Twin suns…

dawn sky (1)

“…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 to reserve your place.


Seti I & Hathor

Ten days to go. The countdown is on as I begin to pack for Egypt.

No planes or airports involved either… just a nice, leisurely drive to Derbyshire; two hundred miles and over three thousand years back in time to a place where the gods of the ancient ones spoke through their priests and the machinations of a dark figure shadowed the footsteps of Ramases…

Such is the setting for the annual ritual workshop this year.

My home has become what appears to be a costume department. On the airer in the garden a large swathe of velvet, which close inspection would reveal to be a cloak. The sideboard is littered with painted tokens and props and my bedroom festooned with an archaic wardrobe. And this year we’ve kept things simple… I am not actually doing much in the way of sewing for once!

Still, the attention to detail matters. It is part of building the frame for the symbolic picture we, and those who join us for the weekend, will paint in words and thought.

Yet none of the visual preparation really matters. We could do this just as well in jeans and T shirts. It is imagination and intent that fleshes out the simple lines we draw in colour and fabric, words and gesture. But imagination is, as the saying goes, the ass that carries the ark and anything we can do to guide it in the desired direction helps. To continue the analogy, by creating an illusion we are leading the mind with a carrot, rather than beating it with a stick.

goddess maat

It is for this reason we use ritual drama rather than the dry, dusty technique of lectures. We build something the imagination wants to engage with… something fun and different. We tell a story… and in doing so we engage the emotions too. And that is how we both teach and learn. We engage with something that simply goes beyond thought and logic… beyond either intellect or emotions alone, touching something that is far greater than the sum of its parts.

There is one final ritual to write and it falls to me to complete it. Its shape has been mapped for some time. The words had taken shape, given in a single moment on the way home one day. The form had wandered a stately dance across the canvas of the mind, yet I had not committed the words to paper. I didn’t know why. It was bugging me and I wanted to see it finished. I just couldn’t for some reason… and when ‘that’ feeling gets you, there isn’t much you can do if you wish to leave space for inspiration.

It doesn’t just apply in this particular situation, of course. You can try and force things into a shape of your choosing, but in doing so you fix prematurely in stone, as it were, something that is still fluid in the waters of creation. By doggedly filling in the blanks with an eye on the clock, you freeze the space between where possibility awaits and things may come unbidden into being. We have learned to wait in patience and to trust that what comes will be right.

detail of Seti I  & Hathor

It is all about trust.

Such things unfold in their own good time and only when the moment is right. Last night I was sent a document that filled in the space between. Tonight I will write my part of that final ritual, knowing that I have been given the questions I needed to make sense of the answers I already had. All the fragments are now in my hands… all I have to do is to gently tease them into the shape they need to become, and by the ninth day before the workshop begins… the number of the enneagram with which we work… the form should be complete.

Then I just have to sew and pack….

There is still time to join us for the River of the Sun, a fully catered, residential workshop in Derbyshire, 24-26 April, 2015.

Full brochure, prices and booking form can be downloaded here:

SE15 Feb15 brochureAA

*Images Google search, photographer unknown

Inner whispers


Every so often there is a shift in a life’s pattern that leads you off at a new tangent. Sometimes these are things you have worked for, dreamed of and created for yourself… an opportunity seen and grasped. Sometimes these events simply land in your lap and you have to choose whether or not to accept them and go with them… and sometimes there simply is no choice.

Occasionally these new directions may leave people questioning your sanity… why would you take such a risk after all, when there is no real reason to do so that is obvious to the outside world. You are doing okay, everything seems to be in order and life is pootling along quite nicely, thank you very much. Suddenly you pull the metaphorical rug from under your own feet and start behaving in what the world might see as an unusual manner.

‘Mid-life crisis’, say some, ‘lost the plot’ say others… and there are unkinder epithets available too, as well as the slightly envious, or respectful ones of those who want to break free of their own routine and Do Something.

Of course, you may well launch into one of these ventures… or adventures… and find things seem to unfold in their own way, regardless of the nice, tidy plans you have made where you thought you had everything under control and your vision of the future ran between nice, neat lines of predictability. Then you wake up one morning and realise that while you were sleeping the universe, as is its wont, has seen a vessel shaped to its need and rushed in to fill it.

At this point you realise that you are running along merrily with a cup filled to the brim with something unfamiliar, unplanned and suddenly very easy to spill. It demands a more considered approach and some major readjustments in thinking. You might, it is true, simply empty out the cup and start again to your own plan, or you can accept the gift and begin to learn what it will need from you in order to grow into what it could… perhaps should…be. It was such a scenario that saw the birth of the Silent Eye… a desire that became an imperative that has become both response and learning curve for those of us involved.

We are lucky, we are none of us on our own in this and we each have the companionship of the others to check, teach and learn from, for we really are the first students of the School. We have to be…anything else would be hypocrisy. You cannot teach what you are not first prepared to learn although that learning may be damnably uncomfortable at times, as we learn to look into the mirror of self and see ourselves without mercy, but with justice, love and understanding. It is a necessary process and a valuable one, as from those personal lessons we learn to teach from experience, not mere theory.

There are other gifts and shifts along the way too, and every so often you pull up short and wonder about everything, up to and including your own sanity in following these pathways into an unknown that is yet not unknowable, especially when the going gets rough. Learning to trust that the path knows where it leads isn’t always easy. But there are treasures to be found along the way and some of them are the people who drop into your life at just the right time, with just the right understanding and experience to restore your faith in your sanity and allow you to hitch up your backpack and follow the path forward. They are not always obvious, these gifts; for although sometimes they stand in a clear light, easy to see, at others they are like the ragged beggar or the beast in the fairy stories that turns out to be the hero or the sage in disguise, but they await on our journey if we have eyes to see.

Our individual journeys as human beings, though, are not fairytales, they are our lives and each of us encounters these moments of choice and self doubt in the quiet of our own minds. There is, deep within us all a part of us that observes and Knows, shaking its head fondly at our errors with love unconditional and a clarity of vision we might call conscience, but which goes beyond that to a deeper understanding of our self, our motives, our strengths and our frailties. On the surface we may be as children, fingers in our ears in our refusal to hear a truth we already know, yet learn we must and grow we will, like it or not, one day.

That inner knowing pulls together all the threads of being and manifests as that inner voice of the heart and that, perhaps, is our best guide through the journey of life if we can simply learn how to listen and act on its whispering song.