#ShortWrytz – Night moves: the big idea

#ShortWrytz – short pieces inspired by photos I’ve taken

Since I was a child, I’ve been fascinated by the way the autumn darkness conveys a deeper sense of empathy than the late summer it leaves behind…

What I mean is (for example in the picture above) the quietness that wraps – envelopes – two people when they gather under a seaside lamp awaiting the arrival (via spouses) of their fish and chips, following a drive through the Blackpool illuminations… something usually frantic, but in this case, surprisingly quiet and peaceful.

The rain on the windscreens of the two cars might be a clue to the evening’s quietness, but it’s only part of it. It is as though those captured in the scene have slipped into a different space and time.

There’s a creative silence because the moment is unexpected. There is no pressure, just a moment in being when wonderful and subtle things happen. They’re not meant to be overheard: what’s happening is quietly – though not secretly – private… The photographer is allowed, though… at least if he or she has the subtlety to be part of the scene and not outside it. That’s an emotional thing, I’ve decided. But empathy of emotion is the essence of being allowed by this force of silence to capture it.

It doesn’t have to be a gently rainy night in Lytham St Annes. It doesn’t need to be Blackpool illuminations or fish and chips. It doesn’t need to be two people,… or even one; though, as these will be photographs, less than one is difficult.

I’ve always thought of them as ‘night moves’.

I’m been trying to photograph such ‘night moves’ for a long time; and a big thank you to Bob Seeger who, confusingly to anyone reading this, had a sexual metaphor in mind when he wrote the brilliant song with the same name. My motives are slightly different

No matter… if the music fits.

I’m aided in this project by an upgraded Apple iPhone. After nearly four years I’ve traded in my model seven for the latest – an 11 Pro. The older one was good; this new one is wonderful. One of its modes is ‘Night Mode’. It enables very natural-looking images to be taken is low-light situations.

I’m still learning, but I’ll be posting the better ones here, along with their story, where appropriate.

©Stephen Tanham

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit teaching school of modern mysticism that helps people find a personal path to a deeper place within their internal and external lives.

The Silent Eye provides home-based, practical courses which are low-cost and personally supervised. The course materials and corresponding supervision are provided month by month without further commitment.

Steve’s personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com.

The Whirlpool

Underlying image by Gordon Johnson on Pixabay

It begins with a feeling… A feeling that something has fallen: like a vital bridge being destroyed.

As it develops, you sense the landscape being stretched, allowing forms of life alien to your own to enter the world.

And then you become conscious that there is a velocity, here – that we are all going somewhere we didn’t ask for. After a while you realise that the world is not only changing, but is being buffeted from the same place…

That place is the centre. The place from which the tearing winds are coming.

Soon, the low roar, the dull moaning, gain strength. They become a voice… and there is anger; an anger that won’t go away, like a wild beast dying.

By the time you see that the whole world is moving, beginning to spin, tearing loose from everything you thought was fixed and, and… ‘of the elders’, it’s too late…

The new world is full of creatures, creatures gloating that their views have triumphed against the overburdened weight of the controls that kept the world from breaking up, from spinning, from feeding from that dreadful centre.

You look again at the centre from which the noise is coming; only you can’t see it anymore. It’s gone… spinning, faster and faster, it has become a vertical pit into which everything is being sucked – a whirlpool of hate.

You look at the far edge of the red whirlpool and see millions of people staring back at you – only they’re staring back at all of you and they’re screaming and shouting and laughing as the edge of the red water washes them faster and faster into more energetic screaming and shouting. They are the opposite of what you believe yourself to be, and they generate the strongest of emotion in you… until you realise that this emotion, too, is hatred, and that your loathing of the hateful creatures is adding to the red spinning that now sucks you in, as it does them.

Fighting despair, you raise your gaze to look beyond the descending red waters and see – far away and behind the forces of the vortex, dotted here and there – a set of people whose eyes are not red, who are not shouting… not even speaking. No energy flows from them into the redness, though you can see and feel their pain. There is a different way to react… or maybe, not to react at all, simply to hold the good that was, so much of which is being sucked, like wreckage, into the red whirlpool.

This knowing lodges in your heart. It breaks the force of the red gravity that had been pulling you nearer the whirlpool. You are moving backwards on the boiling waters, holding the eyes of the others who are holding yours… do not feed it, they say, gently.

It is calm, now. The dreadful vortex has gone, taking much of what you loved with it. But the waters that remain are the same waters that gave rise to a new world, long ago. The energy of renewal can begin its work.

The world is washed with its tears, as it always is after war But there is hope. There is no choice, now – you must be an elder… Even if you are young – especially if you are young.

©Stephen Tanham

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit teaching school of modern mysticism that helps people find a personal path to a deeper place within their internal and external lives.

The Silent Eye provides home-based, practical courses which are low-cost and personally supervised. The course materials and corresponding supervision are provided month by month without further commitment.

Steve’s personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com.

Losing the past

From Sue…

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Skeleton from an archaeological dig at Lindisfarne Abbey

There was an article about the archaeological explorations taking place along the route of HS2, the planned high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham. It highlighted the amazing number of sites being excavated, spanning the human history of the last ten thousand years. Before work begins, the route will explore such diverse sites as prehistoric settlements, lost churches, battlefields and burial grounds. The official position is that we have an unprecedented opportunity to discover and explore our history and finds are being made that are as varied as flint tools and the lost remains of Captain Matthew Flinders, who led the first expedition to circumnavigate Australia.

All well and good…  it is undoubtedly very exciting stuff. For archaeologists, this is a magnificent opportunity and may encourage an interest in their history from both from communities and younger people. There is a downside…

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Landing on a lid near you!

From somewhere overhead

In the tree beneath which I was

Eating Kendal Creamy cheese

And coffee

Sharing the cheese with the collie

You took flight, bounced with percussion

And – unlikey, I know – remained atop

See! Good job I’d finished

Or our worlds would not

Have intersected…

They’ll never believe you

Either

Back at the base…

©Stephen Tanham

Out Along the Song

And so we meet again

Bright blaze of flaring life

A green defiant in its going

Ashamed of nothing in its flowing

Up to the crispy end it sings

With melody of screaming joy

So far beyond our space and time

And out along the song

To where there is no right and wrong

And when the crisp is mush

And when the river turns to brown

And when the water has corrupted

The form that was your life erupted

I will wonder at the god of left behind

I will ponder earth that looks like waste

I will listen with my ear into the mud

And taste wet noises under sight

And wonder if I hear the song

From where there is no right or wrong

©Stephen Tanham

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit teaching school of modern mysticism that helps people find a personal path to a deeper place within their internal and external lives.

The Silent Eye provides home-based, practical courses which are low-cost and personally supervised. The course materials and corresponding supervision are provided month by month without further commitment.

Steve’s personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com.

Pumpkin, Pumpkin: Folklore, History, Planting Hints and Good Eating

From a dear friend and lovely soul…

All in a Day's Breath

Courtesy Amazon.com

Pumpkins are magical. They herald in the autumn; they fulfill our needs to create art related to the season and to celebrate it. We fill them with light to welcome others to our homes, and to provide the way from home to home as we gather treats for the season. We have all kinds of celebrations for them from competitions for the largest or best pumpkin to the best decorated pumpkins to pie baking and pie eating competitions. We listen in awe to their amazing history and laugh at their folklore. We begin to invite friends and relatives to luscious dinners featuring this wonderful orange treat. Pumpkins warm our hearts as the autumn begins to bring the chill air. We invite you into the welcoming pages of this book, and to fill your souls with all the good things you remember, and your stomachs with the most delightful…

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Rites of Passage: Last rites II

Sue retells part one of the intense conclusion of the Derbyshire weekend…

The Silent Eye

We began our walk by once again drawing a sphere of Light around our party. As we walked along Cressbrook Dale, we were careful not to colour any impressions our companions might pick up about the place. We shared a little history and geology, but it was not until we stopped by the mouth of a small cave that we began to speak of its ‘alternative’ history. Even so, it seemed that they were already tasting the atmosphere for themselves and their reactions could be read on their faces, from what looked like disgust through to delight.

The cave is a low, two-pronged shaft at the base of a cliff. It is an uncomfortable crawl to get inside, as years of fallen stones line the passageways that disappear into the darkness; we would not ask them to enter.

Instead, we gathered at the mouth of the cave for a guided…

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The 13th Moon of St Cedd

He stopped at the door, knowing they were all inside. Waiting for him, waiting for his ability to listen, to gather, to make pointed the urgings, the reasoning, the demands, until there glinted in the tired firelight the position, the stance, upon which they would cast their choices.


Beneath the cold stone where his sandalled feet stood were buried the bones of kings – generations of kings of Northumbria, mightiest of the Saxon kingdoms and most stable of the powers in the lands of Albion. He let his right foot glide forward until the thick and well-worn leather of his sole touched the wood of the door… then let it lie there… They could wait; and in their waiting not know…


Once in there, beneath the twin gaze of King Oswiu and his Queen, his power would be guided like a sword being sheathed in old leather, slid like the deadly instrument it was into a safe place beneath regal eyes – and eyes not just of royal blood but those that claimed the same from St Peter, no less…


“A curse on both your houses,” he whispered–so softly that not even the motes of dust were disturbed in the solitary shaft of sunlight coming from the high window in the stone corridor of the Abbey of Whitby.

As it always did, his mind raced backwards along the channels of tidal cause – a pattern long discerned from his years as Abbott Coleman’s apprentice under the man who had shaped his life with love, with honour and with dignity. Coleman was waiting beyond of the door, with his scholarly deputy eager to win his case that the ancient Christianity that had been bequeathed to them from Ireland via Iona was the rightful inheritor of the crown of Christ…


It was, from the beginning, hopeless, he knew. The King was mighty but besotted with his Queen, Enflaed, whose familial ease lay with the Church of Rome and not the wilder, moon and nature-filled lore so beloved of her husband. The wisdom of St Aidan would ultimately count for nothing against the warm bedchamber and the scholars of the man Roman cause.

King Oswiu was famed for his strong leadership, but, for this gathering, he had summoned Lindisfarne’s best mind to help sway things the way he needed.

And the outcome? It had little to do with the shape of the shaven heads – the tonsure – of the monks that would follow. The centre of this struggle of intellectual supremacy was the outreach of Rome, expressed as the date on which the Lord of Light would rise from his crucifixion to prove the might of truth over death… Easter.

He looked again at the motes of dust dancing in the ray of light. That light would soon fade and be replaced by the cold but mysterious glow of the moon, while the dance of the minds took place by the red glow of the burning logs in the abbey’s fireplace…
And his eyes: the famous pale blue eyes of Cedd, would reflect the warmth of the fire, yet remain aloof to the treachery he was powerless to do anything but play along with… even though his heart was breaking…


In his mind, the sword he did not possess was sliding backwards through gifted fingers until its point lay between finger and thumb, then plunged down to lie against his skin, parallel to – but not within – the mind-viewed scabbard, and unseen by all but the wearer.

Banishing the vision of discord, he bowed his head, then pushed at the weight of the oak door and entered the warmth of the royal chamber.

The depth of the silence surprised even him…


Come and join us for a journey into the mind and heart of the man who became St Cedd in the fateful year of AD 664, at the Synod of Whitby – an event that would see the elevation of the church of Rome and seal the fate of Celtic Christianity.

Dates: Weekend of Dec 6-8th, 2019

We will follow in the footsteps of St Cedd in the landscape of Whitby, North Yorkshire and its mysterious surrounding coast, countryside and villages. The weekend will conclude with a visit to his mysterious tomb in one of the most beautiful villages in the region.

Bring a warm heart and an understanding mind. Take shelter from Whitby’s December wind and share the warmth of spiritual companionship on a landscape quest.

Everyone is welcome. No prior experience of such weekends is necessary.

The administration cost is £50.00 per person. This is exclusive of accommodation and meals which are to be booked by those attending.

Everyone is welcome. No prior experience of such weekends is necessary.

The administration cost is £50.00 per person. This is exclusive of accommodation and meals which are to be booked by those attending.

You can register online by clicking here.

Or Click below to
Download our Events Booking Form – pdf

Or contact us at: rivingtide@gmail.com

Or Click below to
Download our Events Booking Form – pdf

To register your interest email us at rivingtide@gmail.com

©Stephen Tanham

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit teaching school of modern mysticism that helps people find a personal path to a deeper place within their internal and external lives.

The Silent Eye provides home-based, practical courses which are low-cost and personally supervised. The course materials and corresponding supervision are provided month by month without further commitment.

Steve’s personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com.

Bad morning at the pharmacy

Not a pharmacy…

It’s been a bad morning at the Boots pharmacy in Kendal, which is why I’m posting some gentle pictures of the park where, earlier, I walked Tess before the catastrophe…

The annual ritual of the flu jab is upon us. We soothe it with breakfast in Kendal afterwards; but we have a Collie dog, Tess, who needs at least two good walks plus frisbee chucks each day. The logistics can be demanding…

Boots Chemist don’t allow dogs in their stores. I’m okay with that–especially after a run in muddy park; so we take turns to have a tiny needle pushed into the muscles of our upper arm, while the other one looks after Tess.

You can probably sense the sinister way the tension is building, so I’ll insert another picture of beautiful, soothing, autumnal Kendal:

Dog, Frisbee, Man, Kendal… nice… Where were we?

Because we were operating serially, and we don’t always get processed at the time it says on the appointment, Bernie usually calls me when it’s approaching my turn.

The phone rang… mmm, early!

Another soothing picture of Kendal

“The pharmacist is stuck on the M6!” Bernie’s voice said. “Twenty minutes at least.” It can happen. Heaven knows we’ve had enough disasters of our own – stuck in motorway tailbacks.

So we decided that I would give Tess a longer play than normal while Bernie waited outside the side door of Boots which they wouldn’t open because the pharmacist had not arrived. And then, if the pharmacist had still not arrived, have a small coffee at the Costa that’s just around the corner from Boots.

It was a crisp morning, and the thought of my wife, on-time and being made to stand outside the store on a cold morning was not peace-inducing. She can have a short fuse on such occasions…

The Soothing ‘Fellside’ district of Kendal caught in the morning sun

“I’ll carry on chucking Tess, then,” I said. “Give me a five minute warning when you’re about done with your jab.”

I started another circuit of the park, taking me away from the entrance. After only a few minutes the phone rang unexpectedly.

It was Bernie. The display said so… But there was no voice. This happened twice more over the next two minutes and I remember thinking of using my phone instead of the frisbee and apologising with my arms to the other – and nearby – dog walker who was getting fed up of hearing me shout, “Can you hear me?”

The phone beeped and, without thinking, I repeated my moronic question. There was silence, then I noticed it was a message, not an incoming call.

‘Please come to Boots, now.’ Read the message.

There was an unspoken urgency in the words. There was also a complete lack of explanation, suggesting that a probing return text would be… unwelcome.

I was, at that point, staring down at a steaming pile of dog-poo, successfully coaxed from Tess after our first twenty minutes of chucking the frisbee. In my left hand was a readied poo bag, clutched like a demonic glove puppet and ready to swoop on the pile. But the summons was clearly urgent!

I left the dog poo where it was…

It was in the long grass and well off the pathways, I reasoned. No-one but me was going to be in that small piece of wilderness in the three days it would take to rot down… In truth, I was more occupied with the raging fury hidden in the phone’s text.

Something bad, really bad, had happened.

(I’m not sure how that photo got in there…)

She was standing outside the door of Boots.. looking… em… icy.

“They processed you quickly,” I said, lamely; instantly regretting it.

“They didn’t,” the icy tones replied. “Give me Tess, they’re waiting for you…”

Two minutes later, I had bypassed the scowling matron at the dispensary desk and was being ushered by a young and clearly flustered locum-pharmacist into the tiny injection room.

“She’s really annoyed!” He managed, looking both surprised and browbeaten.

No kidding! I thought, presuming he meant my wife and wondering how badly this lesson in real-time living was going to end.

“I got here as fast as I could, but I can only process one of you…”

I think I stuttered.

“But she’s standing…” I pointed back out of the cupboard.

“She’s paying,” he offered. “So I can’t deal with her. You’re an old person and it’s free on the NHS. As a locum, I’m only allowed to work on NHS cases.”

He coughed – a kind of insecure punctuation to the sentiment. I suppressed a smile. He had, single-handedly, rubbished my glorious ascent to my sixty fifth year… and ‘free’ flu jabs.

“But,” I said, now incented to increase his discomfort “She ‘told’ Boots all that on the form she filled in!”

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m just a locum..” Then he added, raising a finger, “We can give her a discount!”

Bernie has told them she will be seeking a new supplier of flu jabs.

I hope the poo is untrodden. I sincerely hope I don’t dream of sneaking out in the darkness and trying to find it… the green plastic puppet in my left hand…

©Stephen Tanham

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit teaching school of modern mysticism that helps people find a personal path to a deeper place within their internal and external lives.

The Silent Eye provides home-based, practical courses which are low-cost and personally supervised. The course materials and corresponding supervision are provided month by month without further commitment.

Steve’s personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com.