The Edge of Order: Frances Walsingham

Frances Walsingham Full ImageAA

It had been simple, back then, when all eyes shone with approval; when she was the young bride of the Queen’s Champion, Sir Philip Sidney. This daughter of the ‘Sworn’, – the inner cabal of those who had vowed to lay down their lives, without question, in the defence of their embattled queen – could do no wrong.

He should be here, she thought, fighting back the mist that threatened to undo the mask of determined perfection she wore. Philip, help me…use that old magic to help me from beyond your premature grave, my love… You knew her so well.

Her shoulders dropped at the uselessness of the thought. Philip Sydney, Queen’s Champion, and the monarch’s most intellectual challenger, had died in battle four years ago – his life wasted in a minor skirmish – and Frances had had scant time to grow into the might of his intellect, his inner nobility, nor the ancient and magical arts he practiced alongside his renowned poetry.

The Queen noticed the shift in her mood, indicated by a slight shift in her stance. How does she do that? Frances thought, turning to nod, subtly, her only acknowledgement to the women at whose feet she had learned the craft of living with royalty. Nothing less than complete honesty of gesture would be tolerated… especially now…

What is she doing with us? thought Frances. Here in this chamber, carefully crafted for this, and possibly only this, occasion. She thought of her father, dying only an hour’s ride away from NonSuch – lying in his bed, untended. Father, forgive me, she thought. I had no choice but to obey her. You, above all men, would understand that!

And he would, she knew; would shine with pride that the line of his blood continued to defend the woman they had secretly called The Birth. She thought she knew what that meant, but neither William Cecil, Queen’s first minister and her father’s constant companion in their secret dealings, nor her irascible parent would ever say…

She looked around the marble floor, with its stark black and white squares – pure in its pristine readiness – and suppressed a shudder. ‘A welcome’ it said in the private invitation, a ‘homecoming for Dr Dee’, former astrologer to Her Grace, mathematician, and cartographer of maps now used to guide the expanding Navy: the glorious English navy that had defeated the mighty Spanish Armada, giving Elizabeth’s England legendary status.

She has nothing to prove! she thought. Why this. Why now?

On the far side of the dais, beyond the Queen, Robert Cecil shuffled from foot to foot in the way that eased the pressure on his deformed spine. The shoes he had inherited were too big for him, Frances thought, with a smile, and he does not trust women…Whereas his illustrious father, William, had befriended and adored the company of many intelligent women, learning, perhaps, from his lifelong service with the Queen.

She let her eyes glance at the woman beside her. I know… she thought, quietly, I know the arrangement you came to with his father: take the blame, be scolded, humiliated, be driven out of office for my sake; and, in return, I will protect your estate, and your capable son may inherit your role…

The death...

No-one dared speak of the death, the Scottish Queen. For a queen to kill a queen meant that queens could be killed–and Elizabeth was a queen, too. So, someone else, someone beyond corruption, had to trigger that blow, and then the screaming Queen of England would beat her breast at the injustice of a killed queen under her protection – plotter or no.

Her eyes would betray her, so she sought softer gazes in the faces turned to the royal party. Robert my love, her heart whispered to the young Second Earl of Essex, standing, calm and still, to her left. This will be hard. Lend me your strength… But, behind the comfort, darker emotions boiled. His furtive eyes never left her soft face as she read his look.. She will rage at us, but love is an anointing of freedom.

More than that – and she wondered if he knew – the very blood that now pulsed with his passion carried the seeds of a line that would engender more than rage in the Queen. in fact, if known, it might be the gravest danger she had ever faced.

The solid oak door to the Chamber of Questioning opened and three people entered. The tall man in the front of the party was familiar and a friend: Sir Walter Raleigh filled a room with his presence.

Frances could feel the Queen’s eyes appraising her former beau. She dared not check, but could sense the smile with which the royal eyes appraised him: beyond her reach, now; belonging to another.

But the Queen did not know that Essex was, too…

The two men Raleigh was escorting into the chamber were less familiar. With a shock, she realised the one on her right was Dr John Dee… How he had aged! She would not have known that his bent figure had been the glorious champion of knowledge of her youth. What had befallen him to reduce the man of learning to this state?

Welcome him home? I don’t think so, my Queen!

The other man wore a simple robe. Its colour triggered the inner call to danger that her father had forced her to learn at his side. With a disguised gesture, she laid her hand over the concealed slit in her robe and felt for the presence of the ever-present dagger.

She had killed two men with it. The first by a dark London dock when a man attempted to rob her. The other, in the presence of her father, an act of execution forced by him in, a rite of passage, as the paralysing illness began to take his strength.

Her eyes, wise and deadly as those of a serpent, fixed themselves on the Jesuit cross hanging around the stranger’s neck…


In our five-act mystical story, when the company arrives at Elizabeth’s NonSuch palace, they are shown into a newly-prepared room, one in which a deadly search for the truths of the age will be played out on many levels: intellectual, emotional, religious and magical. Outside of the Queen’s own mind, no-one else in the room is aware of what is to follow.

What confronts the participants in the centre of the space is a huge game board consisting of black and white squares…

SE18 Core temple heart alone

Each  side of the board has its own symbolism and its own champion. In our five-act magical drama, Frances Walsingham has a very special relationship with the Queen, but also with several of the other figures in the Court. Four years after the death of her beloved husband, Sir Philip Sidney, she has begun a relationship with the Queen’s current favourite, the Second Earl of Essex – Robert Devereux, whose name is to become infamous. Can Walsingham’s daughter maintain her objective judgement?

The Silent Eye’s spring workshop, April 2018 is: “The Jewel in the Claw’. The jewel is the emerging spirit of humanism and tolerance that Elizabeth, the self-styled virgin-queen, engendered; the claw is the nature of the forces of ignorance that still plague us in the twenty-first century every bit as much as they did in 1588, the year that the mighty Spanish Armada was defeated by a combination of English naval courage and our equally fabled weather; and Elizabeth I finally achieved a degree of security.

Jewel in Claw October MasterAA

The Silent Eye has produced dramatic mystical workshops since its inception in 2013, but this is a break from tradition, and will stick closely to the formula of an actual Elizabethan production, letting the acts of the play tell the deeper story. There is no formal audience, of course. We, the players, play to each other, and in doing so invoke the desired depth of psychological and spiritual interaction.

If you’ve never been to such an event before, don’t be over-faced by this heady agenda. There are always new people joining us, and we take great care to ensure they are comfortable. We do not expect our ‘actors’ to learn their lines! We all read from scripts – as though doing a final rehearsal, but the atmosphere is truly electric and you will find yourself working to bring your character to the greatest life you can give them! You will also find they stay with you for years afterwards…

Above all else it is always fun; and every year, come the Sunday farewell lunch, those attending do not want to go home and end that living link with a body of experience and aspiration that they have helped create…

We can honestly say that the workshops become a living thing, formed and sustained in the minds and hearts of those attending. Come and join our ‘merry band’ and you’ll want to come back.

Places are still available for ‘The Jewel in the Claw’. 20-22 April, 2018. The average price is approximately £250, fully inclusive of all meals and accommodation. You will struggle to find a better value weekend, anywhere.

The weekend workshop will be held at the lovely Nightingale Centre, Great Hucklow, near Buxton, in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales at a wonderful time of year – the spring.

You can download the pricing and booking form here:

SE18 Booking form aloneAA.

Other posts in this series cover:

John DeeSir Walter RaleighSir Philip Sidney

Queen Elizabeth I,

Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester

Bess of Hardwick

The Dragon of Elizabeth’s Seas

For more information email us on rivingtide@gmail.com

Banner Image: Composite of original artwork by the author plus a portrait of Frances Walsingham, courtesy of  Wikipedia, CC by 3.0, Public Domain.

Images in background montages by the author – own photography.

Stephen Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people find the reality and essence of their existence via low-cost supervised correspondence courses.

His personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com

©️Stephen Tanham.

The Dragon of Elizabeth’s Seas.

Francis Drake SE18 Montage fullIt is the beginning of May, 1587, and a man known locally as The Dragon is headed for Cadiz on Spain’s Atlantic coast. His mission is not peaceful. The act of sailing to Cadiz poses few challenges for this master mariner, who, ten years prior, had already circumnavigated the globe – becoming only the second person (after Magellan) to do so.

But what follows his arrival in Cadiz, at the head of a small fleet centred on four English galleons, is extraordinary by any measure…

In the sixteenth century, Spain is the mightiest empire in Europe–its wealth boosted by gold plundered from the New World… It is also considered the fiercest defender of the Catholic faith; a faith under threat from the growth of Protestantism in Northern Europe, including its foremost enemy: England.

Phillip II has the Pope’s blessing to invade and subdue England, using whatever means is necessary. The Queen of England, Elizabeth I, has been excommunicated by the Pope and King Phillip is assembling a fleet of over a hundred ships to solve the ‘English problem’. English sailors, regarded as little more than pirates by the Spanish, have been a thorn in its side at home and abroad, especially in the New World, where British Privateers have been particularly effective in plundering the gold that Spain has so carefully extracted from the natives.

The man commanding the small fleet now sailing into Cadiz harbour is Sir Francis Drake. The Spanish hate and fear him so much, they have named him El Draque – the Dragon. History will record that he was here to ‘singe the King of Spain’s beard’.

The tiny English fleet – sent by Elizabeth to begin a preemptive action against the gathering might of the Spanish Armada – will spend the next few days in two key Spanish ports (the other being Corunna) destroying a total of thirty-seven of Phillip II’s best ships, despite adverse weather and constant shelling from the guns on the cliffs. Seldom had there been such a display of seamanship, against such difficult conditions.

The success of the raid will delay the Armada by a full year. More significantly, the cargoes plundered by Drake in Cadiz turn out to be well-seasoned timber staves essential for the construction of wooden barrels for food  and water storage. When the Armada finally sails, in the summer of 1588, one of the contributing factors in its failure will be the poor storage of supplies and consequent ill-health of the sailors in the Spanish fleet… Of such small details are vast changes in sovereign fortunes made…

The Spanish considered the raid on Cadiz so audacious that Phillip, himself, sent an urgent letter to the Duke of Medina Sidonia, the commander-in-chief of the Spanish Armada, warning him of the other likely targets of El Draque’s murderous voyage (below).

Phillip II's letter about Drake and Cadiz
Phillip II’s letter to the Duke of Medina Sidonia warning of Drake’s likely next targets. A rare example of a document that backs up an audacious legend (source)

Nowadays, we are acutely aware of historical exaggeration and propaganda, but this letter is a rare piece of factual evidence that proves how infamous Drake actually was; not that he was shy at promoting his own image…

Francis Drake was born in Tavistock, West Devon, in 1540, seven years after his future queen. He was the eldest of the twelve sons of Edmund Drake, a Protestant farmer. In 1549, the family had to flee local religious persecution and re-settled in Kent, where the resourceful Edmund secured religious training and a position as Deacon of Upnor Church on the Medway, a busy part of the Thames estuary. From Upnor, he was able to minister to the men in the King’s Navy – a first contact upon which he was able to build his, and his children’s, future.

Drake was apprenticed to the master of a barque used to ship merchandise from London to France. Drake’s work pleased the owner of the vessel so much that the childless ship’s master bequeathed the boat to Drake on his death.

The family already had naval connections, and the sea was to shape his life from this point onwards. John Hawkins, later Sir John Hawkins, was Drake’s second cousin and, following the younger man’s successful apprenticeship, he was taken into the extended family’s shipping business, based in Plymouth. In 1563, aged twenty-three, Drake made his first voyage to the Americas, under the command of his cousin. Three more voyages followed, during which the English ships attacked Portuguese towns and ships on the West African coast. Hawkins has a dark reputation as the first English slave-trader, and inducted the young Drake into the trade. The captured cargoes of slaves were, ironically, sold to Spanish plantations…

On the third such voyage, the Hawkins fleet, undergoing resupply and repair in Mexico, was attacked by Spanish warships. Only two of the family ships survived. Drake and his cousin only escaped by swimming to safety. This incident, combined with the persecution of his childhood, set Drake on a course against Catholic Spain, a course he would pursue with delight and skill as his fortunes unfolded.

The coast of Panama was used as a staging post for the Spanish treasure-gatherers, and Drake polished his privateering skills along its coast, taking considerable riches from the raids. He seemed both skilful and lucky in his exploits, but was severely wounded on more than one occasion.

On Elizabeth’s secret instructions, Drake went on to circumnavigate the world, sailing around Cape Horn and entering the Pacific, where he claimed California for the English Crown. The voyage of exploration was punctuated with several acts of plunder on Spanish ships and ports, and, in 1580, with only one ship (The Golden Hind) remaining, he returned to England with a full cargo of treasures, including an exotic jewel made of enamelled gold and bearing a diamond and an ebony ship, which he presented to Queen Elizabeth.

DrakeKnightedTavistockMonument
Drake is knighted by Elizabeth I. The monument to Drake in Tavistock. Wikipedia public domain.  Source.

The Queen delighted in his successes against the Spanish, and knighted him aboard the  Golden Hind in 1581 – an act that enraged Phillip II of Spain. On William Cecil’s advice, all the records of the voyage were made state secrets, and the remaining crew were sworn to secrecy. Everyone knew that war with the Spanish would be forthcoming, but with men like Drake at her side, Elizabeth felt that the spirit of her England had a chance of success.

Drake was a commoner and had risen to be one of Elizabeth’s favourites; quite an achievement. For his coat of arms he adopted a shield showing two stars; representing the Arctic and Antarctic, connected by the oceans, topped by an image of the Golden Hind. The Hand of God is shown as benevolent fate within his lifetime, indicating, with appropriate humility, that his good fortune was not wholly his own doing.

Francis Drake coat of armsAA
The Coat of Arms adopted by Sir Francis Drake

The year after the raid on Cadiz, one hundred and twenty Spanish ships set sail to invade Elizabeth’s England. Drake was second in command of the outnumbered English fleet, which was led by Lord Charles Howard. There is no historical evidence that Drake delayed his departure for battle while he finished his game of bowls in Plymouth. The apocryphal story appeared some thirty years later and fits with our heroic and stylish picture of the man, so it lives on in the imagination.

The result is well-known. A combination of inspired seamanship by Drake and Howard, plus adverse weather, saw the invasion flounder. What is less well known is that two-thirds of the ships returned safely to Spain, having circumnavigated the British Isles, pursued by an English fleet that was unable to inflict too much harm. The greatest damage was to Phillip II’s reputation. His life had been intertwined with England’s queens since his earlier marriage to Queen Mary – Catherine of Aragon’s daughter. In his journals he claimed to have influenced Mary to restore Elizabeth to the royal line of succession.

We may never know the truth of this; if so, it is doubly ironic that the bravery of Elizabeth and her senior officers brought about the decline in respect for Phillip, and he never recovered.

Although Drake’s place in the heart of England was secure. His military fortunes declined, and the English Armada ordered by Queen Elizabeth I, fared no better than had the Spanish fleet.

Sir Francis Drake died in Panama on the 28 January 1596 of dysentery. His last unsuccessful expedition was with his cousin, Sir John Hawkins. They died together and their bodies were buried at sea. Drake had asked to be dressed in his armour for his death, and had already made provision that his body be placed in a lead coffin before it was committed to the deep.

 

How does all this relate to our mystical workshop in April 2018 – The Jewel in the Claw?

Sir Francis Drake is an obvious heroic archetype to use in a mystical play like this. But his life illustrated far deeper issues that were at the heart of Elizabeth’s England. Heroes operate within a theatre of circumstances and responses in which there are few freedoms. Only by being unafraid of being alone, could Elizabeth release the potential of her age. Drake, along with Raleigh, was one of her most visible heroes, but there were many others – men like William Cecil, who moved with equal precision behind the scenes. Nor can the age’s ‘scientists’ like Dr John Dee – at the centre of our story – be considered to be any less heroic in their world of knowledge rather than action.

In our mystical drama, Sir Francis Drake is one of Elizabeth’s appointed champions. But, he has a more difficult and deeper layer to his role within her ‘court’. His depth of experience lends his character special skills when it comes to understanding the motives of men… and women.

In our story, when the company arrives at NonSuch palace, they are shown into a newly-prepared room, one in which a deadly search for the truths of the age will be played out on many levels: intellectual, emotional, religious and magical. Outside of the Queen’s own mind, no-one else in the room is aware of what is to follow.

What confronts the participants in the centre of the space is a huge game board consisting of black and white squares…

SE18 Core temple heart alone

Each  side of the board has its own symbolism and its own champion. In our five-act magical drama, Drake has a very special relationship with the Queen, one in which his grasp of the importance of Naval warfare can be used to royal advantage…

The Silent Eye’s spring workshop, April 2018 is: “The Jewel in the Claw’. The jewel is the emerging spirit of humanism and tolerance that Elizabeth, the self-styled virgin-queen, engendered; the claw is the nature of the forces of ignorance that still plague us in the twenty-first century every bit as much as they did in 1588, the year that the mighty Spanish Armada was defeated by a combination of English naval courage and our equally fabled weather; and Elizabeth I finally achieved a degree of security.

Jewel in Claw October MasterAA

The Silent Eye has produced dramatic mystical workshops since its inception in 2013, but this is a break from tradition, and will stick closely to the formula of an actual Elizabethan production, letting the acts of the play tell the deeper story. There is no formal audience, of course. We, the players, play to each other, and in doing so invoke the desired depth of psychological and spiritual interaction.

If you’ve never been to such an event before, don’t be over-faced by this heady agenda. There are always new people joining us, and we take great care to ensure they are comfortable. We do not expect our ‘actors’ to learn their lines! We all read from scripts – as though doing a final rehearsal, but the atmosphere is truly electric and you will find yourself working to bring your character to the greatest life you can give them! You will also find they stay with you for years afterwards…

Above all else it is always fun; and every year, come the Sunday farewell lunch, those attending do not want to go home and end that living link with a body of experience and aspiration that they have helped create…

We can honestly say that the workshops become a living thing, formed and sustained in the minds and hearts of those attending. Come and join our ‘merry band’ and you’ll want to come back.

Places are still available for ‘The Jewel in the Claw’. 20-22 April, 2018. The average price is approximately £250, fully inclusive of all meals and accommodation. You will struggle to find a better value weekend, anywhere.

The weekend workshop will be held at the lovely Nightingale Centre, Great Hucklow, near Buxton, in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales at a wonderful time of year – the spring.

You can download the pricing and booking form here:

SE18 Booking form aloneAA.

Other posts in this series cover:

John DeeSir Walter RaleighSir Philip Sidney

Queen Elizabeth I,

Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester

Bess of Hardwick

For more information email us on rivingtide@gmail.com

Banner Image: Composite of original artwork by the author plus a portrait of Sir Francis Drake, courtesy of  Wikipedia, CC by 3.0, Public Domain.

Images in background montages by the author – own photography.

Underlying images:

Sir Francis Drake Wikipedia Commons – public domain. source.

Underlying image of plaque of ship CC BY-SA 3.0 source

Stephen Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people find the reality and essence of their existence via low-cost supervised correspondence courses.

His personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com

©️Stephen Tanham.

 

/div>

She of the Voice

The Shining One Fatima“Ra-bi-ya, Ra-bi-ya…’

As she surveys the black and white squares of the court before her, the song echoes in her head, a beloved memory of time spent, long ago, with her mother, playing their hiding game among the orange groves in the gardens of the royal home.

She of the voice, the inner voice,’ had been the way they referred to her, later in childhood, when she would suddenly go quiet and listen to that wonderful, silent dialogue that taught her so much about what was really happening in front of her; watching others react while she smiled and laughed so much they thought she was just being girly.

But he knew better, too…

He, her mysterious spiritual guide, teacher of English and word games. Nur al-Din; whose name whispered its meaning – Light of the Faith. At first she hadn’t understood what he was teaching her; ‘the author of the words’ he had called it, a voice within the ‘voice of the world – the story being told is not the storyteller… come to know the storyteller.’

But it had been the other; the dark and purposeful figure of Muhammad al-Annuri, who strode into her life and spirited her away, un-graduated, from the mystical enchantment of learning the truth within the truth. The dark Muhammad had loved games, too. Games of the mind  had fascinated him… Games of the body they had shared with a mutual passion.

“Forget all you think you know,” her sad-eyed teacher had said as she was taken from him. “Let it teach you what it is…” No-one listening would have known what he meant.

But she did… and never forgot it. That was all back then, in distant Morocco. Back then…

The Saracen woman’ they call her, now, in the streets of London. They have little understanding of the place from which she came. They see a beautiful and dutiful wife to the Moroccan Ambassador. Her husband, with his royal connections, has done well, and now sits astride two civilisations. With one face, he is an ambassador; with the other, a spy and co-conspirator…

He has told her little, but his voice has told her much. She trembles at what she knows.

Guns… Ships and guns. Just the beginning.

And now, summoned, mysteriously, to be at the Queen’s gathering: this strange chamber. “Another leading woman,” was all they told her. “Great honour.”

The others are ranged around the edge of a floor patterned like a great game board in the middle of the room.

‘Revealing,’ the voice whispers. ‘A place of great revelation…’ Rab’ia breathes in the way he taught her, letting the other shadows emerge, the hidden ones, the ones with secrets… She opens hazel eyes that have made warriors wither and seeks the other awakened eyes in the room, surprised and smiling at the result.

Perhaps it has all led to this, she thinks, smiling in the way he used to do.

How does all this relate to our mystical workshop in April 2018, The Jewel in the Claw?

Rab’ia al-Anuuri is the wife of the Moroccan ambassador in London, during the time when Elizabeth I is seeking a closer relationship with the Saracen world – what we would now call the world of Islam. The Saracen world is a potent force and has more than enough might to challenge the other super-power in Europe – Spain.

In our five-act mystical drama, when the company arrives at NonSuch palace, they are shown into a newly-prepared room, one in which a deadly search for the truths of the age will be played out on many levels: intellectual, emotional, religious and magical. Outside of the Queen’s own mind, no-one else in the room is aware of what is to follow. Rab’ia, wife of the Moroccan Ambassador is brought into this chamber as a personal guest of the Queen, whose goal is to begin with as much of a male-female balance as she can achieve, in an age when powerful women were not abundant – not in the political sense, that is…

What confronts the participants in the centre of the space is a huge game board consisting of black and white squares…

SE18 Core temple heart alone

Each  side of the board has its own symbolism and its own champion. In our five-act magical drama, Rab’ia will come to have a unique relationship with the Queen, as she is a powerful foreign dignitary in her own right and truly beyond the monarch’s power – or is she? The Queen of England is a potent force when it comes to defending the interests of her own country…

The Silent Eye’s spring workshop, April 2018 is: “The Jewel in the Claw’. The jewel is the emerging spirit of tolerance that Elizabeth, the self-styled virgin-queen, engendered; the claw is the nature of the forces of ignorance that still plague us in the twenty-first century every bit as much as they did in 1588, the year that the mighty Spanish Armada was defeated by a combination of English naval courage and our equally fabled weather; and Elizabeth I finally achieved a degree of security.

Jewel in Claw October MasterAA

The Silent Eye has produced dramatic mystical workshops since its inception in 2013, but this is a break from tradition, and will stick closely to the formula of an actual Elizabethan production, letting the acts of the play tell the deeper story. There is no formal audience, of course. We, the players, play to each other, and in doing so invoke the desired depth of psychological and spiritual interaction.

If you’ve never been to such an event before, don’t be over-faced by this heady agenda. There are always new people joining us, and we take great care to ensure they are comfortable. We do not expect our ‘actors’ to learn their lines! We all read from scripts – as though doing a final rehearsal, but the atmosphere is truly electric and you will find yourself working to bring your character to the greatest life you can give them! You will also find they stay with you for years afterwards…

Above all else it is always fun; and every year, come the Sunday farewell lunch, those attending do not want to go home and end that living link with a body of experience and aspiration that they have helped create…

We can honestly say that the workshops become a living thing, formed and sustained in the minds and hearts of those attending. Come and join our ‘merry band’ and you’ll want to come back.

Places are still available for ‘The Jewel in the Claw’. 20-22 April, 2018. The average price is approximately £250, fully inclusive of all meals and accommodation. You will struggle to find a better value weekend, anywhere.

The weekend workshop will be held at the lovely Nightingale Centre, Great Hucklow, near Buxton, in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales at a wonderful time of year – the spring.

You can download the pricing and booking form here:

SE18 Booking form aloneAA.

Other posts in this series cover:

John DeeSir Walter RaleighSir Philip Sidney

Queen Elizabeth I,

Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester

Bess of Hardwick

For more information email us on rivingtide@gmail.com

Image: Composite of original artwork by the author.

Stephen Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people find the reality and essence of their existence via low-cost supervised correspondence courses.

His personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com

©️Stephen Tanham.

A Woman of Power and Substance

Bess of Hardwick montage fullAA

It is the winter of 1584. The well-dressed woman watches as her fourth husband storms out of the dining hall at their present home, Tutbury Castle, in Staffordshire.

In the corner of the room sits a younger woman, now smiling at the angry departure of the man of the house–the sixth Earl of Shrewsbury. The seated woman with the secretive smile has good reason to be pleased at the turn of events. She has been a captive in this house for nearly fifteen years and used that time to create mayhem with sexual politics. Her name is Mary, better known as Mary, Queen of Scots. Her fortunes are diminishing by the month.. But that hasn’t stopped her using human emotions, particularly jealously, to drive a deadly wedge between the Count and Countess, her gaolers.

The lady of the house is already one of England’s richest women, in fact she will shortly be second only in wealth to the Sovereign – Queen Elizabeth I. She already owns the Chatsworth House estate; fabled, even then, for its beauty and gardens. She hates the partial ruin that is Tutbury Castle, but, for that fifteen year period, has done her duty by her husband and her Queen in keeping watch over the exiled Scottish monarch, who is a prisoner in their castle. In this way, and, astutely, at the expense of the Shrewsburys, Queen Elizabeth has kept her biggest problem at arm’s length.

The tall woman staring at the slammed door through which, metaphorically, her beloved husband has passed for the last time, is the Countess of Shrewsbury. She has inherited the goodwill and wealth of three of her previous spouses. She has over ten children from those marriages; some of whom will end up with a future, though distant, ‘claim’ to the throne.

She has led an interesting life, to say the least. On this angry morning, engineered by the jealousy deliberately created by the royal prisoner, Bess of Hardwick, as she is better known, vows that, within the year, she will return to her beloved Chatsworth and pick up the threads of her old life, again…

Earl and Countess Shrewsbury have had to keep moving around the many houses owned by the Earl, as Mary’s life is constantly being manipulated by those who would use her as a figurehead to overturn the fledgling Protestant religion, instigated by Queen Elizabeth’s father, Henry VIII.

Born in 1527, Bess was the fourth daughter in a family of four girls and one boy. Their father died when she was young, but he managed to leave a Will which included a small dowry for the four girls.

Young Bess, aged twelve years, entered service for a great Derbyshire family, Sir John and Lady Zouche, (after whom the town of Ashby de la Zouche is named) whose home was Codnor Castle, in Derbyshire. Codnor was first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 and was at that time the property of William Peveril of Castleton, in the High Peak.

It must have been a wrench when the employing family moved her from her beloved Derbyshire to London, where she married her first husband (also in service), Robert Barlow, nursing him back to health after being ill with chronic distemper. Robert was weakened and died soon after their they were married. Despite being only seventeen, Bess was eventually granted a widow’s pension, which was one third of his income; but she had to fight though the courts to secure this – an example of her determination to better herself and her standing in society.
Above – Arms of the Cavendish Family (Source: Wikipedia: CC Public Domain)
Sir William Cavendish had been married twice before and was the father of two daughters. He courted Bess, who was at this time a beautiful and talented young woman, and married her in 1547. Despite his being more than twice her age, they were very happy and had a further eight children.
Sir William had made his fortune as an official of the Court of Augmentations – responsible for the dissolution of the monasteries and the appropriation of the properties. He was able to select from these some very attractive residences for himself. It is recorded that, even at this early stage, Bess had a talent for managing and trading property, and Sir William was persuaded by her to sell his lands in the south of England and buy the Chatsworth estates in her native Derbyshire…
Bess of Hardwick had come home.
Bess’s husband was less talented in business, He died in 1557, having squandered much of the Cavendish estate. Bess managed to claim the sum of the estate and retained Chatsworth, but was heavily in debt and faced a bleak future. Bess was a shrewd business woman, and set to, increasing her assets with business interests including mines and glass making workshops in her home county.
Above – Arms of the St Loe Family (Source: Wikipedia: CC Public Domain)
In 1559, Bess married Sir William St Loe, who was Captain of the  Guard to Queen Elizabeth I. He was a very wealthy man, with large estates in the West Country.
He died, under suspicious circumstances, in 1564. Bess was not implicated, but there had been bad blood between Sir William and his brother, on whom suspicion fell. Bess was just thirty-seven when she inherited the full estate, paid off her former husband’s debts, and became one of the wealthiest women in England.
Sir William had been close to the Queen, and this had enabled Bess to be presented at Court. Following Sir William’s death, Bess became a Lady of the Bedchamber, with daily access to the Queen, who looked upon her kindly, respecting what she, another ‘feeble’ woman, had made of herself…
Bess had retained her good looks and health and was pursued by a number of important men.

 

Despite being courted by several prominent suitors, Bess did not remarry until 1568, when she was betrothed to George Talbot, Sixth Earl of Shrewbury, and one of the senior figures in Elizabeth’s hierarchy. Bess became Countess of Shrewsbury. It was into this marriage–a happy one in the beginning–that the disruptive presence of Mary Queen of Scots was to intrude, though Bess and Mary were friends for a long time before the marriage eventually crumbled.

 

George Talbot was in poor health and died in 1590. Queen Elizabeth was fond of the couple and had made several attempts to reconcile them, but the ‘Mary’ years had taken their toll. Perhaps Elizabeth felt some guilt over this; but, if she did, it did not prevent her from imprisoning Bess in the Tower on two occasions when the Queen felt this other powerful woman was advancing her own cause at the expense of the Crown’s.

At sixty-three, Bess was now Dowager Countess of Shrewsbury and would not marry again. She devoted the remainder of her life to the welfare of her many children, getting into trouble several times because of their distant claims to the throne.

Bess of Hardwick died on 13 February 1608, aged 81. She outlived Queen Elizabeth by five years. She is buried in Derby Cathedral, where there is an elaborate monument to her life and achievements.

(References and heraldic shields)

How does all this relate to our mystical workshop in April 2018, The Jewel in the Claw?

Bess was an unusual figure, being so successful in a man’s world which had intensely patriarchal values.

In our story, when the company arrives at NonSuch palace, they are shown into a newly-prepared room, one in which a deadly search for the truths of the age will be played out on many levels: intellectual, emotional, religious and magical. Outside of the Queen’s own mind, no-one else in the room is aware of what is to follow, not even Bess…

What confronts the participants in the centre of the space is a huge game board consisting of black and white squares…

SE18 Core temple heart alone

Each  side of the board has its own symbolism and its own champion. In our five-act magical drama, Bess has a very special relationship with the Queen, one in which her grasp of the ‘common touch’ can be used to royal advantage…

The Silent Eye’s spring workshop, April 2018 is: “The Jewel in the Claw’. The jewel is the emerging spirit of tolerance that Elizabeth, the self-styled virgin-queen, engendered; the claw is the nature of the forces of ignorance that still plague us in the twenty-first century every bit as much as they did in 1588, the year that the mighty Spanish Armada was defeated by a combination of English naval courage and our equally fabled weather; and Elizabeth I finally achieved a degree of security.

Jewel in Claw October MasterAA

The Silent Eye has produced dramatic mystical workshops since its inception in 2013, but this is a break from tradition, and will stick closely to the formula of an actual Elizabethan production, letting the acts of the play tell the deeper story. There is no formal audience, of course. We, the players, play to each other, and in doing so invoke the desired depth of psychological and spiritual interaction.

If you’ve never been to such an event before, don’t be over-faced by this heady agenda. There are always new people joining us, and we take great care to ensure they are comfortable. We do not expect our ‘actors’ to learn their lines! We all read from scripts – as though doing a final rehearsal, but the atmosphere is truly electric and you will find yourself working to bring your character to the greatest life you can give them! You will also find they stay with you for years afterwards…

Above all else it is always fun; and every year, come the Sunday farewell lunch, those attending do not want to go home and end that living link with a body of experience and aspiration that they have helped create…

We can honestly say that the workshops become a living thing, formed and sustained in the minds and hearts of those attending. Come and join our ‘merry band’ and you’ll want to come back.

Places are still available for ‘The Jewel in the Claw’. 20-22 April, 2018. The average price is approximately £250, fully inclusive of all meals and accommodation. You will struggle to find a better value weekend, anywhere.

The weekend workshop will be held at the lovely Nightingale Centre, Great Hucklow, near Buxton, in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales at a wonderful time of year – the spring.

You can download the pricing and booking form here:

SE18 Booking form aloneAA.

Other posts in this series cover:

John DeeSir Walter RaleighSir Philip Sidney

Queen Elizabeth I,

Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester

For more information email us on rivingtide@gmail.com

Image: Composite of original artwork by the author plus a portrait of Bess of Hardwick, courtesy of  Wikipedia, CC by 3.0, Public Domain.

Stephen Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people find the reality and essence of their existence via low-cost supervised correspondence courses.

His personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com

©️Stephen Tanham.

/div>

The Deadly Edge of Love (part 2)

Robert Dudley Earl LeicesterFullAA(Continued from Part One of The Deadly Edge of Love)

It’s the morning of 18th November, 1558. Robert Dudley is witnessing a miracle.

In her dying months, Queen Mary, Elizabeth’s half-sister, and daughter of Henry and Catherine of Aragon, has restored Elizabeth to the line of succession, following the failure of her marriage alliance with Charles II of Spain. Now, Mary is dead, and Dudley is watching his beloved Elizabeth, a former fellow prisoner in the Tower of London, become Queen of England.

Elizabeth's Great Seal

(Above: the The Great Seal of Elizabeth I. Source )

Time seems to stand still as the Great Seal is passed to the new queen and another chapter in the story of the Tudor dynasty begins. Dudley knows that Elizabeth is weary of religious strife and will not follow her half-sister in setting family against family in her new reign–though she will protect her father’s Protestant legacy. The people know it too, as the public joy of the Royal Coronation will show.

Within the day, Dudley will be made the royal Master of Horse, a role to which he is well suited as an outstanding horseman – something he shares with Philip Sidney. The role, which controls the provision of all transport for Elizabeth, will keep him by her side as much as possible. A new life has begun for them both…

But the official position has made it difficult for them to be seen together as often as before her accession to the throne. She once said, “A thousand eyes see everything I do…” It is difficult to imagine what that does to someone’s life, let alone their love-life. Elizabeth must have faced a personal crisis at that point, for in a unique show of determination and psychological strength, she threw caution away and flaunted her relationship with her favourite by having his bedchamber moved next to hers. But Elizabeth refused to be swayed on marriage, even though Dudley, now Earl of Leicester, was a suitable match. To have married would have subjected her to the will of her husband; and her estate would have passed to him.

William Cecil, her chief minister and spymaster, wrote her a long letter in which he detailed the detrimental effect on her kingdom of such a marriage. History does not record her immediate reaction. Dudley, recognising that he might never win her hand, married Amy Robsart in 1549, keeping her away from court to protect her from the Queen.

Privately, though, Dudley and Elizabeth remained bound to each other by their early experiences, and his marriage did not diminish the time they spent together; though Elizabeth, above anyone, knew the political dangers of wrong relationships. There is no proof they were ever lovers. Perhaps it is better to grant them this: that they had a pact to love each other, but not to let their bodies share this. Were this to be true, we can imagine the agonies that both endured, and, perhaps the resolve with which she cultivated her personal myth – that she was married to England, and would thus remain a Virgin Queen.

The possibility of a deeper relationship between Elizabeth and Dudley was quashed in 1560, when Dudley’s wife, having dismissed her servants to attend a local fair, was found dead at the foot of a staircase, her neck broken. It could have been an accident, or possibly suicide, but it is unlikely to have been intervention by Dudley or Elizabeth, who both suffered damage and ridicule at home and abroad because of it. In a cruel act of fate, Amy’s death ensured that they could never marry and that they were now forced to spend less time together, though ‘less’ was relative. They devised a secret code for themselves, using the notation ‘ôô’ to indicate the nickname that Elizabeth had given him – ‘Eyes’. Even at this stage of their relationship, the Queen kept Dudley’s letters – and his portrait, in miniature – in a locked desk within her bedroom. By any measure, this was a love story to compete with the best…

As the public memories of his wife’s death faded, he made one last attempt to gain Elizabeth’s hand in marriage; staging a magnificent festival of pageantry at one of his finest homes – Kenilworth Castle. But Elizabeth refused to be swayed. Dudley was a passionate man, and, seeing that he was going nowhere with his official advances, began a relationship the one of the Queen’s ladies-in-waiting, Lettice Knollys, reputedly one of the best-looking women at court. Dangerously, she was also the great-niece of Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth’s mother, and therefore of royal blood… and the Queen’s cousin!

Dudley continued the relationship for three years before finding that Lettice was pregnant–and insisting that she be made an honest woman for her troubles. They married, in secret, in 1578. When the Queen learned of the ‘betrayal’ of her favourite she physically assaulted his new wife and banished her from court. Dudley was eventually forgiven but the essence of their relationship had changed.

Distance prevailed for a while after that, but, in the final years of Dudley’s life, their lives interlocked, again. The execution of Mary Queen of Scots devastated Elizabeth, even though the imprisoned Scottish Queen had been plotting to overthrow her rival. For a queen to execute another queen must have triggered the deepest responses in Elizabeth, not to mention setting a deadly precedent.

In a supposed fury, she raged at William Cecil, her life-long first minister and spymaster. He and Sir Francis Walsingham had, indeed, engineered Mary’s death, but Elizabeth had been far from a victim of circumstance in this execution. Cecil was removed as first minister and banished from courtly life, although there is a possibility that she presented him with the ‘deal’ that his son, Robert Cecil, would inherit his position. William Cecil. First Baron Burghley, was advanced in years and probably recognised that the arrangement was the best that could happen.

Bereft of Cecil’s presence, Elizabeth turned, again, to Dudley. He was by her side through the horror of the Spanish Armada and corresponding planned invasion from France, despite being ill. As she delivered her famous speed at Tilbury, he walked beside her horse as the troops were rallied, while she spoke those most famous words, “I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England, too.”

Dudley died, shortly after, on 4th September, 1588 at his home in Rycote in Oxfordshire. He wrote to his queen one last time before dying. She kept the letter in a locked box by her bed. The fabled Queen of England, victorious against the might of the Spanish empire was, finally, alone…

 How does all this relate to our mystical workshop in April 2018, The Jewel in the Claw?

 

In our story, when the company arrives at NonSuch palace, they are shown into a newly-prepared room, one in which a deadly search for the truths of the age will be played out on many levels: intellectual, emotional, religious and magical. Outside of the Queen’s own mind, no-one else in the room is aware of what is to follow.

What confronts the participants in the centre of the space is a huge game board consisting of black and white squares…

SE18 Core temple heart alone

Each  side of the board has its own symbolism and its own champion. In our five-act magical drama, Dudley is selected by the Queen to be one of her key players. He finds that he knows many of the others present – and has been an artistic sponsor of others, such as the poet Edmund Spenser, the writer of the Faerie Queen – based on Elizabeth, herself, and newly published. What does his Queen want him to do in this complex maze of relationships and potential confrontations? The answer may tax him more than anything she has ever asked…

The Silent Eye’s spring workshop, April 2018 is: “The Jewel in the Claw’. The jewel is the emerging spirit of tolerance that Elizabeth, the self-styled virgin-queen, engendered; the claw is the nature of the forces of ignorance that still plague us in the twenty-first century every bit as much as they did in 1588, the year that the mighty Spanish Armada was defeated by a combination of English naval courage and our equally fabled weather; and Elizabeth I finally achieved a degree of security.

Jewel in Claw October MasterAA

The Silent Eye has produced dramatic mystical workshops since its inception in 2013, but this is a break from tradition, and will stick closely to the formula of an actual Elizabethan production, letting the acts of the play tell the deeper story. There is no formal audience, of course. We, the players, play to each other, and in doing so invoke the desired depth of psychological and spiritual interaction.

If you’ve never been to such an event before, don’t be over-faced by this heady agenda. There are always new people joining us, and we take great care to ensure they are comfortable. We do not expect our ‘actors’ to learn their lines! We all read from scripts – as though doing a final rehearsal, but the atmosphere is truly electric and you will find yourself working to bring your character to the greatest life you can give them! You will also find they stay with you for years afterwards…

Above all else it is always fun; and every year, come the Sunday farewell lunch, those attending do not want to go home and end that living link with a body of experience and aspiration that they have helped create…

We can honestly say that the workshops become a living thing, formed and sustained in the minds and hearts of those attending. Come and join our ‘merry band’ and you’ll want to come back.

Places are still available for ‘The Jewel in the Claw’. 20-22 April, 2018. The average price is approximately £250, fully inclusive of all meals and accommodation. You will struggle to find a better value weekend, anywhere.

The weekend workshop will be held at the lovely Nightingale Centre, Great Hucklow, near Buxton, in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales at a wonderful time of year – the spring.

You can download the pricing and booking form here:

SE18 Booking form aloneAA.

Other posts in this series cover:

John DeeSir Walter RaleighSir Philip Sidney

Queen Elizabeth I,

For more information email us on rivingtide@gmail.com

Image: Composite of original artwork by the author plus a portrait of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, courtesy of  Wikipedia, CC by 3.0, Public Domain.

Stephen Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people find the reality and essence of their existence via low-cost supervised correspondence courses.

His personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com

©️Stephen Tanham.

 

The Deadly Edge of Love (part 1)

Robert Dudley Earl LeicesterFullAA

They were both young, though he was a year older; beyond childhood but not yet adults, not in the way that their lives would soon force them to be…

They had been together since their early years, and what they were experiencing now, would, on an emotional level at least, bind them together for life. How much more frightened could you be than to be locked up in the place from which your mother was led to her execution? In the darkness, she tells him that she will never marry–should they survive. It is a sentiment and an intent shared with one she feels deeply for; and it will carve a signature of longing throughout his illustrious life.

They will never marry, though he will try to change her mind. They may have been lovers, but the risks to her kingdom of England and Ireland would have been grave. Better, I think, to consider them as lovers of the heart, as two intense and intelligent people who had to come to terms with an England and Ireland changing faster than anyone could have imagined…

Robert Dudley, the future Earl of Leicester, and Elizabeth Tudor, the future Queen of England, were prisoners in the Tower of London. It’s 1554, and England was about to change, forever.

It is as though they were meant to be close. They had been tutored, together, by one of England’s best minds – Roger Ascham – at the original Hatfield house – one of Henry VIII’s many homes. In Tudor times, women were not allowed to enter university. Robert Dudley, son of the Duke of Northumberland, may have been there to lend companionship to the second royal daughter, who was unlikely to ascend to the throne, given that her brother, Edward VI, King Henry’s son and heir, was shortly to be crowned.

Edward died in 1553, age sixteen, after just six years as regent. He never reached his majority. Because of his age, a Regency Council had been established to guide his steps. Despite his short reign, Edward was able to further the cause of Protestantism in England, becoming even more determined than his father, and without the latter’s ulterior motives.

The second head of that Regency Council was Robert Dudley’s father, John Dudley, who was then Duke of Northumberland, tasked with controlling unrest north of the border. John Dudley was a formidable military man and defended England well during the reign of both Henry and Edward. He had also recognised the future importance of the navy, leading to the establishment of the Naval Dockyard at Chatham. John Dudley used his unequalled power to entrap the Duke of Norfolk – a strong Catholic supporter. In 1551, The Duke of Norfolk (Edward Seymour) was executed for conspiracy.

John Dudley, Robert’s father, was now unchallenged in his power and had the ear of the monarch. But the young King Edward’s health was faltering. John Dudley had to act to prevent the return of Catholic political power – in the form of Princess Mary.

He did this, in 1553, by persuading the young king to sign a document excluding both Mary (Catherine of Aragon’s daughter by Henry) and Elizabeth (Anne Boleyn’s daughter) from inheriting the throne, on the basis of their ‘illegitimacy’. The throne was to go to Lady Jane Grey, conveniently newly married to Guildford Dudley, fourth son of John Dudley.

The political complexity of the times meant that Robert Dudley and Elizabeth’s fates were intertwined in so many ways. But, whereas Elizabeth would leave the Tower to be exiled to the comfort of one of the royal homes in Hertfordshire, Robert Dudley was to leave to a much more uncertain fate.

John Dudley’s attempt to control England floundered. He never had the ‘common touch’ and Princess Mary fled to East Anglia – where John Dudley was very unpopular. His son, Robert, was pressed by his father to take King’s Lynn and proclaim Lady Jane Grey as Queen; but by then, despite John Dudley suppressing the news of King Edward’s death for three days, the public had rallied around Henry’s eldest daughter and John Dudley was arrested and executed for treason, leaving Elizabeth and Robert Dudley at the mercy of the new queen.

Both survived the Tower. Robert Dudley fought for Mary’s forces (and for Catholic Spain) against the French and was restored to courtly favour, though the Northumberland estate was decimated. By then, new forces, orchestrated by the likes of William Cecil were taking every opportunity to re-establish Protestant England. After Mary reinstated Rome’s ecclesiastical authority over England in 1554, her popularity plummeted. The following four years earned her the nickname of ‘Bloody Mary’, as scores of Protestant leaders were persecuted; but, in fairness, that was no different from the life of Catholics under Edward. In July 1554, Mary married Charles II of Spain, and England looked set for a Catholic future.

England’s prosperity was ailing. Her ships could no longer plunder the Spanish treasure ships, and Charles II was constantly away on his military campaigns abroad – on behalf of Spain, not England and Ireland. Aware of her failing health, and the failure of her marriage to the power of Spain, Mary reinstated Elizabeth as one of her last acts.

Queen Mary I died in November, 1558, in the Palace of Saint James. She was forty-two years old.

Elizabeth inherited the crown and was then free to take up her relationship with Robert Dudley, who had been her companion in those darkest of days.

How does all this relate to our mystical workshop in April 2018, The Jewel in the Claw?

In our story, when the company arrives at NonSuch palace, they are shown into a newly-prepared room, one in which a deadly search for the truths of the age will be played out on many levels: intellectual, emotional, religious and magical. Outside of the Queen’s own mind, no-one else in the room is aware of what is to follow.

What confronts the participants in the centre of the space is a huge game board consisting of black and white squares…

SE18 Core temple heart alone

Each  side of the board has its own symbolism and its own champion. In our five-act magical drama, Dudley is selected by the Queen to be one of her key players. He finds that he knows many of the others present – and has been an artistic sponsor of others, such as the poet Edmund Spenser, the writer of the Faerie Queen – based on Elizabeth, herself, and newly published. What does his Queen want him to do in this complex maze of relationships and potential confrontations? The answer may tax him more than anything she has ever asked…

The Silent Eye’s spring workshop, April 2018 is: ‘The Jewel in the Claw’. The jewel is the emerging spirit of tolerance that Elizabeth, the self-styled virgin-queen, engendered; the claw is the nature of the forces of ignorance that still plague us in the twenty-first century every bit as much as they did in 1588–the year that the mighty Spanish Armada was defeated by a combination of English naval courage and our equally fabled weather; and Elizabeth I finally achieved a degree of security.

Jewel in Claw October MasterAA

The Silent Eye has produced dramatic mystical workshops since its inception in 2013, but this is a break from tradition, and will stick closely to the formula of an actual Elizabethan production, letting the acts of the play tell the deeper story. There is no formal audience, of course. We, the players, play to each other, and in doing so invoke the desired depth of psychological and spiritual interaction.

If you’ve never been to such an event before, don’t be over-faced by this heady agenda. There are always new people joining us, and we take great care to ensure they are comfortable. We do not expect our ‘actors’ to learn their lines! We all read from scripts – as though doing a final rehearsal, but the atmosphere is truly electric and you will find yourself working to bring your character to the greatest life you can give them! You will also find they stay with you for years afterwards…

Above all else it is always fun; and every year, come the Sunday farewell lunch, those attending do not want to go home and end that living link with a body of experience and aspiration that they have helped create…

We can honestly say that the workshops become a living thing, formed and sustained in the minds and hearts of those attending. Come and join our ‘merry band’ and you’ll want to come back.

Places are still available for ‘The Jewel in the Claw’. 20-22 April, 2018. The average price is approximately £250, fully inclusive of all meals and accommodation. You will struggle to find a better value weekend, anywhere.

The weekend workshop will be held at the lovely Nightingale Centre, Great Hucklow, near Buxton, in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales at a wonderful time of year – the spring.

You can download the pricing and booking form here:

SE18 Booking form aloneAA.

(End Part One. The story of Elizabeth and Robert Dudley will be continued in part two)

Other posts in this series cover:

John DeeSir Walter RaleighSir Philip Sidney

Queen Elizabeth I, 

For more information email us on rivingtide@gmail.com

Image: Composite of original artwork by the author plus a portrait of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, courtesy of  Wikipedia, CC by 3.0, Public Domain.

Stephen Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people find the reality and essence of their existence via low-cost supervised correspondence courses.

His personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com

©️Stephen Tanham.

 

An Arthur for Elizabeth?

Sir Philip Sidney composite Oct17
(Image: Sir Philip Sidney, Queen’s Champion. Original work – Author. Figure of Sir Philip Sidney from Wikipedia CC by Public Domain)

Philip Sidney was born, in 1554, into prosperity and with connections. He was the eldest son of Sir Henry Sidney and Lady Mary Dudley – making him a relative of the 1st Duke of Northumberland and the 1st Earl of Leicester, Robert Dudley.

He was educated at Shrewsbury School and Christ Church, Oxford.

If there was a man at Elizabeth’s court who epitomised the qualities of chivalry and courtly behaviour which were prized in the medieval foundations of that age, it was Sir Philip Sidney. In a life that was to end prematurely, he accomplished much, including distinction in the roles of solider, statesman and spy.

He rose to become a favourite of Queen Elizabeth, who made him her Champion of the Lists; otherwise known as jousting, which had been kept alive by Elizabeth’s father, Henry VIII, but was largely ceremonial in nature, in an age where guns were taking over the rituals of war. It was, though, a considerable honour and showed the depth of affection in which he was held by the queen.

His life ended prematurely at the age of thirty-two when he was wounded in a skirmish with a group of Spanish soldiers in Zutphen, the Netherlands. Ironically, he shouldn’t have been there. He had been planning, covertly, to join Sir Francis Drake on one of his expeditions, but his intentions were royally uncovered. Elizabeth was reluctant to let him travel too far – a treatment shared with Sir Walter Raleigh – and, instead, had him sent to fight the Spanish forces intent on crushing Flemish Protestantism. It is a twist of fate that, had he sailed with Drake, he would likely have been safe, whereas, obeying the queen, he died of gangrene from an infected thigh wound

Elizabeth I’s England had lost one of its favourite sons. His funeral was a huge event and nearly bankrupted his father in law, Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth’s spymaster.

It has been received wisdom that the Elizabethan age was built, entirely, on medieval foundations. But recent studies of the breadth and influence of the early sciences of the era are leading to a different view. The Elizabethan age is increasingly seen as one of new endeavours in all fields, and this included the contrasting side of Sir Philip Sidney’s life – that of poet, critic, and nurturer of the poetic arts.

Shakespeare did not know Sidney, but he built on his written forms – which, themselves, perpetuated the techniques of his Italian idol, Petrach. Sidney formed the poetic bridge between ancient writings and the expanding world of Elizabeth’s England, a world that perfected its art in Shakespeare’s sonnets – written, of course, in English.

Even less well-known is the historical fact that Philip Sidney trained in what we would now call ‘magic’ under Dr John Dee, the Queen’s mathematician, astrologer, and later, alchemist. In so doing , he became a member of a secretive circle of enquirers into the esoteric, centred on his uncle, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who had the closest romantic ties to Elizabeth for most of their often-shared lives.

In 1583 Sidney made a visit to Oxford University with the celebrated Italian esotericist Giordano Bruno, who was so impressed, he subsequently dedicated two books to him. Bruno was an arrogant man, though a brilliant philosopher. His endorsement and philosophical extensions to Copernicus’ sun-centric cosmology was soon to lead to his imprisonment, torture and eventual death at the hands of the Vatican inquisitors.

To be seen openly with him anywhere other than England would have marked Sidney for the special attention from the papist forces. The Pope had already excommunicated Queen Elizabeth in 1570.

Poetically, Sir Philip Sidney was the English inheritor of a great tradition.

There are some ideas which are of their time and take root, having a rippling effect for centuries beyond, before they pass into folklore, where they simmer, like the memory of a lost and beloved friend, just below the common consciousness.

The ideals of Courtly Love were one such example. The origin of Courtly Love was attributed to Eleanor of Aquitaine whose cultural influence on both France and England  was considerable. She married Henry II and, after their separation, Louis VII. Her court at Poitiers in south-west France was said to been centred on an actual Court of Love in which matters of the heart were given final judgments.

Courtly Love was born in the ages of the Troubadours – those mysterious balladeer poets of knightly class who wandered through European society in the 12th and 13th centuries, singing and/or reciting tales of courtly love and noble purpose. They were, undoubtedly, mystical teachers.

Chretien de Troyes was himself a trouvère (a troubadour equivalent from the north of France) and assembled and deepened what became the Arthurian mythos. His work influenced writers, not to mention mystics, for centuries afterwards.

Poetically, Sir Philip Sidney was directly in this line of received wisdom and culture. He lamented the dearth of good poets in England and did all he could to foster their development. He was a friend of Edward Spenser (as was Raleigh) and Christopher Marlowe.

We can speculate on his history but nothing reveals the soul of a person like their own writings.  Here is a link to sonnet 63 from Sidney’s work: Astrophil and Stella, quoted from the excellent Poetry Foundation.

O Grammar rules, O now your virtues show;
So children still read you with awful eyes,
As my young Dove may in your precepts wise
Her grant to me, by her own virtue know.
For late with heart most high, with eyes most low,
I crav’d the thing which ever she denies:
She lightning Love, displaying Venus’ skies,
Least once should not be heard, twice said, No, No.
Sing then my Muse, now Io Pæan sing,
Heav’ns envy not at my high triumphing:
But Grammar’s force with sweet success confirm,
For Grammar says (O this dear Stella weigh,)
For Grammar says (to Grammar who says nay)
That in one speech two Negatives affirm.

How does all this relate to our mystical workshop in April 2018, The Jewel in the Claw?

In our story, when the company arrives at NonSuch palace, they are shown into a newly-prepared room, one in which a deadly search for the truths of the age will be played out on many levels: intellectual, emotional, religious and magical. Outside of the Queen’s own mind, no-one else in the room is aware of what is to follow.

What confronts the participants in the centre of the space is a huge game board consisting of black and white squares…

SE18 Core temple heart alone

Each  side of the board has its own symbolism and its own champion. In our five-act magical drama, Sidney is selected by the Queen to be one of her Champions. To do this, he must represent the house of Magic, a role to which hints that the queen knows more about his activities than he thinks. But he quickly learns that he may be the only one in the room capable of defending Dr John Dee, now facing his doom as the royal plan unfolds…

At the start of the game, the Queen asks them all to help her answer a single question, revealed only when she begins speaking. The purpose of the Questioning at NonSuch, as these few days will come to be called, is to provide the answer, no matter how demanding the process…

The Silent Eye’s spring workshop, April 2018 is: “The Jewel in the Claw’. The jewel is the emerging spirit of tolerance that Elizabeth, the self-styled virgin-queen, engendered; the claw is the nature of the forces of ignorance that still plague us in the twenty-first century every bit as much as they did in 1588, the year that the mighty Spanish Armada was defeated by a combination of English naval courage and our equally fabled weather; and Elizabeth I finally achieved a degree of security.

Jewel in Claw October MasterAA

The Silent Eye has produced dramatic mystical workshops since its inception in 2013, but this is a break from tradition, and will stick closely to the formula of an actual Elizabethan production, letting the acts of the play tell the deeper story. There is no formal audience, of course. We, the players, play to each other, and in doing so invoke the desired depth of psychological and spiritual interaction.

If you’ve never been to such an event before, don’t be over-faced by this heady agenda. There are always new people joining us, and we take great care to ensure they are comfortable. We do not expect our ‘actors’ to learn their lines! We all read from scripts – as though doing a final rehearsal, but the atmosphere is truly electric and you will find yourself working to bring your character to the greatest life you can give them! You will also find they stay with you for years afterwards…

Above all else it is always fun; and every year, come the Sunday farewell lunch, those attending do not want to go home and end that living link with a body of experience and aspiration that they have helped create…

We can honestly say that the workshops become a living thing, formed and sustained in the minds and hearts of those attending. Come and join our ‘merry band’ and you’ll want to come back.

Places are still available for ‘The Jewel in the Claw’. 20-22 April, 2018. The average price is approximately £250, fully inclusive of all meals and accommodation. You will struggle to find a better value weekend, anywhere.

The weekend workshop will be held at the lovely Nightingale Centre, Great Hucklow, near Buxton, in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales at a wonderful time of year – the spring.

You can download the pricing and booking form here:

SE18 Booking form aloneAA.

For more information email us on rivingtide@gmail.com

Image: Composite of original artwork by the author plus a portrait of Sir Philip Sidney courtesy of  Wikipedia, CC by 3.0, Public Domain.

Stephen Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people find the reality and essence of their existence via low-cost supervised correspondence courses.

His personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com

©️Stephen Tanham.<<<<<
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The Adventurer’s Hidden Magic

“Strike man, strike!”

Those were the last words of Sir Walter Raleigh, spoken to an executioner who was taking his time, at the end of one of the most colourful lives of the whole Elizabethan era. The attitude–not of defiance, but of expediency–typified this adventurer’s life.

Raleigh had charmed Elizabeth I, but failed to do so with her successor, James I of England, who inherited the throne on the death of the childless ‘Virgin Queen’ in 1603. Despite the religious horrors of her early years, Elizabeth was pragmatic about religion, and actively sought to calm the religious stresses that the ‘bloody reign’ of her half-sister, Queen Mary I, had unleashed.

Raleigh was born into a strongly Protestant and well-connected family in Devon. Their lives had been blighted by religious persecution, and the aspiring Raleigh fitted Elizabeth’s cause well. As a young soldier of seventeen, he began a three year period of fighting for the Hugenots in France, an apprenticeship that was to fashion his outer persona as a handsome, gallant and efficient soldier.

An early academic start at Oxford University was cut short, and he never finished his degree. Instead, he later studied at the Inns of Court in London, though, at the end of his life, he denied he had ever studied law. He had become an accomplished soldier, and rose to fame as part of Elizabeth’s force in Ireland, which was tasked with putting down the frequent rebellions, which were stirred from afar. The Pope had sanctioned a series of incursions into southern Ireland, with the intention of supporting its Catholic traditions, and creating insurrection against England.

Raleigh served as a junior officer in the infamous Siege of Smerwick on the tip of the Dingle peninsula. Hundreds of Spanish and Italian soldiers had been landed there by boat and had prepared a hasty fortification using the ruins of a stone-age settlement. The English forces were soon on the scene. Messengers, sent earlier by the English, had been massacred and hung up, as trophies. Lord Grey, Elizabeth’s Deputy of Ireland, surrounded the invaders and began the Siege of Smerwick, which led to the brutal massacre of the six hundred invaders.

It is likely that, while serving under Lord Grey, Raleigh met Edmund Spenser–soon to be one of the most famous of the Elizabethan poets. Spenser was serving as military secretary to Lord Grey. His most famous poem, The Faerie Queen, was later presented at Court to Elizabeth, to whom it was dedicated. Raleigh, by then elevated in rank and rich in confiscated Irish estates given to him by the Queen, is likely to have been one of the sponsors of this introduction, since the two were neighbours in Munster.

Raleigh was a dazzling courtier, and renowned for his sparkling wit and quick-mindedness. Elizabeth was twenty-four years his senior, and, though no-one’s fool, she enjoyed his attentions and his intelligence. Once within the royal arc, Raleigh rose rapidly in her favour, and was knighted in 1585 at the age of thirty-one.

In 1591, in what the Queen was to see as an act of betrayal, Raleigh secretly married one of her ladies-in-waiting, Elizabeth ‘Bess’ Throckmorton. She was pregnant with their child at the time, though the child died of plague in 1592. Bess returned to her duties with the Queen, who soon discovered what had happened. In her fury, the Queen had both Raleigh and Bess imprisoned in the Tower of London.

But Elizabeth needed his expeditionary expertise and released him to oversee an attack on the Spanish coast. The fleet was recalled at the last minute, but Raleigh had already captured a rich merchant ship, the Madre de Deus, sailing off the Azores. On his return, Elizabeth sent him back to the tower to remind him of her authority over his life. She released him shortly afterwards and allowed him to become a member of Parliament, where he soon established a reputation as an eloquent speaker on religious and naval matters. Bess had also been forgiven and resumed her duties at the Queen’s side.

For the rest of their lives, Raleigh and his wife remained devoted to each other. They had two more sons. Elizabeth died in 1603. Raleigh did not get on with the more cautious James I, who was fervent and dogmatic in his religious beliefs and suspicious that the Queen’s former favourite was one of a new breed of ‘free-thinkers’, more allied to the world of knowledge than of God. Elizabeth had been keen to stay abreast of the emerging fields of what we would now call natural sciences, particularly where she could see advantage for her England. But James was more superstitious and frightened of anything that bordered on what he saw as magic, having been persecuted, he believed, by witches in Scotland. Raleigh, along with Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, was a founder of a mysterious organisation known as The School of the Night… Under James, this was asking for trouble.

How does all this relate to our mystical workshop in April 2018?

In our story, when the company arrives at NonSuch palace, they are shown into a newly-prepared room, one in which a deadly search for the truths of the age will be played out on many levels: intellectual, emotional, religious and magical. Outside of the Queen’s own mind, no-one else in the room is aware of what is to follow.

What confronts the participants in the centre of the space is a huge game board consisting of black and white squares…

SE18 Core temple heart alone

Each  side of the board has its own symbolism and its own champion. In our five-act magical drama, Raleigh is selected by the Queen to be one of her Champions. To do this, he must represent the house of Adventure, a role to which he agrees he is suited. But only the Queen and one of her advisors knows the full pattern of the relationships which will unfold as each character shows their strengths… and their vulnerabilites.

At the start of the game, the Queen asks them all to help her answer a single question, revealed only when she begins speaking. The purpose of the Questioning at NonSuch, as these few days will come to be called, is to provide the answer, no matter how demanding the process…

We can speculate on his history but nothing reveals the soul of a person like their own writings. Raleigh’s life had many facets, including being a father, soldier, statesman, spy. philosopher and poet. The severity of his early life gave him little time for the fanciful. He loved poetry from an early age and was considered one of the finest poets of the day.

By way of an example, Christopher Marlowe, the Elizabethan playwright who was a contemporary of Shakespeare, was ten years younger than Raleigh. Raleigh considered Marlowe’s famous poem ‘The Passionate Shepherd’ to be hopelessly romantic and ungrounded. Below is a comparison of Raleigh’s notorious response to the original – The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd.

There is much to learn about the man from the subtleties in the verses, matched, here, to the original.

 

Marlowe vs RaleighThe Silent Eye’s spring workshop 2018 is: “The Jewel in the Claw’. The jewel is the emerging spirit of tolerance that Elizabeth, the self-styled virgin-queen, engendered; the claw is the nature of the forces of ignorance that still plague us in the twenty-first century every bit as much as they did in 1588, the year that the mighty Spanish Armada was defeated by a combination of English naval courage and our equally fabled weather; and Elizabeth I finally achieved a degree of security.

The Silent Eye has produced dramatic mystical workshops since its inception in 2013, but this is a break from tradition, and will stick closely to the formula of an actual Elizabethan production, letting the acts of the play tell the deeper story. There is no formal audience, of course. We, the players, play to each other, and in doing so invoke the desired depth of psychological and spiritual interaction.

If you’ve never been to such an event before, don’t be over-faced by this heady agenda. There are always new people joining us, and we take great care to ensure they are comfortable. We do not expect our ‘actors’ to learn their lines! We all read from scripts – as though doing a final rehearsal, but the atmosphere is truly electric and you will find yourself working to bring your character to the greatest life you can give them! You will also find they stay with you for years afterwards…

Above all else it is always fun; and every year, come the Sunday farewell lunch, those attending do not want to go home and end that living link with a body of experience and aspiration that they have helped create…

We can honestly say that the workshops become a living thing, formed and sustained in the minds and hearts of those attending. Come and join our ‘merry band’ and you’ll want to come back.

Places are still available for ‘The Jewel in the Claw’. 20-22 April, 2018. The average price is approximately £250, fully inclusive of all meals and accommodation. You will struggle to find a better value weekend, anywhere.

The weekend workshop will be held at the lovely Nightingale Centre, Great Hucklow, near Buxton, in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales at a wonderful time of year – the spring.

You can download the pricing and booking form here:

SE18 Booking form aloneAA.

Image: Composite of original artwork by the author plus a portrait of Sir Walter Raleigh courtesy of  Wikipedia, CC by 3.0, Public Domain.

Stephen Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people find the reality and essence of their existence via low-cost supervised correspondence courses.

His personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com

©️Stephen Tanham.

Magical Man at the Dawn of Science

The Elizabethan age considered itself scientific, indeed the word ‘science’ was used to mean ‘knowledge’. The so called Age of Reason was a much later term applied by historians of science to broad-brush the slow ascent of experimental-based knowledge. What we now call science originated from the attempts to separate the observer from the method of experiment; a method that would employ only the intellectual functions to arrive at a repeatable conclusion, backed up by numbers – the mathematics of quantity.

In so doing, the kind of knowledge that became ‘science’ cut itself off from any intimacy, religious or otherwise, that mankind had felt towards the cosmos – his home – for thousands of years. It is said that the average Elizabethan farmworker would have known the heavens much more intimately than most of us do, today. For them, it was life and death, planting and reaping – and a warning of things to come, like the winter. Occasionally, it also contained dark portents…

A clear night sky was a boon, and immediately synchronised them with their year; a cycle that fed them, if they were lucky. We can imagine the relationship with such a sky. It would be a constant living book, in which was written their own life-story as well as that of all life on Earth.

Perhaps the loss of this intimate relationship was a necessary step. Man turned inwards and began to calculate, rather than see. Intimate vision gave way to accuracy – but only within the mind–self-referentially. Emotions, valued in the artist, were not considered useful in the men of science, who, by a nineteenth century built on the foundations of the Elizabethans, were beginning to create a psychological ‘truth’ for mankind that required only the authentication of numbers, having ‘achieved’ a separation from the essential ‘quality’ of something. Qualities could only be experienced; they were not susceptible to numbers, and therefore suspect and unreliable. The idea of ‘humanness’ was to be, quite literally, taken out of the equation. In their eyes, what watched an experiment was not the observer, it was the ‘truth’.

The result of this has been a loss of wholeness in our numerically-dominated lives. The Church began to lose its grip as absolute arbiter of truth. Many would say this was no bad thing; that much abuse of position masqueraded as divine authority.

The Elizabethan age, like the Medieval period before it, was founded on qualities, and the undisputed authority was the Church. Henry VIII’s  schism with Rome did not diminish the Church’s authority, it just replaced Rome with something centred in England, freeing up the wealth of the plundered monasteries for the royal purse in the process.

After a period of intense psychological trauma, including being incarcerated in the Tower of London, the young Elizabeth I inherited this world. She found herself at an unchosen crossroads in the story of England (and Ireland). Women, even potential queens, were not allowed to go to university, but, in a gift to her life to come, she had been tutored at home by the best the age could offer. She was said to be able to correct the Greek of the country’s best scholars…

Hers was one of the best minds of the age, and she sought after truth where it would further her constantly precarious existence. This search, though, had its boundaries. There was a world view that the age adhered to rigidly. This natural order was predicated on Biblical dogma, backed up by a tapestry of cosmology, mathematics and logic that had dominated thought for an astonishing fourteen hundred years.

The highest degree of study was Theology, which been passed down from its (known) origins in the work of Pythagoras, via Plato, then Aristotle; and widened into a God-centric cosmology by Ptolemy. The universities (all religious in nature) had this at their teaching core, and Aristotle was their unchallenged authority. It was the core of the advanced mind, and everything else derived from its foundations.

Strangely, magic was rife in Elizabethan times, and was not seen as threat as long as it did not challenge the consensus. A belief in the physical existence of angels came from the Bible, so the supernatural was implicit. Magicians were those who could navigate the frontiers of knowledge – ‘science’, and forge extensions to it for the common good. Alchemists were of this ilk and much respected as the chemists of their day, though they operated in a way that we would now view as magical. Their approach to such lore was an intimate one. They knew that their own ‘inner worth’ was as much to do with a successful outcome of a process as the rules of engagement with the secrets of nature.

Dr John Dee was such a man. His life was self-documented in his (often very personal) diaries. He was the Queen’s astrologer, in an age when the profound connection between the heavens and life on Earth was an self-evident fact. Each person was born with a certain configuration of the heavens above them. This imprinted their character for life, though personal evolution was part of the picture, too. A later Alchemical reference painted the process of birth as a journey in which ‘the heavenly wanderers kissed the soul on its descent into incarnation’. A very beautiful concept…

The heavenly wanderers were the seven planets visible to the naked eye: Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Within the Aristotlean world-view, they were organised into concentric crystal spheres which rotated around the Earth – exactly what the heavens appear to do. Saturn was the farthest. The Earth had been placed, immobile, by God, at the centre of these crystal spheres and was the recipient of all their influences in its ‘sub-lunar’ centrality.

Everyone had their place – it may have been a humble one, but it was inclusive…

The telescope didn’t arrive until the early 1600s, the time of Galileo, who did not invent it, but was the first to point it at the sky and make serious astronomical observations – including the discovery of the Milky Way, sunspots and Jupiter’s moons. For most of the Elizabethan age, the naked eye, back up by a calibrated cross, was the only way to study the heavens. Even with this limitation, Kepler had shown how disciplined observation could be revolutionary, as the disciplined observers began to question the Earth position at the centre of a religious universe.

Although the ancient Greeks had postulated the idea of a solar-centric universe, the idea had not gained ground in the face of the continual refinement of the Ptolemaic world view, which required complex ‘epicycles’ to explain such things as the planets’ periodic retrograde motion – a time when their path against the map of the heavens appeared to reverse.

All this was about to change…

Nicolaus Copernicus published two works, beginning in 1517, which challenged this worldview, establishing the Sun as the centre and (to pacify his critics) throne of the planets. With the later work, De Revolutionibus (1543), which was not published until after his death, the seeds were sown for a revolution in the astronomical, and eventually, theological order. It would take a further century for this to unravel, confirmed by Galileo’s telescopes, which rendered the new model self-evident, but the literal earthquake had begun. Such theories made little difference to day-to-day life, but the appearance in the sky of several major comets and eclipses did. People began to wonder if their world was well and truly changing. The puritans welcomed this, believing that the Apocalypse was approaching…

Queen Elizabeth I could choose, to an extent, how she reacted to these changes in the natural order. She was not only well-educated but surrounded by wise and learned advisors – including Dr John Dee, her astrologer, mapmaker, mathematician and, later, alchemist. William Shakespeare, born thirty-one years after his queen, came into a world where the new view of the natural order was already rocking the established worldview – the words ‘Breaking Glass were a popular sentiment – and its religions. Leading thinkers were also beginning to question the fundamentals of mankind’s character, and to wonder to what degree a person could take responsibility for their own evolution. This did not reduce God’s involvement in their lives, but it did increase their own responsibilities. Such thoughts could border on the revolutionary, and Shakespeare’s characters trod a fine line on his stage:

“Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

Shakespeare: Julius Caesar

Copernicus’ findings had done something else; something that changed the way the average man would come to consider their own lives – No longer fixed at the centre of the divine crystal spheres, he had set the Earth in motion…

 

Can we, in a weekend, ‘become’ Elizabethans? Can we live a microcosm of their world, with its intense politics, set against this backdrop of changes in the natural order. Our story is told in retrospect, through the eyes of the dying Shakespeare. Looking back, he can tell a very different tale of the threats to the existence of his now departed Queen….

This is our task for the Silent Eye’s spring workshop 2018: “The Jewel in the Claw’. The jewel is the emerging spirit of tolerance that Elizabeth, the self-styled virgin-queen, engendered; the claw is the nature of the forces of ignorance that still plague us in the twenty-first century every bit as much as they did in 1588, the year that the mighty Spanish Armada was defeated by a combination of English naval courage and our equally fabled weather; and Elizabeth I finally achieved a degree of security.

The Silent Eye has produced dramatic mystical workshops since its inception in 2013, but this is a break from tradition, and will stick closely to the formula of an actual Elizabethan production, letting the acts of the play tell the deeper story. There is no formal audience, of course. We, the players, play to each other, and in doing so invoke the desired depth of psychological and spiritual interaction.

If you’ve never been to such an event before, don’t be over-faced by this heady agenda. There are always new people joining us, and we take great care to ensure they are comfortable. We do not expect our ‘actors’ to learn their lines! We all read from scripts – as though doing a final rehearsal, but the atmosphere is truly electric and you will find yourself working to bring your character to the greatest life you can give them! You will also find they stay with you for years afterwards…

Above all else it is always fun; and every year, come the Sunday farewell lunch, those attending do not want to go home and end that living link with a body of experience and aspiration that they have helped create…

We can honestly say that the workshops become a living thing, formed and sustained in the minds and hearts of those attending. Come and join our ‘merry band’ and you’ll want to come back.

Places are still available for ‘The Jewel in the Claw’. 20-22 April, 2018. The average price is approximately £250, fully inclusive of all meals and accommodation. You will struggle to find a better value weekend, anywhere.

The weekend workshop will be held at the lovely Nightingale Centre, Great Hucklow, near Buxton, in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales at a wonderful time of year – the spring.

You can download the pricing and booking form here:

SE18 Booking form aloneAA.

Image: Composite of original artwork by the author plus a portrait of Dr John Dee courtesy of  Wikipedia, CC by 3.0, Public Domain.

Stephen Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people find the reality and essence of their existence via low-cost supervised correspondence courses.

His personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com

©️Stephen Tanham