Are we there yet?… Sue’s journey

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My grandfather gave me his annotated copy of the Mystical Qabalah by Dion Fortune when I was 15. “This is the only magical book that you will ever need,” he told me. “But you’ll fill a good many bookshelves before you get there.” He was right. It was all in that first book; but learning is a spiral and you have to come back to the same point over and over again, bringing new knowledge and understanding each time before you can really see what lies in your hand.

I was born in Yorkshire into a family that was about as spiritually eclectic as you can get. The various members were Jewish / Buddhist / Methodist (with High Church for special occasions), with one grandfather who taught me very early about the Qabalistic Tree of Life, the other a Spiritualist minister and one grandmother a noted psychic, like her mother before her. I attended the Zion Baptist Sunday School with my Hindu and Moslem friends and that pretty much completed the picture. So, through my childhood a lot of things were thrown into the melting pot.

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Everyone, it seemed, celebrated the convergences rather than the differences between their chosen paths and everything was treated as possible. I grew up simply accepting the spiritual journey, encouraged to find my own path forward, not encountering religious or spiritual prejudice till I was much older. There was never any question of there not being a greater reality, it simply was. So was the journey; that meant growing up in the understanding that you hold responsibility for every thought, word and action… not in fear of some celestial tally-keeper; you your Self hold the scales…and when you look through the eyes of the soul, there is nowhere to hide; it between your soul and the One.

In outward respects life was perfectly normal, with me getting into as many scrapes, as much mischief and making at least as many mistakes as any other youngster. Little change there, then, except the age…There was nothing, as far as I knew, any different; my family was the same as any other, it was only in much later years I saw how incredibly lucky I had been to have that particular education; educing rather than dictating, letting me stub my toes and learn through experience how I could grow and what I could believe. Nothing was imposed, or dismissed with contempt or disbelief; ideas were greeted with an open mind and the acceptance of possibility. I was given a rich education in mythology, folklore and symbolism… and that too I simply accepted at the time as ‘normal’.

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I delved into ‘low magic’ … divination, numerology and such through my teens… in fact all the fragmentary systems you could ‘do’ rather than ‘be’, with the overconfident abandon and incomprehension of youth, while reading all I could find on the Tree of Life, the Qabalah and the magical path. Even now I marvel at the quality of the material available in my family at a time when such books were very hard to find. Then I went back to the Mystical Qabalah and read it again. This time, the dots began to join up. I put aside the ‘doing’, stopped playing with spirituality and started to learn.

For the next ten years I studied alone, trying to apply the learning to my life. I learned as much from meditation and dreams as from waking. I moved to France, married a musician who had been raised a Catholic and was a member of AMORC, a Rosicrucian order; over the years I added some of their perspective to the store. My mother-in-law was a Martinist and from her I learned about esoteric Christianity. There was the intellectual accumulation of knowledge and a philosophical intent to put it all into practice, but knowing how, finding the keys to that would only come with time and living.

In my late twenties, I had what I can only describe here as a life-changing experience that brought the reality of the inner world to vivid life for me. About that time too I had planned on joining an esoteric school, feeling the need for structure and discipline as well as spiritual companionship, but was clearly shown I should wait, learning to live in the world first. A chapter in one of Dion Fortune’s books, Training and Work of an Initiate, speaks of serving the Hearthfire; I read it, wept, and resolved to wait.

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We had moved back to England and, although the outer life revolved around the family, the inner life had become very intense too. It was a period of deep commitment, for want of a better phrase and the two separate halves of my life seemed to meld until I realised there was no separation. There never had been, but I had been too blind to see.

It was some fifteen years later when my sons were grown, that I decided once again to apply to a school. Browsing the internet, I read an address by the Director of Studies of the Servants of the Light, Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki. The article was called, “To Serve the Light” and in an echo of that day fifteen years earlier, I sat with tears streaming but this time felt I had come home. I commend that lecture to any seeker, no matter what Path you follow.

My years with the Servants of the Light were both a personal joy and a steep learning curve. Much of the theory I had already found in my own studies and meditations, but the discipline, structure and camaraderie were as new as the perspectives and techniques that bring the teachings to life. I felt the connection to others within the school, and to that greater family of those who serve the Light. I knew without a doubt I was in the right place.

Many threads fan out from that time. It was at a SOL gathering I first met Steve Tanham, albeit briefly. At that same gathering several things happened that would change the expected course of my life and I met a woman who became both a sister of the soul and a teacher who walked with me on a path she herself had taken long ago.

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In 2012 it became plain that my place was with the new school, the Silent Eye… and the rest, as they say, is history. But, of course, the journey continues.

‘Are we there yet?’

… Well, no. I don’t think we ever are. The longer you walk the path of the seeker, the more you see there is to unfold, until one day you realise that ‘there’ was already ‘here’… waiting for you to open your eyes and heart. And then off you go again exploring another curve of the spiral of life, armed with perhaps a little more knowledge, a little more understanding… just enough to highlight the wider horizon that is waiting to be Known.

26 thoughts on “Are we there yet?… Sue’s journey

  1. This is a beautiful acount of your spiritual journey, which expresses perfectly how we can never regard ourselves as “having arrived” or being in any kind of a static state. It reminds me of something said to me once by the course leader at a weekend Buddhist retreat I attended years ago, “If you’ve been searching all your life but never found what you were looking for you’ve come to the right place.” It was one of those sayings that had a lovely ambivalence to it; you could interpret it as, “you’ve arrived at last” or alternatively, “this is just the right staging post for you at this point on your journey.”

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  2. Your post spoke to my heart. My upbringing was the exact opposite of yours in that we were taught there is only one way. So years later when I find myself struggling with my faith there are huge doses of guilt, fear, and dissatisfaction. Very recently I’ve allowed myself to be more open. I think one of the things that have spurred this thought process is how I look at Christian behavior and the message because it seems so contradictory. This bit here spoke volumes to me “Everyone, it seemed, celebrated the convergences rather than the differences between their chosen paths and everything was treated as possible.” Thank you for sharing, I really enjoyed this piece. Happy New Year!

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    1. Happy new year! I could never reconcile the words of Jesus with history, Steph. Where love and the brotherhood of mankind was taught, I saw too much hatred and violence, too much ‘superiority’…and all, supposedly, in His name. I think He would have been horrified at what has been done under the banner of His message.
      The core teachings of Christianity and most other religions are not so very different at heart. If we could see beyond the forms of religion to the heart of faith, with a genuine respect for the freedom of others to follow the path that speaks to their heart, I think we would live in a happier and more peaceful world.

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  3. Are we there yet might be the title of any of our life stories. We are never there but we are also always there. Talk about a complexity of thought. I was probably more spiritual when I was less cynical. Life in the New World has given me a hearty distrust of people. It probably shows.

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            1. We can hope so… meanwhile we each have a choice in how we face the world.
              On the other hand, if this life is a school, perhaps the syllabus will remain the same for future souls, so that they too can learn and make those same choices.

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  4. What an amazing journey, Sue. I was struck by your childhood, and how your family supported and encouraged you to think and question everything. That foundation was everything. I doubt you would have had such a rich and diverse life of learning otherwise. Thank you for sharing.

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  5. Sue this is such an enlightening post on so many levels… It was brilliant to learn of someone else’s path. I don’t know much, but I do know all paths are individual (gnosis baby!) and one person’s path is different to another’s. Your path is one I would have loved to have taken when younger … but as the poem goes in a yellow wood two paths diverged. And while I am happy with the path I tread it was a real privilege to glimpse the path not taken. Pxx

    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
    And sorry I could not travel both.
    And be one traveler, long I stood.
    And looked down one as far as I could.
    Robert Frost

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