Perspectives on Perception…

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ENNEAGRAM

The Circle is Time.

Six of the Nine: one-two-four-five-seven-and-eight,
Process through time.

Three of the Nine: three-six-and-nine,
Are outside time…

And Divine.

Yet still impact,
And impinge in time,
By impelling this processional motion.

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Six of the Nine can be represented by the six faces of a cube:
Enfolded and encased outlooks on the world.

Three of the Nine can be represented by the three dimensions of a cube
for dimension is always an adequate symbol for Divinity.

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Movement from one dimension to the next is a shock!

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What is the antithesis of one?
None, two or many…?

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For many years I laboured under the misapprehension that to glean the gist of a thing was to
have the mere rudiments of it which is almost the exact opposite of the word’s actual
meaning.

This can happen because of the context in which words are used and context
which has at least two viewpoints if not many more is really just another word for perspective.

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The World is predicated on number.
Mineral, Plant and Animal growth are all governed by number.
Music is number in time.
Geometry is number in space.

Neither the World, Music nor Geometry initially ‘looks’ very much like number but that is what they are.

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The qualities of number are the key to understanding this, which really means their properties and their relationships, each one conceived as distinct from all the others yet linked by natural sequence and logical progression.

Strictly speaking there are only seven numbers.
Zero is not a number because it is the negation of number
and is therefore both the ‘tomb’ and ‘womb’ of number…
One is not a number because it is everything, without which there would be no thing:
Not One Thing…
Nine is not a number because it is a completion and possesses all the qualities of Zero:
And although numbers go on for ever they always repeat from Nine…

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But Geometry can help here too because the way we see things affects the way we think about things and vice-versa. Whenever we come across a reversible we have reflection and the world, it has been claimed, is merely a domain of perceived reflections.

Plato’s Cave is the classic simile for this idea.
In order to affect the shadow play of the world screen one has to access the light source.

The outer can only be affected by changing the inner.

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Fair weather…

I journeyed from darkness to light, driving through the dawn as the blackness greyed. The silhouettes of trees slowly detached themselves from the night as the sun attempted to pierce a pall of cloud that flushed to palest rose before refusing its touch. Beneath the iron sky, there was little sign of warmth and joy. I wondered how many people would see the same sun gilding the tops of the clouds as they looked out from planes soaring high above the gloom.

The layer of cloud separated two worlds… two realities. Mine was uniformly grey, above, it would be blue and gold, and both were real, both valid… both true. A simple shift in perspective, a few thousand feet, and the appearance of the world and the morning would be completely different.

You could, I mused, say the same of the weekend. A few days, a few hundred miles and a slight shift in perspective have made all the difference.

When we headed north, we had what we thought was going to be the itinerary for the December workshop. By the time we came back, it had morphed and evolved into something rather different from what we had initially planned. The land itself had showed us a different perspective, laughing at our preconceptions, yet, instead of our carefully-laid plans being upset, they had fallen into place in a way that made much more sense.

This is one of the reasons why our research trips are so important. It is not just a case of gathering practical information, like opening times, parking charges and refreshment breaks, it is about walking the planned weekend, making sure it works and leaving space for the landscape to make suggestions of its own.

This time, one of the sites around which we had planned part of the weekend turned out to be a non-starter… but as three other sites decided they wanted to be included instead… two of them jaw-droppingly good and one of them holding a perfect bit of symbolism… we simply adjusted our perspective and changed our plans. In essence, they remain the same, though the details have substantially changed from our original design. When the land makes itself heard, it would be rude not to listen.

We were exceptionally lucky with the weather, catching a perfect dawn and a perfect sunset over the ancient and sacred landscape where we will be working.  We can only hope the weather will be as good for the workshop weekend, knowing that whatever the weather, it will be a perfect day above the clouds. Perhaps we can bring that knowledge down into the day somehow. So now, with three weeks to go, we have more research to do…

The Giant and the Sun – Going off at a tangent

Every workshop needs a place to start, and with companions arriving from as far apart as Cumbria, London and America, you need to meet somewhere that is easily found. We knew full well that if we converged on the village pub and started talking we would never have time to visit the place we had come to see, but instead of meeting at one of the most intriguing places, where mystery, history and legend come together, we decided to meet at the church.

Old churches are interesting places. They provide not only a window on the social history of an area, but a snapshot of the growth of their community. You can get a real feel for a place by visiting these little churches that have grown with their congregation over the centuries, and often they reveal glimpses of a far distant past, much more ancient than Christianity.

The setting we have chosen for our meeting is rather idyllic, especially when the flowers and trees are in bloom. There are birds everywhere… a good many corvids…  and a magnificent yew tree that casts shadows over the churchyard… a perfect place to meet old friends and new.

The church of St Thomas à Becket serves the little village of South Cadbury in Somerset and it is built on the slopes of the ancient hillfort. There is no way of knowing when the first church was built here, but it was probably Saxon, as by the time the village was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, there was already a priest and a church of some importance.

The first recorded vicar was Peter de Burg in 1265. Curiously, this means Peter ‘of the hill’ or ‘of the castle’… a wholly appropriate name, given the situation of his benefice. The church is dedicated to St Thomas à Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury who was murdered in 1170 and canonised two years later. Inside the church there is a medieval wall painting, showing a red-headed bishop, tucked away in one of the old window embrasures, which may be a depiction of the saint.

The current building dates largely from the 13th and 15th centuries, with the arcade and tower arch being built around 1280 and with all the inevitable Victorian renovations and additions. The Tower was added in the 14th century and is protected by some rather curious creatures.

The air is cool inside and has that faint aroma of damp stone, beeswax, fading flowers and forgotten incense that seems to typify these village churches. Overhead the ceiling arches white, supported by blue-painted beams and gilded figures holding heraldic shields. The freshness of the gold and blue are doubtless modern, but the vaulted ceiling has sheltered the congregation for five hundred years.

The font, sadly, is more modern… no more than a hundred and fifty years old. There is no trace of an older font in or around the church. Many of these little places have fonts that go back to the original buildings, where generation upon generation have been baptised and I find it a little sad to see that link broken.

The pulpit too is Victorian, but here you begin to see traces of the older layout of the church. Beside the pulpit is an odd little alcove. Looking closer, we could see the curve of an old staircase, long since gone. This was the stairway that led to the rood loft, the gallery above the rood screen that once separated the chancel and altar from the congregation. After the Reformation, these screens, surmounted by the Rood, a depiction of the Crucifixion, were removed, demolished, whitewashed or cut down, both to remove the ‘abused images’… images and carvings that were thought to smack of superstition and idolatry… and to remove the separation between the altar and the people. In many old churches, though, the staircase to the rood loft still survives, appearing to lead to a doorway to nowhere.

Older features also include the remnants of a medieval piscina, the basin in the wall into which holy water was poured after the service, that its sacred properties should not leave the church walls or fall into the hands of unscrupulous practitioners of ‘witchcraft’.

The squint,  or hagioscope, still remains too. These odd-looking ‘tunnels’ are always angled through the internal walls that separate side chapels from the chancel and were made to allow worshippers in the side chapels to see the rasing of the Host during Mass. It should be remembered that all of our oldest churches were Catholic until the Reformation, when Henry VIII broke with Rome. The Anglican Church is simpler in the forms of its worship…but not so very different in essence.

I have to wonder if, in fact, the essence of religious belief or personal faith has ever been very different. The vision we weave of the creation of all things may differ and shift over the ages, as do the names, faces and stories of our gods, teachers and saviours, but we have always sought a point of origin, an ultimate destination and a pathway between.

Because the quest and its questions are universal, quite often the symbols and iconography of one paradigm can illuminate those of another. Symbols are not literal depictions, even though they may at first appear to be so. In spiritual terms, a symbol speaks to the heart rather than to the mind, pointing us towards ideas that cannot be transmitted as knowledge, but which must be intuited and understood rather than known.

Over the course of the weekend we would be working with a symbol and looking at the patterns in the landscape from ancient to historical times. Setting the known aside, we would attempt to feel our way forward… sometimes picking out anomalies and seeing what they suggested, sometimes finding the parallels between ancient and modern thought and seeing whether we could apply that to harmonise our own lives.

Symbolism is a natural means of communication. Before the majority could read or write, images bypassed the need for literacy and enabled abstract ideas to be shared. We have lost the habit of working with symbols… or we think we have. We all recognise road signs and trademarks. We look at a word and know the sound, the meaning, and all its emotional connections and implications… yet a written word consists of letters… each letter a symbol in its own right. It takes very little to start reading more from an image than it appears to show… we just need to look beyond logic and ask the question.

Why, for example, are there only men in the depiction of the Ascension behind the altar, while only women are present at the Crucifixion on the carved reredos below it? Traditionally, it was the disciples who witnessed the Ascension… although there is a biblical reference that suggests that Mary may also have been present. On the other hand, the bible mentions a number of men attending the Crucifixion.

Is this no more than coincidence or artistic licence? Quite probably… but treat it as a symbol and ask the question and it sparks a chain of intuitive ideas and possibilities. Legends, folklore, myths and stories can be approached in the same way… and will yield more than they seem to hold on the surface. It is not a question of right or wrong answers… sometimes there are no answers, only more questions. And sometimes the answers we find cannot be framed in words. It doesn’t matter. What matters is allowing yourself to step off the treadmill of habit to see and feel your world from a new angle… and we were going to be doing a fair bit of that over the course of the weekend…


The Giant and the Sun: Patterns in the landscape was the Silent Eye summer workshop weekend. These informal events are held several times every year and are open to all. You do not have to be a member to join us as we wander the rich landscape of Britain, visiting ancient, sacred and intriguing places. We seek out myth and mystery, exploring what the land and its stories can teach us about our own daily lives and our place in the intricate tapestry of human Being.

After each event, we publish an account of the places we have visited and share a little of what we have discussed during the course of the weekend to give a taste of what we do.

If you would like to join us for a wander through the mysteries and history of Britain, please visit our Events page.

All in the feeling?

It was a beautiful morning. I had watched a barn owl glide across the field as dawn limned the horizon with gold and palest pink. The sky was beginning to turn blue and the drive to work on almost-empty roads was accompanied by birdsong. It was one of those mornings where it felt good to be alive…. even though, I realised with a start, I wasn’t sure I really knew what that meant.

How does it feel to be alive? It is not as if most of us have anything to compare it with. It is an either/or situation and anything in between is actually neither, for consciousness seems to be elsewhere. What we think of as ‘feeling alive’ is really feeling emotion and sensation. It is hard to even separate thoughts, emotions and perceptions from who we are and how it feels to be us, here, now.

How did I feel? When I looked at it from this new perspective, I could not answer. Take away the sensation of sitting in a car… the pressure of seat and wheel, the thrum of the engine, the warmth of the morning rays through the glass, the faint tang of petrol and the sound of birds. Take away the emotions that react to movement, to the start of a day’s work, to spring mornings and the first cherry blossom… and what is left?

Were my body unable to feel, see, hear or otherwise engage the senses, I would still be alive. If heart and mind were so numbed that I was dead to emotion, or if consciousness were lost, I would still be alive. It would be no kind of life from our normal perspective, but it would still be life. How would that feel?

It is odd that we use that word, ‘feeling’, for so many different purposes, from emotion, to touch, from opinion to health…as if we cannot dissociate our idea of being alive from feeling in some form or another.

I slowed to watch a hunting hawk, feeling the discomfort caused by the pressure of foot on pedal, wishing, for a moment, that my body still behaved as it had when I was young. Could I remember what it felt like to be young? Not the thoughts, physical sensations or even the uncertain, unconfident emotions of youth, but what it actually felt like to be young? No, I realised, I could not. Nor could I even say, in those same terms, what it felt like to be older. Yesterday and today are too vague. There is only what I feel like now.

I could catalogue sensation, emotion and reaction, but that is all just a processing of sensory and social input. If the body is the interface between the world and the brain and the brain the interface between body and mind, mind must be the interface between the brain and… what? Consciousness? Being? Spirit? Soul? What was the next link in the chain… Where is the ‘I’ in all of that…and is there even an ‘I’ at all?

Caught in the limbo between home and destination, yesterday and tomorrow, there was only the road and the moment and both were part of a journey, a process in a constant state of change, but not without purpose.

For a moment, there was a glimpse beyond normality to Mystery. For a moment, I almost understood. But such things cannot be grasped, only, for want of a better word, felt. All that remained to put into thought was the consciousness of a road that leads to a somewhere that is everywhere. A somewhere that makes no distinction, no separation, between the road, the traveller and the destination. Only the journey is.

There is an odd sort of serenity in that. The vehicle may break down, the traveller may not know the way and the road may fail, but the journey is always itself, carrying us forward with purpose.

Twisted history…

I enjoy research. For a writer, this is obviously a good thing. I love following an obscure reference to its source or delving into the past in search of what, for want of a better word, could be called ‘the truth’, even though, historically at least, there is no such thing.

It can seem a bit obsessive. Halfway through a film or documentary, I will stop to look up a historical reference. Films are the worst. Documentaries portray at least one person’s vision of the truth… evidence-based or speculative, they are interpretations and opinions of an accepted fact. Films, though, take huge liberties with the facts and that worries me. As long as the viewer remembers that these are stories, made to entertain as much, if not more, than they are made to inform, then the inaccuracies do not matter. When, however, the ‘Hollywoodised’  version of the facts becomes the only one to which people pay attention, then our vision of history becomes seriously skewed.

Take Braveheart, for example. Mel Gibson’s 1995 film brought the story of William Wallace to the attention of the world. It was hugely successful and remains a firm favourite with many people. We watch the film, engage with its characters and story and are left with a feeling that we have gained some knowledge and insight into the period and its people.

Not so, say the lists of ‘most historically inaccurate films’. Nowhere near so, say those who have studied Wallace, his life, and the history of Scotland. Mel Gibson himself admitted that to be true, but defended his directorial choices because they made for more compelling cinema, regardless of their lack of accuracy. Ironically, the film rasied the profile of Wallace and Scottish history in general as well as increasing tourism, so perhaps its very inaccuracy served a purpose.

We all know that the movie industry takes as many liberties with history as it does with scripts based upon classic works of fiction. It does not devalue the cinematic art form, but it really ought to make us question what we absorb and unconsciously accept as historical fact, or an accurate rendition of literature.

Yet how often are we interested enough to go off and study the sources with any depth just because we have enjoyed a film? I get curious. Where did they get that idea from, is it based on fact or a piece of pure cinema? How come one portrayal of a historical character can be so very different from another?

I will probably start with Wiki, just as a jumping off point, then wander off in goodness knows how many directions.  I always look for several different sources so that I have something on which to form an opinion.  And I often get sidetracked, chasing down associated people or ideas, knowing all the while that there is no way I will ever know the truth… at best, all I can hope for is an accepted version of the truth, a consensus based on the interpretation of collated evidence.

Obviously, history itself is true… what happened, happened… but the records that have been left to us are not objective. They are all, of necessity, subjective interpretations of that truth and are therefore inevitably subject to error, manipulation, or simply fall victim to the writer’s perspective and emotions.

Personal perspective colours everything we see, do, and record in memory. It takes very little to grasp how even the simplest of things can be so coloured.

“I stayed in my pyjamas and wrote until lunchtime…” That could be seen as a statement of fact. Except, I don’t own pyjamas, but it sounded better than ‘dressing gown’. And I was dressed way before I had lunch…which, admittedly, was nearer tea-time… And I didn’t just write… I read, made and drank coffee, fed and played with the dog, fed the fish…and all the other little things that creep in when we are ‘supposed’ to be writing. But how would it look to others?

“She didn’t even get dressed till lunchtime!”
“I wish I could sit around doing nothing…”
She can’t have much of a life/must be really depressed if she doesn’t even bother getting dressed…”
“Wow, I wish I was a writer…”
“It’s alright for some. Bet she doesn’t have to work…”
“She must be lazy/ill/weird…” (Okay, they can have that last one…)

Emotional response always and immediately overlays what we experience, crafting its own version of the truth of a situation. Even our own. I think I stayed in the dressing gown till lunchtime because, for once, I could. I normally work a seven-day week and start early. I have done so for years, barring the occasional weekend and holidays… and there were a good many years when I didn’t even get those. Today, I didn’t have to go out early. I had a choice. The housework was done and the dressing gown is warm and cosy on a cold morning.

But is that the truth, or just an excuse? Not even I can be sure of that… we are all adept at finding justification for our own actions, if we ever bother to question them. Most of the time we go through our days without stopping to question such basic actions or the true reasons behind our decisions.

Many spiritual schools and religious bodies advocate a daily ‘examination of conscience’ where the events of the day, your own actions and reactions, are played out in imagination before sleep. This can be a really useful exercise, yet time alone will only allow us to replay a fraction of the day…those moments that stand out from the rest and have roused an emotional response for some reason.

Much of what we do throughout the course of a day is habitual. We are programmed to adopt patterns of behaviour. It frees us processing space in the brain and conserves energy… and probably makes us more efficient as we are not constantly starting from scratch with every action.

That is all well and good when you are getting in a car to drive to work or loading the washing machine…that kind of patterned efficiency is a good thing and could be called expertise. If we accept the habitual patterns that become imprinted upon the way we think and feel with as little examination, we perpetuate them too. We are all aware that habits are easily formed and will shape our way of seeing the world. This can be a good thing… though more seems to be written about its negative effects than its possibilities. Consciously seeking the good in life, rather than the bad, being open to compassion, empathy and generosity of spirit… they would not be bad habits to acquire.

Catching the light

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I couldn’t believe it. I’d cleaned the damned things, just the day before, but the windows at the side of the house were once again festooned with cobwebs. Not only that, but at first glance and before my first coffee, they looked filthy. I was not best pleased.

Cleaning windows has never been my favourite job. No matter what I use, there is always a streak or a haze, corners I’ve missed or fluff left behind… and my little flat has a lot of windows for its size, streaming light onto every speck of dust that settles. Not only that, but arthritis and window-cleaning do not work well together.

Granted, the windows are all now within reach…no more dangling precariously out of upper floors in an attempt to clean glass in frames designed by some warped and evil mind. At least these days, I only need a step-stool to reach the top corners and anyone not quite so vertically challenged would be able to clean them with ease.

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I sipped my coffee in the kitchen eyeing the windows with distaste. It wasn’t until I opened the garden doors for Ani that it occurred to me that the ‘filth’ was probably moisture. She bounded out, laughing, into a morning cocooned in golden mist rising from the fields. The grass was heavy with dew that sparkled as soft light streamed in, illuminating my little home.

The first rays of the newly-freed sun slanted horizontally through the window, touching the plant a visiting friend had brought me and drawing an answering gleam of gold from the little yellow flowers. I smiled. As always, a small shift in perspective, this time caffeine-induced, shows things in a very different light.

Caffeine has its uses… my world is a much better place after coffee. The sun was starting to break through as I wandered back to the kitchen in search of a second dose and glanced again at the offending window. The cobweb was on the outside… I could live with that… and the ‘dirt’ was indeed moisture that was catching the sun and shimmering as I moved, changing my visual perspective and seeing the light running through the silken threads of the web.

What had been, a few minutes earlier, an annoyance, was now a thing of beauty and wonder. How often, I thought, is that the case… that it takes only a step away from a perceived problem to see it instead as a gift? If I hadn’t tackled the detested and painful job of window-cleaning, I would have ignored the cobweb. If I hadn’t looked with frustration at the pane, I would not have seen the play of morning light. If dirty windows didn’t matter, I would never have caught a rainbow.

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Leaf and Flame: shadow play

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“Pick a card,” said the headless apparition, holding out his severed head to the assembled company, each in turn. “Any card…”

So, how do you behead a green giant and have him pick up his head and walk? You could use lighting, make up and computerised effects, but we are fairly low-tech where special effects are concerned… we had a sheet, a football and a wet cloth.

At the critical moment, both Green Knight and Gawain left the central court of King Arthur and only their shadows were seen…A flick of the light switch, a dropped, soggy towel to provide an appropriate squelch and a football… and the first part of the job was done. Granted, the football was a little delayed and it seemed to take an age before the giant head ‘bounced’ across the floor… but perfection didn’t matter, and laughter in the Temple is a blessing.

I hope it looked okay from the main working space… I was behind the screen mis-timing footballs. I would have liked to see the reaction when the headless giant walked out from behind the screen and proffered his head to the company… but the Lady of the Lake and Merlin were both on tech-duty, as well as standing in for the four Companions who had sadly been obliged to cancel due to illness and whose presence was sorely missed for many reasons. We do not take photographs in ritual, but occasionally we remember to take a few during set-up… with the mask and full, bulky costumes,  it should have looked even better. For those behind the screen, though, it was impossible to tell.

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Sometimes, what you see depends upon what you believe. Perspective and perception go hand in hand, in both life and drama…though in drama there is a conscious willingness to accept the impossible and the illusory…at least temporarily. As in life, however, every person will see things from a slightly different point of view, coloured and tempered by their own character, emotions, knowledge and experience.

In the Silent Eye, we work with the nine pointed symbol of the enneagram. While the School has taken a rather different approach to its understanding and use than its more familiar focus in psychological profiling,  we do still use each of the nine points to represent an archetypal character that helps us to understand our own. If our own personality stands primarily on one of those points, it will, of necessity, have a unique view of all the others… and that will be substantially different from that of someone standing on the next point of the symbol. Nine unique perspectives on each of the other eight points…

The story we had woven from the tales of the Green Knight and Lady Ragnell had become a five act drama. Each of the participants brings their own understanding to the deeper symbolism that lies behind such stories. The Druid will see something different from the Shaman; the Ritualist will understand the meaning differently from the Esoteric Christian…. yet all are walking towards the same inner truth. Our Companions were arranged like spokes around the wheel of the Temple… and that mirrored their different approaches to a spiritual journey that shares, as its ultimate goal, the same inner Light.

Alienora has shared some of her experience from the perspective of her role as Ragnell, Lady of the Veil and how it is interwoven with her own life, while Steve has told the story of the first ritual drama from the perspective of Gawain. Others, too, will, we hope, add their own experiences. Are any of these exactly what the writers intended? We certainly hope not. Although we can hope that the main themes of the weekend result in an understanding shared by all, what is gleaned from the weekend should be as unique to each participant as the cards they drew from the giant’s head.

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Seeing the detail

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“Odd, isn’t it, that the extreme and unusual lives lead here.”

“Remember that saying in the bible about God spitting out the lukewarm?”

“Yes… I was just thinking… not so odd perhaps.”

“The safe path leads one to safe pastures, but not to the heights of spiritual truth. Mountain goats disport themselves in the most unlikely places.”

“To live with passion opens us to a whole spectrum of things… at both ends of the human-divine scales.”

“And sometimes the lives that seem to be of the crash-and-burn variety to those of us who are looking on from the outside are really spiritual successes, seen from within. We can’t judge – not really. But we can judge whether or not a path would be right for us, and step aside from those that would take us to inappropriate places.”

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“In the blackness of space, stars are but a tiny twinkle. Imagine they represent personal achievements. Now consider our sun – to some in the universe it would just be a little glimmer. For others however, our sun is a giant giver of life. Achievements are purely a matter of perspective.”

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“It’s like kids playing Tig… they pass the lurgy along to get rid of it.. free themselves… Tig, you’re It… and they are free.”

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Walking through Glastonbury on Sunday morning after the ascent of the Tor we could not help but notice the details. Tiny things, insignificant… yet they stood out like the proverbial sore thumb. Awareness, once woken, changes the way we see the world, bringing life and colour into vivid detail.

We had walked that way before… many times.. yet fossils in walls, small sculptures, tiny blossoms… all stood out like excited puppies, wagging their tails and shouting look at me!

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We found the same phenomenon, Stuart and I, when we started the journey that led to our writing The Initiate… the more you look with awareness, the more you see. Sounds obvious, yes?

Take a very small, simple chapel, probably no bigger than the room in which you are sitting. Go over it with a fine-tooth comb, looking closely at the details of the structure, the artwork, the windows and carvings…. do it not once, but many times. You would think that small place would reveal its details all at once… or maybe within a few times… but no. It doesn’t. It only reveals what you are able to see… and you are only able to see what you are ready to see. It isn’t just a question of looking with attention.

Yet once you see the detail in one place, you begin to notice it in others. Over and over we returned to places we thought we knew well, armed with  deeper understanding, more knowledge, eyes open to new possibilities of discovery… we were amazed by how much we had missed in our blinkered ignorance.

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It is a lot like reading a book. You pick up a book and read… maybe on a crowded bus where there are distractions and noise, where you keep half an eye on the journey waiting for your bus-stop. You follow the story and could give a good resume of it to a friend. Yet pick up that same book and read curled in comfort and silence and you will no longer be skimming the words but will find yourself engrossed in the story and learn to understand the characters. You may go back and re-read the chapters you read on the bus… and find much detail you had missed.

You may read the words and take in their import without tasting their music and poetry. You may drink in their sense but miss their essence. You may understand the words but lack the knowledge that brings the subject to life for you. Go back with the knowledge and understanding of the subject and the text will unfold for you in a whole new way.

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Seeing is like that too. It wasn’t till I uploaded the photograph above that I noticed the oak leaf… and that changed my understanding of the strange creature carved in stone. You can see everything… but until your awareness is primed you may not notice things that become perfectly obvious at a later date, when greater knowledge and understanding allow you to see with fresh eyes. And once you begin to see with that depth of detail the world looks an entirely different place.

Sometimes the catalyst may be another’s awareness shedding light on what you see or how you perceive it, sometimes it is a change in your own inner perspective, perception lit by the spotlight of understanding. It seems incredible then to look at something you thought you knew well and find how much you have missed.

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I began this post with snippets of three conversations with people I love dearly, all of which hold multiple layers of meaning. Even taken out of context there is much to see in them. They will speak to each differently.

My son wrote the second. He is currently doing something that would count as an incredible achievement by any perspective. I may have mentioned I am rather proud of him.

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The first speaks of the way we see things, glossed over by our own preconceived ideas…which may, after all, illuminate nothing but ourselves, not that which we look at from the outside. It speaks too of living with passion.. with inner fire… and that brings awareness in its wake.

The last… was a gift. A simple phrase that has turned a preconception on its head and opened a door to a freedom I thought never to find, blowing away the leaf-litter of accumulated grief and allowing compassion to take its true place untrammeled by questions and fears.

And sometimes that is all it takes… a detail..a word, a phrase… and awareness is able to open to new concepts and possibilities hitherto unnoticed come into being within our personal reality.

There are so many things we do not believe in and so cannot see… it is not really the other way round. Once we suspend disbelief we can see many things that have lain there waiting for us to discover them and once we are open to the world of possibilities, living with hearts ablaze and leave the safe pastures of our accustomed normality we may find wonders waiting round every corner…even a fire breathing dragon … it all depends on what we are ready to see.

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Originally posted on scvincent.com 2013. Photos taken in Glastonbury, England.