Why Myth? III…

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…We do not pretend to be expert in Australian Aboriginal myth.
We have probably in our whole life-time to date read only a handful of their stories.
We have though spent some time in Australia crossing the country bottom to top from Melbourne to Cairns in a, by today’s standards, somewhat dilapidated, ‘chippy-van’.
Had we known previously that height was an effective deterrent against mosquitoes we would surely have utilised such knowledge.
We have the utmost respect for anyone who heads out into that landscape alone and on foot and with only a digging stick for company.
I shudder to think what might have been the outcome of our trip had the ‘chippy-van’ broken down in the out-back.
Thankfully it did not although at the time that possibility barely permeated our consciousness.

*

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Why do such stories resonate so deeply with us?
They are so far removed from the world we have created for ourselves as to be utterly alien.
And yet they are recognisably human in every fundamental aspect.
In the un-adapted version of the story the reason for the young woman’s journey is given as the desire to reach the next linguistic area of the country.
This in itself may have been seen as a ‘no-no’ for the mores of her societal hierarchy.
But it is a journey into the unknown, an adventure, and our heroine doth ‘boldly go…’
Obstacles are encountered and adeptly overcome until the inevitable intrusion of the supernatural.
We say inevitable because myth the world over concerns itself with the other-worldly or supernatural.
One could even go so far as to say, ‘that is its brief…’
It turns out badly in the version of the story we have.
The Dust-Devil ‘wins’.
Beware the Bogey-Man!

*

*

In Ancient Greek Mythology it is the Gorgons, those ferocious female demons of whose number Medusa is probably the most memorable who possess the ability to turn mankind into stone.
Such transformations can be read in a number of ways and one of the most interesting is the psychological which would have the young hero’s heart turned to stone by the encounter with the ‘unfettered’ feminine.
A condition which can last a whole life time through if not recognised and addressed.
But the Ancient Greek Myths for the most part are late and although by turns noble and dazzling and glamorous they also display unmistakeable signs of high artifice.
The rift with the land which is in that corpus of work treated as merely a backdrop for heroic human exploits is already apparent in a way that is not to be seen in the Aboriginal stories.
In those stories the land itself is regarded as a being and is treated as such.
But how, we may wonder, can one imagine a supine young woman to be in a rock or a stone?

*

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A Bibliomantic Tale VI…

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A Prisoner of Portmeirion?

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Resistance

“Pages Two-Five-One and Two-Five-Two”

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No 8 (Light)

‘The sexual origin of the lingam is, of course, obvious, but this only brings out the extraordinary depth of understanding in ancient India. Sex was always regarded as something ‘holy’ – I think it still is, except where the Indian spirit has been corrupted by the West. The lingam was therefore a natural symbol of the sacred ‘source of life’… The natural reaction of a European is to think that this is something ‘obscene’; but to me it seemed a touching expression of the sense of the sacred, the awareness of the essential holiness of nature and of faith in her generative powers.’

– Bede Griffiths

*

It would be easy to be distracted by the Candy-House allure of Clough Williams-Ellis’s nothing-is-quite-what-it-seems creation.

But soon enough the false facade’s and painted-on windows lead one to the inescapable conclusion that not only was this an architect with a wicked, if anti-authoritarian, sense of humour but also that he was one with a complete mastery of ‘living-space’.

*

*

There is not one unpleasing angle for the photographer and the prospects and backdrops work precisely as intended to integrate man-made structures with their natural surroundings.

*

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That there should be a ‘Japanese Water Garden’, then, now seems entirely appropriate.

What is nurtured here, is an ‘Eastern Ethic’.

As ‘Portmeirion Village’ begins to fill up with its western holiday makers it is difficult not to be reminded of the inhabitants of McGoohan’s village. Prisoners all of both State and a self imposed state of mind. We prepare to take our leave.

*

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No 9 (Dark)

‘Perhaps this is the deepest impression left by life in India, the sense of the sacred as something pervading the whole order of nature. Every hill, tree and river is holy, and the simplest human acts of eating and drinking, still more of birth and marriage, have all retained their sacred character…In the West everything has become ‘profane’; it has been deliberately emptied of all religious meaning… it is here that the West needs to learn from the East the sense of ‘holy’, of a transcendent mystery which is immanent in everything and which gives ultimate meaning to life…

The Western world must recover this ancient vision of the three dimensions of reality. Then everything is sacred. That is what one finds in India; everything is sacred – eating, drinking or taking a bath; in any of the normal events of life there is always a sacred action… We have lost that awareness… This sacramentality of the universe. The whole creation is pervaded by God.’

– Bede Griffiths

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Perhaps, that is what the readings are trying to tell us?

Cherish the past.

Adorn the present.

Construct the future.

*

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to be continued…

 

Land of the Exiles 2014 – a vision of the hillside ritual

A fictionalised account of the hillside rite from the Land of the Exiles workshop 2014, extract taken from Doomsday: Dark Sage.

land of the exiles great hucklow devils rock 001 (27)

The seeing stone is chill against my spine as I wait for the dawn.
Their shades are close this night.
They are Wakeful.
I hear their whispers on the wind as the shift comes and I find them across the ages.

…She paints his eyes, smearing shimmering colour across the lids with gilded fingers. They work in silence in the yellow false-light. Garbed in black, they are not themselves. I feel them, yet something else overlays them, shadowing forth into the world; latent, coming, but not yet…not yet.

He leaves the place where she did not sleep; she looks into the cold surface that hangs like ice upon the wall, seeing other souls not her own. She is many, she is Three. I look through her eyes, as she looks through mine… seer and priestess… and the ‘Other’.

We are the Three that are ‘One’.

Painted eyes stare back, black rimmed. About her neck a heavy collar, she is crowned and winged with gold and power, girdled with stars. She steps back into the shadow of herself, opens her heart and I feel the shift once more, this
time through her. It is time.

***

…Their world seems strange to me… all sharp angles and smooth walls reflecting light, yet I read it through her, know its ways somehow. It is stranger still on this dawning when they have brought the ancient into the new… She knocks on the wood that hangs in a portal, three times. It is opened by the Green Man, robed in white and veiled, hooded perhaps, I do not know. His eyes show fear and his breath is sharp, ragged as she summons him to his death. Down they walk, he behind she. He is strange to me, this other one. Yet I know him, he too is of the three and power flows between. They enter a closed space, dimly lit with flames in the circle. The other one is there, yet he too is ‘Other’, robed in midnight, tall as the trees and masked… a black beast with golden eyes. They stand silent in the circle… three, six and nine I see, all the levels of their being that wait in abeyance while others come in. Black remains to call them to the rite, one by one. Gold and Green face the morning, walking silent through stone to the hillside starred with swallow-flowers and wet with dew. Higher they climb to the mound that looks out across the valley. Shaped like a tomb, a place of death in life and life in death. Beside them is a tree… and on it a crown of thorns.

She binds him; the black cords of death that tie him to life, the cords of life that tie him to the Mother. In his hands a crystal like the moon and at his feet the crown and the waiting earth. Power flows, around and between, cloaking them in its mists from the eyes of the profane. Eyes lock and she raises her wings, golden in the morning, taking him into her silence.

The Black Jackal, cloaked in night leads them to the rite, a dark snake of figures huddled against the chill of a spring dawn. Their garb is strange, the colours of summer flowers, stark against the green. They walk in silence as the Black One opens the way for them to pass. Higher still until they reach the mound and there they wait, looking up.

***

He circles, prowling the bounds of the sacred space, marking the circle with his footsteps in the dew, once around, bowing as she turns, revealing the Green Man to the Companions. The Jackal climbs the mound and Black and Gold salute each other, sparking lines of power crackle silently between them, bright white and gold, seen only through a seer’s eyes. They bow to the immobile, verdant form, locked in the lightless stasis of death until his heart is opened. The Black One speaks out “Let the star rise, let the flame leap!” His voice shatters the silence, opening the way on yet another level. The Golden One takes the crystal from the heart of the Green Man, raising it to the Sun, “Ours if the heart is wise, to take… and to keep!” As she speaks the sphere is returned, earth to earth accepted, while the Green Man stands empty.

On each side of him they stand as pillars of light and darkness. Deeper I look and see them night and day, the birthing of the golden sun held in the heart of darkness, the shadow of its death cased in gold. Three that are ‘One’, inextricable, interdependent for their being, and purpose, while overhead the Hawk flies free. One by one they come, called by the staff of the Jackal, close in his shadowed Light, held in his cloak. Softly he whispers to each of their destiny, of the Hawk that waits in their hearts, anointing them with fragrant oil that fills the morning with perfume. The Golden One takes them into her wings and as they pass before the Green Man they are held, poised between Light and Dark as they bow and gaze at the earth-held crystal, into the Heart of the Rose. The Golden Mother blesses them with the warmth of touch on each heart and the promise of life on her lips. From the heart of the Green One she takes a heart, entrusting it to their keeping, a symbol of awakening to Light and Life. Eyes meet eyes, heart meets heart, and life touches Life. Clasping the symbol they move beyond, standing on the other side of death… a true initiation for those who can encompass it. But one remains; the silent sacrifice, bound and immobile in the frozen morning. Black and Gold they turn to him. The Walker between the Worlds anoints his brow and, holding his eyes whispers his journey to the stars, the Mother warms his heart and with her touch come the words of life. He cries out, the Father who is the Son, like a babe’s first breath, wakened from death to the life of the heart.It is done. Golden wings enfold him, shrouding him in Light and one by one they leave the hillside silent, the rite accomplished.

Three remain, silent still, feet wet with dew. Three are quiescent, watching their Selves. The Three remain Other and holding the power for what is to come. Nine that are Three that are One.

… And I, shivering in the rain-damp morning against the Telling Stone, miles and ages apart, I am their witness.

Starless night…

Lady Grene

…your neck was saved by a Lady’s garter! Why, Gawain, you really are too much I believe little more than half of all that you have told me and I suspect, as you know only too well, that what is left of the tale is little more than pure fabrication…

Foliate Gawain (un-hitching Lady Grene’s arm and suddenly becoming serious)

No…My Lady…No you’re right, of course, that’s not how it was at all… there was a forest…. enchanted it was… and deep, deep within it… there was a white cloaked figure… and there was a riddle too…which was set in return for a life… ‘twas a riddle which none could solve…and then a dark, veiled figure…appeared… and she solved the riddle in return for…

During this exchange Arthur, Guinevere and Lord Grene have fanned out in the Enneagram space, Lord Grene is near the nine point, Arthur is near the six point and Guinevere is near the three point.

Guinevere

…In return for what Gawain?

Foliate Gawain

…In return for my hand, My Lady.

King Arthur

This dark figure, Gawain, who demanded you hand, what was she like?

Foliate Gawain

Black she was… black as a starless night, and empty too… and cold… cold as an infinite… unfillable… void…

The Veiled One rises and starts to make her way to the edge of the Enneagram.

Lord Grene

Why, it sounds like nothing in heaven and earth, Gawain, are you certain that this was no fear induced nightmare?

The Veiled One has made her way silently to the Enneagram.

She now stands in the Gateway between points four and five.

Lord and Lady Grene retreat and are seated on the nine point, Arthur does likewise and is seated at the six point and Guinevere takes her seat on the three point.

Foliate Gawain

Why, of course I am certain… (realising something is afoot he turns to the gateway and sees The Veiled One standing there in her Black Veil.)

The Veiled One

Why, even a starless night is not black, my love, but only a very dark… blue!

The Veiled One removes the Black Veil and replaces it with a White one.

Foliate Gawain sinks to his knees and bows.

Foliate Gawain

My Lady!

-Leaf and Flame: Heaven in Earth

HM15 307

That which does not die…

HM15 306The Soul Attains – Edward Burne-Jones

Elaine

He fences right well yon Knight of Arthur’s realm.

Lancelot

Yet he seems to my mind a little coy.

Bedivere

Perhaps size is the whole essence of it.

Dindrane

Since when has size been the essence, whole or otherwise, of anything?

Liones

It seems that there comes a point in this play which to cross turns chivalry un-chivalrous.

Gareth

It is a point most unseemly but at which point in the play if ever should the guest oust the host?

Foliate Gawain

Why, I fear our Noble Knight is as far away as ever he was from perceiving the essence of a woman’s heart.

Ragnell

He is blinded by rude desire as are all those who fear its tumultuous loss.

Pellinore

And so the age old drama unfolds in spite of all our Knights resolve…

Yglais

Was the outcome ever seriously in doubt?

Uriens

The endless round… goes round… and round.

Morgan (with relish)

What is born… must die…

Arthur (hooded)

Only that which is not born does not die…

Guinevere (hooded)

…And they call this conception… immaculate.

–  Leaf and Flame: La Belle Dame sans Merci

The hand that grasps…

Foxave.jpg529

Guinevere

What now for poor, brave Gawain… and what are we to make of his Nemesis?

Morgan

Gawain is doomed my Lady there is no escape for one on such a quest. It would be best to leave him to his fate and thank our lucky stars that none of our younger or better Knights were foolish enough to accept the challenge of such a mighty man.

Lady Grene

Huh, man you say? He was more like a monster…

Lady of the Veil

Man, or Monster, or both. The old tales tell of something similar, of a giant who was also a king and who upon the rescue of his son from the clutches of the ‘Hooded-Claw’, and having received a poisoned dart in his foot, instructed that his head be removed.

Dindrane

I too have heard that tale. It was told to me by my nurse when I was but a child. The king’s name was Bran. His son was Gwern. After accompanying him on his doomed mission to Annwn, his faithful companions reluctantly acquiesced to his dying request for a speedy, rather than a long drawn out demise whereupon the head when removed… continued to speak…

Lady of the Veil

…And went on telling its wondrous tales as it was carried about the Ancient Land of Albion. The macabre troupe became known as the, Assembly of the Wondrous Head, and all who were with the Head or who heard the tales aged not one jot.

Yglais

Then it was a time out of time? A time that covers all time. This story speaks of the other-world. That place where all have come from and to which all must return.

Morgan

Pah! A Fairy Tale if ever I heard one!

Elaine

Without question, a Fairy Tale, yet we appear to be caught up in something of a Fairy Tale ourselves. It may be that the correct interpretation of such tales and our understanding of them is the only way out of Gawain’s predicament.

Liones

What happened to the Head? Perhaps if we could find it again somehow, and ask it for help… wouldn’t it know what we can do?

Lady of the Veil

The head was eventually buried in Lugdunum at the White Hill. It lies there to this day protected by Ravens though now and forever more it is silent.

Dindrane

It was buried because one of its bearers broke the spell by ‘opening the door to the west’…

Lady Grene

The Hooded Claw is the ‘hand that grasps’ as opposed the the ‘hand that protects’. It wears a hood because it sees not the consequences of its actions and knows only that which it thinks it desires. The hand that protects carries an open eye in its palm and is aware of the wisdom of the heart…

Leaf and Flame: Hart to Heart

Seed Thoughts…

  1. The Outer is reflected Emotion…
  2. The Inner is reflected Form…
  3. The Outer reflects the Inner and the Inner reflects the Outer…
  4. The Principles: work not for themselves but for others.               The Companions: work not for others but for themselves.
  5. The Red, The White and The Green…
  6. ‘For the Druids physical death represented the mid-way point in the very long life of a Soul.’

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HM15 305

Animal Magic…

kites 127(photo – Sue Vincent)

Bird-King

In the Valley of Birds was consternation.

All the birds had met there to choose a king but none could agree on which of their number it should be.

Eventually they asked Night Owl to devise a game to help them decide.

It was sunrise before Night Owl finished formulating his game plan and was ready to convey it to the rest of the birds.

‘Whoever flies highest in the sky will be king of the birds,’ he hooted, then he rolled his eyes into the top of his skull and fell asleep.

Golden Eagle immediately started to preen his honey coloured feathers and then he spread his wings to their fullest extent.

‘Where will my coronation be,’ he asked somewhat presumptuously?

‘How do you know you’ll win,’ squawked Raven contemptuously?

‘Of course I shall win,’ said Golden Eagle, ‘for I am the biggest, the strongest, and the swiftest of all the birds, and I am also the most handsome,’ he added and then he preened his honey coloured wing feathers some more.

‘To be a good king,’ cackled Magpie, ‘one has to be more than big, strong and handsome.’

‘A good king is also wise, kind and sensitive to the needs of others,’ twittered Sparrow.

‘You’ll see,’ said Golden Eagle all the more insistently, ‘I will win… I will win.’

Night Owl woke up and surveyed the assembled feathered-folk with his dish like eyes, ‘remember,’ he hooted sagely, ‘this is not a competition nor is it a race, it is a game to find out who can fly highest in the sky.’

‘Let’s be off… oh, do let’s be off,’ chattered Starling impatiently.

‘On the count of three then,’ said Night Owl calmly, ‘Ready…steady, go…’

With a sound like a thousand and one pairs of gloved hands clapping the flock of birds took off together and flew up from the earth and into the sky.

Night Owl, who had no desire to be king, stayed where he was in his tree and craned his eyes into the sky so that he could better see.

Not that he really needed to he already knew who would fly the highest.

Golden Eagle beat his powerful wings and quickly rose higher and higher in the sky.

After a little while he looked down and saw all the other birds a long way below him.

‘This is easy,’ thought Golden Eagle, ‘‘they’ll never catch me now,’ and continuing to soar ever higher into the sky, he concluded to himself, ‘I am going to win.’

When Golden Eagle next looked down he noticed that only Grey-Backed Seagull was still trying to catch up to him. So he beat his wings faster and more powerfully and soon even Grey-Backed Seagull lost heart and began to drift out of sight far below him.

Upon seeing this Golden Eagle became very excited, ‘I’ve won, I’ve won,’ he thought, ‘I will be crowned king of the birds,’ and then he began to slowly glide back down to earth.

Just then he felt something moving in the feathers of his mantle and then a thin, small voice said, ‘Why, thank you for the lift Golden Eagle.’

Looking back over his shoulder Golden Eagle now saw Wren flying above him.

Golden Eagle became angry and tried to beat his wings again more vigorously but by now he was very tired and he could only flap them weakly as Wren continued to fly higher and higher until he was only a tiny speck in the sky.

Golden Eagle sped back down to earth and landed with outstretched wings, his long talons gripping the ground in fury, ‘Not fair!’ he cried, ‘Wren hitched a ride!’

Then he snapped his wings together and fixed Night Owl with a piercing stare, ‘Tell him that’s not fair!’

By this time Wren too had returned to earth and was flitting and bouncing about in the furze, ebulliently and vehemently piping his unlikely victory.

‘To be king means being cunning, thinking ahead and planning,’ said Night Owl.

‘Wren did that in our game and so has earned the right to be Bird-King.’

12

 Weekend of 22-24 April, 2016.

Great Hucklow, Derbyshire Dales. England.

Click the image for further details of this weekend workshop with the Silent Eye

and a special appearance by Mister Fox.

Foxave.jpg034

Leaf and Flame: The Foliate Man #5…

5

‘…I would beget and would be begotten

    I would eat and would be eaten

    I would hear and would be heard

    I would be understood being all understanding.

Dance ye all!…’

The Round Dance

#5. Heaven in Earth

“In which Gawain returns from his adventure relatively unscathed,

the Veiled One claims her due at Camelot

and the Company of the Table Round enjoy the festivities of the King

and the entertainments of the Lord of the Dance.”

The eyes have been dotted, the tees have been crossed, to all intents and purposes the ‘donkey work’ of writing the five dramas for next year’s April Workshop: Leaf and Flame- The Foliate Man has been done. There will undoubtedly be minor changes between now and then, there always are and these are usually flagged up in the communal read throughs which will take place at our three remaining monthly meetings.

There is still an awful lot of work to be done in terms of music, props, costuming and the presentations which are used throughout to properly set the tone and theme for the weekend…

But more importantly what we really need now is… people!

So, what are you waiting for?

12

 Weekend of 22-24 April, 2016.

Great Hucklow, Derbyshire Dales. England.

Click the image for further details of this weekend workshop with the Silent Eye

and a special appearance by Mister Fox.

HM15 503