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

Monday, 5 March 2018

from the ragbag: birds, books & creative/ecosoul courses

... après la neige ... which kept us well snowed-in for a few days. Holiday! – Not so much though if you work from home. Still, at least my new book BROCELIANDE: A SPELL IN THE FOREST has just had its 5th draft; only to reformat and footnote it now (that's actually several weeks' work, due to my incompetence, however). With any luck, it'll be off finding a publisher at the end of this month.

I've been obsessed with the wild birds in the garden. There's been a long list of the usual visitors or passersby:

great tits
marsh tits
willow tits
greater spotted woodpecker
and with the cold weather carrion crows, and a trio of exhausted redwings.

I fear for 'my' robin: one of the five that live here and the only one who eats from my hand routinely, who hasn't appeared the last few days. One of the five was overwhelmed by the cold and hunger at the beginning of the snowfall, and I've yet to work out how many have come through.

Missing from that list of tits is the long-tailed: they have fluttered through the garden on occasion en famille, but haven't stopped at the feeders. However, one brave juvenile, hungry and bedraggled, broke that pattern on Friday, and also let me photograph it from no more than six inches away:

and was followed yesterday by two adults. In the lanes today, snow only surviving now against banks and on north-facing hillsides, I saw three yellowhammers, and the skylarks were out jubilating.


My mindfulness morning walk at National Trust Greenway was postponed – just as well; as was my monthly 'Two Rivers' poetry group. The former will now happen on Wednesday 14th March (we hope), should you wish to come along to appreciate spring, slowly, as the beautiful gardens come back to life.

I'm offering fewer day workshops at the moment. I find I really love the depth offered when working with an individual over several months via online mentoring and courses, and also and particularly the weeklong retreats, of which there are a few coming up.

However, I've provisionally a day booked on 6th May to work with my 'Tongues in Trees' material in a wood on the edge of Dartmoor. Later, with the lovely Sam Wernham of River Dart Wild Church, I shall be offering an afternoon session on sacred wells, rivers and watercourses in mid-October. My websites have yet to be updated on these.

Meantime I'm looking forward so much to my two retreats on the Isle of Iona, beginning in a month's time. Should you happen to be on or near the island on Monday 9th April, we're launching my new poetry collection in the Community Shop at 5pm. The island's 'glass-blue light' (when not stormy!) and poetry for the soul, wine and nibbles for the body...

'A Trick of the Light' has been out just over a month. There are two lovely reviews on Amazon, and whatever you think of that great warehouse-in-the-sky, there's no doubt that Amazon reviews help. (If you've read this book, or indeed any of my several others, I'd be delighted if you could find the time to post a review – even a sentence helps.)

In June, I lead an annual walking and writing retreat in West Cornwall. The Land's Wild Magic takes us to holy wells, dolmens, stone circles and of course the beautiful wild coast* in search of inspiring writing. There's just one place left if I can tempt someone!    

*And the mermaid:

While I'm at it: my mind keeps homing to Gardoussel, the lovely retreat venue in the Cévennes mountains where, for several years, I've been leading a weeklong course that is both intensive and deeply relaxing (that comes with the venue) in the late-summer sun. If you need a boost and a kind of physical and psychic deep refresh, Writing the Bright Moment (prose, poetry and eco-writing) in early September might just bring it. (Hammocks, a dip in the waterfall pool, excellent and plentiful vegetarian food, and a massage, anyone? Oh and quite a bit of writing and laughter too.)

And last but not by a very long way least: many of you know that for 27 years now I've been leading courses that focus on the continuing significance of myth in our individual and collective psyches, specifically the understanding and application of the Grail wisdom teachings which I first studied in their original languages at Cambridge in the 70s. My attention was caught and deepened to the extent that this subject became part of my final thesis in my counselling training in archetypal psychology in the 90s. I've written of this ever since, notably in my first book Riding the Dragon, published in 1994.

I'm as passionate about all this as I ever was. The soul needs to drink from these wells; especially during times of dryness, the emphasis 0n technology, industry, logos and rationality. Many of us are in grief about the related – consequent, in my view – state of the planet at our hands. How might we attempt to heal it? The earth needs us to remember that matter and spirit are not separate. How might we live this truth, men and women working together?

'The Wellkeepers' course that I've been leading in various incarnations on and off over a couple of decades has taken another shape, and I'm hugely excited by it. In November, I'll be offering a weeklong course, again in West Cornwall, The Wellkeepers: sacred feminine, sacred masculine.

I shall of course be guiding it, but I also want collaborative enquiry and ideas as to how we might move forward together.

There has been a lot of interest in this course, which I expect to be intensive, invigorating and restorative, I hope. I'm inviting applications now, and will be selecting on the basis of who might offer what qualities to the week. I would particularly like to hear from men. I do need to warn you though that I'm expecting participants to have already completed quite a journey of personal inner work.

There were other things I wanted to write of, but for now this is more than enough.

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