Category: mystical travel

Two journeys, one destination (8) : the thousand-year fingers

Despite the world of the Picts being so far away in time, there was one man who reached back and ‘touched’ their minds with a language they shared… Art (A ten minute read, 1300 words) (Above: George Bain) He looked, once again, at the beautiful rendering of belief and life and…. everything. Once more, he was swept away by a sense of identity with … Read More Two journeys, one destination (8) : the thousand-year fingers

“Ain’t this a mess, Sheriff!”

In the film ‘No Country for Old Men’, there’s a famous opening scene at the site of a drugs shoot-out. Everyone’s dead when the local Sheriff and his deputy arrive and start wandering through the bodies as though they were in a Spaghetti Western. The Deputy stays silent for a long time, then says excitedly, “Ain’t this a mess, Sheriff!”. Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee … Read More “Ain’t this a mess, Sheriff!”

Mellow moods for Autumn (4) : by the river

Autumn is a beautiful time in the Lune Valley… The River Lune rises in the gentle hills of the Eden Valley, in Cumbria, the last western county before you cross the border into Scotland. It flows for 53 miles in long curves, defining a series of beautiful valleys. It’s most scenic section is where it passes a few hundred metres from the centre of … Read More Mellow moods for Autumn (4) : by the river

Two journeys, one destination (7) : Rosemarkie, the Black Isle

The continuing story of the ‘Pictish Trail’, the Silent Eye’s workshop in the far north-east of Scotland. We encounter the best Pictish stone at close quarters… (A ten minute read, 1100 words) Our final visit of the Saturday was to Rosemarkie, a beautiful village on the Black Isle, whose seafront looks south across the vastness of the Moray Firth. Rosemarkie was also home to … Read More Two journeys, one destination (7) : Rosemarkie, the Black Isle

Bridges of Stone and Heart

The emotional story of an unusual wartime chapel on Orkney reveals a different type of heroism… and hope. (A ten-minute read, 1400 words). (Above: the waters of Scapa Flow have not always been so calm…) Shortly after midnight on the 14th October, 1939, a German U-boat, U-47, passed unseen into the vast and hitherto safe waters of Orkney’s Scapa Flow, the base of the … Read More Bridges of Stone and Heart

Two journeys, one destination (6) : a Pictish horizon

With the wonderful Portmahomack behind us, it was time to meet the three Pictish stones that marked the horizon line of the Tarbat Peninsula. These would originally have been visible from the sea, and boats approaching from the Moray Firth would have known they were approaching sacred Pictish land – centred on the monastery at Portmahomack. On this second day of the Silent Eye’s … Read More Two journeys, one destination (6) : a Pictish horizon

Two journeys, one destination (5) : blood and stone

Writing without the other hand to steady him was hard, but the other was clamped on his thigh, holding back the flow of blood. The words on the vellum were like the wanderings of a dying bird… he smiled at the thought, despite the pain. Through eyes filled with hot and salty water he read what he had written: ‘They came at the end … Read More Two journeys, one destination (5) : blood and stone

Two journeys, one destination (4) : two sides of the hill

On the second day of the Silent Eye’s ‘Pictish Trail’ weekend, we are beginning in what is, for me, one of the most beautiful places in the world. Portmahomack is a small fishing village on the north side of the Tarbat Peninsula. It’s an hour’s drive north from Inverness. I’m at the end of the pier, gazing out across the deep blue sea towards … Read More Two journeys, one destination (4) : two sides of the hill

Two journeys, one destination (3) : the mystery of the Picts

(Above: the view of the neighbouring Inverness Castle from the steps of the museum) ‘The Romans were frightened of them…” I remember reading that the week before our Scottish workshop and being astonished. I knew the Picts had created some of the most mysterious stone carvings I had ever seen. But fearsome warriors? Weren’t these enigmatic people simply farmers? We were in the Inverness … Read More Two journeys, one destination (3) : the mystery of the Picts

The Sun, the Lion and the Ashes

We are in northern France, visiting relatives that were only re-discovered three years ago, after an eighty years gap… My paternal grandmother was the youngest sister of an elder brother (also Stephen) who survived the horrors of WW1, married a French girl and eventually settled near Calais. When France was overrun, the Nazis wouldn’t allow Stephen to take his family back to England and, … Read More The Sun, the Lion and the Ashes

A prospect of Whitby (3) – Touching the Sun

There’s something ‘monumental’ about planning to be high on the vast moorlands of the North Yorkshire National Park at the end of the first week in December. Yet that is exactly what we’ll be doing on the Sunday morning of the ‘Keys of Heaven’ workshop on the start of the workshop’s final day – weather permitting. If it doesn’t, there’s a plan B… Bridges … Read More A prospect of Whitby (3) – Touching the Sun

The Moment that Teaches

Most people who venture into the mystical encounter it before too long – that momentary sense of the world dropping away and an intense silence taking centre stage. In that silence is a new perspective which does not belong to the subjective, reasoning consciousness. I think of it as the ‘moment that teaches’. It is to be sought after as though it were gold. … Read More The Moment that Teaches

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