Images and Text from the Silent Eye Workshop: Whispers in the West…
“Every Warrior of the Light has felt afraid of going into battle.
Every Warrior of the Light has, at some time in the past, lied or betrayed someone.
Every Warrior of the Light has trodden a path that was not his.
Every Warrior of the Light has suffered for the most trivial of reasons.
Every Warrior of the Light has, at least once, believed he was not a Warrior of the Light.
Every Warrior of the Light has failed in his spiritual duties.
Every Warrior of the Light has said ‘yes’ when he wanted to say ‘no.’
Every Warrior of the Light has hurt someone he loved.
That is why he is a Warrior of the Light, because he has been through all this
and yet has never lost hope of being better than he is.”
There are people who come and go in our lives, some who may seem all-important for a while, yet fade away to nothingness, some who creep in almost unnoticed and take up residence in the heart and soul, kicking off their shoes and sharing the comfort of their soul’s fireside, some who resemble the flames of the fire itself, bringing an incandescent spark of Light into your life.
With these, the distance that may lie in between does not matter. Heart to heart, mind to mind, soul to soul the communication is whole, sincere and true. And with a rare few that sharing reaches a very deep level and wanders down some very strange pathways indeed from time to time as words become the deepest discussions.
Conversations like this tend to be punctuated by much laughter and silliness, and may be peppered with a fair amount of naughtiness too. It is an odd thing, but a true one, that those I have met whom I count as the most truly evolved in the spiritual sense all share a decidedly earthy sense of humour. When our discussions have addressed this, the answer has always been a take on the same theme…that those who have reached a certain level of being no longer hide behind a mask of quasi sainthood, but embrace their whole being with gusto, warts, as they say, and all.
They have often lived colourful lives, experiencing a rich tapestry of emotions and events beyond the humdrum normality of the ordinary; these few recognise and accept the full extent of their humanity, seeing in it only the action of the Divine Life. They cheerfully accept their own frailties and foibles and those, it seems, of everyone else around them as simply part of the beauty of life in motion, a perfection continuously unfolding rather than a flawed and static actuality. When they hit a stumbling block, as we all do from time to time, they simply roll their sleeves up and get on with life.
There are, for all of us at some point, mornings when we must drag ourselves from bed to face a world we do not want to see or be seen by. Where that hour around 3am seems to last an eternity of ‘what ifs’ and all choices seem to lead to heartache. Mornings where the night has broken trust and we face the dawn with only the bitter kiss of ‘why?’ upon our lips.
We can face the day hidden in brittle laughter or withdraw into silence, closing the windows of the soul and drawing the blinds to incubate our misery. Or shout the hurt from the rooftops in anger to gather sympathy or attention.
Or we can look ourselves squarely in the eyes in the bathroom mirror and say, ‘Today you are lucky. Today you have reached another crossroads. Today you have an opportunity for change. Today you can take responsibility for the next phase of your journey.’
Quite often we expect both too much and not enough of ourselves, once we have set our feet firmly upon a path of faith and growth, regardless of how we see that Light. We expect perfection now and are disappointed with ourselves when we fail, forgetting perhaps that we are works in progress, experiencing rather than experienced. Then our inner failure can plunge us into despair… which we may also see as another failure… and we wade through the treacle of dark emotions, instead of remembering that we ourselves are in charge of the sticky stuff and can choose to see opportunity for change instead of the molasses of negativity in which we have caught ourselves like flies.
Sometimes, we are too hard on ourselves. We are works in progress, but the perfection we strive for is already part of us. Maybe we need to be a little gentler with ourselves.
‘A wonder of a land,
the land of which I speak.
We behold but are not often beheld.’
Perfected art can accentuate things,
and make them more attractive to the eye and mind,
but it cannot enhance the innate spirituality which men of all ages have held.
There seems never to have been a time
when tribe, race or nation did not hold
some sort of belief in an unseen world
inhabited by unseen beings.
Everything which can be said to exist is natural,
yet the Holy-Man who experiences the spiritual condition of ecstasy
cannot adequately explain it to the man who has not known it.
If the Ancients possessed an arcane language
to encompass such psychical experiences,
it still remains a secret.
But the natural aspects of the countryside impress Man
and awaken in him the Subliminal Self
which in turn inculcates an ability
to first feel, and then know,
otherwise subtle influences.
What is there in cities to awaken Man’s intuitive powers,
which is comparable to the magical solitudes of Nature’s environs?
Whenever a multitude of men and women are herded together
one finds an unhealthy psychical atmosphere,
never to be found in the countryside,
which tends to inhibit the Subliminal Self
in its attempts to manifest itself in consciousness.
Instead of Nature,
men and women living in cities
have civilisation and culture.
…’All colour had faded from the sky and although the big board by the gate creaked slightly in the night wind, there was no passer-by to read the sharp, hard letters that cut straight as black knives across its white surface.
Bugs… (pause) CARROTS! (pause) Reads…
THIS IDEALLY SITUATED ESTATE
COMPRISING SIX ACRES
OF EXCELLENT BUILDING LAND
IS TO BE DEVELOPED
WITH HIGH CLASS MODERN RESIDENCES
BY SUTCH AND MARTIN, LIMITED
OF NEWBURY, BERKS
Cara… In the context of the story then, this notice spells doom for the rabbits and the warren…
Bugs… So, what’s going on? Why have we presented you with these cards?
Cara… A spanking, brand new pair of Bunny ears for anyone who can tell us?
Bugs… If no takers… Well, you are all now Rabbits anyway…Why?
Because you are in the same position in relation to the first inscription on the card as the rabbits in the story are to the second… (both Cara and Bugs elaborate on that position) So, to emphasise that position…
Cara… In the darkness and warmth of the burrow Hazel suddenly woke, struggling and kicking with his back legs…
Bugs… It was Fiver, who was clambering over him, clawing and grabbing like a rabbit trying to climb a wire fence in panic.
Cara… ‘Fiver! Fiver, wake up… It’s Hazel. You’ll hurt me in a moment. Wake up!
He held him down. Fiver struggled and woke.
Bugs… “Oh, Hazel! I was dreaming. It was dreadful.
You were there.
We were sitting on water, going down a great, deep stream, and then I realised we were on a board, like that board in the field.
There were other rabbits there but when I looked down the board was made of bones and wires…
I was looking for you everywhere and trying to drag you out of a hole in the bank.
You said, “The Chief Rabbit must go alone, and you floated away down a dark tunnel of water.”
Cara… Well, you’ve hurt my ribs, anyway.
Tunnel of water… What rubbish!
Can we go back to sleep now?
Bugs… “Hazel – the danger, the bad thing. It hasn’t gone away.
It’s here – all round us.
Don’t tell me to forget about it and go to sleep.
We’ve got to get away before it’s too late.”
Cara… repeats… ‘The bad thing.
It hasn’t gone away.
It’s here… all around us…’
So, we ask again…
Is our script.
Our unknown script good or bad?
Bugs… Is it worthy or unworthy of ridicule?
If any Companions claimed to know at outset let them reveal, alternatively, Reveal…
This is a fragment of angelic language used by Dr John Dee.
It is part of an invocation…
Cara… ‘I reign over you, saith the God of Justice.
Move therefore and show yourselves.
Appear unto us; open the mysteries of your Creation, the balance of
Righteousness and Truth.’
to be continued…
Over the past few years, the Silent Eye’s weekend workshops have covered many scenarios, from the gilded glories of ancient Egypt, to the medieval grandeur of the court of King Arthur. The themes and stories are no more than a vehicle through which we can explore facets of the human journey into awareness, just as the costumes and colour are no more than psychological window-dressing. By creating a visual illusion, we are fostering that ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ that allows a reader to invest themselves in a book, a film star immerse themselves in a role or our Companions to set aside their everyday self and explore deeper aspects of being.
Steve, Stuart and I go to some lengths with the costume in order to create that illusion. We would never expect the Companions to go to the expense of providing authentically detailed costumes. In fact, the requirement is simply for a symbolic shawl to mark the entry into another mindset and intent. Even so, every year, the Companions get creative and the illusion is complete.
Land of the Exiles
This year, we had a bit of a problem in that department. Stuart and I would be dead for most of the weekend. We would be the Ancestors; robed in black and, with veiled faces, we would haunt the shadows. Not much colour there, then. Steve would have a central role as Guide, but even that was not going to provide much ‘window-dressing’.
Normally the characters are familiar in some way… archetypes presented as Egyptian gods, Knights of the Round Table or something similar with which the Companions can identify. This year, there was only one named character and almost everyone was asked to wear plain white robes. Somehow, we needed to ‘set the scene’ with colour and life… and we had three Companions to whom we turned for that… the Shaman, the Lore Weaver and the Lore Spinner. Their roles would be ‘outside’ the circle, allowing them to act upon the single soul represented by the majority of the Companions and so they could be different and wear all the colours of life.
We didn’t ask for much specifically…we left it up to them… but somehow all three of them exceeded our wildest hopes. Running Elk was our Shaman. We had no idea how much of himself he would bring to the task, nor how deeply his presence would enrich what we had planned. We could not have known…he didn’t himself….and much of it simply unfolded as the weekend went along. Running Elk is a Shaman, trained in the Zuni tradition and his own accounts of the weekend tell the story through his eyes. Even so, I would have given much to see his huge, dark-cloaked form shielding the temple Veil during the fourth ritual.
Alienora and Dean were our Lore Keepers… and their costumes were utter genius, adding all the colour and life that we needed. With Running Elk, they formed a triangle of Life and Light that could not be ignored and with our Shaman, they held the heartbeat of the temple.
Leaf and Flame
But we had another problem too. When Steve writes the workshops, Stuart and I have always added something extra, something a little different. Last year, Stuart had the helm and instead, we had the Foxes dance with flames and dragons. That was going to be a tough thing to follow. We turned to the Lore Keepers and asked them to tell a pair of interwoven stories on the Saturday evening. I have mentioned it before, but have not done justice to the sheer spectacle they provided.
Dressed in multi-coloured tatters, they were already whirling and spinning as we entered the room. It is impossible to capture in words the incredible energy the pair of them brought to the tale. For perhaps forty minutes, they never paused for breath. Taking one of the entwined stories each, they read and acted out the script while the other mimed, hammed, acted and clowned a silent counterpoint. There were highlights… Dean as a dog and a little old woman nearly brought the house down. Alienora’s dramatic death-fall landed her with a bang on the floor…and flat on her back, script to nose, she never missed a single beat, but continued declaiming. Ali’s aside, to ‘stop upstaging me’ when Dean had everyone in stitches with his antics… And yet, in spite or perhaps because of the comedic capers, the truly tragic tales they shared brought real tears as well as laughter. I do not have enough superlatives, but we are agreed that it was, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the best live, improvised performance art we have ever experienced.
Not only did we learn the tales of Giant Hulac and the massacre at Fin Cop without being traumatised by the horror of the stories, but we also got a genuine trip in a time machine, seeing and feeling how storytellers have taught through entertainment for millennia. It was a rare privilege.
These three, Shaman, Lore Weaver and Lore Spinner went above and beyond the call of both duty and friendship.
They were not alone though. Alethea, at only her second workshop with us, stepped up and embodied the central character with grace. Our technician had volunteered to help instead of taking a role. And when every person present brings their whole self to the moment, with intent and belief, that is when magic happens.
Shortly after the ‘Leaf and Flame’ event in 2016, the outline for, The Feathered Seer, workshop took shape for us on the edge of an ancient necropolis overlooking Big Moor.
The seeing that day, be it courtesy of the seasonal sun light, or more esoteric manifestations, allowed us to work out one possible function of the Barbrook 1 stone circle.
And this ‘rudimentary ritual’ was replayed in original situ later that year for the group of Companions who attended our Living Land workshop, ‘Circles Beyond Time’, in September.
Naturally, it also formed the basis of R3 of The Feathered Seer and its working proved to be one of the most intense undertakings we have ever experienced.
What the ancients knew was that only the querent holds the answer to the question, but that the clues to those questions are everywhere played out in living experience.
The symbolism employed by our forebears was both simple and profound.
Rock sculptures designating ‘living lands’, stand and face the horizon.
Rock sculptures designating ‘dead lands’, lie and face the sky.
The earthen monuments of the dead are linked by sky paths.
Wisdom is found within and only then utilised to shape those without, not vice versa.
Our modern cultures, it seems, still have an awful lot to learn.
For five years, it was Steve who was the principal writer of the annual workshops. I don’t think any of us had really considered that it would ever be otherwise. We contributed, both ideas and certain sections of the weekend, but he had established a format and set a standard. All who attended knew they could trust him to deliver.
The morning of the first meeting after the River of the Sun workshop, Stuart and I had been talking about an idea he’d had for a workshop long ago…something he had been thinking about, on and off, for years. The Green Man had been coming up a lot in our lives…perhaps that was what had brought the idea to mind once more. We tend to trust the synchronicities that lead us along these odd pathways…especially when they go all ‘bells and whistles’. You never know where they might lead, and so far, they have not led us astray.
“I think you should write the next one,” said Steve, settling himself at the pub table where we had just met. At any other moment, the only answer would have been that we could not possibly do that…he writes the workshops! Except, we’d been talking about the Green Knight/Green Man idea all morning so…
“Well, actually…” Which is how Leaf and Flame came into being, taking us all by surprise. We followed a year after that with The Feathered Seer, which we had also begun to mull over. Neither Stuart nor I had undertaken the writing of a workshop on that scale before, and Companions come from across the world to attend… even so, Steve left us to it, trusting that we would rise to the occasion. We, on the other hand, trusted that we would be given what was needed by way of inspiration as we worked. And we were…even though some of it came in its own good time.
Trust was a major facet of the Leaf and Flame workshop. Not only did we ask two of the Companions to ad-lib a whole section, trusting that they would bring what was needed to the moment, but we also asked the Gawain character, played by Steve, to place his trust in unseen forces, represented by …us. As we were by this time, being referred to as the Terrible Twins, this was a leap into the unknown. These ritual dramas go far beyond mere playacting and can have a deep and abiding effect on those who take part… and the trust required was real.
In previous years, the ‘knowledge sessions’ in which we explore various concepts, had all been carefully themed and designed to fit neatly with the story we were using and, for the most part, we had presented them ourselves. With Leaf and Flame and the Feathered Seer, we invited our Companions to share aspects of their own paths instead. We gave no more than a few words to guide their choice of subject and left them to it because we have the utmost faith in them. And every time, that faith has been repaid… not just with the quality of what has been shared, but through the strangely synchronous way in which their presentations have dovetailed far too neatly with the workshop.
That trust extends to all the Companions at the workshop… we ask them to open themselves to the moment …and they do. Every time. They are there when there is a need, they pick up the errors that inevitably occur, step in where there is a space, and each of them adds their own essence to the ‘cauldron of inspiration’ we brew together.
Some are asked to fill demanding roles. Last year, we beheaded one of our American friends in the first ritual. Okay, he did get to pick up his head and challenge the Companions to choose oracle cards from the severed head…and I think he enjoyed that… but even so, the axe was heavy and the trust needed to be mutual. This year, we asked our Shaman to work almost entirely unscripted for a large part of the weekend… which he did… and our Lore Keepers to enact two interwoven tales that they had yet to see, in whatever way they saw fit. Not only did they agree, but they delivered an incredible piece of performance art that had us all laughing and crying by turns and brought the historical role of the storyteller to vivid life for all of us.
The trust is unspoken, but always there. I believe it is stronger for being implicit, rather than explicit. It is simply accepted… and in that simplicity there is space.
When we dictate, step by step, every move that should be made, attempting to retain control of the vision we hold of ‘how things should be’, we are implying a lack of trust in others, even though we may not feel that to be so. Leaving space for error is also leaving space for trust…and that space allows those around us to grow into their own possibilities, challenging themselves in ways they may not otherwise have attempted.
When trust is misplaced, either things will not go according to plan or we will feel the shadow of betrayal. Either way, that space that we prepared will allow us room to grow as we face the challenges of the moment.
Living in the moment also requires our trust; that moment is the space in which we are…it can have neither past nor future, nor is it the present as it is past before we are aware of it. We can only trust as time and space moves through and around us. That trust must be in our selves, in the design of existence and the forces that are the matrix of being.
I wonder if that Free Will with which mankind is endowed, is also a manifestation of Trust? And is life, perhaps, the ‘space for error’ that we are given? Does it then matter whether we get things right or wrong… or does it matter more that we grow, through both success and error, for both can teach in their own way if we are prepared to learn. Is life our ‘space for error’, because we are trusted, rather than condemned… a space that allows each of us to grow into our own possibilities, challenging ourselves in ways we may not otherwise have attempted. Maybe we just have to trust that the Cosmos knows what It is doing… and trust ourselves to know It.
During our ‘Church Tapping’ days we acquired the rather dubious art of Bibliomancy, that is, taking it in turns to read at random from the pages of the bibles which, like as not, had been left open on the lectern of whichever church we happened to be tapping at the time.
It was, to say the least, uncanny how many times this particular ‘rite of divination’ threw up wholly appropriate, not to say eye opening revelations which later, invariably, we agreed we really needed to hear.
But I say dubious, because nowadays, the church authorities are none too keen on the ‘good book’ being used in this way?
Anyway, old habits die hard…
“…know ye not, that so many of us as were baptised into Jesus Christ were baptised into his death?
Therefore are we buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the Glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness of life…”
So it was that in Bakewell Church on the Monday following the weekend of, The Feathered Seer, workshop this curious argument presented itself.
It is made, apparently, in Paul’s Epistle to The Romans…
“‘Newness… of… life…?’
Nope, no newness of life in the wake of this workshop.
You got that one all wrong.”
“Oh, really? I don’t think so…”
A vision of the birth of the Silent Eye at its first Derbyshire workshop, The Song of the Troubadour. Account taken from The Initiate.
…There was smoke again, and flames, but this time they were for her alone. The fire had claimed her and images rose and fell within the orange glow.
She gave herself to the moment, seeing with inner eyes a strange scene unfolding.
Far below, it seemed, a golden vortex drew her, sending up motes of light like the ash from the burning wood, rising into the night. She followed their trail in vision to the centre of the maelstrom of power whirling deosil, an island of Light in the darkness…
A sacred space…
The golden robed figure sat veiled and alone in the centre of a strange symbol. It reminded her of a great, winged bird, its wings wrapped around the seated priestess. At her feet a golden chalice held a single flame, while around her invisible gold flowed in a river of power.
The figure was immobile as a statue, her robes catching the light of the flickering flame, only her breathing, slow and steady, made her seem alive. A man approached through the base of the winged symbol, a great Eye on his breast. He sat before the silent figure, taking her hands and speaking words unheard into the night. The golden one bowed her head in acknowledgement and he took up his place to her right, one hand outstretched on her shoulder.
There was a new shift in the swirling vortex as they waited in silence. She could sense the streams of colour spiralling around the enthroned Priest and the Lady. They could not see her. They saw nothing but the Purpose they served.
Another joined them, a younger energy flowed in as he too sat before the priestess. He took the hands in a silence that sang to the morning, bowing over them and placing a kiss on each. Three pairs of eyes, shining with Love… He took his place on her left and rested his hand on her shoulder.
They were an arrow, she the point, they her strength and source of flight. Another three added to the symbol traced on the ground around them. They waited and the power grew. Three strands now entwined in the vortex.
Others came, men and women in strange garb, one by one. Hesitant, awed by what they felt as they entered the sacred circle. In turn they stood in silent offering before she who held the moment, giving of themselves to what stood before them… The One that was Three.
The priestess in gold held each pair of eyes, accepting their gifts with Love and silence, bowing her head to each in thanks and blessing. They took their seats to either side, forming great wings of life around the three.
She did not understand, but she recognised.
When all had entered, she too, invisible and beyond time, entered the circle, stepping across the worlds, it seemed. She too offered to the Mother and the eyes that met hers were her own. There was a shift, a dizzying moment, when she felt herself seeing through both pairs of eyes and looking into her-self across millennia.
She joined the Vigil and wore silence.
After a time the priestess stood, taking up the light in the cup, placing a cloak of white fur about her shoulders. Holding the power and wrapped in silence she led the way into the pre-dawn light, her companions following in silent procession. It seemed to the watcher that they walked within a globe of golden light.
The temple building was strange to her eyes, but not as strange as the sleeping landscape into which the priestess led them. Tall huts of stone, square and angular beside a hard, unnatural path, disconnected from earth. Shiny chariots with black wheels lined the path. She felt sick with shock, yet curious about this strange world.
They saw no others as they walked, climbing the path towards the tree-line. The silence was broken by the bleating of a new lamb. It must be spring, she thought. The lamb watched, meeting their eyes and bleated again, three times in all. The companions shared smiling glances. They understood this. It meant something to them.
They turned to the left between trees and were walking in dew-drenched grass, sparkling with rainbows and diamond droplets, climbing the hill. She felt better on the grass, the earth touching her feet. It felt like home.
Up they climbed, beyond a tree to a small plateau in the hillside. A board of black and white squares held bread and the cup was placed there on the ground. The golden one and the priest of the Eye stood facing the coming dawn, a pale glow on the horizon heralding its birth. The Man-Child stood behind them, with their companions arced at his back.
She watched as priest and priestess raised their arms in unison, greeting the sunrise. This she understood. Her own priests greeted the dawn thus. As the sun rose, and with their hands still raised, they turned to each other, becoming an arch, gate of the morning, through which the first rays of the sun could touch the company.
Thus they stood as the Man-child crossed his hands on his breast and bowed. Then he dared to pass through into the Light. As he did so, a strange sound rang out, a sound chanted by the two who were the gateway…
The gathered silence finally split and broken by a two-fold word of power… A mingling of energies that she could see…
Birds sang and a hawk flew from the rising of the sun, spreading its wings over those below in benediction. This too they understood.
Each then passed in turn through the gateway, to that strange chant. Each spoke words she could not understand into the morning. The first were anointed with fragrant oil. Some were not, yet all gave themselves to the Light. She could see it in their faces, read it in their hearts as they stepped forward in joy.
She too passed through that gateway invisible and silent, feeling the change, joining them across time and space, knowing somehow that neither existed, only the moment in which she stood, the reality in which she was.
Dream or vision, it mattered not.
Here, now, she was.
The arc had shifted to stand in the sun. Now facing the priest and priestess, behind the man-child…
Something new was born into the world, a beacon of Light and she felt herself part of it.
The priest carried bread to the companions, each taking a small piece and breaking the fast of a new dawn. The priestess carried the cup, sharing the blood red contents with each. Then the two shared also, with each other and with the earth.
For a moment she shared their joy as the ritual ended. They were smiling, laughing and embracing each other, the release of power at the birthing leaving them light as feathers. And light as a feather she felt herself begin to drift back to her flames in the darkness.
As the vision faded into embers, the ground hard beneath her, the wind cold beneath the stars, she held out her hands over the dying flames and sent her own blessing upon that bright company. In whatever realm or world they moved whatever time or place, what they had wrought in the dawn light was sacred. She did not understand, but she knew and recognised her kin…