Spirit y’all? – Stuart France

This week, I will be sharing again a little about the people behind the Silent Eye… this is Stuart’s journey…

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‘Our own journey is entirely imaginary: that is its strength.’

– Louis Ferdinand Celine.

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I grew up in a religiously tolerant family which knew a thing or two about love and faith. Nan left the Catholic Church to marry Gramps and their eldest son, Uncle Geoff, my mum’s little brother eventually rejoined the Catholic Church in order to marry Aunty Cath, which meant that when we went to spend holidays with Little Geoff and Janet and Mandy we went to their Church with them which was Catholic, and when Little Geoff, Janet and Mandy came to spend the holidays with us they came to our church which was Church of England. It didn’t seem odd to do this and it came as something of a shock to realise that in olden times people had lost their lives for less.

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Anyhow, I eventually grew suspicious of a Church which required me to stand and proclaim my belief in something that is seemingly physically impossible and so I ceased frequenting on Sun Day’s, although, I still liked to ‘rock up’ around Christmas time to sing Carols, and even at the height of my teens I could be found attending Midnight Mass of a Christmas Eve.

My Religious Knowledge teacher at senior school was a good sort, Mr Whalley by name. He taught that all religious systems essentially referred to the same ‘thing’ which he called Spirit, and he stressed the personal nature of the contact which could be enjoyed with this thing. I liked the stories too, and not just the Christian ones. I liked all the stories because it felt like they were trying to tell me something, if I would only listen… It wasn’t though an immediately obvious thing and it wasn’t historical either because it went beyond history, although I liked historical stories too. I would have liked to study Religious Knowledge at ‘O’ Level but the selections were not set up right, so I couldn’t.

I suppose, really, I came to spirituality through literature and philosophy which I studied to degree level. One shouldn’t really be putting pen to paper unless one has something communal and good to impart and philosophy, properly, is the ‘Love of Wisdom’.

The Spirit is infinitely wise…

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Knowing that, though, is a lot easier than living it… so, really, my spiritual education was only just beginning when I joined and studied with a series of Spiritual Schools. First, OBOD, The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, which teaches love for the Spirit of Nature, then, AMORC, The Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, which teaches love for the Spirit of Mysticism, and finally, SOL, Servants of the Light which teaches love for the Spirit of Magic.

Can anyone conceive a well lived life without a love and reverence for the spirit of nature, and the inherent magic, and mystery of existence in some form or another?

I know I can’t.

I don’t think it is necessary to belong to a Spiritual School in order to be spiritual, quite the contrary, because life itself can be regarded as a school of the Spirit, which of course it is, but joining a Spiritual School can certainly help because what these schools really teach is a series of techniques which enable us to access our natural abilities in order to attune with the spiritual dimension of the world around us in a meaningful and productive way.

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Our School, the Silent Eye, in that respect, is no different from any of the others, we just have a different set of techniques and, perhaps, a slightly more modern approach.

‘The easiest way to approach spirituality is through stories, they are common to every tradition on earth and rather than demand belief all they ask is a willing suspension of disbelief…’
– The Initiate.

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…Y’all come back now… you hear?

Three times three

Image by Matt Baldwin-Ives
Our first workshop… Image by Matt Baldwin-Ives

In April we will be holding our fourth annual workshop, marking three full years since the Silent Eye officially came to birth, though there had been a full year of preparation before that, behind the scenes, and a far longer vision from which it had grown. As one of a triad of directors of the Silent Eye, it is my privilege to work with two extraordinary men. It was Steve who had the vision to found the school, basing the teachings around the enneagram, a nine pointed figure within a circle, better known for its applications in psychology than spirituality. Yet it was from the spiritual perspective that Steve saw the symbol, and the ‘psyche’ in psychology is, after all, the soul.  Within the symbol is a triangle, three equal points equidistant from the centre; a perfect glyph for the way in which we have learned to work together.

We all came to this point from different directions, all of us immersed in the spiritual and magical teachings of different schools and systems, finally meeting at a single point within the Servants of the Light. Events drew us together with a strange certainty until we were where we have come to believe we need to be. Here and Now.

Steve has a lifetime of esoteric knowledge behind him and a  real gift for sharing it, being able to explain a system with simplicity and clarity, without over-simplifying the concepts he is presenting. He is also a storyteller and uses this to craft the core of the monthly lessons of our correspondence course, which incorporate a strong element of imaginative journeying using characters designed  to personify aspects of human being at various levels of operation. The first three workshops under the Silent Eye were largely his work. The themes  have taken us, within the confines of a ritual drama that is, in fact, an exploration of the soul, back to ancient Egypt, into space and into a mountain sanctuary with a pair of troubadours…one of whom was not at all confident about singing in public! Not all of them are scenarios you would expect to find in a spiritual workshop, but they engage the imagination and illustrate the very serious point that spirituality doesn’t only belong in the serenity of a traditional Temple.

Spirituality isn’t for a specific time.. nor is it confined to a single space…it is an integral part of life, whether or not we choose to focus upon it. And although turning to look at the inner and greater life of the soul the most serious step we can take, it can be fun too. There should be laughter and lightness. If happiness is a state of mind, then joy is a state of being… and a state of grace.

This year, it is Stuart and I who are shaping the workshop, following an idea Stuart had been mulling over for a long time. This time we go back to the court of King Arthur, and myths that were old before the Round Table came into being. Stuart has a rare gift for ‘joining the dots’, seeing through the outer form of symbolism to its essence, allowing him to draw together strands from many mythologies and traditions into a single pool of understanding… and then condensing them into a single phrase that somehow and suddenly makes absolute sense.

Together the three of us work to serve the school… and that which lies  both behind it and at the heart of it. As April approaches and we move into the final phase of preparation for this year’s workshop, I realise that it will be the third year for the three of us… and three times three has always been a magical number.

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 Weekend of 22-24 April, 2016.

Great Hucklow, Derbyshire Dales. England.

Click the image for further details of this weekend workshop with the Silent Eye

and a special appearance by Mister Fox.

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