Writings from the Temple III ~ Briony

Briony, who attended her first workshop with the Silent Eye at Lord of the Deep in April, first shared her thoughts with us a little while ago and continued earlier this week. Here she shares a little more of what came to her after the event.

Feminam
‘It is As it is’
The Mystery of the Feminine
You came like a thief in the night, unbeckoned, unwanted. You came with the Truth of your desire, the creator, urged by your Intention, fuelled by Primordia. You changed me. My Unknowingness, my darkness, my mystery became your resting place, your knowledge. I was wounded, changed forever, the unjudging welcoming the Judgement. I gave my passivity, my dormancy away like petals in the breeze, floating through Time and Space. The prostration was complete. I Am Changed. The darkness swells with the burgeoning Light. I shelter from it’s aching brightness. I cover it with the veils of the Eternal Feminam. There it lies, growing in knowing, changing my mystery. I become the
Cosmic Egg, the Unknowing and Knowing combined in the Eternal Dance of Light and Dark.
I Love You
Masculum
I entered, such bewilderment. The agony of innocence, the ecstasy of sense. How am I to fulfil my vow, my promise? How do I bring knowing to unknowing, the knowledge of Death in the Instance of Birth?
Agony and ecstasy are the same, pain and joy, love and hate, force and inertia, attraction and repulsion.
Living the Thought, speaking the Word. The Light blinds, the Darkness envelopes. Both shock our Non-being into Being.
I am that I am

Writings from the Temple II ~ Briony

Briony, who attended her first workshop with the Silent Eye at Lord of the Deep in April, shared her thoughts with us a little while ago. Here she shares the second part of what came to her after the event.

Fire and Ice, fire and ice. Ice in Fire, Fire in Ice. Melting without transforming, dousing without subduing.

Can these forces live in harmony? Knowledge encased, creates the decay of Time, eroding away the fabric of lost worlds. Civilisations stilled, bound by the potent desire to endure, to immortalise.

We watched the Accession. We listened to the cries of torment, of victory, of the vanquished.

We acted.

The Golem was created, born of Earth, filled with Divine Fire. Such beauty, such harmony! Trust incarnate, knowing no fear, living each solar cycle, each lunar cycle, each planetary movement, obeyed, trusted.

KA incarnate, AMMA flows with you, around you. My child be blessed! The Golem lives, forged in the womb of Earth, suckled by her beasts, given life by the astral fire of the Divine. Born of Earth, innocent of the Descent, no diadem of thorns crowns his brow, he lives, he breathes, the purity of life evidenced as untarnished love.

She came, her mystery entered his consciousness, he was awakened. KAMA IABBA. And so it began.

He knew himself, herself, they danced, she unveiled her mysteries, he learned her magic. The fire flowed with the water. The Child of Earth became Man.

Lord of the Deep, Into the Deep part 2 ~Willow Willers

Willow continues sharing her experiences at the Lord of the Deep weekend…

Urshanabi leads Gilgamesh to the Deep Underworld. And so for nine hours Gilgamesh has to out run the sun.
And he does out run the sun, though how I do not know.

Continued

After nine exhausting hours with the sun hot on his heels Gilgamesh emerges from the underworld into the garden of the Gods.

The garden is a place that even, the mighty King of Uruk has never seen the like of. He was dazzled by trees and plants that have flowers and blossom of precious and semi precious stones and gems. It was quite amazing.

Then Gilgamesh is confronted by an ordinary man, Utanpishtim. The king of Uruk is surprised he was expecting a God that he would have to fight.

Weaponless Gilgamesh has to talk to Utanpishtim who asks him why he looks so tired and wan. Gilgamesh tells him how he has spent his last nine hours outrunning the sun. He also tells of the loss of his dear brother Enkidu and how he King of Girt – Walled – Uruk wants Immortality for himself and his people .

Utanpishtim says he has wasted his time venturing to these shores and all he has done is bring himself one day closer to death.

You can run but you cannot hide

Death reachs across the divide.

 

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Lord of the Deep: In to The Deep. ~ Willow Willers

Willow continues sharing her journey with the recent Lord of the Deep weekend:

After we had returned from ancient Sumeria that Saturday night we all, everyone of us, got changed and fought the biblical weather the thankfully short distance up the hill to the local pub.

We all deserved a break, I was there, just behind the lense. The cosy warmth in the bar was matched by the warmth of these beautiful people who had been traveling along the same path with me. This was every bit as important as a learning curve as the entire workshop itself. Different but just as important.

*******

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Lord of the Deep . The Bull of Heaven. ~ Willow Willers

Willow continues her tale of her journey through the story of Gilgamesh at the recent Lord of the Deep workshop weekend:

 

Broken

Unwashed, unkingly

The mighty ego returns

To the city and temple

Unrecognised.

Ritual Four

Again I process into the temple, again it’s a huge leap through time and space.

Gilgamesh distraught at losing his brother finds himself outside the Temple of Ishtar.

Shamhat is there and full of vengeance she mocks him. Calling to him to take her and make her his own.

Gilgamesh is afronted. Why he wonders does she mock him so. The answer is blaring clear to all but the mighty ego.

He has let his brother, her lover, Enkidu, perish in the forest. She despises him. It lifts her to see him so broken. So she hits him where it hurts.

Revenge

So sweet but short lived

Shamhat taunts Gilgamesh

No more than he deserves.

*

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Lord of the Deep. Hunting Hum-Ba-Ba. ~ Willow Willers

Willow continues the tale of her experience at the Lord of the Deep workshop:

Ritual three Hunting the Tree Demon.

So peace came to pass

Twin brothers ruled the land at last.

A peace reigned and all was well

But Gilgamesh would send this soon to hell.

Enkidu begged his brother to be calm

Yet he cannot calm the giant ego bent on harm.

*********

So here I am again dancing the fates, I hold these two brothers lives in the palm of my hand. I am not alone the other fates are here too.

********

To city elders, Gods and Goddesses they appeal.

Enkidu states his fears and his brother laughs

There is no stopping a giant ego

He is deaf to all reason, will not do things by halves.

One with heavy heart into the far beyond they go.

**********

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Lord of the Deep. Trees and Plants. ~ Willow Willers

Reblogged from Willow, who continues to share her experiences at the Lord of the Deep weekend:

After the second Drama on the Saturday morning of the Silent Eye Workshop we had a break, then a presentation from Lorraine Munn on The Natural World and Man. Lorraine is a Druid and she is a mentor with O B O D and an ordained minister with the One Spirit Interfaith Foundation.
Lorraine spoke to us about how there is so much in Nature that is spiritual and it’s relationship to man.

Lorraine is a warm and knowledgeable woman who made us all stop and think. She suggested that we can learn a lot from plants and trees. Lorraine is very wise about trees she can commune with them.

 

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Lord of the Deep: Taking root

One of the questions people don’t like to ask is whether or not our ritual drama weekends serve any useful purpose. It is all very well coming along to share the fun… and they are always fun… or enjoying a shared experience that is outside the norm for most of us. It is good, too, to meet and work with people from widely different backgrounds and with varied beliefs and approaches to the spiritual journey; the group dynamic augments personal experience, creating something far greater than the sum of its parts, and people also feel less isolated, for the spiritual path can sometimes seem a lonely one to walk.

We use the ancient format of ritualistic drama to open the doors of the mind, letting imagination lead the way to levels of awareness and understanding beyond the surface mind. But does any of what we do ever filter through into everyday life?

We, who organise these weekends, can see the changes in our own lives. On the outer levels, such changes can be rationalised by the growth in confidence that comes with standing up in front of a group to speak, crafting a long and detailed script, and the organising and presenting of a complex workshop. The changes that we have each felt within our own inner lives and attitudes may be profound, but as we are the ones organising these events, anything we can say is of little value to people wondering what benefits, if any, our weekends may offer.

Only those who have attended can paint a true picture of what the events have meant to them, and each person will take away something different. We are lucky in that, after our events, some of the attendees will write of their experiences and allow us to share their stories. Those are the testimonials that matter.

This year, I have been in the unique position of watching at close quarters as some of the seeds sown at the Lord of the Deep weekend took root. My son came along to be our Technician and take care of the music for us and, as such, was better placed than most to simply observe and listen. He came along to the presentations and watched the story of Gilgamesh unfold. Since the workshop, I have been quietly watching as one of the major symbolic themes of the weekend seems to be growing in his life.

During the workshop, the ‘Quest for Immortality’ was approached through two primary avenues. One was the story of Gilgamesh, whose ego sought immortality through the illusions of worldly success. He wished to carve his place in history…which, in spite of everything, he did; his name lives on in the ancient Epic from which we were learning. The other strand concerned the ‘Herb of Immortality’. This part of Gilgamesh’s story was not mentioned until close to the end of the story, yet we had built the symbolism of the Herb into the weekend… depicted as a Tree of Life… right from the very first moments, but without highlighting or explaining any of it.

The temple itself was dressed in reds and orange, with twin Trees as a backdrop, reminiscent of the two Trees of Knowledge and Life in the story of the Garden of Eden. During the welcome session, we had given each of the Companions a wooden bracelet bearing a charm incised with a Tree, telling them that this was their Key to the temple, but with no other explanation. The twin staffs we dressed with the veils representing the colours of life were both natural tree branches, gifted by the trees themselves. The two tokens each Companion carried beyond the Veil bore the images of trees.

Then, in the final ritual, Shiduri, the ale-wife, guides Gilgamesh on his journey to find the Herb. Lorraine, who took the role of Shiduri, also most appropriately, focussed on trees for part of her presentation on the relationship between Man, Nature and Spirit. She spoke from a Druidic perspective, but drew upon the latest scientific research about the consciousness of trees… something we are barely beginning to understand, but which has been part of many sacred and legendary traditions since time immemorial. She also suggested ways we could attune to the life and energy of trees.

My son took little notice of symbolic details, he simply followed the story and was focussed on getting the music right. Trees were not mentioned at all when we discussed the weekend afterwards. But he is having to have his garden ripped out and rebuilt as it has become unsafe for both feet and wheelchair.

The cost of making the garden safe and durable is prohibitive, so all our thoughts are on creating the hard-landscape. Plants…in which my son has absolutely no interest except to look at them… will have to be salvaged from the existing garden, so our now-daily trips to the various local garden centres have all been about aggregates and slabs. Knowing me to be a plant-addict with a very empty garden, he even banned me from looking at anything green and growing… until something caught his eye.

Instructing me to push him through all the plants to this one bit of foliage, he promptly fell in love. It was an acer, a Japanese maple, of a variety named Inabe Shidare, which was close enough to Shiduri for me to take notice straight away. Its red leaves echoed the colours of the temple; it was glorious…and would cost a ‘mere’ six hundred pounds.

Reluctantly leaving the tree behind, we ended up looking at every acer that we could find, in every garden centre and online, from the tiniest bonsai to young saplings. Being slow-growing trees, a sapling would take a very long time to reach the maturity of the huge, potted tree with which he had fallen in love, but gardening and patience go hand in hand.

As this was the first time he had ever evinced any interest in plants, let alone an all-consuming passion, I really wanted to be able to find something. And, on one rain-battered trip to the last garden centre in the area, I spotted a distant patch of red.

A young Inabe Shidare, its slender stem standing six feet tall and beautifully twisted into a spiralling column, wept deep red leaves at the back of a display. A bit of rummaging and I found a price tag… an affordable fraction of the expected price… and it was soon on its way home.

That would have been odd enough, but by next day, my son had not only researched everything about caring for the tree, decided where it would be planted when the garden is done and purchased specific acer food, he was also talking about it as a living being, not ‘just’ a tree. He checked on its well-being continually and even launched himself across the room… bearing in mind he cannot walk unaided… when he heard something outside that made him worry for the tree’s safety.

His passion for this tree spilled over and he began taking notice of the other trees around his garden, which, until now, have been no more than a green backdrop… and from there, the needs of Nature and his own response to them have begun to change the way he sees the world around him, in a quite dramatic fashion.

In the grand scheme, it may seem a small thing perhaps, but something has completely changed one man’s awareness of the natural world and its creatures, opening his mind to a new way of looking at Nature with conscious love and respect.

We cannot know where the motivation came from, what level of mind and heart were awakened to the life of trees, nor where that awakening was born, but it does seem a little ‘coincidental’. And, were the experiences of the weekend to achieve no more than that, I think we could say it had served a useful purpose.

Lord of the Deep: Outrunning the sun

“Can’t stop,” said I, dashing through the corridor. “I’ve got to paint celery…”

“Can you help me with my skin?”

“Sure. I’ll just grab the pins…”

There were a number of puzzled looks, as if to say, ‘she’s finally lost it…’. It had been a hectic weekend… but edibly-gilded celery and a Lycra-clad snake were both required for the final ritual drama, and we’d had a whale of a time coming up with a suitable costume for the skin-shedding serpent that would finally unravel Gilgamesh…

Following the directions of Shiduri, Gilgamesh seeks out Urshanabi, the boatman of Utnapishtim, who is in the forest, trimming cedar boughs. But, she tells him, Gilgamesh must be wary, for Urshanabi is with the Stone Men.

As he enters a clearing in the forest, Gilgamesh hears a voice,

“We are the Stone Men!” The King raises his sword and charges, but before the blow can fall, another speaks. “We are the cold men!” Changing direction, Gilgamesh rushes at the second speaker, but before his raised sword can fall, “How will you cross the Waters of Death with us in your boat?” Another voice turns him from the kill.

“We are easy to destroy. One strike will smash us into smithereens!” And again his blow is halted. “Like you destroyed the Bull of Heaven.” In rage, Gilgamesh tries to strike, but another speaks… “Like you destroyed the Cedar Forest.” Gilgamesh snarls… then the voices in unison stop him in his tracks.

“Would you destroy the ground you walk upon?” And now, at last, he begins to understand what he has done. Reeling with the realisation, he hears yet another voice, that of Urshanabi, the ferryman.

“You cannot cross the Waters of Death with war in your heart…”  Urshanabi holds out his hands for the sword of the King. He tells Gilgamesh that the Waters of Death are not what he believes them to be. They are the Underworld that Shamash, the Sun, traverses every night before his daily rebirth; would Gilgamesh take that path also? Then the King must outrun the Sun that halts for no man.

For nine hours of utter darkness, Gilgamesh ran. With no light to guide him, he passed through the Underworld, the Sun hot on his heels. But when exhausted, he again came into the light, he found himself in the garden of the gods where jewels grow as flowers on the trees and the fruits are of lapis lazuli.

Gilgamesh walked amazed through this paradise until he came face to face with the immortal, Utnapishtim. And, in spite of all, his first thought is for his weapon.

“I was going to fight you, but I gave away my sword…”

Utnapishtim considers Gilgamesh, commenting upon his haggard looks. The King says that he has neither eaten nor slept during his quest. That he has mourned his friend for six days and seven nights ‘until a maggot fell out of his nose’. Utnapishtim asks him what he has achieved by all this, apart from bring himself a day closer to death, and asks if he has ever stopped to compare himself to a fool to whom only the dregs and crusts are given?

Gilgamesh wants only to know the secret of immortality, but Utnapishtim tells how the gods gathered at the end of all things, after the Flood when he had built the great ship called Preserver of Life, to grant eternal life to himself and his wife, Shiduri.

Why should the gods gather for Gilgamesh? How would they know he deserved that grace?

Gilgamesh says he will do anything. Utnapishtim tells him that he must stay awake for seven days and nights…for if he can prevail against sleep, he may also prevail against death. Gilgamesh agrees, but Utnapishtim tells Shiduri that he will try to deceive them when he fails.

The eternal couple watch from afar and, whenever Gilgamesh sleeps, Shiduri bakes a loaf of bread and places it before the King. After seven nights, Gilgamesh lies, trying to convince Utnapishtim that he had not slept. The couple show him the seven loaves, from the freshest to the stalest, and Gilgamesh falls into despair. He sees only Death around him.

Utnapishtim tells him he must leave the garden of the gods, never to return. He orders fine raiment to be brought, as befits a king, to clothe him before he leaves. But Shiduri takes pity on Gilgamesh and entreats her husband to tell him of the Herb of Immortality… a thorny plant that grows in the waters of the Great Deep that will grant its bearer eternal youth.

Tying two stones to his feet, Gilgamesh plunges into the Great Deep to find the Herb and emerges triumphant. But there is no thought of service to his people in his mind. He will, he says, take it back to Wall-Girt Uruk and there he will test its powers on an old man. If it works, he himself will eat the rest and be eternally young!

***

The road back to the city is long and exhausting, but Gilgamesh walks with a spring in his step, grasping the Herb. Outside the city walls, he stops by a spring to wash and sleep awhile before his triumphal return, still grasping the golden Herb securely in his hand.

But, while he sleeps, a serpent silently slithers from beyond the Veil and, taking the herb from the sleeping King’s hand, eats it… shedding its skin before disappearing once more beyond the Veil.

When Gilgamesh wakes and sees his empty hand, all he can do is weep.

Now at last he sees his own folly. Now, at last, he understands and accepts both the responsibility and the consequences of his actions. Now, when all his plans are dashed, and he stands empty-handed before the walls of his city, he begins to understand the twin mysteries of death and life… and he passes through the Veil with heart and mind open.

And now the Fates speak, telling once more of the glories of Wall-Girt Uruk where, for the first time, ‘in their bedchambers at night, the young folk sleep soundly.’

***

Gilgamesh stands at the portal. Beside him stands Enkidu, his Other Self. Here, there is no death. Together they answer the call, and side by side, kneel before Shamhat, the High Priestess who is the vessel of the Goddess. She binds their hands with threads of red and gold, placing in their joined hands the Voice of Destiny, that the twin halves may speak with one voice. With fragrant oils, upon each brow, she traces twin symbols in blessing. One third man, one third beast, one third divine… no longer fragmented but whole.

Gilgamesh tells of his journey, but Enkidu says it was no failure… that the gods have granted them a glimpse of the immortality all carry. As Enkidu speaks, a circle of hands surrounds them with a gesture that says, ‘fear not’.

From each wrist hangs a bracelet of wood, red as cedar, bearing the symbol of the Tree of Life… the Herb of Immortality… that all have carried with them from the beginning, and that all will carry with them when they depart.

The Key to the Temple.

As all depart for the final time, they pass beneath the Rainbow, held aloft by Anu and Aruru, the Sky-Father and the Earth Mother.

“When the waters receded, and dry land appeared, I set free the animals to roam.

That day I burned reeds and cedar and myrtle branches.

Smelling their fragrance, the gods gathered round.

Aruru came first, relieved that people had survived the destruction.

She held aloft her necklace-of-many-colours,

which had been Anu’s gift to her when their love was young.”

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