Facing Fear With The Silent Eye, Part 9 – Heights ~ Helen Jones

Helen shares the final part of her journey with the Silent Eye in Derbyshire:

I recently attended a workshop with The Silent Eye about Facing Our Fears, an extraordinary weekend spent among the hills and grey stone villages of the Peak District. It’s taken me a little while, as it usually does, to process everything that happened. Once again there was history and mystery, good company and tasty food, old friends greeted and new friends made. And, as always, revelations.This is part nine of my account, parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven  and eight can be found here…

 

I couldn’t get to sleep until very late Saturday night, despite being exhausted – for some reason I found it difficult to relax and, when I did, tapping noises ensued which kept me from sleeping. I finally called out ‘For god’s sake be quiet and let me get some sleep!’ The next thing I knew, my alarm was going off…

Sunday morning dawned grey and drizzly, the glorious weather having disappeared overnight. It wasn’t cold, though, and the rain, though not ideal, was more of a soft mist than anything else. Which was good, as the morning’s plans involved us being outside. We headed into the green once more, grey stone villages softened by rain, hillsides blurred by soft clouds.

Continue reading at Helen Jones’ Blog

Facing Fear With The Silent Eye, Part 6 – Release ~ Helen Jones

Helen continues her journey through the sacred sites of Derbyshire…

I recently attended a workshop with The Silent Eye about Facing Our Fears, an extraordinary weekend spent among the hills and grey stone villages of the Peak District. It’s taken me a little while, as it usually does, to process everything that happened. Once again there was history and mystery, good company and tasty food, old friends greeted and new friends made. And, as always, revelations.This is part six of my account, parts one, two, three, four and five can be found here…

As you pass between the gateposts leading onto Stanton Moor, there is a feeling of entering another world. Perhaps it’s the Cork Stone, a great stone guardian whose sphinx-like profile has monitored the path for millennia, or the old quarry marks, now overgrown. Or perhaps it’s the many cairns hidden amongst the heather, silent indicators that this is a land of the dead.

Humans have been using this place for thousands of years, which is why Stanton Moor is a place of national importance and, as such, is protected. Prominent signage advises visitors to leave no rubbish, make no marks and, something that became important as we journeyed further into the landscape, keep their dogs on a lead at all times.

Continue reading at Helen Jones’ blog.

Facing Fear With The Silent Eye, Part 5 – Failure ~ Helen Jones

Helen continues her journey through Derbyshire with the Silent Eye:

I recently attended a workshop with The Silent Eye about Facing Our Fears, an extraordinary weekend spent among the hills and grey stone villages of the Peak District. It’s taken me a little while, as it usually does, to process everything that happened. Once again there was history and mystery, good company and tasty food, old friends greeted and new friends made. And, as always, revelations.This is part five of my account, parts one, two, three and four can be found here…

We left Tideswell and headed into the hills. The sun was shining, the temperature warm enough for just a light jacket – not exactly the kind of weather one associates with fear. However, so far we had faced pestilence, death, and the idea of losing everyone you hold dear to be left alone in a changed world. Quite intense for the first afternoon! I started to get the inkling that this weekend would be about challenging myself internally, as well as externally…

Fear is something that is both universal, and specific to the individual. There are fears that hearken back to our ancestral roots – the fear of being vulnerable, cast out, or killed by some predator. Then there are fears that are more personal – some people suffer from claustrophobia, whereas others dislike large open spaces. Some people are scared of heights, others of spiders – it really depends on the individual. There are modern fears – nuclear war, gender-based violence, terrorism – and age-old ones such as poverty, bankruptcy, homelessness. Fear is unique to each individual, and yet is something we all share. Our next destination was a place where people were tested against an ancient fear, yet where the same tradition is still observed to this day.

Continue reading at Helen Jones’ blog

Facing Fear with The Silent Eye, Part 1 – Arrival ~ Helen Jones

Helen Jones, author of Journey to Ambeth, begins her account of her weekend with The Silent Eye in Derbyshire…

I recently attended a workshop, with The Silent Eye, about Facing Our Fears, an extraordinary weekend spent among the hills and grey stone villages of the Peak District. It’s taken me a little while, as it usually does, to process everything that happened. Once again there was history and mystery, good company and tasty food, old friends greeted and new friends made. And, as always, revelations.This is part one of my account…

My journey began on Friday 13th, amid the hustle and bustle of St Pancras station, my train waiting beneath the great arcing span of glass. Perhaps it was the day – I’d given myself plenty of time to get there, yet still found myself rushing at the last moment, a wrong turn taken meaning I had to run the length of the station to get to my platform. But I made it on board and settled in for a pleasant journey through London and out into the green, past the dreaming spires of St Albans and further north, buildings of golden brick changing to red, then to grey stone.

This weekend was to be given over to fear, so I reflected on what that could mean as we headed north.

Continue reading at Journey to Ambeth

Lord of the Deep: In to The Deep. ~ Willow Willers

Willow continues sharing her journey with the recent Lord of the Deep weekend:

After we had returned from ancient Sumeria that Saturday night we all, everyone of us, got changed and fought the biblical weather the thankfully short distance up the hill to the local pub.

We all deserved a break, I was there, just behind the lense. The cosy warmth in the bar was matched by the warmth of these beautiful people who had been traveling along the same path with me. This was every bit as important as a learning curve as the entire workshop itself. Different but just as important.

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Lord of the Deep and a glass of wine ~ Willow Willers

Reblogged from Willow Willers, who continues the tale of her experiences with the Lord of the Deep weekend:

As the first Ritual Drama came to an end and the Temple Guardian unsealed the Temple.

I find I am leading the fates out, bowing to the East and then to the Guardian as we leave. I stand in the hallway and I truly wonder just what had happened. I felt as if I was still Limma but there were Sue and Stuart thanking us for our hard work . So I guess I was back in the present.

Sue announces that we are meeting at the pub which is literally next door. I can’t get my head round that really. I end up asking Steve, Katie, Sue and Stuart if they are going to the pub because I still feel otherworldly. They must think I am an alcoholic!

Continue reading at willowdot21

The alchemy of joy

By the time this goes out, another workshop will be over and our Companions will have dispersed for another year. Inevitably, every time we go back to Great Hucklow, we think of that very first workshop… and for me, that meant laughter…

 

“What have you done with my mother?”

The laughing sally greeted our arrival and my offer to climb into my son’s home through his bedroom window. It set the tone for the day… one mainly filled with laughter. It is often so.

Laughter, smiles, joy… they are as contagious as a yawn… or as any other emotion. They can also turn a moment of fading sadness to beauty. It is a well-known phenomenon that depression can affect those living with someone suffering from it, in almost the same way as the cold virus will spread through a household. The negative emotions set up a downward spiral as, for instance, a partner closes him or herself off emotionally and a domino reaction sets in which affects the whole family as needs are not answered and individuals feel unable to communicate those needs for fear of setting off an even deeper reaction. Unconscious resentments, fear, fragility begin to dominate the minds and hearts of those concerned and it is a vicious cycle difficult to break.

In the same way a group of people coming together in an atmosphere of comfortable laughter will soon put others at ease and allow them to open up and be themselves. We saw this in action in April at the launch event in Derbyshire. We were a new School and this was our first major, public event as a School. To be fair, no-one knew what to expect.

Steve, Stuart and I had left a School we loved in order to follow the path we felt we had been given to tread. There was a certain nervousness when we began to publicise the Launch, wondering if anyone would come. Steve had run similar workshops before, notably the Alchemy series, I had taught in other ways… but the School was new and untried. We had only our vision to work with.

Gradually the bookings came in. We were delighted to see a group of people forming from all spiritual paths, from the Druidic and Shamanic to the Mystical… from traditional Western Mystery to those who follow a personal vision. This was what we had hoped for… this was about bringing our School to birth without barriers. Even more wonderful it was to see people flying thousands of intercontinental miles to attend! There was never any question of recruiting new students… that is not what a workshop is about. A workshop of this nature is a public opening and sharing… a simple and mutual exploration of concepts. Most of all we hoped people would come along and simply enjoy. We wanted it to be fun.

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

The workshops begin late on Friday. At other workshops we have all attended it often takes until the next day before everyone settles and feels really comfortable. A few of us who got there early to set up had gathered in the pub next door. Gradually others filtered in… the laughter was infectious and by the time the whole company gathered to begin after tea, the atmosphere was simply buzzing and everyone seemed to have known each other for years, though few had ever met before. It was delightful and lasted the whole weekend!

I think you have only to read the posts written by some of those who joined us that weekend to hear an echo of that laughter…you can find links to some of their articles by clicking here.

It was an object lesson in how infectious joy can be. Perhaps it went further than that… maybe it was an object lesson in how we each, individually, define our own worlds. By meeting in joy and laughter we were able to create a world of fun and friendship for that weekend… a small pocket of light that lit us all from the inside out, sustaining friendships made there by planting them in fertile soil.

The School is now established with students across the globe… yet the sense of joyous adventure continues, born, I think, of the shared laughter of the launch weekend. .. the ‘infection’ continues, and long may it do so!

I have a feeling that these first moments of any relationship… with people, organisations, situations… colour how that association develops. The playful laughter that gave birth to the School has certainly coloured it for me and painted it golden … and those who joined us there and shared that moment will always have a very special place in my heart.

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

“If at first…”

kites 356

Sleep would have been nice. I’m told it is good for you. I was certainly tired enough and expected to fall into a deep slumber as soon as my head hit the pillow… well, at least by the second chapter… and indulge until daylight. No such luck.

The clock said four a.m… it had said one a.m. as I turned out the lamp… and while I gritted my teeth and tried to resist, dragging the duvet over my head stubbornly in the interest of getting some much needed rest, the dreams were gnawing at my ear like a small rodent and telling me to get up and do something about them. And I was wide awake. You wouldn’t think something as ephemeral as a dream, small as a mouse could be so insistent… but then, mice are persistent creatures. I gave in. Stopped fighting. Sometimes it is the best thing to do.

I got up and dealt with the nagging of the dream, which turned out to be more ursine than murine, and that left me and the coffee twiddling thumbs before dawn yet again. Still, there are benefits to being up early, though the dog sees them merely in terms of an early start with the tennis ball and a dawn raid on the treats.

An article in the inbox sent me of researching, leading me off at various tangents over the second coffee. Persistence pays off, but it can be a double edged sword. You need the quality in order to achieve anything, yet the tight focus required inevitably blinds you to the wider picture that may include many more possible avenues than the one you are driving at… or feel you are driven towards.

kites 334I watched this in action one day as I drove home from my son’s. The busy road runs through a landscape of ploughed fields and as I drove a red kite flew alongside me for about half a mile, keeping itself level with my eyeline and speed, which, when I think about it, was awesome enough in itself. There was a moment… a split second… when it hung in the air, then swooped below the line of the hedgerow, emerging with a small rodent in its talons. The speed was incredible; it all happened in a glance through the side window and then it was away, soaring.

At first it was only the privilege of watching something so beautiful that imprinted itself on consciousness. But when I thought about it, I realised that had the great bird, a symbol of Isis, not been flying high enough, far enough from the ground, she would not have seen her prey… her goal… nor been able to pinpoint her descent so accurately. Her quarry lives and moves on the earth, yet she, had she joined it there, would have ended up with muddy feathers and no lunch. Her gift is to soar and to see from above and utilise her glorious design of wing and feather. She uses her whole being to its full potential by rising above the level of that which she seeks.

With our focus so firmly on the necessities of life in a demanding world, I have to wonder if we are walking in a muddy field alien to our true nature and failing to rise high enough to see a clearer, wider picture. Within the ridges and furrows of ploughed earth we may lose sight of the greater landscape and get caught in the sticky morass that makes flight ever more difficult.

kites 258There is the old saying we all know, that ‘distance makes the heart grow fonder’. We quote it without thinking, knowing that without the daily grind, the petty worries and pressures, the heart sees clearer the distant beloved and the emotion shines, standing bright against the mundane world. The details fade as we move apart, flaws disappear out of focus and we are left only with the essence of love.

On the negative side this can blind us to reality and allow us to indulge in the make believe of a romantic dream… and may explain why to many the past holds the only attraction, seen from a safe distance and we yearn for an illusion. Most of the time, however, it shows how small the details are in comparison to the essence, allowing us to see reality with truer vision as the minor details blur and recede. Yet we do not seem to notice that perhaps this applies at a deeper level also, and that by stepping back from the cares and worries, widening our focus and seeing the landscapes of our lives from horizon to horizon, we might just fall in love with life itself.

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Riddles of the Night: Raven’s Nest

Our final site was to be a stone circle high on the moors, but first, we had to get there, and the journey can be as interesting as the destination. We walked the ‘long way’ up to the moor, rather than climbing the short, steep slope that would have taken us to the circle in minutes. There were a few reasons for that, but mainly it was so that our companions, who had not visited the site before, could see it within the context of its landscape, because that is the only way it can really be understood.

The longer route takes you around the bottom edge of the moor, following a path whose age is indeterminate. It is what you might call the natural route across the moor, the path of least resistance, especially if you do not know what lies ahead.

We have often found at these ancient circles that they sit in a landscape where a stream divides the habitations of the living from the ‘lands of the dead’ where the cairns and circles are found. We have also found that the paths leading into the sites from a distance seem to follow the course of the water on the ‘dead’ side and this circle is no exception. They never run directly to the ritual sites, always skirting them at a distance. There would be practical reasons for being close to water, but why on the opposite side of the stream from the settlements? Was it a matter of respect for the living? Or was it so that travellers came into the tribal lands under the watchful eyes of the ancestors, treading sacred ground?

We pointed out where the settlement might have been, across the water, as we passed beneath the trees. We also discussed Pointy Stone Theory which had first come into being at this site. Pointy Stone Theory (as opposed to the Ubiquitous Pointy Stone Theory which lends significance to every pointy stone) came about on an early visit. My companion had taken the high path, while I took the lower route. The first thing you see on this stretch of moor is a triangular stone against the horizon. If you head for the stone, you come out on the ridge within yards of the circle.

But, if our theories about the trackways were correct, no stranger would want to come that close. How then did they navigate across these vast and seemingly empty moorlands? Following the lower path, it was noted that seemingly random boulders presented a single triangular face…if you followed the route. Deviate from the path and that face was lost. So far, it seems to work, leading you close, but not too close, to the ancient sites.

Our forefathers worked with the land on a vast scale. Whole hills have been shaped, and indeed built, to serve their needs and beliefs. Sites such as Stonehenge and Avebury, though best known to us for their very visible stones, cover great swathes of land with interconnected monuments. A simple and necessary thing like a navigation system is not beyond the bounds of possibility.

By the time we had demonstrated our PST, we were at the foot of the long, steep climb up to the moor beside a winter stream. Turning back at the top, we followed the track to the Outlier… a prominent stone from which an average height man of the bronze Age would have been able to get a first glimpse of the stone circle.

But, before reaching the stones, there was something else to see. A huge bed of rock perches on the edge of the moor, seeming to shadow the shape of the distant landscape, although you must lay on the mossy earth to see it clearly. This phenomenon is usually known as mirroring, but as Stuart had pointed out a while ago, a mirror image reverses what it reflects…these features in the landscape recreate the horizon in miniature.

The same phenomenon can be observed on the tallest of the stones of the circle. Its contours shadow the form of Win Hill. From this point, at Samhain and Imbolc, the setting sun appears to roll down the contour of the hill itself.

It would seem as if our ancestors, observing the movements of planetary bodies, chose or shaped their sacred stones to echo the topography of the land, recreating features of the wider world in miniature. This would suggest that their rituals involved sympathetic magic, where working with the microcosm they had created, the cosmic forces of the macrocosm could be harnessed or directed.

Within this ancient and sacred space, we shared a simple meditation, sending light radiating out, joining the sacred centres of this land as nodes of light, and then beyond to the wider world, continuing the work we have been doing for the past few years. It is as if the land itself has taught us what it is… what to do… and what it needs from us.

We had also found over the past year that many groups and individuals are, quite independently, working in the same way with land, stone and crystal. In oddly fortuitous circumstances, we have met and been made aware of each other, as if we too are ‘dots’ being joined together in a vast network of those who serve the Light.

And that brought us back, full circle to the questions we had pondered at the beginning of the weekend. What is it that causes this breadcrumb trail to be left for the curious to find? What prompts unconnected groups and individuals to set their hand to the same task? What did the ancients have in common with the Templars and their spiritual kin, the Freemasons? We all have the land itself in common… all the time… but we seldom pay attention to its whisperings. But when the Underground Stream resurfaces as a fountain of inspiration, there are always those who are able to drink from the well.

There were many questions unanswered…all we had hoped to do was sow the seeds of thought. Much more was discussed than has, purely because of space, made it onto these pages… and many more ‘breadcrumbs’ would lead us deeper into our quest for answers. But that is another story, outside of the bounds of the workshop.

We had one final stone to show our companions…the Raven Stone after which we privately name the site, the Raven’s Nest. Oddly enough, given our preoccupation with the dragon-lines, and serpent symbolism, this is one of only two places we have seen snakes. Quite symbolic when you consider the reptilian nature of birds… and the esoteric convention that sees the symbols of winged creatures as representing a ‘higher’ arc of spiritual evolution.

By the time we came down from the moor, the afternoon had almost gone and we were obliged to take leave of our companions who had a long way to go. We repaired to a local inn for a late lunch, before taking the long way back into Sheffield, over the moors, as the day ended with a final grace.