This month we have contributions from Mandy, Jane and Freya. Mandy looks at the astrological synchronicities of the last few weeks, Jane walks her way into history and Freya is full of Hawthorn heart.
May update - Shamanic Sundays is taking a break until Sunday 7th July when it is morphing into an opportunity to walk the Venus labyrinth. Due to needing some rest time the Avebury weekend has been cancelled and our Language, Landscape and Rivers workshops are not continuing as we feel that the work we did at Imbolc was enough to stitch the old and new land together at Millers Farm - a good example of listening to what the land wants rather than imposing ourselves on it! June will continue with Freya and Mandy giving a Plant Eco Shamanism taster session at Hellen's Garden Festivalon Sun 9th at 3.30pm and a Plant Eco Shamanism day workshop at Millers Farm on Sat 29th. Mandy will be presenting at the Mind, Body, Spirit day in Cheltenham on Sat 6th July and the Seed Festival 19th-21st July (the early bird for the Seed Festival runs out at the end of May). Happenings beyond July please scroll down.
Moving towards a new way of being Mandy writes of synchronicites in the skies and on the land
I have been deep in teaching mode for the last month, training people in Eco Shamanism. One group at the end of March is nearing it's completion; a new group began mid April and another finished last weekend. All this amid the extraordinary rise of civilly disobedient people from the Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement which peaked over the Easter weekend. There was the eerily summer like weather, David Attenborough's Climate Change documentary, the meeting of Greta Thunberg with UK political leaders and the critical death of Ecocide lawyer Polly Higgins on Easter Sunday . . . and we all know what happened on Easter Sunday in biblical terms. On Good Friday there was a Full Moon in Libra, sign of balance and harmony (the modus operandi of XR), and on Easter Saturday the Sun entered Taurus, a strong and down to earth sign ruled by Venus, the planet of love energy which also went into Aries, the fiery start up planet - XR are themselves a recent start up who want change and are expressing their mission with love and respect.
As I write it is the day after May Day when the UK parliament declared a climate emergency much to the joy of all those in XR and it's supporters. Another way of saying May Day is as a distress call - mayday mayday - which comes from the French m'aider meaning 'help me'. It has no relation to the celtic festival of Beltane which is traditionally celebrated on May 1st but again there is this synchronicity, it is as if Earth is crying mayday mayday - we really don't have a moment to lose. The Taurean New Moon falls this Saturday 4th May and the symbol of Taurus is the bull, it's about being in a body and having an earthly experience, being in tune with nature, which humans seem to be veering away from at an alarming rate. And it's arrival is accompanied by a meteor shower, as if the universe is either sending a shower of applause or maybe a warning firework - mayday, mayday, mayday.
Those who are supporters of XR are what I term as 'cultural creatives'. When I teach on the Eco Shamanism trainings I refer to the participants as 'cultural creatives'. I spoke of this organisation and it's research a while ago but for those who aren't familiar with the term, a 'cultural creative' is someone who believes in a new way of being or existing, sloughing off the traditionalist and self interest / big business values of the past and instead turning to a socially inclusive, sustainable and moral code that is respectful of our earth and all it's communities whatever shape or form they take. This is so with XR and I might add that there is a saying that for everyone who signs a petition there are 10 who support the petition despite not signing it and from this we can make the assumption that there are far more supporting XR than their numbers reflect. The 'cultural creative' study of moral values over a period from the 1980s well into the noughties predicted that this would happen. XR are cultural creatives, they are typical examples of humans who are embracing a new societal order, in my view changing society for the better . . . although in this case, trying to preserve society, or life as we know it (thanks David) too.
I would add that anyone reading this newsletter falls under the same definition, you are all cultural creatives as you are reading about culturally creative stories, in a civilly disobedient way. Jane's writing below is a story of her own involvement with the Earth March for Life that led up to the XR fortnight . . . read on.
Marching to London for the XR event in April News from Jane
Splint stick is the one on the left of the banner
I jumped on a train a few Thursdays ago to join the last three days of The Earth March for Life from the West Country that had started many weeks ago at Lands End in Cornwall. Groups from all over the country had walked from their place to converge at Hyde Park at the start of the Extinction Rebellion actions for the following Monday. In Slough I felt out of place with my two rucksacks and wooden staff as people disembarked after a working day in London. I took a bus, then walked a few miles and joined 11 fellow marchers, 10 humans and 1 dog called Honey. I had never met any of these people before. I had felt a calling to walk this walk, with my stick, and although I had felt silly in Slough it soon made sense as the banner that had travelled all the way from Lands End snapped a pole within moments of the start and my stick became a splint! Once mended we walked and chanted and talked to people along the way "We are marching all the way to London for climate change" though as we got closer we said it less yet the group got bigger and the chants louder. Like a river we joined other groups from Stroud and Oxford, meeting old friends along the way and making new. I was moved as we stood on a bridge across the M25 with our banners and got toots and waves and then walked through the village that will go "if " the next Heathrow runway goes ahead.
Our dinner at Grow Heathrow
The stop that night was at Grow Heathrow (GrowHeathrow is a land squat and community garden in Sipson occupied in 2010 by local people concerned about the possibility of the expansion of Heathrow Airport) between the M4 and Heathrow. The compost loo overlooked the motorway and in the morning the dawn chorus drowned out the noise of the motorway. Wonderful hospitality, beehives, a roaring fire cooking pans of rice and a beautiful child called Maximillian (he wasn't cooked) and yet this will all be bulldozed and turned into a car park! We went via Heathrow, the armed police were friendly but firm, they have a job to do . . . and many had children and are worried for their futures!
Grounded at Heathrow
Walking into London was a wonderful experience, especially once we reached the Thames. Richmond Park was our next stop, we had food, music, a bar and dancing. In the morning a fellow marcher from Wales and I went into the forest to find a replacement stick to splint the banner, (as my stick was going back to Somerset later that day) and a small Holly tree with a shoot at the ground said yes to being the replacement pole/splint. Later photos show that it was still there on Waterloo bridge right till the end of the demonstrations. It was extraordinary to feel the March grow and grow on the Sunday, it felt like a living being and I met friends along the way. Toddlers in buggies, a family who had walked from the source of the Thames, grandparents, young people, limping people who had joined on impulse without the right shoes . . . it was one of the best experiences of my life. I carried someone's life in my bag "her money, passport, tickets", lent shoes, tops, shared food and smiles. We held a die-in in Kensington High street and again outside Harrods, it felt very rebellious but was nothing to what followed. I saw the March into Hyde Park and then jumped onto a bus back to Somerset, sad to leave and yet I knew I had played my part. I felt like that part was still in London, the chants were still in my head as I followed the news. The stick went and sat in the Yew tree in my village and I drummed from there in support, it felt stabilising.
XR launched its manifesto on 31st October last year and a full half turn later we have a climate emergency declaration on 1st May. We are due to leave the EU at Samhain on 31st October this year which links in nicely with the end of one Celtic year and the beginning of another (and remember the vote on Midsummers night all those years ago). These "old" festivals are playing their part in this unfolding story. So too the XR rebels from Scotland in kilts playing the bagpipes, grannies in handcuffs, skateboarding teenagers and pink boat mandalas . . .
We are the rainbow warriors, all playing our part. We are the ones we have been waiting for.
Herbs for the Heart Freya finds heart in Hawthorn
Happy heartfelt Hawthorn
There seems to be much excitement in the air at the moment - change in the political world, demonstrations of what people can achieve by working together, uniting hopes and dreams, not accepting the old ways are the ways of the present.
So many people are expressing visions of how they’d like the world to be, how to live more in harmony with other beings on and in our earth, recognising our inter-relatedness and the consequences of our human actions on the rest of the world. This feels like a wave of love, of heart opening, of love bridging differences, and welcoming new possibilities.
With the Taurus new moon and in the spirit of Beltane (in the northern hemisphere) as we dance across the earth giving thanks for this celebration of creative new visions and harmonising why not spend some time with Hawthorn, blossoming in hedges around the country, filling the air with her heady scent. Sit under a tree and loose yourself in her perfume and watch the flutter of petals as they fall; notice all the other creatures visiting Hawthorn as you sit and watch; how do you feel sitting under her protective boughs?
Hawthorn, a plant of the rose family, is traditionally a tonic for our hearts and strengthens and protects the heart and the blood vessels. Hawthorn can also lower nervous tension. She combines well with Rose which is the ultimate herb for our emotional heart. Together the two can support us in our visions of a future filled with heart, and a tender and fierce love for all life.
Usk River Pilgrimage An update from our Easter Monday pilgrimage from Newbridge to Usk
Clockwise from top: Setting off at Newbridge; view from the bridge; going towards the light under a busy road; bridge at Usk; happy Highland between Caerleon & Newbridge.
On Easter Sunday Jane and Mandy walked from Caerleon to Usk to find a route for the next leg of the River Usk pilgrimage on Easter Monday. It was hot, far too long for pilgrims and, up until Newbridge, really quite unpleasant agriculturally barren land so we decided to meet at Caerleon and look at the Roman amphitheatre then head up to Newbridge on Usk and walk from there. On the pilgrimage day we went over the river at Newbridge, through a tunnel under a busy road, up a hill, back under another tunnel and then merged with the river and followed it up to the town of Usk. It wasn't quite so hot, not so far and we had lunch by the river followed by a period of silence to listen to what the river had to say.
Both of us had found the walking difficult between Newport (walked earlier in the year) and Newbridge, the river is sluggish possibly a result of it being tidal up to Newbridge. There are also many bridges and side straightening, a golf course with it's own bridge and even down by the coast there are plans to extend the M4 into a wetlands reserve. We feel that the river isn't happy about any of this and that is why it feels sluggish. Once you go up stream from Newbridge there are few bridges and the river seems to sing and burble happily. It is wide and shallow, clear and inviting. Perhaps now that we have got that far and the river knows we are listening it might be a bit happier downstream.
We'll be continuing our walk along the Usk River and our next leg will go upstream from Usk town - route, date and times to be announced. If you're interested send us an email and we'll put you on the list.
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.