Graven Image…

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‘ … And look! A man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold… His body also was like beryl and his face had the appearance of lightning. His eyes were as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to burnished brass. The voice of his words was as the voice of a multitude… and he said, “… To you am I now sent. Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, your prayers were heard and I am come for your prayers… I am come to make you understand what will befall your people in the latter days. I will show you the literal truth of these things. There is no other that can do this.”‘

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It is very difficult to find any illustrations for this piece.

Perhaps that is linked to the Hebraic injunction against graven images.

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In the current climate of image saturation it might be worthwhile

 considering the possible reasons for such an injunction…

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Speaking of his encounter with the ‘man clothed in linen’ Daniel says, “I alone saw the vision and the men that were with me saw it not but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled and hid themselves… I was left alone and threw myself to the ground. When he spoke I stood, trembling, and when he had finished speaking I was strengthened.”

Elsewhere in the text Daniel is less sure of this being’s precise nature:

“… And look! One like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips. I opened my mouth and spoke… Then there came again, and touched me, one like the appearance of a man…”

Michael is described both as a ‘Chief Prince’, and as ‘Daniel’s Prince’ by the narrator.

And later, as a ‘Great Prince’… “How long until the end of these awful things?”

Then I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the water of the river, swear by the Ever-Living One as he lifted his right hand and his left hand to heaven, “For a time, times, and half a time and when the breaking of the power of the holy people comes to an end, then shall all these things be fulfilled.”

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Already, after this brief overview we can glimpse some of Michael’s traditional attributions.

He is concerned with ‘end times’.

He strengthens and protects the individual

and can be petitioned on behalf of nations or ‘a people’.

He acts as a bridge and can communicate, high to low, and low to high.

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In times of hardship and struggle he may well be worth invoking…

 

Curiosities…

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St Michael’s victory over the Devil

– Sculptor, Jacob Epstein

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The French occultist, Eliphas Levi, the German philosopher Franz von Baader, and the Theurgist, Louis Claude de St. Martin spoke of 1879 as the year in which Michael overcame the dragon.

In 1917, Rudolf Steiner the founder of anthroposophy, similarly stated, “In 1879, in November, a momentous event took place, a battle of the Powers of Darkness against the Powers of Light, which ended in the image of St Michael overcoming the Dragon.”

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All of which is, to say the least, curious…

The traditional texts which mention Michael, and they are few, do not mention a dragon, and yet, iconographically, St Michael slaying the dragon is almost as ubiquitous as St George…

Religious paintings, sculptures and stain glass windows are all in agreement despite many, if not most,  of them being produced before 1879!

So what is going on?

Pull up a seat…

*

‘ … And look! A man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold… His body also was like beryl and his face had the appearance of lightning. His eyes were as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to burnished brass. The voice of his words was as the voice of a multitude… and he said, “… To you am I now sent. Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, your prayers were heard and I am come for your prayers… I am come to make you understand what will befall your people in the latter days. I will show you the literal truth of these things. There is no other that can do this.”‘

– First appearance of Michael :  The Book of Daniel, Chapter 10: 5-21

Web of Light…

The Hero’s journey, Sunday, 8th May, 2022…

She carries their gifts… the dead ones, their souls in hers, more than memory.

– Giants Dance

*

Take the pouch of seed-stones and hold them close to your heart centre…

Close your eyes… And place into the seed stones your loving intent for growth… And completion…

And a link to attune with them at will…

And then open your eyes, turn and plant some seed stones close to the standing stone or stones with which you have felt resonance…

After you have done this leave your blessing on the stone or stones…

And then walk to the centre of the circle…

*

After the gestural keys of the Chariot and Lovers our adventurers are given time alone with the ancestors…

*

Let us open the doorway through which all may pass and join together to weave the Web of Light.

At this time, when our word is in turmoil, when the bounty of our planet is being stretched beyond endurance and so many of its creatures face extinction, let us add our voice to the Web that is being woven by Seekers of Light across the earth.

Alone, we can do little, but when hearts come together to work in harmony, we can change the world.

Wherever the sacredness of the earth is remembered, wherever the ancient places are revered, wherever a single heart turns away from fear and hatred to Love, a point of Light is added to the Web.

 

Let this Circle be a point of Light within the Web.

Close your eyes. Find a place of peace within your hearts… and prepare for meditation.

Let us weave the Web of Light together…

 

Feel your body, rooted in earth.

Feel the air as you breathe, in… and out… filling your body with its gift.

Your body is a creature of earth.

Your soul is not of the earth.

Your soul is of a finer substance, your life no more than a chapter in its story.

It is eternal… your body a temporary garment that it wears.

Let it fly free…

In your mind’s eye, see the body of the Circle where we stand…

Your Companions are with you, their bodies too relaxed and resting…

Now see the soul of the Circle.

It too is other than its body.

Its stones are a grove of standing pillars in a vast space filled with Light.

Its shape mirrors the universe…

The Circle beyond represents the evolution of your soul… Above the central point imagine a single, brilliant flame that reaches up into the sky.

Follow the path lit by the flame and rise, higher and higher… passing through the sky and out into the darkness of space.

Look back; you can still see your body, perfectly safe and relaxed within this hallowed space and the single point of light that is the sacred flame…

 

…Turn now and rise higher… higher still.

Around you, the stars wheel in the heavens, bright points of dancing light against the indigo sky.

The land spreads out beneath you, a living shadow that reaches as far as you can see and beyond…

From the central light, silver flame spreads, pulsing, across the earth in a great web of light.

Where the threads cross, you know that stones have been set, groves, mounds and pools… places of worship…sacred centres like our own, harmonising the flow of cosmic Life and Light.

You are part of that web, part of its warp and weft.

You are a tender of the Flame.

Feel the life of the earth coursing through its strands… and through you.

Give yourself to its glory.

See the web blaze bright and clean… burning away all shadows, healing all rifts and lighting the land.

Within you, the flame also burns…

Its essence is a steady point of brilliance in your heart, small as a seed, but vast as the universe.

 

You are its guardian.

 

Now slowly, gently, return to the Sanctuary of our Circle, carrying the vision of light within.

Return to your body… meld with it once more…

Allow yourself to feel… your chest, rising and falling as you breathe… your feet on the earth…

And then… When you are ready… Open your eyes… And this guided visualisation… Is over.

*

‘From a towering ego to the magic and hidden strength of starlight balancing the soul in love.’

*

Caged butterlies

Berthe Morisot 1875

Berthe Morisot 1875

I love antique fans… there is something about them that has always fascinated me. I remember vividly standing in tears at Harewood House at an exhibition many years ago. I don’t quite know what it is… their delicacy and craftsmanship, the artistry in miniature, their ephemeral fragility… or perhaps it is the stories that they could tell. They were given as gifts, symbols of love and affection, hid shy smiles and coquettish glances, indeed there was a whole, discrete language that could be spoken in silence by the hand that held the fan.

I used to collect them. It was one of those things I had always promised myself when I could afford to do so. The delicate lace and gauze, painted satin and  feathers of the Belle Époque were my favourite, though the little brisé fan that belonged to my great-grandmother was the most precious. They went long ago, when times were tough, but  it was a privilege to be their custodian for a while.

Amongst my dreams one night I dreamed of a fan. I was being shown how it was to be restored. The whole ‘lesson’ was about perception, and it went on for what seemed like half the night.  In this particular passage though there was a broken fan. The gauze had split and frayed through mishandling, the sticks were  damaged and broken, the guards detached. Yet it had been a lovely thing of mother of pearl and spangled silk, painted with tiny creatures and nasturtiums… School colours and not unlike a fan I once loved.

James Tossot 1885

James Tissot 1885

The restorer showed me how to fix the guards… how to stiffen the leaf, backing it with  fine fabric to strengthen the damaged bits… how to mend the sticks and replace the rivet that held them together. I remembered how to tie the wrist ribbons. And when we had finished it looked beautiful, almost as good as new…

Except, it didn’t feel right, somehow, it was too heavy, unbalanced and the extra fabric meant it could no longer fold… certainly it could no longer be opened and closed with one graceful flick to make a conversational point. Although the body of the fan was repaired, it had lost something. It was no longer fit for the hands of coy damsels or elegant matrons. It had been patched and mended so skilfully to preserve its outward appearance that it was no longer fit for purpose. It had lost its soul.

Next I was shown how to back the fan, sewing each stick in place, supported and unfurled in all its beauty so it could be framed in glass to protect it for the future. No longer would it be handled or used, it would lay against no other cheek to say I love you  in that secret language… indeed… we had to wear white gloves so as not to contaminate it with our nasty, sweaty hands… the same that gave the beautiful patina to sticks of ivory and wood.

Alexandre Roslin 1768

Alexandre Roslin 1768

The sticks, sewn into place, could no longer flex and move, there was only stiffness where there should have been fluid movement. The butterfly was caged, pinned in a frame, a lifeless beauty, preserved for posterity in all its glory… but inanimate, soulless…. Its very nature changed by its preservation. Yet collectors of beauty would pay highly for the framed fan, seeing only the artistry, not the cage.

The waking mind sees further than the dream… or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the waking mind is able to unpick what the dreaming mind already knows and bring it into consciousness. I do not believe that there are regimented meanings to the content of dreams, although some of the images we encounter are so deeply rooted in human consciousness that their symbolism is readily apparent. Dreams are personal and it is up to us to be the key that unlocks the doorways into our subconscious that they offer.

I have mulled over this one, on and off, for a long time and there are so many layers of possible meaning that unveil themselves that, as with most dreams, there is no single, clear-cut answer. It is possible that all those layers of meaning are right… each on their own level. The mind is a fabulously creative thing.

Fans have always seemed like precious, if ephemeral things to me. Perhaps, given that I was already caring for an injured son, it was a lesson in the care and diligence it would need to ‘mend’ him… and a reminder that no matter how carefully we worked, the end result would be different, though perhaps even more valuable, than where we began.

Image result for language of fans

Maybe the dream was telling me that we have to let go of the past? That attempting to preserve what is beyond repair will only render something stiff and soulless, outwardly attractive, perhaps, but no longer useful. Most of us cling to outworn behaviours, habits become futile and even relationships that have long since failed.

The battle for social acceptability through conformity might be epitomised by the broken fan too. How many of us choose by default or are forced into the roles and boxes that society deems acceptable, when we yearn for a different life, only to find our spirits starved of colour and movement, sliding gradually into an old age of stiff regret?

Caged butterflies.

Or was it, like the rest of the dreams that night, simply another lesson in perception? That beyond the outer form, whether beautiful or tatterdemalion, all things have a purpose. To try to force someone into serving a purpose for which they were not destined, is to rob them of their chance to fly… and perhaps this applies especially to oneself. To deny the inner purpose of our being is to deny our Selves and leads to a lifeless life.

Sometimes, to escape the cage and find our true wings, we have to follow our dreams.

Coming of age

"The Love of Souls" -- 1900, by Jean Delville
“The Love of Souls” — 1900, by Jean Delville

I have had my fair share of love letters in my time.  Possibly more than my fair share, not that I would complain. There is something timeless and special about the written word. The first, very first, was a scribbled note on the back of a photo from a young man named Neil. I still have it. He was away on a long holiday with his parents… we were children, no more than that. The first real love letter I ever received was way back too. His name was Malcolm. He was blonde and gorgeous, looking rather like a very young Michael York. Malcolm was a couple of years older than me, very intelligent and we had met and fallen head over heels the way young things do.

It was the first time I had met a boy who looked beyond the surface to the mind. Back then, a time of legs, gypsy blouses and hot pants, few looked beyond, shall we say, the salient points of anatomy. To be able to actually talk with a young man about literature, go to art galleries together, the theatre… it was, for me, a joyous awakening. I could allow myself to be me.

It was also, for a teenager, a hugely romantic affair as we were apart much of the time while he was away at boarding school. Hence the letter. We had spent the summer together, but when September came he was riven from my arms. Yes, I know, I’m sorry… it felt that melodramatic at the time. We were very young. Star crossed lovers….

It wasn’t as bad as it seemed. I lived in Leeds, a city with a brilliant transport network. His school was in the little village of Drax, near Selby… so half an hour into town, twenty minutes by train, ten minutes by bus… then two and a half miles on foot, generally in very high heels… and we could meet. It wasn’t allowed… which, looking back, made it far more exciting. I was smuggled into the stately house on more than one occasion by Malcolm and his friends. Or we met in the village and wandered the woods hand in hand. Terribly romantic.

That couldn’t happen every week and in between there were letters. Almost daily. I will never forget the first. It had come through the door as I left for school, I had been itching to read it, but there were other girls with me until break time and I wanted to curl up ‘with’ him alone. In a corner of the form room, when everyone had left for break I opened the envelope and began to read.

No-one had ever sent me Shakespeare before! Imagine trembling fingers and maidenly heart all aflutter! I can feel the echo of it now…. even now…after all these years.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day…

It didn’t last, of course, in spite of a first ring offered, in true romantic fashion, on one knee. We grew up. But it had left me with many things learned from our time together, including a love of Shakespeare and huge tracts of his work to ponder that I can still quote by heart. Everything leaves its legacy with us and it is up to us to ensure that what remains are not scars but gifts. Malcolm allowed a young girl to see beyond her own unconfident and fragile exterior and begin to explore the possibilities of mind and of simply becoming herself. It was a wake-up call.

They come in many forms, these moments of realisation. Some are relatively minor and mundane, others hold a deeper meaning, eliciting a choice made with heart, mind and soul. Some we respond to, others we choose to ignore. We always have a choice. To be… or not to be perhaps.

Over coffee and with several thousand miles between us, a friend and I were discussing this a while ago. She has a rare gift for finding the words to encapsulate wisdom. We were speaking of those wake up calls that come from the most profound levels of being; hers came forty years ago and she has served the Light with every atom of her being ever since, wearing a radiant mantle of joy born from that service that, I think, none can fail to see.

When that call comes there is still a choice. We can choose to accept, and in doing so be ready to release everything we have thought we are, the things by which we attempt to define ourselves… or we can turn away, retaining the security of our self-image.

“Well,” she wrote, “it will be according to the will of the human spirit. Until that human will has made the choice to join in fullness with the Will, the Divine extends the blessing and the curse of freedom.”

That expresses for me such beauty, that we have the gift of choice, the freedom to choose. Though when that call comes to a heart ready to hear, there may seem no other choice but to follow where it leads, no cost to consider, no question but to answer wordlessly. It is a moment of surrender to Love and in that moment, Silence is the perfectest herald of joy.

Fresh air

lilies 747

I had an odd and unexpected encounter today. One of those chance meetings that seem small and unimportant yet which leave a mark deeper than we realise at the time. I had wandered over to the next village this afternoon… on a quest for information about a legendary tree…one with a history some two thousand years in its growing. While I did not find the one I was looking for, I found what I needed to know about its eventual demise and unlooked for replacement. Of course, Quainton is a glorious old village with wonderful buildings… and so many overhead cables that getting a decent shot is nigh on impossible. But although I had the inevitable camera in tow, that was not my primary reason for the jaunt. I just needed air. It has been a rough few days.

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I met a lovely old gentleman in the churchyard who taught me a lot about the village and showed me the oldest buildings still standing there, telling me of the medieval forge and culvert discovered under one of the houses when it was renovated. We walked through the village together and he told me of how it had changed over the years, pointing out the chaffinches, dragonflies and blue-tits as we walked, and taking time to show me the house-martin’s nests under the eaves of one of the houses. It was a slow, leisurely progress, stopping every few steps for the dog to sniff and my companion to rest. He was a very old man.

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It is a mellow place with the traditional village green bordered by cottages whose roofs are sighing with age and the George and Dragon… what else?… looks out to the ancient preaching cross and the windmill that is the most visible landmark of the village.

lilies 756

It is the details that I notice though. The little marks of human hands and humour, like the variety of thatch creatures perched on the roofs, the village pump, or the small crosses carved into the stone of the church by pilgrims who have long since reached their ultimate destination. In many of the churches there are little games carved into the pillars and walls near the pews… often low enough to be out of sight of the officiant. You can imagine small hands surreptitiously working away to make these miniature game boards, whiling away the boredom, perhaps, of a service then in Latin and beyond their reach.

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I love the quirkiness of the fads and fancies that traverse the ages… from the civic pomp and ceremony of the Victorians to the graphic representations of death from earlier times.. the memento mori that may appear gruesome or shocking to our eyes today, yet which served as a reminder that in death there is neither princely estate nor poverty… it is the great leveller of all and in the beyond of their belief only the riches of virtue would hold meaning. In an era before the advent of antiseptics and antibiotics, when life was fragile and tenuous and dying not a sanitised process, perhaps they did not shrink as we do today from its presence.

lilies 697

My companion and I stopped before the place that had once been the old rectory, now undergoing renovation. He admired the new capstones on the gateposts while I quietly admired a bronzed and shirtless Adonis worthy of any sculptor’s efforts.  The old man asked me suddenly what it was that made me take photographs… what was it I tried to capture? I turned my glance from the flexed and gleaming muscles to the equal and warmer beauty of the wrinkled face and the twinkling, questioning eyes. I had a fleeting vision of the thousands of pictures on my hard drive… birds and flowers, skies and buildings, trees and faces, architecture and hilltops, history and humour…and realised I had never really asked myself that question. For a moment, looking mentally at that dizzying array of images I was at a complete loss. There was, it seemed, no common thread. A mish-mash of images, a plethora of subjects… They are not all pretty pictures, not all are gentle, some are harsh, some wild, some dark… and beauty is such a subjective vision anyway…

lilies 698

Then I saw it, the common denominator, winding through them all, a sparkling cord that bound them together. I chuckled as I understood the Ariadne’s thread that has always led me, I think. “Life,” I answered, still laughing at myself. “I love Life.” My companion smiled and nodded, satisfied, as if he were a teacher and I a dense pupil who had finally understood. Maybe he was right.

lilies 687

 

Last Call for Castlerigg…

sculpture, abbots bromley

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Tarot Card – The Fool: Penetrated Egoic Nature

results in a ‘reckless fool’.

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‘There and back again…’

*

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

*

The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
Let others follow it who can!
Let them a journey new begin,
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.

J.R.R Tolkien

***

‘The Hero’s Journey’


Photograph – courtesy, the estate of Sue Vincent

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‘…For three days Gwythyr-the-Bright journeyed

in the gullet of the Black Salmon of the Lake of Light.’

– Crucible of the Sun

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In his book, ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’,  Joseph Campbell used knowledge of philosophy and psychology to describe how many human myths share a common fundamental structure, which he called the Monomyth.

What does the Mono-Myth describe?

What relevance does it have to seekers of light in the 21st Century?

How are the Ancient Sacred Sites of all lands linked to these questions?

And what techniques can we bring to bear when departing the ordinary world and embarking on adventures in the sacred realms of the Supernatural Order?

Join the Silent Eye on this magical landscape workshop in the Cumbrian Hills of the Lake District, UK which takes place over the weekend of  May 6th-8th, 2022.

Click below to
Download our Events Booking Form – pdf

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

 

A rift in reality

circles-time-higger-gardom-arbor-carl-wark-barbrook-rowtor-dawn-014

We were up at the crack of dawn, not because there had been too much wine the night before, which might have been expected during an evening in an Italian restaurant, but because the bug that had been stalking us for days had decided it would be fun to strike its victims during the celebratory meal and had knocked us off our feet.

circles-time-higger-gardom-arbor-carl-wark-barbrook-rowtor-dawn-017

With no clear plan for the days ahead, we lingered over coffee, debating what we should do. The evening was taken care of… we were going to see Robin Williamson. We had missed his Sheffield performance last year, due to the dates of the Ilkley workshop, and his music was the main reason I was lingering in the north.

circles-time-higger-gardom-arbor-carl-wark-barbrook-rowtor-dawn-035

We decided that it would be a good idea to check on the stone circle at Barbrook. After the work we had done there, we needed to re-visit the stones and, if nothing else, pay our respects and thank the spirit of the place for the gifts we had been given. The sun was rising steadily as we drove, climbing the long road to crest the hills above the awakening city.

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Three, they say, is the charm…and this was the third time in less than a week that we had passed through the gates onto Ramsley Moor. The morning mists wove mystery from the pale sunlight and the bejewelled land was bathed in gold. It may just have been the beauty of the morning, but the place felt different, alive and awake, as if two thousand years had dropped away and we were stepping beyond the veiling mists back into a time long gone.

circles-time-higger-gardom-arbor-carl-wark-barbrook-rowtor-dawn-025

Retracing our steps along the path, just a few days after the workshop, it seemed like a different place. More of the mounds were visible,  shifting  swathes of mist opened pathways and vistas into a landscape of dreams. What we had done had undoubtedly made a vast difference here… though whether that difference was objective or just in the way we perceived the land is another matter.

circles-time-higger-gardom-arbor-carl-wark-barbrook-rowtor-dawn-034

Nor does it matter. Reality is only real in as far as we perceive it to be. It is our perception that determines how we can interact with it and what our reaction to it might be. A tiny spider, if perceived as a threat, will make us afraid. If the darkness holds monsters for a child, the fear is real. If a stone circle seems awake… that too is real in its own realm. When we left the moor at last, we were smiling.

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Fruits of Balance…

*

… “‘Greater’ is just as perplexing as ‘space’ and ‘colour’.”

“It contains the concept of consumption.”

“Yet, is not necessarily overjoyed at the idea.”

“Perhaps it is just issuing a friendly warning.”

*

*

“Whichever way we look at it, natural hierarchies involve predation.”

“Why, even space gets in on it.”

“Look at how the sky swallows a bird.”

“That is merely an illusion of distance.”

*