“Empty your mind… empty yourself…you are nothing and nowhere… just floating in the embrace of the universe…” It is a nice idea and one I have heard at the start of many a meditation… and in meditation, such a vision has a place. As a way of living, it is not particularly practical though. Someone has to walk the dog, take out the trash and clean the bathroom… and a person wafting through life being ‘nothing and nowhere’ is unlikely to be getting down and dirty with a scrubbing brush or chasing a recalcitrant hound across a muddy field.
It is such concepts that, for some, consign the whole idea of spirituality to the odd corners of life. It becomes a pastime, something to ‘do’ in spare moments or with a group. It isn’t reality, is it?
For many others though, it is just that… the most eminently practical way to live… not something to do, but something to Be.
But just how can you reconcile the nitty-gritty needs of everyday life with living a spiritual life? Especially when the daily grind seems to get in the way and haul you forcibly back from the Threshold you long to cross?
As a young mother with two small boys creating daily havoc and a longing to pursue my own spiritual studies, I read a chapter in ‘The Training and Work of an Initiate’ by Dion Fortune, one of the most respected esoteric teachers of the past century or so. She wrote of the Path of the Hearthfire and how each moment, each task, every dirty cup or grazed knee could be part of the bricks and mortar of a spiritual life. She explained, with her customary clarity, how every experience and every chore, if the attention is focussed and the intent conscious, becomes a rite… and is, therefore, a very real part of the spiritual journey. She wrote of the Unseen Guest for whom we may keep a place beside the hearthfire and, slowly, I began to understand.
Everything we do, learn or feel becomes part of the fabric of our being. Every choice we make takes us to another fork on that personal road and leaves its mark on who we are and who we will become. Our lives, our experience and our actions are a spiritual journey, whether we recognise it as such, or not. The only difference between those who walk a deliberately spiritual path, regardless of its name, and those who do not, lies in conscious choice, awareness and intent. Each of us may learn and grow without turning our backs on everyday life. All of us have the same rich vein of experience from which to extract alchemical gold.
There comes a point in most of our lives when we begin to question and may turn to whichever spiritual path seems to call us. It is at this point we are also called to question the nature of the vessel we have formed from the gold of experience. ‘Know thyself’, phrased in innumerable ways, is a core tenet of the Mysteries, whatever path we choose.
We learn to see ourselves as a chalice, a vessel made from the raw materials of our personality and experience into which the wine of life has been poured. That vessel may be a thing of beauty… but is more likely to be a little skewed and battered. It may be jewelled with knowledge or made of an earthier clay. It matters little… we do not taste the vessel, it serves only to hold the wine.
There may come a moment when we wish to offer that vessel in dedication, to serve the Light we see. To hold up that vessel and allow the Light to fill it… and to do so, the vessel must first be emptied. Many texts seem to teach that we must turn away from the world, ‘rise above’ our flawed humanity or become detached from the humdrum life. I do not believe that this is so.
Detachment is a cold thing, very different from the non-attachment that embraces all but is enslaved by none.
We are what we are… fully human, full of flaws and imperfect. Yet there is purpose to our imperfection for without it we could neither learn nor grow. Our imperfection is perfect in its design and mirrors something greater. To turn our backs on our humanity is to deny our nature and refuse the value of our unique experience upon this earth.
We craft the vessel from the sum of our experience, its light and its darkness, our gifts and our knowledge, bringing all that we are to its making. We offer our whole self willingly and with love…and such a dedication empties us of the fears and desires of the fragile and transient personality that thinks itself king. There is no ruler in unity.
To be no-thing but whole, to be now-here instead of nowhere… to be present and conscious within the universal embrace… empties the mind of who we think we should be… and allows us to be what we are.
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.
Anne Copeland, a Companion of the Silent Eye, writes of her journey with the School:
I came across The Silent Eye Mystery School quite by accident, if anything can be truly considered an accident. I have studied a lot of psychology, archaeology, history, geography, spirituality, world religions, mythology, and other studies for many years, trying to discover just where I fit in within this world and this universe. I sought to understand the meaning of the many things I encountered daily in the ways I related to others, or the meanings of things that cannot readily be seen, but which we all are conscious of. Somehow I never seemed to quite find the answers I was seeking.
Have you felt that you are somewhat alone with a world that seems to have so many problems and people doing wrong that it feels out of control? Do you wonder if you will ever find peace and genuine happiness and understanding of the things of this place, this time of life? Will you ever feel at one with the light of this world? Perhaps most importantly, will you ever encounter the love and respect that you have wished for?
The school studies consist of a combination of contemporary psychological and ancient esoteric teachings that have been carefully selected to take you on a wonderful and magical journey into the light, wonder and color of the universe. As you venture into the guided journeys, you will begin to see how lost we can become as we attempt to relate to many things and people that exist outside of our sacred being. You will steadily find your way home as you have perhaps never known it.
This is the start of my second year of the three-year study, and I have never enjoyed any of my many studies as much as this. Not only have I come to know the archaeology, history, religions, mythology and geography of England; I have also come to know myself and to have a sense of how in the past I have reacted to so many aspects of my own life rather than interacting with them in a way that is beneficial to both sides. I have discovered a tremendous amount of personal peace and well-being even when I am surrounded by turmoil and disintegration. This is part of the great alchemy that brings us into a sense of oneness with all that is, all that ever has been, and all that will be.
Founded in 2012 by three amazing, knowledgeable people in England, Steve Tanham, Sue Vincent and Stuart France, The Silent Eye Mystery School is a wonderful correspondence course that is supplemented by in-person workshops and exciting events which are optional for students to attend if they are able. The course is extremely reasonable, and each student is assigned a “supervisor” who will assist you with gaining a deeper understanding of your studies, and who will answer all of your questions along the way.
Jan Malique, our Vessel of Hathor for the River of the Sun, has kindly given permission for us to share her thoughts on the ritual weekend. Jan is a Comapnion of the Silent Eye and this was her first time at one of our workshops. Thank you, Jan.
The River of Life
Where to start dear reader? At the beginning perhaps. This was my first Silent Eye open workshop – The River of the Sun, I was enrolled upon the Foundation Triangle course and standing at a crossroad seeking clarification. It was a strange time, spiritual doubts and a desire for introspection propelled me forward towards the doorway the weekend offered. Shall we say I had become a little disappointed with the “magical scene”. A true magician rises above ego, refrains from intellectual snobbery and becomes a living conduit for the Higher forces to come through. Or so I believed. There was something missing, so a step back was necessary to restore faith. Time to don the Pilgrim’s simple robe and start a new quest. The Silent Eye School beckoned over the Horizon. The Mystic within me cried out to be heard. It was to be an important move for me.
The River of the Sun offered me the chance to re-engage with my beloved Khem and its neters, possibly touch the mind of Egypt and perchance glimpse the Soul of this great nation. The weeks leading up to the weekend of the workshop flew by, I was excited and feeling a little overwhelmed to be honest. The workbook blew my mind, an incredible amount of time, effort and research had gone into manifesting it. Interesting. This boded well for the encounter with my fellow Companions, a few who were familiar from past encounters. The great River of Life flowed around me, I was part of it and yet removed.
This workshop was multi-layered, involving complex spiritual, mystical, magical and psychological themes. Both sacred and profane seeking and finding great truths. I believe it achieved its purpose. There was powerful magic manifesting in this temple, as the saying goes “As above, so Below”. Being given the privilege of being a Vessel of Hathor was rather significant for me. The Sunday of the weekend was also the first anniversary of my father’s death. The gods move in mysterious ways…This weekend was also an opportunity to heal the connection between myself , Isis and Osiris. It had never been an easy relationship and perhaps I could now move forward into a better space. I have never believed in blind devotion to either anything or anyone, one’s faith must be tempered by a balanced outlook and a questioning mind.
Within the space of our temple we were faced with the Divine, the Whole, Being itself. A mirror was being held up, one which had to be faced in order to see the True Self. One must never underestimate the effect such sacred dramas have upon the psyche and energetic systems, quite profound experiences at times. It ended all too soon and we journeyed to our lives in the outside world. Which is no bad thing, for it is in this outer world that we perform our real work. We no longer have our beloved temples of old, their time has gone and we the priesthood have been sent out into a far different world to manifest our work.