In December 2017, Stuart and I ran one of the Silent Eye’s regular workshops, this time in Derbyshire. As our workshops are currently on hold because of the pandemic, and as the story of the workshop was originally published in full only on The Silent Eye’s website, sharing it here, in lieu of the planned-and-cancelled workshop seemed like a good idea.
There are many past workshops I could have chosen, but this one tells the whole story, from how we were led to choosing its theme, to how the work of the weekend spilled over into our lives after the workshop was over.
And when the current crisis is over and we are all allowed out to play once more, I hope you might be tempted to join us one weekend as we explore the ancient and sacred places of Albion…
Riddles of the Night: Clues on cue
We had known for a long time the main sites we intended to use for the Riddles in the Night workshop. The trouble was, we did not really know why, or what linked them. They are far from being the only sites we could have chosen; we know the area well, we have worked with the landscape in some detail over the past few years and there are enough ancient, sacred and interesting places to fill several workshops.
The sites we had chosen might not necessarily be seen as the ‘best’ or most impressive in the area. And, although most are clustered quite close together, one of them is a fair distance. There are others closer to our chosen base in Bakewell, but they were not speaking to us… at least, not this time. So why, we asked ourselves, had we decided upon these sites? It was almost as if they had chosen themselves without bothering to tell us why.
It cannot be said that we were happy with this uncertain state of affairs, and with only a few possible planning meetings to go, we were getting a little concerned at our lack of insight.
Then on our journey north for the last workshop, by a curious set of coincidences, we met two people over breakfast. It was one of those pleasant encounters where we all seemed to be on the same page, even though our paths differ. They were in Scotland visiting Rosslyn, the Templar chapel made famous by Dan Brown’s novels. We spoke briefly about dowsing, earth energies and the ‘dragon lines’… the leys… all of which tied in nicely with what we would be doing in the north. But it was a brief meeting and we headed our separate ways.
A few days later, ensconced in the last hotel of the journey and with one workshop over, we were glumly contemplating the next, still no wiser about the direction we would take. As if on cue, an email arrived stating that we had a booking from the ladies we had met for the December event… the one we had still to construct.
We had already decided to ask the attendees to solve riddles to find the locations of the sites. This had a dual purpose… both as a bit of fun and with the serious aim of illustrating how, on the spiritual journey, cryptic ‘clues’ are dropped into our lives which can lead us to greater understanding if we pay attention. Like riddles, which always contain all the answers, such clues often become clear only in retrospect, once knowledge is added and understanding has dawned.
We had no intention of hitting the attendees with the proverbial wet fish if they failed to solve the clues. Life has no such compunction and, over the next couple of weeks, set about demonstrating the fact.
It was almost immediately after that booking email that things began to fall into place, as if the flood-gates had been opened. We stared at the brilliant colours of a stained glass St Michael and the best dragon we had seen to date… dragons had been part of that breakfast conversation…. and we suddenly felt that things had begun to fall into place.
Had we been paying attention, we might have gleaned a few more clues that day. The church at Skipton had been built by the Cliffords, the family who held the manorial castle next door. The Clifford family was a prominent one in the early days of the Normans, but fell from grace when Roger de Clifford rebelled against the king in 1322. He was hanged at Clifford’s Tower in York… the tower in which the Templars, rounded up and charged with heresy, were held just a few years earlier. But although the connection to the tower was mentioned, it was only in the context of the appalling anti-Semitic massacre in 1190.
As it was, we remained clueless, knowing only that we were somehow back on track… we still had no real idea where the track was leading. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, though, by revisiting some of our old haunts, seeing new significance in things we had thought we knew well and finally getting into a place we had long intended to visit, the clues began to make sense. When December arrived, we felt we had the outline of a workshop. Where do you begin to tie together centuries of history, sites that span thousands of years and our own quest for understanding? We chose to begin at a well…