The hallowed ‘een
The edge of life
And death unseen
Image from a shop in Kirkby Lonsdale.
Just before time was sliced and diced
So that the evenings could be darker
You gathered up your colour
And threw it in my face
Until I laughed back…
© Stephen Tanham
Imagine being a high priest in the world’s first advanced civilisation and realising that mankind’s mind could take it dangerously out of harmony with the natural world…. Come join us in April for the re-enacted story of Gilgamesh…
… “What are you talking about?”
“A question of questions, young Wendolina, the answer to which may serve as a stunning proof of our original assertion.”
“Your original assertion, which was posed as a question anyway. And I’m older than you are.”
“Yes, yes, dearest Wendlebury. There was a need for the razor ban, in order, to achieve assimilation. The original model for Samson wasn’t Gilgamesh at all, it was his ‘alter-ego’, the wild-man, Enkidu, who in the words of birds-feet etched into tablets of baked-clay over four thousand years ago, possessed long hair like a woman and an excessively hairy body.”
“In that case the ‘jaw-bone’ may well be a form of boomerang…” muses Wen, and then, “Birds Feet?”
“If I wasn’t so confused, I’d be tempted to jump up and down,” says Wen.
“Two-thirds animal, one-third man.”
“Ah,” says Wen, the light of comprehension settling…
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From Stuart… be afraid….
I never knew Holmfirth in the days of mill workers and clogs.
I really got to know her in the Post Industrial gloom,
Of swish Cafe Bars,
And cosy restaurants,
All day drinking parties frequented by the nouveau riche…
Who leap from still moving taxis,
Done up to the nines, dressed to kill,
While up on the hill,
Something feral is stirring…
Something ancient and unsought…
So, as the lazy cars slow crawl,
Through tight-cobbled streets,
Held up by roaming party-goers,
Soft parading their unsteady path from the park…
And boozers sing boldly in the late afternoon heat
With rabid mouths, foaming,
Never quite finding the beat…
A beast is preparing,
to be unleashed,
In the dark…
From Peedeel via Silver Apple Queen…
Today you can buy the Dialogues of Plato for less than you would spend on a fifth of whisky, or Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire for the price of a cheap shirt. You can buy a fair beginning of an education in any bookstore with a good stock of paperback books for less than you would spend on a week’s supply of gasoline.
Often I hear people say they do not have the time to read. That’s absolute nonsense. In one year during which I kept that kind of record, I read twenty-five books while waiting for people. In offices, applying for jobs, waiting to see a dentist, waiting in a restaurant for friends, many such places. I read on buses, trains and planes. If one really wants to learn, one has to decide what is important. Spending an evening on the town? Attending a ball game?…
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Out of a hidden fear, we seldom examine our personal origins – this sense of ‘me’. Yet, if we let go that fear, the journey can teach us so much, and leave us with an emotion of deep belonging.
We can explore this with a meditation, rather than the intellect; if you’d like a little journey?
Be quiet and become conscious that our everyday lives define us by how we react to the world. Feel all the things, now, that are defining you. Feel the tensions in your body, the worries and concerns about the day ahead. Feel the aspirations that you have; possibly today holds the chance of a furthering your ambitions? Or perhaps many of those have been defined by others… for you.
Feel how all these things resolve themselves into your body. Is the centre of your body in a knot? If so, relax it with kindness. It is only tense because you have let a state of non-consciousness make it habitual. See it, now, forgive it and free the tension. Let all the tension from whatever source become non-threatening; like a cloud you believed was solid, but which turns out to be only shaped water vapour… through which you can sink.
The real is below, and now comes into view as the tapestry of a landscape far beneath you. You are sinking, slowly, through the air towards it. Breathe gently as you sink. Let any residual tension be captured, magically, by your in-breath; and released to be part of the cloud above you as you breathe out. When this is complete, something still remains around us. We seem to have a thin layer of cloud that clings to us, shielding us from complete and open vision of our true world.
You look at the landscape coming slowly into focus below. You are a twin being: organic and something more than organic. Your purpose in life is to be present to that landscape below. You can choose what to look at, what to focus on. Now that the tensions have been turned into the cloud above you, we can choose, with complete freedom, what to become present to.
With a touch of our mind now calmed, we can revolve in this blue space and examine the world below… We see it is predominately green – the colour of life. The region of your heart resonates to this vivid colour and all that it supports…
This universal life is you, but this is not all you are… for you are conscious of it.
Hovering above the Earth in this perfectly clear air, we look at the more complex things below. As we sink, slowly, we take in the perfection of the trees in a forest. Their shapes are a representation of time, itself, showing us in three dimensions their journey of growth in four.
We see a wolf, running along a track deep in the forest. His furtive movement mirrors how we too have grown a body from the organic earth, a body that learned through intelligence, yet still has to live in state of caution and, sometimes, fear. And we are this, but this is not all we are…
A church is coming into view. Its spire dominates the little village, though it is something abstract – it has no useful organic function, unlike the other faces of life, below. And yet, in many ways, that abstraction represents a depth of thought not needed for simple survival….
The plants evolved to animals to humans. But humans are not content with simply being. They have to seek for deeper meaning, meaning that can be at odds with their organic natures. We look for meaning in our lives, but seldom examine our origins as a source of wisdom. What if we let go of who we are and become content to just ‘be’?
At the idea of this ‘merging’ there is a resistance, a not-wanting to lose this individual perspective that we are attached to; this centre of ‘me’ as it views the beautiful world. ‘I’ have collected my life, have stored and distilled its lessons, making this organic creature that I am stronger and smarter… or at least more resilient.
This Me is important. It is only through Me that things get done… As these thoughts and feelings crystallise in our minds, the thin envelope of vapour around us becomes more dense, and the landscape becomes less clear.
As though to counter this, we look down at the beautiful Earth below, we smile at how little the Me does, compared to the vast industry of nature which feeds us. Sinking slowly in the perfect air, we wonder how it would feel to lose the Me, to lose the history of Me… What would be left of the sense of Self, then?
With this, the construct of the self around us feels very fragile, like a thing that was meant to be temporary. The inner point of total awareness that has no history has become our new Self and is diamond bright, so bright that its rays crack and melt the thin layers of the cloud of self around us. In a moment of total clarity we see that we need not be defined by anything in our past – neither limitation nor identification. The view below is lost to us and we fall to Earth, struggling, as the two parts of our selves vie for our future direction. Our will to be deeper and more real prevails…
In that moment the last of the shell of self is rendered transparent and we find ourselves as newborn bird, in a nest, high in the oak tree we saw from above. Time, or rather, process, is not as before. There is a vast power at work in our transformation as the first few weeks of our new birth are condensed into eight heartbeats. By the ninth, our wings are full of power. The bright sun in the clear blue sky calls to us and we spread those strong wings, lifting ourselves off the nest and climbing into the sky.
The Earth has finished its job. The Sun of truth will teach us now.
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.
The soft colours of dawn were painting the sky as I left for work. The village streets, preternaturally quiet now that the schools were on holiday, were, for once, easy to negotiate. Parked cars take up half the width of every street and, on a school day and with oncoming traffic, getting out of the village becomes a slalom exercise in courtesy and patience.
By the time I reached the long stretch into town, the sun was cresting the horizon, setting fire to the skyline and casting long shadows across the road. Another mile, a bend in the road, and the brilliant disc had revealed itself in all its golden glory. I, and every other motorist in the now-queuing traffic, hit the brakes, dazzled by the low-lying orb on a road that runs due east.
There is, I thought, such a thing as too much light.
As the traffic crawled…
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How beautifully you say goodbye
When damp of cold affects the eye
When rustle shuts off bustle’s hiss
And says ‘so brief must be our kiss’
How beautifully you say goodbye…
“The best and gentlest introduction to practical modern mysticism,” said one of our attendees, last year. Come and join us…
‘Gilgamesh is among the greatest things that can ever happen to a person.’
– Rainer Maria Rilke.
Those of you with an eagle eye will have realised that next year’s Silent Eye, Spring Workshop has a mythological theme.
It is based upon The Epic of Gilgamesh which is a story worked up into its present form over four thousand years ago.
Prior to its re-incarnation as an epic poem it existed as five independant mythological episodes, which, as we traditionally split our April Workshops into five ritual dramas tends to suit our purposes rather well.
But why do we insist on revisiting the past in this way?
It is our contention that drama as we now have it derives from sacred drama as practised in the mystery temples of old where it was used to develop the psyche of the neophyte and initiate them into the sacred and secret…
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