News update from the Eco Shamanism camp
More about 'instinction' . . . and Lazarus species
Moon - trying to hide behind a tree
This month we have contributions from all three of us. Mandy ruminates on the continuing theme of instinction, Freya tells of Rosemary, and her presence in our most recent Plant Perception & Resonance workshop and Jane is hot-footing it down a watery motorway.
Firstly a few of updates - for the usual workshops and courses please scroll down to the bottom. Bristol - Mandy will be giving a talk on Eco Shamanism at the Bristol Theosophical Society next Tuesday 5th March from 7.30pm. Avebury - in May the Poetry, Writing & Eco Shamanism weekend has changed - on Sat 18th May we will hold the Poetry and Writing part of the weekend at a private venue as a standalone event with 8 spaces and on Sun 19th May there will be an Introduction to Eco Shamanism workshop at Avebury Social Centre - up to 15 spaces. Working in this sacred landscape is always special!
Mandy will be giving two short workshops at the Seed Festival (19th to 21st July) at Hawkwood College near Stroud in Gloucestershire - this weekend festival is small and cutting edge but attracts big speakers and inspirational workshops.
The Derbyshire Eco Shamanism weekend 6-8 September is now bookable on the website - you don't need to know anything about Shamanism or Eco Shamanism to attend and is the first large event about Eco Shamanism north of Birmingham. Mandy will be joined by medical herbalist Debs Lincoln and Qigong/body practitioner Karen Clarke.
A new year long course in Eco Shamanism is beginning in October 2019 with the title Eco Shamanism - Shifting Terrain. It has initially been offered to those who have trained on the Eco Shamanism Practitioner training and is now open to all. You don't need any specific background in shamanism although it would be useful if you know how to journey shamanically. It will be held over 4 long weekends at Ragmans Farm in Gloucestershire and covers the subjects of Weather Shamanism, Micro Intelligence, Dreams and Dreaming and Eco Linguistics with an overlying theme of instinction all of which will overlap and intermingle. The course is led by Mandy with assisted teachings from Jane and Freya. There are details on the website.
Mandy, Jane and Freya.
Lazarus Earth Musings from Mandy
Edward's Dodo by Roelant Savery 1626
The word 'instinction' is apparently from the 15th century and obsolete. I think I've mentioned that before. Yet our Earth is at a turning point, 'instinction' is back. Let me expand - it derives from the Latin 'instinctus' which, as a noun, means 'inspiration' or 'impulse' and as an adjective, 'inspired' or 'infuriated'. Probably more famously it is also the title of a Spandau Ballet song from 1982! Whilst researching 'instinction' and 'extinction' I came across the word 'de-extinction' which refers to species revivalism or resurrection biology and for this you can read cloning and selective breeding, in order to create an organism that resembles an extinct species or a breeding population . . . the word 'de-extinction' musters up strange feelings in me. The prefix 'de' means to do the opposite of the word it precedes but it is like a double negative, it sort of cancels itself out . . . and it reminds me of the word 'destroy'. The cloning, in 2009, of the extinct Pyrenean Ibex (extinct as of 2000) as a way of reversing the extinction process resulted in the new born animal dying within minutes of birth. Humans are good at saying when a species has become extinct, usually when they can't find any remaining individuals. However, they don't like to admit they're wrong, they usually just act surprised. Take the extinct Giant Turtle, one of which was recently discovered on the Galapagos Islands, last seen over 100 years ago. And then there's the giant black bee, known as Wallace's giant bee, that was 'thought' to be extinct, which also emerged recently in Indonesia. And another black animal, the rare Black Panther was caught on a camera trap in Kenya this last month, also with no conclusive sightings for over 100 years. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if the Dodo suddenly reappeared. I'm sure the Dodo would get on with being a Dodo and not worry one iota about whether human's had found it or not. And here in Britain there was a report issued last week saying that badger, otter, weasel, stoat and polecat numbers have been on the rise since the 1960s . . . the ebb and flow of species is arguably more interesting than whether they are endangered or not.
There are reasons why species go extinct, usually because their ecological niche becomes hostile or uninhabitable for one reason or another. Species have been going extinct since species began. They have been mutating and diversifying for aeons and some estimates say that more than 99% of species that have ever inhabited our Earth have become extinct over it's millions of years of existence. Even now it is estimated that there are more than one trillion species with only one thousandth of one percent having been described. And then there's Lazarus Taxon which are species that have disappeared either from the fossil record and then returned at a much later date i.e. millions of years later or Lazarus species that appear to have become extinct only to be rediscovered at a later date, after the bible story of Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead. So these 'returning species', the Giant Turtle, Wallace's giant bee and the Black Panther are Lazarus species, they have come back from the dead. Which sort of goes back to my writing back in the December and January newsletters, that species can seemingly return from the dead . . . but scientists and our logical minds say that isn't possible. So how did species return in fossil records millions of years apart? In Eco Shamanism all beings or species come from, exist as and return to spirit, this being a vast void of potential, the great sea of the unconscious, the dream time, the living soul of our Earth and our Universe. The word 'instinction' sums up this apparent dilemma. Remember also that the word instinction is considered obsolete, extinct even. It has come back from the dead, it has become an 'inspiration', an 'impulse', it is 'infuriated' which many of the younger human population are feeling towards us supposed adults regarding our lack of 'impulse' and 'inspiration' to bring about policies to address climate change. Perhaps Earth's warming is a sign of it's 'instinction' - it is infuriated, getting a bit hot under the collar. It feels like a turning point, all these giant and dark creatures re-emerging from the void just as humans begin to realise that humans are capable of becoming extinct, through their own actions.
Let's take a step away from the Earth as did the Apollo 8 Mission back on 24th December 1968, just over 50 years ago. I think that date is rather auspicious, talking of Lazarus and Jesus. There is Earth, photographed by Bill Anders (see below), one of the Apollo 8 Mission astronauts, a blue delight in the the vast void of space. Earth is sometimes referred to as the Blue Marble and how could it not be affected by the void around it which is beyond our scale of imagining. Earth may also one day become extinct and then it too may return from the void with another name, if there's any human's about to name it. Maybe Lazarus would be fitting.
Credit: NASA/Bill Anders Apollo 8 Mission 24th December 1968
Rosemary decides to join us Plant News from Freya
Rosemary's delicate flower buds opening to become Mary's Roses
A couple of Saturday's ago eight of us gathered at Millers Farm to meet with plants. It is usually the case that the plants decide who will appear on the day and after introductions and a sensory warm up we moved on to meet up with Rosemary - using all our senses.
Rosemary - Rosemary Officinalis, our guide to the more than human world for the day. What a multi-sensory beauty she is! Generous of gifts and offering us all a rich experience, even those of us who may have felt we know her already. The feelings in the room changed and became surprise, apology, regret, emotion-full and remembering.
Rosemary is often associated with remembrance, as immortalised by Shakespeare in Hamlet "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray, love, remember . . ."
And the day was spent remembering that we can know plants in this way; that we can develop a relationship with plants, for plants to enter into relationship with us as we open up to the memory that we are all made of the same basic materials of life, remembering that plants have evolved over millions of years, that we have evolved together, that plants offer us food, shelter, clothing and the oxygen we breathe. Remembering that we are all part of this beautiful world and we exist in relationship with each other.
"Every breath is a giveaway dance between you and the plants"
Susan Weed, Herbalist, Wild Wise Woman
So we travelled into a grateful space; knowing that our existence relies on plants; and we take our place in this co-existence with humility and we remember to be grateful.
As we enter into a deep open heart space so we can open to plants even more. And as we open to plants, as we found at Millers Farm a few weeks ago, new neural pathways open, hearts entrain to the pulse of the plant, the human world of busy-ness and 'to-do' lists disappears and time seems to change. We remember who we are.
"Plants have enough spirit to transform our limited vision."
Rosemary Gladstar, Herbalist
Thank you to Rosemary for gifting us back our experience of being at one with our Earth.
There is a chance to join us for another one day taster on Sat 29th June and then to dive in really deep for the year long course starting in September 2019 where we meet with plants at different stages of their development and immerse ourselves in our shared relationship living as Earthly beings, with ceremony, celebration, contemplation, movement and creativity. I hope you can join us.
Rivers, one way or another News from Jane
Clockwise from top left: from Albion's Glorius Isle, River Sprites and Well Maidens along the River Severn 1612; River Severn during an Usk Pilgrimage; reflection in Forge Brook, Millers Farm; Mill Bridge on the River Tone
Since we have been working with the spirit of our rivers I have come to realise that it is akin to opening a wonderful book and having no idea where the story is going to take us, and in this story we are some of the main characters. For me it is extra special if done with others as we all have a slightly different viewpoint and the mixing and merging of stories is like a magical mystery tour.
It is three years since Mandy and I started our adventure with the River Severn at about this time of year as it was done near to the full moon that occurs in the Zodiac sign of Pisces, the sign with the symbol of the two fishes swimming in opposite directions. The Severn felt a fitting place to start as it has two watery creatures travelling up and down - the salmon and the eel. This Pilgrimage had humble beginnings but ended up as an epic tale involving stones and river crossings and wonderful meetings with young people from across our globe. The same year I had been involved in a Pilgrimage on my local river, The Tone, walking it from sea to source with a group of merry pilgrims and lots of dogs. As we walked stories emerged and a spirit person from the past literally diverted our path and dropped a book she had written in our laps. It was about the area and especially the spiritual significance of the source of the River Tone. It was written in the 1970s and none of us had ever heard of it and of course it is fascinating and relates to our work today.
Much has happened in our world since then that is disturbing and frightening and as mentioned above there is an up swelling of something new and exciting too. It reminds me of the two fishes who seem to go their separate ways but instinct brings them back to the same places to breed or spawn depending on whether salmon or eel.
Not so long ago our rivers would have been like the M4 and M5 motorways to us humans too, especially on the Severn estuary where the tides can be so beneficial to travelling up stream and into the heart of our lands. Wily old boatmen would have used these to travel all over the country and would have known the good places to stop and wait for the tides to turn. I get a sense that the tide is turning right now, the young ones are returning and have the energy of the water behind them and water is a powerful force. Our waterways carry the stories of the past, the present and the future from the tiny ditches and rivulets, to mighty rivers and deltas. I urge you to go out and visit the river library, if enough of us engage in the stories we might help create an ending that is also a beginning. Or you could join us on the next leg of our River Usk Pilgrimage on Easter Monday 22nd April or our next Landscape, Language & Rivers Beltane Day on Saturday 4th May when we'll be continuing our dialogue with Forge Brook at Millers Farm. The Rivers Tone and Usk and Forge Brook all feed into the Severn. I hope some of you can come along.
Shamanic Sundays - 3rd March - Millers Farm
This Sunday 3rd March is 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. 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 (scroll to bottom of newsletter to find an email link) 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 events update
in date order
What's happening this year - anything in blue and underlined is a weblink.
Any questions or enquiries please get in touch.