“It’s all about tea-rooms, with you, isn’t it!”
It was said some years ago, and there was anger in it – just a bit – but she was right. We both collapsed in a heap of laughter on each other’s shoulder a second later.
There has to be humour in these weekends. They can be very intense – not by imposition, but by personal choice. When those attending, particularly for the first time, see the effect of a group of fellow adventurers working with the landscape, it can become infectious. We’re not just here as tourists, though that’s great fun and part of it, we’re here to experiment with consciousness – in a loving and lovely way. If that doesn’t harmonise a group, nothing will.
It is all about tea-rooms, but that’s a generic term… A charming gastropub on a rocky promontory just outside the harbour of one of the most charming of Northumberland’s seaside villages will do just as well… especially when one of their specialities is crab soup. It’s not a chowder (I love chowder). It’s better than that….
Saturday lunch time 15th September, 2018, the middle of the second day of the Silent Eye’s ‘Castles of the Mind’ workshop. Some of those attending are still quiet from the intensity of being in Bamburgh Castle with rather different motives than most tourists, though our respect for the place was not in doubt.
There is a degree of mystery about why we’re here, in the Jolly Fisherman, Craster. Everyone remembers the dramatic opening to the weekend on the beach, under a fabulous leaden sky. The guide pointing north across the white fringed, green-blue sea to the distant but clear image of Lindisfarne – our eventual destination, and the conditioning force behind us becoming pilgrims for these few days.
The line between Bamburgh and Lindisfarne does not include Craster; this tiny harbour village, famous for its picture-postcard harbour, smokery and one of Northumberland’s most famous coastal walks is some distance south.
The crab soup arrives, complete with a huge chunk of granary bread; the whole thing served on a wooden platter. I’m in heaven. The aroma, alone, tells me that my memory of the planning trip some months ago was accurate…it really is that good. I’m one of the drivers, so a weak lager shandy has to accompany it. It’s quite enough. We arrived in separate cars. One of the Companions suggest he had done an impromptu magical invocation on arrival at the over-full car park (the only one in Craster). It must have worked, because three cars left as we rounded, somewhat desperately, the last corner of the parking places. I think he’s serious…
We eat. Minds come back to the simple and connective process of the body’s food…and we begin to talk. Those present sense the exact nature of the location and its place in the planning of this rather intense day.
“We’re in search of something, aren’t we?” The car park magician asks.
We are, indeed…
Having examined, in the most perfect evening light I can remember, the splendour of Bamburgh Castle as seen from the beach; to venturing into its depths and its splendour in the morning just finished, we have begun a process of individual alchemy. We used the landscape to ‘cheat’ the ego from the beach, visualising the whole of it from the outside. The portcullis visualisation allowed us to ‘steal’ into that egoic lower self and seek (or at least request) the finding of an emotional ‘key’ – different for each of us. Entering the castle this morning allowed us to fulfil that part of the the quest: to venture inside the stone that we cast as hard and defensive shell of ourselves – grown in reaction to our lives, just as the castle grew in response to the need for organised defence of its existence.
Those within it become ‘royal’ in the process, just as our reactive self claims royalty over our lives. Tearing ourselves free of the castle’s comforts – because the call of the Pilgrim was greater – we find ourselves having crab soup and bread in a haven above a rocky and black shoreline…
What’s going on?
Well, the path outside that’s waiting for us is not just a journey along this savage but beautiful shoreline. Halfway to Embleton’s golden beach it passes something that haunts everyone who sees it…
The clock is ticking… That something, that ghost on the headland, and its significance in the Silent Eye’s weekend is where we’re going. And the soup is finished….
To be continued.
Other parts of this series:
Stephen Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit organisation 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.
You’ll find friends, poetry, literature and photography there…and some great guest posts on related topics.