The Elderly Fox

When animals have a message to impart; whether an urging, a calling, or simply a moment of empathetic reinforcement; they will deliver it. It is up to us to be ready for their presence, observant in nature, and open to the message which they bring…

Chronicles of an Orange-Haired Woman!

The sun was high. Warmth spiked the air with fragrance. Colours weaved, natural ribbons beneath a cloudless blue sky.

Shaken, I was, and saddened, but also beginning to un-bow from the hoop of tension that had kept me hunched for nearly four months. Tension and acute, though largely buried, fear. I knew, pretty quickly, that opting to do supply teaching was a backward step, but kept saying to myself, ‘Just give it another week…’

But the fear rose like a tsunami. Threatened, I felt, and inadequate. The children, of course, picked up my animal scent, knew that I was vulnerable, went for the throat or the soft underbelly (whichever metaphor the particular group resonated with). Perpetually unsafe. An animal stalked, hunted; hiding, head-down, in unfamiliar staff rooms at break times, eating nothing, trying to out-think the vicious pack of hounds, failing.

The fields of most lessons seemed cavernous, without boundaries…

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The Feathered Seer – Part 2 (or when foxes come out)

Fast forward a year to the “Leaf and Flame: the Foliate Man” weekend. The directors of the Silent Eye (a modern mystery school), not really knowing what they might be letting themselves in for, honoured me with a request to present one of the exploration sessions.

These punctuate the weekend, expanding on themes weaving through the tapestry of the unfolding story driving the ritual elements. To say that I was intrigued, that a thread involving Spirit Animals could find its way into the 2016 retelling of the story of Gawain and the Green Knight, would be an understatement.

The outline of the exploration was drafted in my head by December, re-drafted by January, fiddled around the edges in February, and completely forgotten by March. The work-book arrived sometime in April. Under normal circumstances, I’d have had opportunity to read through the rituals a couple of times before heading South. 2016 wasn’t normal circumstanced. Last minute, bundle the basics (drum, skins, rattles…) into the car, and go!

Here’s the thing about these weekends. They seem to draw synchronicity. Not just in a casual way, but in deeply symbolic, multi-layered, right-in-your-face-not-to-be-missed way.

My ceremonial regalia, presented by Red_____ prior to his return to the States, includes a gorgeous headdress, in the form of a “mask”, made from American fox. There is irony here. That fox is so expert in all things camouflage, moving soundlessly, and, well, expert at hiding in plain sight, Red____ felt there was no better symbolism for a Running Elk. He wasn’t wrong –  when wearing the headdress I can only see through fox’s eyes, and remain hidden… So this exploration session was to be a “coming out” of sorts.

The discovery that Charles James Fox was to put in an appearance, under cover of night, seemed, somehow, propitious. It is always useful to have allies around! (*must watch: the video at the end of the link!)

How best to dip into the complex world of spirit animals to a mixed audience?

I’d roughly outlined a gentle “what is a spirit animal?” type introduction, broken with an exercise in connecting with the energies associated with various animal forms. Thursday night, half way there, I take the opportunity to settle into the Motel with a first read through: that’s when I learned the gruesome truth… the green man was going to present, contained within his freshly severed head, Philip and Stephania Carr-Gomm’s “Druid Animal Oracle” cards. Each companion was to choose a card, upon which they would meditate and attempt to make a connection with the animal depicted.

Perfect!  The exercise would now be much more meaningful, and have a context! As a group, there was an opportunity for each to connect to their chosen animal in a shamanic way, and, unexpectedly, we had an opportunity to take a journey too. Some found the drum took them easiest, others (interestingly, the “bird” people) were more affected by the rattles. Some of the feedback, regarding what individuals had experienced, had me, most unexpectedly, choked up.

I believe, in that “coming out” session, I learned more than the assembled companions, and remain incredibly grateful for the opportunity.

Of course, during the session, I had no idea that the “unwritten” part of Ritual 4 would witness poor Gawain go on the most intense JOURNEY possible, with the assembled animal companions ably assisting him on his way. I must confess, due to unforeseen circumstances, I was meant to supply two animals. Unfortunately, having been through the energy in the specially prepared space once, I couldn’t even consider going through for the second.

So Gawain went towards his potential end without “Hope”.

Sorry about that, Gawain…


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A magical path

It’s funny how we have forgotten; indoctrined or no, it seems too important to merely forget; that we are ALL magicians. Entrusting our power to others, who so freely abuse it, allows them, equally blind to their magical prowess but much more keenly focussed than we, to change the world in ways that we may abhor, yet, somehow, feel powerless to resist in the illusory tides of certainty projected, and projecting, that change.

What is that fear; which stands in the way of reclaiming the wands and staffs we checked in, forever it seems, around middle school… that most perfectly sculpted Temple in which Crowley’s “…male child of perfect innocence and high intelligence…”, is sacrificed, along with his equally intelligent and innocent sister, on a daily basis…?

Only one way to find out… 😉

The Silent Eye

“What,” asked my correspondent, enquiring about the School, “is magic?” It is not the first time I have been asked that question, once the difference between performance magic and the magical work of the esoteric path has been established.

Read any tale of magic, or indeed, the centuries-old treatises and grimoires that survive, and you would have to assume that magical work is all about gaining control. Spirits, demons, elementals and angels, all are to be summoned by the magician and bound to his bidding. Even those who have trained within an established and respected magical system will still use the old forms that look and sound as if this is the case. Young students who are just starting out on their path may well hold a vision of standing on a mountaintop commanding the storm like a Hollywood Merlin, anticipating the wild exhilaration of power. Are they deluded?…

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Strength and repose


Deep in the inner planes, there is a niche in which resides an ornate box.

The wood from which it is carved emits a pleasing, somnolent scent; vaguely redolent of cedar, rose, and lemon. On the front face, an exquisite geometric representation of the final sky journey we must all take. The burnished top is covered in various animals, some in profile, others facing outward, all bearing the role of psychopomp in various cultures.

At either end, the likeness of an arched doorway. The “left” arch is richly entwined with a vine motif, consisting of much greenery and hanging fruits. The “right” arch, though richly detailed, consists of naught but stark stonework.

The interior… well, the interior changes; to meet the expectations of the inhabitant. Whatever form the interior takes, there is both familiarity and comfort. A haven of tranquility and peace, a genuine home-from-home.

The only constant are two doors, one on each end of the interior. Both never change, always appearing the same, and invariably rather plain in comparison to the rest of the normally sumptuous interior. The “left” door contains a deeply incised V shape, only flatter, like the corner of a square. The “right” door contains a deeply incised inverted V shape.

I had noted that those who had come to this place, gathering their strength, purpose, and thoughts, would remain for an indeterminate time. They had a choice to make while they remained, safe and protected within: which door would they leave by.

There was a consistency. The “left” door returned them to the changed life which they had come to contemplate. The “right” door took them beyond the pain, the despair, or the irreconcilable confusion which had brought them here. Neither choice is better, neither choice is judged.

Today, a most surprising post joined some frustrating dots:

“When I fell into my death-slumber, I dreamt of two lengths of wood that crossed over at their bases,” he continued, softly. “Then they were on a door and I wanted, desperately, to go through that door…”

He stopped, the memory searingly intense for him.

“That longing pulled me away from death and I survived.

The “Unexpected Shaman“, whose words these are, revealed, for me, something of the direct experience of those finding themselves in need of strength and repose within that sacred space.

I may need to do some additional research…

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The Feathered Seer – Part 1 (or “whatever happened to The River of the Sun?”)

Sunlight on the River

…we may have to go back a little before we can begin. Say two years? All the way back to the River of the Sun in 2015, and the long-awaited “next post”, often promised but always failing to materialise. I suppose the key to its desire for immediate attention, under the (apparently) unrelated title of The Feathered Seer, might (just) be gleaned from events arising one Freaky Friday.

But of course, you don’t know how yet: there are pieces of that particular puzzle missing, and some of them won’t necessarily become apparent till The Feathered Seer – Part 3, at which point we might get round to the titular weekend. (I know! The suspense is killing me, too…)

The “River of the Sun” was to be our third Silent Eye (A Modern Mystery School) weekend in as many years. You don’t need to be a member to attend; indeed, the event usually includes such an eclectic mix of different paths and traditions that it becomes much more than the sum of its parts as the weekend unfolds.

It was, with some trepidation, that I read through the assigned part of Amkhren. Yet, no matter how many times you read through a part, it’s not until the Temple is entered and the energy of the other players becomes entwined in the space that the full import of the phrasing, the movement, and intention of the ritual can be appreciated.

Even knowing this, what would transpire in Ritual 5 that weekend was so unexpected, so off-the-scale bat-shit crazy, that there was no way I could have been prepared for it when it came. Possibly, even why the “next post“, this post, has remained aloof and unwilling to see the light of day till now… the order of things appears to be of some significance…

I knew, from the opening of the first ritual, that the weekend was going to be powerful. The opening had Amkhren sitting by the Nile, and, from the first words uttered, I was there: the other players faded into their own space, and only Amkhren and his doting grandmother remained… the waters lapped gently, bejewelled by a million dancing suns… So it continued; the mysterious stranger, the Priestess, the unexpected interruption of a solemn rite of initiation by Rameses and his cohort.

The entire first ritual passed in an instant, and, as in every ritual thereafter, I remained hardly aware of the “real space” in which the Temple resided, or of the people at the periphery of the direct action. The “Vessels of the Gods” were the Gods themselves…

The weekends culminate in Ritual 5, by which time the loose ends of the drama are brought together, the players are wrung out, and the Temple is running on “full“. All just in time for a good re-grounding in the form of Sunday lunch. Despite the intensity of the previous four, I suspected nothing and, lamb-like, entered the Temple for the last time.

Amkhren, aided by the Gods, relates to Rameses “…the story of that great mystery…” as expressed through the symbol of the Enneagram, which lies at the core of the school’s teachings. At the culmination of the story Rameses, moved to spare the boy’s life and to leave the Temple unmolested, calls upon all to bear witness to a Royal ordination of Amkhren as new priest to the Temple.

It is difficult to believe now, as it was then, that this was Rameses’ first time in ritual. With great care and deliberation, he removed his crown in order to retrieve a symbolic gift of initiation from around his own neck. At this point, he might have continued with the ritual. Instead, he took the time to replace his crown, and adjust himself such that Royal order should be maintained. Amkhren, kneeling before him, and the gathered crowd, wait…

Rameses places his hand on the boy’s head; “Let it be known across Egypt…”, a strange vibration was beginning to build; “…that the King-in-Rising has ordained…”, a lightening bolt of rather uncomfortable intensity; “…that there is created today, a new priest in this temple; …”, fire billows, in great waves, around the King; “…that the one known as Amkhren, nurtured to this honour by the Lady Scarab,…”, unbearable building of heat, engulfed and consumed in the flames emanating from, and directed by, the hand of Rameses; “…has been tested beyond the trials of normal process;…”, sweat begins to bead on Amkhren’s forehead; “…and has emerged a higher order of sacred servant.”

Hand of Fire

Flame and heat subside as Rameses lifts his hand from the boy’s head. The relief is overwhelming. “Wish you’d gone with baptism by Water instead of by Fire now?”, laughed an ethereal voice I knew only too well. Standing, as the ritual dictated, Amkhren may have gone off script to silently curse an unseen member of the assembled crowd…


It’s been two years. I still don’t fully understand what occurred that day. Rameses, devoid of any formal training in energy work, noted that he felt a strange tingling and a sensation of heat during the ritual; effectively recognising, if not really aware of, that experienced by Amkhren. Researching the significance of “Baptism by Fire” merely adds layers of additional questions.

Having been introduced to the sensation, however, I at least had an inkling of what was afoot, all be it equally confusing, a mere two weeks later in the CAT scan… Without the prior hand of Rameses, that particular experience may have involved a most unmanly scene, verging on unseemly terror…


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Growing in peace

One of these places you have vaguely heard of, yet never, for a second, considered could have affected such a level of tribute to those to whom it is dedicated. (And not just because of the bear… 🙂 )

“There is a Garden of the Innocents with an elder tree at its heart, dedicated to Anne Frank. Each spring its flower buds are removed, to symbolise the lost childhoods never allowed to grow to maturity.”

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

All ideas have to start somewhere and mine began with an hour or so to spare en route to the north. I had seen the sign for the National Memorial Arboretum every time I headed up that way and thought it would be a good place to while away a little time, so I turned the car towards Alrewas with no idea what to expect.

The Arboretum was the born from an idea of Commander David Childs CBE. An appeal was launched after he discussed the idea with Group Captain Leonard Cheshire VC, a one time commander of the legendary 617 ‘Dambusters’ squadron and philanthropist. Childs wished to create a national place of Remembrance,  to honour the fallen, recognising their service and sacrifice.

Yet it is not simply  military monument and all those touched by conflict are remembered here, from those who were shot at dawn to the children whose…

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The Lore-Spinner’s Saga

When spinners and weavers meet, under a crescent moon…

Chronicles of an Orange-Haired Woman!


Since early childhood, I have been a spinner of lore, working, oft-times, in tandem with my opposite, my all-but-twin, Sun to my Moon, Weaver of that which I spun from moonshine and memory, tale and tradition.

But it is a lonely existence in many respects. The spinning calls upon tides and times unseen by the melting-pot of mankind. My rhythms, slightly askew, jerk and judder when social meets and frenzied fraternising is called for. Hermit by nature, I do not venture out of the Cave of Seers with ease. I stand, in sun too bright, blinking and bleary from the soothing uterine darkness of the Mother Cavern, wordless and shy amongst the silver- tongued ones.

Oh! At necessary moments, and clad in convincing costume, the rules of society rote-learned and word-perfect, I emerge and walk amongst the Land-Dwellers, selling my stories for a monetary pittance or exchanging them for the…

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