Leaf and Flame: The Foliate Man #4

Still time to join us in April… you’d like it!

The Silent Eye


“Short body and thick waist,

with bulging buttocks spread

more delicious to the taste

was the one she by her led.”

– J.R.R Tolkien

 #4: La Chapelle Verte

“In which The Veiled One reveals the true answer to the riddle of a woman’s heart,

Merlin and the Lady unleash the animate soul of the Greenwood…

and Sir Gawain strides forward to meet his Doom…”

The eyes have been dotted, the tees have been crossed, to all intents and purposes the ‘donkey work’ of writing the five dramas for next year’s April Workshop: Leaf and Flame- The Foliate Man has been done. There will undoubtedly be minor changes between now and then, there always are and these are usually flagged up in the communal read throughs which will take place at our three remaining monthly meetings.

There is still an awful lot of work to be done in terms of music…

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The Illusionist

Annette Rochelle Aben


Feel the energy

There is magic in the air


Rabbits are in hats

Ladies take chances with saws

Worn out seat edges

Don’t anyone breathe

And don’t let anyone blink

Lest they might be fooled

The conjurer’s hand

Pulling coins from behind ears

When not hiding cards

Masters of their craft

They troll for the fish named Tom

No matter the age

©2015 Annette Rochelle Aben

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Where books go to die

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Book sculptures from www.KellyCampbellBerry.com Book sculpture from www.KellyCampbellBerry.com

Christmas is over, the New Year approaches and I’m thinking about taking down the tree and packing it lovingly away under the stairs. The trouble is that the removal of the Christmas trimmings will be my signal to start a clear-out. It happens every year, not through planning or habit, but just because and itch develops.

When the tree initially comes down, there is a moment when the room lacks light and colour in comparison to the red, green and gold of the festivities. It doesn’t last long… and then it just looks pleasingly simple and uncluttered. Then the itch starts…

For most of my life I have lived within a family situation and, over the years, the ‘things’ we collect just build up. We don’t throw them away because they ‘may come in handy’ or, as often as not, because they have a value in…

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2015: Looking back from December…

Christmas 2015 n9 imagev2

Christmas and New Year have always been special times for me – Christmas more than the New Year, as I have always come to view the Winter Solstice as the start of the the truly new, rather than the formal ending of the calendar’s twelve months. The solstice sees the nadir of the visible light, as the solar ‘victory’ changes the face of the year and the days begin to lengthen again. To those who live in awareness of these cycles, the Feasts of St Stephen and St John mark two very different ‘Earths’.

As children, we expect (probably too much) to receive presents and we wait with breathless anticipation to see what lies in those shiny parcels under the tree. As adults, we find that different experiences ‘feed’ us with that wonderful sense of the new–experiences rather than objects.

My year, both personal and ‘professional’, has been challenging and wonderful. Challenging, because the Silent Eye School has passed (and is passing) through what I can only describe as a spiritual ‘maturing’ process. Wonderful, because 2015 has contained so many gifts – some of them beautifully physical, such as the birth of Alice, our first granddaughter.

Steve and Alice
Grandad and Alice


Mum and Dad (Medi and Matthew) take a short break on the settee
Bernie and Alice

Others–and there have been many, might better be described as psychological. When you launch a new Mystery School, there are certain stages which, in hindsight, you have to go through. One is the sheer joy of beginning something, as we did in 2013. Then comes reality when you have to trade your time and that bag full of ideas for real stuff. As the real stuff gathers momentum, you have to accept that change happens not just to the developing entity – the School, but to you as well.

The period 2014-15 has been the stage when Sue, Stuart and I have really come to terms with the importance of our own personal evolution and its necessary process in ensuring that we are fit to run such an important endeavour – one to which others are turning for guidance and companionship in their own inner journeys. I am a strong-minded individual, and it takes a degree of force to stop me in my tracks and make me think…

Following the Silent Eye’s 2015 April workshop, my two companions were delighted to inform me that I would be taking a back seat for the next one while they wove their magic around my real and ‘magical’ personas in preparation for the forthcoming April 2016 workshop, Leaf and Flame.

Solstice1 Sue and Stu on CC rock
Sue and Stuart on the Cow and Calf rock at Ikley

I will not dwell on the details – both nerve-racking and wonderful. Suffice to say that if you teach the process of esoteric psychological development, you should not be surprised when it knocks on your own door… Roll on April 2016, if only so my teeth can stop chattering.

The workshops have gone particularly well this year. April’s River of the Sun was followed by a wonderful Summer Solstice visit to the Avebury area. In September  the Harvest of Being weekend returned to Ilkley for the last time in the present cycle. December, though plagued with rain, saw us instigate a pre-Winter Solstice workshop at Rivington; which, despite being somewhat shortened by the rapid count of flood-closed roads, was viewed by those present as deepening their experience of this most important of periods of rebirth within the symbolic earth. The Silent Eye School moves on … and we are very happy to have begun such a journey.


Barbara and a very symbolic bridge at Rivington (taken during our planning trip in October)

The year ended with a most wonderful December and three very special gifts: The first was the production and Amazon launch of The Ballad of Bakewell Gaol, a three-section poem in the style of Oscar Wilde’s Ballad of Reading Gaol, which I had written at Stuart and Sue’s request for their new series of books, “Land of Exiles: ‘But ‘n Ben'”. I did not expect further publication and was astonished and delighted when they presented me with a Graphic Novel version.

This was followed, two days ago, by the, again unexpected publication of “The Beast in the Cafe” a book version of the serialised Coffee with Don Pedro blog posts. I am truly humbled by the effort my two friends have put into this most special set of Christmas presents… I may even turn up for the April workshop and cancel that sudden trip to Australia!

beast BookCoverPreview.do

Let me close with two things: firstly we all would like to thank Sheila Chadwick for providing us with a warm and wonderful home for the local Manchester group of the Silent Eye. We meet in Sheila’s house once a month, and we hope to go on doing so for a long time to come.

Finally,in December, Bernie and I were invited to visit three very special people in California. They run a School not dissimilar to the Silent Eye and have done so for many years. Every year they also focus on a Dickens Fair, held just outside San Francisco, to which thousands of people come over the course of four weekends. The Fair is a major event in Northern California and has an egregore which has to be experienced to be believed.

Three of the organisers of the Dickens Fair – Left to right: Robert Young (aka Mr Dickens), Diana Young – playwright;  and the front of house Director of the event, Kevin Patterson.

We live, and if our lives are truly rich, we go on learning. May learning never end… a big thank you to those who have been instrumental in both elements in this most challenging and wonderful of years.

Happy Christmas and may 2016 bring you success and fulfilment.

My normal blogs will resume in the New Year.

Steve Tanham.


Notes from a small dog: the robin and the lurgy

Sue could do with lots of healing thoughts…

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

tree 2015 010

I think she’s gearing up for Christmas… getting in the festive spirit or something. The bags under her eyes would do as overflow sacks for Santa and Rudolph will be out of a job if her nose gets any redder. She’s quiet at present… apart from the constant barking. I think you two-legs call it coughing.

Let’s just say that her ‘ho, ho, ho’ has been more of a ‘oh, oh, ergh…’ and that’s without the other strange noises she’s been making. Though the less said about those the better…

Generosity Sharing the festive spirit And the Christmas cheese

Shame really, when we’ve had company this weekend… and nice cheese she’s barely touched… not that it stopped me, mind you. My guest is well trained in the cheese department. And he brought me a whole pack of ham… all to myself! How’s that for perfect?

So they’ve had ‘first Christmas’… though turkey was noticeably absent and I may have…

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Last Train from Platform One


There is no barrier, just belief

You cannot buy a ticket

The man who smiles back at you

From the window wears a mirror


But her smile is better than yours


To travel on this train

You have to believe you can

You have to believe in trains

You have to believe…


That the train is greater than your shoes


But not in fantasy

And not in make-believe

And not in anything

Which others tell you


For the short slope is for your bare feet alone


It’s midwinter and the train is coming

The train is always coming

The train is arriving now

The train…is


Waiting on platform One


©Copyright Stephen Tanham, 2015

River of the Sun, Chapter Ten – Darkness at the Door


SE15 Montage Final

River of the Sun, Chapter Ten – Darkness at the Door


Rameses waited for a moment on the quayside, listening to the sound of the waters lapping at the stone in the black night. He was about to do something that his father would have found unthinkable–he was going to force entry into a temple of the mysteries and take over the rite, deposing the high priestess and claiming precedence by virtue of his royal stature.

Menascare had now caught him up, but remained silent, choosing to stand behind him. The regent didn’t need to ask if the older man approved – he could feel the distaste and the anger in the air between them.

Standing to his left, Obion had no such qualms, and had unsheathed his sword. Its thin blade glittered in the moonlight and caught the flickering flames of the torches that had welcome all to the island temple.

But, they will not welcome us, thought Rameses, looking behind him and studying the efforts of the mighty oarsmen of the crew as they dragged their heavy cargo from the deck of the Beak of Horus onto the quay, using a complex system of ropes attached to the stones against which visiting ships were moored. The young Pharaoh-in-Rising watched until the oarsmen had finished their task, resting their load on the jetty and re-arranging their ropes to form a huge carry-harness. Breathing heavily, they stood, enduring, ready and silent, awaiting his command.

Rameses turned to Menascare, ready to taunt his former mentor.

“No stomach for this, old friend?”

“None, majesty,” said Menascare. “You know my views on the sanctity of temples…” he gazed up at the sky, as though in prayer. “But I will play my part in what you wish to do.”

Rameses nodded, smiling as Obion snorted with disgust at his antagonist. It was a favourite game, playing one off against the other. There was something delicious about putting his former teacher in such a position. There was fondness there too – going back to his childhood, but, since the news that Seti was dying, some of the old mental diversions had become more serious.

The tension between Lord Menascare and Obion was approaching a crisis–and Rameses was by no means certain he would continue to support the older man. Obion’s decisiveness mirrored how he felt he had to be to take the reins of Egypt–and set an early example to those who opposed his ways. Menascare’s hesitant stance on so many things may well have served them both as a tool of reflection in the past; but, a new age was beginning, and Rameses knew exactly what he needed to do: ruthless action was the way forward. Although his father would soon be gone, he would make the Seti in his head proud of what would follow. From the land of Amenti, his father would observe and approve as the unchosen one proved his worth.

Rameses turned to face the twin pylons that led to the inner temple where the rite was in progress. With gesture alone he signalled that the party should move through, and arranged himself at the apex of a fighting triangle with Mensacare and Obion just behind his right and left shoulders. Others of the Talatat followed on behind, diminished in numbers by the ones who were already secreted in the temple. The young leader smiled at the artistry of that… the tortured priest had served them well, while he lived.

At the rear of the fighting elite, the oarsmen followed, their burden swinging in a cradle of carrying ropes as they marched in time, with slow and careful steps which belied the mass they carried.

It seemed mere seconds before they reached the approach to the huge, bronze, temple doors. As they neared the temple, two guards came out of the shadows, bearing torches, faces aghast and eyes wide with disbelief. Rameses did not wait for them to recognise their visitors. Using the flat of his sword, he struck down the first to challenge. Obion dealt with the second. The two bodies lay unconscious, a disorderly ruin amidst a more purposeful arrow of precision.

The fallen were pulled to one side. Rameses walked forward to press his hands on both the doors, enjoying the cool of the metal on his palms. “Mine, now,” he whispered in a voice so low that only Obion and Menascare heard his chant. “Mine now…”

The Talatat stood to one side as the bearers brought up the battering ram; made from a solid trunk of cedar and carved with symbols that would terrify any enemies of the royal house unfortunate enough to be subject to its might.

They all waited while Rameses put his ear to the bronze, listening intently to the muted sounds from within, and picking his moment.


Index to previous chapters:

Chapter One – Gifts From the River

Chapter Two – An Agony of Sunset

Chapter Three – The Dark Waters

Chapter Four – Touching the Sky

Chapter Five – The Fire Within

Chapter Six – The Wide Waters

Chapter Seven – The Crystal Air

Chapter Eight – The Unchosen Darkness

Chapter Nine – The Priestess Calls


Introduction to River of the Sun

In April 2015 a group of people gathered in the Derbyshire hills to enact the Silent Eye’s annual Mystery Play, entitled, The River of the Sun. The five-act mystical drama formed the backbone of that Spring weekend, and told the fictional story of a clash of ego and divinity set in an Isis-worshipping temple located on an island in the Nile, during the the fascinating period of the 19th dynasty, the time of Rameses the Great.

The 18th and 19th dynasties were a time of upheaval for ancient Egypt on many levels. The reign of the ‘Heretic King’ Akhenaten saw Egypt’s religious structure torn apart, as the revolutionary Pharaoh became what Wallis Budge called the ‘world’s first monotheist’; re-fashioning the power of the many Gods with one supreme entity – the visible sun disc, the Aten, for which Akhenaten, alone, was the high priest. Many have pointed to the failure of the ‘herectic’ Pharaoh’s politics, but few have doubted the sincerity of his religious vision. He will, forever, remain an enigma.

Whatever the nobility of his goal, the actions he took were ruthless, and included the shutting down of the annual deity festivals which were the sole point of ritualistic contact between the ordinary people of Egypt and their locally-worshipped gods. In addition, Akhenaten paid little attention to the domestic and military affairs of Egypt, allowing the country’s enemies to encroach on its borders, greatly weakening Egypt’s power at that critical time for the region.

After Akhenaten’s brief reign, culminating in the Pharaoh’s mysterious death, shadowy military forces took control of Egypt, instigating the 19th dynasty in the persons of Rameses I and, soon thereafter, Seti I, whose throne name derives from the god Set – often considered the ‘evil one’ because of his slaying of his brother, Osiris.

Seti I is judged by modern historians as having been one of the greatest-ever pharaohs, yet his importance in the 19th dynasty was eclipsed by the actions of his second son, the brilliant Rameses II, whose long reign of over sixty years included much self-promotion and the alteration of Egypt’s recent history. Both Seti and Rameses II (Rameses the Great) were passionate about the evisceration of the last traces of Akhenaten’s ‘chaos’, as they saw it.

But, although, by the 19th dynasty, the the ‘Son of the Sun’ was long dead and the buildings of his embryonic and doomed city of Tel-al-Armana were reduced to rubble, something of that time remained in the Egyptian consciousness. A new kind of connection between Pharaoh and God had been established, one which elevated mankind, if only in the being of the Pharaoh, to be someone who ‘talked with God’. It was, at the very least, a bold experiment and, though the world would have to wait until the 19th century to re-discover the ‘erased’ pharaoh, the philosophical waves of that period rippled out and dramatically affected the way the incoming 19th dynasty had to repair the worship of the Gods, uniting the people of Egypt under a trinity of Amun-Ra, Khonsu and Mut.

Our fictional story is a tale of politics, friendships, mind and faith. It is set against an historically accurate background, and at a time when Rameses was due to take the throne from the dying Seti .

Returning to Thebes in his swift warship, crewed by his fearsome Talatat mind-warriors, Rameses decides to mount a surprise night-time raid on the island-based Isis temple which has prospered under the sponsoring reign of his father. Rameses suspects that the inner teachings conducted by the revered High Priestess and Priest conceal views that relate to the thoughts of the heretic Pharaoh, Akhenaten. He plans to insert himself and his warriors of the mind into the islands’s Spring rites as the high priest and priestess begin a cycle of initiation for a chosen apprentice priest who has proved himself worthy of special advancement.

The resulting clash draws everyone, including the young Pharaoh-in-Rising, into a spiralling situation where each is forced to confront their own fears as well as living out the roles which life has allocated them. River of the Sun is the story of a spiritual and political encounter from which none emerge unchanged, including the man who will shortly be Pharaoh, the mighty Rameses II, whose secret name for himself is ‘the unchosen’.

Through the eyes and minds of those surrounding the chosen priest and the ‘unchosen’ Pharaoh, the River of the Sun takes us on a tense and compelling journey to the heart of power and its eternal struggle with truth.

The chapters of the book will be serialised in this blog. The finished work is planned to be available in paperback and Kindle early in 2016.


River of the Sun, serialised here, and its associated images, is the intellectual property of Stephen Tanham and is ©Copyright material.

Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee, part 42 – The Huntress

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Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee, part 42 – The Huntress


“Animals…” I said, just letting it hang in the air.

“Animals?” John replied, playing his favourite ‘dead bat’.

Just at that moment, Rose brought my coffee. Getting to our coffee shop after him was becoming annoying–particularly as I made every effort not to. Wherever this myth led, it was clearly important to him that I ‘got it’. He had arranged everything to control the quest; and something inside me was rebelling…

“Whatever it is, it’s all about animals…” I said, sure that the word ‘animals’ was the key to unravelling my tangled, but not muddled, thoughts.

I had wrestled and wrestled with this one–the inner meaning of the doe in the sign of Cancer; the doe that three people claimed but… suddenly the review of my own hunt triggered a further thought…

“Hunting… the doe… there was only one hunter!” I blurted out.

“Heracles..” John sipped his coffee, smiling and nodding, “You!” Then he held up his cup so that it obscured part of the one eye he kept open, looking at me with half an eyeball.

“Half an eyeball…” I muttered, disgusted, and becoming sarcastic in my frustration. “Shouldn’t take it out on you, but its still half a sodding eyeball…”

John chuckled. “Took Heracles a while,” he said, calmly, “In fact, it took him a whole cycle of the zodiac…”

“And all the time Diana and Artemis tried to frustrate him, hiding the Doe in the eternal forests,” I added, remembering the details of the myth, again.

“And did the Sun god, Apollo, intervene?” he asked. It was a carefully phrased question. I wanted to say ‘yes’ but then thought better of it, because Apollo hadn’t really – not till the end.

“Not really…” I sipped my own coffee, watching the hunter that was John gaze at me over the top of his own cup. “It was only when he took the Doe, injured, into the Sun temple, that Apollo intervened, as though…” I had slipped into that state of revelation, again.

“As though…?” asked John, very quietly.

“As though… the Doe were a child of the temple that had to be brought back to where it began,” And then I added, “And Apollo healed it so that it was, apart from being captured, unchanged from how it had started – whole, again!”

“And the purpose of all that would be?”

I could feel the ‘flow’ of the moment–that surge of energy as something new broke into my consciousness.

“To free it from the forces of the Moon–symbolically, the organic forces of evolution, which had done their work.” I felt the surge continue, even as he asked me the next question, which I knew would follow.

“And what of Diana, the huntress of the Sun? Why would a daughter of Apollo have to be denied in her claim to the Doe?”

I was ready. “Because Apollo, being the male and Kingly figure, would be the originator, in a spiritual sense the Father, who generated the Doe to be the carrier of something vital for those…” I searched for the word. The male and female aspects of gender did not fit, easily, into modern thinking; but I could see their original intent. “…below.”

That was it… something had been ‘given’ to those below, those evolving from a divine birth–Apollo’s offspring, and Heracles had been the only one, apart from Diana’s permitted and brief glimpse, to be allowed into the temple of the Sun. But Diana was a principle and not a human. The folded paper creature and the boat from our last Monday’s coffee meeting had represented that climb of evolution… So, the divine gift had to be at the heart of what it was to be human; and yet this single thing, this Doe, existed at different levels in all of us, male and female, equally.

“The Doe is our aliveness, then?” I asked it, knowing that I was close, but not sure that it was exactly right.

“And what’s the real test of something alive?” John asked, embracing me with his eyes.

“We feel, we think, we react to the world, we create, we suffer, we have joy…” I was streaming out all that I could think of about what it was to be human.

“All of those, yes,” he said. “And so you have to find a single attribute that covers the lowest forms of life right up the highest; something possessed by the simplest single-celled life-form, but which evolves with it, expands with it, to become human and then, as though reaching its maturity in the first two phases of its existence, as the Doe did, teases with its new beauty and dances away, to create a chase, a quest…” My skin crazed with goose bumps as he said the closing word very softly, “Creating a hunt that takes us all beyond being human.”

Finishing his coffee, he reached into his black bag and took out three small envelopes. Then he left, kissing me briefly on the top of the head, as he departed.

For a while, I stared at the white rectangles on the table. I would open them on the train… I would descend into my mundane but essential world of London to fight for my living, as animals must do; but, I thought, holding up the three envelopes, I would make sure I looked up at the stars a lot this week…

But, then, I didn’t do that… In my impatience, I ripped open the envelopes and shook out three pieces of paper. They were blank on the sides that emerged. With that sinking feeling I turned them all over… blank on the other sides, too.

Cursing him, I left the cafe, but, as I walked, I began to smile. The part-rage had marked a transition from passive to active. He was no longer going to spoon-feed me the answers. I knew I would have to work for it from now on.

The huntress stretched her claws and looked up at the pale winter sun. She was hungry…


Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee is usually published on Thursdays.

All images and text ©International copyright, The Silent Eye School of Consciousness, 2015.

Terminal Outbreath


SFO Terminal Outbreath photo

Terminal Outbreath


You know my sighs, and yet,
I am a stranger to your knowing;
Though not your eyes, which,
Drinking in my flowing,
See me.
As vision sees the fleeting blink,
As petals bid farewell
To the last drop of dawn’s clear ink;
As the young bird triumphs, briefly,
in the uplift of a feathered wing
And even here,
In the stale air of boarded flyers gone,
Of distant vapour’s smell which thrust them on,
Of tiny crumbs where junior sat with mom
My sigh that knows no ears remains to kiss the emptied one

©Copyright Stephen Tanham 2015