North-easterly VI: Ringing a pele

There is something about a map, a proper, paper map, that makes a journey personal. We don’t tend to use sat-nav, resorting to such technologies only when cities force us to do so… and we had invested in a brand new map too, the other one having been worn to shreds over the past couple of years. So, instead of following the directions given by the leader of the expedition, we took the winding backroads to get to the last site of the day and arrived there a little while before the others. We killed a little time by snacking on the remains of lunch, then had a wander up the path to wait outside the tower.

Time, though, was getting on. Knowing Steve had been really impressed by this place and worried that it might close before the others arrived and we had chance to see it properly, we decided to go inside. They couldn’t close the place while we were in it, and we would have hated to miss it, so it seemed the best thing to do.

Preston Tower is a pele tower, built between 1392 and 1399 to give the alarm and protect its people when Scotland and England were in an almost constant state of war. It looks like a miniature fortress and that is exactly what it is. Built with walls seven feet thick to withstand attack, a small postern door through which the animals could be brought inside in case of danger, and with tiny windows that could be blocked in case marauders attempted to smoke out those within, it seems almost impregnable.

In later years, the most common problem was caused by the depredations of Border Reivers, the cattle rustlers from across the Border between England and Scotland, whose lands were seldom enough to support their clans as all estates were split on the death of their owner between all the surviving sons. The Reivers had a code of honour, nonetheless, and it was required that they help each other regain their own cattle or answer insult… and any man who refused to do so could be put to death, thus perpetuating the feuds and bloodshed.

Within the tiny entrance to the tower we found another map, this time showing where the Border clans were based, including my companion’s clan on the West March. It may well be that he was the first of his clan to actually get inside the Pele Tower.

The ground floor was reserved for bringing the animals in to safety. But also housed a tiny guard room and a prison cell. We had not, at this point, found the light switch, and the atmosphere in both was that of a condemned cell. The darkness, alleviated only by the merest slit of a window, was oppressive, heavier than darkness should be. The guard room is only slightly larger than the prison cell, and the floor-space is little bigger than a coffin. It feels like one too, even when the lights are on.

We went up to the next floor, climbing a precarious wooden staircase, taking in the two tiny chambers, furnished as a sleeping chamber and living room, after the fashion of six hundred years ago. Above that are other rooms, marked with curious geometric symbols which have been highlighted in yellow and are probably masons’ marks.  Here too is the mechanism for the Victorian clock that was added to the tower, and above it on the roof is the eleven-hundred-pound bell which, when it struck five, was loud enough to wake the dead.

The tower is incomplete, being only half of the original building, but it gives a very complete picture of what life must have been like for those required to retreat within its walls. The conditions are incredibly cramped, daylight almost non-existent and the thickness of the walls effectively cuts off all sound from the outside world. It must, we agreed, have been hellish, but as nothing compared to the absolute hell suffered by those in similar towers when the attack came.

You can imagine the stone cracking as flames that could not breach the walls were kindled to smoke out those trapped inside. You could hear the panic of the animals on the ground floor, adding to the fear and chaos, the crying of children and the sound of battle from the roof. A safe haven? Perhaps… but it could also be a deathly trap.

More than either of the grand castles we had seen, both restored and ruined, this was the perfect illustration of the ego and we could see why Steve had wanted to make it part of the weekend. Our lives are varied… we have roles in many arenas… but at the core of the ego is a strongly fortified haven within which we can survive and into which we retreat when we feel threatened in any way. Like the tower, the very thickness of our own personal walls can protect us from harm, real or perceived, but like the tower, it can be a trap. Any refusal to come out into the world for fear of its dangers will lead to our becoming increasingly isolated from our fellow beings, and if we linger too long within those walls, cut off from the beyond, the light and life within us will surely perish.

We looked out from the rooftop across the trees to the sea. There is a place in our lives for looking inwards, a time to withdraw and contemplate what is real, who we are and what truly matters to us. But freedom lies in stepping beyond the barriers we beset ourselves with and in embracing life in its entirety… even, and perhaps especially, when we fear it.

Far below us, we saw cars drawing up and the faces of our friends laughing up at us. Leaving reverie behind, we rejoined the human race. An evening would follow where the ‘walls’ stayed down and, fuelled by excellent food, a little wine and much talking, peals of laughter followed our visit to the the pele tower. We would share stories, discover coincidences, chat with a complete stranger about the magical community, find the fact that two of our number shared a birthday… and oddest of all, that the gentleman we had met in such strange circumstances in a Cornish fougou five hundred miles away, was a member of a group run by one of our companions for the weekend. Later, three of us holed up with a glass of mead and talked until we were falling asleep… None of which would have happened had we immured ourselves behind our inner walls…

 

Exploring islands and castles – and ourselves ~ G. Michael Vasey

Gary Vasey shares his experience on our recent Walk and Talk weekend in Northumberland:

This time, the Ryanair flight from Brno to Stansted was on time. This time, I arrived at the scheduled time and skipped through immigration without issues. I found my hotel and had an early night after all, it would be a long drive the next morning. After a British breakfast (a treat!), I went for my rental car – now this was a slight issue and I will only say this – do NOT rent from Easirent (difficult and expensive rent is more apt I think). Finally, I left the Stansted area around 10 am – an hour behind schedule but no matter – I was in good spirits.

Now, the drive from Stansted to Seahouses looked doable. Google maps told me 5 hours and if I factored in a couple of breaks, I should arrive on time around 4pm. I forgot about British traffic and more importantly – roadworks – but, I duly arrived at the meeting place just 30 minutes late. Before I even got the hotel door, Sue and Stu emerged to greet me – they had been watching out for me.

This was the third time I had met Sue – a very good friend of the last umpteen years. She and I have been through a few things and used email, telephone and thought messages to help each other. She had even put up with a call during which I managed somehow to consume quite a lot of gin to the point that when I awoke the next morning I did feel quite worse for wear and somewhat embarrassed…. Stu I had met one time before and we had got on like a house on fire. As importantly, it was Sue’s birthday! One important reason why I had made the trip frankly.

Continue reading at The Magical World of G. Michael Vasey

Seeds of Change

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

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

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

‘Essex’ and ‘Bess of Hardwick’

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

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

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

‘Dr Dee’ and ‘Mistress Jane Dee’

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

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

‘Lady Frances Walsingham’ and ‘Sir Francis Drake’

 

Shades of the Golden Age…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The alchemy of joy

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

 

“What have you done with my mother?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solstice of the Moon – When paths converge…

It had been a wonderful day, in spite of the long drive, with the delight of the sparrows on Holy Island and the magnificent stone circle at Duddo as its highlights. By the time we reached the outskirts of Edinburgh, the light was already beginning to fade.

The hotel where we really wanted to stay was full. We couldn’t book in at the second choice either… so I just booked the cheapest available guest house with a beach in the area. Other than a good breakfast, we only needed a brief stopover, so I didn’t really look. It was not until just before leaving that I printed off the booking confirmation and glimpsed the cropped picture that the cogs began to turn.

“I am sure it is that place we tried last time…” We had been unable to find a hotel on our way back from our last Scottish excursion where we didn’t quite make it as far north as we had hoped… and, for some reason, I was sure that this was one of the places we had tried in vain. It had been January, and getting late. My companion pointed out that such a coincidence would be far too random, even for us, and that the tiny sliver of building that was visible on the photo was nowhere near enough to identify anything anyway. But, sure enough, it was… the self-same guest house, the first we had tried that night. This time, however, our booking was assured.

My birthday dinner, in another echo of that previous trip, was fish and chips…but this time, we did it right, eating them from the paper on the seafront, watching a sunset and watched by a hopeful seagull. Next morning, we had the car packed with time for a walk on the beach before breakfast. We were just starting to eat when two other guests came down… and we knew straight away there would be no early start.

There is neither logic nor reason to such meetings, just a kind of recognition. The two women who greeted us were very much on our wavelength and, by the time we left, we were leaving friends behind us. The meeting put a sparkle on the morning and was to be instrumental in putting the flesh on the bare bones of our next workshop weekend.

It would be easy to miss these moments that stand at the crossroads of possibility, but as soon as you begin to pay attention to the small synchronicities and oblique nudges from the universe, life takes on a new depth and connectedness. You simply do not know where any path or meeting might lead, but unless you are open to what they might hold and ready to follow their silent beckoning, you can go nowhere.

We were heading up to Inverurie for a weekend workshop that was being run by an old friend. I have known Running Elk a very long time. We ‘met’ a decade or so ago, also in rather odd circumstances and that strangeness has never really abated. It has always been a sadness that he and his family live so far away. They are people I would love to spend much more time with… but it is also one of those friendships where distance and time matter little in the greater scheme of things.

The first time we actually met in person, he and his womenfolk came south, from Scotland and over from Canada.  We visited Stonehenge, in spite of the horrendous crowds and barriers. I had stood with those stones when they were not so bounded by bureaucracy and it was a very different experience. West Kennet, Silbury, Avebury and the Rollrights had followed, healing some of the distress we had all felt at Stonehenge. By the time we parted, they were even more firmly ensconced in my heart.

One of the delights of working with the Silent Eye has been meeting them all again. They were all there for the Birthing of the School and we have seen at least one of them every year since then, often taking time after the events to wander the landscape and explore its ancient places, if only for a few hours.  There is never enough time for all that needs to be said, yet there is also the certainty that nothing needs to be said.

It was, therefore, a very personal joy when Running Elk agreed to guide us around some of the sacred sites in Scotland. The recumbent circles have long been on the list of places I really wanted to see, but the chance to spend a little time with him and his wife was the best thing of all.

There would be other friends too, old and new, as well as one I have long wanted to meet, accompanied by her gorgeous dog. What I did not expect was a fierce hug from the ‘Canadian contingent’ when we would finally arrive for the workshop… she usually visits in June, but what with one thing and another, ‘just happened’ to have arrived in time for the weekend. That was a truly wonderful surprise! And, it seemed, an instance of another very odd connection with one of our party…

It was, therefore, to be an unexpected party of twelve souls that Running Elk would shepherd around the ancient stones of the Don Valley. We had little idea of what he intended to show us… but that too was a gift. Normally, the itinerary is in our hands or known. This time, all we would have to do was experience and enjoy…and revel in the wonders we were shown. But there was still a long way to go  and I was planning on taking a short-cut…

Jumping off the cliff…

Ten years or so ago, I was very active on a number of closed forums. I was lucky to be part of that moment when they were active and the energy was vibrant. I made a good many friends, people with whom I became close and some of my dearest and most enduring friendships were born online and within those forums. Other friendships have grown online since then and I have often wondered about the process.

When you meet someone in the virtual world, you have no idea at all who they really are. There may well be clues in where you come across them or what they write, but you do not know…not for sure.  A good con man is always plausible and there are plenty of those out there. Yet there are people with whom you just seem to ‘click’ regardless. They become friends. Should you meet, there is always the worry that the online persona will not be the same and the friendship will be overshadowed by the new and less acceptable reality. Yet, having met very many of my ‘online friends’ in person, I have yet to meet one who was substantially different from their online presence.

There are a number of reasons for that; many people find it easier to reveal themselves through the relative anonymity of the written word. If you are half a world away, you can open your heart to a friend without embarrassment. You already know that you are never likely to meet… except, that quite often you do, regardless of the distance. It may take years, you may have become very close, but often those friendships are ‘tested’ by an encounter in ‘real life’ and once that happens, the bonds grow ever closer.

Whether you meet or not, some online friendships go deep. It is as if, having created this virtual world for ourselves, we have developed a sixth sense that can assess and understand more than appears on the surface. Perhaps we have learned to read between the lines in a more literal sense, picking up emotive cues from the choice of words and phrases in a similar manner to our ability to read the subtle, unspoken signs of body language face to face.

Once the friendship is established, we learn to trust our online friends, just as we would if we met them in person. We may share our joys with them, our sorrows and troubles. We may ask, listen and even take their advice. Yet, unless we have met them face to face, we still have no real idea who they truly are. We simply accept that the disembodied ‘voice’ at the other end of the line exists and is what we believe it to be. In many ways, an online friendship is an act of faith.

Angel, Devil, Female, Guardian, Human

When I was a child and got into the inevitable scrapes with friends, my mother would always come out with the classic, “… and if he told you to jump off a cliff, would you?” We would not act upon any advice we were given by that unseen voice if it went against our own perception of reality, nor against our deepest beliefs or principles. We would listen to a friend, but any subsequent actions that we took would be filtered through our own personality, understanding and common sense. We would be far more careful with that advice if it came from a new ‘friend’ that were it to be given by an old and trusted companion. When you have known someone for years, online and off, looked into their eyes and hearts and know you can trust them, you will value their opinion, knowing they have your best interests at heart…but those same filters will still be applied before you act.

There is another disembodied voice, an unseen friend, to which we all have a direct line. It is the voice of something that always has our best interests at heart and knows us better than we think we know ourselves. It sees beyond the masks we wear to face the world or assume for our roles within it. It knows every moment we have ever lived, how we have felt and what we have done. You can call it intuition or ‘gut feeling’, you might think of it as the guardian angel at your shoulder or see it as the voice of the soul. It doesn’t really matter what label you give it… it will whisper anyway. It is the voice of a closer friend than any and we very often fail to hear it, let alone listen, until it takes on the role of ‘conscience’…that one we all hear, whether we listen or not.

We are capable of developing a sixth sense about our online contacts, whose face, life story and personality could all be fabricated for all we know, yet we seem to often fail to use the senses we already have and listen to the advice from within.  If we can find the courage to take a leap of faith online… we should be able to have just as much faith in ourselves.

Circles Beyond Time – worlds without borders

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We left Arbor Low and headed back to the village of Monyash and the pub for lunch. Once again, we seemed to have seen and done far more than should be possible in such a short time, slipping across the borders of time and space as if it were perfectly natural. The trouble was that now, as we neared the end of our weekend, there was not a huge amount of time left before everyone would depart, making their separate ways to homes to in far-flung parts of the country. It always amazes me, and touches me deeply, the distances that are travelled by people coming to share these weekends with us. They are not huge, glitzy events… and for at least three of them every year, all we appear to do is go out for a walk…in whatever weather we happen to have. Yet, people travel hundreds…often thousands…of miles to share what we do, regularly coming from as far away as America to take part.

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The weekends are open to all…not just members of the School… and their focus is about sharing an experience, whether at the small, informal workshops in the landscape or in the more structured ritual weekends that are held every April. They are an opportunity to get together with people who walk widely different paths, both in everyday life and on their own spiritual journeys. One thing has always stood out for me at gatherings such as these and that is a complete lack of tolerance for the beliefs of others. There is no need for tolerance, which still, when you think about it, implies a judgement. Instead, there is just acceptance, pure and simple, of the validity of every other path. The minister laughs with the witch, the shaman with the Qabalist and the druid with the Taoist. There are no borders, no boundaries, no social divides and no prejudice…just a desire to share and learn from each other.

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Spirituality is not about looking the part, it is about living it. There is a kindness, an openness and a generosity of spirit that characterises those who have set their feet on their chosen path and turned towards the light that guides them. It is in this, as much as anything we do, that we see the true beauty of the gatherings.

It was a warm and happy group that sat down to that final lunch at the Bull, but all too soon it was time to depart. Here too there is something curious, because the bonds of friendship are freely given and although there may be regret that there is not more time and few of know when we will next meet, there is an ease about such moments; as if our accustomed normality has paused for a while and we return to it enriched by our sojourn in a different world…a world that will take up its conversations as if we had never left should we return to it.

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Soon, only Stuart and I were left. It is a curious feeling when you have organised one of these gatherings and the companions have dispersed. There was only one thing we could do… we drove back to Curbar, bought ourselves a well-earned ice-cream and went to lie in the last of the heather.

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We would particularly like to thank author Helen Jones, who joined us for the weekend, for sharing her own account of our adventures. It is one thing for us to tell the story, but quite another to be able to share such a comprehensive and beautiful account written by someone who had come along to her first weekend workshop with us. We hope it won’t be her last. You can read Helen’s account on her blog: Please click here for parts one, two, three, four, five , six and seven.

Anglesey screen grab for WordPress

If you have enjoyed reading about this weekend workshop, why not come and join us if you can? Our next weekend in the landscape will be held on the Isle of Anglesey and runs from 2nd-4th December.

Click here or on the image to read the brochure.

Leaf and Flame – Laughter on the dance floor

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Photo by Barbara Walsh

The Sunday morning guided meditation took the Companions back to the place where they had begun to seek answers to their own riddles. To begin the day in silent communion with a sense of something vast and sacred is no bad way to start the day.

Some of us had been out to greet the dawn privately, in spite of a late and convivial evening with incognito Foxes in the Queen Anne next door. That too is a communion with something greater than we… though for some of us, it was the deep breath before plunging back into the fray and preparing the Temple for a very special moment.

Once a year we reaffirm the bond and dedication of the triad who serve the School with a ritual. This year, three others were also the focus of an affirmation and celebration of the journey they have each undertaken within the Silent Eye and within their own being. To be part of such a moment is both joy and blessing for those who seek and those who serve.

So much so, that our Conductor…by now well-used to my inability to hold back the tears at such moments… had come equipped with a handkerchief.

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Photo by Chris Hutchison

Our final ritual too was a celebration as our three-fold Gawain wedded aspects of his self and the court of King Arthur celebrated. Morgause and Mordred were brought in from the shadows and the Table Round shared the bread of life and the honeyed mead of liquid Light.

The Lord and Lady of the Hunt, who were also Merlin and the Lady of the Lake, revealed the woven threads of their hidden nature that run, Red and White, through the Green lands of Albion… the inner land of the Heart… and then the Dragons danced the points of Being.

The Knights and their Ladies danced in turn… a stately progress to the music of the Sufis…

And there was laughter, as choreography went to the winds and we all joined a spontaneous Round Dance with Gawain at its heart… to the strains of Japan’s Methods of Dance… and left the temple for the last time in laughter to carry joy out into the world.

I do not remember leaving…only that we were the last.

And then, at last, there was time to breathe. Time to sit and share a meal with our Companions… time to talk and celebrate the anniversary of the School and another year of growth and learning… and look forward to the next.

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