THE WILD WAYS
soul, the natural world & the ecological imagination
(the sister website to fire-in-the-head).
When they ask where I am, tell them:
Gone into leaf and stone and water
Gone into bone, and bird, and air.
~ Roselle Angwin
SOUL, ECOTHERAPY & THE ECOLOGICAL IMAGINATION
‘At times I feel as if I am spread out over the landscape and inside things, and am myself living in every tree, in the splashing of the waves, in the clouds and the animals that come and go, in the procession of the seasons. There is nothing… with which I am not linked.’ (Carl Jung: Memories, Dreams, Reflections.)
Published by Moon Books in June 2021:
A Spell in the Forest – Tongues in Trees (Book One)
The wisdom of trees: guides to the wildwood, keepers of mysteries, tellers of tales…
I find it hard to describe this book, as it ranges over a lot of territory. The Plant Initiative describes it like this: ‘Roselle Angwin’s new book “A Spell in the Forest: Tongues in Trees” (Book One) offers unique historical, cultural, and spiritual perspectives on trees, including a section on British trees associated with the Celtic Ogham alphabet calendar.’ Someone else says ‘deep tree lore’. Yes. Those’ll both do very nicely.
There are three things that trouble me greatly in our current wider society with its materialistic culture. One is a major sense of disconnection from the rest of the natural world. Another is the failures of heart, or imagination, that might allow us some vision of a truly sustainable future. And the third is an absence of an awareness of soul: both individually and as anima mundi, world soul.
Our old narratives about the world, and about our place in it, no longer work. The rest of the natural world is in tatters as a result of our actions, and many of us feel hopeless and helpless, deracinated, desolate even, and cast adrift from the other species that share our home planet.
As I’ve been writing since my first book, commissioned in 1993 by mind, body, spirit publishers Element Books, we need new stories, and we need them fast. I believe we can change; and clearly we must change.
This project is about creating and sharing those stories, through personal transformation. Hand-in-hand with this is the urgent need for transformation of our relationship with the other-than-human and more-than-human. Almost all of my work now, most of it outdoors, is dedicated to offering creative and inspiring ways of changing our relationship to ‘self’ and to other, especially to the rest of nature.
- What does it mean to live with soul and integrity in a world on the brink?
- How can we shift our perspective from the anthropocentric to the ecocentric?
- How might we best experience ourselves as an integral part of the whole web of life, in deep ensouled relationship to the other-than-human?
- How can we change our worldview so that we can help the planet in its distress and destruction at our hands, and how can we help ourselves to live fulfilling, creative, profounder, less consumer-oriented lives?
- What healing powers can an embodied relationship to the other-than-human, and the potency of the creative imagination, poetry, myth and story bring to a modern quest for wholeness and restoration of the Wasteland to its former abundance?
‘The earth does not belong to us; we belong to the earth.’
How wonderful, how world-changing, it would be if that were a genuinely-lived truth for our species. The intention of my work, both books and courses is, at our time of extinction and climate emergencies, to help make this a commonly-experienced reality for at least a few of us.
Though my courses and retreats are often described as individually therapeutic and transformative, I want to emphasise that the work is intended as much to heal our fractured relationship with the rest of nature as to have nature help heal our personal and collective wounds. (Of course, the two are deeply interconnected, and in making the one journey we usually inevitably make the other. It’s a question of what we choose to emphasise at what time.)
Although my work falls loosely into the ‘ecotherapy’ and also ‘soul medicine‘ categories, I believe that what I’m doing is unique.
Essentially, my work is about waking up to our natural deep belonging in this interconnected web that nourishes us all; our shared home. This is not theoretical, but brought about from time shared quietly, creatively and deeply outdoors. The three main strands in my practice are the soul and the imaginal life, deep ecology and depth psychology, seasoned with story, myth, poetry and that over-used word ‘mindfulness’ (via my 40-year-long Zen practice). All of this is in service to, as Robin Wall Kimmerer says of her work, ‘what matters most’.
You can read more under Earth, Cosmos, Psyche
Please note that all my courses involve some writing, both as ‘process’ (for enquiry, exploration, reflection) and ‘product’ (creative expression). You don’t need to be a ‘good’ writer, however.
In June 2019, The Telegraph listed my Islands of the Heart retreat on the Isle of Iona as ‘one of the world’s [ten] best creative writing holidays’* (2021 nearly full). (The Guardian gave one of my courses a full page feature back in 1998.) Most of my courses involve time outdoors, slowly walking, often in shared silence. *I don’t intend to sound boastful, but this retreat week is very much more than simply a ‘creative writing holiday’.
(image Lynn Baxter, Tongues in Trees 2014)
TONGUES IN TREES is a yearlong distance learning course rooted (ha!) in tree lore, tree botany, tree spirit medicine and the Celtic Tree Alphabet that came into being at the winter solstice 2018 full moon. The third year’s group has just begun. Through creative and outdoor practice over a year of monthly teachings participants are encouraged to become intimate with a number of indigenous British trees, and more deeply immersed in the true magic of the tree realm. NEXT INTAKE: Winter Solstice 2021 for 2022. More details on the link.
© Roselle Angwin, 1991–2021
The charred-oak image with my little poem on it above is by my long-term collaborator Michael Fairfax.