‘We need places that have not been subjected to human domination; just as we need places within us that can live with uncertainty, chaos, confusion and make a creative relationship with those elemental forces.
‘We need this individually; but we perhaps also need it globally: not just for wilderness’ sake, and before we kill off all that is wild and beautiful, but also because until we have made peace with our own wildness we will not be able to stop projecting its shadow out there; and until we learn how to do that, we will continue to see the shadow in others, fearing, hating and making war on anything that reminds us of the unknown places in our own shadow world.’
I’m Roselle Angwin, a poet, eco-poet, author, mythologian, psychotherapist and indoor/outdoor workshop facilitator, retreat leader and mentor.
I find huge joy in the work I’ve been doing with groups and individuals for 27 years now (2018). Together we track poetry, myth and story, revelation, visions, enchantments and deeper understanding along soul-paths in outer and inner landscapes. Then we write. Along the way transformation seems to happen, and the focus can shift from the personal to the service of transpersonal or collective values in relation to living harmoniously with all the other beings on on this earth, and with the land herself – together we can change the world!
So ultimately my work is about how we live, and of course this means an integration of our inner world with how we relate to the outer.
I’ve dedicated my life to bringing together psyche and anima mundi, ‘world soul’, through a conversation between experience of wild nature, and the imagination. My core emphasis, both in my life and in all my work, is the integration of all the aspects of being: intellectual, emotional, physical, spiritual, intuitive; and the nature of our relationship to what we see as ‘other’, whether human or otherwise.
By developing and nurturing our sense of connection with the earth, other species and other humans who share this planet through felt experience, simultaneously with deepening our relationship to our soul-life, I believe we can create a culture of sustainability.
My work is based in my psychotherapy training in Transpersonal Psychology coupled with spiritual practice in my native pre-Christian Celtic tradition, story, myth and poetry, and mindfulness from my Zen meditation practice, 5 Rhythms dance (rarely used in courses but sometimes available as an optional extra), and the use of symbolic systems such as tarot or astrology.
I read Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic at Cambridge as an undergraduate, which included studying our native tales such as the Mabinogion in Middle Welsh, and the Grail romances in Mediaeval French so, having also been brought up with this mythology I’m well-steeped in the Celtic brew. I furthered all this academically in my psychotherapy training (rooted in the archetypal psychology of C G Jung and the post-Jungians), where the continuing relevance of such myths was my specialist study.
All my work, like my life, is firmly rooted in my lifelong passionate relationship with the land, animals, birds, plants, seasons and elements (I have always spent a large part of my life outdoors on the Westcountry moors and coasts, in all weathers, moving on foot, on horseback or in a kayak; and also being still), as well as with the arts. I’ve also led wilderness visionquest rites of passage work, and this sits as another strand of the web. At home, we tend two wild acres of orchard, meadow, woodland and an extensive organic vegetable garden with herbs and bee-flowers, and are lucky enough as to live where there is little agricultural or other pollution and a great many wild species.
For many years, at each solstice and equinox, I led ‘Ground of Being’ outdoor day workshops involving deep immersion in Dartmoor’s sacred sites. From time to time I offer such a day, along with other similar workshops such as ‘All Our Relations‘. Mostly, though, my work finds its home in longer retreats where we spend time outdoors; and in my writings. You can read about the former under the ‘What’s on’ section of this site, along with other related courses here.
My whole life has been lived deeply within a rural culture, and its cycles, seasons and other inhabitants nourish me. In my early twenties, I made my living designing and making one-off garments from my own handspun and plant-dyed wool. (For 14 years after that, I was a shoemaker, sending custom-made footwear all over the world.)
Thinking about it, I realise how deeply the plant world has shared itself with me since I was a teenager, from the herbal medicines with which I’ve always treated my human and animal family, to the plant dyes I collected, to the herbs I’ve grown, to the ceremonial incenses I’ve made, to the face creams I’ve also always made. No surprise, then, that my programme now includes working with plant or tree spirit medicine as well as with the gifts of the physical plants/trees.
The land is an active collaborator in much of this work, and you need to expect to spend time outdoors in all weathers if you work with me. I’m passionate about bringing the inner and outer aspects of our lives together, and finding ways to really appreciate that we are not, in fact, separate.
Working with images and the imagination enables a process of re-visioning our relationships, and a tool for recording and integrating our experience. (I’m also a painter so that feeds in to my work too.) Our main medium of expression within the project is creative, reflective and therapeutic writing (no previous experience needed; and I make little distinction between these categories), though I also use other arts-based practices. (All this figures on all my courses, but if you want a workshop that focuses on a specific aspect of writing in depth – and maybe more indoors! – see my other website: www.fire-in-the-head.co.uk)
My work is in a way about sharing solitude. Poet John Burnside says: ‘..when I retreat into solitude, I hope to reconnect with a wider, more-than-human world and by so doing become more fully alive.’
The Wild Ways (incorporating ‘Ground of Being’) is very much intended to be eco- and soulcentric rather than anthropocentric, but along the way people heal and change. I offer single day and longer outdoor workshops and retreats on Dartmoor, Exmoor and the Westcountry coasts, in the Hebrides, and in France, with groups or individuals (and mentoring, soul-work and ecotherapy by email, Skype or in person). In 2015, I included my lifelong friendship with horses in the mix, with Cait Collins on Exmoor (Cait is a coach and therapist who works with horses). Other species have their own unique input in their own ways.
I’m a lifelong student of wisdom traditions, especially the native British Mystery Tradition and a bardic path, and the Grail corpus, tarot, astrology and alchemy, depth psychology and the work that takes place at the psychospiritual threshold. Zen and Taoism have shaped the way I’ve lived my life since I was 16 (the practise of a commitment to an awareness of interconnectedness, simplicity, an intention to do no harm, attention to the rest of the natural world, attention to the moment, compassion, and a non-attachment to fixed ideologies are key ideas in both Zen and Taoism).
I’ve been leading workshops and writing since 1991. I’m the author of a number of books of poetry, non-fiction and fiction. My first book was commissioned in 1993, and it’s relevant to the inner work I offer on these courses in terms of personal story and transformation: Riding the Dragon – myth & the inner journey (Element 1994). This in turn grew out of some workshops I developed in 1991 under the umbrella of Personal Mythology: ‘Myth as Metaphor’, in which we use myth and archetype to better understand the stories of our lives and their deeper patterns, and our place in the web of our culture and the natural world.
2016: As a 40+-year-long-veggie-now-going-vegan, my commitment is to reduce animal suffering. This year I’m taking it a step further, and have begun to create a website/blog on going vegan. If this is something that might interest you, it’s here. NB: my courses are usually vegetarian but I’m not preachy about it, and I can promise you’ll never feel deprived!
Top photo Francis Jones, Brittany 2015