What dreams may come?

Engraving by Gustave Doré

The stories we heard as children remain with us as we grow. We know them well and, at need, can dredge from memory all the salient points to retell them to a new generation of children. The characters are familiar and many of them, such as the Fairy Godmother or the Big Bad Wolf, are archetypes that suggest their role within each tale as soon as their name is mentioned.

It matters little if the words we speak differ from those we heard; the story remains, a living thing that defies our attempts to re-frame it. A little girl wearing a red hood will always meet a wolf on her way through the forest to Grandma’s house and a woodcutter will always use his axe to rescue Granny from a fate worse than death.

But why do we tell such stories? Why do we recount tales of darkness and danger to our children…and why do images of a world not our own survive, generation after generation, to delight and terrify a child cuddled safe within a parent’s embrace?

Long before literacy was a common skill, such tales would be shared by the fireside. They could be carried the length and breadth of the land without effort, passed from imagination to imagination, where the seeds that were sown could take root and grow, quietly and without being noticed until their fruits were needed.

We think of them as children’s stories and yet, within their fantasy, many life lessons could be hidden and the kernel of a deeper story concealed.

We may have lost the keys that allow us to unlock fairytales with ease,  but it is still possible to unravel their tangled threads and glimpse a world beyond our own… only to find that it is our own after all.

Sleeping Beauty forms the basis of our weekend workshop in April 2020. It is not just the tale of a disobedient princess, ignoring parental advice and suffering the consequences. Nor is it merely the story of her romantic awakening by a charming prince. Aurora, our Beauty, does not die…she merely sleeps for a hundred years. But… have you ever wondered what dreams may come when Beauty sleeps?

Join us for a weekend in the heart of Derbyshire…

17-19 April, 2020

Awaken the beauty that sleeps within.

Details of the fully catered, residential workshop are available HERE.

Download a Booking Form – pdf

or contact us at rivingtide@gmail.com for further details or to reserve your place

 

Chaperone…

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“The second stone points to Silbury Hill along the line of the midsummer sunrise.”

“Can that be accidental?”

“It seems unlikely.”

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… “Would there be a symbolic significance for that?”

“One would expect so.”

“Could we offer an explanation?”

“We would be happy to hazard one.”

“Hazard away…”

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If Silbury is a ‘Harvest Hill’ and many people believe it to be just that,

then, like as not, the ‘harvest’ was ‘seeded’ from here.

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Avebury, as much as anything else, is a ‘Temple of Agricultural Man’.

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Agriculture, like stone, was, and still is, a technology.

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The former, holds its salient points in tact,

the latter has lost its to mystery.

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Hidden Avebury: Seeking the Unseen

Avebury, Wiltshire

12th – 14th June, 2020

A Living Land Workshop…

Almost everyone knows of Avebury, the great stone circle within which a village was built. A World Heritage site and one of the most incredible sacred complexes of prehistory, it is justly famous for its beauty and mystery. The site attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year but while most simply walk in awe amongst the majestic standing stones of the Circle and Avenue, there is far more to discover for those who will walk the paths less travelled.

Join us in June, 2020, as we explore some of the hidden corners of this amazing landscape, ranging beyond the boundaries of the Circle to seek a deeper understanding of what our ancestors hoped to touch by building this earthly temple to the stars.

Based in the landscape around Avebury and beyond, this weekend will entail some relatively easy walking. There will be time during the weekend to explore Avebury and its stones.

The weekend runs from Friday afternoon to early Sunday afternoon, and costs £75 per person. Meals and accommodation are not included in the price and should be booked separately by all attendees. Meals are often taken together at a local pub or café. For those arriving by public  transport, we are able to offer a limited number of places in shared vehicles; please let us know if this would be required.

Click below to
Download our Events Booking Form – pdf

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

Merlin, Beast-Master…

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… It was night, the horns of the bright moon shone,

the vault of heaven’s lights gleamed…

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From the top of a lofty mountain,

Merlin regarded the course of the stars…

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‘Guendoloena has left me in my absence,

and now clings to another man.

When tomorrow’s sun shines, I will go

and take with me the gift I promised her when I left.’

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So, Merlin went about the woods and groves

and collected a herd of stags and deer,

and he himself sat astride the largest stag…

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When day dawned he had arrived at the gates

of the place where Guendoloena was to be married.

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‘Guendoloena! Guendolena! Come!

Your presents are waiting for you!’

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Guendolena came to the gates and marvelled

at the man riding on a stag at the head of a herd of wild beasts.

Her bridegroom who was watching from a lofty window

looked down, in wonder, and laughed.

*

When Merlin saw the bridgeroom

he wrenched the horns from the stag

 and hurled them at him smashing in his head

and driving the life of him out into the air.

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With a quick turn of his heels,

Merlin set the stag a flying,

and went on his way back to the wood…

– Adapted from, ‘The Mystic Life’ by R J Stewart

 

 

 

Madding Merlin…

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… After many years had passed under many kings,

Merlin the Briton was held famous in the world…

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Peredur, King of North Wales

made war on Gwenddoleu of Scotland…

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The troops were fighting, falling on

both sides in miserable slaughter…

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Merlin had come to war with Peredur and

so too had Rhydderch, king of the Cumbrians.

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Three brothers of the prince who had followed him

through all his exploits broke the battle lines.

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They rushed fiercely through the crowded ranks

and soon fell, killed. Then, did Merlin grieve…

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‘Could injurious fate be so harmful as to take from me

so many and such great companions, whom recently many

kings and remote kingdoms feared?

O dubious lot of mankind!

O death ever near, which has them in its power

and strikes with its hidden goad

driving out the life from the wretched body!

O glorious youths, who will now stand by my side

in arms, and repel the chieftains who rush to harm me?

Bold young men your audacity has taken your pleasant years from you.

Your broken bodies now roll on the blood strewn ground…’

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Merlin called his companions from the battle

and bade them bury the brothers in a richly coloured chapel.

There he bewailed the dead men, rubbing dust in his hair,

 tearing and rending his garments…

*

For three days Merlin lamented,

before a new fury seized him,

and he fled, in secret, to the woods.

– adapted from, The Mystic Life by R J Stewart

 

 

 

 

A date for the diary ~ Scotland with the Silent Eye, September 2020

On the trail of the Picts (plus optional Orkney extension)

North of Inverness, Scotland

11th – 13th September, 2020

The Picts were a mysterious race who settled in the north-east of Scotland and flourished between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. They were a peaceful peoples who fished and farmed and created astonishing art. They suffered frequent Viking raids and their eventual disappearance may have been due to eradication or simply blending in with the broader Scottish tribes, as their culture dissipated.

Our weekend will examine their cultural and artistic legacy by following the established ‘Pictish Trail‘ created by Historic Scotland.

This part of Scotland is only a short distance from the north Scottish coast, from which ferries are available to Shetland and Orkney. A group of us will be continuing to Orkney for a few days. You are invited to join us as an extension to the Pictish Trail weekend, but this is optional.

We will be based in one of the small towns north of Inverness. More details will be published as we firm up the itinerary.

Contact us at Rivingtide@gmail.com for more details. Click below to
Download our Events Booking Form – pdf

Rites of Passage: Changes…

On the morning of the workshop, long before our companions were due to arrive, two small figures faced a mass of stone and a fair degree of uncertainty. Having scaled the rocky heights, we were agreed… we would have to change the plan. We could not impose that climb on anyone else; we needed to find another way.

It was not that we didn’t know the landscape; we know it well, but fear can cloud judgement and blur lines that should be clear. So, in our usual fashion, unsuitably shod and… in my case at least… with flowing skirts tucked childlike into waistbands, we had gone out early to check over the ground… and, having done so, descended to seek another site. As always, the land provided.

There are some things you just cannot leave to chance… and double or triple checking the lay of the land is an important part of any workshop.

Rites of Passage: Seeing beyond Fear was never going to be an easy workshop, even without any miscalculations on our part; ‘fear’ is not something many people would want to spend a weekend exploring, at least, not beyond the safe confines of a staged murder mystery or a popcorn-fuelled marathon of horror movies. We prefer more intimate groups, though, where we can spend time with those who attend, sharing ideas. These weekend workshops attract people from many paths and there is always something to learn from each other and discover together.

For this particular workshop, we were going to take the group through a number of landscapes, each with their own story, from one of collective horror to a light-hearted custom whose origins date back beyond living memory.

Our first visit would plunge the group into the shadow of a nightmare scenario, from which threads of light would have to be teased.  Over the next two days, we would walk through prehistoric burial grounds, visit stone circles and approach the core of many human fears.

In the Tarot, the one card guaranteed to get a reaction when it appears is Death. Most packs show a skeleton, often wielding sickle or scythe, reaping life and limb from crowned head to common folk. While it can represent a physical death, in most readings it signifies no more than change… another common fear, especially when that change is unlooked-for and unwelcome.

In an esoteric reading, though, there is another interpretation of the Death card… that of spiritual transformation and increased awareness. From time immemorial, initiation rituals have contained a symbolic ‘death’, bringing the candidate face to face with their own mortality, that they might learn to value the finite nature of physical existence and see beyond it to a greater reality.

There is a case to be made that the apparent death of Lazarus in the biblical tale was an initiatory rite. Even today, the investiture of a knight is made with the touch of a sword and the rites of baptism and initiation alike signify a rebirth into a new life.

But the journey through our darkest fears need not be walked alone. There may be companions on the way with whom we can share experience, or those who have passed that way before to guide us and sometimes, the gift of seeing a wider landscape than our own fears… and a way to make them serve a greater purpose.

As the church bells of Tideswell chimed, we made our way to our first rendezvous….

Bean-Stalker…

bea

One of the ‘Cove Stones’ from the Avebury complex.

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…Crisis!
The milk cow has finished giving…
Akin to a second weaning, but worse, this is a call to arms.

‘Go forth young man and make your way in the world,’ says Mum.

Jacques is anything but worldly.
He believes in magic.

He believes to such an extent that he is willing to give everything he has in return for five beans… magical.

Mum knows better and now she has her answer…

‘…Five beans… magical? Bah!’

Jacques will never amount to anything so she casts the beans aside without a second thought and banishes him to the attic supper-less and badly beaten…

Jacques’ tears of pain at his worthlessness activate the beans in the night and in the morning a stalk stands proud in the ground outside his window yoking Earth and Heaven…

‘Up the stalk then young Jacques, my lad, and see what you can find.’

‘… As if it were not enough to have yoked the two spheres,’ mutters Jacques but secretly he is thrilled that his ‘faith’ has paid such dividend…

*

…Heaven turns out to be just like Earth only everything is bigger.

At the top of the stalk is a Big Woman…

‘Mum’ Jacques calls her, cleverly, and then plays helpless, asking for food.

Like all ‘mums’ everywhere she is only too happy to oblige the little fellow, she leads Jacques into the kitchen perhaps thinking he will grow to be as big as her own man… who eats everything… including ‘young men’…

‘Quick, he’s coming’ cries the Big Woman as the heavenly-ground starts to shake…
‘Into the cooking pot, he’ll never think to look in there.’

‘Fee Fi Fo Fum’ says the Big Fella,
‘I smell the Blood of an earth-bound ‘un,
if he be living or if he be dead
his bones I’ll have to grind my bread…’

He does not think to look in the cooking pot for food though and after consuming what is put before him he falls asleep whilst counting his gold pieces and starts to snore…

In a flash Jacques is out the cooking pot and out the door and hurtling back down the stalk with the gold pieces…

*

Mum is pleased but like the milk the gold pieces soon run out.

Now what?

Jacques climbs back up the stalk to see what else he can find…

This time the Big Woman is a bit suspicious, ‘do you know anything about missing gold’ she asks, ‘I do actually ‘ says Jacques cleverly as the ground starts to shake again, ‘keep me safe and I’ll tell you where it is’ so the Big Woman puts Jacques in the oven, ‘he’ll never think to look in here.’

‘Fee Fi Fo Fum,’ says the Big Fella,
‘I smell the Soul of an earth-bound ‘un,
if he be free or if he be caught
his flesh I’ll have to nourish my heart.’

He does not think to look in the oven for food though and after consuming what is put before him he falls asleep whilst petting his golden-egg-laying hen and starts to snore…

In a flash Jacques is out the oven and out the door and hurtling back down the stalk with the golden-egg-laying hen…

Mum is pleased, the golden eggs never run out but the hen eventually dies.

Now what?

*

Jacques climbs back up the stalk to see what else he can find…

This time Jacques waits until the Big Woman goes out then sneaks into the kitchen just as the ground begins to shake. He leaps into the copper and pulls the lid over himself thinking, ‘he’ll never think to look in here.’

‘Fee Fi Fo Fum,’ says the Big Fella,
‘I smell the Spirit of an earth-bound ‘un
if he be moving or if he be still
I’ll take a draught and drink my fill…’

He does not think to look in the copper for sustenance though and after consuming what was left out for him he falls asleep listening to his self-playing harp, and starts to snore…

In a flash Jacques is out the copper and out the door and hurtling back down the stalk with the self-playing harp…

…But the harp calls out to its Master, ‘Wake up, wake up!
The earth-bound lad is stealing away with me.’

So the Big Fella wakes up.

Quick as a flash he comes charging down the stalk after Jacques.

But Jacques is too quick and Jacques is too nimble and he reaches the earth before the Giant and takes an axe to the bean-stalk so that it comes crashing down with the Big Fella still clinging to it… and in the fall… the Big fella breaks his crown, and wakes Jacques up!

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‘Aye’ of the Unicorn: Tower…

Image result for Alchemical unicorn

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To complete our pentagrams

we returned to our

core principles and considered the shadow.

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The setting was not the swiftly flowing Spey

but a quitely progressing brook

which arced in a crescent

around the space in which we chose to work.

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Out text saw the Queen of Witches,

Hecate, admonishing the Weird Sisters

for tampering with the modalities of time.

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A fitting end to conclude our adventures.

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The child outgrew the shadow

 filling the limbs

and head of the pentagram

before climbing astride

the Unicorn

and bounding away…

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With thanks to Dean Powell and Steve Tanham for organising the weekend…
and to all those who joined us in Scotland for making it a great one.

Untitled

If you would like to join us for a weekend, exploring the inner, spiritual landscape, within the Living Land of Britain, please see our Events page.

‘Aye’ of the Unicorn: Circle…

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As the weekened progressed

we were to work our way around ‘the limbs’

of an elemental pentagram.

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Two sites from the region

were given over to each element.

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In the first we would consider the element in question

with the help of a conducive environment and our core text.

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In the second we would construct and walk our pentagrams,

again in a conducive environment,

whilst examining notions of our magical self

in relation to the element and its inner psychology.

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Mid and late Saturday morning,

we considered and worked with the element of water.

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Which all turned a bit weird.

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For one thing we abandoned our core text

and instead considered the information board

to the Holy Well at Burghead.

*

There was no disputing that the place

was ancient and held to be sacred,

but some of the uses to which it had been put

caused rumblings in the assembled ranks of the Companions.

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These only increased as the steep steps

down to the cavernous well head were traversed.

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There seems to have long been an ancient connection

between skulls and sacred waters.

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Symbolically, this combination relates

to accessing the pool of ancestral wisdom.

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A ‘baptism’ in these waters would be an acceptance

of this higher source of being which reaches beyond the circle of time…

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As if in confirmation of such a notion

when we reached our second site

for the element of water

the tide had come in!