Leaf and Flame – Trust and honour

From Leaf and Flame – 2016…

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The Saturday night ritual drama saw Gawain taken to meet his fate. The Green Knight waited in the Green Chapel to return the blow traded so long ago… and Gawain’s own actions left the outcome in doubt. How can he survive a beheading? Only by bringing all his being to a single point and acting through the higher heart…

It is in this melding of body, mind and heart in perfect balance that freedom is found. It is in the relinquishing of the unquiet ego that knots the mind, shuns the perfection of the body and sears the heart with sentimentality, that the true and higher Self can take its rightful place in beauty.

To Gawain, blind by torment and guilt, the true nature of his Hunters remained hidden. The calls and whispers of the animals were a threat… the perception of ego is often clouded by fear. He could not see that they came in love and in compassion, bringing their encouragement and the gift of their presence.

He could not see that the tortuous paths upon which we are led fulfil not desire but need. Nor could he know that, in laying his head upon the block… in surrendering self to Self… he could pass beyond the veil of death and return with the Grail… Sometimes, there is only Trust….

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Photos by Morgana West and Chris Hutchison

Spirit-Born…

Tarot Card – The Magician: A conduit of forces

From High to Low

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‘Love under will shall be the whole of the law…’

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The wind blows where it will…

You hear its sound but know not

Whence it came or whither it goes…

Likewise, those born of the Spirit.

John: 3.8

 

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‘The Hero’s Journey’


Photograph – courtesy, the estate of Sue Vincent

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‘…For three days Gwythyr-the-Bright journeyed

in the gullet of the Black Salmon of the Lake of Light.’

– Crucible of the Sun

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In his book, ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’,  Joseph Campbell used knowledge of philosophy and psychology to describe how many human myths share a common fundamental structure, which he called the Monomyth.

What does the Mono-Myth describe?

What relevance does it have to seekers of light in the 21st Century?

How are the Ancient Sacred Sites of all lands linked to these questions?

And what techniques can we bring to bear when departing the ordinary world and embarking on adventures in the sacred realms of the Supernatural Order?

Join the Silent Eye on this magical landscape workshop in the Cumbrian Hills of the Lake District, UK which takes place over the weekend of  May 6th-8th, 2022.

Click below to
Download our Events Booking Form – pdf

For further details or to reserve your place: rivingtide@gmail.com

One name…

Tarot Card – The Lovers: ‘open up and get out of the way.’

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‘Leaf and flame hath but one name’

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Yva followed on Abadam’s heels, “O Abadam,”

she cried, “you have walked in the garden in the

east, where every precious stone was your covering.

             *

You were a sealer of the sum, whose works and trappings were

prepared, and set all about you, on the day you were created.

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You were a guardian of the Holy-Mountain,

anointed in the shadow of the Sacred-Tree.

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You were perfect in wisdom and filled with beauty,

and you walked with the Spirit amidst the stones-of-fire.

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Yet, for me, you have relinquished all of this.

I will come with you, wherever you may go.”…

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THE LIVING ONE

Caravan to Cairns

Stuart France

Two young men, a road trip across the Australian Outback, strange encounters in isolated settlements… and a book that will change one of them forever.

From the harsh heat of the dusty road to the cool of the Temple, two stories… one immediate, one timeless… intertwine to illuminate each other.

Many scholars believe that the Gospel of Thomas preserves a glimpse into the oral tradition of the Essenes. The book is a collection of sayings, parables and dialogues attributed to Jesus. In this unique interpretation author and essayist, Stuart France brings the oral tradition to life, retelling the Gospel in his own words, in the way it may have been told around the hearth-fires of our fore-fathers.

Accompanied by in-depth comments which draw upon the Mystery School Tradition, The Living One provides a new window on an age-old story.

“… fascinating and unique …”  Amazon review

Available in Paperback Amazon UK & Amazon.com

and for Kindle Amazon UK & Amazon.com

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A spiritual ostrich

Isis oil effect sm
The ‘selfie’ that… really isn’t

There was an idea that has had me playing around with a digital painting programme. It also got me thinking. So, last night I toyed with an image from the last annual workshop that shows me in the ritual role of Isis. I ran it through on an ‘oil painting’ setting, then added a soft filtered bronze lighting effect over it.

Of course, the resulting image isn’t ‘me’. Not by any stretch of the imagination!

I don’t, more’s the pity, get to wander around in gorgeous robes and high headdresses every day… I’m more a leggings and comfort woman. Nor do I wear heavy Egyptian make-up as a rule. The clothes and draperies change the shape of the face, the state of mind changes the expression and the make-up brush can do strange and wondrous things. Add to that the painting effect that smooths things out a bit, including…apparently…the nose, a soft focus through which the world seldom sees me and a bit of dramatic coloured lighting … And the results?

Well… if that’s me then I’m an ostrich!

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Yet, although the image is no more than an illusion, it began as a captured reality… it began with a photo of me; a quick picture taken long before dawn one Sunday morning last April, when the day was almost unborn and hours had been spent in solitary meditation preparing for the day. Even the original snap didn’t look like ‘me’ and yet the woman in the image wore my features, looked out through my eyes… eyes my own hands had gilded and painted with kohl just moments before.

It seems rather strange that in an odd sort of way I have come full circle with this image.

The aim of the ritual workshops that we run is to create an illusion and make it reality, not the other way round like the picture, yet in both cases the results can hold a beauty that was not present before.

The rituals we craft for those who attend our workshops take a spiritual idea and weave it into a story. This tale is then played out within the reality of a sacred space. In many respects it is a bit of ‘sympathetic magic’. In just the same way that the shamans of old painted animals upon the walls of deep caverns to ensure the presence of game on the plains, so we ritualise the human experience and play it out from a spiritual perspective in terms the psyche can understand. The aim is to reach for the emotional and spiritual connection to this deep level of understanding… to seed awareness into consciousness… allowing the surface barriers of logic to be breached.

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It isn’t mere playacting because the intent is focused on the spiritual journey shared by the companions. The resulting learning experience can be very powerful and such ritual weekends evoke deeply emotional responses from those who attend… and it is here that the real magic happens. Within each of us; for the ritualised experience shared in the temple space must be taken out into the world and applied to life; it must be lived.

It is not enough to merely attend any spiritual event and think that by our presence we have done enough, any more than it is enough to take up the attitude of prayer before an altar while mentally going over the shopping list. The opening of the self within the temple, where the experience is emotive and touches the roots of being is only part of the story. It is little more than a seed planted in the life of earth.

No matter how deeply we feel those moments, no matter how vivid the experience, it serves no purpose if it is discarded with the robes or left in the dark closet of memory with the script. It is never enough to pay lip service to a spiritual ideal, nor, by simply playing them out in ritual form can they ever change our lives. What is born in the sacred spaces has to be taken out into the world. The inner reality of what we learn there has to be allowed to put out shoots into our own lives, growing up through our own characters and flowering as a personal understanding that changes the way we can be in the world. And that is where the beauty lies.

Otherwise here too we risk being ostriches… or peacocks whose glorious feathers hide little more than a chicken beneath them.

So in some ways perhaps it is fitting that the photo holds more beauty than I will ever see in the mirror of my days; a reminder that when  the seeds sown by Working with the School take root, they may, if tended, flower into a beauty unseen by the eye, but known by the heart.

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The Lion’s share…

Tarot Card – Strength: An unarmed,

feminine character closes the mouth of the Lion.

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… ‘Cursed be the man who eats a lion

that the lion becomes human.

Blessed be the lion that eats a man

when the lion becomes human.’

The Living One

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Samson went down to Timinah, in Philistine.

On approaching the vineyards there a full grown lion came roaring at him.

Samson tore the lion asunder with his bare hands.

Then he went down and noticed a girl amongst the women,

they talked, and she pleased him.

When he returned to his homeland he said to his mother and father,

“There is a woman of the Philistines whom I would like as my wife.”

*

So, Samson went down to Timinah the following year,

with his mother and father, to marry the woman.

On again passing through the vineyard there

Samson saw the carcass of the lion he had slain before.

In the skeleton of the lion a swarm of bees had a hive, and had made honey.

Samson scooped up some of the honey into his palms,

then he and his mother and father ate the honey as they went along.

*

So they went down to meet the woman, and as was customary,

Samson held a wedding feast for the woman’s kinsfolk.

Thirty companions there were attending the wedding feast

but Samson could not afford the bride-price for the woman.

“Let me set you a riddle,” he said to the wedding guests,

“if you can solve the riddle during the seven days of our wedding feast,

I shall give you thirty linen tunics and thirty sets of clothing but if not

then that number of garments shall be due to me.”

“We shall hear your riddle,” said the wedding guests of the woman of Philistine.

*

“Out of the eater,

came something to eat.

Out of the strong,

came something sweet.”

*

For three days the wedding guests

were unable to fathom Samson’s riddle.

On the fourth day they said to Samson’s wife, “Coax your husband

and provide us with the answer to his riddle,

else we shall put you and your father’s household to the fire,

have we been invited here to be impoverished?”

*

Then Samson’s wife wept before him saying, “You do not love me,

you have asked my countrymen a riddle without telling me the answer.”

“I haven’t even told my mother and father,” said Samson.

During the rest of the feast Samson’s wife continued to inveigle him with her tears

until on the seventh day he told her because of her constant nagging.

She explained the riddle to her kinsmen and at the close of the seventh day

they taunted Samson with the answer, “What is stronger than a lion?

What is sweeter than honey?”

“Had you not plowed with my heifer

you would not have solved my riddle,” said Samson.

*

Then Samson went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of its men.

He stripped them and gave their clothing to his wife’s kinsmen as her bride-price.

Then he left in rage for his mother and father’s house…

 

 

 

 

 

Bringing in the harvest

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The heather still shows patches of purple although the massed luxuriance of colour has now faded; the bracken begins to turn to bronze and the autumn mists swirl in. Even so, beauty remains. This weekend saw a gathering of companions at a small hotel, high above the little Yorkshire town of Ilkley, for the first Harvest of Being weekend. It was to be a small gathering this year, as the idea had come late. Rather than simply leave it till next year we had chosen to go ahead and take the gift the idea had offered. We, as a School and as companions, have much to be thankful for at this harvest time.

harvest being 2014 020The weekend was intended to be relaxed; no formal teaching, just time to play, to explore both the ancient landscape of the moors and the inner landscape of being, seeing how the two are intricately woven, reflecting and informing each other. We were simply going to begin with ideas, accept the gifts of the moment and see where the days would lead us. Our annual April workshop in Derbyshire takes a more structured approach, seeding knowledge through a sacred drama that is played out as a story, engaging both intellect and emotions as the tale progresses. This harvest time was to take a more leisurely, reflective approach and give the opportunity to gather in what has grown from the knowledge of the mind to the understanding of the heart as our personal journeys move onwards.

harvest being 2014 031My travelling companion and I stopped for lunch at the little café below the rocks. It was as near to the moor as he intended to allow me to get before the weekend began. “I’ll never get you down otherwise…” Even so, a sandwich and a coffee later and we were both climbing up to the top of the famous Cow and Calf rocks once again where I could look out over Ilkley Moor… Rombald’s Moor… and drink in the sense of place that goes straight to my heart.

harvest being 2014 026We stood upon the wide surface of a rock carved in ages past by ancient hands, overlaid with more modern names that span the past few hundred years. Human names, human hands, human history… a presence and continuity that leaves its mark with timeless immediacy. Looking down I saw once again the profile of the falcon in the rocks… a random figure, a simulacrum that the eye builds from line and form or something shaped, encouraged into life by hands other than the artistry of wind and rain? Who knows. For us it is a special symbol and it seemed right to have seen it there first, so many years before the school was born and to now be poised upon the edge of a new chapter, just as we were perched upon that high eyrie, ready for the weekend to take flight.

harvest being 2014 042My room looked out over the Cow and Calf rocks, along Wharfedale towards the setting sun and although we were there with the School, there was no stopping the singing in my heart at this return ‘home’ to a place I have loved all my life. Sunday would also be my birthday and the anniversary of the publication of The Initiate, so to be on these moors with these companions was to be doubly… trebly… gifted. Blessed. We greeted the first of our companions to arrive and as the sky began to fade we walked back, up onto the moor, to the Hanging Stone, to where the carvings are truly ancient, to where, millennia apart, we stood in a sacred place with the shadows of our kin to watch the sun sink beyond the western horizon.

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Aye of the Unicorn…

Silent Eye Workshop – Summer 2019 – Scotland…

Image result for Alchemical unicorn

‘Within the Forest of the Work are found

the Twin Natures, Mercury the Stag and Sulphur the Unicorn.’

The Philosophers Stone – Lambsprinck, 1625

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With almost prescient clarity

we commenced our summer workshop in a graveyard!

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Except, not quite, for before we entered the graveyard,

we stood by the swiftly flowing waters of the river Spey

and entered into a guided meditation.

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The Unicorn of Spirit

sailed down the Spey

disembarked from its boat,

and invited us all astride its back

for a tour of the elements…

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Unsurprisingly then,

our first pentagram was that of Spirit,

which could be called the ‘parent’ of the elements.

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Have the bodies buried in the earth,

hereabouts, had their constituent parts

returned to spirit?

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One might well hope so!

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In Macbeth, the Bard uses the three witches

to represent the spiritual realm.

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As with a lot of things he wrote

this is simultaneously;

a joke,

a reflection of characterised psychology,

and can also allude to something far deeper…

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We all enjoyed ‘hamming up’ the witches

as we are meant to.

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Does the feminine aspect of the spirit appear

‘bearded’ to those with purely political ambition?

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Whatever our perceptions,

this realm moves and motivates all…

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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?”

*

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.”

*

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.

*

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?”

*

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.”

*

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!”

*

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.

*

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…

*

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!”

*

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!”

*

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…

*

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.

*

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…

*

to be continued…