On the trail of the Picts (plus optional Orkney extension)
North of Inverness, Scotland
11th – 13th September, 2020
The Picts were a mysterious race who settled in the north-east of Scotland and flourished between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. They were a peaceful peoples who fished and farmed and created astonishing art. They suffered frequent Viking raids and their eventual disappearance may have been due to eradication or simply blending in with the broader Scottish tribes, as their culture dissipated.
Our weekend will examine their cultural and artistic legacy by following the established ‘Pictish Trail‘ created by Historic Scotland.
This part of Scotland is only a short distance from the north Scottish coast, from which ferries are available to Shetland and Orkney. A group of us will be continuing to Orkney for a few days. You are invited to join us as an extension to the Pictish Trail weekend, but this is optional.
We will be based in one of the small towns north of Inverness. More details will be published as we firm up the itinerary.
For the Sumerians, Anu, the Sky Father, was the Supreme Being, from whom all other gods descended. His parents were Enshar and Kishar… the ‘whole Heaven’ and the whole Earth’. He was associated with the planet Pluto and he constellation, Draco, the Dragon.
Aruru, also known as Ninhursag, ‘the lady of the sacred mountain’, was the Mother Goddess upon whom Anu called to create Enkidu, a so-called ‘wild man’, in order to tame the arrogance of Gilgamesh. But there is far more to that part of the story…
The multiplicity of deities in many of the ancient cultures can seem incredibly complex to modern eyes and minds, accustomed, for the most part, to a monotheistic approach. It gets even more complicated as cultures evolve… Deities names are changed, an although their attributes remain the same, they may rise or fall in prominence.
We had to make some executive decisions on the choice of the names and incarnations we chose to use for the deities that feature in the story of Gilgamesh, a tale that came down from Sumer through later evolutions of that culture. But whatever name is borne by a god, their essence remains the same.
Although unable to join us this year, The Patrician Lady, a friend of the Silent Eye, generously wrote an overview of the Planetary Beings… gods of the Sumerian Pantheon…that formed part of one of the meditations.
The Planetary Beings
The Patrician Lady
Monday: Moon: NANNA (male)
I am Nanna, also known as Sin, first-born son of Enlil and Ninlil. I govern the Moon. I am the image of all things, and I have the quality of change, as indeed does the moon, for it is never the same for two days. I arise as a tusk of the boar of heaven and all things have their increase. I flourish in the night, rivalling Utu, the sun, and when I am at my greatest, then I need the dreams of men, for I mediate between this world and the sun. During the dark of the moon I spend my days of sleep in the underworld where I decide the fates of the dead. All pass my gate and I take taxes from all that possess. As the god Nanna I am particularly a ruler of women for the months of the moon are the days of a woman’s courses. In all matter of timing, of crops, of children and of beasts, I, Nanna, am over all, and in my character of governor of life I have dominion over illness. Therefore the wise man pays court to me, Nanna; he observes my movements and my relationships with the other Gods that go about the heavens. For I hold the keys to your lives, past and to come.
Tuesday: Mars: GUGULANNA (male)
I am Gugulanna, also known as Nergal, second-born of Enlil and Ninlil. I govern the planet Mars. I am Lord of the Underworld, I am the certain, the justice of the gods. I am the God of war, God of Battle; reaper, plougher, I am he who burns, who destroys, purifies, who rejects and judges. I am portrayed as a warrior, fighting for the right and needing always to do so, and this is the Law. All depends on everything else and is balanced by the limitation of each part. The nature of a thing forms the limitation of that thing. Necessity is the axle of the gods and I, Gugulanna, am that axle. Turn the top of the wheel and the bottom turns. I am that wheel, I cannot be evaded, therefore I am called Cruel. In the kingdom our laws should reflect this inevitability. Penalties should be clear, quick and precise. All messages pass through Nebo, patron of writing, but the messages from the height of human experiences are formed by me, Gugulanna. When your mind soars into the area where there are only the Holy Winds blowing, and you apprehend things of a greater content than your mind can grasp, which have the certainty of Knowledge, Understanding and Skill, then I, Gugulanna, beating upon the limits of your ordinary knowledge and judgement, give form and content to this expansion of ordinary experience. This is the gift of listening, the gift of oracles, the power of prophecy. I am also the burner, the destroyer, for this is the last limitation. I have the drawback of certainty and can turn my back easily on what is considered by me to be not fitting. I create the limitation of all things, for I am the protector of all things, as well as the destroyer. Know the shape of a thing, and the laws that govern it can be used. Whatsoever the nature is, by that is it bound. I make those laws.
Wednesday: Mercury: ENKI (male)
I am Enki, also known as Nabu and by some as Ea, son of Anu and Nammu, the sky and the sea. I govern the planet Mercury. I am the Message Giver, the god of speech, the god of letters, the god of numbers, the god of science. As the god of speech I can speak to the earth and the earth speaks. The sky speaks, the water speaks. And the fire. They speak and I recognise. And the god of writings. In the sky, signs; in the fire, visions; in the water, shapes; in the earth, letters. Know the signs and your eyes will speak for them. But the eyes must recognise the signs. I am the Lord of all forms which are ever made; changeable yet remaining always the same in essence. I am the god of science. I bring understanding of the nature of things and whence they come. The laws of the beasts, the law of the arts, the laws of growth and decay, seed-time and harvest, sickness and health. The laws of water, earth, fire and air. When we recognise them, then we know how we may act, in the smallest way for the best result. The voice of Inanna is Enki, and from me all that can be communicated comes, the laws and the signs and the symbols, all are mine; and the eyes, and ears, the mouth and the nose and the fingers, the common senses, all are mine. From me all numbers may be known. I am the architect; I measure and weigh. I plan foundations and measure the height. I have given you the secrets of the square by the art of number. I have left you rules by which to make our temples square and true, for if the foundations be not square and true your temples will not stand.
Thursday: Jupiter: ENLIL (male)
I am Enlil, brother to Enki. I am also known as Marduk the Magnificent, the Ever-expanding, the Master of Life, the Source of Power. Lord of the creative force.
I govern the planet Jupiter.
Who is this that shines in the Morning of the World, brighter than a thousand suns,
Whose voice spreadeth to the ends of heavens, whose sound is as thunder,
I am Wakener of winds, binding chaos to make the worlds, thrower of thunderbolts,
Against me, who can stand?
Mine is the power that spreads, mine is the force that moves, I am the lover that livens, I am all that living may be.
Friday: Venus: INANNA (female)
I am Inanna, maiden, mother and crone; also known as Ishtar, lover of the sparrowhawk, lion, stallion, and of men. I am she who turns the planets in their courses, and the suns in their paths through the garden of precious stones, who brings forth the seed in season and cuts it down in its prime. I am the perpetuator of cycles: Fire comes from the warmth of the sun into wood, burnt as fire, goes to earth as ash and to heavens as smoke, to the sun as light, all returns, is changed and goes forth again. All eats and is eaten, changes, dies and is reborn. The mysteries of Inanna are simple. Within all living things there is an urge, a driving force that keeps them living. Yet all things living die. Here then is the reason for the mutilation of my servants. They are brought by dance and music and devotion to that state wherein they lose all idea of who and what they are and become vehicles for the goddess. I do not care. My passions are with life and death. Love and mercy are not mine. Only my dancing speaks, only the women in the way of the silver piece speak, with their inmost parts to the inmost parts of men, only thus may I be known. And the stars without number that you see in the heavens will in their turn populate the heavens, to time without end. For the star of the morning and the star of the evening are one. All is rhythm, all rhythms have an end. All have a death and a beginning.
Saturday: Saturn: NINURTA (male)
I am Ninurta, god of war and hunt, also known as Ningursu. I am the patron of restrictions and boundaries and laws of man. I govern Saturn. I am one with the shape former. I am god of all forms which are ever made. I am the water, taking the shape of the skin, or the pot. Destroy whatever there is but I remain unchanged. In the earth lies waiting the shape of grass, corn, the thistles, the trees, and the fruits and blossoms. I govern all the shapes of all the insects, birds, and all the living creatures that lie hiding and waiting. For they come from all the grounds and motions of things, awaiting the touch of the seed to spring into being, the fixed shape of things, as the egg is in the womb. I am the bringer and the preventer of Chaos, the giver of real form. From me the forms of all things are written and their fate. From all this it can be seen that I have no need to act. For from the form, which I give, all necessary forms of action arise.
Sunday: Sun: UTU
I am Utu, also known as Shemesh, the Master of the Chariot. I govern the Sun. I am the giver of light to the high country. From me comes all warmth, from me comes fire. I, Utu, am the centre of this world of gods but I am created by all the gods. Now it is my nature to shine upon all, good and evil, just and unjust. I distribute their bounty. I balance all, erring neither above nor below, by right or by left. I am so near that I seem to be greater than all others. Yet I am given the thread of life from Anu, substance from Enlil, direction from Ninurta, dominion from Enlil, decision from Gugulanna; I give and receive instruction from Inanna, and from Enki I am given news of all that comes to pass. From Sin I both give and receive honesty and justness. Such a king am I, that is both sun and servant, a light to all men and a guide to their path through life.
Jan Malique , a Companion of the Silent Eye, has kindly agreed to allow us to share the text of a presention she gave at the Lord of the Deep workshop, which addresses some of the core themes of the story…
Offspring of Silence Grasping for Immortality: Journeys Beyond Death
This presentation was born out of speculation and a result of the dialogue with Silence. Life, Death and Immortality are huge concepts to grapple with, and not always easy to understand. Like Gilgamesh, humans have strived to keep the approach of death at bay, perhaps hoping our glories and creative efforts will ensure an immortality of sorts. Maybe not physical immortality, but something greater, an enduring essence of spirit, of our names being uttered by those left behind. There’s an ancient Egyptian New Kingdom tomb inscription that beautifully encapsulates the essence of what immortality may really mean:
“To speak the name of the dead is to make them live again.
It restoreth the Breath of Life to him who has vanished”
After several thousand years we’re still reading the exploits of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, so wouldn’t say they’ve entered into the glorious landscape of Eternity? Now what of the heroes of this drama? I suppose Enkidu would be the perfect person to begin with.
Cries from the Silence
Enkidu, was called “offspring of silence”, a romantic and terribly poignant title for anyone to bear. He was moulded out of clay and given life, an unbridled example of physical vigour and its appetites. A being who was the fearsome wilderness present outside the city gates, being a primeval manifestation of humanity’s psyche, its original innocence perhaps. A perfect companion to Gilgamesh the warrior king. They appeared invincible, immune from the ravages of time and hand of death. Might they be considered immortal even? Physically, no. It was achieved in other ways.
Their story made me think “aren’t we all offspring of silence?,” creatures born from the Great Silence that is the Unmanifest Universe. A place beyond mortal understanding and perception, forever veiled and open to perpetual speculation. We’re born from silence and enter into a world of noise, yet, the silence is ever-present and promises we’ll return to its embrace eventually. Even the Universe must return to a state of non-being, embrace the fire of destruction when the end comes. Then, only darkness and utter silence exist as the Cosmic Consciousness lies slumbering, gestating new worlds. Does this sound like total annihilation? No, but our fear of being extinguished totally at death is understandable, to become dust and clay covering the vestiges of civilisation in an inglorious end. A bleak viewpoint, but only one perception of a Universe that’s manifestly alive and filled with mystery.
The story of Gilgamesh and Enkidu is also humanity’s search for eternal life throughout the ages, as well as the fear of loss, of memories, loved ones, physical deterioration, and status. Philosophy and metaphysics have explored questions of existence and death at great length, but to what end? We continue to grasp yearningly at an elusive prize, despondent at the obliteration of the Self who returns once more to the earth.
How do we articulate our fears except to use the words of Gilgamesh in his conversation with Siduri the Alewife:
I am afraid of Death [and so I roam open country].
The words of my friend [weigh upon me].
[I roam open country] for long distances; the
Words of my friend Enkidu weigh upon me.
I roam open country on long journeys.
[How, o how] could I stay silent, how, O how
Could I keep quiet [ ]?
My friend whom I love has turned to clay:
Enkidu my friend whom I love [has turned to clay].
Am I not like him? Must I lie down too,
Never to rise, ever again?
(Dalley, S. 1989, Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, The Flood, Gilgamesh, And Others, OUP, p.101)
Further words of regret will fall from his lips, when he eventually locates and (loses) the physical source of rejuvenation, a plant called “the restoration of old age to youth” found in the primordial waters of Apsu. The prize is his only for a brief moment, then snatched by a serpent who ingests it and immediately sheds its skin.There’s symbolism aplenty to mull over in this extract.
As for Gilgamesh, he finds healing but not the prize sought so desperately. The return to Uruk is still filled with grief for the loss of his friend, and a yearning to learn of the secrets of existence after death. A wish that can only bring further regret and reinforce the futility of mortal existence.
From Blood and Clay arisen
For those who are seekers of the Greater Mysteries, we know death is not the end, but only a doorway to greater states of consciousness. Through training we can prepare for the moment of transition and what lies beyond. Regardless, grief and a sense of loss is still ours to experience despite the inner knowing. The human part of our nature knows this to be true, and the divine part? It urges us to look beyond the trappings of illusion and perceive reality as it truly is. It makes me wonder whether our eventual evolution will be into a state of pure consciousness, infinite and complete. A lovely thought.
Immortality has been the focus of humanity’s hopes and dreams since early times, infusing our creative and intellectual endeavours in its pursuit. One can speculate at length about what has been lost before the advent of written language. The conferring of immortality by the gods was a rare gift, achieved after tremendous trial and tribulation. Those so favoured were blessed indeed, touched by divinity, to be eventually placed amongst the stars in the heavenly firmament. What of the rest of humanity not so favoured?
One early Babylonian epic entitled “Atrahasis” describes the creation of humans from clay and the blood of a god who was sacrificed for this specific purpose. What inauspicious beginnings these fragile creatures sprang from, part human and part divine, yet never likely to taste of immortality. Humanity’s sole purpose was to serve the gods and provide them with daily care. A life of servitude meant being subject to deities whose fickle natures may offer a benevolent hand on one day and rain down vengeance on another. The human condition was defined by mortality and lives of hardship for many. The soul’s existence in the afterlife was dependent on the social status of the individual, and for those of a lower status the afterlife presented no cessation of hardships. Therefore the prevailing attitude was “why prepare for it?”
Descent into the Earth
Indeed, why prepare for it? The Soul’s existence in the afterlife was dependent on several factors:
Social status while alive
Care given to their body, grave and cult statue after death
The number of offspring they had, especially sons, as the eldest was responsible for making offerings
If these conditions were met, the deceased would have to navigate many dangers before it reached the place of judgement in the Underworld, presided over by Ereshkigal, Goddess of the Underworld and seven judges, the Annunaki. Once judgment had been passed, they would be assigned a place within the city of the dead.
Accounts of the Underworld describe it as a great cave beneath the earth, with the Earth being a mountain and the cave as a hollow within. The cave was a huge, dark place, surrounded by seven gates and walls, an invincible fortress guarded by Namtar, the god of pestilence. He prevented the living from entering and the dead from escaping. It was a place of decay, inactivity and devoid of joy. The Underworld wasn’t considered a “hell” as it is in certain cultures, only a duller version of life. On reflection, this could be regarded as hell by many.
The Mesopotamians didn’t consider physical death to be the end, as the dead were thought to exist in the form of a spirit called gidim (Sumerian) and etemmu (Akkadian). It was an entity closely related to the physical corpse. Death was a state of transition from one existence into another and in order for that to happen the proper funerary rites had to be performed. If not, the spirit was reduced to begging in the Underworld and could either become a restless ghost or demon plaguing the living. The living had a variety of methods to deal with these vengeful entities including:
Tying magical knots
Using magical ointments
Pouring libations while chanting magical spells
Burying figures representing the ghost
Drinking magical potions
This is only a fragment of what could be told about the dead and Underworld, but for the sake of our souls perhaps best not to linger in this dark and dismal place. Like Ishtar we need to return to life and the manifest world, bringing to light wisdom gained between states of transition and consciousness.
Arise Creature of Flesh and Divinity
The journey of “Offspring of Silence” is nearing its end and what have we learned from the experience? That physical immortality is not within reach, and perhaps not a viable option to avoid either the grave or funeral pyre. Who wants to be immortal anyway? To never age and die, to always suffer grief at the loss of loved ones as they wither and fade into nothingness, be witness to the ebb and flow of civilisations, see them rise and disappear into the dust, hear their songs being carried on the breeze and lament their passing. What do we think Eternity will offer us as we cling to our vehicles of clay and blood? Who will remember us and our lives? Can we transcend our attachments to objects and people, and find solace in the vastness of the Universe around us?
These questions haunt the figure sitting on the quayside, beyond which lies the vast Ocean of Creation and Death. Hot salty tears slide down their cheeks, all appears lost at this point of the heroic journey. Then a gentle hand wipes away their tears. The figure lifts their head to face themselves, infinite and complete.
This morning, the Companions attending the Lord of the Deep workshop, and Companions of The Silent Eye around the world, will join together in a shared meditation. This will take the form of a guided visualisation.. a journey in imagination. We invite you to join with us for a few moments, opening that portal in the heart and mind through which all may pass, that together we may weave a Web of Light.
At this time, when our word is in turmoil, when the bounty of our planet is being stretched beyond endurance and so many of its creatures face extinction, let us add our voice to the Web that is being woven by Seekers of Light of many paths and traditions, all around the earth.
Alone, we can do little, but when hearts come together to work in harmony, we can change the world, even if it is only by changing ourselves.
Wherever the sacredness of the earth is remembered, wherever the ancient places are revered, wherever a single heart turns away from fear and hatred to Love, a point of Light is added to the Web. Let this moment become a shining point in the Web of Light.
If you can, please light a candle and use its flame as a focus. If possible, place three small stones around it in a triangle. Imagine that these stones are seeds that can grow and flower and see them as symbols of your intent.
Read the meditation slowly, leaving plenty of time for the imagination to take flight. Whatever you can imagine is real within the mind and can be brought through into a more concrete reality.
Now, find a place of peace within your hearts… and prepare for meditation. Let us weave the Web of Light together.
Feel your body, rooted in earth. Feel the air as you breathe, in… and out… filling your body with its gift. Your body is a creature of earth. Your soul is not of the earth. It is of a finer substance, your life no more than a chapter in its story. It is eternal… your body a temporary garment that it wears. Let it fly free…
In your mind’s eye, yourself within a Temple amongst friends. Now see the ‘soul’ of the Temple. It too is other than its body. Its pillars are a grove of standing stones in a vast space filled with Light. Its shape mirrors the universe…
A symbol within a circle at your feet maps the evolution of the soul… and above the central point there is a single, brilliant flame that reaches up into the night.
Let your mind follow the path lit by the flame and rise, higher and higher… passing through the roof and out into the darkness of space. Around you, the stars wheel in the heavens, bright points of dancing light against the indigo sky. The land spreads out beneath you, a living shadow that reaches as far as you can see and beyond…
From the central light, silver flame spreads, pulsing, across the earth in a great web of light. Where the threads cross, you know that stones have been set, groves, mounds and pools… places of worship…sacred centres of all paths, faiths and denominations, harmonising the flow of cosmic Life and Light.
You are part of that Web, part of its warp and weft. You are a tender of the Flame.
Feel the life of the earth coursing through its strands… and through you. Give yourself to its glory. See the web blaze bright and clean… burning away all shadows, healing all rifts and lighting the land.
Within you, the flame also burns… Its essence is a steady point of brilliance in your heart, small as a seed, but vast as the universe. You are its guardian.
Now slowly, gently, return your mind to the Inner Temple, carrying the vision of Light within.
Take a moment to think of the earth and its creatures. For the life of the planet that manifests in a myriad ways. For the flowers and trees, for the animals, for the people who suffer. For that which can only speak to a listening heart. For the voiceless.
“I speak for the lonely. Those that think they are separate from the One. I speak for the light to shine upon their hearts and open them to love. I speak for their voices to be heard, and their prayers to lead them onto the lighted path. I speak for the bereft and alone to lift their hearts to love. I ask that they be guided on the path to find the wondrous gate to all that is true. I speak for love, all that is and will ever be.” Jordis Fasheh.
“I will speak for those who seek the Light. I join with you as a seeker of light and of truth, in this, the winter of my years. I see the beauty in all that we are and all that we can become. I reach out to join you in this beautiful dance of life itself with the One. As we continue our incredible journey together, we understand that we are not outside the One, but the One seeing with many eyes and many hearts, and joined in a higher purpose-the alchemy of a life lived fully in concert with all that exists within this universe.” Anne Copeland.
Will you add your voice?
In your own words, speak for them now. Please stand and speak out loud. Let your voice be heard, resonating through the Web, a song in the silence, an affirmation of hope in the darkest night.
When you have spoken, sit quietly for a few moments, then extinguish your candle to end the meditation.
Take the three small stones and keep them with you until you find a place where it feels right to leave one. There, ‘plant’ your ‘seed’ of intent, as a symbol of hope and healing.
We thank you for joining with us at this time.
May the light shine always upon and within you.
“We offer ourselves as vessels, in service to the One. We see Its Perfection in the unfolding of Divine Will in accordance with the Laws of Being. Our lives flow from the Source; we stand in the presence of the All-Knowing, looking beyond the Veil in faith and trust. Through knowledge and experience, we seek Wisdom. From illusion we turn towards Truth. We journey from love to Love. We add our Light to the Web, renewing our dedication to the Light.” The Silent Eye.
All being well, we are converging from across this country and others, on the little Derbyshire village of Great Hucklow. This year, the story that frames the central themes of the weekend is that of the Epic of Glgamesh, possibly the oldest great work of literature known to Man.
Set in wall-girt Uruk, a mighty city-state of ancient Sumer, the Epic tells the story of its king, Gilgamesh. A magnificent warrior, a strong leader, he is, on the surface, everything a king should be. Especially in his own estimation. And yet… there is something missing; he is less than whole.
Join us here, on the Silent Eye website, as we tell the story of the workshop, exploring this ancient text, its hidden meaning and why it is still relevant to us today…
Last minute preparations are underway. I’m looking at the pile of props, costumes and workbooks and wondering how I’ll squeeze everything and a wheelchair into the car, even though we have done this so many times before and in much smaller vehicles. Wondering what I’ve forgotten… there is bound to be something… even though I have everything from safety pins and string to gilded plant pots.
On the surface it all looks like panic stations, yet, beyond that is a pool of perfect calm. I know that no matter what we have forgotten, or how things appear to be going… it will be fine. It is a matter of trust…and of experience.
There have been lost and misplaced items, things that should have been to hand at crucial moments but were, inexplicably, not. There was the year when a last minute epidemic hit the group and two of our Companions stepped up to the mark and shared nine roles between them. Wardrobe disasters, technical glitches, on the hoof rewrites… you name it, we’ve had it, and for the most part, no one even notices.
Although we do put a lot of care into staging these workshops, that is as close to theatrical as they get. The dramatic element is not about playing a part, as you would in amateur dramatics. There are no lines to learn, there is no audience to please, no need to be anything other than yourself.
We take a story, drawn from myth, imagination, or even stranger sources, and play it out symbolically. The story always addresses some of the spiritual and psychological principles behind the human journey and, through such rituals, we seek not only to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and our place in the world, but to set in motion the wheels of change.
This year, the story is inspired by the ancient Epic of Gilgamesh, a story that was old when the pyramids were raised. Over the weekend of the event and afterwards, we will share the story and open the doors of the temple a little to give a glimpse of what we do. We will also be asking you to join us in a meditation. ‘Raising awareness’ can have more than one meaning…
As soon as you mention temples, rituals and robes, people react. Some are intrigued, some scoff or shy away and others make the mental equivalent of the ancient sign against witchcraft. The Mysteries have always been shrouded in secrecy and there is good reason for that where the inner teachings are concerned, for they represent an experiential journey which must be taken, not taught. It is called by many names in many systems, but essentially it is the quest for the realisation of the true Self and its orgins…and how we can apply what we learn to our daily lives in order to grow and live in the world, fully present. The journey for each of us is as individual as we are, and there are as many paths to that realisation as there are stars.
The robes are worn simply to signify a change of state… our intent to step aside from the world for a moment to align ourselves with the sacred, by whatever name we know it or through whatever paradigm we approach it. Within the ritual drama workshops, we may also use costumes, which serve the same purpose but with a more precise symbolism. They also help set the mood for whatever theme we are using and allow us to attune to it more readily by appealing to the imagination.
The sacred space that we call a temple is, on the face of it, no such thing. It is a large, sunny room with its curtains closed and a few symbolic items that serve a similar purpose to the robes. We don’t worship dark gods…in fact everyone is free to choose their own definition of divinity and, every year, we have an eclectic mix that ranges through a whole spectrum of beliefs, from shamanic to druidic, from Qabalists to ministers. That is one of the joys of these workshops, that folk from so many from different paths, countries and backgrounds can work together as one and share their differing beliefs in harmony, learning from each other in mutual respect.
We don’t go in for sacrificing goats (or anything else) either. Quite apart from being a pointless waste of life, it would be exceedingly messy and land us with a heck of a cleaning bill. The only blood likely to be let is on the point of a sewing needle while making costumes. In spite of the number of times we have had to disappoint those who were expecting to learn we got up to something more exotic, the only thing we sacrifice is time, attention and energy.
The ritual dramas are scripted, with each person taking a role for the weekend. The scripts are read, not learned, so there is no demand for memorising, and each is crafted to tell a story. We’ve even published some of the scripts, so there is no mystery there. On the surface it all seems pretty safe and innocuous…little more than amateur dramatics without the bother of rehearsals. So why on earth do people come half way round the world every year to attend?
There is more than meets the eye to what is brought to birth at these workshops and the effects can be deep and long-lasting.
It is a communion of spirit. People of many paths but one intent come together to share a journey of the heart, mind and soul that leads towards a common goal. The focused intent and dedication of the Companions are the magical ingredients that change everything and, when we come together, what comes into being is greater than the sum of its parts. Many small candles, each no more than a single flame, together can illuminate the darkness. Words that seem no more than a story when seen on a cold page become fraught with meaning when awareness shifts from the mundane to the sacred and they are voiced with emotion and understanding. Doors are opened in the mind that lead to paths as yet untrodden. Simple robes become sacred vestments and an ordinary room becomes a timeless Temple when filled with that dedication to the Light.
“…a pale blue light rises behind the seated Temple officials. The East is flooded with its purity, and I am blinded by its intensity.”
The single flame that symbolises the Eternal Light is kindled in the heart and its glow lingers. Such magic is not born of words or gestures, nor will you find it in the robes or the trappings of ritual. It comes from within when we turn ourselves to face the Light and we find ourselves within It.
Jordis Fasheh, a friend and Companion of the School, tells how she found the Silent Eye at a pivotal point in her personal journey. At the moment when the Silent Eye officially came into being, Jordis was the first to step forward and join us…
How it came to be that I joined The Silent Eye, A Modern Mystery School.
It all started when I was ten years old. A child in search of something greater than herself. If I had read an Autobiography of a Yogi at that time things may have turned out differently. But I ran away from home one day, snuck on the subway and rode to the end of the line. Not knowing what it was I was searching for, when I disembarked from the train, the first thing I asked was, “where is the nearest Church.”
If I knew anything, it was that I had to find my voice. I spoke with God often but the weight of the outside world was over powering and I didn’t have the strength nor means to fight it. I became overly compliant and quiet and needed desperately to free myself.
A kind priest took me in and brought me to the Nuns. They fed me a warm tuna sandwich and asked how it came to be that I alighted upon their steps. While I tried to come up with some sort of tale, the priest brought me to the sanctuary and lit a candle.
We sat for a while and I shared that I ran away from home. He then asked if I knew where home was. I didn’t have an answer.
Finally, I said I could show him where I lived and he took me back to my family.
Several tumultuous years passed and my parents did the best they could but I left again at 16 to wonder on a path trying to find my way home.
One day my cousin Sylvia gave me a book written by Carlos Castaneda, “The Journey to Ixtlan,” which changed the course of my life in a positive way.
I read and studied all of his books. I then met a group of explorers who also studied Casteneda. They studied shamanism as well and one summer we met real shamans from Mexico City and we studied with them too.
Again, my life turned, I was becoming more aware and decided to become a paramedic as a way of service. I could probably write a book about those five years that contained a lifetime of experiences.
I studied everything I could get my hands on, every world religion; Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and most philosophers.
During those years, I met two spiritual mentors that were Gnostic Christian. I became enchanted by their knowledge and their mystical practices. They introduced me to ritual theatre and opened up the world of symbolism to me. All of my studies aligned, and it was a huge turning point for me.
It was then that I came across Carl Jung’s “Mysterium Coniunctionis.” While I probably didn’t know a fraction of what he was talking about, I did know that there was truth in its interior and that an alchemical union was what would bridge the separation between me and my soul.
However, and I may have mentioned before that I have two very real sides to my personality. One the pragmatist and doer and the other the creative artist and dreamer.
Well, unlike my mentors, I had to work and earn money to survive. In my mind, a starving artist route would not a heroine make. So I dove into my work during the week and let my spirt explore on the weekends.
However, these conditions did nothing to help bridge the gap. I continued to feel separate and could often hear Bono from U2, belting, “I still haven’t found what I am looking for!”
I think most artists and people that feel, feel deeply and go through ebbs and tides and churning emotions. Not always fun, eh?
In my forties I dove deeper into mystical studies and embarked on several years of healing old wounds and making amends with my family.
Much of the healing work occurred during mystical retreats and playing characters that hit chords on a deep symbolic level.
One day, my mentors asked if I would like to join them in England to participate in a ritual weekend. The theme was “Alchemical Marriage,” and it was there that I met Steve Tanham, Sue Vincent and Stuart France.
Every fiber in my being stood up on end and the kundalini fired from head to toe. “This was it,” I knew it in my core.
Meeting Steve, Sue and Stu that weekend was just what the spiritual doctor ordered. They were loving, generous teachers who knew exactly what they were introducing to the world with the birthing of “The Silent Eye, A Modern Mystery School.”
Steve shared about his vision and how essential it is to bridge spiritual work with psychology. He explained that many people who follow a spiritual path often overlook psychological underpinnings that halt their progress to unity and letting go of separation.
I knew that well, as my undergraduate degree was in developmental psychology and wrote a thesis on introducing spiritual practices with psychotherapy.
Additionally, I have seen the phenomenon over and over in myself and in others. It is so prevalent, it has been labelled, “spiritual by pass.” Kind of like, “let’s ignore the elephant in the room and pretend we are one with God.” While we carry on and continue to feel separated from source, we continue to do hurtful things to the ones we love without understanding why. We practice service and kindness yet still feel empty inside.
As Steve spoke, I became more and more intrigued and eagerly joined all of the rituals and meditations during the weekend.
Early one morning, Stuart led a baptism ritual and after thorough preparation, we all knelt one by one as Stuart blessed us with oil and lifted our hearts in blessing. I felt cleansed and purified. Everything was as it is in perfection.
The following year, I attended the official ‘Birthing’ of the School at the Song of the Troubadour weekend. We all sauntered across the road and up a hill to conduct the ritual in the brisk cool air. We were greeted by a small lamb and were delighted as he sprang forth on the tall grass to guide us up the hill. It was around Easter weekend and the symbolism wasn’t lost on any of us. It felt great being greeted by spirit and welcomed by the land.
In another grand ritual Sue, Steve and Stu opened a gateway for the first students to go through. Of course, I was the first to jump up, enter the gateway and declare my intentions.
By the end of the weekend, I signed up for the first degree lessons.
While for me the study has taken longer than prescribed, it is all in good time. As we do work with the inner, our outer often transforms to facilitate a more unified way of being and living.
For me that meant moving a few times, changing jobs, loved ones passing and taking time to correct and adjust.
However, I just completed my second degree studies and have embarked on the third degree this past month.
The first two degrees were geared toward understanding the personality’s mechanisms and the subjects of object relations and polarities.
As I begin the third degree, I am fully present to what is, and completely aligned with spirit. I no longer feel separate, no longer alone, and am ready to engage with real spiritual work in the world.
The best I can describe it is my soul is driving the bus now. Not the other way around. While the personality has its strengths, the soul’s inner wisdom is far superior to anything my mind’s constructs can come up with.
It is a place of trust so pure and true and it took a great deal of work to get to this place of letting go at that level.
Now alive and awake in being, my soul is free to dance….For instance, I close my eyes, look within and am either riding a big wave, or dancing with the stars. The energy is freed up to play with joy.
What may come?
While the personality does not know, it has enough sense at this point to get out of the way.
And with a deep breath I take a wondrous dive into full being.
While transformation cannot be expressed fully in words as it exists on multiple levels, I can try by saying;
A drummer understands the sound of the universe’s heart beat.
A swimmer knows a wave’s zone.
A dancer in flight knows wind molecules,
My soul pirouettes with the divine and I am home.
I could not have gotten here without “The Silent Eye’s,” Founder Steve Tanham and Directors Sue Vincent and Stuart France. Lovely, accomplished, and generous souls.
Steve is my supervisor, a brilliant teacher and visionary. He is always patient and guides with his gentle and loving spirit. He sees through where one is stuck and gives insightful counsel to help you see for yourself.
The teachings blend rational science with ancient spiritual understanding. Steve, Sue and Stu are all very accomplished and knowledgeable yet being with them is as easy as can be. There is no pretence what so ever. However, there is a whole lot of love!
I will miss being with them this April for the Lord of the Deep workshop, as well as all of the companions. Unfortunately, I had lower back surgery this year and not quite healed. While I will not physically be with them in the Derbyshire Hills, I am always with them in heart and soul.