Digging deeper… with Anne Copeland

 

A story is told to engage the imagination and the sense of wonder. A tale that does so will stay in memory… making it a perfect vessel to hold a deeper meaning that may lie dormant until we are armed with the tools of life-experience and ready to understand. Many of the tales that have come down to us from the farthest reaches of our collective past are treasure chests of knowledge, allowing us to glimpse not only the belief-systems and cultures that bequeathed them to us, but to lift the veil on the inner workings of the human psyche, both as individuals and as societies.

When Anne Copeland, a student of the Silent eye, first came across a reference to the story of Gilgamesh in a post about our upcoming workshop, Lord of the Deep, she became fascinated by the story. Instead of simply reading the ancient Epic, she looked beyond the surface, seeking for understanding and symbolic meaning… which is exactly what you are supposed to do with these ancient tales.

Anne has yet to recieve a copy of the workbook we have produced for the weekend and has used a different translation from those we have employed… but some of the questions and realisations she has gained may blossom and bear fruit when, in two weeks time, we begin to share the story of the workshop.


Gilgamesh Makes an Appearance at My Home

Anne Copeland

The first time I read about the oldest piece of literature known, found in Sumeria, I was intrigued and had to find a copy and read it.  I had absolutely no clue as to what the story could contain that might be of specific interest to me, and yet as I began to read it, I was intrigued and could not stop reading.

In the version I read, which may be different from the version you will be following with the event, Enkidu, who became a best friend of Gilgamesh, was part of the wilderness in a most personal way.  It does not even make any sense that he was anything other than an integral part of it.  He is shown as the protector of the wilderness, and it is not clear in the reading where the wilderness ends and he begins.  It is a beautiful and amazing feat that these Sumerians considered that he was a part of and that the wilderness meant something totally significant to those people, something deep and abiding that the people needed to protect.

And yet, Gilgamesh comes into the story, and when he hears about Enkidu, he wants him to be brought to this place where the Gods he knows dwell.  He wants to join with Enkidu in an adventure that he wants to experience, in a world very different from his own. And so it is that the “trapper” comes to bring Enkidu, who is a form of God on his own, to the dwelling place of Gilgamesh.  And again, for what most might consider a primitive culture, the Sumerians had a clear understanding of the duality that exists in the world – good and evil, light and dark, droughts and floods, pain and wellness, sorrow and joy, life and death, and each part has its place.

I don’t want to spoil the event for you by giving you the whole story, but I WILL say that this story clearly has helped me to see what my own part in this world is in process of becoming. Is this story truth, or is it a myth or legend? What parts of it do you relate to or wonder about? Is there any part of this that causes you to shudder or feel concerned or uncomfortable? If you could change anything about this story, what might it be?  I know I spent a lot of time thinking about this and wishing that certain changes that take place might not have taken place.  But then I am just finishing my first year, and endeavoring to understand things that are still new to me.  This is not an overnight course or workshop where I spend one entire day and then I am full of great wisdom the next day.  How can I understand this duality in life and become one with it?  And how can I come to understand and believe that not everything that seems horrible may be so, and that it may or may not be everlasting when it happens?

Although I am not able to be there in person this year, I will definitely be there in spirit.  I will be studying this same story and trying to find the depth of meaning for my own life.  I wish each and every person in attendance the best that has been, the best that is, and the best that ever will be.  Enjoy!!!


You can find out more about Anne at her blog, All in a Day’s Breath


Would you like to know more?

For details of the School and our methods, how to join our Correspondence Course, or to find out more about our Workshops and Events please explore our website or email The Silent Eye at rivingtide@gmail.com

Two Aprils Inside the Magic of the Silent Eye ~ Alethea Kehas

 

With less than two weeks to go before we journey to the ancient land of Sumer for Lord of the Deep, Alethea Kehas, a Companion of the Silent Eye, shares her experiences with the Silent Eye’s April workshops:

Alethea as Guinevere, Leaf and Flame, 2016

I’m not an actor, nor have I ever had aspirations to be one. The only plays I’ve participated in were obligatory grade school productions many years ago. So, it may seem strange how much I was drawn to the Silent Eye’s annual April workshops in Derbyshire, England. They felt mysterious and evocative. A weekend of ritual acting was a foreign concept to me, yet to be explored, as was the land of England. Sometimes, though, we must heed the call of the heart and be open to where it will lead us. The mystery unfolds through trusting that the heart knows what the mind does not always understand.

I can’t even tell you for sure how I met Sue years before I flew out to England, and through the amorphous world of blogging. That our two paths managed to intersect through words sent out over the vast, invisible threads of the World Wide Web seems both miraculous and destined. I suppose it doesn’t matter who found who, only that the finding occurred at just the right time.  A time when I was seeking answers to life’s inner mysteries.

I joined the School, under the mentorship of Sue, a year before I attended my first April workshop. It was not a requirement for me to fly out to England to receive my first-degree initiation, nor was I required to attend the ritual weekend in Derbyshire. Yet I knew there was something waiting to be found and woken within me by being there.

So, I went. Traveling more than 3,000 miles into the unknown to a place and group of people I had never met in the physical realm in this lifetime, but felt like home. I was nervous, to be sure. Mostly because I had no idea what I would find. I didn’t know what ritual acting was, and even though I had been asked to play a minor role in terms of lines spoken, I was anxious about how I would perform.

I need not have worried. The ability to act a role is not a requirement, and in fact may even be an inhibiting fact if one allows it to be, to the part one plays in the weekend’s events. Instead, what is required is a trust and surrender to the role of becoming. Becoming, that is, the aspect of the self that wants to be awakened. And, in the process, opening to the unknown and all its magic.

In order for this opening and becoming to occur, the ego must take the backseat to the heart. Even though I may have felt the ego’s doubt as to my performance as Queen Guinevere during that first April, I allowed myself to open to the role and see where it led me. And, in the process, I discovered that the “role” one is asked to play does not leave you once you leave the room and the rest of the cast. It lingers inside of you. It becomes you. Urgent, yet not unkind, it enters your cells and awakens a long-forgotten memory. That is the true magic that awaits you.

 

I thought I was being haunted at first. The white queen appeared at the foot of my bed at the Nightingale Centre. Waking me from restless slumber, she pulled the covers that bind the self. I feared her at first. It was unexpected, yet not uninvited.  To travel through the veil of illusion, one must run naked, shedding the wrap of the false self. Magic comes with trust and surrender. And it is not the magic of potions and spells, but of the true, unfettered self.

I left that first April changed. Opened in a way I could not wholly explain. During the day, I had played the role of the fairy queen, and at night I ran into her land like a wild boar, fearless and filled with wonder. And in the days passed, I opened more, and I am still opening to the self that embodies the aspects of the fairy queen that had been hiding within.

The following April, the role of Bratha was offered to me. The Feathered Seer. This time I did not question worthiness, because I had learned that the outer has no significance when the inner is called forth. I did not question that it was my role to take, because I knew already that the Feathered Seer was within me and always had been. My job was to become her and to become myself at the same time. One, the same as the other. And, like with Guinevere, I am still becoming Bratha as she continues to open my sight to the land’s magic and the magic within.

Each role is the same, but different. It is yours alone to take as offered and to become it wholly and completely as only you can in that unveiling of the magic of the true self you hold inside of you. There are no awards offered at the end of the weekend for “Best actor,” instead the award is yours alone to give and to receive.

Sometimes we hesitate to gift ourselves what we most need. Flying out to England every year may on the outside appear as a luxury, but I have learned to let that go. Each time I return back home to New England altered and opened in sometimes very unexpected ways. But each time, I receive what I most needed, and it is all the magic I could hope for and more.


Alethea Kehas, owner of Inner Truth Healing and Yoga is a Third Degree Companion of the Silent Eye.

Alethea lives in New England, with her family. She is the author of A Girl Named Truth and the young adult metaphysical fantasy series, Warriors of Light.

She blogs at Not Tomatoes and can be found at her website.


Would you like to know more?

For details of the School and our methods, how to join our Correspondence Course, or to find out more about our Workshops and Events please explore our website or email The Silent Eye at rivingtide@gmail.com

Voices from the past

There was a jaw-dropping moment when it finally hit home…

We knew the story… we had discussed it long before Stuart had started working with it. The ‘hero’ was a historical king who lived around five thousand years ago. About a thousand years later, tales of his doings, combining events both real and symbolic, were collected and written down. Given the way that history…and particularly folk history… works, the scribe probably included tales once told of even older characters, going back seven thousand years or more, and reassigned them to our Hero.  A few hundred years later, they were standardised under the title ‘He who Saw the Abyss’…

Facts, dates and historical data are all very well. They allow you to arrange events on the canvas of space and time. What they do not seem to do is to really put things in perspective. When the realisation hit, it was mind-blowing… we were actually working with stories from one of the earliest human civilisations. These were tales that were already old before the pyramids were built. Two, three, some of them maybe even four times as old as the stories in the New Testament. Many of them contain the obvious origins of biblical tales… precursors to stories we associate with the early books of the Old Testament. And we were not only working with those tales… we were finding them wholly relevant to the world today.

Take Dickens… You read his work and he brings to life the world as he knew it. You can picture Victorian England quite readily, just because of his words. Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters take you back another century or so. Shakespeare another couple of hundred years. Julius Caesar wrote of his world two thousand years ago. Plato taught four hundred years before that… And that still only takes you about half way back in time to the birth of the tales we are working with! That starts to put things in perspective a bit.

It is not just the almost unimaginable distance in time and culture between then and now that is so startling, it is the way the characters are drawn, playing out timeless moments of human interaction. So many thousands of years…and we have changed not at all. Arrogance, entitlement, compassion and misguided emotions all played out then exactly as they do today. We did not need to translate an ancient tale into terms the modern mind could understand, it was already there.

The problems and scenarios they faced too, were not dissimilar to our own. Love and loss, anger and grief… and the wider issues of power and politics, ecology, the destruction of habitats and a obsession with the quest for eternal youth… they were all part of life thousands of years ago.

In some ways, it seems a tragedy that we have changed and learned so little. In others, it is reassuring, for the threads that bind past to present are unbroken and the learning curve continues. A few thousand years, after all, are but a very small part of the hundreds of thousands of years that our species has been around.

Hominins, our earliest ancestors, first made use of stone tools almost three and a half million years ago. Homo sapiens has only been around for some three hundred thousand years, and for most of that time we were busy evolving from our origins. ‘Civilisation’  took us a while… it is still a new venture for humankind, and we are  probably little more than pre-schoolers, compared to what we may one day become.  As long as we don’t break our ‘toys’ by squabbling over them, I see a good deal of hope in that.

As individuals, we learn best from experience. As societies, we learn from history… but the tendency is to see anything ‘prehistoric’ as irrelevant. Prehistory tends to refer to the period before written records were kept, and one of the earliest forms of writing, cuneiform, came from the same time and place as the story of the king, Gilgamesh. There are so many similarities with the people in that story, and parts of it probably arose before the invention of writing… bridging the gap between history and prehistory. And we get to work with those stories for this year’s workshop… The moment that really hit home was a moment of utter awe.

‘Gilgamesh is among the greatest things that can ever happen to a person.’
– Rainer Maria Rilke.

The Silent Eye’s Spring workshop for 2019

Full details, cost and booking form are available by clicking HERE

The Round Ark?

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The story of Noah’s Ark is one of the first Biblical Tales that people in the western world hear.

Yet the story far pre-dates the compilation of that venerable book.

A tablet recently came to light dating back to Ancient Babylonia, that threw the Bilblical account into question.

Not only was the story of the flood far older than the Bible but it appears the Ark was round!…

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Many of the tales we know from the Bible have more ancient counterparts,

including this one which in its earliest known form comprises a part of the Epic of Gilgamesh.

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In this epic, the character we now know as Noah is named Utnapishtim

and it is he who holds the key to immortal life….

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‘Gilgamesh is among the greatest things that can ever happen to a person.’
– Rainer Maria Rilke.

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The Silent Eye’s Spring workshop for 2019

Full details, cost and booking form are available by clicking HERE

 

Feeling Beyond Form…

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We certainly hadn’t intended to talk about Arthur, let alone Merlin when we pencilled in Penrith as the starting point for our weekend workshop.

But the land has a way of communicating it’s own ‘sweet terror’ and when we came across a Welsh Triad referencing Penrith or ‘Pen Rhionydd’ as one of the ‘Seats’ of the legendary British King the ‘cogs’ had inevitably started to turn…

Our June workshop in Dorset had thrown up some poignant ideas with regard to how the ‘ancients’ might be regarding their kinship with Mother Earth…

The constellation we now know as Orion, with its mid-summer rising over the Cerne Abbas hill figure may well have gone under a different name in former times and we still have Arthur’s Wain or ‘Waggon’ illuminating a course across the night sky, better known today as The Plough…

Since our research for the very first literary outing we penned together we had been aware of a plethora of local legends that predated our national Dragon Slayer, George, himself a late medieval replacement for Edmund, as Patron Saint of our Blessed Isles and all relating a similiar tale of sinuous earth energies ‘brought to book’.

The Lambton Wyrm, The Wantley Wurm, and The Laidley Worm, which also featured in our September workshop, to name but a few that we had, only recently, encountered.

Could the notions of authentic, living-land directed, leadership and ‘snake charming’ be linked in some esoteric way we had singularly failed to spot?

Our thoughts came home to Penrith with a jolt of recognition.

The ‘Spirit of Place’ had certainly been operative all those years ago when first it had impinged upon our consciousness and insisted we cross the busy main road to say, ‘Hello’…

And was that any different from being dragged to Dragon Hill at Uffington, or being repeatedly accosted by Glastonbury Tor, not to mention our Ambush by Stone at Long Meg? etc.

What were these sites trying to say?

There was really only one way to find out…

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Chief Prince of Pen Rhionydd…

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D: Before Merlin was a soothsayer he was a miraculous child who solved the mystery of Vortigern’s Tower.

W: What mystery was that?

D: Every time the tower was raised by Vortigern the hill on which it was built swallowed the tower whole.

W: And the answer to that mystery?

D: The answer to the mystery was that the hill was hollow…

and in the hollow of the hill was a pool…

and in the pool two stones languished…

and in each of the stones was a dragon struggling to get out.

One Dragon was White, and the other Dragon was Red.

W: And what was done to reveal this mystery?

D: The Hill was excavated…

The pool was drained…

The stones were pulverised… and the Dragons loosed.

W: What happened then?

D: The Dragons contended… and became One.

W: Thus, the braided tower was raised upon the hill… and remained.

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The Big-Bold-Blue of Beyond…

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… When Brother-Warrior entered the chamber of the princess, because of his Cloak-of-Darkness, she thought she was enjoying converse and congress with a spirit.

So too, did all her hand-maids but before departing he took off his cloak and left them with the fleeting vision of a ‘Fairy Warrior’.

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After Brother-Wizard and Brother-Warrior had left for the wooded isle, Brother-Smith wasted no time in fomenting the populace who were missing the usual round of the wondrous cow.

He walked to each home-stead in turn crying “no milk today, the King of Castle-Hill has stolen your cow.”

In this way they were left in no doubt as to who was to blame for their loss of sustenance and the King of Castle-Hill spent the next nine months touring his lands putting down local revolt after local revolt without the use of his baleful eye.

The king had no opportunity to visit his daughter, as promised, and indeed, as few knew of the islands existence and the magic halter and the wondrous cow were still kept there, it would have been foolish for him to do so.

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“It is time to collect the magic halter,” said Brother-Wizard to Brother- Warrior after a time.

Together, the two of them, again, set out for the wooded isle in the coracle and once they reached the tower and the nine home-steads they collected not only the magic halter, which the king’s daughter freely gave to them but also the ‘fruits’ of Brother-Warrior’s last visit.

The nine children of the hand-maids were given together in a blanket fastened by a thorn which Brother-Wizard carried on his back whilst the grandson of the king was kept in a separate cloth which Brother-Warrior kept slung upon his breast.

As they made their way back to the mainland the thorn holding the blanket broke and the nine children of the hand-maids fell into the sea and were turned into seals, by Brother-Wizard, so they would not drown.

Brother-Warrior brought the grandson of the king safely ashore…

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The King of Castle Hill…

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…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.”…

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The caring game…

Image: Pixabay

“It is such a mysterious place, the land of tears.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

“Bebop died. I stayed with him. Said thank you.” He choked again. “Said goodbye. It was really emotional.” The voice managed to sound both surprised and a tad embarrassed, even through the evident emotion, and well he might. “…and then Arthur died too…”. There was a silent pause. I am fairly certain I heard a sniff. Bebop was his horse… not a flesh-and-blood horse, mind you, but part of a computer game my son had been playing for some time. Arthur was the character as which he had been playing. Oddly, I didn’t laugh. I could quite understand why he was feeling that way, even though, on the surface, it should have been funny. I have cried my way through too many books and films to laugh for such a reason.

The game, one of the latest generation, is graphically gorgeous. The wide landscape it portrays is beautifully done and very realistic. You can wander it at will, exploring the Wild West in its heyday as well as following the story through the game. He had shown me the scenery and I was impressed, not only with the artwork and animation, but with the attention to detail. Birds and butterflies randomly rise from flowers, day turns into night, grass bows in the wind as the seasons cycle and there is wildlife in abundance.

What had impressed me more, though, was that in spite of it being a western in which you play as an outlaw…and the inevitable gun-slinging that goes with it… the game does require you to make moral choices. Your character can choose the be helpful, compassionate and honourable… though that doesn’t always work out too well for him… or to simply be a violent, mindless outlaw, taking what he chooses at gunpoint. There are consequences to violence, and you will be hunted and imprisoned, or worse, should you choose that path, though doubtless many do, as violence and gore seems to be part of the gaming culture. My son had chosen to follow the honourable path instead, and that choice determined how the game unfolded.

‘His’ character takes care of others in his camp, and helps them with their problems. If he hunts, he must do so with respect. The animal must be killed cleanly, the flesh used for food without delay and the skin must be used too. No wasted deaths. His horse must be fed, groomed, watered and encouraged. It cannot be overridden and needs enough attention to bond with its rider. It needs to be protected… and the character needs sleep, food and shelter too.

But no matter how honourably you choose to ‘live’ as your character, both you and your horse will ‘die’. It is part of the story. How you die depends on how you have ‘lived’… My son had invested time, attention and care the virtual horse.  He had identified with the character in the same way you do when you watch a film or read a book. And his choices in the game had given the character the gentlest of the programmed passings, against a beautiful sunset and he had found it moving.

For a game, it is engrossing and, after many hours of playing, I could quite understand the emotional attachment my son had formed for both the horse and character. Even though it was just a game, he had put the welfare of horse and friends before his own and had lavished attention on his horse, even going so far as to name it, and naming things has always been a big part of the bonding process. It illustrated very clearly that you learn to care about what you choose to care for.

It reminded me of the Rose in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s book, The Little Prince. The Rose is not a particularly nice character, but the Little Prince loves her and when he finds a whole host of roses, he explains why:

“You’re beautiful, but you’re empty…One couldn’t die for you. Of course, an ordinary passerby would think my rose looked just like you. But my rose, all on her own, is more important than all of you together, since she’s the one I’ve watered. Since she’s the one I put under glass, since she’s the one I sheltered behind the screen. Since she’s the one for whom I killed the caterpillars (except the two or three butterflies). Since she’s the one I listened to when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all. Since she’s my rose.”

The emotions that grow when you make a choice to care are almost inevitable. It is not the same as shouldering a duty or a chore when it is a chosen course and the reward comes quietly, as an opening of the heart; it becomes an act of love. If we care for person, we grow close to them, if we chose to care for… looked after… our planet, the way the Little Prince cared for his Rose, we would care about it too.  The two go hand in hand.

It doesn’t really matter whether the thing you care for is what you feel it to be. It could be a cantankerous rose, or a virtual horse… the reality and the beauty is within the love and the care that is given, it is not always obvious in what we choose to care for. “But eyes are blind,” says the Little Prince. “You have to look with the heart.”