Wanted…

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I need a man.

Well, actually, I could do with a couple… but let’s not be greedy.

What I really need is a knight…with or without the shining armour. I can manage either way. Noble, courteous, good sense of humour, handy with a can opener… you know the type.

What do I have to offer such a paragon?

I can promise high adventure, magic and mystery, a knightly quest… the odd giant…and a damsel in dire need of his services. Or you can bring your own, if you prefer.

Tempted?

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Applicants need only avail themselves of the booking form for Leaf and Flame: The Foliate Man.

The Silent Eye’s annual workshop is set, this year, at the court of King Arthur, in the Derbyshire village of Great Hucklow. This residential weekend will work with some of the best loved stories of Arthurian myth, to uncover their inner meaning.

Come and join us for the weekend of 22-24 April, 2016.

Accommodation is provided full board at the Nightingale Centre with inclusive prices for the weekend from £220 – £245 per person.

Come and join us for the weekend and discover why spirituality should be fun.

Leaf and Flame…

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As we move towards the changing of the seasons and the turning of the year, we are turning our thoughts towards the Silent Eye Annual Workshop in April. It is as the year turns that King Arthur bids his knights join him in celebration. Shadowy figures move outside the circle of light, playing with lives as pawns in a game…A challenge is issued, and accepted… a neck is laid bare to the blade… yet will the victor survive to find the meaning of this strange, otherworldly meeting?

Come and join Gawain and King Arthur’s court on their quest

and find out who you can Be.

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Bookings are now being taken for

Leaf and Flame: The Foliate Man

The interwoven stories of Sir Gawain’s legendary encounters with the Green Knight and Dame Ragnell will form the basis of  a weekend of ritual drama.

This residential weekend will be held at the Nightingale Centre in Great Hucklow, Derbyshire, England. Gathering on the afternoon Friday 22nd till Sunday 24th April, companions on this journey through legend will each play a fully scripted role throughout the five acts of a ritual drama exploring the the enigmatic symbol of the Green Man. There will be talks on related subjects led by some of our companions on the weekend, as well as plenty of time to relax in the lounge or at the Queen Anne pub next door.

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Click here to download a pdf booking form


2​Ritual One:“…Any Card.” 
In which Mordred and Morgause trade evil smiles and determine to corrupt the Table Round and the Knights in that round are confronted by the Foliate Man…

​Ritual Two: Hart to Heart “In which Gawain enters the Enchanted Forest in pursuit of the hart…”

​Ritual Three: La Belle Dame Sans Merci“ In which the quest for the riddle of the heart fails and Gawain sets out to meet his doom at the Green Chapel…en route he comes across the ‘Castille Diablo’ deep in the heart of the Green-Wood and there the mysterious Lord and Lady Verdant involve him in another three-fold game…” 4

Ritual Four: La Chapelle Verte “In which Dame Ragnell reveals the true answer to the riddle of a woman’s heart, Merlin and the Lady unleash the animate soul of the Greenwood and Sir Gawain strides forward to meet his Doom…”

Ritual Five: Heaven in Earth

“In which Dame Ragnell claims her due at Camelot and the Company of the Table Round enjoy the festivities of the King.”

 Book early to reserve your place!

Typecast

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I remember vividly the email that assigned me my ‘character’ for the weekend… my jaw dropped…anything less ‘me’ you could not have imagined.

The workshop would be following an alchemical theme, using modern characterisation of ancient archetypes to explore the nature of the human psyche and its journey through spiritual evolution. Whilst the aim of the weekend was familiar, this was a new departure for me as the previous workshops I had attended had been run along more traditional lines, using characters from mythology or ancient pantheons. This contemporary storyline was something different.

In principle, I found it an exciting idea. Spirituality is too often seen as something to ’do’, separate from everday life… instead of something to ‘be’, and very much a part of it. I liked the idea of incorporating a more modern approach… never dreaming that a few years later I would be involved in presenting a spiritual workshop in the setting of a space ship…. However, that was in the future…

In practice, not only did it mean I was sitting there with my jaw dangling in a most unbecoming manner, it meant I would have no established story or image upon which to draw. But that was okay… these events are always entirely scripted and all you have to do is read…

Except, this one was bowling a slight googly… we all, said the email, had to introduce ourselves. In character. Unscripted.

You have to remember that back then I was timid and uncertain of myself. If there was a corner I could hide in, you would be sure of finding me there. And they had ‘cast’ me as a world famous opera singer….self-confident and fêted for her voice and control. Me, five foot nothing of quiet mouse who spoke so softly I was seldom heard….

If they were going to cast against type, that was about as drastic as it could get. Apart from anything else… I couldn’t sing.

I remember shrinking against the back wall, waiting my turn as the introductions were made. You couldn’t actually tell these were not real stories… everyone seemed so well practiced it took me a while to sort out what was real and what was role.

Then they looked at me… and suddenly, I wasn’t there. In my place a supremely confident opera-singer, assured that she needed no introduction…

I couldn’t believe it. Even less so when several people later said how good I had been… and even better, how funny. I’d always wanted to be funny…to have people laugh with me… but of course, that takes confidence…

I would have been too small to step out boldly… arrogantly… and make that ad-lib introduction. She wasn’t. Using the mask of her persona allowed me to access and explore hitherto unknown regions in my own; to stretch my boundaries and step into a character completely alien to me gave me a whole new set of skills to draw upon. Which meant I could leave my personal fears and limitations behind. Being cast so far against type had been liberating… and the effects were unexpected and long lasting.

To be typecast… assigned a role that accords well with your own personality, allows exploration of a different type, opening aspects of your own character that you may not have discovered or considered. Being scripted, it allows you to observe yourself… or a facet of yourself…through another’s eyes, in some ways; the eyes of the writer. I have done that too and the results can be powerful and revealing. Either way, few leave such workshops unchanged if they are open to new experiences and are prepared to ‘enter into the spirit’ of the event.

For me, the rise in confidence over the past few years has been both marked and surprising. At the first Silent Eye event, I even sang. In public. And, I am told, in tune. I am still not sure which of those two facts is the more surprising…

In April next year, the workshop will be exploring a more traditional story, drawing upon that of the Green Knight. There will, of course, be some subtle shifts away from the well-known tale in the name of poetic licence and the need to elucidate some of the ideas used within the School. For me there will be no personal surprises where the roles are concerned… I am now one of three who create and present these workshops, and I have a hand in the casting.

For those who attend, there will be no surprise, unscripted bombshells, though there is plenty of scope to personalise each role. Whether the roles are assigned to harmonise or to contrast with the outer personality, each will be assigned with thought and care and it will be my hope that those who attend will take away from the experience as much as I have over the past few years. Whatever happens, it is going to be fun…

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Click here to download a pdf Booking Form for Leaf and Flame

The Warrior in the Headless Mask

In a fundamental shift from the ‘Tanham’ era at the helm of the Silent Eye’s annual workshops in Derbyshire, next year’s event, 22-24 April, 2016 marks a new departure on two fronts: we are taking the now well-practiced enneagram temple format into the Arthurian Mysteries, something that may never have been done before and which may see Mr Gurdjieff’s ghost coming after me for its just deserts with mutterings about ‘abuse of imagination’ and a few other choice sentiments; and secondly, we (read: they) are to set the five-act ritual drama, and supporting meditations and outdoor gatherings around the combined stories of Sir Gawain, the Green Knight and Lady Ragnell, with the possibility of a little fire-dancing as well.

By way of an appeal from the dock, I would point out that, with total reverence for the elegance and power of the Gurdjieff System of personal exploration, we have stayed as true as possible to the core model, yet appear to have successfully integrated it with the Western Mystery approach in using many of the elements of a traditional magical temple. Our approach to a modern temple design is integrated within a sacred space containing the Silent Eye’s own variant of the enneagram and set of two encompassing rings which represent the realms of Being and Becoming. Finally, all this is set within a compass square which brings in the traditional East, West, South and North, and their alchemical associations.

I used the word ‘they‘ above because, in the tradition of these things, and now being the junior ‘creative’ partner, I actually know very little of what will transpire on the weekend of the 22-24 April next year. It has become a tradition – established by me, apparently, to keep the other two in our ‘Triad’ in state of general ignorance until very close to the event. This year, Sue and Stuart are running things; ostensibly to ‘give me a break’. Hmmmm . . .

This means that, although I will be constructing some of the supporting parts of the weekend, the only thing I know is that I will be playing the part of Sir Gawain in the five-act ritual dramas . . .

Now Gawain is an interesting character. I’ve played him before in a wonderful SOL workshop in Tintagel, the traditional site of ancient Arthurian Camelot. But there is something much more risky about playing in the variant of the Gawain tales that ‘les enfants terribles’ have in mind. At this point I need to explain something of the dynamics of the three of us. The other two in our creative threesome, Sue and Stuart, spend a lot of time writing and plotting together. It’s a general sport of theirs that anytime they can generate panic in my gentle soul, they do so . . .

The stories of King Arthur, Sir Gawain, The Green Knight and his wife, and Lady Ragnell form a different cycle to the better-known Arthurian tales and probably originate from an earlier era. Both stories involve the carrying out, or the threat of, decapitation; which in Stuart and Sue’s rendering, will have a much deeper meaning than mere execution.
The story of the Green Knight sees him ride on horseback into Arthur’s New Year feast and issue a challenge. One of the knights can cut off his head as long as the same knight is prepared to seek out his castle in a year’s time, and present himself for the same fate. Never having seen a beheaded man live to fight another encounter, Sir Gawain puts himself forward to defend Arthur’s honour, and duly beheads the rude and outrageous ingrate, using the Green Knight’s own axe . . . only to find that the challenger can function perfectly well without his head; after which the dismembered head, itself, reminds Gawain of his fate, a year from then, and leaves the court, carried by its body – still on horseback.
The general theme of the ‘headless’ or beheaded man is one of the major threads in the research done by Stuart and Sue in their cycle of books begun with “The Initiate” and continued into their recent books. Many of the executed figures (some of them quite humble) which they have encountered in the religious history of Britain have been killed in this way – too many for it to be just a simple form of putting to death. Some of the fruits of their research will be seen in the workshop and in the way this theme is integrated into our temple settings.  The general subtext is ‘The Foliate Man” – the strange, green figure with foliage growing abundantly out of his mouth. The overall meaning of this will be explored in the context of all our lives and our relationship to Nature and the world – our world – around us.
I have been told that I may rely on the plot being true to the myths – well ‘most of the time’, hinting that there may be some variation on minor details, such as the final location of Gawain’s head at the conclusion of his exacting encounter with the Green Knight and his Lady Wife.  I’m sure I can count on the rendering of Gawain’s near-death travels to reach that fateful castle as he journeys through the snow and ice in search of a place whose location is unknown to him.
Gawain is a key figure in both the stories of the Green Knight and of Lady Ragnell, it will be interesting to see how my character’s twin destinies are woven by the terrible twins. I may as well smile my way to the start of next April. Last week, my delightful, if challenging, partners in crime presented me with an early birthday present in the form of a rather tasty pocket watch crafted with the image of the Foliate Man. The card which accompanied it was a representation of the historic scene involving the classical figure of ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’ – you can do your own translation!

At the bottom of the card is written: “The clock is ticking . . . .”  Sometimes, it’s not easy being the founder . . . sigh.