from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Thursday, 31 July 2014

walking the wild ways - ecopsychology course

OK. Here it is, at last (not the promised hare blog, but the ground out of which that, and all my other work, and blogs, grow). I've exhausted all possibilities for dallying on the touchline, turning my back, la-la-la-fingers-in-ears, diverting myself with a thousand excuses, etc. This is The Work. My work. Our work. 

Walking the Wild Ways
Ecosoul – the ecological imagination
Encounters with other, encounters with self

The Web

Once, twice, in a year or a lifetime
you step without knowing through a doorway
of light. It might happen like this:

back leaning against a great oak
or pressed to warm grass; or maybe eye-to-eye
with a young deer met in surprise

by the brook before flight takes over;
or the touch of a damselfly alighting on your hand.
This is not a trip to the country

from which you can return as a tourist
and carry on as you were. This is home.

Roselle Angwin

Encounters with Other, Encounters with Self
So – here it is: the long-promised first ‘ecosoul’ course for THE WILD WAYS. It’s still taking final shape in my imagination, but this seems to be what’s forming.

1 open session; 7 sessions in a closed group
Session 1: open group (you don’t have to be committed to the ongoing course to attend this)
Tongues in Trees, Saturday November 8th:
the ecological imagination & the Celtic sacred tree teachings

Thereafter, in 2015, this is a closed group. Initial outline (subject to possible change):

1 Tongues in Trees: the Celtic sacred tree circle
2 Animal Teachers
3 Auguries of Birds
4 Plant Spirit Medicine
5 The four elements, the four directions, the four functions, and ‘as above so below’
6 The Marriage of Heaven & Earth – teachings of intimate relationship
7 The land, the Circle of the Year, the web of life
8 The Gift (the ‘treasure beyond all price’)

*    What does it means to live with soul, with care for the wild, in our current materialistic society?
*    How might we live in harmony with the whole of the rest of the Web of Life?
*    How are soul and place connected?
*    How can we combine a positive and healthy rootedness in the world with our spiritual longings that are no longer served by the old models?
*    How can we live life fully and creatively, hold it lightly, and give our unique gifts?

This hands-on ecopsychology work has the objective of soul-restoration, integration and wholeness: healing our torn relationships with ‘Other’, the rest of the natural world, and ourselves. I want to explore ways of bridging the dualistic gap in our Western world between heart and mind, matter and spirit.

It’s also about becoming more authentic.

The programme is intended as a participatory and dynamic exploration of how we might re-vision and enhance our collaborative relationship with the rest of the natural world in this web of life. Our healing is deeply intertwined, I believe, with healing our relationship with the more-than-human. My concern is how we might participate fully in the web of all life, and also honour the different aspects of being human: body, heart, mind and soul/spirit.

We'll work with bringing together direct felt experience, observation, creativity and what I call the 'ecological imagination'. The aim is an enlargement of our perception of the flow of consciousness between us humans and the more-than-human, and the nature of our relationship to both inner and outer worlds.

The work will involve some theory and guidance, but will also be very much experiential and collaborative. I expect to include writing, poetry and story, exercises and tasks, esoteric teachings, visualisation, outdoor hands-on experience, conversation, discussion, solo and pairs work, fire, water and ceremony, gentle walking, silence, and brief meditations/mindfulness.

I hope to run eight sessions, seven of them within a small closed group. (This will be followed with the creation of an online course, and will probably be repeated annually.) Mostly we shall be working as much as possible outdoors, and within the cycle of the seasons and the elements.

The first day workshop, ‘Tongues in Trees’, is open to anyone interested in exploring our relationship with soul and the land, primarily through the tree realm, the lens of psychology, the native Celtic Spiritual Tradition and, of course, creative expression. This takes place on Saturday 8th November, close to the Celtic New Year, Samhain, on some beautiful land offered by a friend in Cornwall, not far from a mainline station (from Paddington and I think from northern stations too). You can see more here.

At this time in world history, we really need individuals and groups who are making as strong an effort as possible to be ‘conscious’, and to offer their unique gifts to help strengthen our collective bonds with the rest of the natural world. We desperately need to revision our relationship to the rest of the world, and other species and the planet in particular.

I’d love to work with a few heartful people who resonate with these ideas and know they have something to offer in this way. If something in you, no matter how cautiously, is stirring a YES! please be in touch…
The day course has no pre-requirements. Before you consider committing to the longer course, however, you will need to attend the first day workshop.

After that, I’d to ask you to think deeply about whether you are ready for this process, and I’ll need a letter of application to demonstrate this. You’ll need to be fully committed not only to attendance and the group and course as a whole, but to your own process, and at times you’ll need to share this (of course, everything will be confidential). Perhaps occasionally this journey of discovering, uncovering and recovering our relationship to Wild and our wild and truthful selves may trigger vulnerability, and at times difficult issues may arise for you. You will be expected to write up your experiences, and keep a journal in between.

I’ll be posting details such as dates and fees later; but since this will be a small group (maximum 8, plus me), it would be good if you let me know your provisional interest soon, through the contact form on the website or mail to roselle[at]fire-in-the-head[dot]co[dot]uk

If you can’t make this course, but might manage a week’s retreat, the course I’m leading in the Cévennes next September (see the Wild Ways website, as above, weeklong courses) will be a week’s intensive residential with this work.

(There may be a Part 11 to this course, incorporating more directly ‘inner’ work with symbolic systems such as astrology, tarot, the hero’s journey, grail myths, poetry and our own mythology.) 

What I bring
For a long time I’ve been nudged towards making the holistic psychospiritual and ecological dimensions that underpin all my work more overt. It’s taken me decades to overcome a natural hesitation and shyness in relation to what has been an enormous, longstanding, profound but largely private dimension to my life.

There comes a time when you have to ‘give back’, and stand in the full light of who you are.

So. I come from the far West of Cornwall, the far West of Britain, from a deeply Celtic family whose roots, as far as we can track, might well go back to prehistory in that land. However, I’ve spent most of my life in rural Devon.

In my family of origin, relationships with plants, animals and birds were deeply woven into the fabric of our everyday lives, and I have a deep affinity with these other beings. Such things as dowsing, megalithic mysteries, intuition, imagination, telepathy and psychic experience were rather taken for granted. Poetry, music, painting and stories were all abundant in our childhood. We also spent a great deal of time as children, out on the land, at the sea’s edge, in the woods – with a pony, or a surfboard, or a kayak, or walking and cycling, in all weathers.

As a teenager, I became fascinated with Celtic mythology (which I later studied in its original languages at university) and the Grail legends (ditto), poetry, megalithic culture, holy wells and the teachings of the land. Since then, I’ve immersed myself deeply in what is known as the British Mystery Tradition, which I’ve studied and practised deeply for 40 years now.

I’ve also studied herbal medicine, and have used this in all that time for my daughter, myself, and various animals. Foraging and vegetable-gardening, as well as animal husbandry, have been a big part of my life, as have several self-sufficiency/bushcraft skills, and the making of herbal remedies, natural cosmetics and ceremonial incenses.

Into this mix has been stirred my 40-year-long immersion in the Zen tradition and its emphasis on awareness; I find its teachings on impermanence and its traditional focus on the natural world enhance my spiritual path.

I also trained as a counsellor in Transpersonal Psychology, and this and my ongoing study of Jungian and archetypal therapies underpin all my work. I’ve been facilitating groups since 1991; full-time since 1994. (You can see testimonials on both my websites.)

I’ve experienced and facilitated VisionQuest and shamanic work in the native American (First Nation) tradition, but have come home to rest in my own British/Celtic spirituality.

All these things will shape the course. We’ll also we visit poetry, myth and archetype to better understand the stories of our lives and their deeper patterns, and their place in the web of our culture and the natural world.

I suppose I should say that I’m also an author, novelist and poet, and have a number of publications in print.  I’m currently working on a book of essays on place and soul.

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