Space and Time

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Consciousness flickers round the edges of dreaming and I become vaguely aware of the delicious luxury of warmth and comfort and a body relaxed and sleepy. It is dark and silent, the dawn will be long in coming, and dreams hover on the edges of mind. The eastern horizon waits for sunrise… and the thought flits through my sleepy mind, that actually, there will be no ‘sunrise’.  The sun does not rise. Ever.

Okay, that woke me up.

It is neither as radical not as weird a thought as many that occupy my mind… it is simply true. The sun does not rise. It hangs in space and we, our planet, are the ones that move. Yet in language, thought and imagery we paint a moving sun that arcs across the heavens, marking the dance of time through our days.

I wonder for just how many millennia we have accepted that idea unquestioning? For a long time we accepted a geocentric model that placed the earth at the centre of a revolving universe. Before that there was a flat earth… and earlier still was the poetry and wonder of myth. Heliocentricity didn’t emerge as a fully formulated idea till Copernicus in the 16th century… and it probably didn’t make its way into the popular mind for a long time after that. Even now, knowing that the truth is other than the evidence presented by our eyes, we still watch the sun ‘rise and set’ aware only of ‘its’ movement, seldom ours. Although we all know the planetary dance these days, few really need to understand it in any depth or detail. We don’t, on a day to day basis, even care whether the sun moves overhead or we circle it.

Perhaps it is more comfortable that way.

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It is a similar story with time… physicists, mathematicians and philosophers all have their own ideas that we, the general public, are unlikely to ever question enough to understand. We look at a clock and that is enough. We do not have to understand Newton, Einstein or Hawking in order to know the moment we have to leave for work or make dinner. Between the apparent motion of the sun and the hands of our clocks we can function within the frame of days.

As the kettle boils, Ani pretends she is a cat, leaning against my legs and rubbing, with one soulful eye on the milk carton. I wonder if she is any more aware of her place in the universe than we are. In some ways there seems little difference. She is aware of what she needs to know… and although insatiably curious and willing to learn, the patterns of behaviour … or misbehaviour… go deep. She knows she will be fed without recourse to a clock, knows she has warmth and cuddles and tennis balls… why should she worry about any more than that? Yet she does and is always on alert. Though that may just be being nosey.

We are not all that much different in many ways and spend our days focussed on the needs and desires that move us through the hours from dawn to dawn. ‘Had we but world enough and time’ what else could we see? Sometimes something will catch our attention and we find ourselves considering new things, or new ways of looking at old ones. Sometimes we make that conscious decision to step outside of the tramlines of need and begin to question a world we seem to be seeing for the first time with a new awareness. It doesn’t take much to bring us to these realisations of possibility if we are open to them… it might be no more than seeing an object with fresh eyes or questioning a long-held belief. Or realising that the sun never rises… it is always there in the heavens.

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Too much light…

The soft colours of dawn were painting the sky as I left for work. The village streets, preternaturally quiet now that the schools were on holiday, were, for once, easy to negotiate. Parked cars take up half the width of every street and, on a school day and with oncoming traffic, getting out of the village becomes a slalom exercise in courtesy and patience.

By the time I reached the long stretch into town, the sun was cresting the horizon, setting fire to the skyline and casting long shadows across the road. Another mile, a bend in the road, and the brilliant disc had revealed itself in all its golden glory. I, and every other motorist in the now-queuing traffic, hit the brakes, dazzled by the low-lying orb on a road that runs due east.

There is, I thought, such a thing as too much light.

As the traffic crawled into town, I thought about that from another perspective. Is there ever such a thing as too much Light on the spiritual path? That Light could be said to be our goal, and so you would not immediately think so, and yet I concluded that yes, it was entirely possible.

As far back as I can remember, aspects of the spiritual path were part of my life. I was brought up in a family whose members each found their own way towards a shared goal. Their paths took many forms, encompassing the magical, mystical, spiritual and religious, but their goal seemed essentially the same, and whether they sought to attain the Christian Heaven, a Buddhist Nirvana, or a more abstract Union, each saw Light… formless, timeless and ineffable… as a perfect symbol for what drew and guided them. How could there be too much of that?

The car in front came to an abrupt halt, brake lights blazing. I saw the driver pull down the sun visor. He could not see the road ahead nor its hazards, any more than I could and had reacted by almost causing an accident.

That’s the problem with too much Light. The road we travel through life has hazards enough as it is, without our eyes being so firmly fixed on the Light that we fail to see them. We are, I believe, here for a purpose. Whether we are an incredible accident of Nature as evolutionary science would have us believe, or part of the design of some Cosmic Intelligence, we are here for a reason and with a purpose to fulfil, whether we are thinking at species level or as individuals.

If you accept that we are part of the design, and that there is a spiritual purpose to that design, there comes a point when you have to ask yourself, “Why right here? Why right now?” And, if there is indeed a purpose to our individual presence here and now, surely we need to be paying attention to where we are? This is practically impossible if your eyes are fixed firmly on the dazzling Light ahead and are blinded to all else.

 

The true mystic sees that Light and seeks to become one with it. Worldly considerations cease to matter… all else is but a shadow. While this is a rare and beautiful path to follow, it is a path for the few who feel called to that life. Those who follow the esoteric path see the Light and seek to align themselves with it, moving towards it while moving through the world with attention. This path is open to all. No path is better than another, as long as you are following the one that speaks to your heart.

My personal belief is that we may need the mystics to show us the way, but that for most of us, paying heed to the lessons, possibilities and opportunities of this life is more likely to answer the need of the inner self, allowing us a chance to learn why here and why now.  Few of us are able to divorce ourselves from the mundane business of living, but that need not mean that we cannot address those needs with due regard to spirit.

The spiritual path should not need to separate us from the earthly and physical life we have been given; it should enhance our awareness of it and bring us to an understanding that shows us that living is a spiritual journey.

Twin suns…

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“…It is at this point that Ben decides to leave us and heads off into the quarry which lies behind our vantage point on ‘an errand’.

 

“He’s burying the stones we were going to be lugging over the moor,” says Wen.

“How do you know they’re stones?”

“I don’t,” says Wen, “but I bet they are.”

“I didn’t know you were the betting sort,” say I, “but you’re probably correct.”

 

Wen moves off back up the track heading out to the moor beyond.

 

Just then the leading edge of the sun disk crests the cloud and a sliver of sunlight arrows out over the moor.

 

I run back to the edge of the quarry and shout down to Ben that the sun is up.

As the full face of the solstice sun finally emerges, it ‘sees’ us like this…

Ben in a hole…

Me on the lip of the hole…

Wen about to lead us higher up the moor…

Extract from Doomsday:Scions of Albion by Stuart France and Sue Vincent

***

There is always a certain amount of uncertainty about a dawn. It is in that moment, when we wait for the future to become the present, that we connect unconsciously with the past. We naively assume that our ancestors awaited the daily miracle of sunrise, not knowing if the great Eye would open to illuminate the day or remain closed, keeping the world in inescapable darkness.We stand on the edge of a tenebrous wilderness, scanning the skyline, waiting to see if our timing is right and the weatherman reliable. Will we see the dawning sun crest the horizon… or only the flush of light behind the pall of cloud?

We never really know. We can only take the time on trust and await the pleasure of Great Nature as the dawn unfolds.

There is something sacrificial about such moments… sleep curtailed, a warm bed abandoned, breakfast postponed and the morning braved, regardless of the chill in the air or the vagaries of the weather. You climb to your chosen vantage point…and then you wait. You have checked the sunrise tables and know, as accurately as possible, the time that dawn will creep above the dark earth at that particular spot. You do not know whether or not the sky will be clear enough to see, how light or dark the path before your feet will appear and whether sunshine or rain will be your lot. Yet all these are things that can be addressed with a little planning and preparation; warm clothes, good footwear and a chocolate bar in the pocket serve to cover the practicalities.

Yet, in spite of all your meticulous planning and best calculations, Nature is still in charge. How long will the sun take… beyond the technical time of dawn… to actually climb from below the eastern horizon to its place above the line of hills that now block your vision? Will the big, black cloud thicken and steal ‘your’ dawn, or part to shower gold at your feet? You do not know… but you wait.

The numinous space between night and day, you  are poised between doubt and trust, fear and hope, with eyes and heart open to the light… The crossroads of the day lie before your feet, signposting the choices the moment asks of you… and offering you a moment to affirm your self-definituon; yours is the choice….sleep or waking, oblivion or awareness… is yours to breathe, drinking its presence as the dew… yet once you have made that choice, like the ancestors, all you can do is wait and trust…surrendering to the greater will of natural law.

Sometimes that trust is rewarded in unexpected ways. You see asea of mist spread out beneath your feet like a pathway to the Otherworld, long before the sun rises…

You watch the dawn over the valley… then see the sun rise again above the hills where you stand… a twin dawn…

You watch a sky aflame with liquid light, gilding the world, revealing its contrast and colours…

Every dawn is a miracle, every sunrise both affirmation and new beginning…

***

Nick Birds SE Ilkley 2015 (7)

Join us in September as the seasons turn once more to walk forgotten pathways across the moors to circles  lost in the bracken. Learn of the dreams of a mysterious  Seer, a lifetime echoed in stone and whispered through time as we explore the sacred landscape of Derbyshire. In the solitude of the moors, the voices of the past seem to reach through the land and touch your heart, finding there a continuous thread of light that winds through the ages as each soul asks its own questions, the same questions that have been asked for millennia.

Based around the Fox House, Hathersage, we will spend the weekend exploring some of the neolithic  and sacred sites of the area, culminating in a trip to Arbor Low, the ‘Stonehenge of the north’. Each attendee will be asked to bring a short reading or to share a story that seems appropriate to the moment and we will talk as we walk, finding inspiration in the land and in our companions.

These events are not large, just a small and intimate group and a warm, informal atmosphere.

For those thinking of attending the Silent Eye’s Annual Workshop, The Feathered Seer, at Great Hucklow in April 2017, Circles Beyond Time will be of particular relevance as the story that will unfold during The Feathered Seer will be set in this particular part of the ancient landscape.

Arbor Low and Stanton Moor Imbolc 001 (16)

When: Weekend of 9th to 11th September 2016.

Where: Based at the Fox House inn near Hathersage, Derbyshire, England.

Who: An informal weekend with the Silent Eye, open to all who wish to attend.

Cost: £50 per person, accommodation and meals are notincluded and should be booked separately.

Why: Explore an ancient and sacred landscape and how it is still relevant to each of us today.

How: Email us at rivingtide@gmail.com to reserve your place.