt down in the dust of the bank and, with gentle hands that yet contained more power than he had ever felt, pulled his head up to stare back at her almond eyes.

“And what does this young man dream of?” she asked, running a painted finger up the side of his jaw…

“We become panoramic…” – River of the Sun

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There is something magical in rising before dawn and setting out to greet the sun. We had changed things this year; the traditional hillside ritual had been replaced by a visit to the Cave of the Seers… but it would not have felt right to forget the hills and stay cosily indoors. The landscape has always offered itself to our needs, seeming, almost magically, to provide what we have asked of it, even when we haven’t been certain what that was going to be. In some way, the Saturday morning walk through the pre-dawn light was both an expression of gratitude and the renewal of a bond.

It is even more than that, though; the connection to the land of this place runs deep. The hillside that has seen strange figures in the luminous dawn is part of an ancient settlement and an even older dance of earth, sky and Man. We spend so much of our time on concrete and asphalt, ruled by the ticking of necessity, that to choose to rise before dawn and walk into silent fields for no other reason than to greet the sun allows us to break a long fast and simply be a part of the flow of life again.

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We feel it through the soles of our feet, through the song we raise, and the air we breathe. The chill of dew, the rolling green starred with the gold and silver of celandine and daisy still waiting for the kiss of the sun to unfurl their petals.

We climbed the stile and walked through the fields to a natural portal… a gap in the curtain of trees that, quite appropriately, separates the lower from the higher, and there we waited. Two stood cloaked and raised an adaptation of the ancient Hymn to the Aten, penned over three thousand years ago. The rest, in an arc like the bowl of a chalice, joined their voices in a song penned just weeks before, especially for the River of the Sun.

Do we worship the sun? No, of course not… but we revere its light as a symbol of a greater Light and that, perhaps, is something the ancient ones whose shadows walk the land would have understood, for just as the rays of the sun give life and growth, so too does that Other Light… and perhaps that is the greater of the two.

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A small flock of sheep, led by one with a darker fleece, slowly climbed the Mound of Creation… a small hillock we had used the year before and which, to us because of that moment, is very special. They stood and watched, facing us all the while. I had to wonder if one of them was the lamb who had greeted us before dawn on that morning two years before, when a silent company had shared a moment’s delight and wonder. The Lamb too, reflects the Light.

The clouds did not break. The sun did not appear in the east as we had hoped… and so, when the sky had brightened, we turned back. It is not about the sunrise itself; that too is a symbol. Ali, for some reason, began to recite poetry… and arm in arm, laughing through the lines of Lewis Carroll, we headed once more for the stile. And the sun broke through the clouds, as if in response to our laughter.

We turned as one, the whole group, and watched the pale opalescence unfurl in the heavens; in silent peace, sharing a moment and our smiles. Something greater than we held centre stage, and in our very smallness we grew.

“We become panoramic…”

We were quieter on the way back to the centre… the line from the song played through my mind, knowing we would be using it as part of an innovative meditation on perception designed by Stuart. It seemed perfect for the feeling of those moments.

We had risen before the dawn and, at the end of the day, it seemed as if we were given the blessing of the sun itself in answer as the sky went up in flames…

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Perspectives III: River of the Sun 2015

HYMN TO ATEN

O Living Aten
When you first took your throne in splendour
High in heaven’s precinct, truly did life then begin…

From the eastern horizon
Risen and streaming
You have flooded the world with your beauty.

You are majestic, awesome, bedazzling, exalted;
You are the Over-Soul of Earth.

Yet with a light touch your rays
Encompass all lands and the limits of creation.

Though afar your light is wide upon the Earth
And you shine in the faces of all who turn to follow your journey.

Each path lies open because of your rising.
There in the sun you reach out to those
You would gather in as your children.

The herds are at peace in their pastures.
The trees and vegetation grow verdant.
Birds start from their nests with widespread wings to hail your approach.

Small beasts frisk and frolic and all that mount into flight
Or settle to rest live when you shine upon them.

Fish in the river leap in your sight
And your rays strike deep in the Great Green Sea…

O Living Aten
When you first took your throne in splendour
High in heaven’s precinct, truly did life then begin…

The first drop – River of the Sun

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We were, inevitably, way too early. But that was okay; it meant we had chance to drink in the morning light … and a morning coffee… at the Barrel Inn, perched high above the little village of Great Hucklow where, in a magical shift of imagination and by the power of a ‘willing suspension of disbelief’, we would soon find ourselves in the temples of ancient Egypt.

river of the sun SE15 019For the moment, however, we stood with the wind in our hair, blowing away the cobwebs of the night. Below us a bank of yellow gorse echoed the sunlight, tumbling like a golden stream down the hillside… a river of the sun indeed.

river of the sun SE15 001aThe road that runs along the ridge from the ancient hillfort of Burr Tor is little more than a narrow track. On one side are tamed fields, bounded by age-old walls of Derbyshire stone; on the other the wild moors lead to the distant peaks that stand sentinel over the landscape. Here you have the feeling of being poised between worlds… a fitting place to take a deep breath before plunging into the magical mayhem of the weekend.

river of the sun SE15 010On the one hand you could perhaps call it madcap mysticism… a time of laughter and friendship, where a playful spirit reigns, where traditions hide their eyes in their starched aprons as we use popular music for meditations and we all dive for the pub at the end of the evening. On the other hand it is a true spiritual journey, exploring aspects of the inner self and bringing spirituality out of the shadows to be where it needs to be… right in the centre of everyday life.

river of the sun SE15 058There is a misconception that spirituality needs to be sober and serious. It is both, of course, and more than both, yet that does not preclude laughter or mischief. The spiritual journey should bring joy and is characterised by a lightness of being rather than a heaviness of heart and the weight of sorrow. Here, on such a morning in spring, it is as if the world smiles back and the blossom-laden trees nod in approval.

river of the sun SE15 011We watched the sky as the clouds raced.
“That’ll be Steve,” said Stuart, eyes twinkling as he nodded at the paraglider swooping down towards the village.
“That’s one way of making a grand entrance…” I raised the camera, knowing it would make the third director smile when he actually did arrive.

river of the sun SE15 0401We wandered back down to the village and parked the car, way too early for the lunchtime rendezvous at the pub. It was rather nice to have the village to ourselves for a little while. The mellow stone was softened by great swathes of flowers. Magnolia and cherry trees vied for attention… stately grace and laughing blossoms. Bluebells nodded in the breeze and daffodils turned sunny faces to the sky for a golden kiss.

river of the sun SE15 033We walked through the silence broken only by birdsong, already seeing what the landscape would offer us for next year’s workshop where the Green Man would reign. Climbing the hill we looked down on a village that feels like home after all these years. There is no place we would rather be than right here, right now; nothing we would rather be doing than waiting for our friends and companions to arrive. A glance at the clock told us it would not now be long before they did. “Shall we?” We headed down towards the Queen Anne and the weekend had begun.

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The Prisoner in the Tower

Prisoner in the Tower

The theme of the ‘Prisoner in the Tower’ has been on my mind a lot recently – well, ever since Stuart and Sue asked if I would create a three-part poem in the style of Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol‘ for one of their forthcoming books.

I’m a big fan of Wilde’s comedic writing, but have to confess that I had never read this, his last book, which is considered to be his masterpiece. Having received a rather lovely edition of it as part of a set of Christmas gifts from my co-directors of the Silent Eye School, I read it, and winced at the depth of understated feeling in the writing, as Wilde himself (and not one of his characters) lives through the execution of a fellow prisoner, and the whole gaol is silenced in passing companionship. I realised that this assignment was deliberate on the part of the ‘terrible twins’ as my co-directors have styled themselves on numerous occasions; and that the task was therefore going to be an exacting one.

I would not have undertaken this unless I felt it would be interpreted as a serious work, albeit it with a bit of necessary and ironic humour – but only a bit . . . To write it I had to put myself into the position of being incarcerated in a gaol in a small town in Derbyshire, where I had ended up the fall guy for a shared and heinous local crime. Ben, as he is known in the books, for reasons I have recently decoded, is therefore left to rot, as the terrible twins scamper off around the ancient landscapes.

The justice meted out to the poor man (Ben not Wilde), guilty or not, is in keeping with the turn of the century setting of the Ballad of Reading Gaol, where so much depended on one’s behaviour and relationship with the gaoler . . .

For more, you’ll have to read Sue and Stuart’s Doomsday books. Which, I guarantee, will be worth it. Apparently I get, sorry – Ben gets arrested for his assault on the community in the book Doomsday, Scions of Albion, and doesn’t get freed for some time thereafter . . . so food parcels would be appreciated, and of course, being a prisoner, I won’t be able to sign any of the Silent Eye’s cheques . . . You will, of course, need to read the series to know what’s really going on . . .

Doomsday Stu and Sue coverWhich brings me to my second and wider topic – The Prisoner in the Tower. In Stuart and Sue’s Book, Ben is incarcerated in an old and rotting gaol, but the idea of a prisoner in the tower is a more fundamental and esoteric image in the way the Silent Eye uses the enneagram to map the outer layers of a personality structure we all share.

The image of the man in the tower corresponds with point five on the enneagram, illustrated above. Technically, the man in the tower (unlike poor Ben, okay, I’ll stop milking it . . . ) is free to come and go, but chooses to lock him/herself away from the world, because it is less painful to ‘spy’ on that world and accumulate power through knowledge.

This, like all the enneagram types, is shared by us all, though it may  or may not be our dominant one. This archetypal image is one of the School’s creations, and belongs to a set of nine we have constructed to help the Companions take the first steps to what will become deep, spiritual awareness of how their personalities/egos grew in the way they did – reacting to Life, becoming identified with it, and therefore losing sight of our spiritual origins.

These are not simply negative things. One of the triumphs of modern esoteric psychology is the way it has shown that such outer traits, which the Desert Fathers referred to as ‘vices’ (in this case avarice) are capable of being powerful start-points for our journey back – our spiritual journey home, unlocking along the way what Rumi referred to as ‘the barriers you have erected to love‘.

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The third recent occurrence, and quite independent of the other two, is the rather more sinister tower built on the orders of Rameses II near to the island of what history will come to know as Philae at the start of his reign. Don’t go looking in the history books for this – the whole thing is a construct created for the Silent Eye’s April Workshop, The River of the Sun, whose Ritual Dramas centre around the clash between hazard, power and spiritual light in the year in which ‘Rameses the Great’ came to power.

He took over the kingdom from his  father, Seti I, an enigmatic figure whose name shows he was “Beloved of Set (Seth)”. That latter attribution is unusual, too. Why would an Egyptian King choose to be linked to the archetype of the figure who constantly battled Horus (the traditional patron of Egyptian Kings) and slew his father, Osiris? This puzzle is one we will work though during the Explorations which accompany the Ritual Dramas in the weekend workshop.

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In our story, Rameses’ tower is specially built for a dark purpose – one which emphasises the absolute control he felt he had to exercise in an era still scarred by the memory of the invasion and occupation by the Hyksos Kings followed shortly thereafter by the religious revolution of the ‘heretic’ Pharaoh Akhenaten, the self-styled ‘Son of the Sun’.

The image of the tower holds a fascination for the human mind. Like the Saxon crosses, so deeply observed by Stuart and Sue in their blogged journeys and books, the tower reaches to ‘heaven’. For the Egyptians, the idea of reaching upwards, first with pyramids and later with towers and pillars, was a means of the ‘builder’ gaining entry into the desired world of eternity, that recurring and cyclic state of time in which Ra, the Sun god, travelled on his ‘boat of a million years’ between the daytime world and the dark underworld.

Towers can be both enlightening and dangerous places, especially when our heroes or heroines are captive within them. They reveal the landscape below, but separate us from it. A bit like the perspective of the ego. To work, the tower needs to be built of stone . . . the hidden word for a certain type of truth in the Bible. Perhaps Ben is safer in Bakewell Gaol, after all . . .

King of Kings

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I am at an interesting stage in the writing of the Silent Eye’s April workshop. We are not up to production, yet. This early stage is about taking the initial ideas and coalescing them into a workable set of five dramas based on sacred temple principles. Each person attending the workshop plays a part; and the core themes are explored by (scripted) acting, forum discussions and personal exploration in the quiet of the lovely Derbyshire landscape.

One of my favourite themes, and one which always features in these workshops, is the notion of hazard. Our lives are full of hazard and yet we view it as a curse rather than a blessing. My eyes were opened to the constructive power of hazard many years ago, when I came across the works of John Bennett, one of the principle students of both Gurdjieff and Ouspensky in the middle years of the last century. Bennett spent the last twenty years of his life attempting to re-write the language in which the the ‘4th Way’ was couched. He said he did this as much for himself as for those who would follow, believing that time had moved on and that it was vital to encapsulate the vital essence of what Gurdjieff taught in a language that could be used for explanation with ‘modern’ people, from scientists to psychologists, but especially to the everyday women and men prepared to invest a little time in knowing why and how they had a large part to play in the creative flow of the universe and how the gates to that were opened by how they reacted to true hazard.

I was considering this, again, as I often do in January as the mental and emotional engine that powers the workshops needs to be cold-started. At the same time, I came across the use of the Greek word Ozymandias, the classical name for Rameses II, a figure that features in our workshop as the very driver of the ‘hazard’ that the participants need to live through.

The reference reminded me of the poem by the same name by Percy Shelley.  I once learned this by heart for a presentation I was giving. The words are:

I met a traveler from an antique land

Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal these words appear:

“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

 The style is elegant and clever; the message bitterly ironic. The narration moves from the initial use of “I” to the body of the text, which is a description of a vast ruin, told by another traveller ‘from an antique land’. The “I” only comes in, again, at the end, to remark on the ‘lone and level’ fate which befalls all of us at the merciless hands of time.
 Should we seek to endure?  We have a finite body for a reason: we were meant to live and ‘die’. Ours is to ‘seize the day’ and make of it what we can; but, on a higher level, we have the potential to become what we can be; to find ourselves at the centre of a very different world where the universe unfolds around us and for us – as we live for it. It is human nature to clings to things. Rameses proclaims his greatness, and indeed he is viewed as one of the mightiest Kings of Egypt – the term Pharaoh was only introduced much later in Egyptian history. But the legacy of Rameses is stone, whereas the legacy of others has been to pass on a teachings, which, if written in such a way that it acts like a seed in the right ‘soil’, never dies.
It is controversial, but one such candidate for teachings that transcend was the figure of Akhenaten, who lived several generations before Ozymandias. Few ‘stones’ remain from his heretical reign, having been scattered by those who came after and hated his legacy, but in that time he changed Egypt, taking thousands of years of ‘mummified’ history and tradition, and throwing them into a melting pot of pure hazard, stealing in the process the very core of religion and making of it an invisible and ever-living principle called the Aten, the Sun behind the Sun. Much is made of his so-called monotheism, little is said about the much more vital principle of a living spirit that cannot be reduced to form . . .
Akhenaten does not feature in our workshop; but the spirit of that challenge does. It is for each of those attending to see whether this chord of constructive hazard is one that can be struck in their own souls . . .

The January Man

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“December man looks through the snow to let eleven brothers know . . . that they’re all a little older.”

December is, finally, gone. There is a weariness about January. The comfort and festivities with which we brace ourselves against the oncoming winter have lost their potency – and, thankfully, their habitual power to affect our errant waistlines, for which we now have to atone . . . The tree and glitter are put away, and the howling and cold winds remind us that the spring is yet far away.

“The January man he goes around in woollen coat and boots of leather,” continues Christy Moore, singing on the music machine in the corner of the living room. It was recorded live at the eponymous Vicar Street in Dublin, and is one of our favourite albums, though it has not been played for a year or two.

Humming the tune, I look out on a garden turned to thin greens and muddy browns, and wonder, as I always do in the pale light of the year’s first month, about the sheer effort we have to make to transform this rather empty time of year into the purposeful soil that will bring a rich harvest of time well spent as the sun’s daytime arc overcomes the darkness and tips the fourfold scales of the seasons into the spring.

Aside from the usual family commitments, this time of year comprises the final three months before the Silent Eye’s Spring Workshop. This is our main annual event, held in April, which takes place in the lovely Derbyshire village of Great Hucklow. More than anything else, these weekend events define what the three of us – Sue, Stuart and myself – have both been and what we have become.

Been, because the elements of discussions, shared explorations and ritual drama are a very precise synthesis of where we came from, and what we learned from our past work, spanning many decades. We always honour those traditions in which we learned our craft. Although different, they gave us that breadth of experience which now constitutes the core of the Silent Eye School.

Become, because any attempt to establish a modern mystery school inevitably draws you into an alchemy – both personal and shared – in which you cannot be in the mix of the act of creation unless you are prepared to be changed by it – a sentiment pioneered by Carl Jung.

This year’s workshop, the River of the Sun, is based on a fictional but very spiritual tale, whose context is the real history of the period three generations after the death of the enigmatic ‘heretical’ pharaoh Akhenaten. The creation of such a workshop requires that we let go of last year’s model and reach deep for something new, something which will carry the spirit of the times. The importance of the ‘now’ and its creative flow, was one of the lessons brought home to us during our year-long series of talks given in Glastonbury in the twelve months just finished.

The actual effort to write the workshop – usually running to 150 pages of workbook scripts, plus five talks which reinforce the backbone of the School’s teaching – fills most of what will be the next three months. Five key elements of how the soul evolves will be illustrated by the ritual dramas. These reflect real life, in that certain characters are set up as adversaries. For this year’s plot, the enigmatic figure of Menascare, chief mage and spymaster to the incoming young pharaoh, Rameses II, represents the physical power which intercepts the initiatic life of the Isis temple on the Nile island of Philae. The chief priestess and priest of Isis are suspected of harbouring an inner thread of a different teaching, hidden and protected within the traditional worship of the goddess.

Staring out at the cold and sodden garden, I wonder at the process that will take us from here to there. In practice, we can only begin it. We bring the seed of an idea and plant it into the dark soil of January, trusting that the magic of the winter will nurture it within that subconscious land of Persephone. There, we find the most wonderful of processes at work. The seed of the first set of ideas produces a harvest of a second generation; this is examined and re-planted back in the soil of February.

“February man still shakes the snow from off his clothes and blows his hands,” continues Christy Moore.

The hands are indeed the key, as furious fingers home in on ideas that thaw from the raw stuff of potential, becoming fixed on the pages of the growing scripts.

“The man of March he sees the spring and wonders what the year will bring; and hopes for better weather.”

The process is repeated, producing a crop that is the nearly finished offering, towards the end of March, subject to the fine tuning that ensures that everyone attending has a (scripted) role that they will play for the whole weekend. Thus, their own, growing subjective experience becomes part of the unique alchemical mix.

The man of March has another role. He must make a judgement regarding the point at which the crop will be harvested, the ideas set down on the page, allowing time only for the final tuning and fitting to the confirmed attendees.

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“through April rain the man goes down to watch the birds come in to share the summer.”

To share the summer, indeed – or at least the spring. The final group of people arrive in the tiny village of Great Hucklow, where the venue – the Nightingale Centre – is a two minute walk from the Queen Anne, a pub with a warm open fire and warmer welcome. If new, they are made very welcome; and introduced to those sharing the event. Any nerves give way to relaxation and enjoyment as the Silent Eye’s traditional welcoming spirit pervades the gathering.

The Friday night formal beginning to the weekend sees the introduction of each of the characters, as the fast boat of Rameses, carrying Menascare and a phalanx of elite soldiers, glides through the dark night to force an arrogant interruption to the Isis temple space in which the initiation of a young and very special priest is taking place . . .

By Saturday morning, everyone is living their roles, and the magic unfolds. Gone are the walls of the Nightingale Centre, replaced by the living presence of ancient Egypt, as the birds of the spirit emerge from the inner and judge the framework fitting for their purposes . . .

. . . becoming present.

With a sigh that lasts three months, I am back in the now where all this exists in potential, only. I look out at the sodden soil of the garden . . . But something has changed – there is a heartbeat, albeit a slow one, in the depths of that dark earth.

In the deep of winter and in the hearts and minds of the January ‘men’, something new has begun to germinate . . .

                                        ——————————————————–

For anyone interested in what it’s like to be at a Silent Eye workshop, the book “The Land of the Exiles“, available in Kindle or Paperback format, will give a good idea of what to expect from the April event.  We look forward to making you very welcome.

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Ozymandias – the unchosen

warship of Egypt2

1279 BCE, The Nile at Philae

Darkness had just fallen when the Dark Apep rounded the curve in the river and fixed its course on the stone landing of the Island of Philae. The ranks of the Obion Guard relaxed their stroke, feathering their oars as one. Menascare, the most trusted friend and arch mage of the Pharaoh elect, strode from the raised command point at the rear of the craft and stood with him in the prow, looking at the lights of torches which ringed the fringes of the temple island.

“A welcome, Hem?” asked Menascare, using the newly significant royal form of address.

“No,” said the Pharaoh elect, “they could not know of our arrival. We travel in darkness for a reason . . .”

“Then why their lights?”

“I think we join them at a fortuitous time.”

“A ritual in progress?”

The younger man put the wooden block on which he had been scribbling into the pocket of his cape and leaned over the prow of the boat, thrusting his face towards his target. “Won’t that be interesting!” he said with a cruel smile. “What a shock we will deliver! Maybe we will catch them out?”

Menascare considered his words, carefully. “But we have no evidence against them,” he said. ” The whole of the land speaks of the excellence of their work and the discipline of their methods . . . ” He leaned as close as he dared to the young ruler. “Surely we should not judge what we do not know?”

“Perhaps,” answered his royal companion. “but my father had his suspicions, as did my namesake grandfather. Rameses the not-forgottten.” He pulled himself upright and patted Menascare on the shoulders.

“But that is why you are here, old friend . . . to find out the truth”

“The truth, Hem, can be an elusive thing . . . and I would not begin by suspecting the rites of Isis, and the celebrated High Priestess and her brother”

“Is not the renowned Menascare the most revered hunter of truth of all those along the great river?” It was a sly response, but it illustrated the young man’s flickeringly deadly intelligence.

Menascare thought of the twist of fate that had befallen the royal house. Initially groomed for Kingship as the eldest son of Seti, Nebchasetnebet had died in a tragic accident at sixteen years. The family had swiftly elevated the younger brother to the position of Regent – a role for which he seemed admirably suited. Now, with the imminent death of Seti, he was on his way to Thebes to take the twin crowns and assume absolute power.

The Dark Apep on which they were travelling was the fastest boat on the Nile, and was propelled by the Obion Guard, a hand picked cadre of royal defenders who would, unhesitatingly, put their lives at risk to defend their King. They were agile, strong and fearsome, though the world along the great river knew little about their existence. “Yet . . . ” whispered Menascare, speaking the last of his thoughts out loud. “Yet . . .”

The black boat approached the stone pier. Four of the Obion oarsmen brought it to a perfect landing, and soon, the ropes held it fast. Rameses II stepped onto the island, throwing to Menascare the wooden tablet on which he had been scribbling before their arrival. Caught off guard, Menascare dropped it, but stooped to pick it up.  He would forget all about the unfinished piece, but the fragment would remain among his records and later be found by scholars searching for clues to the motivations of the man who would become ‘King of Kings’.

Ozymandias the Unchosen

It was not always like this.

There was not always a sleek-boat,

driving relentlessly along the great river,

in search of the white rats of the Sun.

Soon, I will be taken from here, made less by my duties.

Made king where once there was the brother.

Oh fate, how strange thy serpentine turns and twists,

But he is truly gone.

Now laughter in the darkness

Where stealth failed, now follows the vulture.

Horizons mourn for I shall not; but beware soft world,

Of he who was not chosen, your gentle time is gone . . .

Brave father, bold and faithful, now dying far from here.

No fault to you, no scarab walks your lies.

I will honour you before all others, as you did, lately, me

And though unchosen I will absorb your hate,

That what you feared shall pass to me.

And, riding my head, we shall hunt down

All the last traces of the Erased.

And fool who thinks it other, like women, washing waters,

who ebb and flow around what should be target of archers’s bows.

Brave island of Isis, now ahead in lanterns’ lights. Let them beware

For if, as sand-talk lies on the wind, they hold harbour for such flights of mind

As those who, leaving, spoke, be true.

Then swift swords of Obion will prevail, and those that there survive

Will walk a different path,

When Great River’s banks again swell,

And fill with abundance

My coffers, gold and green will bloom

To protect noble Egypt, soon to be made mighty, again.

Weak white fool, let his despite live like lemon’s spit on the tongue

That each sad reflection on the riser over horizons come to nothing.

What matters lives and breathes,

Who rules carries a sword,

They that plough know nought of power

What does not live and breathe is a dream.

Who lives and breathes and dreams is a fool

Let those who live plough or take the sword

One man alone steers a boat, the rest empower

Swish, swish, the water from the oars.

No slaves here, the Obion are chosen,

Cousins to the blade, the whip, the Royal order.

The river is mine, at least that part which dares to hold me.

Mighty river, that I might fill thy length, as I do other women,

But so dares the arrogance of youth!

Yet time will not blunt me.

Now do I go to receive the fire . . .

——————————————————————————————–

And so, the scene is set for the initial confrontation in  “The River of the Sun” the Silent Eye’s April 2015 annual workshop. For more details click here.

The workshop explores the nature of living a magical life within the hard reality of a world dominated by power and materiality. Using the setting of ancient Egypt and the aftermath of Akhenaten’s doomed reign, a living story is told of two great forces which collide. The one, inspired by the vision of the long dead heretic seeks to embody what is known of his teachings, hidden within the worship of Isis. The other is the man known as the Eye of the Cobra, a deputy of the new Pharaoh, Rameses, who is left on the island of Philae to spy on the suspect High Priestess and her brother.

Into this maelstrom flows the life of a young man, Amkhren, whose long-held desire has been to serve for the priesthood. But his life will turn out to be very different from what he had envisaged.

Join us for this exciting weekend in the Derbyshire hills.  From the team that brought you “The Song of the Troubadour” and “The Land of the Exiles.”

The event offers a mixture of lectures and ritual dramas in which each of us will play a single role for the duration of the weekend.  Each person will play a (fully scripted) role – you only need to read from the scripts and do your best to bring it to life. Creativity will be welcome and encouraged, and we will all explore the deeper meanings of Egyptian symbology by living it.  Fun will most certainly be a theme and there is a lovely pub next door, which sees occasional use from the Silent Eye crowd . . .

Dates: Weekend of 24-26 April, 2015. Location: The lovely Nightingale Centre, Great Hucklow, Derbyshire Dales. England.

Don’t miss it! Demand will be high and there are limited places.

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

The Silent Eye, a Modern Mystery School

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