Land of the Heart

This is a self-help exercise I developed recently. I call it ‘Land of the Heart’

It’s an exercise that involves the surrender of the small self that feels so much pain and anguish, especially at a time of national division, such as we have on both sides of the Atlantic, today.

It’s an exercise that addresses that feeling of helplessness that many of us are enduring as we watch our civilisations change. We have been raised in an age that encourages us to take responsibility for things. On a personal level, this is healthy; but when confronted with the kind of societal change we now face, we can become narrow and negatively focussed by thinking we should be making a difference. In truth, we can only make a difference to our selves.

But the power of that should not be underestimated…

This exercise involves packing all those troubles – many of which are imagined, for we are seldom in real pain or danger – into a little mental kitbag and carrying that ‘wrapped’ bag with us into the world – our daily world – in a very special way.

At this stage we don’t surrender those troubles, feelings or anguish; we just keep them wrapped. But we carry in our hearts a conviction that there is somewhere else they belong.

As we set off into our daily world, we think of that little kitbag, perhaps slung over our shoulder like the Tarot card of the Fool.


The Original Rider-Waite Tarot card of The Fool, by Pamela Coleman Smith. Source Wikipedia

The Fool card, with its happy and ‘naive’ figure has different levels of significance. It would take a full blog just to provide an outline of them. It is the first of the Major Aracana of the Tarot and sits on the Tree of Life in a position that links the place of the Crown of consciousness with the place of the first emanation in the act of cosmic creation.

 

For the purpose of our exercise, the naivety of the supposed Fool is important. He has no fear of what lies ‘beneath’ him (or her) in the creation. This is because he IS the unfolding act of creation…

One more thing remains before we can take the walk of the Fool into the Land of the Heart. We need to find an old leaf, or a dead or dying flower… or something similar, that has experienced the glory of life, but is now fading… Its pattern remains, to show us something important; but a higher pattern that imprinted it has departed, to return to its pre-life potency.

Above: Find a leaf, flower or other organic vehicle, now discarded

Our final search is to find (or ask to be show) somewhere of great beauty. We need not be physically there, though that’s wonderful if it is possible. A photo of such a place works well, as does an abstract image. If the first photo in this blog moves you (as it did me) then feel free to have it and hold it.

We now have everything we need to carry out the exercise. In our minds we become the Fool in the Tarot card. Walking forward into our new day. We take the old leaf or flower and hold it in one of our hands, feeling love for the wonder of its life, but knowing that what it really WAS is gone… to become another IS.

Looking at the view or image of the place we have selected, we surrender our small self and the kitbag into the image of the eternal and constantly changing world of which we can only ever have a tiny amount of knowledge.

And then, crushing the remains of the leaf or flower, we return the pieces to the ground, to feed what needs to grow next, thinking of the Fool’s kitbag as we do so.

We have freed ourselves from the contents of the kitbag. We have embraced and surrendered the smallness of our personal self. In so doing we have become a living part of the Land of the Heart.

©Stephen Tanham

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit teaching school of modern mysticism that helps people find a personal path to a deeper place within their internal and external lives.

The Silent Eye provides home-based, practical courses which are low-cost and personally supervised. The course materials and corresponding supervision are provided month by month without further commitment.

Steve’s personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com.

 

Time for change…

Image: Pixabay

I was given a clock for Christmas, a clock framed by pictures of my grandchildren. I hung it on the wall, marvelling at how quickly life can change. I, who was a young woman not two minutes ago, or so it seems, have grandchildren.

My eldest granddaughter had made me a card too and written it herself…with a little help from her father. I had to smile at the design the pair of them had chosen, a single red candle with holly leaves and berries… a design I had made from sugarpaste, every year, to decorate the family Christmas cake when the boys were young. Christmas is a time for tradition and memory. My granddaughter has recently changed from being an only child to being a big sister. She is trying to work out relationships and needed to check if her Daddy had been in grandma’s tummy, once upon a time. Her father raised his eyebrows and grinned… we shared a glance that was not only between mother and son but between two adults who are parents and who understand the odd things small children can say. In one sentence, little Hollie had summed up a lifetime of changes.

I have seen so many changes, both natural and unnaturally brusque, over the years. When life creates change, we have little choice but to accept them. We do not always find it easy to create change for ourselves… even n the small things.

I yawn at the computer, finish my coffee and stand at the back door in the freezing night air to wake myself up. It’s only eight o’clock. Way too early for bed.

Or is it, really? Why?

Let’s think about this. I’ve been up since five…there’s no one here now but Ani and me, no requirements at this time of night to do anything, only the choice to work, wallow in a bathtub or put my feet up with a film. Granted, I can’t go to bed too early or I’ll have a desperate dog climbing the walls by morning, but she is asleep for the evening so this is a reasonable time as far as she is concerned. Especially given than ‘early to bed, early to rise’ will kick in if I sleep soon. It would do me good to stop tapping away, and relax for a while. So, what stops me?

Guilt. Years of habit, that’s what. Eight o’clock isn’t bedtime, it is the start of the evening in a busy household when everyone is at work all day. This is the time when cooking and dishes are done, time to sit down and relax with the family.

This no longer applies. My household has gone minimalist, just me and the dog, my official working day starts early and my unofficial working day finishes at whatever time I choose to stop writing. Still, the habit of being awake all evening is a hard one to break.

I’m working on it, taking the odd hour or two out to watch a film or read for a while. Because I can. That was a hard one. I can. Me. Selfishly, indulgently.

I hadn’t actually realised the conditioning, the programming, I had both accepted and imposed upon myself over the years; habits and routines that have inadvertently dominated the decades. It is only when that old saying kicks in that you start to notice; ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’… and it works both ways.

Like a chronic pain that you learn to live with for so long, that it is only when it disappears that you notice it, so it has been since I began to take stock of how hidebound many aspects of my life had become. Many things have changed over the past few years, and those changes highlighted how much of my day was lost to habit. With subtle shifts in responsibility, the ‘I’ that I was is no longer required, redundant. As with many redundancies there was a period of floundering in the unknown as I emerged from under the security blanket of habit, desperately scrabbling to keep hold of at least some of the familiar yet tattered threads.

Routines are not all bad. They allow us to get through the necessary tasks and have time for getting out there and living. There are many routines, however, we are simply unaware of, and because we have done things ‘that way’ for years, we neither notice nor take the opportunities for change.

Now, finally, the I that I am is beginning to unfold. Not because it has to in order to keep pace with the changing circumstances of life, or some outward imposition of change, but because I am choosing, in awareness, to let go of many old and outworn behaviours. And yes, parts of me are kick and scream in protest as I strip back the familiar spars and start the spring cleaning of my days. As with physical spring cleaning, the de-cluttering will hopefully leave me with only those things I need, freeing up the dark cupboards and stuffed drawers. It doesn’t mean changing everything; I am still going to brush my teeth before bed and comb my hair before I go out. It just means being aware of what I am doing and why… and I am finding it to be an ongoing voyage of rediscovery.

We fear change in our secure routines, even when we don’t recognise them as such. They are what we think of as our lives after all, forgetting that these habits are no more than patterns with which we regulate our days. Life may be waiting patiently in the wings for us to give the cue for it to begin a new act, but while we are still immersed in the last, the curtain cannot rise.

To dare, to dream, to be…

‘To know, to dare, to will… and to keep silent’… this is a phrase heard within many branches of the Mysteries and one which echoes facets of the labyrinthine journey undertaken by those of us who work within them. It is an old saying, but none the worse for that, as much of the magical and mystical tradition is rooted in history. It contains much wisdom… a veritable treasure trove that responds to exploration by the meditative mind.

When we were setting up the Silent Eye, talking about how we could encapsulate something of the essence of the School’s ethos in a few words,  that phrase was the starting point for a discussion. The school is a place where we ensure that ‘the heart and the head drink from the same stream’. It is just as easy to get lost in soggy sentimentality as it is to bury oneself in hardcore intellectualism and on the spiritual journey both ends of the spectrum need to arrive at the consensus where we find the road to Being.

It takes courage to set out on that road, for it is ultimately one that must be walked seemingly alone, facing the image of the constructed Self; the Ego that is our vehicle through this life in the mirror of the soul. It is not always a pleasant stroll; the flawed monsters that lurk within each of us are the demons the magician faces in his rites of evocation. It takes courage too to set out on a path that departs from the traditions and teachings you have worked with all your life and seek something new. To dare that road can seem like stepping off a precipice into the unknown… or it can be the most exciting voyage of a lifetime.

It is something many of us dream of doing. Yet where to start? How to translate that dream into a reality? And what is a dream anyway? It is a multivalent concept. We may think of a dream as something of no substance, the ephemera of the night; no more than a fleeting shadow of the impossible that haunts the edges of the mind. Many systems of thought, including our own, use the idea of the dream-state to reflect the limited reality of our daily lives, focussed upon the mechanical movement through the tasks and responsibilities imposed upon us, both by the world and by ourselves; seeing in our restricted and sleeping consciousness merely projected images upon the screen of the mundane world.

We can look at the Aboriginal and Shamanic dreaming that has woven its magic behind humanity’s vision, shadowing forth those aspects of being and divinity we have sought to understand for millennia. On the other hand, we may see a dream as an aspiration… something worthy of the questing soul that seeks the depth and meaning of the inner Light.

It has been asked which is the dream… does the soul dream this life… do we awake from life into a dream of the soul … are we ourselves the dream, the dreamer… or the dreamed?

Perhaps we are all of these and in that realisation… in daring to seek to bring the dream of the soul into reality, in the clear light of consciousness, we can live the dream and touch the realms of pure Being.

Security

Pygmalion and Galatea by Jean-Leon Gerome 1890

Pygmalion and Galatea by Jean-Leon Gerome 1890

Have you ever noticed how many times we cling to the known rather than risk the adventure of the unknown… even when the known is not so good and the unknown full of alluring possibilities? Security is a major issue for most of us at some level.

I saw this in action recently as I watched an attempt to ‘go back’ to a place now long gone, by someone too afraid to move forward. I watched in sadness, knowing that the place that existed in memory was not the reality of that past, but an attempted escape from the present and the fears of an unknown future.

I recall a conversation with my boss very many years ago, when I was about to leave the security of her home and a decent salary for an itinerant musician. We sat in the garden just outside Paris, under the stars, talking for a long, long time over a bottle of Burgundy.  It was a fabulous position with wonderful people, and in a place I loved. Possibly the first time in my adult life that I had been genuinely and consciously happy. Everything I could have wished for … and I was on the verge of giving it up and jumping into unknown territory.

There was no home to go to, and no real prospect of one at that time. Just a hotel room.  He owned nothing but a guitar and a suitcase… I just had the suitcase, nothing more. There was no regular income, only the uncertain rewards of the music. There was, in fact, neither security nor stability in any material sense. Yet my boss put into words something I suppose I had always known but never understood. Material security didn’t matter much to me… emotional security did.

She was right, though I had never seen it that way. I have thought about that a lot over the years.

I had been raised in a family where there was always ‘enough’, though there was seldom more. There had been periods in my teens of truly abject poverty and near starvation, even in this civilised society… but they had been survived and had become just part of the journey. I knew from that experience how little one truly needs. Most of what we count as necessity is, in fact, luxury.

I had been a child then, secure in my mother’s love, and with that security could survive anything.

Years move on, perceptions change and so do we, learning from the experiences life offers, or clinging to them and stagnating. There is always that choice. I clung to emotional security for years, living in a fog of nebulous hope, even when I knew it was an illusion. Looking back at the blindness I suppose I was still seeking that security of the child who knows itself loved. In pursuit of that I forgot who I was and moulded myself to the desires of others. It is a sad way to be.

When you think about it, as I did, this squeezing of oneself into expected moulds, regardless of the fit, reflects only insecurity and a lack of value of self. I had myself convinced that I had to be someone else in order to feel of value, to feel worthy of being loved. It took a long time before I understood that.

We are all worthy of love, every single one of us. But we have to be able to accept that in ourselves. To see ourselves for who we are, the fragility and flaws, the rough edges of a work in progress that yet holds the perfection of the master craftsman, waiting to be realised. We are each our own Pygmalion and Galatea at the same time.

Do you know that story? Pygmalion, a sculptor, carved a perfect woman and fell in love with her. Yet she was made of ivory, cold and lifeless. It was only when Love intervened that she was awakened with a kiss and the two united.

So it is with ourselves, the outer self that moves in the world, seeking, perhaps, for something deeper, and the inner self, waiting simply for us to remember its presence and embrace it before it can waken to Life.

There is a lot of spiritual and self-help stuff out there at present telling us we have to love ourselves. It doesn’t feel that simple when we have a lifetime of layers built around us, so deep, sometimes, that we forget who we are. But there is truth in it.

We are each of us responsible for the surface we present to the world. Just as we are responsible for the reflection we see in the mirror of our own heart. Next time you look at that reflection, look beyond the flaws that catch your attention to the innermost core, that child of the universe, and be secure in the knowledge that this inner child is beautiful and worthy of Love. And with Love, comes awakening.

May 2013

Welcome!

We all seek the magic in life; that rich awareness that sees each moment in vivid colour against a backdrop of eternity. For each of us there is a path that can lead us to a greater understanding of ourselves and our place in the timeless universe of being.

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The Silent Eye was founded in 2012 to provide a unique path to self discovery and development using a combination of esoteric psychology and magical guided journeys. These components are not chosen at random, but have been carefully synthesised to suit the needs of the modern student of the Mysteries living in an age of great stress and world upheaval. They deliver a very liberating personal path, one that is imaginative, but not fanciful.

The approach is based upon a magical and psychological journey, and uses daily exercises through which we can mindfully examine our attitudes to life and how our vital energies are stolen by mechanical behaviour. Meditation is important, too and The Silent Eye aims to build a Temple of the Moment into the student’s everyday consciousness in addition to a contemplative approach.

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