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, 7 May 2015

animal archetypes, horse medicine & spirit of place

Hello lovely people

You may have noticed I've been a bit overtaken by silence. It's due to many things, but predominantly three: I still feel a bit inward after the death of my dad five months ago, and am currently dealing with the aftermath; two is that I have spoken and written of my annual retreat on the Isle of Iona* so many times now after each year's course that I have nothing left to say that isn't a rehash; three, I've come back to a morass of Things to Do here. And there are also changes in the lives of self and family (all good ones), which take some of my energy.

I am trying to retain the sense of inward spaciousness and stillness that the island, the journey across Mull with its wildlife, and the work give to me; and part of it is, or has been, fasting from computers.

After this kind of silence words queue up to burst to the surface, but I have to nurture that part gently until it's ready to be reborn.

So I'm thinking in more practical terms now, as that way I can protect the new shoots of whatever is gestating for the next creative expression.

I thought – in fact I'm sure – I mentioned on here my forthcoming 3-day event on Exmoor next month, just after this year's summer solstice, but I can't find the post. If your memory's better than mine – not hard – apologies. (Normal service – that is, blogposts on a range of subjects, might yet be restored, at some indefinable time in the future.)

I'm going to draw your attention, should you live in England and preferably the Southwest, to what I consider to be an exciting project. This is a combination of deep ecology, spirituality, and the sense of reciprocity in a healthy relationship to the ecosphere, and so flies under my The Wild Ways : ecosoul and the ecological imagination; and there are a few places left.

The next weekend (non-residential) course offers an evening on animal archetypes: focusing on the animals with which (whom) we have personal and collective bonds, and the gift from a shamanic and psychological perspective of their symbolic potential in our psyches and our lives.

The Saturday is a whole day working hands-on with one of two beautiful horses as mirrors of who and what we are, and as teachers and guides.

Sunday offers an opportunity of immersion in and a deepening of our sense of relationship to place while writing within the earthy ramparts of an Iron Age camp, high up on Exmoor.

So here's the blurb, and there are still a few places left on each of the three workshops (or come to all three at a discount).

The Wild Ways on Exmoor
The intention behind all this work is to bring together felt experience of the natural world with our imagination and some psychological exploration to re-vision our relationships with self, other (including and especially the other-than-human), and the wild – as well as to produce new and inspiring pieces of writing (no previous skills needed in any of this). Think of it as ecotherapy plus – the ‘plus’ being a reciprocity: shifting our centre-of-attention from the needs of humans solely to the needs of other species and the planet as a whole.

I’m excited to announce that my ecosoul programme continues with three new outdoor workshops. We’ll be using the wonderful high Exmoor land, with its glimpses of the sea, belonging to Cait Collins not far from Dunster.
The aim is to reinvigorate our sense of connectedness to other beings, our soul-life and the land through creative exploration.
ANIMAL ARCHETYPES, Friday 26 June, 7pm-9pm
Writing workshop exploring our relationship with animals through their symbolic significance in our psyches.
HORSE MEDICINE, Saturday 27 June, 10am-5pm
Horses have shared my life always, as they have Cait’s. I know how profoundly uplifting, inspiring and healing it can be to spend time with them, and to learn their ways. Cait and I both feel that humans need urgently to re-vision our relationship to these animals who have accompanied us through so many millennia, and done so much for us.
Cait’s two very beautiful horses, Rowan and Brigit, are enlisted in her coaching and therapy work. We will have the privilege in the morning of some hands-on work one-to-one or more probably two-at-a-time with Cait herself, and one of the horses, and in the afternoon I’ll take our experience further through exploration and writing.
(No previous experience needed.)
Cait and I are both qualified counsellors, and both influenced by Buddhist thinking (mine is tempered with the Western Mystery Tradition). You can read more of Cait’s work here:
and you can see my blog about my experience with Rowan, above, here.
SPIRIT OF PLACE, Sunday 28 June, 10am-4pm
Immediately adjacent to Cait’s land is an Iron Age camp. As in so many of these prehistoric places, there is a tranquility and atmosphere of containment that’s palpable, even though the Iron Age camps were generally defensive structures. And it’s in a beautiful spot with glimpses of the sea. This writing workshop explores our relationship to place, the ways in which land touches us as we touch it, and how we may be changed by the experience.
Each of these workshops is self-contained, but attending all three will offer, we think, a deep rich memorable experience.
If you decide to attend all three there are several good places to eat in nearby Dunster, and below you can source local B&Bs (or ask me). Camping on-site may be possible.

Friday evening alone: £18 Saturday all day: £65 Sunday all day: £50 PRICE FOR ALL THREE: £115
Places are limited

What you’ll need
Outdoor clothing (close to the solstice the weather can be very unsettled, so lots of warm layers, waterproofs, sturdy boots or wellies, oh and just in case, some sunscreen/sunhat. There is a field shelter but we are mainly working outside. Picnic lunch if attending the full days (we hope to have the means to offer hot/cold drinks, and will probably eat informally together in Dunster in the evenings). Drinking water A notebook and pen
Something dry to sit on
(even a carrier bag will do)
Directions will be given on booking.


* You can see details of the 2016 Iona retreat here. Next year, as the course always has a waiting list, I'm leading two courses. The first is provisionally full; the second has a couple of places left.

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