The Foundations of the Future

We were driving back from Ilkley with a clip full of ‘winter Wharfedale’ photos, many of which were destined be spoiled by the falling light along the riverbank or too ambitious in the first place.

In decades gone by, the pain wouldn’t only have been the attempt and failure, but the cost of paying to have them developed and copied to photo paper, only to consign most of them to the bin … with expensive regret.

Prior to the development of Manchester’s city centre tram service, which crosses forty miles in each direction: north-south and east-west, we would set off from our offices on Salford Quays to take our rolls of actual ‘negative’ film to one of a number of specialist high-street shops, only to repeat the journey for the collection of the finished prints a few days later.

It was a tiresome process. But when the results were good there was a great sense of elation as you held up that physical print that would, without doubt, be good enough to win a prize.

“Nonsense!”

It’s the competition judge in the back of your mind – even if you choose to ignore him…

Back then, when you looked at the pile of rejects on your desk, next to a much smaller pile of possibly worthy shots, you had an instant visual indicator of how well you’d performed with that roll of film and your expensive SLR (single lens reflex) camera.

None of this was remotely digital, of course … well, the metering might have been.

It was common for expert photographers to urge us amateurs to take lots of shots so that we could learn by doing: both well and badly. And also learn by bending the rules – like occasionally shooting into the sun, rather than the conventional wisdom of following the brightest light rays to the subject.

All photographers have this rosy picture that their children and close friends will want to leaf though their photos when they’ve gone…

They won’t. The best thing you can do for them is to take out 90% and consign them to the actual or digital bin – or persuade the local history museum to take them. If you do this, then you have a chance that one or more of your descendants or close friends might enjoy looking at your structured memories…

Most of photography is very much of the now…and we need to be prepared to pass out of other people’s now in a clean and orderly way.

But back to our return journey to Kendal…

(Above: Gargrave by night; it’s clearly folly to shoot through a moving car’s windscreen, but the fuzziness can lend the effect of a painting rather than a photo)

Crossing through the pretty village of Gargrave on the outskirts of Skipton – one of the anchors points of the Yorkshire Dales, we tuned into a Radio 4 programme about the gradual handover of the stonemason’s craft to the architect.

Cosy in the car’s warm cabin, we listened as the quiet and intense ‘radio time’ passed in the company of Andrew Ziminski, the author of the book in the opening paragraph.

(Andrew Ziminski – Stonemason, historian and educator)

Ziminski is an authority on the history and significance of building in stone. His knowledge is respected internationally, and he lectures across Europe. His uniqueness is that he still works as a stonemason, and his special skills have been employed on many critical repair projects in stone.

(Above: Nature’s cycles are always the most beautiful and created order from apparent randomness)

Given that the master craftsmen in particular were often accomplished designers, architects and artists as much as they were artisans. He points out that, regardless of the fame of what they worked on, they were all engineers who spent years learning the technical skills needed for their craft.

One of his favourite tricks to immerse us in the world of the stonemason is to conduct a journey through time, and references two of his ‘perspective journeys’, the first of which examined the year through its festival holidays, ending on the Celtic festival of Samhain and the feast of All Saints – on 1st November.

Ziminski, who has a good eye for nature, can expressively describe the changing seasons in vivid detail.

House martins twitter as they close in on a condensing insect swarm, spiders spin webs around me as I sleep on site, and I am often to be found among bat roosts under bridges.

The second ‘time journey’ is one through the history of building with stone in the British Isles. It begins in a Neolithic chambered tomb and ends with the modern use of concrete.

In this way, Ziminski fills our imagination with the struggles and progress over a thousand years.

I’ll close this post with the two most dramatic perspectives that he gleaned from these time journeys:

In the first, he speaks of how, within a family of stonemasons, the father would begin the creation of the building. The son would continue the work but not see it completed. The grandson would be present at the grand opening and nurse it through the infancy of its use.

(Above: the main difference is, of course, modern and more flexible materials)

He contrasted this with the modern techniques of modular building and said that, by comparison in the world of the architects of today:

in the age of the modern architect, the building would be delivered by the architect; the ‘son’ would witness its decline, and the ‘grandson’ would see it demolished.

Two very different worlds… Perhaps it is no mystery that we return, time and again, to our favourite stone masterpieces in an increasingly transient world.

Photography is the most transient art. Can we photograph the future? On the face of it, no. But the future is an interweaving of the strongest currents of today. We can with some accuracy predict things. A very accurate example is the movement of the planets; vast but regular.

God does play dice, but usually at the level of the very very small. And she does it for variation and not amusement.

We could go back to the bank of the River Wharfe and say that this particular 100 metre mass of water travelling at 3 km per hour – will be very much the same mass that passes another observer, 3 km downstream, in an hour’s time. We could even throw in a rubber duck to test it… But that’s just my sense of humour rather than ‘sense’ of scientist…

Now, where’s that picture clean-up routine?

©Stephen Tanham 2023

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

The Seventh Day of Christmas

New Years’ Day and we traveled from Kendal to Ilkley to have lunch with my son and his family. They live in Leeds and we often use Ilkley as a half-way meeting point to have a walk on the moor and then come down to the Hermit pub/restaurant that looks down on Burley-in-Wharfedale.

(Above: twilight in Wharfedale)

The River Wharfe is a beautiful river originating within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. For much of its course it is the county boundary between West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire. Its valley is known as Wharfedale. The magical hills of Ilkley Moor looks down the river valley.

(Above: Burley, like its neighbour Ilkley, has some of the most beautiful stone houses and hotels. This ‘final glimpse’ of Christmas made an appealing photo)

The end of the afternoon had the most magical twilight. Tess the collie needed a walk before the ninety-minute journey back to Kendal, so we made our way down through the pretty streets of Burley to the the river Wharfe.

(Above: the river Wharfe flowing through the heart of Burley-in-Wharfdale)

There’s something poignant about the end of the Christmas period. We’re happy to take the decorations down, come the end of the seventh day.

(Above: more Victorian splendour…)

Soon it was time to go. The dogs had been well exercised in the meadows by the river.

(Above: the Old Swan at Gargrave)

Leaving Ilkley on the A65 we passed the edge of Skipton, then on through the lovely village of Gargrave. I’ve often remarked that the iconic Old Swan would make a fine photo if I could capture it from the car’s passenger seat!

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

Musings on a Silent Night

I received a nice little present from WordPress the other day: a certificate to say I had been blogging with them for ten years!

Ten years… Where did they go…

Back then, Sue Vincent was our Silent Eye blogger – and she already had a large online following. Persuading her to join the fledgling Silent Eye was doubly beneficial: I got an excellent foundational partner, and the School got the benefit of her digital reach! Not to be abused, of course…

(Above: Sue Vincent in the summer of 2013)

Stuart joined us shortly after, and the three of us set off on a great adventure that launched officially in the Spring of 2013, in the remote Derbyshire hills with a workshop called ‘The Song of the Troubadour’.

My job was to set out the vision of the School and to create the three-year correspondence course, a task that took every day of those three years! But during that time, people began asking why I had disappeared from view; and so I tentatively tried out this blogging thing…

Nowadays it would be hard to imagine a week going by without the regular cycle of Sunday’s photographic blog on Sun in Gemini; the more personally oriented Tuesday blog – where I can provide whimsy and the odd peace of humour; and the build up to the serious stuff on Thursday, where I try to present the joy of mystical study, and the way it brings about a reorientation one’s life.

The ten years on the WordPress certificate mirrored the current life of the Silent Eye, and also our personal residence here in Cumbria in the extreme north of England.

(Above: the ever-refreshed Derwent Water, Keswick)

The constant presence of the mountains and lakes of the Lake District on our doorstep certainly assists the creative impulse. There’s nothing like chewing over an idea while walking the fells to get a fresh influx of energy and expansion of the kernel with which you started. Often the problem is getting the rush of ideas down in some form before they evaporate from the mind.

(Above: Sue, Stuart centre) and myself at the close of one of our workshops in May 2016.

The sad loss of our co-Director, Sue Vincent, still weighs heavy, and can be deeply poignant at this time of year. Sue made a big thing of Christmas, and was a superb cook. She could turn her home in the Buckinghamshire village of Waddesdon into the most Christmassy place imaginable in a seemingly short time.

Time moves us on with changes, whether we wish it or not. Covid brought great changes to the whole world – and is still doing so. But one of the great benefits of being home-bound was the international regularisation of the use of Zoom and other ‘remote meeting’ technologies.

We are now able to offer a monthly meeting online, in which we greet, chat a bit, then settle in for an hour’s deep but friendly discussion – with meditation exercises. Examples of the content of the past few meetings can be found on the Silent Eye Explorations FaceBook page.

(Above: Caroline Ormrod (Caro) – our new Director)

Part of that online world we have entered is the gift of a new Director of the School: Caroline Ormrod.

Caro is a highly literate and competent administrator, and possesses that ‘lightness of spirit’ that make so much difference to how a School of the Soul presents itself.

Caro is helping us to consolidate the Silent Eye’s online presence and make deeper and more frequent use of our Zoom facilities. She’s based in Canada – which seems to be fertile ground for our work – and is coming across to the UK for the ‘Water, Circle, Cross’ workshop in Windermere in May 2023.

(Above: Sue in Penrith, December 2018)

By way of a small Christmas present, here is the best photo I ever saw of Sue, taken by Darcy at the winter weekend in Penrith. We like to think that smile rides with us, still…

So, now I’ll take my leave for a short while and rest my mind and typing fingers over Christmas and the New Year. I leave you with my 2022 Christmas image of the giant Christmas tree at the Art Deco Midland Hotel, in whose coffee lounge we are frequent flyers! The beautiful staircase has featured in several Poirot adaptations.

Happy Christmas!

We wish everyone a loving and restful Christmas. Thank you for your presence and support in 2022. May the light and kindness that is in all our hearts have the strength to unite through the differences and help us work together to rebuild our wounded world.

Steve, Stuart and Caro.

Reference and links:

Water, Circle, Cross will take place around Lake Windermere in the English Lake District from 19-21 May, 2023. Email us for details. See the Events page for details – The Silent Eye’s website

For an invite to the monthly SE-Explore Zoom meetings, open to all and held on the third Sunday of each month, email us at:

Rivingtide@gmail.com

An Early Christmas with Devon Dreamer

If your Christmas is shaping up to be less than that idyllic cameo on the TV adverts… come with me … and join us for the most unexpected Christmas evening we’ve ever had.

(Above: Marldon, a jewel just outside Torquay)

The first of December, 2022. The last day of our winter holiday.

It had not been a good day for my ego. Thrashed 6-3 by my wife, Bernie, at crazy golf, I was consoling myself with the thought of my final two pints of Devon Dreamer, an ale produced by one of the local micro-breweries that I had come to love during the course of the week of our winter break on the south Devon coast.

(Above: Devon Dreamer. I shall not forget you…)

This was to be our last night in Marldon, a village just inland from Torquay, set in one of the rolling Coombes (valleys) that define this idyllic landscape.

One of the delights of the small cottage we had booked was its closeness to the local pub: The Church House Inn – a mere five minutes’ walk downhill, past the park and up the stone steps to where the carriages used to discharge their passengers.

(Above: the Church House Inn, Marldon; our local for the week)

Hearing from the people who owned our cottage (and lived next door) that the Church House Inn was both good and busy, we had booked three meals out over the course of our week. The first two had been excellent. This was the final treat.

(Above: the Church House Inn, with its ‘coaching steps’)
(Above: the row of cottages at the side of the pub)

Arriving at the inn, we found ourselves on the edge of growing crowd, with more families arriving by the minute. It turned out that the local Christingle parade of the first day of December ended with a gathering in the space outside the pub – where Santa Claus would give token presents to all the children.

(Above: the culmination of the Christingle and the appearance of Santa Claus)

We watched and waited for a while, being warmly included by the locals. Then we turned to to enter and find our table, as there were tight time-slots for dinner.

(Above: the warm interior beckons…)
(Above: our table was next to the log-burner; warm coats were rapidly discarded)

The meal was lovely. Washed down, in my case, by two pints of the fine Devon ale. We didn’t really want to leave. Many of the diners had retired to the bar. We thought about it, but wanted to get back to the cottage and pack, as we had to check out by 09:00 the following morning.

(Above: nearly time to go… just finish this…)
(Above: Marldon by night)

Outside, again, we gave Tess a moonlight walk into the park, then walked the short distance back up the hill to our cottage.

Thank you, Devon. Thank you, Marldon. You were a warm and hospital home for a much- needed break before the busyness of Christmas.

I’ll be taking a break after this Thursday’s blog… back in the New Year with batteries recharged for 2023.

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

Frozen Shore; ten below…

(Above: the frozen shore at Bolton-le-Sands)

I don’t think I ever remember the temperature, here, being minus ten, before.

But that’s what it was, according to the gauge in the car on the way to Bolton-le-Sands, where – in the course of walking Tess the collie – I took this shot.

Few people graced the frozen landscape, which gave it a ghostly isolation. The one dark figure walking slowly along the horizon gave me the human interest I sought amidst the white and ice.

I published it on the local Morecambe and Heysham Facebook groups. So far it’s notched up nearly five hundred ‘likes’, and more relevantly, hundreds of comments.

Which shows how we all stand in awe when Nature does something extraordinary, even when it’s potentially life-threatening.

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

The Eight with Two Dots

(Above: the Yin-Yang symbol as an object)

I remember being a child and considering the Yin-Yang figure for the first time. It fascinated me. I felt like I couldn’t ‘see it’ properly – as though something about it was hidden…

For several days after spying it on a street poster, I tried to draw it, but without success. The best I could do was render it as ‘an eight with two dots’. It was only years later, looking at how a tennis ball was formed, that the structure of the yin-yang became clear.

(Above: the humble tennis ball – a puzzling shape that resolves itself into two simple ovals that can be bent to form the sphere… but only because of the properties of space)

The ball, like the Yin-Yang, is composed of two symmetrical halves which perfectly and symbolically interact. The difference is that the tennis ball does it in three dimensions rather than the yin-yang’s two. It’s impossible to make a ball from a single piece of material, technically a surface. But with two such surfaces, it’s simple. The tennis ball pattern we have today replaced an older, more approximate clover-leaf design and the two intersecting ovals enable a tight seal at the time of manufacture.

(Above: we can emulate the way the tennis ball is made in three dimensions by holding our two hands cupped at 90 degrees to each other)

Both fascinating… but let’s leave the tennis ball to another post. It’s the Yin-Yang symbol we’re investigating, here, and the driver for this is the approach of the winter solstice on 21st December at 21:45 – next Wednesday.

But why? What is the relationship between the winter solstice and the Chinese Yin-Yang symbol?

For many cultures, the winter rather than summer solstice has been the most important astronomical event of the year. I vividly remember a Silent Eye weekend hosted by Allan Pringle which was centred on the East Aquhorthies stone circle at Inverurie, an hour’s drive north-west of Aberdeen. It was memorable for the extreme weather, apart from anything else. But it was worth the effort and the drenching…

(Above: the ‘recumbent stones’ of the East Aquhorthies circle)

The East Aquhorthies site is one of the best-preserved examples of a recumbent stone circle in Britain. It is one of very few that still have their full complement of stones. Remarkably, all are to be seen, here, in their original position, without having been re-erected.

(Above: (c) Allan’s diagram of the astronomical use of the East Aquhorthies stone circle at Inverurie)

The stone circle at East Aquhorthies maps the points of the astronomical compass against the surrounding landscape, with particular reference to the line of hills in the south. One of these is a visual intersection of two hills: the place where the Winter Solstice sunset is to be seen, Scottish weather permitting, you can see the sun sink into the land on or about the 21st December, marking the birth of the new…

(Above: a happy memory from September 2017. Sue Vincent and Allan Pringle at the East Aquhorthies stone circle)

But why is an ancient Chinese symbol appropriate to our consideration of the northern hemisphere Winter Solstice? It turns out that there is a deeply mystical relationship between the yin-yang glyph and the year’s twin solstices, one applicable to any part of the planet that has them.

To approach this, we need to look at the nature and purpose of polarity in human consciousness.

The great cycles of our lives are driven by opposite extremes or ‘poles’. Winter and summer are good examples, and they have at their heart the quality of light… and its absence: dark. Dark does not come from light, yet its existence is the basis of our experience of light. We might consider whether dark actually exists at all – in its own right?

(Above: each half of the Yin-Yang glyph is an exact mirror of the other, yet opposite in qualities – mostly…)

But each of these complements has a specific point where the quality of their brightness or darkness is at the maximum it can be. The winter solstice is one such point – represented, above, by the black half (yin) of the Yin-Yang glyph.

The ‘tadpole’ shape (many have also compared it to semen seen under a microscope) is not entirely its dominant white or black colour. Within the thickest part of the figure there is a small circle of the complement: the black Yang has a white circle; the white has a black circle.

I do not mean to imply that there is an historical connection between the Yin-Yang and such stone circles. The connection is in the commonality of these ideas:

  1. That everything in our lives is made up from dual aspects: active and passive, male and female, giving and receiving… above and below.
  2. That this polarity is the very basis of how anything happens – and also how it is observed in our consciousness.
  3. That a deeper understanding of this enables us to see that the very nature of opposite polarity is such that there is always some of the opposing quality in the deepest example of one extreme, such as the nature of the winter or summer solstice seen in the Yin-Yang.

If we wish to follow this mystical thread, then our most profound act on the winter solstice will be to acknowledge the presence of an invisible sun between the twin halves of what is really one continuous act of creation… and the birth of the summer’s sun in the depths of that darkness, corresponding to an inner journey of the development of Self.

Happy winter solstice!

Note: This post is also the orientation document for the Silent Eye’s SE-Explore Zoom gathering for December 2022. These online meetings, lasting 90 minutes, are held on the third Sunday of each month and are open to all.

Contact us: Rivingtide@gmail.com to be added to our invite list.

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

Images of Consideration

I read a lot into nature…

I study the natural world around me carefully; a lot of my joy in taking photographs is that it helps me to ‘see’ what’s there in more clarity. It’s remarkable what being considered with a landscape can do, and how it deepens your sense of truly ‘being there’.

Such acts of considering were central to what the philosopher Gurdjieff taught… You had to be in life in a different way, to really experience it. When I publish my images I sometimes get comments showing that something of what had been ‘seen’ is shared by others who view the images.

To consider is to put aside that separate sense of ‘me’ and simply flow into and with the act of being in that place, that situation, that landscape. Our being becomes the involvement with the act of observation, not the identity with it.

I don’t exactly look for ‘portents’, I’m not a trained shaman – though I have good friends who are – but I do believe that there is an intelligent alchemy – an active process of teaching and learning – taking place.

And then there is reaction. There are two faces to an experience: the duality because of our insistence that our ‘I’ is separate… There is the perceiving of the object(s) of that experience, then there is how it is received in what we take as the self.

That reception is a reaction – in most cases. When it becomes refined into something else, it takes on the stature of a space and separation-less act of what the ancients called gnosis; a ‘gnowing’ so powerful that it is more real than the apparent object under consideration.

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

Devon Drive (2) – Brixham in three photos

(Above: not the ferry from Torquay… the replica the famous ship of Sir Francis Drake – the Golden Hind)

I’d never been to Brixham. Years ago, I stayed in Torquay for a night and noticed there was a ferry service between the two towns. At the time, I knew little about the nautical history of this ‘place at the end of Torbay’, and I had to be on the train back to London for an important meeting before lunchtime.

But it went in the mental back pocket. And – my mind reasoned – if it was worth a ferry, it was worth a visit…

So here we were, the Collie and I, with the morning to kill while Bernie did the next stage of her Magimix cookery course.

(Above: 2. The local seals; a surprise I wasn’t expecting. Apparently, they are regular visitors to the rocks beyond the fishing quayside)

My satnav said that Brixham was a mere twenty minutes away. No-brainer… Arriving in a dark and rainy Saturday morning, I checked that my iPhone-camera had sufficient charge for the short visit.

The best three from each location, I resolved, conceiving the idea of this series of photo-driven posts for a gentle Sunday read. Photos, that is … three for each post, They would have to be interesting enough to prompt the commentary.

Brixham is ‘industrious’ on a wet and grey morning, you can search for the holiday resort and not find it. But you will find an alive port, a replica of Drake’s Golden Hind…and the lovely seals.

And several of the cafes on the quayside offer excellent coffee.

(Above: and (3) it’s a working port, and proud of it)

Just along the coast to the west is Dartmouth. A very different place. But that’s for a later post…

(And four? : you’ve got to end with a bit of humour…you first!)

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

Permisson to be upset…

(Above: An orderly bicycle. Photo and title by the author)

I was watching a YouTube video the other day. Made by ‘Sadhguru’ – a favourite spiritual teacher. See end of this post for an example of one of his talks.

He came out with the phrase; “I do not give you permission to upset me”. His audience fell silent. Who had upset him? And how did he propose this ‘permission’ would avoid him being upset?

I’m a bit less reverential; largely because I know exactly what he’s talking about, and over a glass of water, we might smile. Water because he’s a yoga guru, but never uses the ‘guru’ word. He’s not remotely pompous. He describes himself as an untutored person, no academic standing, though he speaks to large audiences all over the world. He’s simply a teacher of how to live life on a higher level of involvement with the real.

The real is the world we come to live in when we strip out the accumulated reactions of the personality. Most of what we dislike we were taught to need…

The world had another simple man who said much the same thing: turn the other cheek.

turn the other cheek…

The idea that both these figures tried to put across is that much of what we attribute to the ‘out there’, in terms of negative effects on us… is generated by us.

We humans have many outstanding attributes. One of the most powerful is the desire and ability to imitate. As young children, we copy those closest to us: our parents, first; then our close friends at school. Later, possibly, our heroes in films, or even fictional books.

Jonny Commando is tough. He fights for good and has an intolerance of low-life scum. It’s important to him to be reactive. He needs to show you that you’ve upset him. By repetition – and possibly a few broke bones – he’ll show us how important it is to be like him.

But the genuine adult, looking for the depth in life, will examine this and see the flaws. It’s okay for comic-book heroes to be tough, as long as we know it’s fiction and will not bring us what our hearts desire – which is to live in truth. Escapism has its place – but it’s just that – an escape from reality. Reality is hard but it’s the truth – and that has a power that many don’t realise. Equipped with reality, I can choose how I react. I can look at that person who wants to upset me and deny the ‘apparent other’ the effect.

They’re going to look at me as though I’m soft. That’s fine. I will look back with understanding that their vocabulary does not include this non-response – my stealing of aggressive energy from the useless and unreal; the cheek turned. I did not give them permission to upset me.

Usually this gets people walking away. That is good. We have avoided confrontation and they content themselves with the fact that I’m weird. To them I may well be… But I am the one smiling. for some, they sense something deeper… calmer. In this situation, the world of truth – reality – opens up.

The ancient Egyptian priesthood had a whole way of life based on it; expressed in the word ‘Cromaat’ – literally ‘So be it in truth’. They were laying out their truth second by second, in front of them via speaking truth. A deeper path through life, one more real on which to walk.

There are a great number of Sadhguru talks on the internet; many on YouTube. Here is one.

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

North by Northwest

It sits over the ocean like one of the spice-navigated, space-time warping Guild Ships from Frank Herbert’s novel ‘Dune’.

It’s probably an old lighthouse extended into a cafe…probably.

In front of it, in futuristic letters, forged into the stone of the pier, is a giant metal compass dial, announcing to those passing that this landing space is designated ‘North by Northwest’.

Which may be borrowed from the Hitchcock masterpiece of the same name, starring Cary Grant in one of his finest roles, playing opposite James Mason; arch baddie and Soviet agent.

But who knows…

Here, on this reinvented marine breakers yard – a traveller in time from a hundred years ago, there is dimension-bending imagination and fantasy all around.

Iron cormorants, made from thin metal sections, warn the unwary that, beyond this point, jumping to conclusions about reality may be missing the point…

Only the presence of the beached fishing boats, waiting quietly for the returning sea – which flows back faster than a galloping horse – bring a hint of rhythmic normality.

But this is Morecambe’s Stone Jetty … and anything could happen in the next half-hour.

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

Devon Drive (1)

(Above: it may look like a painting, but its a just after dawn photo of Marldon village, near Torquay)

From the ages of two to fourteen, I lived in a small village called Ainsworth, halfway between Bolton and Bury, in old Lancashire.

The streets in the new estate were named after places in Devon. The main trunk avenue, where our home was, was Devon Drive; others included Kingsbridge Avenue and Salcombe Avenue. I’d never been to Devon, and these sounded exotic. It was exciting being on a new estate of bungalows and I hold fond memories of those times.

I’ve retained a fondness for things ‘Devon’. We thought we’d have a winter break there in the run-up to Christmas. It’s too busy in the summer for our tastes. We’ve gradually been filling in our knowledge of this beautiful county, and know a few of the areas quite well.

If you follow my writing (and thank you), you’ll know that photography is one of my passions. The late Autumn landscape of Devon offers a series of delights and some photographic challenges. Many of the colours are still present – the season lasts longer than in Cumbria. The light fades fast, though – but the ‘gathering gloom’ of the mid-afternoon has its own attractions – wonderful things happen to assist the creativity…

(Above: another shot of Marldon and the ‘coombe’ landscape in which so much of Devon sits)

We spent a week in a village (Marldon) not far from Torquay. One of the busiest parts of Devon in the summer, and quite popular in the winter months, too. This proved an excellent base for exploration of the nearby towns of Torquay, Brixham, Babbacombe and Dartmouth.

Our visit was prompted by Bernie being on a ‘Magimix’- based cooking weekend to develop her skills; something I am the beneficiary of, so wanted to encourage. Being in Devon as part of the process helped… Her course lasted the weekend, during which Tess (collie) and I explored the surrounding landscape. The rest of the week we spent together – a delightful pre-Christmas sojourn.

(Above: one of Torquay’s many Art Deco buildings)

I’ve taken a good many photographs and thought it would be fun to spend the run-up to Christmas sharing the best of them, here on the Sunday blog- along with short comments about the locations.

Wishing everyone a gentle and peaceful December.

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

What if the week didn’t exist? (2) : the planting of life-seeds

(Above: Image by the author)

At the close of last week’s post, we concluded that, although the ‘week’ was only broadly defined as a fraction of a moon-cycle, it had become an essential ‘container’ in our our outer lives. Our working and social existence depends on the week being in place. International travel would be unworkable unless we had agreement on which day of the week was being swept across the world with the sunrise.

Can we move this usefulness from a purely convenient and temporal basis to something that might help us on a higher level of our being?

The beauty of the week of seven days is the power inherent in its recurrence. Like the notes on a keyboard, the pattern is always the same, though the octave may be different. From ancient times, the days were seen to have different ‘characters’, just like the notes of music are seen to combine in different ways that can be harmonic or not.

Viewing the names of the seven days in French gives us a clue to this ancient derivation of a link between each day and the energy of one of the seven planets visible to the naked eye.

The Days: Lundi – Monday; Mardi – Tuesday; Mercredi – Wednesday; Jedi – Thursday; Vendredi – Friday; Samedi – Saturday; and Dimanche – Sunday.

Some of these immediately suggest a planetary connection. Let’s examine the list again with this in mind:

Lundi – Monday – suggests ‘Moon’ ; Mardi – Tuesday – suggests ‘Mars’; Mercredi – Wednesday – suggests ‘Mercury’; Jeudi – Thursday suggests Jupiter; Vendredi – Friday suggests Venus.

For the weekend, English is good enough: Saturday suggests Saturn; Sunday speaks for itself…

We can put our results into a table, as below:

(Above: the seven planets visible to the naked eye arranged according to the days of the week after which the latter were named. Image (c) copyright the author)

Note that the planetary names have been replaced by the letters A-G. We will refer to these as intervals. There are also a majority of blank squares in the above matrix, which we will address, later. But first things first…

In this table, the interval letters (A-G) in this table are the ruling planets for each day. ‘Ruling’ here means the planet in question lends a positive and creative flavour to that day. We are going to examine a method of using this energy to take things forward in our own lives.

The days of the week were assigned these planetary attributes in ancient times to convey that each day had a specific nature. This is not the same thing as having a personal horoscope charted. These are general energies that work to assist everyone.

Through popular astrology, we have a ready-made set of mental and emotional associations for them. A few examples of these characteristics are:

The Sun (A) is all-feeding, glorious in its power, benign and seemingly ever-giving. It promotes growth and development. It shines the light of truth and knowledge on things, but it can also burn.

The Moon (D) relates to the emotions and also to the reproductive cycles of women and their higher energies. It is nurturing and linked to mysteries in general.

Mars (G) is warlike and typically male. It is linked to initiative, energy and assertiveness, but can be impetuous.

Mercury (C) is quick-witted and the heart of communication. It is the thinking core of the ‘messenger’. But it can be shallow and move on too quickly.

Jupiter (F) is a party- animal. Bountiful and playful. The bringer of good fortune to all, but excess might beckon…

Venus (B) is the goddess of love, sex and beauty. Feminine, but capable of being beyond sexuality.

Saturn (E) is limitation. The rule and law maker that creates a framework in which orderly things can happen. Often misunderstood. It slows to ensure perfection…

The above are just a few examples of the characteristics of the ancient planets. Those familiar with astrology will be able to add many more to each. If not, a small reference book will flesh out this list of attributes.

This small amount of effort fits with the essence of what we do next, which is to work to make these personal.

There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, when taken at the flood leads on to fortune…

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, where Brutus talks to Cassius

Equipped with the above, we can use the week to establish a principle of recurring harvest. Regardless of what time actually is (or is not) there is a principle of seed to flower to harvest to seed in nature. For, say, an apple harvest, this is an annual cycle. For our psychological intent, which moves within faster cycles, we can use the week as the period of recurring harvest – and subsequent re-sowing.

Select from your own life an aspect of yourself you’d like to work on – something you’d like to improve, to moderate, or to extend. Let’s say you decide that the pressures of life, and specifically that big undertaking you’re working on, are making you too reactive.

Firstly, examine the nature of each of the planets (A-G) to see which is the best fit to your desire for change. I might be going through a period of great effort where I want to acknowledge that things will take time – but that I need to accept this seeming delay to my goals – in the interest of greater ‘fit’ of the result.

I look at the table and see that this goal corresponds well with the character of Saturn. Indeed, my quest seems to align closely with the ‘hidden nature’ of this vast ruler of time…and process.

I see from the table that the day ‘ruled’ by Saturn (E) is Saturday. I resolve that, as close to the sunrise as possible on the next Saturday, I will take myself away from my normal routine (including sleep) for a short period in which I will focus on the desire and the fact that it will benefit everyone if it is successful.

With some gentle breathing, I note how the breath has an in and out cycle. With the next in-breath, I take into myself the essence of this ‘Saturn’ interval, and ‘feel’ how the powerful slowing and limiting energy is the real nature of its effectiveness. I use this to align my being with the natural power of the Saturn effect.

Now, I breathe out, feeling that I am letting go of my preconceptions of things that take too long and opening myself to what might enter my life with the next in-breath.

I take that in-breath and feel, with confidence, that something new has happened. At this stage it is just a seed… but seeds are mighty…when planted.

After that, I only need close my short vigil with whatever positive words I wish. It is always important to see any benefit being shared with others.

Now I need to leave the ‘earth’ of my life to bring the seed to the start of its development. For the next six days, I will attune to the idea and the feeling that this dawn of the new is taking place within me.

On the evening before the next ‘Saturn dawn’ I take a notebook and jot down what each day – at work and in my home life – has brought me, in terms of understanding of the process I have begun. I sort these into a short summary of positive results and prepare to take this, mentally and emotionally, into the new Saturn dawn of the next Saturday.

This next step is most important: we must be prepared to let go the gain we have seen. Letting go is as important as gaining and taking. But our letting go is back into the process of harvest.

After the general alignment of the first out and in-breath, I let go the gains of the past week with the next out-breath and feel them enrich the general ‘earth’ of my life. Then I take the in-breath and know that the previous gains have become new seeds.

This exercise is repeated each week at the time (in this case) of the Saturn-dawn.

The exercise can be repeated for as long as you wish. You will know when the results have reached a point of maturity. At this stage you might have a new perspective and wish to continue the method but with a new objective inspired by the success of the previous stage.

Next week, we will fill in the blanks of the table, and in the process examine the deeper nature of the constant effects of these ancient guardians on the Earth’s life.

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

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