Keys of Heaven (3): the synchronicity of kindness ~ Steve Tanham

There’s a certain ‘presence’ about kindness. Like the spiritual – or, more likely, as a part of it – the act of unexpected kindness drops into our lives like a messenger from the ‘Gods’.

So it was with our visit to the ancient church of Lythe in the middle of the Friday afternoon of the Keys of Heaven workshop. The village of Lythe lies just north of Whitby and marks the the beginning of the towering cliffs which run northwards as far as Saltburn. Within this landscape, Lythe is set on its own hill and has commanding views all the way to Whitby Abbey in the distance.

(Above: the distant Abbey ruins on the far side of Whitby. Seen from the beach near Lythe

Continue reading at Sun in Gemini

Keys to Heaven: Sobriety…

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With our third term, ‘sobriety’, we start to rise…

By accepting the control we attempted to impose on the

world in our ‘planning’ and singularly failed to exert upon ourself in ‘gluttony’.

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Roads of excess can lead to places of wisdom insists the Blake-Man,

and in our countless excesses may we hope that this is so…

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Sobriety is not abstinence but it does wield discrimination,

when applied not to others, in judgement,

but to ourself, in understanding.

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Our search for food left little time to shop,

and a small sandwich instead of the better value large

proved an elegant sufficiency.

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Meeting at the same Cafe as our morning break

proved only that lightning does not strike a place twice.

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Any lingering excess from the previous night would soon

be burned off by the looming coastal walk:

away, blown, cobwebs, the terms,

introduced by a little mud sliding…

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From here on in things necessarily become

incredibly precise though, heaven knows,

we had no idea. Does the hand that guides, also design?

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Our forty minute cliff-top sojourn

somehow became one-hour-and-a-half.

Do not ask for these are mysteries.

We stopped to talk for no more than fifteen minutes en route…

In a gale.

It could not have been longer.

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Our ‘early tea’ became just a coffee,

and an early night beckoned, then,

we were accosted…

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Keys to Heaven: Gluttony…

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The Norse God, Odin, hangs over all.

His attendant wolves symbolise our lower self,

and both their names can be translated, ‘greed’, which leads us to glut…

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For most people the plan is simple:

to experience all they can in sensations quest,

and this too can lead to a sort of glut…

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One cannot have too much of a good thing, can one?

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After breakfasting we meet at the Whalebone Arch,

and it is difficult not to wonder how

long it will be before our gluttony

as a species empties the oceans…

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From here, framed within the jaw bones of the once great sea beast,

we can see the skeletal remains of Whitby Abbey,

where weighty decisions about the religious tenor

of our country were once made.

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We, though, make our way back into town, and a Cafe…

and from there, eventually, up to the Abbey,

but not before crossing the swing bridge,

which simultaneously separates and joins the new town

from the old, and which, as we approach, is just about to swing…

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For those with eyes to see the swing bridge has something to impart.

Black letters on a yellow board.

‘Krampus Run – Three-Thirty Pee Em!’

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The ‘Krampus’, it turns out, is a sort of shadow

side to the European St Niklaus,

who instead of giving gifts to good children,

punishes those that have been bad!

An antidote to wanton gluttony, perhaps,

or a living, breathing, walking Baphomet?

Initially, there will be more than one of them,

 a whole parade full vying for the dubious crown.

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We count the steps to the Abbey and breeze through

the Abbey gift shop where, historical, religious and fantasy

items all, peculiarly levelled, jostle for attention.

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The once grandiose and resplendant Abbey interior,

now stands open to the elements…

Wind whistled bare,

was Odin a Lord of Air?

We try to feel St Cedd’s presence there,

but he is long gone.

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As bitter grey clouds-of-cold skit in from the sea,

we perform the second run of our ‘ritual’,

before heading back down into town, for more food.

*

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A pattern in the night

Image: Pixabay

I couldn’t sleep. I’d gone to bed sleepy, read until I could read no more, then snuggled down expecting the inner lights to go out within minutes. An hour later I was still waiting… and wide awake. It might have had something to do with the discomfort in my hand. Nothing to do with typing too much of course… not possible. I gave in and got up, heading for hot milk and more of the damnable painkillers. I wasn’t best pleased about the whole affair as I need to be up by six at the latest, Sunday or not, and it had been after midnight when I had finally gone to bed in the first place.

The previous night it had been the wind howling outside. It is odd, I have no qualms about being high on a hilltop in the wind, buffeted by gusts and struggling to stay upright. That I enjoy. But I don’t like the noises the house makes in a gale. I hadn’t particularly cared for the creaks and groans of the trees either when Ani and I had been out for our walk. But I had slept as soon as the rain began to batter the windows. That I find soothing.

It is strange the associations we make with sensory impressions and how deeply they are ingrained and affect behaviour. The smell of candlewax I find both comfortable and uplifting. The sound of rain on an umbrella is happy… and on canvas the memories of camping trips and laughter come back. The list is endless…

I was thinking about it when I was cuddling my granddaughter. The small sounds of a sleepy child seem to trigger the competence of motherhood again. The body knows what to do…how to lift and hold, how to rock and calm. Probably with far more confidence now than when the skills were first learned. The smell of paint reminds fingers what to do to create an image. The touch of flour tells them how to make pastry. The sound of a waltz reminds the feet how to dance.

I wondered how much our memory is rooted in the physical. All of it in some ways, as we can only experience through the senses. We know there is muscle memory, a pattern known to the body that it can repeat with increasing ease and accuracy as we learn new skills. Then we add the overlay of emotion, of course… a context that frames and defines each memory and colours our perception each time they are triggered. It is all part of the constant programming that builds up the layers of individuality that make us who we are.

Our experiences of the world are pretty limited really… limited by the portals of the senses themselves as to how we can perceive. Yet even if we experience the same event, emotion will make our perception of it different for each of us. A lifetime of such differences makes each of us a unique combination… individuals.

It shouldn’t be a surprise really, that pattern of infinite possibility born of limitation is all around us. Nine numbers can go on indefinitely producing other numbers that are unique unto themselves. Twenty-six letters of the alphabet combine to make over a million words in English alone… three primary colours combine with light and shadow to produce millions of tints, hues and shades… seven notes create every song ever sung, every symphony played…

It is within this limitation itself that harmony is established. Paradoxically, their very restriction creates the relationship between them that permits harmony, dissonance and growth and gives their distance both meaning and beauty as they spiral outwards towards infinity, allowing us to trace their patterns and begin to know them.

Within ourselves the five senses allow us to ‘harmonise’ too, understanding each other through the empathy of common experience. Seven billion humans alive today, have common ground through five shared senses. Untold numbers of other creatures share those senses too, and by their presence or absence, their experience is defined. Yet every single one of us is unique, perhaps solely because of the thoughts and emotions with which we respond to those experiences. The jury is out on which of those two come first… whether emotion gives rise to thought or vice versa. I’m not sure they are separable or separate, regardless of precedence. Perhaps they are the manifestation of the same process on a different arc of the spiral.

Looking out of the door, open to the night at the insistence of the dog, I look up at the stars; visible traces of our own spiral galaxy, and wonder of what it too may be a part… what its relationships may be to other galaxies… what harmonies might be brought into being out there in the blackness… Billions of point of light. From here they all look pretty much the same and yet I can discern the patterns of the constellations; remember their stories and mythology… know that man is already out there exploring…

My senses have taken me from pain to infinity; my thoughts have travelled the universe, through both the inner uniqueness of man and the vast wonderment of space. My emotions have spiralled from annoyance to awe… all in the time it took to recognise a pattern in the night.

What dreams may come?

Engraving by Gustave Doré

The stories we heard as children remain with us as we grow. We know them well and, at need, can dredge from memory all the salient points to retell them to a new generation of children. The characters are familiar and many of them, such as the Fairy Godmother or the Big Bad Wolf, are archetypes that suggest their role within each tale as soon as their name is mentioned.

It matters little if the words we speak differ from those we heard; the story remains, a living thing that defies our attempts to re-frame it. A little girl wearing a red hood will always meet a wolf on her way through the forest to Grandma’s house and a woodcutter will always use his axe to rescue Granny from a fate worse than death.

But why do we tell such stories? Why do we recount tales of darkness and danger to our children…and why do images of a world not our own survive, generation after generation, to delight and terrify a child cuddled safe within a parent’s embrace?

Long before literacy was a common skill, such tales would be shared by the fireside. They could be carried the length and breadth of the land without effort, passed from imagination to imagination, where the seeds that were sown could take root and grow, quietly and without being noticed until their fruits were needed.

We think of them as children’s stories and yet, within their fantasy, many life lessons could be hidden and the kernel of a deeper story concealed.

We may have lost the keys that allow us to unlock fairytales with ease,  but it is still possible to unravel their tangled threads and glimpse a world beyond our own… only to find that it is our own after all.

Sleeping Beauty forms the basis of our weekend workshop in April 2020. It is not just the tale of a disobedient princess, ignoring parental advice and suffering the consequences. Nor is it merely the story of her romantic awakening by a charming prince. Aurora, our Beauty, does not die…she merely sleeps for a hundred years. But… have you ever wondered what dreams may come when Beauty sleeps?

Join us for a weekend in the heart of Derbyshire…

17-19 April, 2020

Awaken the beauty that sleeps within.

Details of the fully catered, residential workshop are available HERE.

Download a Booking Form – pdf

or contact us at rivingtide@gmail.com for further details or to reserve your place

 

Chaperone…

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“The second stone points to Silbury Hill along the line of the midsummer sunrise.”

“Can that be accidental?”

“It seems unlikely.”

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… “Would there be a symbolic significance for that?”

“One would expect so.”

“Could we offer an explanation?”

“We would be happy to hazard one.”

“Hazard away…”

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If Silbury is a ‘Harvest Hill’ and many people believe it to be just that,

then, like as not, the ‘harvest’ was ‘seeded’ from here.

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Avebury, as much as anything else, is a ‘Temple of Agricultural Man’.

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Agriculture, like stone, was, and still is, a technology.

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The former, holds its salient points in tact,

the latter has lost its to mystery.

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Hidden Avebury: Seeking the Unseen

Avebury, Wiltshire

12th – 14th June, 2020

A Living Land Workshop…

Almost everyone knows of Avebury, the great stone circle within which a village was built. A World Heritage site and one of the most incredible sacred complexes of prehistory, it is justly famous for its beauty and mystery. The site attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year but while most simply walk in awe amongst the majestic standing stones of the Circle and Avenue, there is far more to discover for those who will walk the paths less travelled.

Join us in June, 2020, as we explore some of the hidden corners of this amazing landscape, ranging beyond the boundaries of the Circle to seek a deeper understanding of what our ancestors hoped to touch by building this earthly temple to the stars.

Based in the landscape around Avebury and beyond, this weekend will entail some relatively easy walking. There will be time during the weekend to explore Avebury and its stones.

The weekend runs from Friday afternoon to early Sunday afternoon, and costs £75 per person. Meals and accommodation are not included in the price and should be booked separately by all attendees. Meals are often taken together at a local pub or café. For those arriving by public  transport, we are able to offer a limited number of places in shared vehicles; please let us know if this would be required.

Click below to
Download our Events Booking Form – pdf

For further details or to reserve your place: rivingtide@gmail.com

Accelerated evolution

Inner Temple-image by Matt Baldwin-Ives
Inner Temple-image by Matt Baldwin-Ives

Spiritual growth is a journey unique to each one of us and taken whether we will or no. It is a natural evolution against which we may fight, actively resisting change or more usually with apathy and inertia. Or we may choose to jump into the flowing stream willingly, seeking the adventure of new destinations, unknown and unfamiliar landscapes seen in the light of increased understanding and awareness.

Some choose to walk their personal path alone, others choose the companionship along the way that a group, faith or school can provide. Within these are found many paths that lead towards a single, lambent Centre that is known by many names and yet transcends them all.

Each path will draw those to whom it speaks, as if both the path and the heart have a voice raised in song, and when the two come together in harmony, something beautiful is born. However, seeking that path that resonates with your own inner song can be a long and painful journey in itself, with many false starts and missed turnings.

One cannot teach spiritual growth. What can be taught, however, is a method, a pathway.

With the Silent Eye we seek to share a path into Consciousness that is an ancient one, not of our devising, but one that has lain hidden beneath an accretion of arcane symbols, correspondences and complex language. It is a natural and simple path, one that we have cleared of the accumulated debris of centuries, the brambles and thorns have been stripped away and it gleams clear and white before us. We have, as Steve once wrote, given it a new life and a new language for the digital age.

To turn one’s face towards this quest for understanding requires both commitment and awareness. There is no quick fix, no instant solution and no magic wand. Results are always dependent upon the dedication of the student. The destination is not reached overnight and the road may be long and rocky. But as with any journey, a well-constructed road, a map and clear direction make it far more certain that the destination will be reached.

The active engagement in this journey has been called accelerated evolution, and that, I feel, is an apt description. The simple act of choosing to actively embrace the changing landscape of the path is, in itself, a powerful thing. The student who joins a Mystery School is guided by those who know the path ahead and can see the pitfalls before them having themselves walked the same way.

Seeds of knowledge are planted in mind and heart, for knowledge can be shared. Understanding grows with the student… and we are all students…and that unfolding is both personal and beautiful.

A date for the diary ~ Scotland with the Silent Eye, September 2020

On the trail of the Picts (plus optional Orkney extension)

North of Inverness, Scotland

11th – 13th September, 2020

The Picts were a mysterious race who settled in the north-east of Scotland and flourished between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. They were a peaceful peoples who fished and farmed and created astonishing art. They suffered frequent Viking raids and their eventual disappearance may have been due to eradication or simply blending in with the broader Scottish tribes, as their culture dissipated.

Our weekend will examine their cultural and artistic legacy by following the established ‘Pictish Trail‘ created by Historic Scotland.

This part of Scotland is only a short distance from the north Scottish coast, from which ferries are available to Shetland and Orkney. A group of us will be continuing to Orkney for a few days. You are invited to join us as an extension to the Pictish Trail weekend, but this is optional.

We will be based in one of the small towns north of Inverness. More details will be published as we firm up the itinerary.

Contact us at Rivingtide@gmail.com for more details. Click below to
Download our Events Booking Form – pdf

Four letter word

stonehenge 003

“Who do you love best?”

I overheard a conversation between mother and her small child and remembered my own sons asking me this question when they were very small. I imagine it is one many children throw at their parents and we reassure them, almost automatically, that we love them the same. It isn’t true, though is it? We may love them equally… in fact, I think by the very word love we are assuring them that we do, but we don’t love them ‘the same’.

Have you ever stopped to think about it? Such a small word for such a range of human emotions! The love we have for parent, sibling, friend, child or lover is always different. The colour of love may change, but it is impossible to quantify and all its colours, like those of the spectrum, blend and merge to make a love that encompasses all. There is no loving more or less… it simply is. There are no two loves alike, just as there are no two people identical, not even twins. Everyone is unique and so are our relationships with them.

We can like someone more than another, we can relate to them better, we can feel that odd attraction/repulsion that can be so strong… we can apply all sorts of other emotional overlays, both negative and positive, to the relationship; respect, sympathy, compassion… and all the rest. We can prefer the company of one, know light-hearted laughter with one friend, share an interest in books or butterflies with another, feel tenderness towards a child or a lover, fall hopelessly… or hopefully… in love, or burn with the flame of passion. We can be dutiful as children, loyal as friends… We can even find that miracle that seems to complete us. Or we can love in the hope that love will be returned. So many aspects to something both so simple yet so very complex it seems, yet it is the foundation of every human relationship by its presence… or absence. And it is such a small word.

The Greeks did it better… Four words instead of four letters, each with its own distinct meaning. Storgē is the love that accepts, and the love for what is. Philía is affection, friendship… the love for family, something to be shared. Éros, usually understood as the sensual and physical passion, falling in love through attraction and without thought, the desire of the senses. Yet Plato saw it as more than that… through the perfection of the physical form and its attraction he saw a pathway for the soul to remember beauty and through it find Truth. Agápe, the unconditional, selfless love that seeks nothing… only to be; the spiritual love for the Divine, or the purity of love for the child.

While we use that four-letter word so often, we seldom think about what it actually means and when we are asked ‘who we love best’ we give the answer that reassures. We do not stop to ask ourselves if we love our ‘best’ or could love ‘better’. Not in terms of quantity for I do not believe love can be measured, but in how we love and what we give… or seek.

Looking at the meanings behind the Greek words is revealing. In them, we can see a pathway to something more. In learning to accept what is, to love life without judgement, recognising both the good and the bad for what they are, what they might be or what they can teach, we could learn how to move through the world creating change. Through sharing… being able to give and receive what is given in friendship and affection… we can open ourselves to life and become part of a wider family, learning to understand the nature of love as we did as children, in innocence and trust. In seeking the beauty that sings to us, that embraces our whole being body, heart and mind, as deeply as we would a lover, we find a place of beauty within that simply wants to give love. It is enough. And when love ceases to seek anything in return it comes close to the Divine.

It is such a big thing, this little word, and we may all mean something different when we use it. It has become an everyday word used lightly… or it can be the deepest gift we have to give. It challenges us, holds up a mirror, breaks our barriers and sometimes our hearts. It can leave us wide open to hurt, yet to live it is to know the greatest joy.