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.
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’.
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.
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 has walked with me on a path she herself had taken long ago.
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.