In your own words…

There is a long tradition in esoteric circles of keeping a journal. It is a tradition to which Companions of the Silent Eye adhere, making a record of the thoughts, questions and realisations that arise from their own meditations and the work of the correspondence course.  There are many reasons for doing this, from the simple discipline of writing down these ideas to ‘earth’ them, helping to fix them in memory… for like dreams, such tenuous thoughts can easily dissipate…to leaving a record that might just help someone else who comes after us and reads them one day. Their most important function, though, is as a record for the writer.

When engaged on this inner journey, we stumble into strange areas of the mind, heart and soul and, like a traveller on an unknown path, we may bring back traces of meaning like dust upon our feet. We do not always know the value of what we carry until much later, when we and our understanding have begun to grow.

I picked up one of my early journals and, as is often the way, things written long ago come to my eyes as if written by another hand and heart. Meaning leaps from the page, revelations lurk behind each word and understanding dawns as if for the first time. And yet, the words which bring these gifts are my own.

How could I write what I did not understand? Where did the words arise to capture such ephemeral wisps of thought? Ideas, teachings, wisdom I do not possess stare back at me from the page as if they have materialised from some other reality where the hand that wrote them had far greater depth than I. And yet, I know that hand was mine.

The words written years ago have become part of the yellowed paper. Thoughts were manifested within the letters scrawled across the page. They have not changed. Yet I might have written in invisible ink for all the understanding I had brought to what I wrote. So, what has changed? The only thing that can have changed is me. The years, the continuous learning curve of life, the multitude of experiences, knowledge gained and illusions lost… all contribute to a changed perspective from which many things look different now from how they looked then.

Some revelations are simply that transition from knowledge to understanding; from an abstract and intellectualised concept to a living awareness. Some ideas become clearer as we are distanced from them; we can be so close sometimes that we cannot see anything but the detail and the shift in perception afforded by the passage of time allows us to take a wider view. There are many things in those pages that I did not even know I knew, but on some level, at least, I must have done so or they would not now be staring back at me from the past. It is an interesting experience when you realise that you have become your own teacher.

Although, we always are. No matter what life gives us to work with, we can only shape what we can hold in awareness… what we can perceive… and our perception is not pure but clouded by the accumulated layers of experience and reaction that have built up around us, so that anything that comes to us is seen only ‘through a glass darkly’. It can be a lifetime and the devil’s own job to chip away that accretion and change our perspective, because, , first we have to realise how securely we have immured ourselves, and the walls built by our emotions can be a veritable bastion.

Occasionally, though, the mortar crumbles and a gleam of light blazes through, illuminating that which was before our eyes all the time and then we sit back in wonder at how we missed something so obvious that it shines. And yet, when the gem we have missed comes from our own pen, we have to wonder where it sprang from in the first place.

Perhaps it was there all along. Perhaps there is a part of each of us that Knows… that doesn’t need to seek the answers, but which needs our conscious mind and heart to seek the questions.

I think, that on some level of being, we do have both the questions and the answers. We just don’t realise that we do. We can spend a lifetime in our search, only to find that what we sought had never been lost. The words on these old pages are gifts laid unknowingly aside in our blindness, waiting, like slumbering seeds, to spring into life and bloom when we are ready.

Leaf and Flame – The extra mile

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Saturday continued after lunch with an Exploration led by Stuart, illustrating an idea of such simplicity that it is seldom noticed; that the most fundamental spiritual beliefs, no matter how we enrobe them in story, can be seen in the cycles and life of the earth itself. It is not a new idea, but while ideas may be shared, understanding comes to each of us as new as if it were the first morning of the world and every unique perspective adds to our ability to comprehend and to make that understanding a realised part of our lives.

Ritual Three, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, came next and saw Gawain leave Camelot with the Riddle unanswered. As he searches for the Green Chapel he is given lodging at the Castille Diablo. Sworn to a three-fold game with its Lord, Gawain must resist the blandishments of Lady Verdant… and give his spoils to her husband in exchange for the spoils of the daily hunt.

Everyone rose superbly to the challenge of the unrehearsed script over the weekend, particularly those ladies who played knights and those who stood in for those of our Companions too ill to attend, but I think few would deny that this was one of the many high-points. ‘Gawain’ and ‘Lady Verdant’ had agreed to ad-lib the three parts of the traditional seduction that ends with the bestowing of a garter… a courageous decision indeed and fascinating to watch. Lord Verdant meanwhile, also ad-libbing was, quite simply, brilliant… and his outrageously extravagant cry of ‘More excess!’ raised grins all round… and has been much quoted ever since.

Late afternoon was graced by our third Exploration, a talk given by one of our Companions on the question of faith. Speaking from her unique perspective as a scientist and long-term student of the Western Mysteries, she explored the myths  used as the foundation of the weekend from the perspective of Esoteric Christianity in what one Companion said was ‘incredibly intelligent and worth a whole weekend of discussion’ in itself.

Between the talks that had been prepared, the costumes carried for thousands of miles as friends old and new gathered from across the world… the baskets of fruit and chocolates brought by the Companions to share, the small gifts and the conviction and whole-hearted immersion of everyone in the ritual drama that was unfolding… we were left amazed and humbled. It is no new thing… the Companions do this every year… and every year we are left wordless at their generosity of spirit. It is, without a doubt, the Companions who make the weekends ‘work’. It is they who give life to the words we have written and make words on paper and lifeless costumes into a spiritual and meaningful journey for all who are there….and it is for them that we do our best to make that journey a good one.

And then, there was the fourth ritual drama… and flames in the night borne by others who had ‘gone the extra mile’… and an honour I will never forget…

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