Spirit y’all? – Stuart France

This week, I will be sharing again a little about the people behind the Silent Eye… this is Stuart’s journey…

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‘Our own journey is entirely imaginary: that is its strength.’

– Louis Ferdinand Celine.

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I grew up in a religiously tolerant family which knew a thing or two about love and faith. Nan left the Catholic Church to marry Gramps and their eldest son, Uncle Geoff, my mum’s little brother eventually rejoined the Catholic Church in order to marry Aunty Cath, which meant that when we went to spend holidays with Little Geoff and Janet and Mandy we went to their Church with them which was Catholic, and when Little Geoff, Janet and Mandy came to spend the holidays with us they came to our church which was Church of England. It didn’t seem odd to do this and it came as something of a shock to realise that in olden times people had lost their lives for less.

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Anyhow, I eventually grew suspicious of a Church which required me to stand and proclaim my belief in something that is seemingly physically impossible and so I ceased frequenting on Sun Day’s, although, I still liked to ‘rock up’ around Christmas time to sing Carols, and even at the height of my teens I could be found attending Midnight Mass of a Christmas Eve.

My Religious Knowledge teacher at senior school was a good sort, Mr Whalley by name. He taught that all religious systems essentially referred to the same ‘thing’ which he called Spirit, and he stressed the personal nature of the contact which could be enjoyed with this thing. I liked the stories too, and not just the Christian ones. I liked all the stories because it felt like they were trying to tell me something, if I would only listen… It wasn’t though an immediately obvious thing and it wasn’t historical either because it went beyond history, although I liked historical stories too. I would have liked to study Religious Knowledge at ‘O’ Level but the selections were not set up right, so I couldn’t.

I suppose, really, I came to spirituality through literature and philosophy which I studied to degree level. One shouldn’t really be putting pen to paper unless one has something communal and good to impart and philosophy, properly, is the ‘Love of Wisdom’.

The Spirit is infinitely wise…

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Knowing that, though, is a lot easier than living it… so, really, my spiritual education was only just beginning when I joined and studied with a series of Spiritual Schools. First, OBOD, The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, which teaches love for the Spirit of Nature, then, AMORC, The Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, which teaches love for the Spirit of Mysticism, and finally, SOL, Servants of the Light which teaches love for the Spirit of Magic.

Can anyone conceive a well lived life without a love and reverence for the spirit of nature, and the inherent magic, and mystery of existence in some form or another?

I know I can’t.

I don’t think it is necessary to belong to a Spiritual School in order to be spiritual, quite the contrary, because life itself can be regarded as a school of the Spirit, which of course it is, but joining a Spiritual School can certainly help because what these schools really teach is a series of techniques which enable us to access our natural abilities in order to attune with the spiritual dimension of the world around us in a meaningful and productive way.

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Our School, the Silent Eye, in that respect, is no different from any of the others, we just have a different set of techniques and, perhaps, a slightly more modern approach.

‘The easiest way to approach spirituality is through stories, they are common to every tradition on earth and rather than demand belief all they ask is a willing suspension of disbelief…’
– The Initiate.

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…Y’all come back now… you hear?

The Lion’s Share

 

 

“Tell me,” said Joshua, “why is that person carrying a lamb to the city ?”

Judas Thomas said, “So that he may kill it and eat it.”

Joshua said, “Whoever has come to know the world has discovered a carcass, and whoever has discovered a carcass, of that person the world is not worthy.

Damn the soul that depends on the flesh.

Damn the flesh that depends on the soul.

How miserable is the body that depends on these two ?

Together they are like a dog in a cattle manger, where neither the dog nor the cattle can eat hay.

During the days when you eat what is dead you make it alive, but when you are in the light, where the dead are not alive and the living will not die, what will you do ?

If the body came into being because of the spirit then it is a marvel: if the spirit came into being because of the body then it is a marvel of marvels; I marvel that such great wealth dwells in so much poverty.

Cursed be the man who eats a lion

that the lion becomes human.

Blessed be the lion that eats a man

when the lion becomes human.”

Extract from The Living One

 

A Bibliomantic Tale VIII…

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Pennant Valley

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A slight change to the Sunday Morning plans means that there are two readings for one location this time.

Escape

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Pages Two-One-One and Two-One-Two

No 4 (Light)

‘The profoundest disclosure in the religious experience is the awareness that the individual is not alone. What he discovers as being true and valid for himself must at last be a universal experience or else it ultimately loses all of its personal significance. His experience is personal, private, but in no sense exclusive. All of the vision of God and holiness which he experiences, he must achieve in the context of the social situation by which his day-by-day life is defined. What is disclosed in this religious experience, he must define in his community.’

– Howard Thurman

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No 5 (Dark)

‘Jesus rests his case for the ultimate significance of his life on the love ethic. Love is the intelligent, kindly, but stern expression of kinship of one individual for another having as its purpose the maintenance and furtherance of life at its highest level… If we accept the basic proposition that life is one, arising out of a common centre – all expressions of love are acts of God. Hate, then, becomes a form of annihilation of self and others; in short – suicide.’

– Howard Thurman

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But that we could escape to such an idyllic green world.

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No 9 (Light)

‘The strictly scientific view of the universe needs this dimension of love and play, which it sorely lacks. That is one thing I like about space flights: at last there is something of cosmic play getting into the sombre, unimaginative, and super serious world of science. But what is a little play of astronauts against the great, gloomy, dogmatic seriousness of the death game, nuclear war? Can we recover from the titanic humourless of our civilisation?

– Thomas Merton

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No 8 (Dark)

‘The contemplative life should liberate and purify the imagination which passively absorbs all kinds of things without our realising it: liberate and purify it from the influence of so much violence done by the bombardment of social images. There is a kind of contagion that affects the imagination unconsciously much more than we realise. It emanates from things like advertisements and from all the spurious fantasies that are thrown at us by our commercial society. These fantasies are deliberately intended to exercise a powerful effect on our conscious and subconscious minds. They are directed right at our instincts and appetites and there is no question but that they exercise a real transforming power on our whole psychic structures. The contemplative life should liberate us from that kind of pressure which is really a form of tyranny.’

– Thomas Merton

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We concluded our reading reveries with a walk along the valley in an an attempt to draw closer to this green idyll and, perchance, enter in, beyond its sacred veil.

What we discovered was ‘Big Farmer’.

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to be continued…

A Bibliomantic Tale VII…

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Harlech Castle

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“Patrick McGoohan’s, ‘The Prisoner’, displays many thematic similarities to Franz Kafka’s, ‘The Castle’ and ‘The Trial’.”

Authority

Pages One-Five-Two and One-Five-Three

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No 8 (Light)

O God, the longer I gaze upon your face, the more acutely do you seem to turn the gaze of your eyes upon me!…Thus when I meditate on how that face is truth and the best measure of all faces, I am expanded into a state of immense wonder…

Those who look upon you with a loving face will find your face looking at them with love… Those who look upon you in hate will similarly find your face hateful. Those who gaze at you in joy will find your face joyfully reflected back at them.

– Nicolas of Cusa

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“Nature reduces all physical constructs to rubble and all mental constructs to hot air.”…

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No 9 (Dark)

O Divine One, all beauty which can be conceived is less than the beauty of your face.

Though every face is beautiful, no face is beauty’s self but your face, God/ess, has beauty and this having is being.

It is absolute beauty itself, which is the form that gives being to every beautiful form.

– Nicolas of Cusa

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Dyffryn Ardudwy Dolmen

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To close the day we repaired to a sacred site and performed a simple but effective turning of the year ritual.

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Pages Two-Two-Seven and Two-Two-Eight.

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No 2 (Light)

‘To understand the world, knowledge is not enough. You must see it, touch it, live in its presence and drink the vital heart of existence in the very heart of reality.’

– Teilhard de Chardin

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No 3 (Dark)

‘Let us advance one step further. What name should we give to this physio-moral energy of personalisation to which all activities displayed by the stuff of the universe are finally reduced? Only one name is possible, if we are to credit it with the generality and power that it should assume in the cosmic order: love… The conclusion is always the same: Love is the most powerful and still the most unknown energy of the world.’

– Teilhard de Chardin

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to be continued…

A Bibliomantic Tale IV…

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“Somewhere in all that cloud stands a Druid at the head of a circle.”

“Let’s go see if we can find him.” …

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The Pillars: Penmaenmawr.

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Tee minus Six hours and counting…

“It’s odd, I had no recollection of these pillars, yet now that I see them I do remember and it seems like only yesterday. We went that way, which is, I believe, the long way round, so we’re going to go in the opposite direction.”

“Not before we’ve taken a reading we’re not.”

“It is working isn’t it?”

“It seems to be. One-Five-Eight, so that’s Five, or One-Five Nine, or Six?”

“Five.”

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No 5 (Light)

‘The Logos of creation in whom all things were created can be nothing other than divine wisdom. Thus it is that wisdom is eternal, for it precedes every beginning and all created reality.’

– Nicolas of Cusa

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“Ha ha ha! Eternal Wisdom on our way to meet a Druid, I like that.”

“It does seem to be having some fun with us. So what’s the shadow side?”

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No 6 (Dark)

‘Humanity will find that it is not a diversity of creeds, but the very same creed which is everywhere proposed. There cannot but be one wisdom. If it were possible to have many wisdoms these would have to be from one; for before any plurality exists there must first be unity. Humans must therefore all agree that there is but one most simple wisdom whose power is infinite; and everyone, in explaining the intensity of this beauty, must discover that it is a supreme and terrible beauty.’

-Nicolas of Cusa

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“Spoken like a true Druid.”

“Three-Zero minutes this way, according to the book.”…

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Nine-Zero minutes later…

“We’re going to be late.”

“We’ll have to skip drinks and meet them at the restaurant.”

“At least we found the Druid.”

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“So now we’ve found him, what does he have to say for himself?”

“One-Six-Four, so Two or, One-Six-Five, Three?”

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No 3 (Light)

‘It is necessary for one who wants to attain understanding to raise the intellect above the meaning of words rather than to insist upon their properties which, in any case, cannot be properly adapted to such great mindful mysteries.

Intellectual knowledge, alone and unaided,

desires and exaggerates

the victory of words

and it is far from that

to God

who is our peace.’

– Nicolas of Cusa

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“Cusa, again, he seems to have an affinity with this place.”

“One can hardly blame him.”

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“It’s a nice spot for a circle, and there’s a smaller five stone ring further down.”

“Let’s do the shadow reading from there.”

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No 2 (Dark)

‘The relationship of our intellect to the truth is like that of a polygon to a circle: the resemblance to the circle grows with the multiplication of the angles of the polygon; but short of the polygon actually becoming a circle, no multiplication of its angles, even if it were infinite would make the polygon equal to the circle. It is therefore clear that all we know of truth is that the Absolute Truth, as it is, is beyond our grasp. The more mindfully we learn this lesson of ignorance, the closer we will draw to truth itself.’

– Nicolas of Cusa

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“It’s not possible.”

“What’s not possible?”

“To move from an excessively peaceful stone circle where a randomly chosen reading speaks of peace, and then move to a collection of stones arranged in a polygon and get a reading that talks about the relationship between a circle and a polygon.”

“It does seem a bit odd.”

“A bit odd?”

“At least we now know it is definitely working.”

“Next stop Borth-Y-Gest.”

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to be continued…

 

 

Faith, Belief or Gnosis – Did Gawain have Faith? by The Patrician Lady

The Patrician Lady is a much-loved and respected member of the esoteric community who, for the last two years, has shared her own perspective on the subject matter of the April workshops. She has kindly permitted us to reproduce the text of the talk that she gave at Leaf and Flame, where the central theme was the story of Gawain… a talk which, as one Companion stated, is “worthy of a workshop in itself.”

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Faith, Belief or Gnosis – Did Gawain have Faith?
by The Patrician Lady for the Silent Eye workshop: Leaf and Flame: the Foliate Man, April 2016.

Today we’re going to look at the words Faith, Belief and Gnosis and to offer a perspective on Faith as used by Jesus in the gospels which has relevance to Christian Western Mysteries. After this we will look at the response of Gawain when tested by the Green Knight. Did Gawain have ‘Faith’?

I had never really thought about the difference between Faith and Belief until I read books by Maurice Nicoll[1], in particular The New man. This book has a chapter on Faith which gives Nicoll’s thoughts on what Jesus actually meant by Faith. I realised that, like many other people, I thought Faith and Belief were the same, or as near as makes no difference. But Nicoll told me I was wrong, they’re not the same. After reading his thoughts on the topic I had an ‘Aha!’ moment, a moment of clarity which I would like to share with you today. If you google ‘Faith, Belief and Gnosis’ you will find numerous articles and books written on the subjects, together with various dictionary definitions, many of which define one as the other; everyone seems to have their own interpretation of difference and accord. Having read many of these articles I have sifted and distilled my thoughts which I hope you will find useful.

I’ll start by saying that Psychology is not my field of expertise, so any statements I make in this area are based on what I’ve read and understood from various articles. The human mind can be divided into three types; the Sensual mind, the Mystical mind, and the Spiritual mind. I have no doubt there are other definitions and divisions but I’d like to work with these for our purposes. The Sensual mind receives information from the five senses and the three dimensions of the physical world; with the Mystical mind you can experience beyond the Sensual mind, that is beyond the experience of the five senses. The Mystical mind receives information through the five senses but the information is abstract and not physical. The Mystical mind also receives information through intuition, psychism, telepathy etc., what we might call astral input.  The Spiritual mind is our Inner mind. It functions on a higher plane beyond the Sensual and the Mystical. The Spiritual mind is where it is possible to meet with Divine Unity, Godhead.

These three minds connect with the Body, Soul and Spirit. The mind holds our thoughts. It is the link between the Body and the Soul. It operates/functions via a physical organ, the brain, but its output is abstract and of a higher dimension. Spirit is our particular spark of Divinity carried within the vehicle of our Body, animated by our Soul or animus/anima. We also have three levels of consciousness or awareness: Normal consciousness, Sub or Un-consciousness and Super or Higher consciousness. These things we know and take for granted but ponder on them and they become a mystery.  Having said all this, let us return to our three types of mind: Sensual, Mystical and Spiritual and consider how these relate to Belief, Faith and Gnosis.

People say ‘I believe’ and assume they have Faith but Faith is not Belief. Belief is related to the Mystical mind. There is an aspect of choice about Belief. You learn about something and then choose whether or not to believe it. You create your own Belief-system. Beliefs are mental constructs, conclusions about reality or spirituality. Beliefs continuously change over time, influenced by incoming information, thoughts, hopes, experiences. From these we create our Belief-system; we can choose to believe or not-believe. Most people who say they believe in God get no further than the Mystical mind. Before reading Nicoll’s New Man I had always thought one could have Faith even if you ‘weren’t quite sure’, that Faith was the positive side of not being quite sure – people would say ‘Have Faith’. But it isn’t. Faith is different. It requires a transformation in thought, metanoia,  a re-penser, to re-think [not to repent as we use the word today – this is a mis-translation of the original French word]. Faith is pure knowledge, direct experiential wisdom, direct experience of the inner real. Faith is not a matter of choice. It is experiential, personal to you. It produces an inner knowing – Gnosis, a knowing produced from beyond the senses, whereas ordinary knowing results from sensual experience and is an intellectual occurrence. Gnosis is a one-way system; once you ‘know’ something through Faith you can’t un-know it. It is no longer based on information or choice but on inner experience.  So, to believe is to intellectually accept what you hear. To believe in God is a matter of the Mystical mind. To have Faith belongs to the Spiritual mind.

Looking further at Gnosis, many languages have two words for knowing. German has wissen and kennen; French has savoir and connâitre distinguishing between outward, objective knowledge and inward, subjective knowledge. The easy way to remember this is to think of knowing a thing or a fact and knowing a person.  In English we only have one word to know both a thing and a person, even though one is objective and the other is abstract, subjective. To ‘know’ oneself at the deepest level is the secret of Gnosis – Know Thyself- Gnothi Sauton (Gr) was inscribed into the temple at Delphi and over the door to Plato’s academy; in Latin Nosce te ipsum was adopted by the Romans. This inner knowing belongs to the Spiritual mind.

Also, Belief has a touch of hope but is not necessarily certainty. Faith is certainty projected forward. Gnosis is deep, inner knowing, it is static. Remember this differentiation as I’ll use it later.

Faith and Gnosis are related to this other inner mind, the Spiritual mind which is neither Sensual nor Mystical. Unfortunately this mind does not exist empirically within each one of us, which means it isn’t part of our basic construction but it is only present in potential, it has to be created by us in our life-time. In order to create this mind we need transformation, alchemy. It requires work, effort. But the great thing is that we only have to do half of the work needed.

The Intention to find the inner mind is the first step. Then we have to develop positivity, to lose the negative mind-set. Meditation and contemplation are effective tools for developing the inner mind but on their own they are not enough. Having stated your mental intention and put in the hard work, somehow a change in ‘mind’ happens, a metanoia takes place. Having reached up your hand, Divinity reaches down to meet you half way and pulls you up into the inner Spiritual mind dimension. This process is not as fantastic as it may at first appear; it already exists in nature as quanta of energy at the quantum level in physics. There has to be enough energy present to form a quantum or package; below this level nothing is formed, nothing happens. At and above this level energy is manifested; for example – Light travels in packets called photons. Each photon carries a certain amount of energy. Below this ‘certain amount’, no photon is created, which is why it’s called Quantum physics. So, back to our review of Faith, Belief and Gnosis; having put in enough work (effort) there is a quantum leap from Belief to Faith. All of this can be found in Ouspenky’s book on Gurdjieff’s Fourth Way. The seed of Faith is created with God’s help and that’s all it takes, just the smallest seed. Read the parable of the mustard seed in the New Testament. A single spiritual experience the size of a mustard seed (which is very small) is enough to know God. Once you have experienced it, it sits within you as a seed of Faith; from this it can grow like the mustard tree (which is very large). You can read descriptions of Faith and possibly think you know what it would be like but until you experience it, until it happens to you, you cannot know what it feels like, what it is. It has to happen to you. It is an individual experience. Yet Faith is not an emotional response, it is a conviction. Remember our earlier definitions in which I said Belief has a touch of hope but is not necessarily certainty, whereas Faith is certainty. Let’s look at this a little further.

Looking again at words, the Greek word for Faith, pistis, comes from the verb peitho to persuade, make obey. Thus Faith (pistis) carries with it a certain power (dunamis) dynamism. So it’s not passive Belief but dynamic Faith; it transforms man to a higher level (I use the word ‘man’ meaning the species man-kind). The result is alchemy, transmutation, the creation of a new mind, a metanoia, which obeys the laws of a new level. Faith occurs on another level from Belief, an inner, higher level of being.

To gain Faith you must will to have it. You cannot move to a level above the ordinary level by any outer means, by anything seen or heard from the senses. In Aramaic the word for Faith is haimanuta. This word carries the implication of a person’s confidence, firmness, integrity of being in Sacred Unity (Divinity): haimanuta is the word for Faith that Jesus would have used.

Faith is always a gift from God, and never something that can be produced by people. Jesus spent a lot of time and effort trying to explain Faith to his followers. They thought because they gave up their families and followed him that they had Faith but he, on several occasions, accused them of having no Faith (as in Mark: ch 4,). Often the gospels translate this as having little Faith (as in Matt: ch 16) but experts are of the opinion that the original word was No Faith. You cannot have little Faith, just as a woman can’t be a bit pregnant, she either is or she isn’t. Haimanuta implies conviction. You either have Faith or you don’t. The disciples of Jesus gave up everything yet several times were told they had No Faith. One example comes after the transfiguration of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, where He can be seen as ‘going beyond himself’. He demonstrated that a higher form of man exists and Faith leads to transformation. Why else were Peter, James and John allowed to be present? But they were asleep, weighed down with sleep. They had to wake up. To be awake is to comprehend meaning beyond the ordinary, to be conscious of things which are more than ordinary life, extra-ordinary. They needed to have a change of consciousness, a raised consciousness – up to another level. All this happens within your mind. When your consciousness moves to this other level you enter the Kingdom of Heaven. It is inside you. Entering the Kingdom of Heaven refers to a quality of understanding that results in inner knowing (Gnosis).  You have metanoia, become born again at a higher level. This higher level of ‘being’ is the Kingdom of Heaven and it lies within you.

Once you ‘know’ this then you have ‘Faith’. You become aware of higher levels of being.  Faith denotes a certainty that a higher interpretation of life exists and as a consequence that the transformation of man is a possibility. The peculiar quality of Faith is that life can only be understood by a sense of something higher than man as he is and that man has the possibility to become transformed and understand new meanings in relation to life on earth. This peculiar quality makes Faith different from Belief. It is interesting that John the Baptist was a very sincere man, described as the best prophet up to then. John and his followers fasted and prayed but they still held beliefs that the messiah was come to save this world. They had not moved to the inner level, did not have metanoia, new thinking and so could not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus was telling us that we cannot graft new thoughts on top of old thought patterns. He used the analogy of not putting new wine into old bottles, or a new patch on an old garment. We need a new way of thinking. Also we need to accept that Faith gives us this dynamic capacity to change things. Remember peitho, the power of persuasion, to make things obey. The centurion who asked Jesus to cure his servant was aware of levels of authority. He understood the levels of power; he said ‘Just say the word and my servant will be healed’ and so was told he had great Faith. Faith (pistis) in the New Testament means more than mere Belief. It means understanding on a level other than literal. We need to understand life in a new way.

So, with Belief you may hope, desire and expect that a certain thing is true or will happen but when Faith happens you stand firmly, with conviction that a thing is true. Only this mindset will get you into the Kingdom of Heaven. The Gospel tells you Faith is the Key to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Now, what the intellect thinks may contradict what the heart believes; so there is a dichotomy between believing and ordinary knowing. Thinking by itself cannot change human nature. Something else is required. Tradition tells us there is within us a force that draws us towards truth and this force is neither thinking nor emotion. Faith is not simple emotional conviction. It puts the intellect in possession of truth which reason itself cannot grasp.

To reach the state of mind required for Faith to happen you must love with no thought of reward and approach life in a positive manner. All this takes effort. All the negatives have to go, jealousy, anger, ‘me’-ness. The woman who washed Christ’s feet with her tears had this kind of love and Faith. This kind of love is necessary for knowledge to grow into inner understanding via a seed of Faith. For this to happen most of us need ‘metanoia’ a new way of thinking. By this means we reach the Kingdom of Heaven within ourselves for it exists nowhere else. If everyone did this the world would take a step up in evolution but the step can only be taken by each individual. This is why man was created. Jesus came to teach us that this is the goal of life; an inner state of development that man can reach, yet remember this – John the Baptist was no ordinary man. He had teaching and knowledge, followers and fasting; yet Jesus said he had not attained the lowest level of the Kingdom of Heaven. One would have said that he believed, how else could he continue with his task, yet he was told he had no Faith. In Matt: ch 11 John is told that he belonged to the highest degree of earth but not to the lowest degree of the Kingdom of Heaven. Thus, to pass from one level to another is not automatic; it requires transformation, a change in habitual ways of thought, of habitual reactions. Christianity promotes Faith as an end in itself. If you have Faith you will attain the Kingdom of Heaven which is within. Other religions such as Gnostics place Gnosis as the objective, with Belief as the lowest rung and Faith as an intermediate stage. Faith undermines all our natural beliefs because it leads away from earthly thought in a direction that can no longer be confirmed by the five senses. Faith is defined as a seed in the mind, with potential for growth which cannot exist in us as long as we believe that life is the end of human endeavour and not the means for something else.

Jesus was also hard on his followers. He called them a faithless and perverse generation. Perverse in its etymological meaning is ‘turning in all directions’. He meant that we need to be pointing and moving in one direction.  Here Jesus gives the description of the mustard seed. A seed has inside itself organisation to grow into something more. Take an acorn for example. If I were to tell you that this acorn contains a great tree 50 feet tall you can choose to believe it or not. But once you have planted an acorn and watched it grow into an oak tree this becomes Gnosis. You can look at an acorn and know it contains a great tree, an inner knowing, a confidant conviction which doesn’t require further proof and your ‘Faith’ in this phenomenon cannot be shaken. An acorn can become an oak tree. Once you have the acorn, the seed, you have the possibility for it to become an oak tree. The oak tree is already there within the acorn, it just needs an input of energy and planting in fertile soil. To become an oak tree the acorn must cease being an acorn and no longer obey the laws of an acorn, it must obey the laws of an oak tree; but Faith is knowing that the oak tree is already there without having seen it grow. Not easy for one of a rational and logical disposition.

The problem is that we can’t ever see the Kingdom of Heaven without having Faith and this is where the effort comes in plus the will-power and the metanoia. Now we get to the nub of the process. Part way through writing this article I had what I call a download of information. It happened whilst I was relaxed and reading a novel but I’d relaxed even further into a day-dream. I’ve had similar episodes before, always with a significant realisation at the end. It brings to mind the way the 6-carbon benzene ring construction came through to Friedrich August Kekulé on waking from a day-dream. It’s as if information coming in from the inner planes can’t get through in normal consciousness but gets through between the thoughts if the mind is ready to receive it. I became aware that Faith is not Belief; it’s all to do with intention and will-power. Now, where have I heard that before? Intention and Willpower – Of course, its Magic! Jesus was trying to teach them Magic. Faith is Magic! And here’s the quote to prove it:
‘and verily I say unto you, If ye have Faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain: Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you.’ (Matt: ch 17).

I’ve heard it said before that Jesus was a magician, not a sleight of hand manipulator but one who works on changing things by means of changes in consciousness,  but I had never thought about the magic he was trying to teach. Dion Fortune and others of the Western Mystery Tradition describe magic in words like intention, focus and changing levels of consciousness but we can miss this in the teachings of Jesus because he used different words: tilling the ground; planting a seed; Faith; Kingdom of Heaven within. He never once used the word Magic but that’s what it was and his methods of achieving the Kingdom of Heaven were the same as those generally known to Adepts, those who are adept at changing levels of consciousness. We can learn about such changes in consciousness. We can learn about contacting higher planes. Those who wish can attempt to experience unity with the Divine like Teresa of Avila in her Interior Castle. In the gospels it’s all there in the words; pistis, peitho, to make things obey, move mountains, Magic! Suddenly I got it. Read the gospels with new eyes. And read not only the established Gospels but the Gnostic Gospels, Thomas, Philip etc. It’s all there for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.  At this point I realised why Jesus the man was also Christ the Saviour. It is this aspect of him that we work with in our Christian approach to the Mysteries. And I began to see that the Gospels aren’t just the story of a man’s life and teaching, they are also an allegory. The life of Jesus Christ was an allegory for the alchemical process of transformation, a process that we can all go through in this life. Jesus was trying to change the world by raising consciousness. So Jesus was an alchemist as well as a magician, not a practical alchemist changing physical metals into physical gold but a spiritual alchemist changing the lead of humanity into spiritual silver of the soul and gold of the spirit. The alchemist is part of the alchemy process and during the process is changed themselves. His teaching shows us the way to change ourselves. Once we have been given the gift of Faith, we too are empowered.

Christianity as we know it today has changed in many ways from the original simple teachings of Jesus. The same applies to most other religions, yet all have the same objectives and the same core of spirituality because by definition of the word religion (re-ligio meaning to re-unite) all lead to the Universal Creator by the path of faith. If many people had Faith it would change the world but it has to be individual achievement. Raised consciousness has a combined effect but is based on individual effort. Jesus, during his ministry, was teaching us how to do this.  Many of you may already have made this leap of awareness but for me this difference between Faith and Belief and the objectives of Jesus’ teachings were a revelation. When we understand something we say ‘I get it!’ but the getting has to be yours alone. I can only indicate the way but I cannot take you there. Only by thinking about it, contemplating whatever it is, will you ‘get it’. This is your effort (work) in reaching up your hand, and Higher Consciousness as God will reach down and pull you up to another level, so that Faith becomes an inner knowing (Gnosis) and you can say ‘I GET IT!’ Then you will have Faith as Jesus the Christ taught it and if you work hard enough you can find your Heaven on Earth, your magical inner world where all things are possible, even union with the Divine.

– I wrote that in May 2015 and today we are asked to look at the actions of Gawain in his encounter with the Green Knight. Part of our story this weekend is based on the medieval poem Gawain and the Green Knight. There are some slight differences between the Silent Eye version and the original poem but such dramatic license, as with poetic licence is allowed. Essentially, in both, Gawain is tested. The medieval poem has two main themes, the Beheading Challenge and the Test. I think for this talk I have to try to minimise any confusion between the two versions. In the poem Gawain was offered a green silk ‘girdle’ by the Lord Bertilak’s wife. (A girdle and a garter are essentially the same, they come from the same word for encircling – to girt or gird as in our word girth). She said this girdle held magic and would protect him in any circumstances, it would save his life. Now Gawain was a deeply Christian Knight, as were all the Knights of the Round Table and Arthur and Gweneviere. We are previously given clues that Gawain might have been hedging his bets, backing both sides, because although he had an image of the Virgin Mary on the inside of his shield, he had a pentangle as his outward emblem, the five sided cross or pentacle, also known as the endless knot. This emblem can be interpreted as portraying both Christianity as the five wounds of Christ or as a pagan sigil of protection. It only appears in this one poem, in other references to his shield he has other usual heraldic creatures but the objective of this medieval poem is to test his Faith. As a Christian Knight he was supposed to shun anything with pagan connections, this included magic. He was supposed to place all his Faith in Destiny and accept his death if that was his lot. But when offered a ‘magical’ talisman he took it. However he had also made a pact with Bertilak to exchange anything he received during the day with Bertilak’s spoils from the day’s hunt. He revealed the kisses he had exchanged with Lady Bertilak but he did not reveal that he had accepted her girdle (or garter). He placed his Faith in the magical talisman and not in his Christian beliefs. This girdle was richly made with golden edgings but that was not what swayed him, it was the promise of magical protection.

During the encounter in the Green Chapel the Green Knight made as if to chop off Gawain’s head. Twice he brought down the axe and stopped before it touched his neck. On the 3rd stroke the Axe drew blood as it grazed a slight cut into Gawain’s neck but it did not remove his head. Gawain’s debt was paid by accepting the blows.

Hear the words of the Green Knight after the event as translated by Brian Stone:

For that braided belt you wear belongs to me.
I am well aware that my own wife gave it to you.
Your conduct and your kissings are completely known to me,
And the wooing of my wife – my work set it on.
I sent her to essay
(try) you, and you certainly seem
To be the most perfect paladin ever to pace the earth.
As the pearl to the white pea in precious worth,
So in good faith is Gawain to other gay knights.
But here your faith* failed you, you flagged somewhat, sir.


[*In this line Tolkien translates faith as loyalty. But for me it was always a matter of faith and I was pleased as punch when I found the Brian Stone translation: And I have looked at the medieval English original and can find no word in that line that translates as loyalty].
And so we see that in the final testing, when push came to shove as we say on the borders of Lancashire and Cheshire, which is where this poem is thought to have originated, Gawain had No Faith in prayers and Christianity but he put his Faith into the old ways of Magic.
©
The Patrician Lady – April 2016

[1] The son of a celebrated Free Church minister in Scotland, Maurice Nicoll (1884-1953) studied at Cambridge, where he gained a ‘First’ in science. He qualified as a doctor at St Bartholomew’s hospital in London and then travelled to Paris, Vienna, Berlin and finally Zurich where he became a colleague of Carl Jung. The psychological insights of Jung left a lasting impression on the young Nicoll. (Amazon)

Animal Magic #2…

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Wren and Bear

One summer day Bear and Wolf were walking in the forest and heard a bird singing sweetly.

‘Brother Wolf,’ said Bear, ‘what kind of bird is that which sings so delightfully?’
‘Why, ‘tis the king of the birds, before whom all must do reverence,’ said Wolf.
‘If that be so,’ said Bear, ‘then I should like to see his royal palace, come you must lead me to it.’
So Wolf led Bear to Wren’s nest which contained six young birds.
‘This miserable place is no Royal Palace,’ said Bear on seeing the nest, ‘and you are not king’s children but wretched young vagabonds.’
‘No, no, that we are not,’ said the young wrens and set up such a cacophony of noise that Bear and Wolf ran from the nest holding their paws over their ears.

When Wren returned to the nest with food for the chicks they complained bitterly to him about the insult they had been subjected to by Bear and refused to eat anything until their slight had been re-addressed.

Wren flew straight to Bear’s cave and called to him from the entrance, ‘Old Grumbler why have you insulted my children?’

‘No insult to call a nest which is not a royal palace a filthy nest and its occupants vagabonds,’ called back Bear.

‘That, Old Grumbler shall cost you dear for we will decide this matter by pitch battle,’ said Wren and flew off.

War having been declared against Bear all the four-footed beasts were summoned: Ox, Ass, Goat, Stag, and every animal on the face of the earth.

Wren, on the other hand, summoned every flying thing: not only the birds, great and small, but also Gnat, Hornet, Bee and Fly.

On the eve of the battle Wren sent out spies to see who had been appointed commander in chief of the enemy. Gnat was the most cunning of all the winged folk and he therefore, buzzed away into the forest to where the enemy was camped.

There stood Bear and called Fox to him, ‘you are the craftiest of the animals, so you must be general and lead us on.’

‘That’s good,’ said Fox but, ‘What sign shall we appoint?’

None of the animals answered.

Then Fox said, ‘I have a fine, long bushy tail, which looks like a red feather at a distance; if I hold this tail straight up, all is going well and you must march after me; but if I suffer it to hang down, you must run away as fast as you can.’

As soon as Gnat heard all this she flew home and told Wren everything to a hair.
The day of the battle arrived and Bear with all the four-footed beasts came running along to the field, shaking the very earth with their roaring and bellowing.

Wren also came with his army, whirring and buzzing and humming a sound which was enough to terrify anyone out of their senses.

Then Wren sent Hornet forward to settle on Fox’s tail and sting it three times.

Fox felt the first sting and drew up his hind leg in pain but still managed to carry his tail high in the air as before.

With the second sting though Fox’s tail drooped a little and with the third he could no longer bear the pain and was forced to drop his tail between his legs.

When the other beasts saw this they thought all was lost and began to run, each one to his own hole, den, burrow or cave and so the winged creatures won the battle without any difficulty at all and Old Grumbler Bear was forced to humbly beg pardon from Wren’s children for the insult he had offered them.

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 Weekend of 22-24 April, 2016.

Great Hucklow, Derbyshire Dales. England.

Click the image for further details of this weekend workshop with the Silent Eye

and a special appearance by Mister Fox.

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A winter’s tale

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In the northern hemisphere, it is the Winter Solstice, when the balance between dark and light shifts once again and the Light begins to return. The moment has been celebrated as far back as we can search in human history, a tradition born from the movement of the heavens, with a message of rebirth and new beginnings not too dissimilar to the Christian ideal, though its roots lie in beliefs already ancient when Jesus was born.

There are some messages that seem common to all faiths and paths and which seem to come together at this point in the year. “Peace on Earth, goodwill to all men…” from carols to cards, this traditional phrase seems to encapsulate the essence of the season in a way that can speak to all men, across time and place, regardless of faith or creed. It is the hope for humanity that rules in most of our hearts; that we might emerge from the darkness of prejudice, fear and hatred into the light of love.

The fact that there is scholarly argument about the precise translation of this biblical phrase is unimportant…it has entered into consciousness and we even speak of Christmas as the ‘season of goodwill’. If we were obliged to look merely at the facts of the Nativity, we might be surprised at how much of what we ‘know’ of the story is based in tradition rather than in the historical record. Quite apart from the plethora of translations now available of the biblical texts, a greater understanding of the times has altered how we see and read the meagre verses that have given birth to the familiar and much-loved tale.

The ‘inn’ has, in many later translations, disappeared to become a ‘guest room’, using the same word that refers to the upper room whereXmas St Faiths 0261 the Last Supper was held. The lower floor in houses of the time often sheltered the animals too, so a manger would not be out of the question in a house. If there was no place for the couple in the guest room, then the warmth of the lower room might have been offered. Which leaves the innkeeper, who is not mentioned in the biblical story, redundant. The animals may well have shared the space, but the Ox and the Ass as we know them are not mentioned. The Magi are neither called kings nor are they numbered… only the three gifts are counted… and they may have visited the Holy Family up to two years after the birth if Herod’s decree is anything to go by. Even the date of Jesus’ birth is a based on a decision rather than facts.

There are other discrepancies between the biblical verses and the traditional Christmas story we have come to know and love. Various branches of the Christian faith attribute more…or less…importance to different passages and celebrate at different times. Many who are Christian only in name, not by personal faith, also celebrate this season and few can be unaware of the traditional and much loved tableau of the shepherds, the wise men and the stable where the Child sleeps beneath the star that shines brightly in the frosty night air.

The details really do not matter. Nor do the lines between fact, fiction and tradition. When something speaks directly to the heart, it does so in the wordless voice of truth. The story, as a story, is simply beautiful. As a symbolic tale… that the heavens rejoice as Divinity is born into the lowliest human form… it is also beautiful. For those who believe in either the story or its essence, it is the birth of Light in the darkness.

As I set up the little wooden figures of my nativity scene this year, I placed the Child in the manger with reverence, not for the small, crudely carved figure. Not even for the biblical Jesus. My reverence was for what that Child represents within the soul of humanity… and within every heart. In the darkest of times, the Light lives within each one of us, and we are one with the nameless One.

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Leaf and Flame: The Foliate Man #2

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“…where strange things, strife and sadness,

at whiles in the land did fare,

and each other grief and gladness

of fast have followed there…”

– J.R.R Tolkien

#2 Hart to Heart

…“In which the Ladies of the Round rediscover the Tale of Blessed Bran, Merlin and the Lady re-convene the Assembly of the Wondrous Head, King Arthur and his Knights go hunting and Gawain enters the Enchanted Forest in pursuit of the hart and stumbles upon another ‘Death-Pact’ the solution to which lies in the discovery of the correct answer to an elusive riddle.”…

The eyes have been dotted, the tees have been crossed, to all intents and purposes the ‘donkey work’ of writing the five dramas for next year’s April Workshop: Leaf and Flame- The Foliate Man has been done. There will undoubtedly be minor changes between now and then, there always are and these are usually flagged up in the communal read throughs which will take place at our three remaining monthly meetings.

There is still an awful lot of work to be done in terms of music, props, costuming and the presentations which are used throughout to properly set the tone and theme for the weekend…

But more importantly what we really need now is… people!

So, what are you waiting for?

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 Weekend of 22-24 April, 2016.

Great Hucklow, Derbyshire Dales. England.

Click the image for further details of this weekend workshop with the Silent Eye

and a special appearance by Mister Fox.

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