Entering the wild eclipse portal - - - - - Limes and labyrinths - - - - - Omens and a Solstice challenge
This month we have contributions from all three of us again although next month we will be taking a break and there won't be a newsletter until late August. In this one Mandy goes wild with Goshawks and Eclipses, Freya moves in and out of labyrinths and Lime trees and Jane faces a challenge.
Walking the Venus labyrinth as a five
Firstly a July update - Shamanic Sundays this Sunday7th will be a little different. We will be walking the Venus labyrinth as an alternative form of shamanic journey. We go in with an intention and let Venus and Earth spin it into another way of being or seeing.
Mandy will be at Cheltenham MBS on Saturday 6th with a short talk on Eco Shamanism and later at the Seed Festival 19th-21st July.
All have spaces and we'd love a few more bookings!
Of byways and birds of prey Mandy looks into the summer shadows
For this newsletter I had made up my mind to write of how humans need to step up to the mark, get real about climate change, demand that we are not microwaved by 5G . . . I could go on. But today is a solar eclipse and although we, and most of the northern hemisphere will not witness it, we will experience it, as we are all one and the same when it comes down to our Earth. The Moon will come between our Sun and us so we will enter Moon-shadow for 4 minutes and 33 seconds this evening with 8.24pm being the peak of the eclipse. As such, this event has taken me outside of myself. Instead of sitting down and writing this newsletter yesterday, I went for a well known but relatively new walk. Or so I thought. In fact I was nudged along by the wild rather than my own force and ended up on a road called Deep Dean.
I had set off intending to walk along a particular shady byway with which I'm familiar. On the way I went down a steep beech tree lined lane and as I was trying to see through the dense leafy canopy a bird of prey flew over my head and down through the leaves out into the valley. I actually saw it from above which was odd in itself. I had enough time to note it's silhouette, size and feathers for later reference but I was sure, at the time (and later investigation confirmed it), that it was a Goshawk and I have never seen one in the wild. I carried on and entered the byway having noted, all the way from home, the new boarage (a term I use to describe the turfing up of verges and other ground by the wild boar in these parts). It seems that they are spreading in these parts and having hardly seen them at all in the past, I have seen them on countless occasions this year. On I trotted along the byway and within 100 yards there was a large female boar wallowing in a soft gooey puddle together with her humbug boarlets of various sizes. The sun was shining down on them from between the trees, the boarlet's tails were swishing the flies and midges away. I stopped in my tracks: it was idyllic. As I watched a tiny Chaffinch fledgling popped out of the hedge and dipped it's beak into a puddle at my feet. Did I go on and scare the boar away, with the possibility of them scaring me away as the byway was fenced on both sides, or backtrack? They were so at peace with their world that I also didn't want to disturb them. So I didn't, I headed back and took a different route.
Into the quiet village and ambling past the lazy mill stream which gurgled from one side of a road to the other I decided that rather than go round in a loop, and disturb the boar from another direction, I would carry on down until I found a footpath in the other direction. Another byway appeared, one I had not walked before, that took me steeply uphill with it's large cobble stones rilled with centuries of cartwheels. At the top I came out on Deep Dean Lane. I know people living on this road who had told me, in the past, of having to rescue one of their chickens from a Goshawk. As I walked on I passed their son who was walking home from school . . . this Forest of Dean is deep in many ways . . . I saw all these connections as messages, or omens. Of what I'm not entirely sure although I'm very aware that the wildness that wanted to come out in this writing at the time of the solar eclipse has something to do with it.
Trundling along this lane I then joined Star Beech Road - what gorgeous names for the new byways - I continued on my way home taking my least favourite path to avoid a rather muddy lane and another rather special wild moment caught me unawares. Walking across a sparse meadow with newly shorn sheep and their teenage lambs I saw a bird shadow on the ground. Looking up there was a Red Kite sailing across the cloud studded sky. I know these birds and their silhouettes far better than a Goshawk and these birds of prey have only arrived in this area in the past couple of years. Within a few footfalls and looking back at the grass I found the feathers of a deceased bird in the photos below. I didn't know at the time which bird they belonged to but have subsequently found out that they are Guineafowl feathers and amongst them were some small orangey red feathers which looked like chicken feathers. Guineafowl are also known as Pet Speckled Hens and their very name suggests a rich find. It is unlikely that a Red Kite took this bird but it is extremely likely that a Goshawk did as they often take medium to large sized birds and Guineafowls aren't the best escape artists in the bird world.
Guineafowl feathers - light and dark in one
What has intrigued me is the nature or these unfolding events. I began the day with one intention, of writing this newsletter, got distracted into a summer's afternoon stroll, saw my first ever wild Goshawk, got redirected by some wild boar, walked a new (to me) old byway, arrived on a lane which summoned up the tale of a Goshawk, returned home via a path that I don't use much, a Red Kite passes overhead and then the Guineafowl feathers appear at my feet, most probably the prey of the Goshawk. What am I being told by the world outside myself? Am I the prey or the preyer . . . or the prayer?
Bear with me . . . as I focus in on this Solar Eclipse I'm aware that the New Moon will pass between the Sun and us Earthly beings for 4 minutes and 33 seconds this evening (the eclipse peaks at 8.24pm). 4'33", or 4 minutes and 33 seconds, is the title of the composer John Cage's infamous piece of music where the performers are instructed to put their instruments down and not play them. This composition is mistakenly referred to as a piece of silence. However, John Cage's intention was to highlight that any sounds may constitute music, whether there are instruments being played or not. How fitting that this solar eclipse is the precise length of time of his composition. Let us lay down our instruments and watch or listen for that which we cannot see or hear, let ourselves be led astray, for a short while at least, so that we encounter the wild that is beyond our own force, beyond our control.
If you're reading this post Solar Eclipse please note that there is an Eclipse window from today, 2nd July, for two weeks when there will be a Lunar Eclipse on Tuesday 16th July at 10.31pm. Plenty of time to down your instruments and listen for a force that is greater than your own.
Lime trees and labyrinths News from Freya
Have you walked under a lime tree recently?
The honeyed blossom smells so delicious and the sound of the insects is as arresting as the sweet scent. I noticed the smell, which stopped me in my tracks, before I could see the lime trees; huge and towering above the other trees. The scent was knockout! uplifting, comforting; reminding me of happy hours harvesting sticky flowers on balmy summer evenings.
Summer - its busy, and pushy, and beautiful.
Plants are flowering and the green blaze of May has been broken up with colour. The energy of life speeds up, continuing to crescendo past the summer solstice, still extravagant, abundant, intense and roaring; feeling a long way from the languid days of August. Its easy to be caught up in the excitement, to formulate overly ambitious plans - what I'm not going to do with the long days and the energy I’m feeling right now! Bring it on! It’s also easy to over commit and tire!
I’ve just walked three different labyrinths and each one has reminded me, loud and clear, how important the journey is, the progress towards our intentions and our visions. How rushing to the centre misses the experience of moving with intention and attention, through twists and turns, trusting that I will arrive. And once I’ve arrived, remembering to stop, before I begin preparing to leave. The height of summer is also a time to pause, to linger a moment, an opportunity to check if the dreams we are aiming for are still what we want. Like the ying yang symbol, the height of summer is in relationship with the deep winter - the opposite point on the wheel and traditionally the time of deep dreaming. It’s good to check in with our dreams and visions, to take a moment to regenerate and restore so that we can keep going and manifesting with the energy of the summer.
How are you relating to the the world you live in? Can you sense your interconnectedness? In the heat of busy summer days, a world of combative politics and bullying power games; what will help us manage the transformation of our social and cultural structures? We need time to dream and to vision the future we want and to find the part we can play in creating the structures we desire, that will help us, will help others, will enable us all to live in supportive, aware connection with each other and the beautiful world we are part of. If we wish the world to be more peaceful and loving how are we bringing peace and love into the world?
If you’d like to take time out of the frenzy I’d invite you to sit with a plant - perhaps a lime tree, move into plant time, watch and observe how the plant or tree is being; or sip a cup of lime flower tea, or a cup of valerian tea for a deeper dream. Or come and dream with us on the Plant Perception & Resonance course beginning this September . . .
Lime walk at Westonbirt in the autumn
June omen and Solstice challenge Jane faces up to a horse and jumps the fence
Today, as I write, it is July 1st which means that I have got through June relatively unscathed. As you may remember Mandy and I take omen walks over the days of Christmas to give us a flavour of the months ahead for the following year. My omen for June was that I would face challenge. On that day I was confronted by a pony stallion, as I had sort of found myself in his field. There had been hunting in and around the area all day and he was wound up and angry. He reared up and flailed his front hooves at me and ended up backing me up into a fence a long way from any gates. I know horses and the more I tried to push him away the more cross he became. The fences at this place are not possible to get over as the wire is too close together to get a foothold and they are four foot high. I felt in danger, it was dusk and no one knew where I was. I made a decision, gathered up all my courage and life force and leapt over the fence (it was more a heave and a grunt and I had bruises on my inner thigh for several weeks). The pony became even more cross and was hitting the fence with his hooves. I was jubilant and shocked and walked home pondering the message, scaling another similar fence on the way just because I knew I could! The next morning I woke up knowing that the pony had helped me do something I had thought impossible for me and that June would probably be a time of challenges.
I have been very alert and watchful all month and knew that the solstice weekend was very full. I was beginning to feel overwhelmed and nearly cancelled a kinesiology session that I had booked up to help me with a pain in my hip and foot, which all started from jumping the fence and the bruise on my thigh. I knew that this session was important and made it a priority, even though cancelling would have been more sensible as I had SO much to do. Instead it unlocked the potential to rise to the challenge of the busy Solstice period.
The weekend was very fulfilling and exciting and the last part for me involved rolling a burning wheel down a hill towards our beautiful river. There was no risk of setting the field on fire but the guardian of the land was as excited as I was. The wheel was from a bicycle and it was covered in straw and paraffin and after a few false starts, got to the bottom of the hill still alight which is a good omen in my book. There were quite a few people there watching in anticipation and it was a slightly scary moment as it was lit, would it work or would it be a damp squib. We then walked down to the river to give personal offerings to the land and the river and folk walked home in the mist in various directions which felt very healing for this place as it had felt cut off and adrift for some years before the land changed ownership earlier this year.
Sending the Solstice sun wheel down the hill to the river
The final piece to this story is that I found out the next day that my friends beloved 30 year old horse named Red was put down in the next door field at exactly the same time as a burning arrow was fired to mark the start of this ceremony. He was a very spirited horse that I knew very well. My fondest memory is of riding him around the high banks of Barbury Castle hill fort in Wiltshire several years ago, he was so sure footed and certain. I felt safe despite the steepness and height of the banks, the views were spectacular and we both felt on top of the world. I feel that his spirit flew well into the night sky and that he timed his end perfectly.
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.