Seeds of Change

‘Dr Dee’, ‘Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth I’, ‘Sir Walter Raleigh’ and ‘Master Shakespeare’

Time does strange things. It is just a week since our workshop and already it feels as if it is receding into the mists, and yet, it is also as clear and sharp as if we were about to enter the temple space for another act. In many ways, that last is the truest perception, for, even though we draw our inspiration from tales of bygone eras, any seeds we sow within the ritual drama of the weekend are designed to grow slowly within us and be taken out into the world.

Such seeds are not ours alone. We may plant ideas and nurture thought, but it is in the fertile soil of love and friendship, and the shared experience of working together with a common intent, that such things blossom. Even so, it is only when we pluck those flowers and carry them as part of our daily lives that they begin to bear fruit.

‘Essex’ and ‘Bess of Hardwick’

Although much time, effort and laughter goes into the creation of the ‘five acts’ that form the core of our workshops, the spiritual journey is not a matter of playacting, not is it enough to dip a toe in and out of the water on a whim; the journey is ongoing and ever present, the story…our story… is a perpetual work in progress, as are we.

Every one of those present at our workshops brings their own perspective, adding a unique gift to the weekend. It is in the athanor of friendship that such alchemy produces gold and I would like to think that we each leave the richer for our shared experience. Our personal paths are many and varied, from druid to ordained ministers, mystic to magician, yet ultimately, our goal is a shared service to whatever aspect of the Light we recognise.

For each of us, that service takes on a different hue, but for all of us it is at the heart of life. Being able to work with so many people from so many paths is one of the true joys of these weekends and both the experience of the weekend itself and the intent of our work is amplified by this coming together of many paths and perspectives in a simple acceptance that knows none of the judgement of ‘tolerance’.

‘Dr Dee’ and ‘Mistress Jane Dee’

Egoic myopia, intolerance and prejudice may be played out symbolically within the crafted drama, where they may be brought to healing, understanding and resolution, but outside of the written roles, such things have no place at a Silent Eye weekend… or indeed, within the hearts of any who profess to follow a spiritual path. Our ‘Essex’, admirably portrayed by Russell, sought power and was brought to his knees by his self-serving ego… only to be given into the healing care of those he sought to betray. Our much-reviled Jesuit ‘Gerard’ was embodied with quiet grace and dignity by Jan. In spite of the intolerance shown by most members of the ‘Court’, Gerard showed himself to be a man of great compassion who led the tortured Dr Dee back to life and love.

The Elizabethan Age marked the beginning of a new era in many ways, and so was a perfect vehicle to reflect aspects of the current of change now brushing the shores of the present. Can a small group of people play a part in shaping that change? The answer to that depends upon what we understand by the question, perhaps. What is undeniable is that change can only happen if we, as individuals, choose to make it so. No-one can legislate for the heart and it is there that we can each begin to shape and heal our little corner of the world.

‘Lady Frances Walsingham’ and ‘Sir Francis Drake’

 

Shades of the Golden Age…

As a child, I loved the old movies of the swashbuckling variety. Even then, I knew the stories were not real and the history likely to be wildly innaccurate. Romance and adventure did not wait behind every tree. Magic, though, had its own reality.

With a family who told me a closer-to-true version of the histories portrayed on the screen, I learned early the difference between fantasy, fact and fiction. What was produced for entertainment was never supposed to be a history lesson. I learned not to believe in what I saw… except for the duration of the film, when I could lose myself in make-believe.

The over-the-top acting, the swordplay and implausible heroics delighted me, and that has never really changed as I have grown older. A more mature eye sees the flaws with clarity, but I can still choose to ignore them and daydream about flashing steel, wild gallops through the night and the elaborate gowns of a bygone era. But, let’s be honest, the days when I could even dream of being the romantic, blade-wielding heroine are long gone. Or so I thought, until last weekend.

Fair bristling with concealed weaponry, this Elizabethan lady was not happy when her betrothed attempted to discard her in favour of a rarer prize. Mine was really not supposed to be the role of heroine. But, just for a moment, with ‘Lord Essex’ on his knees, and a wicked blade poised over his heart, all my daydreams came true. (Which might be why my younger son asked if I should be ‘looking so cheery’ with a knife aimed at someone’s chest.)

The pictures were taken after the final ‘curtain’ had fallen on our Elizabethan escapade… we do not take photos until the work is done. I think most of us were on a high, either because of the weekend itself… or because we had survived it! By this point, all that was left to do was discard the costumes for the last time, talk, hug and say our farewells.

Many of the photos that were taken are blurred, and that is why I rendered a few in monochrome. I was immediately struck by how they reminded me of the golden era of Hollywood and my love of old movies.

We had come together to explore a story… a fictitious history that drew upon the lives, dreams and beliefs of some of the prominent people of Shakespeare’s day. It was never supposed to be an accurate history… but in truth, it was crafted as somewhere we could lose our ‘selves’ in make-believe.

The everyday self is left behind in play. We are hidden by the mask of our role and so our true self is free to explore the magical and spiritual concepts presented throughout the weekend, concealed, like my daggers, in velvet folds of imagination, friendship and laughter. And that particular alchemy is always in glorious Technicolor.

The alchemy of joy

By the time this goes out, another workshop will be over and our Companions will have dispersed for another year. Inevitably, every time we go back to Great Hucklow, we think of that very first workshop… and for me, that meant laughter…

 

“What have you done with my mother?”

The laughing sally greeted our arrival and my offer to climb into my son’s home through his bedroom window. It set the tone for the day… one mainly filled with laughter. It is often so.

Laughter, smiles, joy… they are as contagious as a yawn… or as any other emotion. They can also turn a moment of fading sadness to beauty. It is a well-known phenomenon that depression can affect those living with someone suffering from it, in almost the same way as the cold virus will spread through a household. The negative emotions set up a downward spiral as, for instance, a partner closes him or herself off emotionally and a domino reaction sets in which affects the whole family as needs are not answered and individuals feel unable to communicate those needs for fear of setting off an even deeper reaction. Unconscious resentments, fear, fragility begin to dominate the minds and hearts of those concerned and it is a vicious cycle difficult to break.

In the same way a group of people coming together in an atmosphere of comfortable laughter will soon put others at ease and allow them to open up and be themselves. We saw this in action in April at the launch event in Derbyshire. We were a new School and this was our first major, public event as a School. To be fair, no-one knew what to expect.

Steve, Stuart and I had left a School we loved in order to follow the path we felt we had been given to tread. There was a certain nervousness when we began to publicise the Launch, wondering if anyone would come. Steve had run similar workshops before, notably the Alchemy series, I had taught in other ways… but the School was new and untried. We had only our vision to work with.

Gradually the bookings came in. We were delighted to see a group of people forming from all spiritual paths, from the Druidic and Shamanic to the Mystical… from traditional Western Mystery to those who follow a personal vision. This was what we had hoped for… this was about bringing our School to birth without barriers. Even more wonderful it was to see people flying thousands of intercontinental miles to attend! There was never any question of recruiting new students… that is not what a workshop is about. A workshop of this nature is a public opening and sharing… a simple and mutual exploration of concepts. Most of all we hoped people would come along and simply enjoy. We wanted it to be fun.

Photography by Matt Baldwin-Ives
Photograph by Matt Baldwin-Ives

The workshops begin late on Friday. At other workshops we have all attended it often takes until the next day before everyone settles and feels really comfortable. A few of us who got there early to set up had gathered in the pub next door. Gradually others filtered in… the laughter was infectious and by the time the whole company gathered to begin after tea, the atmosphere was simply buzzing and everyone seemed to have known each other for years, though few had ever met before. It was delightful and lasted the whole weekend!

I think you have only to read the posts written by some of those who joined us that weekend to hear an echo of that laughter…you can find links to some of their articles by clicking here.

It was an object lesson in how infectious joy can be. Perhaps it went further than that… maybe it was an object lesson in how we each, individually, define our own worlds. By meeting in joy and laughter we were able to create a world of fun and friendship for that weekend… a small pocket of light that lit us all from the inside out, sustaining friendships made there by planting them in fertile soil.

The School is now established with students across the globe… yet the sense of joyous adventure continues, born, I think, of the shared laughter of the launch weekend. .. the ‘infection’ continues, and long may it do so!

I have a feeling that these first moments of any relationship… with people, organisations, situations… colour how that association develops. The playful laughter that gave birth to the School has certainly coloured it for me and painted it golden … and those who joined us there and shared that moment will always have a very special place in my heart.

Photography by Matt Baldwin-Ives
Photograph by Matt Baldwin-Ives

Weekend workshops – The Silent Eye 2017

The Silent Eye hosts a number of events each year, from our annual Weekend Workshop in Derbyshire to our informal Living Land and Walk and Talk gatherings. This year we will be holding events in England, Scotland and Wales. All events are open to non-members and Companions of the School and they are a great way to meet us, explore the teachings we share and spend time with fellow travellers.

You do not need any previous knowledge or experience. There is no need to be following a particular spiritual path…you are just as likely to be sitting next to a minister as you are to a shaman or a  mystic. There is just an opportunity to share a journey together. You can read what it is like to attend your first workshop here.

Why not come along and join in?

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The Feathered Seerindex1

Weekend of 21-23 April 2017

Great Hucklow, Derbyshire Dales. England.

The annual residential workshop is based around a single story played out over the weekend in the manner of the ancient Mystery Plays. The story illustrates a particular aspect of spirituality in a setting that allows the abstract idea to be played out in a symbolic manner that relates it to everyday life. This year we will share the story of a young Seer of the Old Ones, the ancient people of Albion, following her journey through the troubled times of invasion to a place of peace.


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The Prisoner of Portmeirion?

Weekend of 16-18 June 2017

Close to Portmeirion Village. Wales

Set in and around the very real village of Portmeirion, the place where the Prisoner was filmed,  with the backdrop of wonderful Snowdonia on our doorstep, our pre-solstice adventure in the landscape will take the form of a psychological exploration of what it means to ‘fit in’ with the world–and the price of not doing so. We do not intend this to be deadly serious, but many a powerful revelation can come from a dash of humour.


4-copyMaiden, Mother, Crone: Solstice of the Moon

Inverurie, Scotland

15th-17th September 2017

Guided by Running Elk, we will spend a weekend in the beautiful Don valley, exploring some of the ancient and sacred sites that have woven their mysteries for thousands of years. Unique to the area, with the exception of a few examples in Ireland, the circles of the region are of the “recumbent” type; intended for monitoring the “solstices” of the moon, known as the lunar standstill.


Riddles of the nightrs-193

Bakewell, Derbyshire

1st-3rd December 2017

Discover for yourselves the hidden jewels of the night. As the darkness of the winter solstice enfolds the land, join us for a magical weekend pursuing the treasure of understanding .Will you find the jewel at the heart of the mystery? Will you find the way to go?


Full details of each workshop can be found on our Events Page

Click below to

Download our Informal Events Booking Form – pdf

or to book for The Feathered Seer click here:

The Feathered Seer

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

Fanning the flames…

Stu Fox 100

Where do they come from?
They come out of the night…
Where do they go to?
Back to the night they return…
They dance in the dark to pipe and drum and fiddle
They dance in the dark with fire and brandished flame…

No-one knows who they are…

Stu Fox 103

But we know where they will be in April 2016…

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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.

Playing out- Mountains of the Sun

Go on… when was the last time you went out to play? I don’t mean with children, wonderful as that is… but just you… playing out… in the fields. Leaving the world and all its worries behind for a little while for a lighthearted romp, exploring the strange landscapes of the imagination?

When was the last time you thought it was okay to go looking for fairies, or ghosts from the past? How long since you tackled a proper mystery… and yet came home in time for tea ( or a pint at a village pub, as the case may be?)

When could you last take the time to look at the world with wonder and see time lose its place and the story of ages unfold?

Wouldn’t you like to be able to just play out again?

Well, we are going to. And you are welcome to join us!

Mountains of the Sun
Wiltshire, England
12-14 June 2015

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What are the mysterious mounds that cluster around Marlborough? Why are they marked by the dragon’s coils?

Join the folk of the Silent Eye for a Solstice tale of dragons in the living land of Albion as we explore Avebury and the Marlborough Downs.

Workshop costs £50.00 per person.

Accomodation/meals not included, though advice can be given.

Click below to

Download our Events Booking Form – pdf

For further details email : rivingtide@gmail.com

Avebury, Wiltshire

See our Events page for other upcoming weekends and workshops