Full Circle: The final curtain…

Sue concludes the story of our Penrith weekend

The Silent Eye

On most of our workshop weekends, we offer a ‘greeting of the dawn’ at one of the ancient sites. The winter workshops are perfect for this as the sun rises so much later, but as we are at the mercy of the season, the weather and the time local hotels serve breakfast, these are always optional. Usually we choose a place we would not otherwise get to visit, but this time, really, there was only one place to choose… Castlerigg. The stone circle nestles within a circle of hills and there can be few more spectacular settings for an ancient and sacred site.

Not everyone relishes such an early start, and we had made it clear that this would be a brief visit, just for the dawn… we would be gathering there later to end the official part of the weekend. Nevertheless, almost everyone chose to come and greet the…

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Full Circle: Long Meg

Sue continues the story of the Penrith weekend

The Silent Eye

Our final site of the day was to be one of the most astonishing circles we have visited. It is not the biggest, nor are the stones themselves the largest, but it has a ‘feel’ unlike any other. Castlerigg. That we would visit on our final day of the workshop, may rightly be accounted one of the most beautiful of circles, but what Long Meg and her Daughters lack in aesthetics, they more than make up for in sheer presence.

On our very first visit, the light had been going and the winter dusk had been bitterly cold. We thought we knew what to expect…after all, we had seen enough photographs of the place. I had even a vague memory of having been taken there as a child. Yet, we had rounded the corner and been ambushed by the stones. Getting out of the car, we had literally bounced with…

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I and the Telescope

Do we have automatic filters of perception that screen out the magical?

How many miraculous events in the natural world occur before our eyes each day yet are not noticed by our everyday awareness? We often feel this to be our experience – but it happens within an adult ‘self’ which has grown from infancy to adulthood, and therefore is to be trusted, Such childish and fanciful notions are to be put to one side in favour of a world-picture that sees all such things as coincidental and purposeless.

Much of this ‘structure’ of skeptical perception can be investigated by a useful metaphor: the antique telescope. Imagine that, instead of our eyes, we look, permanently, through two nautical-style telescopes at the world. But these are not ordinary optical instruments; rather, they divide our simple act of ‘seeing’ into three stages. The first and second are related to the world of raw perception and the near-instantaneous emotional response to it. The third stage of this ‘telescopic vision’ is that of the intellect – more usually described as the mind. These three stages are learned as we mature and fold out of the flattened telescope like the kind of brass antique that we see on collectors’ TV programmes.

What we actually ‘see’ is conditioned by the expanded telescope such that our final experience drops through each of those stages of perception before settling in our consciousness. We do not need to think about it; it just happens. The older we get the more set this pattern becomes. Some of this programming develops to reduce the energy needed to perceive. The mind is really good at taking the essence of a repeated experience and simply replaying what it considers to be the ‘skeleton’ of the event. It can add the precise details, such as whether the car in front of us is turning left or right, in real-time. Working swiftly, it both reduces our energy consumption and knows where to ‘insert’ the life-saving bits into the whole…

But it’s no longer the whole, and year on year repetition of this historical way of seeing things gradually takes the intellectual, emotional and ‘something more primal’ magic out of what would otherwise be a constant state of wonder. When we’re driving a car, this is essential. We would otherwise be overwhelmed by the data and the intensity of the experience. Our ‘robotic’ perception is fast and reliable. But when we are staring at a sunset or sunrise, and the sky makes patterns that are both beautiful and meaningful to our lives, then we might want to consider how to ‘collapse’ our telescopes and be prepared to stand more naked in front of the splendour before us.

We might then discover a much more intimate and less robotic relationship with the world… our world.

©️Stephen Tanham

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.

Cant and Greta


Between the Cant and the Greta rivers there is a castle. In it lived a great chief, a warlord who was a King in his own right. His name was Bernard Maltravers and his success was due to his ability to not only fight, but to think. Maltravers lived like a king and one of the joys of his kingly life in the castle was the company of his ‘court Jester’, a Frenchman they called, simply, L’est. No one knew how the man had come by the name, and he never spoke if it, himself. But everyone called him by it…. except Lord Maltravers, who simply yelled out, “J’est” in a well-rehearsed parody whenever he wanted the services of his Fool.

“It’s Christmas, J’est,” he said, after the fourth measure of mead. “Should we get rid of most of the castle staff? Give them a holiday?”

L’est looked forlorn at the suggestion. He knew that if his wilful lord put the plan into action, he, the Jester, would end up doing most of the duties, such as cooking and cleaning, instead of what he was good at: intelligent and witty conversation – and provoking his master to just the right degree. However, Lord Maltravers had insisted that L’est join him in two of the goblets of mead and he was less in control of his mouth than usual… so he replied, “Why not, my Lord. In fact, why not break with tradition, altogether, and invite the local peasants into the rooms of the castle, they can abide with us throughout the season, truly making it one of goodwill to all men…”

Lord Maltravers had a short temper, which the excess of mead did little to ameliorate, so he ran the Fool through with his long sword.

As he died by the fireplace, L’est thought of the idea of peasants, happily living in the castle… he used all of his will to form the image into a spoken and enduring curse, letting it escape into the air and the stone of the castle as his last breath filled the space.


Lester Atkinson, standing in front of the estate agent’s window in the centre of Kendal and drenched by the spray from passing cars, had no idea why he had been drawn to the central panel of opulent properties, nor why he was having trouble suppressing his jollity.

“Take that,” he muttered, laughing aloud.

A passing woman looked at him accusingly.

“What did you say?”

“I really have no idea,” said Lester, walking his uncontrolled mirth away before it could do him any more harm. “But Merry Christmas, anyway.”

©Stephen Tanham

This is entirely a work of fiction… apart from the Estate Agent’s window.

Happy Christmas….

An end to darkness

A must read from Running Elk…

Stepping Stones

20160701_210126I should have known really… the folklore, like a haddock to the face once you spot it, TELLS you!! But I wasn’t listening, and had to go the long way around… like 10 years searching up hill and down bleedin’ dale. And all along, the folklore whispered “You’re an idiot. We kept it locked, safely hidden away, in the old tales… stop walking, start listening…”

“Here the Saint stopped the advance of the plague.”

Oh. That’s nice. Christianised. Simple. Pictish. Incised cross.

Not much to look at. Could trip over it and not notice… (don’t even ask how many times THAT happened with the old hitching post…)


HERE. The Saint stopped the advance of the plague.

The Saint stopped the coming of the Black Death.

The Saint turned back death.

Death… a veil of darkness?

Darkness was turned back!


And thanks to the power of GoogleEarth… so it…

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Full Circle: Spiral dance

More from our Penrith weekend

The Silent Eye

We squelched through the mud at the gateway to the field, following the fence down to a tiny stone circle that is unknown to most casual visitors. Just a third of a mile from its big sister, the tiny cairn circle of Little Meg is one of the least known circles in the area and yet it is, with Long Meg and nearby Glassonby, one of only three in the area that has ancient carvings on its stones.

Technically, Little Meg is not a stone circle. When it was first discovered by antiquarians, it was buried within a mound of earth, making it the internal structure of a burial mound and the excavations revealed bones, charcoal and an urn, buried in a cist at the centre. The stones may, perhaps, have originally been a circle that was covered over, but the preservation of the symbols on one of the stones…

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Ars Geometrica: ABC’s…

From Stuart

Stuart France


‘…The secret of the magic of life consists in using action in order to attain non-action…’
– The Book of Heavenly Consciousness

For the next few hours we were as if transported.
We went nowhere, bodily, yet the vistas contained in that little book.
And yet it was little more and in some respects much less even than a book.
The twenty or so pages held within its gold plated covers were unnumbered and loose leafed and were exquisitely hand drawn, written and coloured on the finest parchment.
There was no way of telling the order in which they were supposed to be read.
Our studies helped with some of it if only to render us a foot-hold.
We recognised a number of the lists and had previously come across broadly similar ideas.
For example it had recently been posited in one of our meetings that some of the…

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Dear Don: Jonah…

From Sue and Stuart

France & Vincent

hardwick (35)Dear Don,

Well, Jonah is an interesting story in its own right, and ties in with the whole ‘devouring beast’ affair. Devoured or eaten… either way, an interesting consummation, you might say. Especially when you bring the star-beasts into play.

The animal connections seem to run through all our myths and stories, don’t they? I just looked through a load of images of the stained glass bible at Addington and it is surprising just how frequently beasts feature… and each of them a symbolic story in themselves that we immediately interpret and understand.

14 sept 377I was actually looking for the Jonah window we had seen. My usual method for the Buckinghamshire windows was fool proof… there is a site that lists every one by subject and location so all that needs to be done to locate a picture in my files is nip over there. Trouble is, they’ve taken the site…

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Two for the Solstice

The Darkest Day

Two poems for the coming Solstice.

The first is The Iron Hand from Barbara Walsh, who is in the process of establishing her own WordPress site:

The Iron Hand

The iron-hard earth imprisons life below

Cold darkness, gripping life that glows

But not to conquer or destroy;

That life now sleeping waits to grow

Till winter’s touch so cold yet needed.

Releases gentle fingers new to spring’s caress

Waves goodbye to winter’s tending

Starts the cycle never ending

©Barbara Walsh

And one from me…Dark Solstice

Dark Solstice

If I had different eyes

That shone a bolder hue

I’d see the cycle of the year

As a single act surrounding you

If I had larger ears

For a wider range of sound

I’d teach you of the double chord

St Stephen and St John resound

If I had a bigger heart

That could hold both death and light

I would raise your gaze to the brightest day

Beyond this cold December night

©️Stephen Tanham

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.