Today at the Castle of the Muses we have been commemorating some extraordinary figures from the past. Each day, as those who have been here on retreat know, we have a communal meditation service that includes prayers and silent meditation, and then some readings from sacred scriptures, poetry and other inspired words. We also read from the Universal Calendar of Saints and Sages, which I wrote some years ago when it came to my attention that there simply is no book that lists saints and sages from all faiths, all paths, all philosophies and all religions. You can get lots of Dictionaries of Christian Saints (although the details vary from denomination to denomination) but you cannot get equivalent lists of saints and sages from say Taoism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Jainism, Buddhism etc. So this is what our Universal Calendar does. From each category of faith paths, each day of the year, we have one example to reflect on. Today, the following list comprises the figures we have been celebrating. Each of them in their own way made significant contributions to the unfolding of world spirituality and collective intelligence. We salute them all and ask for their continuing blessings to be showered down upon all of us working for a transformed world of peace through beauty, wisdom and truth.. ! Today is November 5th which in Britain is a time to commemorate the successful foiling of the Gunpowder plot, which was when a group of conspirators led by Robert Catesby planned to blow up Parliament at its opening. It would have killed both King James 1st, but also his son Prince Henry and all the assembled, Lords and MP’s and Bishops etc. It would have been a 1503 equivalent of 9/11 – indeed it could be called an intended act of horrendous terrorism, in the way the word is used now. The conspirators were Roman Catholics who thought what they were doing had “divine sanction”. They were foiled due to excellent Elizabethan / Jacobean intelligence services, but only just in the nick of time. Guy Fawkes, the bomb expert in the group, who had worked as a mercenary in religious wars in Europe for many years, fighting against Protestants, was literally just lighting the fuse to slow burn over-night and then it was timed to go off in the morning, when he was caught in the cellars. Lord Bacon and William Shakespeare were both alive at that time, as was Dr John Dee, and so many other great minds, and they must have all sighed with relief when the intended catastrophe didn’t happen. It would make a superb film if anyone ever wrote the screen-play. (Note to self – do it when you have time) Get those rockets soaring ! But today is also sacred to St Theresa of Avila, who was a brilliant mystic and author of an important treatise on prayer, which can be read by Catholics, protestants and indeed people of all faiths. She says that unless you learn to meditate and practice contemplation and prayer, you cannot really call yourself a Christian. Her writings (the Way to Perfection) show how interesting and complex a business prayer is, which is something we practice each morning here at the Castle of the Muses, and those here on retreat can join in. But in our increasingly secularised society we have largely forgotten the art of prayer. Only Muslims have the courage to ask for prayer times at set intervals in the day whilst at work, yet sadly that is often seen as one step short of being a “terrorist”. Maybe we should invent a new word – a “prayerist”. Personally, as a Druid, Christian and philosopher, I have found prayer usually gets effects where violence would fail miserably. So if you want to change society for the better, don’t plant bombs like Guy Fawkes, learn to pray, like Muhammad, Jesus or St Teresa of Avila. Become a “prayerist” instead of a “terrorist”. Personally, I also don’t understand why Jews are forbidden by law to pray on the Temple Mount, as if that’s a threat ? Surely we ought to be encouraging interfaith prayer gatherings, and not discouraging them. Everyone should have a free pass to pray everywhere, as long as they are respectful of each other’s styles and types of prayers, and don’t impose their own. Everyone’s style is different, and there’s no “one size fits all”. Today is also sacred to Daniel the prophet and seer, who is famous for surviving the Lions Den. He lived in Persia and his biblical book which tells his story is a masterpiece of prophetic writing. He predicts the future of the entire world in a series of vivid dreams. His belongs to the Apocalyptical tradition, which is the same tradition as the Book of Enoch that I am currently writing a detailed Commentary on. The hero of my novel is also called Daniel, for obvious reasons (the novel is about time travel and the end of the world, among other things). So it’s quite a special day. Get those rockets going off in the garden for the children to enjoy and light those bonfires, something I well remember from the back garden of our house in Kemp Town as a child. But to me, as a philosopher, the adepts, sages and visionaries of the world are like true fireworks. The Book of Zohar says the sages shine like the stars in the sky, quoting from the Book of Daniel. So let them shine with peace rather than war, love and tolerance for all, rather than bombs of hatred and destruction – as in the recent bomb that went off on a Russian plane bound for St Petersburg. Instead of bombs let us have prayer-fireworks, as each sage and aspirant and student of the mysteries reaches into their highest nature and lights up their own Tree of Life so as to ascend the highest wisdom they are capable of achieving. Happy November 5th everyone !

1. Christian Theresa of Avilla 1518-1582
2. Buddhist Virupa, adept of Tantric Buddhism, initatied by Laksminkara, 820 880 tantric saint origin of Sakya monastic tradition
3. Hindu Udayana, fl. 984 AD, philosopher
4. Humanists, scientists,
Artists Seurat, George (1859-91) French painter, one of the major Post-Impressionists and inventor of Neo-Impressionism, creator of Pointillism
5. Pagan Cebes of Thebes, Pythagorean philosopher and friend of Socrates
6. Islam Ibn Ata’Allah of Alexandria, Sufi poet of Shadhili Order in Egypt
7. Judaism Daniel
8. Taoism, Shintoism,
Confucianism Zhu Xi (1130-1200), Chinese historian
9.Bahai, Jainism, Sikhism, Zoroastrians Bahra, Sassanian King
10. Esotericists, magicians, occultists, theosophists F. Leigh Gardner, Hon Secretary of Societas Rosicucrucianis Anglia and author of Bibliotheca Rosicruciana
11. Freemasonry Poniatowski, Sytanislav 1732-1798
12. Women scholars, thinkers, artists, writers, scientists etc. Solle, Dorothee, 20th century German Christian theologian

To finish, here is a poem recently recorded, which is part of my ongoing project to record all 900 of my poems and make them available as a Talking Book.. This poem is called “Orpheus in India”, and refers to a visit I made to India, when I was inspired to write the poem, sitting watching the sunset come, swiftly, as it does in India, in Rajasthan. I wrote it back in 2008, but recorded it in 2015, and it is number 515 in my collected ouevre