The last I can write of Gilgamesh.

From the heart of Willow…

willowdot21

Back in June I wrote ”As I am nearing the end of my account of my feelings and experiences at The Silent Eye Spring Workshop I find I want to linger with the memories and stop time.

I had joined the Silent Eye Work Shop back in April to learn what I could about Gilgamesh and his quest for immortality. In fact I learned a lot about myself and I am still learning.

I met some amazing people who by their example and knowledge taught me so mugh. It is strange that these beautiful people who I hardly knew, brought me to tears of sadness and beautiful joy. I feel so privileged to have been included I felt safe and, yes even loved.

I had previously been on a weekend with the Silent Eye last December which had also been a revelation. Sadly and not for want of…

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The Opening

I know the words

The long-learned words

With which this view is framed

These slats of wood I crafted round

The Opening…

Yet there it lies, unshut before me

The rawness of the world

Behind my words I kneel, now

Afraid to stop their flow’s intent

In widening my wood

One day the words will be unspeakable

The splinters brushed aside

By the eye beyond the Opening

And we – the world and it’s child

Will speak in unbroken silence

©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.

A matter of time…

From Sue…

The Silent Eye

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I watched the sun go down tonight from the roadside. For once, the camera had not come with me… I was just driving to the shop and didn’t pick it up. Even so, I cursed myself for leaving the camera as I saw the huge, golden orb shot with crimson reflected in the rearview mirror. Too late to turn and go back, the sun would have gone by then but maybe, just maybe, I would be home in time…

No. Halfway home it was evident I wouldn’t make it, so, camera or not, I pulled over to watch the setting glory of an autumn day.

It took only a couple of minutes for the last of the blue to fade through a rainbow of colour to a molten sky, aflame against the silhouetted trees. Almost as if the sky was clothed in the colours of the School…I couldn’t help but…

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A prospect of Whitby (1) The Abbey at the centre of time

Above – A Prospect of Whitby Abbey from West Cliff

The title’s cheeky… Bram Stoker created Count Dracula of Transylvania and had him come ashore at Whitby in a ship named The Prospect of Whitby. We’ll not be talking much about Dracula in our coming weekend workshop; we’ve got enough to contend with considering the truth…

There are many ways to approach the centre of Whitby, but only one to truly approach its heart… In the opening shot the phone camera is straining at the maximum of its zoom abilities, but at least generates a clear image across the considerable distance from West Cliff. Here we stand, not far from where the car is parked, and excited to be back here here after a gap of fifteen years.

The right of the image shows the key detail: the wide, winding steps ascending from the bustling streets to the ancient ruins of Whitby Abbey. Even from this distance – which is across the mouth of the estuary – there is a feeling of sheer importance about that far place… Something of immense significance happened there, and it’s our job to consider it fairly and reasonably without too much emotion… and then turn it into the basis of a deliberately emotional workshop that will involve both heart and mind – and the undoubtedly freezing winds of a December weekend on the famously cold north-east coast of Yorkshire.

(Above) An edited photo of the town map showing (red mark) where we are at West Cliff; and (green marker) where we’re going (The Abbey). The nature of ‘approaches’ is symbolic and important.

To help with that objectivity, I am doing my prep visit with my wife, Bernie, who is an historian by training… and is also a Catholic. I’m not a Catholic. I was raised in a Rosicrucian family which fell foul of the local Church of England vicar in a small Lancashire village… but that’s another story. The important thing is that, between us, we can be objective about the religious importance of Whitby and what happened here…

Fourteen hundred years ago…

We take one last look across the bay before beginning our descent into the town. It’s a bit like a mystical view of a life – seen before birth and imagined as a final glimpse of the whole before you become in-volved and begin the evolution that the individual life brings within the necessarily different existence of the gritty details…

(Above) Captain Cook was here…

Entering the grassed area at the top of the West Cliff steps we noticed an image of Captain Cook. Although not born here, he began his marine training in Whitby, aged eighteen, as an apprentice to the master of a local ship: John Walker. For the next nine years he served aboard cargo ships between London, Liverpool, Dublin, The Netherlands, and the ports of Norway and the Baltic. In the course of this, the gifted James Cook rose from apprentice to mate, developing skills that would enable him to become a master-mariner and lead his world famous voyages of discovery.

The significance of this to our forthcoming weekend is not lost on us as we walk down the steep hill. The steps become a winding road, and the road becomes the harbour that was the home of Fishburn’s yard. Fishburn’s produced all four of the Collier-class ships used by James Cook; including the famous Endeavour.

(Above) Captain Cook is celebrated with marine replicas, too…

In the broadest sense, a ship is a container…

The makers of such soul-carrying containers bear a great responsibility: to ensure they are fit for the passage of time, events and circumstance in which a group of people will travel. Our coming weekend bears little relation to Cook’s epic journeys; except in this regard: that if we make it a fitting vessel, it will serve the consciousness-deepening goals of the workshop with integrity.

“We should begin, then…” I say as we start to walk along the harbour’s quayside. Bernie gives me that look and smiles, knowing I’m about the launch forth into one of the pivotal statements for the coming workshop. “It’s not sufficient to say that the Christianity of the Anglo Saxons resembled two armies that met from north and south to meet at a battle named The Synod of Whitby – in AD 664..”

She inclines her head. Not used to such a fair-minded opening. “Mmmm… Whereas the truth is?” she asks.

“Whereas the truth is that both Celtic Christian and Roman Christian faiths were interwoven from region to region across Saxon Britain and no-one made much of a fuss about it till King Oswald (Oswiu) responded to his wife in the matter of settling the date of Easter!”

“Which was important because…?” She’s taunting.

“Which was important because he followed the Celtic Faith and she followed the Roman, which meant that when he was feasting she was fasting…”

I continue. “And, as King of Northumbria, he was the most powerful monarch in the Anglo Saxon world.

“Quite!” she says, then, “Look – fish and chips ahead… The famous Magpie Cafe… with the usual queues.”

The celebrated Magpie ‘fish and chips’ Cafe – perhaps the Friday night of the weekend?

The sudden switch reminds me that Whitby’s like that… From the deeply historic and serious to the frivolous in an instant. I look around and wonder if a Goth from the adjacent festival might rush us and offer something outrageous.

The swing bridge and then the lovely ‘Whitby jet’ jewellery shops await, on the way to the Abbey steps, but, first, we need something to eat. Breakfast was meagre and a long time ago. We can do fasting when we need to… but in Whitby the temptations are just too good…

St Mary’s Church and the Abbey await.. but it’s a long way up and we haven’t eaten yet

Across the harbour, the East Cliff looms over the town like an old guardian. But our own pilgrims will need refreshments upon their arrival on the Friday lunchtime of the weekend, so the body-not-soul research, trivial though it is, must be done before we make the climb.

To be continued…

©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.

#ShortWrytz – Night moves: the big idea

#ShortWrytz – short pieces inspired by photos I’ve taken

Since I was a child, I’ve been fascinated by the way the autumn darkness conveys a deeper sense of empathy than the late summer it leaves behind…

What I mean is (for example in the picture above) the quietness that wraps – envelopes – two people when they gather under a seaside lamp awaiting the arrival (via spouses) of their fish and chips, following a drive through the Blackpool illuminations… something usually frantic, but in this case, surprisingly quiet and peaceful.

The rain on the windscreens of the two cars might be a clue to the evening’s quietness, but it’s only part of it. It is as though those captured in the scene have slipped into a different space and time.

There’s a creative silence because the moment is unexpected. There is no pressure, just a moment in being when wonderful and subtle things happen. They’re not meant to be overheard: what’s happening is quietly – though not secretly – private… The photographer is allowed, though… at least if he or she has the subtlety to be part of the scene and not outside it. That’s an emotional thing, I’ve decided. But empathy of emotion is the essence of being allowed by this force of silence to capture it.

It doesn’t have to be a gently rainy night in Lytham St Annes. It doesn’t need to be Blackpool illuminations or fish and chips. It doesn’t need to be two people,… or even one; though, as these will be photographs, less than one is difficult.

I’ve always thought of them as ‘night moves’.

I’m been trying to photograph such ‘night moves’ for a long time; and a big thank you to Bob Seeger who, confusingly to anyone reading this, had a sexual metaphor in mind when he wrote the brilliant song with the same name. My motives are slightly different

No matter… if the music fits.

I’m aided in this project by an upgraded Apple iPhone. After nearly four years I’ve traded in my model seven for the latest – an 11 Pro. The older one was good; this new one is wonderful. One of its modes is ‘Night Mode’. It enables very natural-looking images to be taken is low-light situations.

I’m still learning, but I’ll be posting the better ones here, along with their story, where appropriate.

©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.

The Whirlpool

Underlying image by Gordon Johnson on Pixabay

It begins with a feeling… A feeling that something has fallen: like a vital bridge being destroyed.

As it develops, you sense the landscape being stretched, allowing forms of life alien to your own to enter the world.

And then you become conscious that there is a velocity, here – that we are all going somewhere we didn’t ask for. After a while you realise that the world is not only changing, but is being buffeted from the same place…

That place is the centre. The place from which the tearing winds are coming.

Soon, the low roar, the dull moaning, gain strength. They become a voice… and there is anger; an anger that won’t go away, like a wild beast dying.

By the time you see that the whole world is moving, beginning to spin, tearing loose from everything you thought was fixed and, and… ‘of the elders’, it’s too late…

The new world is full of creatures, creatures gloating that their views have triumphed against the overburdened weight of the controls that kept the world from breaking up, from spinning, from feeding from that dreadful centre.

You look again at the centre from which the noise is coming; only you can’t see it anymore. It’s gone… spinning, faster and faster, it has become a vertical pit into which everything is being sucked – a whirlpool of hate.

You look at the far edge of the red whirlpool and see millions of people staring back at you – only they’re staring back at all of you and they’re screaming and shouting and laughing as the edge of the red water washes them faster and faster into more energetic screaming and shouting. They are the opposite of what you believe yourself to be, and they generate the strongest of emotion in you… until you realise that this emotion, too, is hatred, and that your loathing of the hateful creatures is adding to the red spinning that now sucks you in, as it does them.

Fighting despair, you raise your gaze to look beyond the descending red waters and see – far away and behind the forces of the vortex, dotted here and there – a set of people whose eyes are not red, who are not shouting… not even speaking. No energy flows from them into the redness, though you can see and feel their pain. There is a different way to react… or maybe, not to react at all, simply to hold the good that was, so much of which is being sucked, like wreckage, into the red whirlpool.

This knowing lodges in your heart. It breaks the force of the red gravity that had been pulling you nearer the whirlpool. You are moving backwards on the boiling waters, holding the eyes of the others who are holding yours… do not feed it, they say, gently.

It is calm, now. The dreadful vortex has gone, taking much of what you loved with it. But the waters that remain are the same waters that gave rise to a new world, long ago. The energy of renewal can begin its work.

The world is washed with its tears, as it always is after war But there is hope. There is no choice, now – you must be an elder… Even if you are young – especially if you are young.

©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.

Losing the past

From Sue…

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Skeleton from an archaeological dig at Lindisfarne Abbey

There was an article about the archaeological explorations taking place along the route of HS2, the planned high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham. It highlighted the amazing number of sites being excavated, spanning the human history of the last ten thousand years. Before work begins, the route will explore such diverse sites as prehistoric settlements, lost churches, battlefields and burial grounds. The official position is that we have an unprecedented opportunity to discover and explore our history and finds are being made that are as varied as flint tools and the lost remains of Captain Matthew Flinders, who led the first expedition to circumnavigate Australia.

All well and good…  it is undoubtedly very exciting stuff. For archaeologists, this is a magnificent opportunity and may encourage an interest in their history from both from communities and younger people. There is a downside…

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Landing on a lid near you!

From somewhere overhead

In the tree beneath which I was

Eating Kendal Creamy cheese

And coffee

Sharing the cheese with the collie

You took flight, bounced with percussion

And – unlikey, I know – remained atop

See! Good job I’d finished

Or our worlds would not

Have intersected…

They’ll never believe you

Either

Back at the base…

©Stephen Tanham