News from Mandy, Jane and Freya - the Eco Shamanism team
Extensions of my house skin - snowy porch entrance this time last year and the leaning tower of chimney pot.
In the last newsletter I spoke of 'lines' and how they map our environment. Today I'm extending the metaphor to edges. Lines are often edges and an edge is a debatable thing.
Back in August I had some builders in to re-render a chimney stack. Under the old render were cracked bricks and soft cement. I made the decision to rebuild the chimney as it was in such a precarious state. The chimney on the other end of the house which is pretty solid also had it's pot reset in fresh 'benching' - a term which means sitting the pot in some render whilst capping the chimney. On Sunday evening my neighbour arrived and asked me if I was aware that this particular chimney pot had lost it's upright stance and was leaning like the Tower of Pisa. We went outside and it certainly was 'leaning' with only the chimney liner holding it in place. I rang the builder who, as I write, has promised to come and have a look today. I hope he does and makes it safe as gales are forecast tomorrow and if the pot topples I envisage a big hole in my roof.
So what has this got to do with edges? Over the past 48 hours I have felt my bodily edge extend out towards the shell of my house. I have felt uneasy, reminded again and again that there is something wrong, a niggling and lurking gap in the edge of my house which has been mirroring a niggling and lurking gap in the edge of me, my body. I have even dreamed of my chimney. It would be quite easy to go into psychobabble now and be very boring but I'll spare you that. Rather I would like to go into eco shamanism babble and say that what this event has brought to the surface is the surface itself.
When I give talks or run trainings and workshops my stock quote is from the 16th/17th century Polish alchemist Sendivogius who said - 'the greater part of the soul is outside the body'. I often repeat this quote as it is profoundly relevant to our perception of our selves and our environment. We often see our 'edge' as the skin of our body and we often feel comfortable in our skin unless someone sees through it and then we can be disarmed, another useful phrase. And our house is similar, a haven in which we feel safe and warm, held and protected. It is an extension and reflection of who we are, a second skin that we inhabit as if it were another edge. So where is my soul - is it inside my skin, inside my house, or further afield, or out in the greater environment as my skin and my house are only edges to the whole? If our souls are outside our bodies then how can we not be our environment? I am in your environment merely by the very act of you reading something I have written. I could go further and say I'm visiting your soul inside of you as my writing has pierced your eyes and entered your soul body or body soul. It gives the term to inhabit quite a different feel. If anyone is familiar with David Abram and his works then he gives a great account of the notion of 'House' in his book 'Becoming Animal' - I recommend it. Currently though, I feel disarmed. As I write the builders have arrived, inspected and departed to get reinforcements so that the chimney pot can be secured in the coming gales. I feel like I have been inspected too as one of the builders commented on my colourful windows, these being an expression and extension of my soul, they are my house eyes, and through them I see the greater part of my soul, outside my house body. I also feel huge gratitude for these men who have come to secure the great pipe of my house, a chimney breathing my heart hearth fire in readiness for the depths of the approaching winter's soul darkness.
The Golden Fleece in the Forest of Dean; Venus Vinegar made on our Dreaming with Venus 24 hour workshop in October (accompanied by Winston Churchill in it's shadow); bramble scramble in the snow
Moving on, there are writings below from Jane and Freya about re-belling and the scramble down into the depths of winter. Briefly, before we do, here is a reminder of the last Shamanic Sunday of the year and some developments regarding next year including a new course in Eco Mapping specifically for shamanic practitioners and new events in Birmingham, Bristol, Avebury and Derbyshire. All this and more can be investigated by clicking the website links further down the newsletter.
This Sunday 2nd December is the last Shamanic Sunday of the year at Millers Farm in the Forest of Dean. All are welcome including beginners. 10.30am - 1pm at Millers Farm nr Blakeney GL15 4AP
There will be the usual tea, coffee, biscuits and fruit and this is included in the cost of £8. A selection of beeswax spirit candles will be available for sale . . . please bring a mat, blanket, eye cover and pen and paper. Directions to Millers Farm can be sent out on request. Email me if you'd like more information. A NOTE RE PARKING - please park efficiently in the parking area at Millers Farm and block others in if necessary. If there is no room please use the verge outside the farm gates but not further up the road. If there is still no room please park up on the Green.
2019 developments - scroll down to see web links February 2nd Imbolc - Landscape, Lan(d)guage & Rivers - Jane and I will start a series of 4 day workshops engaging with the land (including the new land) and river at Millers Farm in the Forest of Dean. February 19th - Learn the Shaman's Journey day in Birmingham. March 5th evening - talk on Eco Shamanism in Bristol March 15th - 17th - Eco Mapping for Shamanic Practitioners, Millers Farm April 11th - Eco Shamanism Practitioner Training starts - one place left. April 22nd - Usk River Pilgrimage from Newport to Caerleon. May 18th - 19th - Poetry, Writing and Eco Shamanism in Avebury with Jay Ramsay. September 6th - 8th - Weekend of Eco Shamanism with Karen Clarke and Debs Lincoln in Derbyshire September 14th - 15th - First weekend of Plant Perception & Resonance Course with Freya Davies
I'll hand you over to Jane and Freya now but in the meantime have a wonder fuelled Winter Solstice and let your very own personal dream harvest arrive through the season's darkness. With warmth, Mandy
Re-belling and Rebelling
Jane Embleton is our expert in all matters pertaining to the land in general and co runs the Landscape, Language & Rivers and Dreaming with Venus workshops. She speaks the lan(d)guage of landscapes, rivers and dreams.
I have been very aware of the 100 year markers of the start and end of the first world war. That period was a turning point, a point in time when we turned away from our land in The British Isles and started to lose our collective connection. I am getting a strong sense that 100 years later we are starting to pick up the threads and renew the conversation.
Until the "Great War" and even through the industrial revolution every field, stream, ditch, bridge or bog whether in a city, town or village would have had people who knew them and or felt a connection with them, we just need to look at old maps and place names to see how this carries forward. I would argue that even less positive associative names like Nomansland in Devon or a bus stop in Foxrock, Dublin called "The Kill" are better than no associations at all. I worry for vast tracts of industrial farmland where monoculture agriculture turns it into a wasteland, a grid reference on a map akin to the numerical codes that underly our technological lives today.
This disconnect started when a whole generation of young men left and never returned, and those that did were probably never quite the same, a whole chapter missing in the stories of places, a link in the chain broken like never before. Our land has been grieving for them and their stories are still with their bones far away in foreign lands, a collective loss of souls.
I was aware of the celebrations and especially wanted to be at home when the bells rang out across the land to remember the spontaneous ringing of bells that marked the end of hostilities 100 years before. I had wanted to climb a hill to listen to all the bells but in the end stayed in my garden and pottered about and waited. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm, and when the bells started to ring I went to tell the bees. They of course already knew and were flying around as if it was a midsummers day. I heard
" the time for grieving is over, this is a call for action”
Just a few days before the bells, on the cusp of the Celtic Years All Hallows eve, the Extinction Rebellion launched. A friend and I had climbed our local Dragon Hill on that night and pledged our commitment, and it had been a challenge and a real test for both of us to get there at all, but that is another story. Once long ago the ringing of Bells on All Souls day after Halloween was forbidden as only Saints were deemed worthy of Bells on All Saints day. But the people re belled and rang them anyway in small groups in their own homes as they were afraid for the souls of their ancestors and wanted to honour them and make peace with them. The current Re belling feels very similar but this time we are afraid for the souls of our fore-cestors and with the help of the world wide web it is spreading like a wild fire cutting across all divides as we have the same earthly red blood coursing through our veins no matter which country, religion, race or class we belong to. Most of us hope and dream for the happiness and well being of those who will come after us but fear for their future. Even the children are worried.
I feel that the tide is starting to turn, we are listening again and together we can re bell and stand up for our beautiful earth, our H-earth, our home. Jane
As an addendum, Jane and Mandy ran a 24 hour Dreaming with Venus workshop in Somerset at the end of October and then Jane wrote an article for an online magazine WakeupScreaming in Edition #16. The edition subject was Numbers and there were many other interesting articles too so if you'd like to read it you can do by clicking this link which will take you to the edition in question.
Winter is here and now
Freya is our Plant enthusiast and co runs the Plant Eco Shamanism workshops and courses. She is a Sensory Herbalist and a friend of, and to, the plant world.
Freya ends our missive with a short roundup of our Plant Perception & Resonance course that ended recently. There will be an introductory Plant day on Saturday 9th February 2019 at Millers Farm in the Forest of Dean.
Late November and things are taking a turn inwards . . . a few weekends ago saw the end of the Plant Perception and Resonance course and workshops for the year. The culmination of the year long course was a delight of rooty nourishment with Horseradish, fire cider and a delve in to our own roots with Dandelion. It was a delight to hear our fellow plant lovers tell tales of gardens and patches of land tended with love and new found skills of plant connection. We shared songs, poems, pictures and tinctures. A true sensory delight! And we came to the edge of our relationship with plants to seek ourselves in them and them in ourselves, a stillness at the invisible edge.
I have dug my last harvest of roots including Valerian which has been made into a tincture and elecampane which has been chopped and is soaking in honey - as a soothing balm for any winter coughs that appear. The leaves have been swept off the steps and some have been swept in to the corners, providing a spot for overwintering caterpillars and bugs. Now the harvest is done there are still a few more tinctures and vinegars to strain and bottle up for the store cupboard. Then it's time to sit by the fire, reading, reflecting, dreaming and imagining next year's herb garden and examining the embers glowing in the bottom of the cauldron.
Enjoy the darkness, kindle your heart fires and stay warm! Freya
Readying for winter: Holly sucking up the last of the days sunlight; fire ciders in all shapes, sizes and colours; catkins . . . hanging in there
2019 events update
in date order
What's happening this year and next - anything in blue and underlined is a weblink.
Any questions or enquiries please get in touch.