WHAT’S UP DOC? Lines of communication III…

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… Bugs… The small rabbit came closer to his companion, lolloping on long hind legs.

“Let’s go a bit further, Hazel,’ he said. “You know, there’s something strange about the warren this evening, although I can’t tell exactly what it is. Shall we go down to the brook?”

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Cara… “All right, Fiver,” answered Hazel, “and you can find me a cowslip when we’re there. If you can’t find one, no-one can.”

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Bugs… Hazel led the way down the slope, his shadow stretching behind him on the grass.

They reached the brook and began nibbling and searching beside the wheel-ruts of the track.

It was not long before Fiver found what they were looking for.

Cowslips are a delicacy among rabbits, and as a rule there are very few left by late May in the neighbourhood of even a small warren.

This one had not bloomed, and its flat spread of leaves was almost hidden under the long grass.

They were just starting on it when two large rabbits came running across from the other side of the near-by cattle-wade.

Fiver had already turned away.

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Cara… Hazel caught up with him by the culvert, “I tell you what, let’s go across the brook. There’ll be fewer rabbits and we can have a bit of peace, so long as you think it’s safe?”

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Bugs… “No, it’s safe enough,” answered Fiver. “If I start feeling there’s any danger I’ll tell you. It’s not danger I feel tonight, it’s, oh, I don’t know, something oppressive, like thunder. I’m not sure what, but it worries me. All the same, I’ll come across the brook with you.”

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Cara… The two rabbits ran over the culvert.

The grass was wet and thick near the stream and they made their way up the opposite slope, looking for drier ground.

Part of the slope was in shadow, for the sun was sinking ahead of them, and Hazel, who wanted a warm, sunny spot, went on until they were quite near the lane.

As they approached the gate he stopped, staring…

“Fiver, what’s that? Look!”

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Bugs… A little way in front of them, the ground had been freshly disturbed.

Two piles of earth lay on the grass.

Heavy posts reeking of creosote and paint, towered up as high as the holly trees in the hedge, and the board they carried threw a long shadow across the top of the field.

Near one of the posts, a hammer and a few nails had been left behind.

The two rabbits went up to the board at a hopping run and crouched in a patch of nettles on the far side, wrinkling their noses at the smell of a dead cigarette-end somewhere in the grass.

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Cara… Suddenly Fiver shivered and cowered down. “Oh, Hazel! This it where it comes from! I know now – something very bad! Some terrible thing – coming closer and closer.”

He began to whimper…

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Bugs… “What sort of thing – what do you mean?  I thought you said there was no danger? “

Cara… “I don’t know what it is,” answered Fiver wretchedly. “There isn’t any danger here, at this moment. But it’s coming – it’s coming. Oh, Hazel, look! The field! It’s covered in blood!”

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Bugs… “Don’t be silly, it’s only the light of the sunset. Fiver, come on, don’t talk like this, you’re frightening me!”

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Cara…The sun set behind the opposite slope.

The wind turned colder, with a scatter of rain, and in less than an hour it was dark.

All colour had faded from the sky and although the big board by the gate creaked slightly in the night wind, there was no passer-by to read the sharp, hard letters that cut straight as black knives across its white surface.

They said…

to be continued…

WHAT’S UP DOC? Lines of communication II…

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…Cara: If we can’t trust the written word what can we trust?

Bugs settles at the West and Cara at the East.

Bugs: Vertical Polarity!

Cara: recites…

OL SONUF VAORSAGI GOHO IADA BALTA.

ELEXARPEH COMANANU TABITOM. ZODAKARA,

EKA ZODAKARE OD ZODAMERANU. ODO KIKLE

QAA PIAP PIAMOEL OD VAOAN.

Bugs: (Addressing the Companions) Don’t say what this is but if anyone does know what it is please raise your hands. (If any hands are raised to each of those who raised their hands) – Just say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Do you know what it means? (if so) – Please don’t take part in the next bit. So, everyone else.  Those of you who feel that this piece holds power, raise your hands.  (If any hands are raised) Would anyone like to expand on that? Would anyone like to categorise how that made them feel.  In a general way was that feeling Good or Bad? We’ll come back to this…

Cara: But first…

Cara walks to the central altar and removes the cover from the Top Hat and Ears, lifting out the rabbit ears in time honoured fashion they are revealed to be part of two rabbit masks…

Bugs: For those with ears to hear…

Bugs walks to the central altar. Cara hands one of the rabbit masks to Bugs (Black) and keeping the other for herself (White) they both don them.

Cara (now wearing a white rabbit mask) … A story about rabbits…

Bugs: (now wearing a black rabbit mask) … ‘What’s up Doc!’

Bugs explains that the cards have two inscriptions, one on either side but that the companions must not turn the cards over to read the second inscription until directed to do so by the utterance of the ‘Trigger’ word- ‘Carrots’ as Cara hands out the cards. After handing out the cards Cara returns to the central altar. Bugs and Cara circle the altar and then Bugs retreats to the east, while Cara retreats to the west.

TO EACH READ, IN TURN, WHILE CIRCLING…

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Bugs… The primroses were over…

The May sunset was red in clouds, and there was still half an hour to twilight.

The dry slope was dotted with rabbits…

Here and there one sat upright on an ant-heap and looked about:

ears erect

nose to the wind.

The blackbird, singing undisturbed on the outskirts of the wood, gave lie to their caution.

There was nothing to alarm the peace of the warren.

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Cara… At the top of the bank where the blackbird sang was a group of holes hidden by brambles.

In the green half-light, at the mouth of one of these holes, sat two rabbits side by side.

The larger of the two came out of the hole, slipped along the bank, hopped down into the ditch and then ambled up into the field…

A few moments later the smaller rabbit followed.

The first rabbit stopped in a sunny patch and scratched an ear with rapid movements of a hind-leg.

He looked as though he knew how to take care of himself.

There was a shrewd, buoyant air about him as he sat up, looked round and rubbed both front paws over his nose.

Once satisfied that all was well he laid back his ears and set to work on the grass.

His companion seemed less at ease.

He was small, with wide eyes and a way of raising and turning his head which suggested a sort of ceaseless nervous tension.

His nose moved continually and when a bumble-bee flew, humming, to a thistle bloom behind him he jumped and spun round with a start…

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to be continued…

Looking deeper – Land of the Exiles

Time seems to do strange things sometimes. It seems impossible that it is just a week ago we would have been starting the second of three knowledge lectures… a halfway point of the weekend. We were about to discuss the undertoad… no-one said serious has to be boring… and Steve is our master of presentations. So much so, in fact, that although I had done my bit with the first lecture, Stuart and I absconded for the third in order to prepare the working space for the next ritual. However, we were all there for this one.

UntitledThe lectures underpin the theme of the weekend, exploring and explaining some of the concepts used within the drama. The first had looked at the archetypes represented by the Egyptian pantheon. Most folk who work within the Mysteries on one path or another will have a basic knowledge of the main stories, but that very knowledge often precludes digging any deeper. As with many things in life we accept that we know ‘enough’ and see no need to look in any more detail. Having grown up with the myths of Egypt I thought so too, but the research I did prior to writing The Osiriad soon knocked me off that smug little pedestal and showed me how much I had to learn. The Egyptian gods exemplify more than human personalities and take a deep and abstract look at the roots of creation. Approached from the perspective of science, faith, or curiosity they open windows of realisation and possibility. As we were working with these archetypes it seemed appropriate to explore them.

2 slideThe second presentation looked at the pieces of string, the threads that make up our lives. It took a fairly irreverent turn, as these things often do, yet the subject of the undertoad has a serious side too. It refers, of course, to The World According to Garp by John Irving, where the undertoad is a misnomer for the undertow… the current that is beyond control and which proves too strong for the wrestler’s neck with tragic consequences. It is the hidden currents beyond the surface of life, waiting to drag us down, deny it as we may. Yet in recognising it, accepting its presence, we are able to use it to provide the contrast, the shadow that shows the light of hope.

Untitled3The final lecture took a look at the central symbol used by the school, which features in the sacred space we use… the enneagram. Most people today know the enneagram only through its use for psychometric profiling, yet it is a symbol with a much deeper meaning when used within the spiritual quest, incorporating many layers; from the geometry which speaks of the triune nature to the circle which is the One that encompasses All.

Untitled6We call them lectures or presentations, yet these things are much more than that… they are a time to come together and discuss, sharing viewpoints from many paths as well as giving the background principles upon which we base the workshop. They are also a time for laughter and banter; a meeting of minds and a sharing of knowledge and belief. They are, above all, about communication, for this leads to greater understanding, and in a room where so many paths to the Light converge, that can only be a thing of beauty.

The opening of the Eye – the artists eyes

We continue our retrospective of past School events through Sue’s eyes…

Astral Eyes-Painting by the companions, image rendered by Matt Baldwin-Ives

Astral Eyes-Painting by the companions, image rendered by Matt Baldwin-Ives

Looking around the assembled faces as we sat waiting to begin the first of the lectures on the Saturday morning, it occurred to me how many artists of all types were sitting there.

From the professional to the gifted in visual arts, the musicians and the dancers, the writers and poets, our consummately talented photographer, a maker of beautiful things and the creative gifts of the Temple team…it was quite astonishing.

Steve, brush in hand
Steve, brush in hand

I cannot wait to share some more of the photographs created by Matt that show how a simple room can be transformed into a sacred space. I have seen only the unedited shots and they are spectacular. And there is one shot that will, I think, capture the essence of the weekend in the most amazing fashion. But we all have to wait for the work to be done on that image.

Detail from the group painting
Detail from the group painting

There were drums. The most beautiful and profound of music, both visceral and haunting in the temple as Adam used sound in place of incense to symbolically bless and purify the working space. His is a rare gift and those moments when he and the drum seemed to become one, both with each other and with something beyond both, will, I think, live in our hearts and memories a very long time.

Detail from the group painting
Detail from the group painting

There was music. Alienora with fiddle, recorder and piano, joining Adam in the library and filling it with laughter and sound.

There was Steve, the Troubadour, guitar in hand, seated in the Temple as he and I sang the song we had written for the School.

Detail from the group painting
Detail from the group painting

There was the painting created by all. Disjointed impressions, symbols and words that somehow came together to create an energy on canvas that captured the bright spirit of the companions and the time out of time that we shared. Matt’s otherworldly artistic impression of what was created shows, I think, the soul of what was placed on that canvas. And an email from Kevin that reduced me to tears placed Ani’s paw print among the symbols as, he wrote, “she must be an honorary Nerk 1st Degree by now at least.  A trace of her soul should be on it I think, she has journeyed with you all the way.”

Detail from the group painting
Detail from the group painting

There was the cake, decorated with the symbol of the Silent Eye by our wonderful Lil, shared before the companions departed on the Sunday.

The Mother, Benjamin Prewitt
The Mother, Benjamin Prewitt

There were three small paintings from Benjamin, gifted to me before he left me yesterday, that capture the depth and beauty of what was wrought over those few days and how it touches the life and heart of those who take that leap of faith into the inner landscape.

A Sunny Day, Benjamin Prewitt
A Sunny Day, Benjamin Prewitt

And there were words. Humour, banter and wilful misinterpretation causing riotous, and as Alienora describes in her post, of raucous laughter. Small things said in quiet moments that leave an indelible impression on the heart. Words written and spoken in beauty and the overwhelming sense of loving kinship that was shared as we were bound together in our journey. Words unspoken, poems crafted by the heart and written in eyes that met, sharing smiles and love in a place and a moment outside of time.

Ascend, Benjamin Prewitt
Ascend, Benjamin Prewitt

The opening of the Eye – a mother’s tears

dogs 046

I was up to meet the dawn on Saturday, finding the world covered in a heavy frost and very beautiful. The morning began with a guided meditation. The companions gathered at 7am and closed their eyes. It was a simple journey… that of a seed thrown by an unseen hand to the winds. The tiny point of consciousness watched from inside itself as it grew, illustrating the journey into becoming.

Breakfast and preparation… and then it was time for the second of the ritual dramas.

These dramatic episodes, played with conviction in a place made sacred, have a profound effect, enabling understanding, engaging the emotions as well as the intellect as they bring the teachings to life in a unique manner.  This is one of the ways we will teach, through workshops and teaching sessions and the weekend workshops, open to all.

These do not form an essential part of the School’s course, they are not required, nor is attendance limited to School members… but rather they enhance and enrich it, as well as allowing friendships and companionship to grow. Study can be a lonely thing and the personal journey must be ultimately walked alone… but that does not mean there cannot be company along the way, a hand to hold when the ground seems rough or laughter shared in sunlight.

dogs 044

The first ritual drama saw the arrival of nine travellers, sheltering from a storm in the monastery of the Keepers of the First Flame. A shamanic drummer and two Troubadours, accompanied by a strange Child also sought shelter. They were following a quest to rescue an imprisoned king, or so they believed, and sought shelter and refuge for the Child while they continued their journey.

The first drama introduced these characters, and ended as the Troubadours left to continue their search, leaving the Child in the care of the nine and the Keepers. On Saturday morning the second drama was to explore the characters further, seeing deeper into their innermost being.

As the Troubadours were ‘absent’, Steve assisted our technician and had placed me in the role of the Great Mother, simply  to bless the individual journey each was about to undertake as they entered the Temple.

And that felt odd. All the very human insecurities raised their head as I had read this point.. me, as Great Mother? How… what could I, just me, bring to this? And that question, I realised, was also the answer. I could bring my Self, it is all we can ever do.

The costume was simple and symbolic, grey veiled in clouds of night, a girdle of stars, dark tears at my throat and a simple nine pointed circlet, beautifully crafted by Katie. All chosen for their  simplicity and symbolism… especially the veil which prevented the pilgrims from seeing Her face, yet allowed them into her embrace. I thought I had it sorted.

I do not know and cannot tell what others felt. Only what I saw and felt myself.  I stood in the silence of the sacred space and waited for the first of the companions to enter, a silent prayer in my heart, not knowing really what to do, simply trusting that I would know when the moment came. The bells called the companions in, and the first saluted the central Light and turned to me.

And it was simple. I just held out my arms and embraced them and the cloudy veil held them like dark wings.

It sounds very little. But, from my heart to yours, I tell you that this was the most profoundly moving thing. Each pair of eyes met mine with radiant joy, each heart was open and full of Light and Life and Love, each face lit with so much beauty. One after another I held them. Overwhelmed and humble, with a glowing, incandescent sun, it seemed, blazing in my heart.

I sat in silence to watch the drama unfold and behind the veil the tears slid across my cheeks to meet my smile.

It was I who was blessed.

The opening of the Eye – the drama begins

dogs 047

There had been hugs and welcomes, flurries of suitcases, gorgeously coloured garments peeking shyly from their wrappings, but most of all the joy of meeting old friends, many for the very first time in person.

And then we began.

There was the welcome and a dinner friendlier, warmer, more full of laughter than I have ever seen at one of these gatherings so early in the proceedings. Maybe I am biased… but I was not the only one to remark on the feeling in the air.

We talked through the teaching method and the way the weekend would unfold, then, suddenly it seemed, it was time to begin.

There had been a last minute change of plan, as one of the company could not be there on time. Matt, our fabulous photographer, had stepped in gallantly to cover for most of her role as one of the Keepers of the First Flame, but for some strange reason he did not see himself as Isis. So I had, unexpectedly, opened the drama in the role of the Mother. Not precisely as we had planned, but in the end, it seemed so fitting I could not help but smile as I looked around the circle.

A quick change later then Steve and I, clad in the glorious solar colours of the School, and Stuart, without whom none of this could have ever been the same, were waiting our turn to enter the Temple. And that was quite a moment.

There is an energy to these things that builds slowly through the weekend, becoming deeper and stronger as both drama and understanding unfold, yet this very first moment was filled with a tension and anticipation that was palpable and very moving.

Of course, the companions had probably realised by this point that we were about to sing, Steve and I… and I am not known for my singing, or not in a positive manner anyway….

Yet, it seemed that when Troubadour One took up the guitar and began to sing the song written for this moment, and Troubadour Two stood behind him with her hands on his shoulder and they raised their voices in harmony, as the Child gently woke the Nine from sleep, something fell into place. The Troubadours sang in tune and the simple music woke more than the sleepers.

A story began to unfold, and with the characters’ waking something came alive and began a journey into self-exploration that left none unmoved through the weekend. The ritual drama began to unfold and what seemed a simple story lit up from the inside as the points of the enneagram were brought to life by the archetypal figures so lovingly crafted and beautifully played.

There were experienced ritualists and some for whom this was a first taste, but none who had taken this journey before.

As we filed out in silence, not one was left untouched by the feeling in that room and there was a real reverence as each saluted the simple central Light that symbolises so much. The stairs were lined with white robed figures, quietly waiting for the working space to empty, and that Light was reflected in all eyes.

My mind skipped back to the previous Alchemy weekends here and recognised the thread that ran through them to bring us to this point. Similar, but very different. And then my heart slid forward to the next ritual, the following morning knowing what had been written. If there was so much emotion here already, I could not begin to imagine how that was going to feel.

And I was right.

I could never have imagined such beauty, such warmth, or so much loving joy.

A Preponderance of Stone: Pentre Ifan…

Images and Text from the Silent Eye Workshop: Whispers in the West…

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HM15 953Angles of Approach…

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HM15 969Concord of Stones…

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HM15 970Step forward Spirit…

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HM15 998Claws of what?…

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HM15 997Pinnacle and Fulcrum…

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HM15 977Aligning the Sky…

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HM15 973Thresholds in Time…

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HM15 961‘Shroom Cap Stoop…

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HM15 990Guarding the Shade…

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HM15 959Seeing through Stone…

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