The Hunt of Desire

Reblogged from

The journey of the queen continues with the hunt…



There was a time, perhaps a very long time as we like to measure it, when Guinevere was both the huntress and the hunted. As a mortal woman, she desired to be loved and to love, and she fought these wild yearnings of her body until she gave way to the truth of her heart. Until the Fae within could be recognized as a part of herself, the fair queen gave herself over to the hunt. Men, of which there were many, bared swords in battle to win her heart. The lucky ones, those who were most valiant and pleasing to her eyes, she welcomed into her chamber, not knowing that she would end up becoming imprisoned.


For many years, when she was young and fair, Guinevere let herself be consumed by the hunt, thinking that this was love. Love became, to her, a passion of the body, its fire burning only so long as there was tinder feed it. Hungry knights and their pleasing gifts were consumed by her desire until they were thrown away, charred and humbled by a fickle heart that was never satiated. The beautiful queen cast aside her king, and many a brave and nobel knight, allowing herself, as she did, to become pray to more dubious pursuers. The fate of many who get caught up in the hunt…

Continue reading Alethea’s journey here.

Finding Gawain – Act Four

Hieronymous Bosche Garden of Earthly Delights

(image: detail from ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ by Hieronymus Bosch.

Wikipedia Creative Commons)

Finding Gawain – Act Four


Within the forest there is a sense of reckoning. Plucked from Castille Diablo, the man who may once have been Gawain finds himself, again, with wild blood in his veins and standing in the middle of the Clearing of the Ways, facing the West from which he knows Hunter Gawain approaches.

As the twigs break, clumsily, underfoot, at the approach of the other, he smiles. There will be no escape this time… The riddle cannot be solved by mortal mind, the forest will have its sacrifice, the true hunt will come to its conclusion, but it will be swift and merciful, not ritualised and brutal, as those of predatory mankind are…

The Guardian of the Hart has no need to follow the secret pathways in this encounter. He strides from the middle of the clearing to face the intruder Gawain and draws his sword. “Now you die,” he says.

There is a strangely confident look in the eyes of his victim… The other begins to fire answers, appearing to waste time, yet his eyes speak of another game. The Guardian of the Hart tires of this and raises his deadly sword to strike…

“Wait!” says Hunter Gawain. “One final answer… Sovereignty…”

No… this cannot be. Gawain re-sheathes his sword and looks around at his forest… What now? Hunter Gawain has won his life, but a life is now forfeit under the ancient magic of this place. Gawain knows that there has been an intervention; that the only person who could have saved Hunter Gawain has sealed the Guardian’s own doom, instead.

“May she who told you find what she most desires,’ he bows and whispers to the smiling other, as the grasses on the edge of the clearing part and a Veiled Woman glides into the clearing to take the Guardian of the Hart’s hand and lead him away. Her grip is iron. There will be no escaping it…

The Veiled One leads him through the forest, to a place where nine dark trees form a tightly-knit circle, their abundant foliage completely obscuring the light overhead. In the middle of the space is a carved wooden chair, draped with the skins of the Stag, the Boar and the Fox. The Veiled One thrusts him, none too gently, into the chair and tells him that the next faces he will see are those of the Lord and Lady of the Hunt…unless he choses to run, instead…

The symbolism of him joining the hunted is not lost on his hammering heart. Does a slow and painful death at the hands of the many-knived hunters await? Is this, finally, his Unmaking?

The Veiled One passes gentle fingers across the outer leaves of the of trees and it begins…

It begins with Hell… The music that the trees make is one of horrifying discord, and jerks the Guardian of the Hart upright in his seat. He wants to flee its painful noise, but knows he must stay seated and see out what has been started. The greenery all around him is filling him with a strange emotion – that of inevitable acceptance; of relinquishing any idea of being a Knight who fights… He wonders if he has been drugged… and thinks back to the healing potions given by the ladies of Castille Diablo. Why is he not defending himself?

At the point where he feels he will lose his sanity if the music continues, it changes. The chanting of monks is a welcome respite, and he drift away into his own thoughts, considering his life and the strange paths that have brought him here.

Knight of the Goddess they named him from his earliest of days. Some joked about his fondness for the company of women, others saw that much of that destiny was not of his making. Either way, the description was apt, and he had spent much of his life either protecting, defending or making love to, women.

Where are they now? he thinks. Where are those whom he defended with his skill and his blade in his hour of need? But then the acceptance sweeps over him again and with it a deep sense of trust, something his life has seen a dearth of… But to trust in this way is to not act and the inner war rages on…

She appears first, the Lady of the Hunt, resplendent in Red, masked and horned, leading the equally exotic but white-robed Lord by the hand. They approach him, frozen in focus in his carved chair atop the animal skins, and stand behind him, placing over his eyes a tight band of cloth so dense that there is no chance of light penetrating the imposed darkness.

“Trust,” says the Lady of the Hunt, placing her hand on his left shoulder. “Trust,” says the Lord of the Hunt, placing his hand on his right shoulder.

And then another form of hell erupts. Into the now darkened chamber cavort what sound like hundreds of wild spirits, spirits that scream and cackle and make noises that would be at home in a nightmare. They move around the room and around him, swooping in and out of the space around his body. The Guardian has to clench his arms to the chair to avoid moving away from their approach to his head as they glide by, speaking into his ears and giving him their signs and meanings – but too many to remember, though some he has met before.

There is a lull and he thinks it is over, but then they come again… And through all of this the Lord and Lady rest their hands gently on his shoulders in the human sigil of ‘trust’.

And then…

And then the sense of time spinning away from him quietens, and there is born in him a whiteness…

This whiteness comes directly from the juxtaposition of the cacophony and the gentle hands on his skin. It adds to the acceptance and gives him an inner presence that matches the outer gentleness on his shoulders. In the total darkness he can almost make out another pair of hands, white ones this time, the hands of an infinitely patient and loving woman, but they are too far away from him to reach for.

“Trust,” says the Lord of the Hunt. “Trust,” says the Lady of the Hunt, and both pull him to his feet, guiding his blind steps to the edge of the chamber and down a steep flight of rocks, alongside a dancing stream whose cold waters splash his bare feet. Each step is guided by the firm but gentle voice of the Lady, with the Lord watching his every step.

At length he reaches level ground and the Lady of the Hunt takes his upper arm and walks him, in tightly controlled steps, around a strange series of movements. She rests him at the end and tells him that he has just walked the secret pattern of the forest…in Trust.

And then…

And then, he is propelled towards another place where the cold breeze blows and the blindfold is taken from his eyes. Ahead there are fires and, he knows, something else…

The headsman’s block is waiting, waiting amidst a crescent of all the people he knows in both Camelot and the Castille Diablo. The block is waiting for his acceptance and his neck, as the debt must be paid… The people are kindly, but look upon him as though he were a ghost.

The Lord and Lady’s strong hands propel him to his fate, making him kneel in the dirt and offer his head in the final act of his life.

It will be good not to be Gawain any more, he thinks to himself, as the trust and the acceptance take him and the last shred of resistance dies…

But then the voice of the Lady of the Hunt becomes the voice of the Lady of the Lake; and the Lord’s becomes that of Merlin. The lady holds his neck steady and he can hear the soft hiss as she takes her dagger from its sheath. The cold steel presses to his neck and cuts the flesh with caring precision.

In a time beyond time, he can feel the welling of a single drop of the running blood on the tip of his chin… And then it leaves the flushed flesh of his face and drops towards the waiting Earth below, carrying the last of this Gawain with it.

Deep within the Hart, the white hands reach for him…

Previous: Act One, Act Two, Act Three (i), Act Three (ii), Act Three (iii)

The journey of Gawain is a personal interpretation of one of the parts in Leaf and Flame, the Silent Eye’s annual workshop held in April 2016 and created by Stuart France and Sue Vincent.

The Silent Eye uses a combination of magical ritual and psycho-drama to illustrate its teachings on the journey to the Soul.

For more details click here.

Details of next year’s workshop (April 2017), The Feathered Seer, can now be found on our website events page. Everyone is welcome, all you need to bring is your self…

Finding Gawain – Act Three, part three

Gawain's AxeAA

Finding Gawain – Act Three, part three

And then…

And then, there is the sound of laughter rolling in from the hills…that host the hunt…that gives rise to the baying of the hounds…that draws exhausted, dirty, frozen and stinking Gawain from his muddy deathbed and flings him, like a mannequin on parade, to the gates of the Castille Diablo, and, via a startled but strangely foliate drawbridge guard who protests that the assembled court are at meat and that they may not be disturbed, but who catches the names Arthur and Gawain from the rotting Knight on the wrinkled and sodden horse and returns running, minutes later to allow the royal beggar into the inner court that resembles a distorted Camelot and where most are wearing animal masks, except the Lord of Laughter who laughs with such gusto that everyone else, masked or not is laughing too, at the filthy, knightly visitor who arouses their derision, and, in certain quarters, their desire…

And then…

And then the unmasked god of laughter takes seriously the plea of filthy Gawain that he be given, simply, shelter and a place to pray, and a masked woman who reminds him of the Lady of the Veil in Camelot walks him around the castle and shows him where to bathe in steamy waters, and when clean, where to kneel and pray upon his sword, pressed into the stone floor like the swordly cross upon whose crux his life was spared when the laughter began… and for the length of time it takes for the music in his head to play, and the laughter from on high to stop…he prays, kneeling on the stone floor.

And then the string that holds the mannequin is cut, and the laughter that danced him from the edge of frozen, sodden death ceases…

Because there is establishment of more subtle importance to be made… And Sir Gawain of Camelot, is summoned, cleaned and prayed, to the high chamber, again.

Establishment of gentle rules, says the Lord of Castille Diablo, in a voice that is deeper than he is high, yet softer and edged with shining green. Establishment of a…game…a game of the Inner and the Outer worlds; where the outer is to be the Lord’s passion of hunting, and the inner will be the recovery of the starved Gawain, with the finest care the Castille Diablo has to offer… and the care of the ladies of the house, to tend his needs…

And Gawain, now recovering his wits, asks the obvious question: where do the worlds meet?

The Lord, now revealed as Lord Verdant the Unmasked, impressive by any measure and genuine in his magnanimity, smiles as he explains that the worlds meet in Gawain–recovering, cared for Gawain; who will receive, each day, the fruits of the hunt, in their entirety…in exchange for Gawain giving him whatever spoils the day of gentle care has brought forth.

The Lord Verdant smiles when Gawain says that he seems to be getting the better of the bargain…smiles and says, “Perhaps, perhaps… We shall see,” in a way that Gawain would find sinister had he more strength to power the recovering wits.

But the deal is struck…and there is much merriment; and the Lord of Castille Diablo and the Knight of Camelot spend hours together, far into the night, and it would appear that Gawain is, indeed, to be given the freedom of the daytime castle and the tender attentions of the ladies who are not of the hunt…

She enters his bedchamber with the light tread of one with intent. She sits by his bed and gazes on the parts of his naked body visible beneath the great cloak that warms and protects him. Eventually he awakens, and becomes conscious of her regal presence. The Lady Verdant is not a woman to be denied – he knows he must tread carefully, especially in the light of the game of two worlds her husband has proposed; and to which he has pressed his hand.

Pretending to be asleep does no good. She waits patiently for his attentions. He turns and there begins the most beautiful fencing match he has ever played. But the blades are words…and the intent is deadly. She tells him he is her prisoner and she intends the keep him that way. He parries by taking delight in such a game. She praises his mighty skills; he parries with protestations that he does not recognise the man she describes, especially given the beauty and grace she, alone, possesses. They part with smiles, but not before she extracts his permission to receive a kiss.. She pulls him to his feet, his hands clutching the fur cloak tightly, and the kiss is delivered…

After his toilet and the chapel, the day is filled with delightful company, warmth and the finest food fed to him by the ladies of earthly paradise–The Lady Verdant and a mysterious older lady of equal elegance, though not the same level of beauty…

Many times he drifts into sleep, and dreams of the very opposite of the tender feeding fingers. In these vivid dreams he sees the hunting of a great Stag, Lord of the Forest, finally cornered by Lord Verdant, himself, who, hours after the quarry was first sighted, delivers the death blow with his sword.

And then…

And then the hunters become butchers as as an army of sharp knives are produced, and used to carve the carcass in the most exact way, so that each of the supporting cast of the hunt, even the dogs, receives their due portion of the mighty beast, cornered and ritually slain, in the manner of the Castille.

Gawain, the Knight of the Lady, awakens with a start, sitting up to find himself alone for the first time that day. His solitude does not last long, however, for, no sooner has he established that he is not still in a dream, Lord Verdant appears with all his male courtiers, laying out for Gawain the spoils of the kill.

Finest of these is the skin of the mighty Stag, which Lord Verdant drapes over the shoulders of the Knight of the Ladies before asking, “And what of my portion of the day? What did you receive?”

Without posturing, Gawain delivers him the kiss on the cheek; refusing, a second later to divulge the source. The Lord of Castille Diablo bows to this concession and smiles at the progress of the game.

There is much carousing into the night…but the Lord leaves early for the hunt, with all his men.

When the morning breeze from the opened door blows open the inner curtains around his bed, Gawain is already awake and waiting. This time the Lady Verdant taunts him that yesterday’s establishment of her right to a kiss, on entry, was not honoured. He gladly makes amends, whereupon she presses him that he – one so experienced in the arts of love, as well of battle, should take her as his pupil…

They parry awhile, then, feeling her press an advantage that he cannot block, Gawain plays his best card and switches their mood, pulling himself erect from his bed, the cloak tightly around him, and lowering his eyes, commending her to her honourable husband. “My lady, please remember that, beyond these few days of kindness, I am here to die…”

She claims only a second kiss, then retires to leave him to dress.

The hours pass. He is fed and adored. At length, in the soft chaise longue by the table of delights he drifts into a deep sleep and dreams of a mighty boar which is flushed from its den and chased for hours, gouging many of the brave hunters who venture too close to the savage beast. Eventually the boar is cornered and the Lord again delivers the death blow. Mortally wounded, the animal is washed downriver where the dogs seize it and tear into its dying flesh. As the ritual butchery begins, Gawain wakens to the smiling face of Lord Verdant, holding the boar’s skin out to him.

Rising and bowing, Gawain delivers his two kisses. The Lord smiles, again enquiring as to their origin, then accepting that Gawain’s refusal to divulge was, of course, within the rules.

On the third morning, the Lady Verdant does not increase his agony. Instead she insists that the noble Knight of Arthur’s Court take a gift from her to remember her by. She presses a fine ring upon him. He refuses, saying he has nothing to give her of any value, dressed for battle as he is. She presses something lesser, eventually offering something worthless – her green garter. Even this he will not take, until…

Until she tells him that this garter has a magical weave which will protect its bearer from harm. The resolute Gawain falls into this spell, sensing truth in her words and feeling the proximity to the Green Knight’s executing blade. At the Lady’s urging, he conceals the garter about his person, away from the eyes of her returning husband. Three kisses have been given… and one garter.

That afternoon Lord Verdant stands over a waking Gawain who has dreamed the chase and ritual death of a single Fox. The Lord comes forward, presenting the Knight with the skin of the fox, in return for which he takes the three kisses. “Are  you sure that is all you have to give me?” queries the Lord of Castille Diablo. Gawain assures him that it is so, and the Lord, smiling, declares the game over and won…

And then…

And then there is the sound of laughing, again, coming from the walls of the Castille Diablo, and the other Gawain is standing before him, revealed as the Guard of the Drawbridge, holding out the green mask which Gawain must exchange for the Book of Answers which are not answers to the riddles that matter.

And the laughing gets louder and louder… and the green garter does nothing to prevent its intense harm within the untouched body of Sir Gawain of Camelot.


The journey of Gawain is a personal interpretation of one of the parts in Leaf and Flame, the Silent Eye’s annual workshop held in April 2016 and created by Stuart France and Sue Vincent.

The Silent Eye uses a combination of magical ritual and psycho-drama to illustrate its teachings on the journey to the Soul.

For more details click here.

Details of next year’s workshop (April 2017), The Feathered Seer, can now be found on our website events page. Everyone is welcome, all you need to bring is your self…

The Return of the Queen by Alethea Kehas

Reblogged from Not Tomatoes: Alethea shares a personal perspective on her journey through Leaf and Flame…

How does one condense a journey that is not over, but that began before a magical weekend where I played the role of Queen Guinevere at the annual workshop for the Silent Eye School of Consciousness? I am not sure, but here is what has come out of it so far. 

I walked the familiar path of day

 to meet Snake stretching the light, illuminating

what was ready to be shed, and

what was waiting to be seen


Later, in the land of Avalon

under a full moon, old blood began its release

and I gave way to the hunt

running with the breath of Boar

into a landscape once veiled


Here, you waited with your offer

and I bowed to receive the golden crown

but the habits of the false self

are a tight wrap and I held fear

in an unsettled heart and fell

once again, into sleep

only to be awakened by light…

Continue reading of Alethea’s journey at: The Return of the Queen

Finding Gawain – Act Three, part two

Gawain gate of desperationAA

Finding Gawain – Act Three, part two

By the time Gawain realises he had come back on himself, in a great circle of many day’s ride, he has lost all sense of time. The mighty oak – the largest he has ever seen, mocks him with the purple ribbon, tied around it, days ago, to mark his way. The ribbon was a gift from Guinevere, in the days when he had been her favourite.

The snow and ice have removed even the power of his blue fingers to count. Huddled in caves, or kneeling by frozen streams, breaking the mirror-like ice with the pommel of his sword in order to drink, he lives more like an animal than a Knight.

At night, his loyal horse, Gringolet, lies against him, as they offer each other what meagre warmth their starved bodies can muster. His voice is hoarse, and when they pass through hamlets, the villagers, who should see him warmed and fed, scatter as he shouts his pathetic cry to their fleeing backs, “Do you know of a Green Chapel by here?” They do not speak. Their reply is a shaking of frightened heads, as they flee from this spectre of what was, once, the land’s most famous Knight.

The third time he finds the ribboned oak, he kneels by its huge trunk, puts his arms around it, and cries. There is no logic left in this world, no reasoning. There are no laws by which he can work the miracles of strategy by which he was once known as warrior.

When the sobbing is finished, he takes his sword and kneels before it, praying to Christ and to Arthur, telling him across the leagues that he tried, and has failed…

Moments later, when his face has slid down the ancient bark and into the frozen mud, he hears the sound of hounds baying across the icy meadows, nearby…


First published last June, this Gawain poem fits well this segment of the retelling

Dark Night of the Stone

Freezing fingers clutch the silver cup

The thin but faithful horse stands grace

Equine feelings urge Gawain, “Go on”

The mountain stream adds ice; its own

Completing miseries’ embrace

How did we come to this, Gawain?

His frozen thoughts; the pain, protest

How did we seek a place unknown

To pay the debt we shouldn’t own

From Christmas last, a bitter jest

He fingers coins, full purse of spite

“Perhaps I’ll buy a room!”

But round him snow and frozen streams

Speak far of warming tavern’s dreams

And icy wind that offers only doom


A mind, half starved, breaks off a branch

“May I divine a place to Yule!”

The joke is lost on blackening fells

Which long for village evening bells

Far from that place where death’s the only rule

His strength no more can fight the cold

He draws his sword and drives its mark

Into the earth, then at this cross begins to pray

In deepest heart beloved Arthur finds a way

And fire which needs no place defies the dark

©Copyright Stephen Tanham, 2015

The journey of Gawain is a personal interpretation of one of the parts in Leaf and Flame, the Silent Eye’s annual workshop held in April 2016 and created by Stuart France and Sue Vincent.

The Silent Eye uses a combination of magical ritual and psycho-drama to illustrate its teachings on the journey to the Soul.

For more details click here.

Details of next year’s workshop (April 2017), The Feathered Seer, can now be found on our website events page. Everyone is welcome, all you need to bring is your self…

Finding Gawain – Act Three, part one

Gawain overlay Act3

Finding Gawain – Act Three, part one

In the sanctuary of the Castle of Camelot, he awakens; wet with sweat and wondering…

Who is this ‘me’, he asks the cold air around him, remembering both the hapless Hunter Gawain and the Guardian of The Hart, the man who now belongs to the mind of the forest with the corporeality of its awakened White Knight.

He wonders how long he has slept in this fever? Days? Even weeks, perhaps? The air is chilled, as though the plunge downward towards the darkest day is near. He has a horrible feeling of being severed from his beloved Court, of now being one who cannot be helped…

But, wherever he has been, he is here, fully present, in Camelot, again. Is there another much like him, roving the stone passageways, like some displaced ghost of Gawain?

He turns to look at the small wooden table by his bed. There, beside a jar of ale and some beef pastry, lies a note. He breaks the wax seal to find that it is from Mordred and Morgause. They wish him a speedy return to health and enclose two magical gifts. He examines the white carved tooth of some large wild animal, and the accompanying preserved oak leaf. They both are mounted on neck chains, so he stands, on shaky legs, to put them on. It would be ungracious for a Knight to refuse a gift from such high-ranking members of the Court. As the hanging tooth brushes against the noble oak leaf, Gawain feels a pain, like the nick of a dagger blade, which fades quickly. He looks down and sees that the tooth has drawn blood from the green oak.

For long minutes, he stares at the wound which does not belong to his body…and yet does. He considers throwing it from the narrow window of his chamber, but decides that such taunts are best met head on. Besides, what the talismans say is true: Gawain is truly wounded and hunted. He resolves that he will tuck them into a fold in his cloak and let them decide when to end their concealment.

Some time later, he emerges from his chambers, bathed and dressed. The strength is returning to his overslept limbs. The water providing healing, as always. He decides he will pray, one last time in Camelot, and enters the small chapel, clutching his beloved crucifix…

When Gawain enters the Court, news of his recovery has spread. But there is no celebration. He can taste the gloom in the mighty chamber, heart of Camelot, even before he enters. He looks around but no-one will look him in the eye. Even beloved Arthur looks at him through eyes that are misty and half-closed, shaking his head slowly to the unasked question.

They have failed, he knows. The outriders crossing and re-crossing the land of Logres have failed to find the key to the riddle given to a different Gawain; a riddle which, in his guise as Guardian of the Hart, Beloved of the Forest, he created.

So why, now, does he not know the answer to the question, ‘What woman most desires?’

In baleful tones, and holding the collected Book of Answers, Arthur confirms that the Knights have found many responses, but that they are all different. Mordred and Morgause cackle with laughter and deride Gawain, pointing to his look of fear at the news. But, deep within, the white being that had its birth in the forest is calm. Gawain looks back at Mordred and Morgause and bows. As he does so, the talismans fall out from his cloak and swing like pendulums in the cold air of the Chamber of the Table Round.

Those of the Court who know the power of such things, gasp – as much at the fact that Gawain has kept them about his person when most would have tossed them into dung trough, or, even better, thrown them into the river where their curses could be washed by water and time. Gawain holds the frozen eyes of his two oppressors and waits until a single drop of blood has dripped from the wounded oak leaf and onto the stone floor of Camelot before turning, once again, to face his King.

Arthur bids him take the Book of Answers on the cover of which is emblazoned Gawain’s own sigil – the eternal knot of the Pentacle. Despite the lack of answers within, the motif blazes with brightness as Gawain sets it, delicately, against the pedestal that holds the wondrously severed head of the Green Knight.

Gawain bows, one final time to his King, then, knowing there are unseen tears all around him, calls for his warrior’s horse, Gringolet and walks, reins in hand, across the drawbridge and out of Camelot.

As Gringolet and his master step onto the damp soil of Logres, the snow begins to fall. Gawain gathers his cloak around him, tightly, and shivers in the face of the wholly unknown.

He must find the Green Chapel; there to offer his neck to the Green Giant who taunted the Halls of Camelot nearly a year ago. He has no idea where the Green Chapel is, nor how he is going to locate it. Regardless, he is honour-bound to seek it. Perhaps he is condemned to die, trying, rather than beneath the fearsome axe of the giant…


The Silent Eye uses a combination of magical ritual and psycho-drama to illustrate its teachings on the journey to the Soul.

For more details click here.

Details of next year’s workshop (April 2017), The Feathered Seer, can be found on our website events page. Everyone is welcome, all you need to bring is your self…