Mistletoe

Bare winter fingers Unveil the treasure hidden By summer's mantle

This picture was taken in early spring last year, just as the world began to warm itself in the pale sunlight. The place was Pilton, a little village near Glastonbury with a legendary history as big as a heart. It is here, the stories tell us, that Joseph of Arimathea landed on a trading visit to the Isles of Tin, bringing with him a boy… his nephew, say some… whose name was Jesus.

None know the truth of that story, though historically it is possible. There is ample evidence for the trade and it is not the only such legend in Albion. It gives credence to the other legend of Joseph that says that after the crucifixion, he brought the story of the resurrection to these Isles, landing, once again, in the shadow of the Tor… bringing word and a Vessel to Avalon.

I hover between a natural scepticism and a desire to accept. So many of the most ancient tales were bent to serve Christianity in its early days, turning the sacred knowledge of the old gods into the hagiographies of fictitious saints or tying their miracles to the hills of the Fae and the healing wells of the goddess, robbing them of their true lineage. I am not a Christian in the orthodox sense; I belong to no church but serve what I conceive of being perhaps better termed the Cosmic Christ. Yet I am also a child of these Isles and rooted in the land, and there is a warmth and simplicity in these old tales of the Child whose feet walked these blessed shores that makes me choose to believe that there is something in them; something that speaks to the heart rather than to the logical mind. As such, perhaps subjective truth is a matter of choice or faith.

Looking down the valley in the photograph towards the Tor, you can trace the ancient waterway, now no more than a stream, that once brought ships to safe harbour at Pilton. The channel remains, deep and wide and the eye of the mind can trace the outlines of moorings and see the bustle of a small trading port. Seeing the land open itself in this way somehow permits belief.

The trees were bare of everything but the balls of mistletoe that would soon be hidden by exuberant spring. The brilliant young green would cover them, hiding from view the ancient orbs, sacred to those who walked the earth long before Christianity reached our shores. The mistletoe lives upon the branches, its seeds rooting and drawing sustenance and life from roots other than its own so that it may flower, fruit and set future seeds, colonising the trees. Not unlike the story that was brought to these shores so long ago.

The mistletoe is hidden for most of the year, covered by the leaves of its host. You only get occasional glimpses of its presence… and only if you are looking. Yet, when the world is bleak and cold and the branches raise skeletal fingers to the sun, it is there… a plant that has been sacred since time immemorial, and which has come to be a symbol of peace.

Here too I find an echo of a faith that is seldom broadcast, perhaps, but which is there in the darkest of times. It does not belong to any particular denomination or religion…it may not even have a name… it is the faith of the heart that turns towards something greater when the shadows fall. In those moments seeds are planted in the soul that may find a place to grow. It does not need logic, facts or explanations. It does not need dogma or teachings… those are for the exoteric world. The heart knows no logic and faith is not rooted in religion… it is an unruly and invasive tendril that winds through the soul. And when it is free to grow wild, then it is beautiful.

The Great Mystery: Crowds

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The mystery needs no

shrines or temples

save those that nature provides.

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It may be met in the shadowy

heights and aisles of a primeval forest,

on the sunlit expanse of virgin prairie,

the dizzy spires and pinnacles of naked rock,

and beyond, in the speckled vault of the star-lit sky.

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All who live a lot out of doors

know the magnetic force

that accumulates in solitude

swiftly flees when confronted

by the faceless vagaries of a crowd.

– Ohiyesa

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SEE: September Zoom Cyber-Room…

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Silent Eye-Explorations

“The Soul: a work in progress or divine and finished – and just awaiting our death?”

The world ‘soul’ means different things to different people.

Is it possible to be more rigorous with a definition – one that would help us in our individual spiritual paths?

After all, if we are following a map on a long walk through mountains, we measure our progress to the destination by first evaluating where we are, now… Or where we think we are.

In previous talks, we’ve discussed the ‘self’, particularly the egoic self.

What relationship does the soul have to this? Can we set them both in an overall spiritual container; one that shows the journey ahead?

Or, perhaps, we have never lost the soul?

Perhaps that small egoic self, with all its faults and limitations, is the key to the destination and is, itself the journey?

Modern philosophers like Gurdjieff claimed that the soul doesn’t exist until we build it. Is there any truth in this?

Belief and experience can be very different things…

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https://stevetanham.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/cb164-img_0622.jpg

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…What was it that broke under such circumstances?

I had asked the question of myself the week before. When you ‘stopped the world’ what was it that broke? Perhaps breaking was too strong a word – it could also be described as a passage from one state of attention to another . . . I sipped the hot coffee, noisily – it was the only way to drink it, fresh from the flask.

“Penny for them?” asked George Dixter, sitting on the park bench next to me. We had bumped into each other the day before, and he had offered croissants and coffee in the park; the place where I had first met him. The weather had turned damp and cold, so he didn’t look out of place in his old Burberry mac, which seemed to accompany him everywhere and in all seasons. On this occasion, and, no doubt in deference to the late autumn, he was also wearing an olive green fedora.

In the late fifties or even sixties, he would have cut quite a contemporary dash. But now, he looked like a character out of a period spy movie. I smiled at the thought, but was wary – little that these people did appeared to be accidental.

“Well, two things . . .” I sipped some more of his generously provided coffee and gratefully accepted the fresh croissant which had been procured from the bakery across the road from the park.

“Firstly,” my grin widened as his snakey eyes locked onto mine. Conspiratorially, I lowered my voice. “why the George Smiley outfit?”

He leaned closer, playing the perfect spy, and whispered, “. . . And secondly?”

I couldn’t help it, I chuckled. “Well, secondly, what is it that breaks when we ‘stop the world’.

“Aha . . .” he said, sitting back and mirroring my noisy sipping of the ultra-hot coffee, as though he had just learned some secret from me.

“Well now,” he began, putting down his steaming coffee and flexing his fingers outwards from linked palms. “the first one is easier to answer – play!”

“Play?” I asked, unsure if it were noun or command.

“Yes, play,” he replied. “as in we don’t play enough!

“We?”

“We, as in people,” he replied good-naturedly. “We forget how to play and play is really important!”

I thought about this for a while, while he sipped his coffee. I was about to ask another question when he answered it. “My outfit, as you say, is quirky . . . It makes me feel good because, in it, I’m playing; and I love the reaction of those around me, and it would help stop their worlds if they used it properly – which brings us, nicely, to your second question . . .”

I considered the import of what he had said. They were all playing . . . and yet.

“What breaks,” he continued, leaning closer, again and emphasising the serious side of this play. “is something that hides behind the habitual, which we call the slayer of the now.”

They had mentioned the word slayer, before. I knew it meant something in Buddhism, but I was not sure if they used it in the same way.

“So, stopping the world is an example of an action that defeats the slayer?”

“Yes, as, to a certain extent, does the whole idea of play.” He sipped the last of his coffee and looked at his watch. “Play and stopping the world makes us present to the moment, the now. The real lives only in the now, the rest is a system of mental devices which support the slayer . . .”

He looked at his watch. “I must go.” He said, holding out his hand for my coffee cup which was part of a set belonging to the large flask. It was still half full, but I handed it back to him, expecting that he would empty it onto the nearby grass. He didn’t – instead he reached into his canvas shoulder bag and pulled out a styrofoam cup. Emptying the remainder into this, he passed it back to me.

“You’ll be delighted to learn that Maria Angelo has offered to take the next bit with you!”

Events were happening too fast. I blurted out, “When?”

“It’s on the bottom of the cup,” he replied, striding off around the path.

Carefully, I raised the foam cup and examined its underside. There was nothing. I moved to protest at the departing back of the raincoat, but he beat me to it.

“Oh yes it is . . . ” he shouted over his shoulder.

I stared at the cup more carefully. On its rim, three marks had been added with a blue Biro.

They formed a perfect triangle within the circle…

The Beast in the Cafe – Stephen Tanham

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The Beast in the Café: Coffee with Don Pedro

Available from Amazon Books

How to make a living as a writer

It wasn’t her real name but close enough. An author’s nom de plume. Still, seeing it at the end of the printed article gave her a thrill. Every time. I felt the same way when that first magazine dropped through the letterbox with my name at the end of the article. Like mother, like daughter. There was a pride in that, hard to put into words.

It was, for both of us, so many years apart, a small thing… but to a writer it means the world.

I am not a million-dollar author with a major publishing house, I am not even a respectably sized fish in that particular pond. But I am a writer.

It took me a long time to call myself that, to ‘own’ it, as a friend said the other day. My Mum was a writer…she had things printed all over the place. I just wrote things. Even when ‘The Mystical Hexagram’, written with Gary Vasey came out, published by a publisher, I still didn’t feel right about calling myself an author.

You see, I grew up in a house with an Author… one who actually attained the Holy Grail… she made a living from her work. I knew the system. Long hours hunched over the ancient Imperial typewriter, later succeeded by a more portable affair. Always coffee, occasionally turning the typewriter upside down to shake out the fallen cigarette ash and biscuit crumbs. Pages thrust at me to read… red pen…retype. Long, involved discussions… we’d call it brainstorming today… about how the plot should unfold. My mother, you see, is a storyteller.

011She had always written. Starting with poetry, she had penned her first novel when I was very young, largely because the title came to her and she had to write the book. Two other novels followed. Stories I adored as I grew old enough to appreciate them. Later there were children’s tales. Each manuscript when finished would be placed in a big manila envelope, signed across all the seals and posted back to our home to get the postmarked date… the only way to protect copyright back then. Every so often, when she could afford the postage, she would duly type a letter to a publisher, package up a copy of the MS and post it off in hope with a stamped return envelope. And every time the book came back with a rejection letter.

Meanwhile Mum was writing articles and short stories, trawling through the Writers and Artists Year Book that was renewed every year and sending them off. Sometimes there would be a whoop of excitement as she opened the envelope that held a cheque. Most times she packaged the story back up for its next tentative voyage.

This went on for years… most of my childhood in fact. Over those years Mum wrote several stories in Yorkshire dialect; amusing pieces showing the archetypal character of our home county, entitled ‘Dahn at t’ Pig and Whistle’. One of these pieces landed on a desk and there was a letter… an invitation to write and record a Radio series for the BBC. Those were exciting times for my mother and we all gathered round the radio for each broadcast in shades of an older time.

But the series ended all too soon and she was back to the typewriter once more. More articles were sent out, tons more rejection slips were received. Still her novels had not been published and gradually they were sent out less and less often. She had tried for ten years with no success. But she didn’t give up.

cover ideas

One day, she had a letter. One of her stories, sent to a women’s publication, had ended up, quite by accident, on the wrong desk. The letter was from the occupant of that desk, Ian Forbes. The content of my mother’s article was totally unsuitable for the publications he managed… but he had read it anyway and liked her style. Would she like to try something a bit different?

Mr Forbes… or Uncle Ian as he became affectionately known…ran publications many of my generation may remember. He had sent samples scripts of what he would need. My mother sat down to study them. She didn’t write romance… it wasn’t her thing, but, she decided, she’d give it a go. The fee was too good to refuse.

For the next few years, until I left England for France, we would sit every month batting ideas around like tennis balls, backwards and forwards. Every month a cheque and a copy of the latest Love Story in pictures would be delivered. The author’s names did not appear on these little magazines. I only have one copy now, stored amid the family papers… a supernatural tale set in Egypt which we had written together.

I learned a lot about the writer’s craft back then, some of the stories she wrote were even my idea initially and my first bit of design was featured in one tale called, I believe, Lucky Blue Dress. I learned how to collaborate back then too, I suppose, as well as how to tell a complex story in few words and images… which has served us well lately with the publication of the new graphic novel, Mister Fox.

I learned other things too.

My mother had spent a lifetime following her dream and when it finally arrived, bringing that monthly cheque equivalent to a woman’s wage back then, it did not resemble the dream she thought she had. I learned how little it actually matters whether or not you get public recognition…like your name on the cover… as long as you have put your heart and soul into what you do, because you love what you do. I learned that you could take an unpromising vehicle… for so my mother saw love stories… and incorporate something meaningful; her stories always had a moral and the type of motherly teaching that young people need woven into them. Even a lightweight love story could have depth.

I saw that it wasn’t enough to have talent, nor a gift for the use of words. Nor was it enough to be patient or to be doggedly pursuing something for a decade with single minded dedication. You could do everything right and still not succeed. You also need that single stroke of luck… and the persistence and faith to keep on keeping on so that if it arrives, you are ready to seize the opportunity. Because one thing is certain… had my mother stopped writing the opportunity would never have arisen.

My mother’s novels have not yet been published. But they will be. I’ll do it myself. One of her children’s stories, Monster Magic, is now in print and the phone call I had when she received the first copies in the post was as full of excitement as I can ever remember. It was the very first ‘proper book’ she had held in her hands with her name on the cover. And when I told her she had to send one to the British Library…! She has waited all my life and most of hers for that.

Surfeit cover
All ready for the edited manuscript

My mother stopped writing many years ago. It doesn’t erase a single word of what she has written. Her stories may be from an older, gentler time. They may never sell a copy except to the family. But that really doesn’t matter. She wrote because she loved what she did. She wrote because the words inside her needed to find the page. She wrote from the hidden heart of her even when the vehicle wasn’t what she would have chosen. She made it hers. For some years my mother made a living as a writer. But more importantly perhaps, for a lifetime her writing has made her live.

You see, my mother is a writer.

And so am I…

Nine Deadly Sins: The Eye for an ‘I’~ a book by Steve Tanham

Their meetings are necessarily brief… seldom no more than a coffee, a momentary pause between the demands of life and work… but for John and Alexandra time matters less than the connection they share…

“It’s about where you put the “I”, isn’t it?” I asked John, as he sat down, late with latté, and smiled, apologetically, at me.

“Where is the “I’ now?” he asked, smiling over the hot coffee he was trying to sip, to catch up with mine.

“That’s what I’m wrestling with,” I responded, trying not to lose the thread that I had carefully assembled in the past week, parts of which were trying to sneak away in the face of the lovable but infuriating man who might just help me unravel it…

Why Nine Deadly Sins, when the world speaks of only seven?

When John and Alexandra meet for coffee, a challenge is issued that will take Alexandra on a strange journey into the depths of the human psyche.

These coffee-break encounters bring to life the mysteries of the spiritual enneagram as explored by the Silent Eye, a modern Mystery school.

Available now on Amazon


About the author

Steve is an ex-software entrepreneur who left the corporate IT world behind in 2011 to concentrate on his first love – the teaching of the mystical life. He is one of the founding directors of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, which uses an evolutionary version of the enneagram to identify the lenses of perception that obscure the world of the real and the spiritual.

Born into a Rosicrucian family in Bolton, Lancashire, in 1954, Steve grew up surrounded by mystical discussion and fascinating but often peculiar grown-ups. In adult life, and alongside a career in IT, he was an active Rosicrucian Officer for AMORC in the North of England. There followed seven years of service with the Servants of the Light – Dolores Ashcroft Nowicki’s Qabalistic school of modern magic, culminating in the entry to SOL’s highest grade – the House of the Amethyst.

Steve’s fellow director of the Silent Eye is Stuart France. In 2013, he published his first book, “The Song of the Troubadour” based on the teachings and ritual dramas of the Silent Eye’s 2013 launch and Workshop in Derbyshire. In July 2014 he published his second work, “The Land of the Exiles” – a combination of esoteric psychology and drama that formed the backbone of the 2014 Silent Eye workshop in the Derbyshire Hills. Both books are available on Amazon and Kindle. In November 2015, he published Ben’s Bits – The Ballad of Bakewell Gaol, a bitter-sweet graphical novel of a man imprisoned in a Victorian gaol for the relocation of a sacred monument. The book is written in the style of Oscar Wilde’s Ballad of Reading Gaol, said to be his greatest work.

Steve believes in light-heartedness and humour as much as spirituality – seeing the two as intrinsically linked. He publishes a regular blog where irony, humour and occasional insights may be found.


Find and follow Steve

   Sun in Gemini   Twitter   Facebook   Amazon   Website

Also by Steve Tanham, available via Amazon

 

Wayland: The White Horse…

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But according to some, Wayland has far more onerous

responsibilities than shoeing the horses of passing way farers…

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A group of local lads were enjoying a drink

one evening at the White Horse Inn, Woolstone,

when an unknown man wearing old fashioned garb

entered and ordered a pint of the local beverage.

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He wore a leather apron, a tall hat,

and he took his drink and sat

to one side of the ale-house by himself…

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After awhile the sound of a horn rang out

and could be heard

echoing eerily through the vale…

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Startled from his reverie by the horn,

the stranger leapt to his feet and hobbled

out into the night, his pint unfinished.

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As the uncanny sound faded over the downs

the locals looked out and up to the hillside

to find that the White Horse was gone!

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When dawn broke the following day

more than a few of the previous night’s imbibers

looked out of their windows

and up at the hill with some trepidation…

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Only to see the White Horse

back where it should be on the green hillside

but with feet-tips

that seemed to shine in the morning sun light.

 

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Wayland: The Blessed Isles…

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The tone of the tale once Britain is reached,

becomes very different…

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Alighting on Berkshire’s High Downs,

Wayland came upon an ancient chambered tomb,

and made it his home.

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Tradition now has it,

that if ever you are riding the Ridgeway,

and your horse loses a shoe,

you need only tether it nearby,

 leave a silver-sixpence on the uppermost stone of the tomb,

and on your return your horse will be shod and your money gone…

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Wayland, it seems, never works while being observed.

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‘Claims to ancient reach’?…

Arbor Low and Stanton Moor Imbolc 001 (15)

Throughout the books written with Stuart France there are visions; moments of a past long fled that ‘Wen’ still sees written in the ancient stone of the landscape and within the circles of the Old Ones. They come when they will, flooding her consciousness with something that may be no more than imagination, no more than a waking dream… or perhaps they are shadows that are cast across the face of time…

The stone is warm beneath her back. Above her the clear blue of the sky is powdered with clouds, barely moving. It is sheltered here in the circle, the earthen banks of the henge protecting the centre from the ceaseless assault of the winds in this high place.

She closes her eyes and waits, feet towards the centre, hands crossed on her breast, relaxing each muscle, each limb in turn, breathing deeply of the clear air.

The shift comes. The world falls away. She can see her companion through closed eyes, across the circle, mirroring her. She does not need to look to feel his presence.

On the screen of inner sight a single glowing point of light that seems farther than the farthest star, yet closer than the sun. Between her and the light nothing but the streaks of passage… a stream of movement, as of a million suns caught racing comets in the blackness of space. A wormhole… dragons… serpents aflame with brilliance… a tunnel through which she is rushing faster than the light itself, falling inwards, forwards, upwards… she does not know.

Then a figure blocking the brightness… a dark silhouette against the torchlight and the tang of smoke. A hand extended, smiling eyes unseen but felt. She takes the hand, stiff after the long vigil in the chill of night, accepting assistance to regain her feet.

The grass is cold, frost biting her bare toes. Above, a million stars streak across the heavens. It is done. The old one smiles, raising his hand…

…. Voices call her back. The sunlight casts a pale golden glow … across the circle her companion opens his eyes. There is something she recognises in them…. She knows not what it is.

***

Arbor Low and Stanton Moor Imbolc 001 (49)

Atop the mound the grass is chill and damp though the sun shines clear. There is no shelter and the wind ruffles her hair, an ancient grandmother caressing her child.

She closes her eyes, folds her hands on her breast beside him, relaxing into the other sight.

The shift comes. The world falls away. She is glad of his presence as the veins of her eyelids are painted green against the grey light… green and grey he had said of the one he had seen….

On the screen of inner sight a single glowing point of light that seems farther than the farthest star, yet closer than the sun. Between her and the light nothing but the streaks of passage… a stream of movement, as of a million suns caught racing comets in the blackness of space. A wormhole… dragons… serpents aflame with brilliance… a tunnel through which she is rushing faster than the light itself, falling backwards, away from the light. The unexpected sensation is sickening, stomach twisting.

Hands reach up from the earth, dragging, clawing… nightmares and hell… women, children… She refuses their hold and turns. Flesh melts from her bones and she dissolves into earth… She is only the wind…

He moves. She opens her eyes to a world wreathed in fog, ghostly shapes, amorphous and shifting…

It takes a moment before reality returns…

“We need to go to Fin Cop.”

Arbor Low and Stanton Moor Imbolc 001 (21)

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Doomsday:

The Aetheling Thing

Stuart France & Sue Vincent

 ‘Doomsday: The Aetheling Thing’

‘Big Secrets’…

The Lovers - Wikipedia

Key 6 from the Rider Waite Tarot

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The modern fifty-two-card deck of playing cards retains only one of the Atu, or Keys, or Major Arcana, of the original game of Tarot which was first popularised in mediaeval Europe –

The Joker, which is The Fool of the earlier decks…

Significantly, there are two Jokers which are used to book-end the current deck but usually without taking part in most of the card games now played with the cards.

This hints that The Fool of the Tarot was an adventurer, the human psyche, or soul, who journeyed, there and back again, through the psychological landscapes represented by the rest of the twenty-one Major Arcana of the Tarot, now missing from the current decks…

Because each of the Atu, or Keys of the Tarot are numbered with roman numerals, lettered with Hebrew letters, and assigned zodiacal attributions, the psychological landscapes to which they allude are legion, and do not just traverse, for example, 1-21 and back again but rather every available combination of those sequences in between, both back and forth…

1-2, 2-1, 1-3, 3-1, 2-3, 3-2 etc.

Thankfully, our current predicament demands only that we focus attention on Keys six and fifteen…

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The Devil (Tarot card) - Wikipedia

Key 15 from the Rider Waite Tarot