Approach to the Summer Solstice – Friday


As we approach the Summer Solstice, a few pictures from last weekend’s Silent Eye weekend in Avebury. These ancient and grand stones mark the entrance to the West Kennet long barrow. At a suitably private moment we experimented with chanting and found the resonant note for this beautiful place … Quite a sensation when a Neolithic barrow starts singing back at you …

The Circle

A beautiful shot of the Yorkshire Dales in their glorious greens.

Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee – Part Sixteen


I had arranged to meet Alexandra on the seafront the next Monday morning. I explained that I would bring us take-away coffee, as I wanted to use the half-hour to do a large-scale drawing. I had hinted that additional footwear might be required and she looked quite incongruous when she arrived, in pin stripe suit and walking boots . . .

“Only for you!” she shouted into the gathering wind. Her smile was infectious. I winced at what I had to do. I held up the coffee and she took hers.  I pointed at the beach. “We have to go down onto the sand.”

She nodded, “I had a feeling it was going to be something like that!” But she followed, willingly, down the old concrete steps and onto the golden sand. Each of us took care not to spill coffee from the fragile paper cups. 

I was dressed in jeans and summer boots. She looked like someone you wouldn’t expect to find on a beach, early on a Monday morning. I looked at her, holding her eyes, then began to circle her, in a predatory fashion. At first she giggled and turned to her coffee for succour; but when I carried on my actions, and she was faced with something she didn’t understand, she began to look less sure of herself.  I continued to circle her like a wolf, my footsteps marking a rough circle in the sand.

She broke free from my tracks and headed towards the water line, where tiny waves were lapping onto the beach. Behind them, larger waves with white horses were building on the stiffening breeze. I smiled at the turn of events; feeling the warm wind turn gusty, and watching it blow at her hair and clothes, as she stood, trapped between the sea and my advancing but still silent figure.

She turned away from me, drinking her coffee, a small act of the known, the familiar.

I came level with her, then studied the sea, before walking into it.

“What!” I heard her gasp, “I hope you don’t think–”

But my actions cut her off, as, now up to my ankles in sea water, and sporting wet and uncomfortably splashed jeans, I began to walk a perfect segment of a circle, passing her with a still silent look, on the seaward side, before coming out of the water to complete the circle on the dry sand, dragging my feet to ensure the perimeter was clearly delineated. When I had finished, most of my circle was on the dry beach, but the final arc was submerged.

She looked at my madness.  The normal humour in her eyes was gone. “Circles?” she shouted, angrily. “Is that it? Are you trying to teach me about bloody circles?” But she did not move from the spot.

Still I said nothing. It was difficult. I knew the tension was becoming unbearable and I was not doing this to be cruel. I walked to a nearby, rocky section of the beach, put down my coffee and picked up three, large pebbles.  I carried them back to where she was standing, looking at her newly-insane friend, and placed them at three of the cardinal points of the circle made from my wet footprints.

Only the invisible point in the sea remained unmarked. 

My feet squelched as I did so, and I, too, was acutely uncomfortable.  I retrieved my coffee, which was still untouched. I looked a her angry and somewhat frightened face.

“Don’t move from the circle,” I said. “You’re safe there.”

She shouted back at me, “Safe from what, you idiot?”

I began to walk around Alexandra’s safe circle, again. “Safe from me . . .” I let the words hang in the wind.

Stunned at my response, she stood, mute in the centre of her safe prison and watched as I walked back into the sea, stopping when I was at the far point of my symbolic creation. 

It must have looked surreal.

She stared at me in silent rage, then cursed as her half-full coffee cup fell from her fingers and splashed all over her safe sand.  She bent to pick up the cup, but stopped. The rules of the world had gone to hell, what did it matter . . .

“Walk towards me,” I said, gently.

“Into the bloody sea–in my best legal suit?”


I watched her conduct the greatest inner fight of our friendship; watched as the past months flashed before her eyes and she reviewed the kindly outcomes of each encounter. Sometimes bodies speak much louder than the mind ever can; trust triumphed and she hung her head and walked towards the sea.

When she arrived at the water line, her head still bowed, she was surprised to find two wet and booted feet standing there. I had come forward, silently,  to meet her halfway – and halfway was the water line.

She looked up.  There were tears in both our eyes.  I held out my full and untouched cup of coffee. “For you,” I said, simply.

I cleared my throat, then said, “That’s what it feels like in the land of the Enneagram’s three point.” I shook my head in a beloved memory of my own journey. “And what it feels like when people love you enough to pull you out of it . . .”

(to be continued)


Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee is usually published on Thursdays.

All images and text ©International copyright, The Silent Eye School of Consciousness, 2015.


Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee – Part Fifteen

n9 Pridev2

“I’ve got you an extra coffee, in a take-away cup, because I knew you were going to be late, and I’m thoughtful like that . . .”

I watched for her reaction. The word confusion was written across Alexandra’s face. I winced, inside – this was going to be a tough one.

“But . . . but I’m not late!” she protested, looking at her watch and beginning to look irritated as she flounced into the chair.

I watched her wrestle with the conflicting emotions; I had removed the normal beginning of our Monday morning from her safe grasp, and, though she had come to expect the novel, she didn’t expect the completely unknown . . .

“Arguing won’t do you any good,” I said. “It’s important that you recognise that, although I do my best to look after everyone in my care, I make the rules; and expect those who are going to help me to do it with their fullest consideration!”

Her mouth had dropped open. “You make the . . .”

Nine, ten, I was waiting for the explosion . . . “Why you pompous, jumped up . . .” And then she saw the smile. “Bastard . . .” she added, sipping her coffee and thinking, deeply, about the nearly heated exchange. I could see her fighting to get her breathing under control.

She took several minutes to consider her next words. “Yes I do . . .”

“You do?” I asked, genuinely curious.

“I know someone just like that.”

The chameleon had changed in front of her, dropping the acting and embracing the moment – one of considerable triumph on her part.

“He or she?” I asked.

“Chief clerk of our chambers, actually.” her eyes narrowed as she summoned up his inner image. “Little sod, he is, but very capable – it’s what keeps him there; but you’re either on his team or you’re the enemy!”

“For life?”

“Pretty much – he’s a great believer in absolutes.” she said. “He seems to think that he epitomises the perfect figure for the organisation.” she smiled at a memory which obviously contradicted that . . . “But here’s the thing – he gets angry with himself, as though he’s constantly failing to meet his internal picture of how wonderful he should be!”

She drank some more coffee, then added, “But it’s seldom his fault; just another example of how his vision is misunderstood. And then he returns to work, and usually works around the clock to beat himself up for not being infallible . . . “

“I’m so glad. You have the perfect Two . . .”

Her eyes were still locked in their internal gaze, remembering the picture of her sometime adversary.

“The perfect, Two,” I said softly, again, leaning towards her, conspiratorially.

She snapped out of her reverie. “The Two! Oh yes, I’d forgotten that we were up to the Two!”

“Let’s call him Will Faul.” I said. She laughed at the name.

“Okay, Will Faul it is, so what do I do with him?”

“We’ll come to the remedials when we know them all a bit better.” I said.  For now, just study the people you meet and see how many of them fit into this profile.

“What’s at the heart of a Two?” she asked. “Can’t you give me a keyword, or something?”

She was looking at her watch. I knew our time was almost up and wanted to give her something in return for the rough ride.

“Okay,” I said, draining my own drink. “It’s all about image.”

“Image,” she said wistfully, already working on the ramifications of the answer. “And that’s all I get?”

“That’s all you need,” I smiled. “For now.”

She smiled back, her composure had returned.  “Bloody good job we did all that prep or you’d be driving back wearing coffee!”

“Brought my mac,” I said, tapping the summer raincoat behind my chair and beaming with a huge grin that spilled over into laughter.

“It’s all about trust, isn’t it?” she said, returning my smile.

I didn’t reply immediately. I just stood up, nodding, threw the mac over my shoulder, and bent down to kiss the top of her head. “Yes,” I whispered. “And that you know it, so soon, is beautiful . . .”


Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee is usually published on Thursdays.

All images and text ©International copyright, The Silent Eye School of Consciousness, 2015.


Dear Wen XXXII

Stuart – Arch ‘historicon’ and subtly deceptive plotter, continues his preparations for next April’s Silent Eye workshop, Leaf and Flame (

The Morning of the Eye of God

He never thought that on his last Solstice run
He would be chosen
Never dreamed that leagues could fall behind
Leaving the others, younger mostly,
In the dust of his tracks, farther, now, than his hearing.

Ahead, the great rock soars up, black and massive
Its winding path, dark strip in the pre-dawn light
His feet, belonging to something else,
Thunder like heartbeats along the steepening trail

His breathing, earlier ragged, now like the circle
That in his mind, is edging closer,
Forms a perfect symmetry of air drawn in and out
And the song begins . . . .

The ancient song, given to the first
Never elsewhen sung, almost forgotten
Except on this day
As the feet thunder like hooves
And the cleaved air combines with blood
And the harmony is born, again . . .

The breath becomes pain as limits of form are reached
But pain is not death, and so he climbs
His head spinning, as the great mother spins
Uniquely on this morning
To greet her consort
On the the long-day of their love

The pain recedes as he comes closer
The song is singing in his head
Spinning into form on the currents of the morning
Now, there is only the last few feet
And, if the run is good
The blessing
A blessing that will fill the tribe with light
That will crown this, the last year of his running

With fire in his heart he sees
The valley below is lined with a cloudless sky
A perfect line of light has kissed the very edge
Only a few heartbeats and he will be there

The ancient angled stone awaits him now
Dark and sombre, cold and severe
Replete with the wisdom of ages
Unrelenting in its exactness
And the patterned cross in the rocky path
Where, now, he stays his trembling limbs

The circle in the stone is perfect
Carved and honed by ages past
A gift to those who followed
He fixes the vision of the first
Upon and through its centre
And gives himself to the horizon, far beyond

All breath now to the song must go
Its notes rise higher, taking wing
He becomes the singing, calling forth
And the rising God sings back in gold

Streaming over the valley
Lighting the rocks and plants, alike
Filling the singer with life beyond life
And a kiss . . . as he becomes the Eye

©Copyright Stephen Tanham, 2015

The She Sentinel


The She Sentinel


A small festival, where pilgrims, 

unknown to themselves, climb me

Clutching children, 

adorned with picnics, 

They play

And round my ragged peak, 

they stand and point their heads

For the length of a heartbeat

And wonder . . .


But it was not always thus


Over many years he changed my face

Wrought outer magic on my hillside

Created wonder and even let the pilgrims in

Though they were ragged then, and poor


But he never saw my heart

Though his wife would stand and stare

And wonder . . .


But it was not always thus


In older times

Erased now from their memories

When brother fought with brother

And the blood of the kin spilled like water

On my soil

They lit a beacon here

To warn that killing approached

In the time when the head 

Began to rule the heart


And even then

Some, sweating in bloodied armour

Would stop and stare

Or, decorated, stop their steeds

And pause a while

And wonder


But it was not always thus


But of the ancients, I will not speak

For you do not have the ears that hear


And now you . . .


And now you amuse me

For six days you have risen at dawn

To walk your personal trail to me

To stand and stare


But you dare to do this with your heart


I wonder, will I let you in?


Perhaps, tomorrow, when

My sister the wind

Says she will carry the water

That floods the land


Then we will see if you have

The ancient intent

And then, perhaps . . . 


It will not always have been thus.


©Copyright Stephen Tanham 2015

Dark Night of the Stone

Gawain for Poem Shiny Green ace

Dark Night of the Stone

Freezing fingers clutch the silver cup

The thin but faithful horse stands grace

Equine feelings urge Gawain, “Go on”

The mountain stream adds ice; its own

Completing miseries’ embrace


How did we come to this, Gawain?

His frozen thoughts; the pain, protest

How did we seek a place unknown

To pay the debt we shouldn’t own

From Christmas last, a bitter jest!


He fingers coins, full purse of spite

“Perhaps I’ll buy a room!”

But round him snow and frozen streams

Speak far of warming tavern’s dreams

And icy wind that offers only doom


A mind, half starved, breaks off a branch

“May I divine a place to Yule!”

The joke is lost on blackening fells

Which long for village evening bells

Far from that place where death’s the only rule


His strength no more can fight the cold

He draws his sword and drives its mark

Into the earth, then at this cross begins to pray

In deepest heart beloved Arthur finds a way

And fire which needs no place defies the dark

©Copyright Stephen Tanham, 2015

Before Osiris

Before Osiris

We do not speak of death, he said

Not here, where shapes of dread can hold no sway,

And disappear at end of days; and mouths spit out their final hate,

Then mute, come forth unto that silent gate


Come gentle soul, and rise, he said

And let Anubis wash your eyes; clean fear away,

from inner skies, until, forever leaving blame

We raise you clear of this, your earthly name


We only speak of life, he said

When opened eyes’ eternal gaze, whose gift is not,

Mere counted days, but that by which all time be known

And finding where you do not live, come home.


We only speak of truth, he said

Not we, but you the judge must be, and balanced on these scales,

Your heart must see its worth, and opened, have its say

So that the man reborn to be, goes forth into a different day

©Copyright Stephen Tanham, 2015

The Other Way

The view towards upper Wharfedale – another lovely photo from SmackedPentax

The End of Time

The End of Time

Whenever I think of Sandy

I think, first, of his lined red face, his brightening smile

And scrub and dust and boots, and thin cheroots

And an old guitar that sings a while


No cares survived to scar his life

Few needs, and too few friends preserved, pristine, his time

But distant heartbeats feed, between the bottle and the weed

Within the space of memory that is mine


He is not real, of course, this Sandy

A screen on which the movie-mind shows light

Projected from a dream, this wilderness from far is seen

As necessary to complete the man who might


His Harley gathers dust and grime

Behind old timber slats, that smell of creosote and sun

But the key that swings, on its old chrome rings,

Will only with my fingers turn and run


Whenever I think of Sandy

The distance is his scrub and dust that blinds; not mine

No gravestone mars the plot, where he laid down his lot

His passing simply marks the end of time


©Copyright Stephen Tanham, 2015

Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee – Part Fourteen

Alexandra was late arriving for our usual Monday morning coffee.  She stormed into the coffee shop and slammed down the heaviest of her bags, making her less-than-hot latte shake in its tall glass tumbler.
“Some people,” she fumed. “should never have be given driving licences . . . that taxi-driver is one of them!”
If one can be said to sit down in anger, then she did.
“Morning,” I said, neutrally, looking up from rummaging in my  bag. “Pleasant weekend?” I enquired, hazardously.
“Oh stop, it,” She said; the worst was, plainly, not over. “Stop being so nice! when I’m being horrible!”
I looked at her, unable to let the humour and the timing of her mental state go to waste. “We still have fifteen minutes” I said. “And what you just said shows you are, at least, conscious of your anger . . .”
“Not doing much about it, though, am I?” she sipped her coffee, finding it nearly cold, which somehow added to her self-recrimination. “Damn it . . .” she muttered.
I smiled at her, again, and took the small thermos flask out of my bag. I watched her become distracted from her foul mood, as I unscrewed the top and let the single occupant slide out, noisily, onto my waiting saucer. That drew her attention and she noticed the changed table in front of us.
“You’re having tea!  You always have coffee!”
“I like tea, too . . .”
“And there’s an ice-cube swimming around your saucer.”
“It’s for you,” I said. “It relates to the first of the points on the enneagram, going clockwise from the Nine.”
“Station One?” she asked, becoming fascinated with what I was doing.
I took a small file, with a square cross-section, from my bag, the sort you would use to carry out a finishing job in woodworking. I began to file down the top of my cylindrical ice cube, carving a neat cross into the top of the ice.  When I had finished, it bore a passing resemblance to a bishop-piece from a set of chess players.
“A chess bishop?!” she asked, examining the solitary figure in the saucer, the giggle supplanting the fading anger.
“Not quite”, I said.” I worked out that it was the only figure I could carve, in the time available – that was close to what I wanted.”
“Not a bishop then . . .”
“No, a Queen . . . “
“Is she finished?” she asked, her eyes filling with mirth at this further Monday madness.
“Nearly,” I said, pouring the near-boiling water from the silver pot into the base of the saucer – creating a sort of moat around my primitive royal figure.  Within seconds, it began to melt . . .
She was struggling to catch the meaning. Her mouth was open, forming words to catch the concepts she was streaming.  “Ice, water, heat . . . help me!”
“The One Station,” I said, “It’s useful to have a figure, an icon, which helps us crystallise the characteristics of this aspect of all our personalities.”
She was nodding – grasping the idea, as I knew she would. “And this one is–”
“–an Ice Queen,” I said. “Pristine and perfect – or would have been if I’d had a freezer and a set of proper tools in the car.”
She looked down at the small ice queen in my saucer, now listing to starboard as the ice melted, unevenly. “And the boiling water?” she asked.
“The anger that causes so much self-destruction. But which, sadly, goes with the package of this aspect of ourselves”
She was quiet then, realising how wonderfully life had conspired to illustrate the principle, as it so often did.
She looked at her watch. “Got to go . . .”
“Yes, and the anger has gone, too”
“Yes,” she added, looking down at the saucer with a smile. “And so has the Ice Queen . . .”
Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee is usually published on Thursdays.
All images and text ©International copyright, The Silent Eye School of Consciousness, 2015.
Contact details and an outline description of the Silent Eye School are on the other pages of this blog and via the website at
%d bloggers like this: