Journeying

Photograph by Matt Baldwin-Ives
Photograph by Matt Baldwin-Ives

You have to start somewhere. Sometimes you don’t even know where you are going, only that there is a road that is calling your name. You may have no idea where it will lead, nor what the journey may entail, but its pull is insistent and nags at your feet until you make a start. It is not an easy choice to make, that decision to set out into the unknown. It may mean letting go of much that you have held dear, yet sometimes, you just know somehow that it is the right thing to do… and sometimes it is a leap of faith taken in trust.

Four years ago, we started with a small workshop to bring the Silent Eye into the world. It had been brewing for some time… for Steve, it had been years. Stuart was already working with him. For me, it was a new adventure that I embraced after much soul searching. It was a big step and I needed to be sure… as sure as you can ever be when you step into the unknown… that I was going where I had to be. Becoming part of the foundations of a new School meant that doors would close behind us, leaving us little choice but to move forward with the tide. While it was with a sense of immense excitement that we set out on the journey, there was sadness too. We knew that some we loved would not understand the decision to ‘leave home’ and build something new. But sometimes the tide is so strong that it becomes an imperative… and its waves caught our feet and carried us forward.

That April saw the first of our annual workshops. We had to start that somewhere too… and in a daring move, considering my distinct lack of talent in that area, Steve decided that, as we were to use the story of a pair of Troubadours as the basis for the ritual weekend, he and I should start the workshop singing. Now I may have perfect pitch in my head, but it never made it as far as my vocal cords. Grown men have been known to cringe… though nowhere near as much as I. Yet, as he began to play, the tide caught us again and the song came out in tune… and in harmony.

Photograph by Matt Baldwin-Ives
Photograph by Matt Baldwin-Ives

We were carried through that weekend, surrounded by old friends and new. People had come from across the planet to share that moment as we dipped our toes in the waters, not knowing where they would take us. We worked, we laughed, people danced, talked and made music, made art and shared the moment. The whole weekend went by in a blur of emotion and activity… and in my mind it shone like a newly lit beacon.

Others saw the light of that flame and, over the new few years, would attend the workshops and events, or join the Silent Eye… and it now feels as though we have a global family, with hands stretched out in friendship across the world.

This year the workshop in April will take us back to Arthurian Britain, with a tapestry woven of myth and legend to explore, where Knights and their Ladies undertake a quest, seeking the answer to an eternal mystery. Once again, our companions will travel from as far afield as Europe and America to join us… and I cannot express how amazing that feels except to further abuse the word ‘awesome’. Yet it is no abuse, as there is a true sense of awe in knowing that what we do has reached hearts and minds around the entire world.

You have to start somewhere. A journey is begun with the first tentative step, but until you take it you are going nowhere. Until you take it, you have no idea where the road might lead… all you can do is trust your feet to the road… or give yourself to the wave that laps around your ankles and see where the current may carry you. Unknown adventures are waiting on the horizon… but only those who start the journey will find them and the journey will be different… a unique quest for all who undertake it. I can only speak for myself, knowing that in ‘leaving home’, I found myself going Home.

Photograph by Matt Baldwin-Ives
Photograph by Matt Baldwin-Ives

 

 

Organised chaos?

Astral Eyes (Large)
Artwork produced by the Companions who attended the first annual workshop. Photograph by Matt Baldwin-Ives

I long since gave up filing things I am working on in nice neat folders. These days, if it needs attention it is on the desktop screen of the PC. Every so often it gets to a point when there is no longer anywhere free to put stuff, even when any finished lurkers have been relegated to lower levels of accessibility. Such is the state of play at present as we move into the final few weeks before the April workshop.

I will not be alone in this. Three of us are in this together. Normal service, whatever that might be, will not resume until after the event. Meanwhile, three desk chairs, three minds, and possibly half a dozen screens of various sizes will be occupied in three widely separated parts of the country. This is pretty much a time where the phrase ‘bums on seats’ takes on a whole new meaning.

There is the last minute rush to complete the physical things we require. Anything to do with sewing falls my way for some reason… I warned them I ‘sew with burnt thread’, but as the males of the species connected with this do not, for some strange reason, seem to own sewing machines, I will shortly be spending a proportion of my days wondering when the eyes of needles began to be made quite so small and what on earth was I doing in needlework classes all those years ago. I certainly wasn’t learning the art of dressmaking.

dogs

Even so, we know that, one way or another, we will… eventually…be duly and decorously robed for the ritual drama set in ancient Egypt. Just as we know that all the scripts will be written and meticulously readied so that even those attending for the first time will know precisely what to do and thus feel comfortable. Each part of the story builds an image; part of the journey of the soul of everyman, and what is crafted within their pages will sew unique seeds for all who attend.

Why this final rush when we have had a year to prepare, you may ask? We do! Well, there are a number of reasons for that. First, the script has to be written beginning with a story into which the inner workings of the weekend workshop can be built over five rituals… and for an unknown number of attendees who must each have the opportunity to play an equal part. So we are working blind in many ways until bookings are confirmed and numbers change right up to the last minute! We work with a nine pointed symbol, which also has to be built into the workings, not as a symbol alone, but with each of its points explored showing how these are part of the human psyche and how they affect the spiritual journey. Except that the nine points are also eighteen… and twenty seven… and ten. So the rituals come first, but they don’t come early.

Knowledge Lecture

This year, Steve is again writing the core of the weekend. Stuart and I must wait until that is well underway before we can craft our rituals, ensuring that they fit within the frame we are working with. Costumes for the principles and props for the group can only follow after that. Meanwhile there are the knowledge sessions to consider, where we explore aspects of the underlying principles behind the story. All this goes on while two of us still work and all of us have other commitments as well as the writing and the running of the School and the individual journey with our students.

Why do we do it? It certainly isn’t for the money! We don’t get paid for any of this, the School operates on a strictly not-for-profit basis and costs are kept to a minimum. Doing it this way means we can put on weekends like this at a fraction of the cost of comparable events and so be accessible to those who cannot afford the expense usually associated with spiritual retreats and residential workshops.

No, it goes deeper than that.

We do it because we share a common vision, a passion for bringing a small spark of light to an area that has been shrouded in secrecy, cloaked in occult shadows and mystery for too long. We do it because the spiritual journey is one we are all undertaking, whether we consciously choose to do so or not. We do it from passion; bringing the spiritual life into the everyday world because that is where we all must live and work and where we all must be… and if we can do so in the Light, then we can see our way home.

light 007


Join us for a magical weekend in the Derbyshire Dales. A full brochure, including details of the event, prices and booking form are available on The Silent Eye website.

A printable version of the brochure can be downloaded here:

Brochure, price list and Booking Form for River of the Sun 2015

 

Derbyshire Delights

It was over ten years ago now in March 2004 that I first sampled the delights of Derbyshire at a Mystical Weekend in the Nightingale Centre, Great Hucklow.

In those days I was a relativley new member of a worldwide Mystical Order and the idea of a ‘Weekend Retreat’ amongst strangers was unfamiliar and rather daunting.

I recall a moment of panic on my way to this remote spot as the bus from Sheffield headed deeper and deeper into the Derbyshire wilds… ‘It’s in the middle of nowhere,’ I thought with mounting hysteria, ‘we could all be murdered in our sleep and no one would ever know…’ I can now smile at such momentary fears brought on no doubt by a teenage staple of Dennis Wheatley and H.P. Lovecraft but there is a legitimate question here for those with no experience of such matters.

‘What does one do on a Mystical Retreat?’

Well that depends of course on which particular school is running the retreat and what the particular brief or theme for the weekend is.

My first retreat was a heady mix of group and private meditations, and informative and engaging talks and presentations by members of the Order of which I was then part.

But that is to describe only the formal aspects of such events; there is usually between the scheduled programmes plenty of time to commune with fellow participants or if one prefers time enough, to simply be alone with nature in the peaceful surrounds of the centre.

…But really the best answer to such an enquiry is, ‘one needn’t do anything on a Mystical Retreat, it is far more effective to simply be… and see where it leads.’

The annual trips to Derbyshire became something of a pilgrimage for me and with continued presence my involvement in the formal running of such events grew…

…In 2011 and now under the aegis of a Magical School but again back at the Nightingale for a weekend retreat our lodge staged a four act dramatic ritual which focused on the search for the philosopher’s stone.

Very ‘Harry Potter’ and all rather grand sounding but really it is just a group of life-affirming people with common purpose exploring together the notion of that which is more than the sum of its parts.

And in 2013 and now as the inaugural event of The Silent Eye School of Consciousness, the four act drama had become five acts and a tradition had been put in place which we hope will continue long into the future…

The dramas are script led and no prior experience is assumed.
There is no audience because everybody participates so there is no pressure and no one to mind if a ‘mistake’ is made…

In the words of one recent attendee: ‘It’s beautiful, it’s fun, and it’s profound.’

No one has been murdered, of course, but a goodly number of folk have returned from our events with their sense of life purpose refreshed and renewed and their belief in the spirit released to soar…

hawk

We hope you can join us in 2015 for ‘River of the Sun…’

We will be delighted to see you.

Full brochure and booking form can be downloaded here:

SE15 Feb15 brochureAA