Big Bubbles

Once there was an ocean

A bright blue ocean

That shone shimmering gold

As its waves crested and fell

And the bubbles danced with joy

Then a bubble grew bigger

And gathered other big bubbles

We’re not bubbles they cried

We’re a cluster of bubbles

And they rose to the top of the waves

And flew off into the bright sky

Higher thy flew

Towards the burning sun

Which turned them to steam

Which cooled

And they fell and fell

Landing on the single bubbles

Who were dancing below

Together

It’s good to be a part

Of something

It’s better still

To belong

To something

Real

©Stephen Tanham

The creature on the beach beyond thought

It lay there, head in the sky, gazing at the radiance. Its tail was still in the ocean of thought, the gentle waves urging it back where it belonged…

The gaps in the waves had always been there; they were the rhythm of life. But it had never thought to use them as a way through.

To where?

To beauty, certainly. The sights and sounds and smells of newness were all around it, the warm sand beneath. But it was a different newness. It lay there, laughing at the thought that newness could be new. The sea began to analyse this, pulling it, gently, back into its waves, but it pushed out its hands and grasped the glittering sand, and breathed deep the air that could only be new… and knew it was home.

Why had it never seen that, before?

Perhaps you had to be steered; gently guided into the shallows so the edge of the glittering sand became apparent. Behind it, the ocean of thought began to clamour for its attention, perhaps desperately seeing the last chance to put it back into the sleep of thought’s conditioning.

Conditioning: it was a hard word, and yet described the whole ocean; even the parts where it had tried to reason the way out of it. Life had conditioned it to love, to fear, to survive; and yet the very spark of life had not come from that sea of thought and reaction. The sea was only the cradle for that which could not be conditioned – did not react, because the real nature had a sheer power to be with the truth of anything, just being there was its truth, and all else bowed before it…

All else was its child.

The waves called to it in a different voice, now. They sang of love; of a role performed, of the golden drops of sun-kissed water flowing from the rapidly-changing body and finding their way back into the sea, where they shone – briefly – differently.

Stronger, surer by the second, he raised eyes that were new… to the Sun.

©Copyright Stephen Tanham

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit teaching school of modern mysticism 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.

Five Faces of the Macbeth Human

Exploring the faces of the ‘human condition’ should be consuming our world at the moment. We might reasonably conclude that understanding the heights and depths of our shared experience, as we drain the planet of its living life, would be of interest to us.

But we don’t…

Instead, if we ask any questions at all, we spend months looking at things from a political perspective – from power; assuming against expectation, that somehow, the political process will throw up something good for our world.

Psychopaths are having a field-day. Across the globe, they are running things, some of them even showing us how deluded we are to worry about this; that it’s all nonsense…

The story of one of the most successful psychopaths in fictional history was set in northern Scotland. A hardy group of us are shortly to spend a day driving to the town of Grantown-on-Spey, in the northern Cairngorms, to work out our personal and mythical relationships to Macbeth – Shakespeare’s fabled warrior, who, assisted by his wife, Lady Macbeth, rose from glory to bloody dominance before being toppled by forces from within himself – and herself, if you widen the mystical interpretation of the story.

We will carry with us the means to construct our own ‘Guiding Star’ – a five pointed figure well known to everyone as the pentagram.

Throughout our history, scholars have questioned the source of the negative side of being human. Since ancient times, geometric figures have been used to explore and question human nature, often being viewed as somehow ‘magical’ when they were simply an aid to what we now call psychological understanding. The value of such figures – derived from the properties of the circle – is to show how forces that act upon us – psychologically – are related to each other, and do not act in isolation. That, alone, should give us food for thought.

Within the Silent Eye, we use another figure – the enneagram, which is ‘nine pointed’ – as the basis for our self-exploration. But the pentagram is older, and considers the inner and ‘magical’ nature of mankind within a mapping of five qualities: Air, Earth, Fire, Water and one other…

Mystically, these are called the Elements. Although they derive from an age in which modern science had not thrown its analytical light on the atomic and vibrational nature of matter and energy, the philosophers of that age did not see a valid division between the inner and outer worlds experienced by our consciousness.

Because of this, the four elements were seen to be both subjective and objective, coming together in a fifth – Spirit- which opened the door to mastery and harmony in which the created and the creator were re-united, within the creation; the world in which we live and breathe and have our being.

At a simple level, the element of Earth may be seen as our foundation of physicality. It is slow and cold in its operation. Without animation from others elements, it cannot evolve.

Air is what we breathe and also how we communicate. It provides one of three elements of what makes our biology work: the other elements being the intake of Water (also emotions) and the stability of the foundational Earth. Fire is something different and is closely aligned with energy and transformation; burning off the dross of the lower forms of mortality.

The sequential alignment of the self with each of these Elements is a key process in so-called ‘magic’. For magic, we should read self-transformation; a concept for which we now have deeper psychological understanding, though psychology still does not acknowledge the deeper implications of this approach.

The key is the sequence used, and the fundamental attraction generated with what turns out to be higher aspects of the self; known as the Self. Implicit in this approach is the presence of the famous golden ratio – an intrinsic property of the pentagram, and one of the basic dimensions of biological life.

In a triangle of landscapes between Grantown-on-Spey, the highland coast at Findhorn and the historic Macbeth castles near Inverness, we will explore these relationships and the potential for alignment with the Self, using prompts from Shakespeare’s famous play. The story of Macbeth, seen as an allegory, is the story of our own confrontation with materiality and the wrong kind of ambition.

Dean Powell, who is based in the north Cairngorms, runs a local esoteric group: Lodge Unicorn n’ha Alba. Dean will be leading our group through his adopted Highland landscape in an exciting journey of self-discovery shared by all.

The Silent Unicorn is the name of a workshop (14-16 June, 2019) which will bring together the work of Lodge Unicorn n’ha Alba and the Silent Eye into a weekend of physical and spiritual exploration in the setting of the Scottish Highlands.

If this blog has given you an appetite to join us, there are still a few places remaining. Send an email to rivingtide@gmail.com and we’ll provide more details.

©Copyright Stephen Tanham

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit teaching school of modern mysticism 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.

An Egregore called Dickens

Fair Robert as Dickens

 

It was early December, 2015, in southern San Francisco. Bernie and I were on a week’s holiday in the USA. It was not cold, but was raining, which was good news for drought-ravaged California, as the first sustained rainfall for several years streamed from the skies across the state for most of our visit.

This very British rain did not dampen our spirits, because the primary destination for our trip was housed inside two huge, aircraft-hanger style buildings called the Cow Palace.

Cow Palace

Within the two giant halls of the Cow Palace is laid out the most wonderful reconstruction of Dickensian London you could imagine, even down to a London Docklands ‘alley’ making use of the connecting space, where ‘rough folk’ will regale you as you make the dangerous crossing from one hall to the other!

DickensFairMapDownload-111815
Downloadable map from the Dickens Fair website at http://www.dickensfair.com/general

Following a roller-coaster of a road trip to meet up with some old friends in Sacramento, we had just come to the last two days of our visit to the West Coast and the main reason for being here – the annual Dickens Christmas Fair. We were kindly given visitor tickets by the man who runs the fair, Kevin Patterson. We’ll meet him later…

Mr Dickens was speaking. In a very English voice. Bristling with oratorical skills, Robert Young, who has played Dickens for longer than anyone can remember, was welcoming the ‘early’ group – people like ourselves lucky enough to get tickets to the opening carols and the warm-up, as well as a day full of astonishing costume drama and historical reconstruction… Oh and a lot of fun, too…

As Dickens, Robert was new to us; as Robert Young, he has been a visitor to the UK many times.

It’s the 34th such Fair and something in the order of 6,000 people per day were due to follow our early group through those doors for a journey back in time to a literary twilight zone that is pure magic.

To quote from the event’s webpage ( http://www.dickensfair.com/general ) “The Great Dickens Christmas Fair is a one-of-a-kind holiday adventure into Victorian London –  an elaborate party with hundreds of costumed players performing and interacting with patrons in over 120,000 square feet of theatrically-lit music halls, pubs, dance floors, and Christmas shops. It’s a twilight evening in Charles Dickens’ London Town – a city of winding lanes filled with colorful characters from both literature and history. Enticing aromas of roasted chestnuts and hearty foods fill the air. Cries of street vendors hawking their wares ring out above the bustling crowd. Dozens of lamplit shops are filled to overflowing with Christmas gifts. The Dickens Christmas Fair is a treasured Bay Area tradition since 1970 and a splendid way to celebrate the holidays.”

Traditionally, the Fair takes place on five weekends leading up to the weekend before Christmas.

Our ‘early’ welcome talk finished with a flourish of Dickensian characters acting their parts as the day well and truly began… and then, the doors opened into the main event space and the half-world of Mr Dickens’ erudite welcome became the full-blown setting of London Town. No-one new to the event can anticipate the sheer intensity of what follows as you are projected back in time… and into the attentions of hundreds of period-dressed people; so much so that you feel like the ones in odd dress!

Fair Dancing
Music, dancing and constant cycle of floor-shows

 

Fair Tarot Reading
A Tarot reading, perhaps?

 

Fair more hats
Period costume of excellent quality is on sale if you want to join the thousands of fellow guests who already sport it!

We had been advised by Diana Young-Peak, one of our hosts (see below) to head for ‘Mad Sal’s establishment’ as our opening foray. This took us right across the twin spaces of the large halls to the farthest corner, where ladies of dubious repute were lounging outside a salon offering what looked like bawdy entertainment.

Fair Sals girls
Mad Sal’s – enter at your peril!

 

Bernie and I took our seats as the show began and a rather attractive Mad Sal took centre stage, with her singing team of entertainers around her. They called for volunteers, and, being mid-theatre and in a dark part of the auditorium, I kept quiet and hunkered down in my seat. Sadly, it did little good, as one of Sal’s girls came up behind me and marched me on stage to be seated, with one other victim, on a stool.

Sal began to sing, in an excellent voice, and moved to stand by my stool. As she sang, the word ‘kiss’ graced the verses several times and she seemed to be coming back to it, with more and more emphasis…

Being a slow Englishman in such matters, I began to notice that the entire audience was giggling. I looked up from my inattentive reverie to see Mad Sal standing with one hand on hip and pointing, with the other, to her recalcitrant visitor and directing him to her left cheek!  I duly kissed… and was kissed in return, eventually being allowed back to my seat with good natured warmth, at the end of the song. The entire performance, lasting perhaps thirty minutes, was very professionally done, and great fun.

Fair Green Man pub

 

After such excitement, we needed a drink. There were several hostelries in the twin halls, so we made our way to one which, in addition to alcohol, offered tea, coffee and herbal drinks. Duly restored, we continued our explorations… It was still only late morning.

 

Fair punch and lady
A timeless classic – Punch and Judy

I had instructions from my co-directors in the Silent Eye to try to photograph the Punch and Judy show, which we knew was part of the Fair. The lighting was difficult, but the lady and gentleman running the show were very amendable to my moving around, using shelves as tripods and generally being a damned nuisance… I tipped them handsomely at the end of the show, while the audience of a hundred or so children were departing, and they let me take some posed shots in return. Some of these may feature in one of Sue Vincent and Stuart France’s forthcoming graphic novels…

Fair Punch Judy+ kidsfron
The everlasting appeal of a show whose strange origins fade into history…

 

Fair three
Our three wonderful hosts: Left, Robert Young (Dickens); centre, Diana Young (Writer of the Saucy French Postcards Tableaux Vivants); right, Kevin Patterson, who along with Mrs Patterson, runs the show.

 

We were getting hungry, and a very special treat awaited us. Kevin Patterson and his wife run the Fair through their company Red Barn Productions. Kevin had invited us to afternoon tea with Diana and Robert in one of the period tearooms. Soon, the five of us were tucking into sandwiches, crumpets, cakes and tea… heaven. To follow that, Kevin offered to show us a very secret place within the Fair. Kevin’s father had created the original event – known then as the Renaissance Fair, and located in Marin County, north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

As a tribute to his father’s memory – and the latter’s sense of humour, Kevin has created a secret room at the show, known as ‘The Opium Den’.

 

Fair Kevin+Dad
Kevin’s tribute to his Dad – the ‘Opium Den’. His father’s picture hangs on the wall of the Den.

We were treated to a cocktail in the succulent interior of the Opium Den; and enjoyed its seductive atmosphere. Its location within the Fair is a well-kept secret.

P1040397
Queen Victoria and her husband the Prince Consort watch a display of swordsmanship, ending in a royal toast.

 

One of the delights of the Fair is the appearance of groups of actors playing related parts. You can be strolling along or having a drink, when everyone stands because members of a royal family, such as Queen Victoria and her entire entourage, are going past in procession – everyone takes this very seriously!

P1040405

 

One of the most popular and intimate features of the Fair is the series of readings given in one of several reading rooms throughout the day by the great man, himself. Robert Young as Dickens will begin reading from one of the books, then, suddenly, will stand and begin to act the part of the chosen character – very much in the original style of the author, himself.

We spent the rest of that afternoon wandering, drinking tea (well, me, anyway – I was driving) and generally chilling out. Something rather more ‘adult’ was booked for the early evening ahead…

I mentioned that Diana Young-Peak was one of our hosts. She is also the writer of one of the most popular attractions of the Fair. Each year, Diana creates a “Saucy French Postcards Tableaux Vivants” show which operates on three levels: the audience; the front stage, populated by the three main characters in the story, who act as the narrators; and the backstage action, which features, at best, partly dressed figures drawn from classical mythology. Frequently members of the backstage are naked, or nearly so, but always tastefully posed… The backstage actors operate in a part of the stage which is separated from the front section by a ‘scrim’ screen, made from semi-transparent material that adds a further ‘classical’ feel to the whole show. In a time-honoured prohibition, the scantily-clad, whose time exposure for each shot is brief, may not move…

The whole ‘saucy’ feel is not subtly constructed, and the envisaged titillation can be deceptive in its delivery… and its effect. As Horatio and Letitia Everard, assisted by their housekeeper, our well-heeled married couple discuss current events in their own lives with reference to various classical scenes. The viewer’s eyes and ears are drawn from the innuedo-ridden Mr and Mrs dialogue to the ‘still life’ of the various human bodies assembled for the next snapshot of what each of the married pair is really thinking…

It should be just funny, and rude… but it’s not just that; it’s also really beautiful…

The naked or scantily-dressed forms behind the scrim are arranged with incredible artistry – often holding agonising positions for the long few seconds in which we get to gaze at the intensity of the twenty or so people who are literally ‘giving their all’ to support Diana’s creation. It’s worth the price of admission, alone. That it comes, included, at the end of each wonderful and well-filled is amazing. I took lots of vivid images, but they’re all in my head… photography, as you’d expect, is strictly prohibited, to protect the identities of those brave and dedicated players behind the veil.

Diana speaks of the spiritual egregore of the show. It’s not a word often used outside the esoteric community. It refers to the collective spirit or soul of a gathering, an organisation or endeavour, or even an idea whose time has come; but one in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

P1040409
The Founder – Ron Patterson, Kevin’s Father

The Dickens Fair has an egregore. It is a very powerful but subtle one. It is driven by hundreds of people who give their time and presence, freely in most cases, to bring the Fair to new life each year. It’s very much their home–and this is their Christmas…

Treat yourself to a trip to this astonishing event… put it on your bucket list. You’ll not be disappointed.

©Copyright Stephen Tanham, 2016. Picture of the Cow Palace exterior taken from the Fair’s website.