Women In The Mist (4)

(Continued from Part three on Sun in Gemini)

The spiritual, stripped of the trappings of religion, is a search for the real. We may protest that we already live lives that are real. It is one of the hardest and yet most profound jobs of a magical or mystical school, such as the Silent Eye, to show, as gently as possible, that this is not true…

The real is what is in front of us, but the way we see that is conditioned by our lives to that point. Young children see what is. They live in the real, but, other than see they can do nothing with it, because the slow climb to adulthood and outward ability is ahead of them. The conditioning, which is an essential part of all our lives begins then, when the first reactions to life are felt – often very vividly. A process begins in the infant soul; a process that develops a psychological self-for-the-world.

By the time we achieve adulthood, this self-for-the-world has crystallised into a largely mechanical set of beliefs and opinions. This hard shell, completely necessary for our survival and success in society, is what prevents us seeing what is in front of us – the real. But the process is, thankfully, reversible, in the sense that, when the climb to success loses its sparkle, and we long for something lost and deeper, our adult self can gather enough resolve and personal power to use where it is as the fuel and map for the journey back…

This is the job of the ‘mystery schools’, and has always been so.  Six thousand years ago, the priestesses working within the Neolithic stones of East Aquorthies would have understood this. The role of a priest or priestess has always been to open the gates of the real – in gradual stages that do not overwhelm those in their charge. It’s not an exact science, in that each person is different and must be treated so. It is a deep responsibility, done for the benefit of the Companion on the path, and not for the ego of the ‘guru’.

The path of the real is demanding and wonderful; but, sooner or later, it will bring you to a different relationship with what’s in front of you…

It’s Saturday morning, the main day of our Scottish weekend Maiden, Mother, Crone. We’ve left Midmar behind, nestling in its beautiful, green valley. Allan has carefully kept the convoy of cars together, not wanting us to separate, again. We are now in Cullerie. The Historic Scotland notice board describes it thus: ‘This bronze age sepulchral stone circle of eight boulders, excavated in 1934, encloses an area on which eight small cairns were later constructed. 1800-1200.’

What’s in front of me, between our group and the stones in the near distance, is a wolf…

I don’t differentiate between dogs and wolves. No matter how designer-breeding has altered their appearance and size, they are all wolves. Apparently, they chose us; they chose to be useful companions around our campfires because we we good at things, and their chances of survival were better with us, than trying to eat us.

The sheepdog from the farm next door clearly has a job he loves: he guides visitors into the stone circle, his stone circle. On one level, that’s cute but not remarkable. On another, and particularly in light of what was to be revealed in the next few minutes, he’s showing us that Kissing Wolf is missing, and he searches for those who understand the hole in the circle that was.


The eight stones are bronze age–at least two thousand years later than the wonderful circle at East Aquorthies. But that leap in technology is not the only surprise; the women have gone. Cullerie represents a sacred circle presided over only by men. The age of the moon-priestesses had ended. What happened to set that in motion is lost in pre-history. The other shock about Cullerie is what hits you as you approach it: there is a deep sadness and wrongness about the place, at least compared to East Aquorthies. Something dreadful happened here; something that led to the burial or re-burial of the cremated remains of a group of treasured souls within the ‘protection’ of the circle.

From Allan’s handout: “The interior had been levelled prior to the erection of the stones and later the ground was burnt all over by setting fire to piles of willow twigs. On the area so consecrated eight small ringed burial cairns were built, five of which yielded burnt human bones and charcoal, one scrap of pottery, and three worked flints. The finding of oak charcoal in five of the cairns, and hazel charcoal in one other, would indicate not all deposits were contemporary.”

What caused this? We will probably never know. An earlier robbery at the site removed any of the artefacts prior to 1934. But there is still a great sense of fear about the place. It could have been widespread crop failure leading to starvation; or disease, or it could have been an invasion of a hostile tribe intent on overrunning the native culture, as must have been common in those fragile times. It could have been something entirely different and darker… Whatever happened, the protection offered to the burnt bones of those interred here, seems to have worked – they were left undisturbed; ironically… until our own times.

Some of the group left the site early; they were too affected by its sad and dark atmosphere.  I stayed until the end, watched by the wolf. His final gesture was to walk me back towards the car, collecting the stick that I threw for him. His eyes were loving and bright; he loved the company. Barb had her own dog with her. Our collie was several hundred miles away, but she would not have minded me sharing her packet of treats that I found in the car’s boot…

To be continued…

Other posts in this series:

Part One, Part Two, Part Three.

Stephen Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people find the reality and essence of their existence via low-cost, supervised correspondence courses.

His personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com

©️Stephen Tanham

Women In The Mist (2)

(Continued from Part One on Sun in Gemini)

The rain has abated… for now.

After the morning of the second day, we return to East Aquorthies to have more revealed to us by our guide, Allan. The morning had contained a visit to another stone circle which had drained and saddened us all. The details will be written up in the next post in this series. The key thing was that, a few miles away and two thousand years later than the construction of this first stone circle, the women had gone…

This is not a linear telling. Sometimes, deeper things emerge and make sense when you reconstruct them out of sequence. The shamanistic spirit will often tell them out of sequence… you only realise why, later.

There is also the matter of cycles. We can only digest so much in one go. Understanding is greater than knowledge and moves at its own, rythmic rate. The trivial can easily be digested, for it contains no nutrition for the soul. The deep and truly connected experience has an intense emotional component as well as the facts of its skeleton. The two make up a body. If that body is conveying the real – the definition of the spiritually-connected – then a very different experience results.

The priestess women had gone…. But not here. Here in the East Aquorthies stone circle, we were in a space that was at least four thousand years old, and Allan, our guide, was about to reveal some little-known facts about its real nature.

I took my place from the day before–the place with the small marker stone where the spiritual history said the ley-line’s female component came into the circle from the giant woman’s breast now revealed as the mist finally cleared on the western hills. I am skeptical about such things, too many people accept without experiencing; but, the day before, my right side had burned with an energy I had not felt, previously.

Not long afterwards I had taken a simple photograph of several of us wet with the streaming rain. In one half of the photo, reproduced below, there is clear image of the circle’s Maiden Stone, and a maiden’s face on it, together with a wolf. She is smiling and looks about to kiss the wolf…

The disconnected parts are beginning to form a whole, a whole that our guide is guiding…

He hands out a hand-drawn diagram of eight points which have an exact mapping to the celestial geography of the circle. For the Sun, they show the summer and winter solstices – the rising and setting positions of the Sun on the longest and shortest days. For the Moon, the marked positions of the stones’ alignments show the extremes of the southern moonrise and moonset; and the corresponding points for the northern equivalents. It’s a map of where to find, using the stones, the boundaries of the seasons and the light that goes with them.

“Forget what they told you at school,” he says, ensuring we were awake. “They said the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. Rubbish…”

It’s hard not to grin when he does this. You know he’s speaking from a position of great knowledge. You sense that this professional man, whose career is centred on exactness, is about to say something precise. His shaman staff is white and quite short–a contrast to his own considerable height. He points it at a position in the South-East, where the horizon is hidden behind a cluster of young trees. “On the winter solstice, that’s where the sun rises.”

He moves his stick a relatively short distance across the imagined range of hills in the distance. “And that’s where the winter solstice sun sets…” he nods his head, remembering the yearly dearth of sunlight on that day. “…it’s a very short day, here in northern Scotland”.

“And because of that,” he continues. “the cycles of the moon were very important, indeed.” He pauses to survey the temple of the goddess encircled by his guests. “This is a temple of the moon…”

You could hear a rain drop falling.

I remember the ancient word for the sun and the moon: they were both referred to as luminaries. A luminary shines. Only thousands of years later would science reveal that the light of the Moon was a reflection of the Sun’s. A moon whose incredible rotation meant that, though it was rotating, it kept exactly the same face presented to the Earth at all times. For mankind’s living memory and deeply beyond, the ‘man in the moon’ has looked at life on Earth, while spinning once every twenty-four hours. For these ancient women priestesses, whose spiritual home this was, there were two suns

With two suns, you could hunt at night, at least when the night wasn’t cloudy. This was a culture that knew two worlds… intimately.

Maiden, mother, crone, the name of the Silent Eye’s weekend workshop… in the Maiden stone directly opposite me across the circle, Kissing Wolf is smiling.


(Above, from part one: Four women…. yes, four–and one wolf. Look carefully. Allan had to show me what the camera had captured)

To be continued…

Stephen Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people find the reality and essence of their existence via low-cost, supervised correspondence courses.

His personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com

©️Stephen Tanham