Solstice of the Moon: The Field of Prayer

The Silent Eye

Easter Aquhorthies. Image: Paul Allison CCA2.0

There were many merry meetings in Inverurie, bringing a golden glow to the afternoon that belied the grisaille of rain and wet stone. We were greeted outside our meeting place with fierce hugs from a lady we love dearly and who has been much missed over the past couple of years. Inside, there was the wonderful surprise of finding the Canadian contingent, and we had soon filled a fair proportion of the tea-room with laughter and conversation… there was a lot of catching up to do.

When all members of the party were assembled or accounted for, we set off for the short drive to our first destination. The circle sits on a hillside above the town with a small parking area a few minutes’ walk from the stones. By the time we arrived the steady rain had turned into a lashing downpour. I…

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Women in the Mist (4)

(Continued from Part three on Sun in Gemini)

The spiritual, stripped of the trappings of religion, is a search for the real. We may protest that we already live lives that are real. It is one of the hardest and yet most profound jobs of a magical or mystical school, such as the Silent Eye, to show, as gently as possible, that this is not true…

The real is what is in front of us, but the way we see that is conditioned by our lives to that point. Young children see what is. They live in the real, but, other than see they can do nothing with it, because the slow climb to adulthood and outward ability is ahead of them. The conditioning, which is an essential part of all our lives begins then, when the first reactions to life are felt – often very vividly. A process begins in the infant soul; a process that develops a psychological self-for-the-world.

By the time we achieve adulthood, this self-for-the-world has crystallised into a largely mechanical set of beliefs and opinions. This hard shell, completely necessary for our survival and success in society, is what prevents us seeing what is in front of us – the real. But the process is, thankfully, reversible, in the sense that, when the climb to success loses its sparkle, and we long for something lost and deeper, our adult self can gather enough resolve and personal power to use where it is as the fuel and map for the journey back…

This is the job of the ‘mystery schools’, and has always been so.  Six thousand years ago, the priestesses working within the Neolithic stones of East Aquorthies would have understood this. The role of a priest or priestess has always been to open the gates of the real – in gradual stages that do not overwhelm those in their charge. It’s not an exact science, in that each person is different and must be treated so. It is a deep responsibility, done for the benefit of the Companion on the path, and not for the ego of the ‘guru’.

The path of the real is demanding and wonderful; but, sooner or later, it will bring you to a different relationship with what’s in front of you…

It’s Saturday morning, the main day of our Scottish weekend Maiden, Mother, Crone. We’ve left Midmar behind, nestling in its beautiful, green valley. Allan has carefully kept the convoy of cars together, not wanting us to separate, again. We are now in Cullerie. The Historic Scotland notice board describes it thus: ‘This bronze age sepulchral stone circle of eight boulders, excavated in 1934, encloses an area on which eight small cairns were later constructed. 1800-1200.’

What’s in front of me, between our group and the stones in the near distance, is a wolf…

I don’t differentiate between dogs and wolves. No matter how designer-breeding has altered their appearance and size, they are all wolves. Apparently, they chose us; they chose to be useful companions around our campfires because we we good at things, and their chances of survival were better with us, than trying to eat us.

The sheepdog from the farm next door clearly has a job he loves: he guides visitors into the stone circle, his stone circle. On one level, that’s cute but not remarkable. On another, and particularly in light of what was to be revealed in the next few minutes, he’s showing us that Kissing Wolf is missing, and he searches for those who understand the hole in the circle that was.

 

The eight stones are bronze age–at least two thousand years later than the wonderful circle at East Aquorthies. But that leap in technology is not the only surprise; the women have gone. Cullerie represents a sacred circle presided over only by men. The age of the moon-priestesses had ended. What happened to set that in motion is lost in pre-history. The other shock about Cullerie is what hits you as you approach it: there is a deep sadness and wrongness about the place, at least compared to East Aquorthies. Something dreadful happened here; something that led to the burial or re-burial of the cremated remains of a group of treasured souls within the ‘protection’ of the circle.

From Allan’s handout: “The interior had been levelled prior to the erection of the stones and later the ground was burnt all over by setting fire to piles of willow twigs. On the area so consecrated eight small ringed burial cairns were built, five of which yielded burnt human bones and charcoal, one scrap of pottery, and three worked flints. The finding of oak charcoal in five of the cairns, and hazel charcoal in one other, would indicate not all deposits were contemporary.”

What caused this? We will probably never know. An earlier robbery at the site removed any of the artefacts prior to 1934. But there is still a great sense of fear about the place. It could have been widespread crop failure leading to starvation; or disease, or it could have been an invasion of a hostile tribe intent on overrunning the native culture, as must have been common in those fragile times. It could have been something entirely different and darker… Whatever happened, the protection offered to the burnt bones of those interred here, seems to have worked – they were left undisturbed; ironically… until our own times.

Some of the group left the site early; they were too affected by its sad and dark atmosphere.  I stayed until the end, watched by the wolf. His final gesture was to walk me back towards the car, collecting the stick that I threw for him. His eyes were loving and bright; he loved the company. Barb had her own dog with her. Our collie was several hundred miles away, but she would not have minded me sharing her packet of treats that I found in the car’s boot…

To be continued…

Other posts in this series:

Part One, Part Two, Part Three.

Stephen Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people find the reality and essence of their existence via low-cost, supervised correspondence courses.

His personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com

©️Stephen Tanham

Solstice of the Moon: The High Way of the Fairies

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

glenshee

We…well, okay, I… decided to take a shortcut from our stopover to our destination. ‘Shortcut’ may not be entirely accurate. Taking the main roads would be nine miles shorter in distance, the roads would undoubtedly be faster and with less likelihood of being further sidetracked… but we would have to drive on fast roads that show little of the countryside and navigate towns along the way. The alternative was to meander through the hills on narrow and winding roads. Either way, we had a good four-hour drive ahead. Knowing the beauty of the Cairngorms, there really was no contest.

Our road was to lead us through Glen Shee, now famous for its winter skiing, but it was its older stories that drew us there. Its name comes from the Gealic word shith, which means ‘fairies’… and the Glen of the Fairies is a beautiful place. Until the old language…

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A Circle of Hands by Alethea Kehas

The Silent Eye

Reblogged from Not Tomatoes:

I have been thinking about harmony and unity. About how, over the course of hundreds, if not thousands of years, we have moved away from the circle to form the line.

I have been thinking about the quest of the individual striving for purpose by trying to get at the head of the line, not realizing the line is an illusion.

I have been thinking about how we are birthed into human form to explore this illusion, but not to hold onto it. For there is nothing to hold onto. No hands to join your palms.

Last Friday, in my continued quest to learn the mysteries of the land near where I live, I visited the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum with a friend of mine. The museum, founded by Bud and Nancy Thompson, several years after Nancy taught my third grade class at Canterbury Elementary…

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Women in the Mist (3)

 

Inverurie-Midmar - 2

(Continued from Part two on Sun in Gemini)

“There’s nothing else in Midmar, so just look for the church.” Allan’s words, given some time prior, echoed in our heads. We were lost… and he was nowhere to be seen.

Its a cat problem, in the sense of herding them, as Allan said (and I agreed), during the weekend… It’s also a problem of our over-reliance on satnavs. When you key in Midmar anywhere near Inverurie, you get taken to the new part of the village, not the old one.

By the time Helen had located the correct postcode using her iPhone and Sue had persuaded an amused local to direct us off his rather posh housing estate, we were equipped to continue–ironically along the road our instincts had been taking us prior to trusting the satnav.

It’s an inevitable consequence of several cars in a convoy. They always get split up; by roundabouts, junctions and idiots in GTIs who will overtake several cars on dangerous country lanes tonne free of the ‘convoy’ in front of them.

By the time we got to old Midmar, Allan was standing at the foot of the lane that leads up to the kirk (church), looking very anxious. But all was well. We had lost only twenty or so minutes and all the ‘cats’ were safe, and united, again.

It’s often said that many Christian churches were deliberately built on the sites of the older ‘pagan’ sacred places. This was one of two such locations we would see in the weekend and provided a vision of how dramatic such a sharing could be.

Inverurie-Midmar - 3

But for the information board, you would not know that an intact stone circle was here. To get to it, you follow the wall of the Kirk, past the gravestones, expecting to see a sign that points you off into the woods.

But, no. Immediately at the end of the graves, you enter the stone circle that has been the heart of this landscape since four-thousand BC… three times as long ago as from Christ’s birth to now. A sobering thought, and perhaps a statement of the sheer presence in the landscape of these ancient places, charged in some way with their former rituals and their attachment to the natural world.

Inverurie-Midmar - 5

To quote from Allan’s own handout: ‘ It is a recumbent stone circle, 17.3m in diameter. Also known as Christchurch. It consists of a recumbent, two flankers and five other erect stones. This re-arranged circle now stands in a churchyard. The two flankers, each c.2.5m high, have been matched and shaped into two enormous canine teeth, and flank a massive recumbent which weighs some 20 tons.’

The sheer size of the recumbent, with its flankers, dwarfs anything else in the grounds of the Kirk, apart from the church, itself, which sits, uncomfortably but peacefully, within a few metres of the stones. The central part of the ring is entirely grassed over, concealing any possible remains of what may have been a central cairn.

The present church is relatively young, having replaced an older building in 1787. Allan pointed out that Midmar is fascinating as it contains the entire known history of spiritual activity in this area, from prehistoric times to the present day.

Inverurie-Midmar - 1

The stone circle is the original place of this. In the 7th century, two disciples of St Kentigern created a chapel to the south of the circle. This was followed by the establishment of a Norman parish, with castle, within which a new church was constructed. This bore the name of St Nidan, one of the two disciples of the original St Kentigern.  The old Kirk shows signs of alteration in line with the changes in style brought by the triumph of Presbyterianism in 1690. The old Kirk was replaced in 1787 by the present re-sited building, which, ironically, brought it back to the original site of spiritual activity – the Neolithic stone circle.

The valley in which its is set is very beautiful. One of the far hills marks a line along which the Sun at the winter solstice passes along the top of the hills in an exact, visible arc. One could only imagine the beauty of such a sight in the depths of winter.

Inverurie-Midmar - 6

 

There was too much else to see to linger at Midmar, good though it was. We were due next at a very different circle – the one in which the women had disappeared…

To be continued…

Stephen Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people find the reality and essence of their existence via low-cost, supervised correspondence courses.

His personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com

©️Stephen Tanham

Where be dragons..?

The December pre-solstice workshop will soon be upon us…

The Silent Eye

What links sacred sites, ancient and modern?

Are the clues all around us?

Do the keys to heaven lie hidden in the earth or are there keys to earth hidden in the heavens?

Where earth and time and heavens meet

Look to the dragons’ soaring might

To seek the circle’s treasure trove

And solve the riddles of the night.

Riddles of the Night…

Hidden in plain sight.

1st-3rd December 2017, Bakewell, Derbyshire.

Join us in Bakewell in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales to explore some of the ancient and sacred sites of our ancestors. The weekend will take the Companions on a true quest, seeking out the hidden magic in the landscape that echoes the magic of heart and soul.

The weekend is informal, no previous knowledge or experience is required. We ask only that you bring your own presence and thoughts to the moment.

The workshop costs £50…

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Seasons turn

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

up north 098

Eight o’clock in September and it is dark. It is really quite strange when that transition from summer to autumn makes itself felt so pointedly. It begins with an almost unseen change in the quality of the green leaves as they edge towards turning, then it is almost as if there is a change overnight and you wake to a summer that has flown as the birds are ready to fly, seeking warmer climes. Berries are heavy on the trees and in the hedgerows, and the first roseate blush edges the leaves damp with mist. A few more days will see autumn unveil her palette of russet and gold, but for now we hover between the seasons.

northagain 035It has that same breathless quality that attends every transition; like the teenager poised between the child they have been and the adult they will become. Neither the rules by which the child…

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Women in the Mist (2)

 

(Continued from Part One on Sun in Gemini)

The rain has abated… for now.

After the morning of the second day, we return to East Aquorthies to have more revealed to us by our guide, Allan. The morning had contained a visit to another stone circle which had drained and saddened us all. The details will be written up in the next post in this series. The key thing was that, a few miles away and two thousand years later than the construction of this first stone circle, the women had gone…

This is not a linear telling. Sometimes, deeper things emerge and make sense when you reconstruct them out of sequence. The shamanistic spirit will often tell them out of sequence… you only realise why, later.

There is also the matter of cycles. We can only digest so much in one go. Understanding is greater than knowledge and moves at its own, rythmic rate. The trivial can easily be digested, for it contains no nutrition for the soul. The deep and truly connected experience has an intense emotional component as well as the facts of its skeleton. The two make up a body. If that body is conveying the real – the definition of the spiritually-connected – then a very different experience results.

The priestess women had gone…. But not here. Here in the East Aquorthies stone circle, we were in a space that was at least four thousand years old, and Allan, our guide, was about to reveal some little-known facts about its real nature.

I took my place from the day before–the place with the small marker stone where the spiritual history said the ley-line’s female component came into the circle from the giant woman’s breast now revealed as the mist finally cleared on the western hills. I am skeptical about such things, too many people accept without experiencing; but, the day before, my right side had burned with an energy I had not felt, previously.

Not long afterwards I had taken a simple photograph of several of us wet with the streaming rain. In one half of the photo, reproduced below, there is clear image of the circle’s Maiden Stone, and a maiden’s face on it, together with a wolf. She is smiling and looks about to kiss the wolf…

The disconnected parts are beginning to form a whole, a whole that our guide is guiding…

He hands out a hand-drawn diagram of eight points which have an exact mapping to the celestial geography of the circle. For the Sun, they show the summer and winter solstices – the rising and setting positions of the Sun on the longest and shortest days. For the Moon, the marked positions of the stones’ alignments show the extremes of the southern moonrise and moonset; and the corresponding points for the northern equivalents. It’s a map of where to find, using the stones, the boundaries of the seasons and the light that goes with them.

“Forget what they told you at school,” he says, ensuring we were awake. “They said the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. Rubbish…”

It’s hard not to grin when he does this. You know he’s speaking from a position of great knowledge. You sense that this professional man, whose career is centred on exactness, is about to say something precise. His shaman staff is white and quite short–a contrast to his own considerable height. He points it at a position in the South-East, where the horizon is hidden behind a cluster of young trees. “On the winter solstice, that’s where the sun rises.”

He moves his stick a relatively short distance across the imagined range of hills in the distance. “And that’s where the winter solstice sun sets…” he nods his head, remembering the yearly dearth of sunlight on that day. “…it’s a very short day, here in northern Scotland”.

“And because of that,” he continues. “the cycles of the moon were very important, indeed.” He pauses to survey the temple of the goddess encircled by his guests. “This is a temple of the moon…”

You could hear a rain drop falling.

I remember the ancient word for the sun and the moon: they were both referred to as luminaries. A luminary shines. Only thousands of years later would science reveal that the light of the Moon was a reflection of the Sun’s. A moon whose incredible rotation meant that, though it was rotating, it kept exactly the same face presented to the Earth at all times. For mankind’s living memory and deeply beyond, the ‘man in the moon’ has looked at life on Earth, while spinning once every twenty-four hours. For these ancient women priestesses, whose spiritual home this was, there were two suns

With two suns, you could hunt at night, when the night wasn’t cloudy. This was a culture that knew two worlds.. intimately.

Maiden, mother, crone, the name of the Silent Eye’s weekend workshop… in the Maiden stone directly opposite me across the circle, Kissing Wolf is smiling.

(Above, from part one: Four women…. yes, four–and one wolf. Look carefully. Allan had to show me what the camera had captured)

To be continued…

Stephen Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people find the reality and essence of their existence via low-cost, supervised correspondence courses.

His personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com

©️Stephen Tanham