Wilfully blind…

I may sit with my back to most of the house a lot, but I still have to do the housework. I can’t ignore it, even though I can’t necessarily see it. I know it is there and, if I leave it too long before getting started on the daily chores, it is as if something is staring at the back of my neck. I can’t settle to anything productive until it is relatively tidy…  which is as tidy as living with the small dog will allow.

So, I came home from work, played with the dog and her ever-present ball while I had a coffee, then went through to make the bed. As I shook out the covers, a shiny black spider stared back from the place where I lay my head. Now, I have no problem with spiders wandering around any other room, but me and spiders do not share the bedroom if I can help it. And I have no intention of sleeping with one.

I know they lurk in dark corners and under the bed, but as long as I do not see them, I am okay with that. I can pretend they are not there. This one, however, was not allowing me that illusion and had to be evacuated. He escaped en route to the window and scurried off who knows where. So I know that I still have a shiny black spider in my bedroom… but as I cannot see him, he doesn’t exist.

It was the same when my son brandished his leech-encrusted gloves under my nose. It is not easy to screech quietly through gritted teeth, but I consider that I managed it admirably, telling him politely to remove them from my sight as, if I looked at them…properly looked and registered what I was seeing… I would not have been able to continue with the job in hand.

And that is a completely illogical reaction, on a par with the dog hiding her eyes under a cushion. Small dog or not, she does not fit under a cushion and most of her is very visible. But, as far as she is concerned, if she can’t see me, I can’t see her.

It is like sweeping the dust under the carpet. The expression has found its way into common language, but we wouldn’t actually do it. For a start, we know that would be unhygienic, and if we did it too often, a few specks would soon become a pile, and an even messier job to clean that it would have been at the start. But we are good at doing it nonetheless and, like the dramatic trope of the unopened letter so beloved of cinematographers, there is a self-preservation mechanism that kicks in to protect us; what we do not see or acknowledge does not exist for us, so we often choose not to look.

We know about the spider, the leeches, the contents of the mythical envelope or the dust bunnies under the bed. We may even have seen them. But, unless we choose to look in such a way that what we see imprints itself on our reality, we can behave as if we have not seen anything at all. We know what is, we know what we are choosing not to see, and know that choice does not change reality one whit. But it changes our version of reality.

We see it happening all the time. We do it ourselves… and I doubt any one of us can say, with absolute honesty, that we have not. Whether it is a bill left unopened, a news item we don’t want to know too much about, the junk drawer that is quickly closed because it is in need of sorting, or avoiding the eyes of someone whose story we do not wish to know, be that a beggar in the street or the little old lady who can talk for hours.

There is no denying that it can be a useful thing, this refusal to acknowledge reality. We won’t miss your bus talking to the little old lady. We will sleep at night in spite of sharing the room with a spider. Some ancient skeletons are better left in their cupboards. And if we never look at the grass, it will never need cutting…or, not for us, at least.

It is often said that we ceate our own reality and, in this respect at least, it is true. Everything we experience through our senses changes our perception of reality. And what, of that reality, we allow to be acknowledged by consciousness, changes us.

A well-known prayer asks for the ‘serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference‘. Apply this to perception, and the ability to ‘know the difference’ is clearly the key, especially is we paraphrase a little and think about the things we need to see and the things we can choose whether to see or not. Our conscious mind is where we store the things we will act upon, while the things we choose not to acknowledge are filed ‘safely’ away. In many ways, what we allow into consciousness defines who we are choosing to be.

Just what are we sweeping under the carpet of consciousness? Whose eyes do we refuse? And how many of us will be sleeping with worse than spiders under the bed tonight?

A matter of choice…

I never did like doing as I was told.

I might, through necessity, for example, obey the authoritarian order of an autocratic boss, but orders would never inspire me to give of my best. I would do just enough to be obedient within their sphere of influence… and not a sausage more. Both mentally and emotionally, I would be kicking against the bars of the imaginary cage… and although I might be a dutiful underling, I would never be an eager and willing participant.

Ask me, on the other hand, trust me to see a job done, give me a choice and let me take responsibility and I wouldn’t just go the extra mile… I’d run the marathon.

I do not, for one minute, think I am alone in feeling this way. Most people respond with far more enthusiasm to a modicum of trust and will pull out all the proverbial stops to not only meet, but exceed expectations, when they are given a choice and thus accept responsibility for their actions. A good boss knows this and handles their employees accordingly, allowing them to utilise, explore and extend their own strengths, which in turn gives them a sense of self-belief and self-worth… which in the end, is good for everyone… and especially the business.

Oddly, thinking about this put me in mind of a daft sketch I had done over a decade ago. It was the product of a conversation between Running Elk and myself. My memory is not precise about the sequence of events, but at some point during that online exchange, we spoke of Hades’ Ferryman, who carries the souls of the departed across the River Styx. A typo later and the Keeper became the Kipper of the Styx and, a few scribbles after that, the kipper was committed to paper.

I was pondering the liminal Kipper and realised that he is, if nothing else, the guardian of a point of transition, a point of choice and change.

In Greek myth, the river forms the boundary between the Earth, where the living dwell, and the Underworld, which is the realm of the dead. There is always a price to pay for passage across that river and those who do not pay, cannot cross, nor can they return to the lands of men. They do not know where they are going, they know only that the time has come to cross into another phase of existence. They must pay the price and move forward in trust. The only part of that story that worries me is the idea that someone else can pay the Ferryman for your crossing. I don’t think that, in real terms, that is ever possible. Sacrifice, too, must be a choice. It has no spiritual value if it is imposed…it must be a willing contract in order to hold power.

Like the Death card in the Tarot pack, death and the Underworld in symbolic terms, usually refer to a change in the state of being that is not always a physical death. The year I drew that sketch was the year my son was stabbed, leaving him facing change on a monumental scale as he addressed the physical, emotional and intellectual challenges of a sudden and enforced removal of both the popular and his personal concept of normality.  The one thing that remained to him and completely within his control, was choice. He could not choose to return to the normality he had known for twenty-five years; that life was over and there could be no going back. He could not simply choose to be on the other side of the nightmare either. The choice lay in whether or not he chose to make the journey between the two, paying its price or remaining locked into the imposition of disability, like a soul wandering in limbo.

He chose to make that journey, trusting that the undefined goal was the right destination to aim for. He did not know what lay ahead, nor how far he could go. But he went anyway.  At first, he followed what to many seemed to be a false trail, chasing the red herring of complete physical recovery, even whilst he accepted that such was unlikely. The distant, seemingly unattainable goal, was a good one. It demanded a high price, making him push the boundaries of his own expectations and carrying him much further towards that stated goal than anyone could have expected.  It may have been a red herring, but the quest for that recovery taught him a great deal about himself and what really mattered to him.

Then came a point when he began to reassess and exercise his inner choices rather than his muscles,  with the emphasis he chose being less on how to walk and more on how to live. Again, he had to trust that the journey towards impossible goals would take him to where he needed to be… and now, another world of his own making lies open to him, full of adventures.

My son’s situation was unusual, but the choices we each of us have to face are much the same, from the small, everyday moments where we have to trust in the outcome of our decisions, to the life-changing and momentous situations where all we know is that we cannot stand still and must move forward, even if we cannot see where the current will lead.

There is another story in mythology about the Styx. As a baby, the invincible warrior, Achilles, had been dipped in the waters of the river. The only point the water did not touch was his heel… and that was the only point of vulnerability he had. To bathe in the river of choice at a point of transition does render us invulnerable, for, like water, our choices ebb and flow about us all the time, and choosing to embrace, in trust and full awareness, whatever journey lies at our feet gives us a strength that cannot be easily broken. Even those choices that are red herrings will offer us opportunities to learn and teach us things we may never have known without the false trail.

Our choices are not always right, we do not get it right first time very often, but when we listen to the promptings of the inner heart and being,  and choose our way with courage and conviction, the effort of the journey is always worth the price we choose to pay.

Rifts in reality?

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There was a fleeting conversation  that got me thinking again on something I have pondered over for a long time. There are lots of ghost stories flitting about, wafting their sheets for our delight, some making us shiver even more as they approach the reality with which we are more familiar. Somewhere in the back of our minds lurks that question… ‘What would I do if I saw a ghost?’

There is, perhaps, an even better question. Who says you haven’t? How would you know? Unless they adapt their appearance to our preconceptions, how can you be sure that the person you pass in the street is real?

We don’t even know what a ghost is. Everyone seems to have an opinion. Are they the shades of the departed? Undispersed etheric energy, some form of earth energy? Optical illusion or a vision of the soul? Phantom memories of past events imprinted on the ether? Figments of our imagination, created from within our own minds somehow? Or just plain bunkum. There seems to be a general consensus that they are something…

Perhaps the most equivocal, but strangely accurate definition I’ve heard is that they are perceived figures that cannot be physically present. That just leaves it wide open as far as definitions go…

There are the classic signs, like temperature drops and the hairs on your neck standing on end… but does that happen every time…or only sometimes? Unless a ghost does something fairly obvious… like walking through walls, dripping gore or tucking its head under some other part of its ectoplasm, we really can’t know whether or not what we think we see is actually there.

For starters…it isn’t. Nothing is what we perceive it to be… walls are not solid… we know there is space between the various particles that make what we see as a wall and, were we to drink Alice’s potion and become small enough, we could walk right through solid reality. Equally, were our own particles to disperse, we could, in theory, flow through the spaces between.

The ‘space between’ is a good phrase. It reminds me of a conversation shared up on the moors. It is a long story… but to be brief, we wondered about the reality of time and whether ghosts were not perhaps due to a glitch in the veil between ‘nows’… perhaps heightened emotions alter something… When we see phantoms, are we actually seeing reality, but across the veil of time… and would we appear to them as phantoms too?

Time, space, physicality and the true nature of reality comes into such discussions and as soon as you ask one question, another half a dozen appear. And there are no objective answers… only empirical ones. Except for one that seems to make its presence felt fairly rapidly… that we do not fully understand either the nature or extent of reality. Not by a long way.

Which basically means that just about anything is possible. I rather like that idea.

The tip of the iceberg…

Image: Pixabay

“Seriously?”

“Yes.”

“You’re not winding me up?”

“No.”

“When did that happen?”

“Well…my last birthday…” It was sort of an obvious answer…

“Well, that’s thrown me… I thought you were much younger…” Which might explain why he doesn’t seem to believe me when I tell him I’m getting too old to be doing some of the heavy jobs around his place. I suppose I should take it as a compliment… both my sons found my age a bit of a shock. Granted, this one did know how old I was last birthday at the time, but one of those memory glitches seems to have erased the knowledge and, instead, he has simply allocated me the age he expects me to be. Oddly enough, it was the same principle as missing typos in the script I was proofreading because I know what should be there and assume that I see it, instead of seeing the reality.

It made me wonder about how much of what we see in the world around us is no more than an assumption. We know there are gaps between every atom and it is only their organisation and relationship to each other that creates the appearance of solidity, defining the form of everything we see…or think we see.

Do we really know that what we experience through the senses bears any resemblance to reality? We can only define anything through experience…and a consensus being reached about what those collections of atoms are doing, we know that we can sit on a sofa without falling through it, or breathe in the air of a fresh, spring day.

If something is completely outside of our experience, how would we see it? Would we see it? Especially if it is something we have been told cannot exist… even though it then does exist, even if it is as just an idea?

We are told that ghosts don’t exist… so if we passed one in the street, we might not immediately think it was a ghost. For sanity’s sake, we would probably not even register that it looked any different from the rest of the passers-by. The creatures of myth and fairytale could walk amongst us and our minds would find rational explanations.  As in the SEP Field brought to popular consciousness by Douglas Adams, “The brain just edits it out, it’s like a blind spot.”

I can’t help wondering how many layers of reality intermingle with our own and yet pass unobserved simply because they do not conform to our understanding of physics and are therefore ‘impossible’. Nor can I help wondering if our ancient ancestors saw more of those layers than we do simply because their knowledge of physics was experiential rather than didactic.

The oddest thing is that we live with invisible layers of reality every day and accept them without question. We cannot see air…only observe its effects. The same can be said for thought, memory and emotion.

We already live in a fabulous universe of which we know both so much and so little. It excites me to wonder what still waits to be discovered… and what might lie beyond our means of discovery. Perhaps the reality we know is only the tip of the iceberg…

Dramatic license…

Image: Pixabay

It was the morning coffee conversation, the one where I perch on the end of my son’s bed while he considers getting out of it. Even fuelled by good, freshly ground beans, that can take some time, especially if we start talking… and that invariably happens.

Today, the subject that caught out attention was the media…. TV, films, books, the works… and how fiction inevitably draws us in to a place where our own lives can seem bland in comparison to their imaginary ‘reality’. From the formulaic drama of romantic novels, to the condensed ‘reality’-bytes of the soaps, their storylines raise unconscious expectations and, in contrast, our own experience of life can appear to be lacking in the essential ingredients, plot twists and the rollercoasting emotions that are their stock in trade.

No good tale goes from beginning to end without a well-planned story arc of highs and lows. Even when a book or film spans an entire lifetime in a couple of hundred pages or minutes, telling only the highlights and barely hinting at the calm years in between, it is the peaks and troughs that capture our attention and engage our emotions… and it is by those that we can be tempted to judge our own lives. Vague dissatisfaction and the insidious thought that we are ‘missing something’ creeps in, even though our logical minds and fragile hearts would really not want to be put through the proverbial mill with the intensity displayed in fiction.

For most of us, the majority of our lives will be spent doing things that are routine, humdrum, necessary… but not necessarily dramatic. Vast swathes of time are swallowed by tasks and actions that barely register. Even though all such moments seem to be stored in memory, they are generally relegated to levels so deep that they only resurface when some chain of association dredges them up again. In contrast, the times of joy, perfect peace, pain and grief seem much easier to recall, and, were we to write our life stories, it is of these moments that we would tell.

It is not the fault of book or film that we may end up questioning whether or not our lives match up to those of other, albeit fictional, lives… it is something within us. Fiction can be a great teacher, allowing us to safely experience situations we might not otherwise meet and, from that imaginary encounter, we may learn to understand and empathise with others. It only becomes a problem when we begin to make the invidious comparisons that change our expectations and leave us with a hazy fear that we are less than who we are.

No-one knowing my son’s story would ever say it lacked drama, yet he has felt that uneasy  dissatisfaction after watching a film. My own life had had plenty of ups and downs. In fact, most lives, if condensed to just the ‘good bits’ or major events would make gripping stories. Yet, unlike the characters of book or screen, it is precisely the quiet, in-between moments that make life so worth living.

The daily touch of sun, snow or rain on your skin, the smile of a child, the first time you wash a pair of someone else’s socks and go all gooey and tender… Watching a ladybird, a butterfly, or the birds nesting in spring. Snuggling with a dog, the fingers of an infant curling around yours, or the touch of a hand reaching out in the night for your own… These are not the big things of which movies are made, nor are they the plot points that would sell a book. These are the essence of the human experience…and far more beautiful than any fiction.

Halflight…

Six a.m. on a Sunday… I groaned and turned off the alarm clock. I hadn’t been sleeping well, or enough, and did not want to obey the imperative summons… especially not on a day when, historically, most folks get to sleep later. As I clawed my way through the fleeing remnants of a dream in which I had been dreaming about dreaming, I wondered about the whole sleep thing. We are supposed to spend about a third of our lives in slumber. Is that a design flaw, a superb bit of physical engineering or a gift? Maybe it is all three, or perhaps that depends on where you are standing.

There has been a huge amount of research done on the need for and benefits of sleep, from both the physical and psychological perspectives. We have identified the stages of sleep, the way the mind solves problems and the body heals and recharges. But that side of things wasn’t what was bugging me.

Other than the ‘low-battery’ warning that tells us our bodies need sleep, what is it about the process that makes us crave it? We look forward to sleep and yet, during the night hours, normal consciousness takes a hike; we have no control over our bodies or, apparently, our minds. We are defenceless… and we surrender ourselves to sleep willingly? You have to admit, that seems an odd state of affairs.

And we are not on our own. We don’t understand sleep in all other creatures, can’t even fully define it,  but it seems that all of them sleep in one way or another. Fish sleep with their eyes open, as most of them don’t have eyelids to close. Dolphins only let one hemisphere of the brain sleep at any time, so they can keep moving. Others only cat-nap for minutes… though cats sleep around sixteen hours a day.

There was a sci-fi programme on the TV at my son’s home the other day, in which a machine had been invented to condense the required hours of sleep into minutes, so that we need not waste our time unconscious. In real world terms, I could see where that would be a money-spinner for its inventor… there is never enough time to do everything we need, want and would like to do. The first part of our lives we are pretty much helpless and do as we are told. The latter years of life are often limited by failing health, depleted finances and energy. The middle years are generally pretty full between work, relationships and families. Time to follow our dreams is at a premium… and perhaps that is the beauty and attraction of sleep.

Dreams are weird things. Some people remember them in detail, others not at all. Some dream in black and white, others in colour. Dreams can seem totally random or make perfect sense…and sometimes both at once.

You can experience a whole lifetime in a night, ride dragons, explore outer space, change careers, do and be anything your waking mind can imagine… and then break all the barriers of possibility and do the impossible too. We are superlative storytellers in our dreams, creating whole and believable worlds, down to the last small detail, peopled with  perfectly ‘real’ characters. For a moment, I had an odd thought. What if dreaming were the real purpose of living? Rather like a reversal of that sci-fi machine, where our bodies themselves are just the machines that allow us to sleep, and where our waking life just gathered impressions to fuel imagination so that we could cram all the experience of multiple lifetimes into a short few years… It would make sense of why we tend to remember our dreams so imperfectly; why would we want to live ‘ordinary’ lives awake after the adventures of the dream word?

I know science and the conscious mind have explanations for dreams, as well as the stages and uses of sleep, but I have a feeling there is more to the dream state than we yet know.  And yet, we speak of people being asleep who walk like automata through the world, unaware of its magic and beauty.. We use the term ‘dreamer’ as a disparagement, when everything useful that has every been invented was first dreamed up in someone’s imagination.

Maybe we should be paying more attention to our dreams and what they might be capable of showing us? I know that one of the pivotal moments of my own life to date was experienced in dream… an experience so profound that, forty years later, it is as fresh as ever in memory and as relevant to the way I live my life.

Science would probably say that the dream was just my subconscious mind collating and presenting what I already knew deep down… or seeking justification for my choices… or something equally sensible. I honestly don’t care where things come from if they can change my life for the better. And if dreams give me access to a level of mind that knows better than the surface ‘I’, I’m quite happy to dream.

All I need now is a boss who will let me…

 

Behind the scenes…

It is an odd thing to put on a workshop where ritual and drama are mixed. Odd, but old… theatre has its roots in the sacred drama of ancient times. Even the rituals of the Church have a theatrical element, blending light, song, the glamour of embroidered vestments and the fragrance of incense and oil. These things combine to capture the imagination and emotions, lifting the heart and mind above the humdrum cares of the world and turning them towards the greater Light of the spirit.

None of these dramatic elements are strictly necessary. Turning the mind and heart towards the divine, whether in prayer, adoration or meditation, needs no company. The spiritual journey is ultimately one we must take alone…and yet, we may have company along the way.

It is perfectly possible to access the spiritual realms without any help at all, just as it is perfectly possible to climb a mountain in stiletto heels, but both can be very much simpler, and more pleasurable, when we are properly equipped and in good company.

When any group of people come together with a common cause, they create a unique energy that can accomplish far more, and far more quickly, than an individual alone. When that group brings the focus of that energy to bear upon a shared intent, magic happens.

 

The Silent Eye workshops are designed to create a moment out of time where that shared intent can be made manifest. To allow mind, heart and imagination to access that moment, we use stories, light and colour, but whether or not we succeed in creating that sacred space depends entirely upon the participation and engagement of our Companions.

And each year, old friends and new attendees alike, throw themselves into the moment.

The dramatic tales that are woven serve to illustrate aspects of the human psyche that, through play, may be explored. Every year we stress that neither acting ability nor costumes are a requirement for attendance at our workshops… and yet our Companions pull out the stops to add that ‘something extra’ to the weekend. The characterisation and the costumes themselves, like the stories we weave, help set the scene and in turn direct the intent and attention towards a higher realm.

This year our characters were drawn from the Elizabethan era, and every presence was strong, embodying their character in their own unique way. The space in which we work is watched over by the tall figure of our Guardian, a strong and protective presence at the door who had come over from Europe to be with us. Another Companion from Europe played our astrologer, Lady Arabella Santiago. We had a quicksilver Marlowe, and a serene and dignified John Gerard, to whom special thanks are due to the two ladies who agreed to take on demanding masculine roles. Alienora and Dean were, as always, magnificent and unnerving in their roles as Life and Death.

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, came from the States and with her came the mysterious of Dr Dee, the dashing Sir Walter Raleigh and the mystical beauty of Lady Rab’ya. The villain of the piece, and a victim of his own ambition and misunderstanding, was Lord Essex, admirably portrayed by Russell. Mistress Jane Dee, played by a mischievous Yorkshire lass who is a priestess of Avalon, was angelic… and an enigmatic Lady in White held the silence and the visions of the company. And it would be remiss not to mention our Bess of Hardwick and our Blanche Parry, who graced the chequered floor with a stately dance of their own devising, adding yet another layer of reality to the moment.

But it is not all about the drama. There are the explorations… presentations and periods of serious study where we examine and share perspectives on spiritual concepts… even if some of us choose to do so wearing rabbit masks pulled from a top hat. This year, we were privileged to have an expert speak to us on the Chain of Being… and give us a lesson in Court etiquette too. ‘Serious’ need not be tedious.

There is the dawn ritual, which I missed this year as I was holding the Temple ready to receive the symbol of Light. There is the annual Triad ritual, which reaffirms the roots of the School, and leads into the ritual for the new Initiates… which is incredibly moving and always leaves me, and others, in tears at the beauty of the moment.

And, perhaps most magical of all, there is time to talk and laugh, catch up with old friends, cement new friendships and enjoy the green of the budding spring landscape.

When Steve founded the School and drafted Stuart and I to work with him, I do not think any of us knew what to expect. It was an adventure to which we were called and one that we knew would be hard work and demand much of all of us. I am grateful beyond measure to be a part of this adventure, to have learned so much, still be learning so much… and be able to share these moments with friends and companions on the journey.

With our workshop weekends over the past six years, we have journeyed in imagination from the most ancient past to a space-age future, spanning aeons of time in the timeless space of the soul… and I would not choose to be anywhere else but here and now, and part of the Silent Eye.

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A spiritual ostrich

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The ‘selfie’ that… isn’t

There was an idea that has had me playing around with a digital painting programme. It also got me thinking. So, last night I toyed with an image from the last annual workshop that shows me in the ritual role of Isis. I ran it through on an ‘oil painting’ setting, then added a soft filtered bronze lighting effect over it.

Of course, the resulting image isn’t ‘me’. Not by any stretch of the imagination!

I don’t, more’s the pity, get to wander around in gorgeous robes and high headdresses every day… I’m more a leggings and comfort woman. Nor do I wear heavy Egyptian make-up as a rule. The clothes and draperies change the shape of the face, the state of mind changes the expression and the make-up brush can do strange and wondrous things. Add to that the painting effect that smoothes things out a bit, including…apparently…the nose, a soft focus through which the world seldom sees me and a bit of dramatic coloured lighting … And the results?

Well… if that’s me then I’m an ostrich!

Diana and co north 075Yet, although the image is no more than an illusion, it began as a captured reality… it began with a photo of me; a quick picture taken long before dawn one Sunday morning last April, when the day was almost unborn and hours had been spent in solitary meditation preparing for the day. Even the original snap didn’t look like ‘me’ and yet the woman in the image wore my features, looked out through my eyes… eyes my own hands had gilded and painted with kohl just moments before.

It seems rather strange that in an odd sort of way I have come full circle with this image.

The aim of the ritual workshops that we run is to create an illusion and make it reality, not the other way round like the picture, yet in both cases the results can hold a beauty that was not present before.

The rituals we craft for those who attend our workshops take a spiritual idea and weave it into a story. This tale is then played out within the reality of a sacred space. In many respects it is a bit of ‘sympathetic magic’. In just the same way that the shamans of old painted animals upon the walls of deep caverns to ensure the presence of game on the plains, so we ritualise the human experience and play it out from a spiritual perspective in terms the psyche can understand. The aim is to reach for the emotional and spiritual connection to this deep level of understanding… to seed awareness into consciousness… allowing the surface barriers of logic to be breached.

Diana and co north 028It isn’t mere playacting because the intent is focussed on the spiritual journey shared by the companions. The resulting learning experience can be very powerful and such ritual weekends evoke deeply emotional responses from those who attend… and it is here that the real magic happens. Within each of us; for the ritualised experience shared in the temple space must be taken out into the world and applied to life; it must be lived.

It is not enough to merely attend any spiritual event and think that by our presence we have done enough, any more than it is enough to take up the attitude of prayer before an altar while mentally going over the shopping list. The opening of the self within the temple, where the experience is emotive and touches the roots of being is only part of the story. It is little more than a seed planted in the life of earth.

No matter how deeply we feel those moments, no matter how vivid the experience, it serves no purpose if it is discarded with the robes or left in the dark closet of memory with the script. It is never enough to pay lip service to a spiritual ideal, nor, by simply playing them out in ritual form can they ever change our lives. What is born in the sacred spaces has to be taken out into the world. The inner reality of what we learn there has to be allowed to put out shoots into our own lives, growing up through our own characters and flowering as a personal understanding that changes the way we can be in the world. And that is where the beauty lies.

Otherwise here too we risk being ostriches… or peacocks whose glorious feathers hide little more than a chicken beneath them.

So in some ways perhaps it is fitting that the photo holds more beauty than I will ever see in the mirror of my days; a reminder that when the seeds sown by Working with the School take root, they may, if tended, flower into a beauty unseen by the eye, but known by the heart.

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Details of Leaf and Flame, the Silent Eye Workshop

in April 2016 can be found here.

Click image for details

ONE OF OUR MOUNDS IS MISSING! II

1‘Green-Lion’- on the tower of Ogbourne St. Andrew’s Church.

…Those of you who follow the adventures of Don and Wen in our series of books will be aware that one of their remits is to investigate the interface between the inner and the outer worlds.

This is in keeping with the ontology of the Silent Eye and as a process is perhaps most accessible through the examination of different states of consciousness and how they in their turn impinge upon the numerous psychologies of the beholder.

To date then we have looked at a cross that is not a cross, a number of stones that appear to be bigger from farther away than they do when up close. An island that acts in the same way as the stones and an exceptionally large black monolith that, for the time being at least, appears to have disappeared off the face of the globe, not to mention a commemorative monument which turned out to be a four cornered Hunting Tower!

Most of these strange anomalies occur in or around ancient sacred sites and our missing mound now appeared to be knocking loudly upon the metaphorical door of this ever expanding list.

We could and perhaps should have dowsed for it, but we were rather time constricted and had a raft of Companions chomping at the bit to get their collective teeth into some serious landscape features.

We also had a number of other options in the immediate vicinity, to wit the churches at Ogbourne St. George and Ogbourne St. Andrew both of which also housed the Michael and Mary ley and the churchyard of the latter which allegedly contained the remnants of a more ancient mound and a reconstituted long barrow.

The obvious thing of course is to ‘ask one of the locals’ and this would to some appear to offer the quickest route to the elusive mound, except that long experience in the wilds of wildest Derbyshire has taught us that locals do not as a rule enjoy being quizzed about such things…

Would Ogbourne St George be any different?
It would not.
Hence our initial reference to the infamous film pub, ‘The Slaughtered Lamb’.

Still, we did get to while away a half hour or so in the company of our ferociously friendly host and he did appear to be sincerely trying to locate our elusive structure, though doubtless to him it would have looked like, and so in fact have been, nothing more than a clump of trees which is hardly worth remarking let alone actively seeking out.
Mercifully, the second of our aforementioned options bore great fruit and when we returned with our Companions we did so just in time to be let into the previously locked church.

It proved to be the first stopping point of an exhilarating day in and around a number of sacred sites in the landscape of Ancient Albion.

Nevertheless, if anyone does know the precise whereabouts of our missing mound, we would be ever so grateful to be informed of it?

2…At the sign of ‘The Green-Lion’.


Enjoy our adventures? Join us for one of our informal events or at Leaf and Flame: The Foliate Man – a Weekend Workshop in April 2016, or one of our informal events.

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