The opening of the Eye – a magical birth

The Opening of The Eye (1)

There are some things for which words are never enough. Things it is almost impossible to share. There are some things which should not be shared, perhaps, but the birth of the School was symbolic and not just for those who could be with us on that Derbyshire dawn.

So here I will share how it was through my eyes, holding nothing back, for it was never mine to keep, only to live.

This telling will be longer than usual, and yet will only skim the surface of that morning.  I offer it from my heart to all those who could not be with us on the hillside on Sunday morning. There were many who were with us in thought and prayer across the world, some who shared with us the weekend yet who could not physically make the climb up the hill. These people, many of whom have been with us every step of the way, who have shared our laughter and tears, have taught so much through their loving support. I offer this telling to those who guided our steps over the years, who held our hands and opened our minds.

We carried you in our hearts. Now see through my eyes.

“…They have always been ready, now you must bring it to birth…”

At 3.20 in the morning I stood outside the centre in my dressing gown under a canopy of deepest velvet blue sprinkled with stars. The sky was clear and mild, lacking the biting frost that had glittered under the previous dawn.

There was no nervousness, just a deep serenity, a knowing and a purpose in the silence.

I breathed deeply, filling myself with the clear air and night’s beauty. Already tears pricked my eyelids, knowing what was to come to birth. Months of constant work, lifetimes of preparation for both of us. The culmination of an incubation nurtured in silence. The birth of a dream.

I closed my eyes and offered a silent prayer, asking the blessing of the One on what we were about to do, quietly reaching out across a sleeping world to touch in thought and love all those who had brought us to this moment, and to the little mother, so far away, whom I have loved so very much for so long. She too is part of this as we carry forward a spark of the Light she showed us.

There was a sadness too, a gentle sadness, as I saw a familiar life slip away and prepared to step onto a new path that will carry me where it must. Though I go willingly and without regret, there is always a sadness when the current lifts you away from the life and love of the past. Though the outer life may seem little different, the inner one also came to birth that morning.

As I showered and robed I could feel love around me, the fleeting caress of other minds and hearts, as if those who watched around the world left butterfly kisses on my brow. I was not alone in my solitary room. The sense of presence was tangible and warm. Following a dream a few nights before I dressed in the gold of dawn with jewels like gilded dew at my throat. I remember looking back at the room, strewn with robes and colour, wondering.

I knocked on Steve’s door to leave my key. He opened it, robed in blue, the Eye of Horus on his breast, golden. In silence he bowed and I walked alone to the temple.

The lights were low, I took my place in the centre of the ancient symbol, hallowed by the hearts and minds of the companions. At my feet the golden chalice, engraved with the symbol of the sun, holding only light. I composed myself and the vigil began.

For a while there were the fleeting thoughts as the mind settled into stillness. Who would come at this unearthly hour? After a night of conviviality in pub and library, little sleep and with long journeys ahead later in the day? A few, I hoped. Few I expected. It was an unfair thing to ask. Yet it was symbolic, it mattered only that we were there and played out in the waking world what we had been given to do.

With my eyes half closed the golden light from the chalice seemed to fill the room. The temple itself was a chalice, itself not important, only its function, to give shape and hold what was pouring into it. At the centre I saw myself, still, golden, unfamiliar. I too was only a cup, a container to hold and shape that fluid Light we serve. Around me, spiralling like leaves in an autumn wind, it seemed as if motes of brightness danced with the shadows and the sparkling expectancy was palpable, like the air before a storm. I felt a strong sense of presence. Myself, siting motionless on the chair, others, unseen, arcing around that tiny point of light in the centre. Holding vigil in the silence with the Mother.

The door opened and he who walked that morning in the robe of the Father came in and sat before me.  The eyes that met seemed not our own, the hands that met in blessing and greeting felt other than our own. He broke the silence, but the few words spoken were not simply his own and had their place in that moment.

He took his place on my right, his left hand outstretched resting on my shoulder and the vigil continued. Like another note added to a song in harmony, the feel of the room changed and took on depth and the sense of presence became more profound. Some time later the Child entered. He too sat before me, with eyes I shall not forget, glowing with love in that moment. A gesture, an offering  that brought serene tears to my eyes. They were not my hands. Then he too took up his place on my left, his right hand on my shoulder, and the harmony deepened.

Shapes touched the edge of vision, whispers of song in the silence, words unspoken that I will seek for a lifetime. I felt caught between worlds in a vast, womblike cavern as an unseen heart beat beneath my feet. Unfamiliar even to myself.

I saw shadows through the tiny window of the door, others were there. The silence was absolute, their gift to the moment. Then the door was opened and the companions filed in, one by one, to take their place before the Mother and silently offer, heart to heart, and receive what was offered in stillness.

And they were all there. All those who could be there, all who could walk up that pre-dawn hillside. All of them.

I cannot describe the feeling in that moment, the outpouring of loving blessing, the gifts given by people who should have been asleep for hours to come, yet who had sacrificed their rest and joined us in silent vigil. The eyes that met mine as I watched through the lens of tears at the beauty before me. Through the other eyes, it seemed, lent to me for a moment out of time. The hearts that were open, the smiles, all gentle, the one who knelt and gave all he was to that moment and the unknown moments to come.

They took their places around the circle, forming what felt like great wings holding the Light within. I closed my eyes and gathered the threads of Light in my heart.

At the appointed time I rose, placed a cloak around my shoulders and led them from the room, pausing to allow them to don their coats, the silence incredible in the soft light.

The morning was mild and beautiful, the sky streaked with colour, the rose and blue, the hint of gold, painted by the Master Hand. We walked slowly through the sleeping village, silent ghosts in strange garb climbing the hill to the gate.

Yet there was no strangeness, only a sense of rightness in the moment…present and not present, watching within and without, and the utter silence. Beyond the low wall to the right a young lamb looked up, bleating, eye to eye, three times. As if we were being given a blessing, recognition, acknowledgement. Such a simple thing, but so very beautiful.

We walked up the dew damp slope, to the little lawn between the tree to the west and the notch in the bare fingered trees in the east, silhouetted against the growing light. We placed the chalice and plate on the altar and Father and Mother stood to greet the dawn.

Those moments of waiting, in the miraculous silence made only deeper by the symphony the birds were singing, are some that will live in my heart forever. The small arc of the companions felt like a great host behind us as we raised our arms to salute the sun in its rising, and the greater Light it symbolises.

Turning to each other, arms still raised, we became the gate of dawn, a portal through which the Child could pass. Our arms extended, eyes holding, unable to see beyond the raised arms, we saw the Child come within our embrace and pass through to the Light as we broke the silence with a single chanted word. Cromaat.

The weight of the cloak against my throat was too much, I let it fall.

Overhead a hawk wheeled in the dawn glow.

One by one the companions passed through the gate that we were, emerging on the other side to be greeted by the Child. They were asked why they had passed through the gates of Light and Life… to the Child who is Love. In turn, they answered, the first giving the response of those who have chosen to walk with us in the School, these were anointed with consecrated oil and accepted. Those who were with us in love and support affirmed the wholeness of the One. Together they formed the wings of morning before the gate.

When all had passed into the east, we proclaimed the birth of the Silent Eye and, blessing bread and wine, we broke our fast in shared communion on a hillside bathed in gold and birdsong.

With laughter, many embraces, very many tears and smiles, our School came to birth as the sun rose and something new was brought into the world with joy and with Love.

Wayland: The White Horse…

*

But according to some, Wayland has far more onerous

responsibilities than shoeing the horses of passing way farers…

*

A group of local lads were enjoying a drink

one evening at the White Horse Inn, Woolstone,

when an unknown man wearing old fashioned garb

entered and ordered a pint of the local beverage.

*

He wore a leather apron, a tall hat,

and he took his drink and sat

to one side of the ale-house by himself…

*

After awhile the sound of a horn rang out

and could be heard

echoing eerily through the vale…

*

Startled from his reverie by the horn,

the stranger leapt to his feet and hobbled

out into the night, his pint unfinished.

*

As the uncanny sound faded over the downs

the locals looked out and up to the hillside

to find that the White Horse was gone!

*

When dawn broke the following day

more than a few of the previous night’s imbibers

looked out of their windows

and up at the hill with some trepidation…

*

Only to see the White Horse

back where it should be on the green hillside

but with feet-tips

that seemed to shine in the morning sun light.

 

*

 

Magical mornings

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It was a luminous dawn, the world blanketed in a thick cocoon of frost against the darkness and silence of a newborn morning. The sun rose, pale and gold, strewing a million diamonds on the tarmac path; setting a fire in the heart of ice. There is a magic in the morning light that seems to bathe even the hard edges of winter in a soft glow. Where the light streams, its gentle warmth sends showers of tiny droplets glinting to earth, yet where the shadows hang heavy, the frost lingers, clinging to the day with hoary fingers.

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Looking down, splashes of unexpected colour stand out against the whitened world… the scarlet stalks of ivy and bramble, the earth tones of autumnal remains and the vibrant shades of the evergreens. Details, hitherto unnoticed, leap to the attention, thrown into relief by the blank canvas of the frost. Shapes unseen are highlighted; fractal patterns that seem to hold the story of creation in their humble familiarity.

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Looking up, the birds are waking, stretching chilled wings against the morning. I wonder at them… their delicate frames and fragile bones kept safe through the frozen night by no more than a feather. So tiny, so light, yet they can fly against the storm winds and through the battering of the rains. This morning I watched the sparrows as they woke, fluffing their plumage as we might shake an eiderdown. Such busy little birds, clinging to the smallest perch to watch the day begin.

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Light strikes the trees, turning them golden as the sun rises higher, painting the doves pink and waking the jackdaws in a flurry of wings. On the low roof the frost crystals turn the little clumps of moss into the hollow hills and forests of a faery landscape where imagination walks, painting tales of otherworlds to be explored. Even the cars are clad in jewelled fur that makes them look like the surface of some fantastic planet.

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I love mornings like this. They truly are magical, both to see and to ponder, when the delicate overlay of a winter frost changes everything and yet the beauties revealed by the frost are always there, just waiting for us to see them. We are blind to the familiar world, habituated to its presence. It takes change to open our eyes and hearts to what is already there waiting for us. In this way such a morning reflects the journey of the seeker; turning to face the light of being and seeing that no matter how far the journey may lead him, no matter how many changes may come, his destination has always been a place he never left.

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Wayland: The Blessed Isles…

*

The tone of the tale once Britain is reached,

becomes very different…

*

Alighting on Berkshire’s High Downs,

Wayland came upon an ancient chambered tomb,

and made it his home.

*

Tradition now has it,

that if ever you are riding the Ridgeway,

and your horse loses a shoe,

you need only tether it nearby,

 leave a silver-sixpence on the uppermost stone of the tomb,

and on your return your horse will be shod and your money gone…

*

Wayland, it seems, never works while being observed.

*

 

 

Wayland: Silver-Smith of Souls…

*

There are a number of intriguing aspects to the legend of Wayland Smithy…

The earliest written sources appear late and are decidedly piecemeal.

*

Wayland is the son of a God, Giant, or King of the Otherworld.

He is schooled in metallurgy by Dwarves, whom, in skill, he quickly surpasses.

He lives, hunts, and works alone in a region associated with wolves and bears.

One day he comes upon a swan-maiden bathing skin-less.

He finds her skin, appropriates it, and she lives with him for nine years.

At the end of which time she discovers her hidden skin and flies away.

*

Wayland is then taken captive by the King of Sweden,

maimed to prevent escape and set to work on an island…

Wayland surreptitiously kills the king’s sons, turns their skulls into goblets

and presents them to the king and queen.

Their teeth he turns into a brooch for the king’s daughter.

The king’s daughter has a ring of Wayland’s, stolen from him by her father,

and when it breaks she asks him to mend it.

Wayland inebriates the king’s daughter and fathers a son on her.

*

At this point, in the tale, Wayland’s swan-wife returns,

with a swan-skin for him and they fly away,

to the Blessed-Isles of Britain, together…

*

 

 

A Wooded-Isle…

*

Brother-Wizard and Brother-Warrior immediately set out for the sea-shore.

There, moored at the mouth of a natural cave in the cliffs, bobbed a coracle.

They both clambered aboard…

*

…The King of Castle-Hill took the magic halter to the cell of the tower on his wooded isle and presented it as a gift to appease his imprisoned daughter.

“Of what use to me is a magic halter,” sobbed the princess, “if all my days are to be spent cooped up here seeing none but my hand-maids.”

“With the halter comes a wondrous cow, my child, its inexhaustible supply of milk will sustain you,” soothed the king, “and I shall bring your food everyday and relate the comings and goings of the kingdom. Far better a sequestered life than one without a father.”

As the King of Castle-Hill left the tower to attend to his duties, the magic halter cascaded against the back of the cell door…

*

Brother-Warrior and Brother-Wizard landed at the wooded isle in their coracle.

“The magic halter is with the king’s daughter,” said Brother-Wizard.”

“And where is the king’s daughter?” said Brother-Warrior.

“The king’s daughter, is in a tower in the centre of the wood which is surrounded by nine home-steads,” said Brother-Wizard, “you must enter the tower and sleep with her.”

“And what’s in the nine home-steads?”said Brother-Warrior.

“You’ll see,” said Brother-Wizard. He gave his brother a Cloak-of-Darkness and put a spell on his hands so that whatever door he came to would open for him.

“Wish me luck, brother,” said the warrior, turning to leave.

“One more thing,” said the wizard, “be sure to leave the magic halter with the princess, we will return for it another day.”

“I thought…” began Brother-Warrior but a withering look from the wizard stayed that thought and sent him swiftly on his way into the wood.

*

The King of Castle Hill…

*

…There once was a king who lived in a castle on a hill.

He was lord and master of all he surveyed.

One daughter he had sired but his wife had died in giving the child life.

His daughter was very beautiful and the king looked forward to the day when she would come into her own.

By a cunning device of his mother the King of Castle-Hill had been made invulnerable and was possessed of a baleful eye which was capable of blighting all that it gazed upon.

The eye was normally kept covered by five leather patches.

The King of Castle-Hill was also a great wizard in his own right, well versed in the magical arts, and nothing happened in his kingdom without his knowledge of it.

There was little that the King of Castle-Hill wanted save for a wondrous cow which was looked after by three brothers who lived by the sea.

One of the brothers was a blacksmith, clever and skilful.

One of the brothers was a wizard, cunning and resourceful.

One of the brothers was a warrior, strong and fair.

The wondrous cow was possessed of an inexhaustible supply of milk and it daily traversed the kingdom supplying the people with nourishment.

The wondrous cow was governed by a magic halter.

Wherever the halter went, there too went the wondrous cow.

The King of Castle-Hill determined to acquire the wondrous cow and realised that if he could somehow get the magic halter then the object of his desire would follow.

About the same time as the king determined upon a plan to acquire the wondrous cow it came to his attention that certain prophesies were doing the rounds of his kingdom.

The prophecies spoke of the king’s demise.

The king summoned his soothsayer.

“It is true, my lord, words have been uttered describing your death,” said the king’s soothsayer.

“But I am invulnerable,” said the King of Castle-Hill, “I will live forever.”

“Not so,” said the soothsayer, “your grandson shall slay you by casting a spear through your baleful eye and on out of the back of your skull.”

The king fell silent in thought.

It might possibly be true, the king’s baleful eye, though a potent weapon and an effective deterrent against those who might oppose him, was also his only vulnerable spot.

“Will he indeed!” seethed the King of Castle-Hill fingering the first of the leather pouches that covered his baleful eye, “we will see about that.”…

*

Anatomy of Evil?…

*

We commenced our survey of St Michael and St George,

many months ago now, by querying the notion that,

according to a number of well-known esotericists, in 1879

a great victory of light over darkness had been achieved.

*

One of these eminent esotericist even went as far as to suggest

that the age of the ‘Kali Yuga’ had ended in this year.

*

Notwithstanding the inadvisability of mixing

eastern and western esoteric traditions in this way,

not to mention, cosmic and historical time frames,

subsequent historical events tend to contradict this assertion,

and perhaps even suggest the complete opposite.

*

Visions, dreams, and icons are always, and for all time,

open to interpretation, and re-interpretation,

or at least, in a free democracy, they always should be.

*

Toeing a particular party line may seem expedient

at one time or another

but is usually antithetical to any notions of ultimate truth.

*

So, what do we do when we are accosted by a vision

of St Michael in the form of a stained glass window

in Skipton Church?

*

We head off to Cornwall, of course…

*

*

The genesis and development of this theme is covered

in a series of nine of our books which commences with, The Initiate…

 

The fabric of being

We all know them, that handful of people who cling to a reactionary refusal to own a mobile phone… or turn it on when they do… or bother to check it. Or they don’t really like computers or social media. You can’t get hold of them, they pass their lives in a state of technological invisibility and you wonder how on earth they can survive…

Or… you secretly envy them their anonymity and accepted state of unavailability…

It is not so very long ago that communication was less intense, relying on ‘local’ calls and handwritten letters. The reliability of the mail was legendary, if slow, and such missives could be cherished or responded to in a timely fashion… say, a week or two. And that was okay. These days, ‘radio silence’ presses the panic buttons… people, including ourselves most of the time, expect an instant response. We have, very quickly, learned to live in a world that responds at the touch of a button and very often we seem to expect people to do the same. It is all about ‘now’.

Technological advances have not only changed our world, but our expectations, both of ourselves and others. We have, over the course of a couple of generations, seen a complete redesign of our daily lifestyles. We no longer have to beat carpets or black lead the range. Laundry is done, and even dried, at the touch of a button instead of the labour intensive wash-day that saw, even in my own childhood, coppers boiling, wash-boards and mangles at dawn and the flat irons heating in the embers of the black-leaded grate. Food no longer needs to be grown or prepared and ‘gourmet’ meals can be purchased ready-made from the supermarket chiller cabinet. And although, with the loss of cooking skills, the understanding of food and nutrition is being eroded, we can, of course, always take supplements…obviating even the need to chew.

Our days… assuming that our technologies are working as they should… have been freed of many constraints. We have more potential leisure time than we have ever had in the history of mankind… and many of us ironically turn to some kind of technological gadgetry with which to fill it. Meanwhile old skills are becoming obsolete… how many of us still know how to starch a shirt, for example? Do we need to know… do we even care? Most of us would emphatically answer in the negative… but are we really right to do so? Because it isn’t just the skills that are lost…

It isn’t exactly about how to dress a flawless shirt that crackles when you move… what I am thinking of here is the amount of care we put into the small, humdrum acts of daily life. The generations-old christening robe or wedding veil would not have survived this long had someone not learned to understand its fabric and spent time and effort on its care and preservation. With today’s wash-and-go fabrics, would we do the same? Do our email conversations hold the same place in our hearts as the bundle of faded, handwritten letters? Time and attention, a learned skill, a labour of love…

Anyone who has ever created a work of art or craft will know that feeling of pride and satisfaction when it is completed and you step back to look at the finished article. Anyone who cooks from scratch or watches the slow growth and ripening of fruit in the garden knows they taste different from their pretty, shop-bought cousins. Not just because of the obvious commercial factors, but simply because you have come to know the tree, the plant and the soil… you have watered and fed and watched as they grew and the relationship thus built with the fruit is personal. The care, time and attention we give to any object or task has a direct correlation to the value we place upon it and the relationship we build with it… a relationship that involves us on all levels, from the physical work involved, to the mental use of knowledge to the emotions it engenders. What we really earn, we value. What is done with love… like a child’s first scrawled painting of a parent… is valued. For the rest, we live in a society that allows for few things to impinge upon our hearts; our possessions often little more than visible symbols of our success that we can wear as a badge of status to convince others, and thus reassure ourselves of our worth. It sometimes seems that the biggest loss of all over the past generation or two is a lack of true value for ourselves.

We no longer know how to define ourselves; there is a lack of confidence in our identities, a pervasive uncertainty in our relationships with ourselves. Perhaps this is one reason why more and more people are turning towards the many spiritual paths made more accessible by the very technology that allows us the time to study them. Sadly, there are all too many pseudo-spiritual schemes on the market, profiteering from this need and offering little more than comforting reassurance, usually at a premium price. Or ways to achieve all with minimal effort… well, someone is doing well from these schemes, but it is seldom the sincere seeker of inner truth and harmony who profits…

scarf3

The spiritual journey is almost like laundering a garment. What we do will depend on what we seek from and for it in the longer term. Is this something we would wear for a season and discard, or something we hope will last a lifetime and beyond? A garment can come in every shade of the rainbow and the method of care of cotton is unsuitable for silk. Each is unique, yet shares a common underlying need.

When we are new and unworn, we are fresh and unblemished. Everyday life gradually adds its creases, stains and soiling and there is a point where we realise that we must do something about it or watch a steady deterioration that takes the garment beyond beauty. The first turning towards the path of the soul is comparable to a light wash… an initial cleansing that can be enough to freshen and maintain the garment in serviceable condition. We can go on that way for a long time, but without proper care the garment will, inevitably, begin to fade and pass a point where it will appear able to be restored to its pristine condition.

If, on the other hand, we look at the garment and take careful stock of its condition, learning to understand its fabric, identifying the damage and the individual stains and learning what they are so we can then learn how to remove them specifically, we can cleanse the garment with thorough and loving care. If we want to restore its pristine nature, we might learn how to properly ‘dress’ the garment… realising that its newly cleaned brightness may have to go back to the water to be dipped and soaked in starch… wrung into further creases and left to try in its own time, before being carefully smoothed with the heat of the iron. We may not know how to proceed… but we will know who will or where to search for those skills forgotten or unlearned. There is always someone to turn to who can guide us through the process, though sometimes the advice may seem strange.

It is a long process and there is much to be learned. It isn’t always an easy task, nor is it always a pleasant one. Many give up or prefer to believe that the stain on the front of the garment is something else entirely, not the ketchup they themselves had dropped there. Yet the longer we wait to begin, the more stains and moth-holes we may have to tackle. Restoration takes time, care and attention… which are, oddly enough, the very same qualities that allow us to engage with the things that matter to us most deeply… and which bring a true sense of achievement, value and identity.

In our society we are fast learning to want everything ‘now’. Yet the things we still value most are those that we work for, those we earn… those things that are worth waiting for. We do not expect to get such items without care and effort, nor do we expect to see the fruits of such long-term labours materialise immediately, though we may be working hard towards them. Nevertheless, we will see the savings in the bank grow, find our knowledge expanding or our skills improving, day by day, month by month as we turn our efforts and attention towards our goal. There comes, though, a moment when we realise that there was a ‘now’ where we made a start… and there will be a ‘now’ when we achieve our dream… but meanwhile our ‘now’ must be devoted to what we are doing right at this moment on the journey between the two.

The journey through life is unique for each of us, a turning point that may come early or late… some seem born with the starry heavens in their eyes and pursue that vision with all that they are, others seem to seek nothing until the silence of their last moments. Yet all of us, at some point, will question the stains and creases we acquire as life wears our soul. Sometimes, all we have to do is ask…