The Silent Unicorn ~ Summer in the Cairngorms with The Silent Eye and Lodge Unicorn na h’Alba

THE SILENT UNICORN

A joint magical workshop between

Lodge Unicorn na hAlba and The Silent Eye.

Grantown-on Spey, Northern Cairngorms

14-16th June 2019

“When shall we three meet again, In thunder, lightning, or in rain…?”

Weird Sisters, Macbeth

Well, hopefully we will meet in sunshine and with more than three of us ! Join us in the northern Cairngorms where, from mountain to coast, we will explore the magic of Macbeth Country in a triangle from Cawdor Castle to Findhorn Beach, down to Glenlivet. Through the Archetypes of Lord and Lady Macbeth, the Witches, King Duncan and a Unicorn! We will use the writings of The Scottish Play and other media to discover these characters within us…..

We shall travel and explore the land during the long June days and lingering twilight at Midnight to discover this land where Celts met Picts. Where heather-clad mountains tumble down to salmon rivers like the mighty Spey, as it meanders its way to the pristine sea and white sand beaches of the Moray Firth.

The Unicorn is an iconic spiritual symbol in the British Isles and particularly in Scotland. We will use the power of the elements and spirit of the unicorn to create your own Silent Unicorn within, culminating at the old hidden seminary at Scalan in the remote Braes of Glenlivet.

Scalan seminary

Dates:  Weekend  Friday 14th – Sunday 16th June, 2019

Location:  Based in Grantown–on–Spey and area

Cost: Workshop costs £50 per person. Meals and accomodation are not included and should be booked separately by all attendees. Lunch and dinner are usually shared meals.

Click below to
Download our Events Booking Form – pdf

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

Behind the scenes…

It is an odd thing to put on a workshop where ritual and drama are mixed. Odd, but old… theatre has its roots in the sacred drama of ancient times. Even the rituals of the Church have a theatrical element, blending light, song, the glamour of embroidered vestments and the fragrance of incense and oil. These things combine to capture the imagination and emotions, lifting the heart and mind above the humdrum cares of the world and turning them towards the greater Light of the spirit.

None of these dramatic elements are strictly necessary. Turning the mind and heart towards the divine, whether in prayer, adoration or meditation, needs no company. The spiritual journey is ultimately one we must take alone…and yet, we may have company along the way.

It is perfectly possible to access the spiritual realms without any help at all, just as it is perfectly possible to climb a mountain in stiletto heels, but both can be very much simpler, and more pleasurable, when we are properly equipped and in good company.

When any group of people come together with a common cause, they create a unique energy that can accomplish far more, and far more quickly, than an individual alone. When that group brings the focus of that energy to bear upon a shared intent, magic happens.

 

The Silent Eye workshops are designed to create a moment out of time where that shared intent can be made manifest. To allow mind, heart and imagination to access that moment, we use stories, light and colour, but whether or not we succeed in creating that sacred space depends entirely upon the participation and engagement of our Companions.

And each year, old friends and new attendees alike, throw themselves into the moment.

The dramatic tales that are woven serve to illustrate aspects of the human psyche that, through play, may be explored. Every year we stress that neither acting ability nor costumes are a requirement for attendance at our workshops… and yet our Companions pull out the stops to add that ‘something extra’ to the weekend. The characterisation and the costumes themselves, like the stories we weave, help set the scene and in turn direct the intent and attention towards a higher realm.

This year our characters were drawn from the Elizabethan era, and every presence was strong, embodying their character in their own unique way. The space in which we work is watched over by the tall figure of our Guardian, a strong and protective presence at the door who had come over from Europe to be with us. Another Companion from Europe played our astrologer, Lady Arabella Santiago. We had a quicksilver Marlowe, and a serene and dignified John Gerard, to whom special thanks are due to the two ladies who agreed to take on demanding masculine roles. Alienora and Dean were, as always, magnificent and unnerving in their roles as Life and Death.

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, came from the States and with her came the mysterious of Dr Dee, the dashing Sir Walter Raleigh and the mystical beauty of Lady Rab’ya. The villain of the piece, and a victim of his own ambition and misunderstanding, was Lord Essex, admirably portrayed by Russell. Mistress Jane Dee, played by a mischievous Yorkshire lass who is a priestess of Avalon, was angelic… and an enigmatic Lady in White held the silence and the visions of the company. And it would be remiss not to mention our Bess of Hardwick and our Blanche Parry, who graced the chequered floor with a stately dance of their own devising, adding yet another layer of reality to the moment.

But it is not all about the drama. There are the explorations… presentations and periods of serious study where we examine and share perspectives on spiritual concepts… even if some of us choose to do so wearing rabbit masks pulled from a top hat. This year, we were privileged to have an expert speak to us on the Chain of Being… and give us a lesson in Court etiquette too. ‘Serious’ need not be tedious.

There is the dawn ritual, which I missed this year as I was holding the Temple ready to receive the symbol of Light. There is the annual Triad ritual, which reaffirms the roots of the School, and leads into the ritual for the new Initiates… which is incredibly moving and always leaves me, and others, in tears at the beauty of the moment.

And, perhaps most magical of all, there is time to talk and laugh, catch up with old friends, cement new friendships and enjoy the green of the budding spring landscape.

When Steve founded the School and drafted Stuart and I to work with him, I do not think any of us knew what to expect. It was an adventure to which we were called and one that we knew would be hard work and demand much of all of us. I am grateful beyond measure to be a part of this adventure, to have learned so much, still be learning so much… and be able to share these moments with friends and companions on the journey.

With our workshop weekends over the past six years, we have journeyed in imagination from the most ancient past to a space-age future, spanning aeons of time in the timeless space of the soul… and I would not choose to be anywhere else but here and now, and part of the Silent Eye.

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On the horizon…

I always look forward to September. It is one of the most  beautiful times of year in Britain. The days are usually mild and often beautiful, the last of the heather lingers as summer slides into autumn…a perfect moment for a wander in the landscape…and what better way to spend my birthday than with friends in the ancient and sacred places that I love?

The very first September event that we ran was the Harvest of Being in Ilkley, up on the moors that I have loved since childhood. There is nowhere else on earth that I would rather have been at that moment. It was a small informal affair, just as we like to keep these events; no crowds, just a few friends exploring the landscape and sharing our different perspectives on the spiritual journey that is mirrored by that taken by our feet. The following September we returned to Ilkley and our company had grown a little. Last autumn was the Circles Beyond Time event in Derbyshire, where we shared the landscape in which we work with an ever-growing, but still intimate group.

Since that first weekend we have travelled through England and Wales, exploring ancient sites, old churches, modern wonders and wild places… but we have not yet shared an event in Scotland, a land I love.

That is about to change. In September, we head north to the Don Valley in Aberdeenshire with a very old friend. I have known Running Elk for a decade or so and have, on occasion, been able to wander briefly in his company. It is always a revelation to learn his perspective on the ancient sites and a joy to share his enthusiasm. So this year, more than ever, I am looking forward to September.

Join us, if you can, exploring some very special places…

Inverurie, Scotland
15th-17th September 2017

2The gently undulating and fertile landscape between the foothills of the Grampian Mountains and the North Sea proved an attractive place to settle for the early Neolithic peoples colonising the furthest reaches of the British Isles. Nowhere else contains a greater concentration of late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age remains; from the earliest recorded flint mines, through numerous burial mounds and cairns, to the highest density of stone circles in the country.

Yet, there is a mystery. Unique to the area, with the exception of a few examples in the South West of Ireland, the circles of the region are exclusively of the “recumbent” type; a form largely intended for monitoring the “solstices” of the moon, more 3-copycommonly referred to as the lunar standstill, with specific interest in the major lunar standstill which occurs in an 18.5 year cycle.

Join us in the heartland of the Picts, for a weekend of discovery and exploration of the enigmatic astronomical sites created by their Neolithic forefathers, and the equally enigmatic rock art they themselves left behind.

4-copyThe event will consist of three days exploration of local sites in and around the market town of Inverurie, in the beautiful Don valley, Aberdeenshire.

The weekend is informal, no previous knowledge or experience is required. We ask only that you bring your own presence and thoughts to the moment.

Workshop costs £50 per person. Accommodation and meals are not included and bed and breakfast/hotel in Inverurie should be booked separately by all attendees. Lunch and dinner are usually shared meals.

Click below to

Download our Events Booking Form – pdf

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


Marking the Circle – Solstice of the Moon with Running Elk

While we continue to share tales of the Silent Eye’s summer weekend in Wales, The Prisoner of Portmeirion, we would like to invite you to join us in Scotland in September, for a Living Land workshop amongst the sacred circles of Aberdeenshire. The Solstice of the Moon weekend will be guided by our friend, Running Elk, with whom we will explore the wonder and magic of these ancient places.

Image Copyright: Mr Tattieheid

From the earliest migration of our most distant ancestors, as they moved from the cradle of our species to colonise the planet, one thing has remained a predominant driving force. Scarcity: the fear of it, and the desire to avoid becoming victim to it.

Until our Neolithic ancestors put down roots, the survival needs of small family groups could be met through a nomadic existence; following the herds and living off that which the Land provided in her seasons. The bounty found in the Summerlands, starkly contrasting with the subsistence of the Winterlands, must have provided significant impetus to adopt an agricultural lifestyle.

Northern latitudes, however, come with a unique challenge to a fledgling agricultural society.

The growing season is short, and impossible to predict from the observable cycles of our natural clock, the moon. Whilst our hunter-gatherer and pastoral forebears in the North would have been very aware of the wax and wane of daylight hours as the year progressed, the sunrise wandering the horizon as they wandered the landscape, they would have had little practical use for deeper knowledge of the changes they observed; relying instead on the other clues of nature to instigate the next stage of their circuitous, nomadic journey.

No-one knows who that first Neolithic Priestess was, who, now firmly planted in a singular location, noted the repetition in the passing of Shadows cast by a stump, a boulder or cairn at the centre of her community. The lengthening days, spinning the sunrise shadow towards warmer winds, shortening it when the Sun was in Her height, and tracing a perfectly symmetrical arc between sunrise and sunset. Most crucially, the recognition of the “Crossing of the Season” as a perfectly straight line of shadow, harbinger of the “best time to plant.”


Sunrise / Sunset diagram prepared for the latitude of Inverurie, Scotland (Equinox position deliberately exaggerated).

Was it an oral tradition initially?

“Standing at the stump of the fallen oak, on the day the sun rises from the great rock where the Eagles live, begin the plantings.”

As the stump rotted did the need to record this critical alignment demand urgent attention, first with the placement of a post, only much later to be permanently memorialised in stone?

Since the landscape itself provided markers enough, what drove the extension of a single post, the “Place of Seeing,” to a fully developed circle?


Copyright: Pierre Lesage

Here, in the Northern-most reaches of Albion, something “different” arose, or, more likely, persisted, from the Ancestral memory of these Settled Peoples. Not content with marking the Solstices of the Sun, there remained a desire, or need, to mark the Solstices of the Moon.

In the South-West corner of the stone circles, a recumbent stone; not fallen, as some may assume on accidentally stumbling across such a site, but deliberately placed as a key marker of the eternal dance between Sun and Moon by the builders of these truly astounding monuments.

What beliefs did the Bronze Age builders encode within these structures? What ceremonies were performed? How did they choose the site, and what, within their worldview, made such sites sacred?

Join the Silent Eye in Inverurie from 15th – 17th September, for a weekend of exploration among the standing stones of Aberdeenshire.

Traditionally a “walking” weekend, this one will be a little different, with most sites being easily accessible for all abilities. Drums, dowsing tools, dancing shoes optional…

You can learn more about the weekend here.

The weekend is informal, no previous knowledge or experience is required. We ask only that you bring your own presence and thoughts to the moment.

The weekend workshop costs £50 per person. Accomodation and meals are not included and bed and breakfast/hotel in Inverurie should be booked separately by all attendees. Lunch and dinner are usually shared meals.

Click below to

Download our Events Booking Form – pdf

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

 

Above and beyond…

Over the past few years, the Silent Eye’s weekend workshops have covered many scenarios, from the gilded glories of ancient Egypt, to the medieval grandeur of the court of King Arthur. The themes and stories are no more than a vehicle through which we can explore facets of the human journey into awareness, just as the costumes and colour are no more than psychological window-dressing. By creating a visual illusion, we are fostering that ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ that allows a reader to invest themselves in a book, a film star immerse themselves in a role or our Companions to set aside their everyday self and explore deeper aspects of being.

Steve, Stuart and I go to some lengths with the costume in order to create that illusion. We would never expect the Companions to go to the expense of providing authentically detailed costumes. In fact, the requirement is simply for a symbolic shawl to mark the entry into another mindset and intent. Even so, every year, the Companions get creative and the illusion is complete.

Land of the Exiles

This year, we had a bit of a problem in that department. Stuart and I would be dead for most of the weekend. We would be the Ancestors; robed in black and, with veiled faces, we would haunt the shadows. Not much colour there, then. Steve would have a central role as Guide, but even that was not going to provide much ‘window-dressing’.

Normally the characters are familiar in some way… archetypes presented as Egyptian gods, Knights of the Round Table or something similar with which the Companions can identify. This year, there was only one named character and almost everyone was asked to wear plain white robes. Somehow, we needed to ‘set the scene’ with colour and life… and we had three Companions to whom we turned for that… the Shaman, the Lore Weaver and the Lore Spinner. Their roles would be ‘outside’ the circle, allowing them to act upon the single soul represented by the majority of the Companions and so they could be different and wear all the colours of life.

We didn’t ask for much specifically…we left it up to them… but somehow all three of them exceeded our wildest hopes. Running Elk was our Shaman. We had no idea how much of himself he would bring to the task, nor how deeply his presence would enrich what we had planned. We could not have known…he didn’t himself….and much of it simply unfolded as the weekend went along.   Running Elk is a Shaman, trained in the Zuni tradition and his own accounts of the weekend tell the story through his eyes. Even so, I would have given much to see his huge, dark-cloaked form shielding the temple Veil during the fourth ritual.

Alienora and Dean were our Lore Keepers… and their costumes were utter genius, adding all the colour and life that we needed. With Running Elk, they formed a triangle of Life and Light that could not be ignored and with our Shaman, they held the heartbeat of the temple.

Leaf and Flame

But we had another problem too. When Steve writes the workshops, Stuart and I have always added something extra, something a little different. Last year, Stuart had the helm and instead, we had the Foxes dance with flames and dragons. That was going to be a tough thing to follow. We turned to the Lore Keepers and asked them to tell a pair of interwoven stories on the Saturday evening. I have mentioned it before, but have not done justice to the sheer spectacle they provided.

Lore Keepers

Dressed in multi-coloured tatters, they were already whirling and spinning as we entered the room. It is impossible to capture in words the incredible energy the pair of them brought to the tale. For perhaps forty minutes, they never paused for breath. Taking one of the entwined stories each, they read and acted out the script while the other mimed, hammed, acted and clowned a silent counterpoint. There were highlights… Dean as a dog and a little old woman nearly brought the house down. Alienora’s dramatic death-fall landed her with a bang on the floor…and flat on her back, script to nose, she never missed a single beat, but continued declaiming. Ali’s aside, to ‘stop upstaging me’ when Dean had everyone in stitches with his antics… And yet, in spite or perhaps because of the comedic capers, the truly tragic tales they shared brought real tears as well as laughter. I do not have enough superlatives, but we are agreed that it was, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the best live, improvised performance art we have ever experienced.

Not only did we learn the tales of Giant Hulac and the massacre at Fin Cop without being traumatised by the horror of the stories, but we also got a genuine trip in a time machine, seeing and feeling how storytellers have taught through entertainment for millennia. It was a rare privilege.

These three, Shaman, Lore Weaver and Lore Spinner went above and beyond the call of both duty and friendship.

They were not alone though. Alethea, at only her second workshop with us, stepped up and embodied the central character with grace. Our technician had volunteered to help instead of taking a role. And when every person present brings their whole self to the moment, with intent and belief, that is when magic happens.

Flight of the Seer IX…

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Shortly after the ‘Leaf and Flame’ event in 2016, the outline for, The Feathered Seer, workshop took shape for us on the edge of an ancient necropolis overlooking Big Moor.

The seeing that day, be it courtesy of the seasonal sun light, or more esoteric manifestations, allowed us to work out one possible function of the Barbrook 1 stone circle.

And this ‘rudimentary ritual’ was replayed in original situ later that year for the group of Companions who attended our Living Land workshop, ‘Circles Beyond Time’, in September.

Naturally, it also formed the basis of R3 of The Feathered Seer and its working proved to be one of the most intense undertakings we have ever experienced.

What the ancients knew was that only the querent holds the answer to the question, but that the clues to those questions are everywhere played out in living experience.

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Exploring the Inner and the Outer…

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The symbolism employed by our forebears was both simple and profound.

Rock sculptures designating ‘living lands’, stand and face the horizon.

Rock sculptures designating ‘dead lands’, lie and face the sky.

The earthen monuments of the dead are linked by sky paths.

Wisdom is found within and only then utilised to shape those without, not vice versa.

Our modern cultures, it seems, still have an awful lot to learn.

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Sky-walking…

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The Feathered Seer – Patterns of enchantment

 

 

‘The hidden world has its clouds and rain, but of a different kind. Its sky and sunshine are of a different kind. This is made apparent to those not deceived by the seeming completeness of the ordinary world.’

Jalaluddin Rumi

For the final ritual, the setting we chose was Arbor Low, the great stone circle within a henge. Its is unusual as it contains a central cove beneath which ancient human remains were found and the stones lay flat as if gazing at the pattern of the heavens; there seems little evidence that they were ever standing. Our own experiences at the stones were to provide the basis for the ritual… but as the essence of the workshop evolved, so did its final form of re-enchanting the land.

It is odd how things work out sometimes. One aspect of the five rituals had been put in place before we had even considered the Feathered Seer as a workshop. We had planned to incorporate the idea the year before during Leaf and Flame and were all set to do so, right up until the moment came. Then, without really knowing why, we felt it had to be put to one side. It was part of one of the unscripted sequences, so only two of us realised that we had skipped a portion of what was planned.

We work with the symbolism of the enneagram, a nine pointed schematic that we use to represent the journey of the human personality, the soul and the universal process of Becoming. Part of this journey is represented by a pattern of movement around the stations. We had planned to ‘move’ each of the Companions to a station representing what could be called a higher aspect of themselves. It was only afterwards that we realised how wrong that would have been. What happens within these rital dramas is symbolic of a wider reality…and in this case, a very personal one. We could not move them… it is something each of us must do for ourselves, journeying through life until we reach where we need to be. Thus it was that, this year, each of the Companions symbolically walked the Paths of Being and Becoming for themselves in a dance that married process to progress.

The simple movement was a beautiful sight, with each Companion walking the pattern from their own unique place and perspective, carrying with them the light of consciousness. For those who watched, it was a glimpse of something very special.

There is a tendency to separate the sacred from the mundane, the physical from the spiritual… to see the two as somehow different, even though they are two sides of the same coin. Movement is an expression of life and life an expression of spirit. As the flame was passed around the circle of Companions, we saw spirit in motion; creating a pattern, warp and weft of the soul.

There were other patterns woven, less obvious but no less potent, triangles within and without… keepers of lore and wisdom and those who bring those qualities into the everyday world, joined at a place where the inner and outer worlds touch. It was from here that we built another pattern. In meditation, a web of light as woven that would be seeded with stones, symbols of inner peace, all around the world.

Quite how the idea had arisen would be impossible to say, but it too had grown, weaving itself through the work of the weekend. In yet another of those odd synchronicities, we learned during the course of the workshop that two of our Companions were already initiating an almost identical idea within their own groups. Yet again, there was the touch of something beyond ourselves at work.

“Warp and weft,” said the Lore Keepers. The warp is the vertical matrix through which the weft is woven. We are neither the warp nor the designer of the fabric of life. We are threads of the weft, but each of us has a place on the loom and without just one of us, the pattern would be incomplete.

“Man’s life is laid in the loom of time, to a pattern he does not see…” but sometimes, just sometimes, we are graced with a glimpse.

The Feathered Seer – The bitter drop

‘If you have not lived through something it is not true’

Kabir

The fourth ritual took us to a place of fear. Within the local landscape there is a high place that had, for a long time, remained hidden from notice, even though we had passed it many times over the years. It was never hidden from sight… there are no trees to give seasonal camouflage, no houses or obstructions…it was only, somehow, hidden from awareness. Even though we must have seen it, the mound had never impinged upon consciousness. And it is really too big, too imposing, to miss.

It was inevitable that, once noticed, we would visit the site. The story that was born of that first encounter has been told elsewhere. The encounter itself was unlike any other, beginning an unease that grew with each successive visit and leaving me an emotional wreck. The tale that the hills whispered would furnish the inspiration for the fourth ritual.

Prior to that, however, Morgana was to speak to the group of soul-lineage and the work of the psychopomp. It was one of the many striking synchronicities of the weekend. We had issued the invitation but had no idea what subject she would choose, what she would say or how she would present it. The subject could not have fitted more perfectly had it been pre-planned and scripted… and the symbols beside her as we walked in, black  and white, would exactly mirror what we had planned for another unscripted sequence in the very next ritual and about which only two of us knew. In such seemingly impossible ‘coincidences’ there is a reassurance that we are doing something right.

Fear was addressed on many levels throughout the weekend, from the fragilities of the ego that affect our day-to-day lives and the way we perceive the world, through to the deeper, often unspoken fears that hide in the shadows. Morgana spoke of death and dying and, for many those are the ultimate fears.

To those for whom death itself holds no fear, the manner of dying is one of some concern. We seldom have a choice in the manner of our passing and for most, if not all of us, there is the conscious hope of a gentle ending for ourselves and those we love. Death itself may be feared because we do not know what lies beyond… it is unknown territory and even our certainties cannot be proven before we pass beyond that veil. Death may also be feared because we cannot imagine a place or state of being when we are not. The ego is designed for life; it clings to its familiar state of being and, for existence to continue without its presence in some form or another, is an unencompassable idea to many.

The initiatory theme of the ritual took us to a place of fear… and moved beyond it. The word ‘initiate’ means ‘to begin’  or to ‘set in motion’ and, as there can be no beginning without the ending of a previous state, the symbolism of death and birth into a new state of being, of the fear and its facing, is an apt analogy. In the Tarot, the Death card symbolises not only physical death, but also endings and change… and a change is a new beginning.

Our society has, in many ways, become inured to death. It’s horrors are so often in our homes through the news and media, both in reality and as ‘entertainment’, that we no longer recoil from many of the images with which we are confronted. Yet both the fear and the mystery of death remain.

Before the workshop, I spoke with someone about the value of life and, in particular, about the role of its limits. Would we achieve anything much if we were immortal, beyond the ability to perfect the art of procrastination? With unlimited time, would we seek a cure for cancer or a path to peace? Our limitations may give our lives meaning. By being aware of and accepting our mortality, we create a virtual time machine for ourselves. We are all aware of how time itself seems to slow or speed up depending on our levels of boredom or engagement with the moment. By acknowledging the finite nature of our lives, time takes on a new level of meaning and we live each moment with greater intensity. Kahlil Gibran said, “It is life in quest of life in bodies that fear the grave.” The sadness is that our very fear of death is caused by our consciousness of life and, in turning away from its inevitability, perhaps we are also failing to embrace life as fully as we could.

The Feathered Seer – Divining meaning

‘In former times the soul was feathered all over’

Plato

The third ritual of the workshop weekend was named Deadshaw Sick after the strip of land that divides the lands of the living from the lands of the dead at Barbrook. On one side of the stream are the hut circles that mark the place of a settlement, on the other, the stone circles and cairns of their dead. It was there that the Seer had come into consciousness, and there too that we had spent a strange afternoon after the previous workshop. The land had seemed alive in an indescribable way, as if we had somehow ‘lost’ centuries and were vouchsafed a glimpse into a distant past and the stone circle ‘showed’ us how it could have been used. On that day, the land itself formed the ritual space of purification and offering and we could see quite clearly how it lent itself to the needs of the Seer…  but that is another story. Seated on the Companion Stone, we had, in a matter of minutes, mapped out the entire workshop in great detail… detail that was almost immediately lost. But the seeds had been planted and ideas sown that would, in the way of such things, germinate in their own time.

Like flowers, ideas respond to the conditions in which they grow and to what elements are brought to bear on their  evolution. Much of the workshop had to wait to be written until thoughts, strewn as unidentified seeds across the landscape of possibility, revealed their inner nature. Some things could not be written until they were understood… others could not be understood until they were written. Others still may not be understood until they are brought into being in our lives. It was a waiting game… elucidation came in its own time and under many guises, impossible to predict where, when or how the ideas might bloom.

One idea we wished to carry into the temple was that of divination. Bratha, whose name, as far as I can discover, comes from an ancient word for ‘knowledge’, was a seer to her people. They lived at a time when technology meant stone… from the tools of everyday living to the cairns and circles of their rites. We had, on that strange day after Leaf and Flame, gathered heather-wood amid the cairns, thinking to carve divination sticks from their twisted forms. Every time I tried to work on them, I seemed to get distracted…until we realised that wood had more to do with the story we had just told than the one we were yet to tell.

If Bratha’s people had used stone for all else…what else would they use for divination?

We gathered crystals instead.

Melding the traditional attributes of the crystals with the characteristics attributed to the higher spheres of operation of the nine stations of the enneagram, we devised a table of meaning and a mode of divination that we played out, within the circle of stones, during the Circles Beyond Time weekend. The questions that were brought to the seer were not voiced to her, as she would have been no more than a conduit. The answers given were taken from the stones… the seer would herself have listened, to stone or to ancestral echoes perhaps, and the querent would find the meaning within the answer…an answer that sought to elicit the truth they already held within them, rather than to impose an external interpretation that might have little relevance and less value.

Signs, dreams, symbols, portents and the many methods of divination, all share a common thread… they speak to us in ways that are uniquely personal if they are to have any value. It is of little use to  learn the ‘rules’ and stick to them; while there seems to be a universal understanding of symbolism at an intuitive level, the cultural, temporal and geographical differences within which we are raised will each add their own shades and colours to the emotive response such things awaken in the individual. Their value resides in what these things may  awaken within us or can open in our hearts and understanding. A stone is neither more, nor less, than a stone, until we give it meaning.

Yet there is something else at work too… an unseen presence that seems to evoke synchronicities that we can neither miss nor ignore, that guides the hand or allows us to notice the flight of a bird across our path. When the seeker seeks, on whatever path he may follow, a portal is opened between the ego and the Self and, for a brief moment, the two may commune in harmony, combining the essence of the human experience with the flight of the soul, each shedding their own light and clarity on the moment. The heightening of awareness allows us to see beyond form and interpretation to glimpse what is true, though how, whether or when we can accept or understand it depends upon where we are on our individual journey. As humans we can be very good at fooling ourselves, convincing ourselves of things that are not. We may even fool others for a time.. We take the fragments of truth that we garner and build for ourselves a version of reality in which we live out our days, calling it ‘ours’. But the feathered wings of the soul carry us towards Truth itself. We cannot fool the essence of our Being… and Truth belongs to no man… only to itself.