The core discovery of my transpersonal (soul-centred) psychotherapy training in the late 80s and early 90s was my uncovering of the idea that we can be ‘caught‘ unconsciously by one of the stories or myths in our cultural heritage. In making this story conscious, it becomes possible to understand some of the habits and patterns that shape our individual lives and the way in which we relate to others, human or otherwise – and, importantly, changing or re-visioning these aspects into something more positive that will enhance rather than deplete our life.
This was a, or perhaps the, key idea in my first book: Riding the Dragon – myth & the inner journey, commissioned by Element Books, and published in 1994. This is a form of narrative therapy, and has now been adopted by others working in the field.
MAY 2020: I’m currently creating a new course rooted in Story Medicine. Please come back!
The work that I offer in The Wild Ways programme grew out of this idea, and my holistic writing workshops (Fire in the Head).
Initially, this programme existed as an outdoor project, working on Dartmoor and the coasts of Devon and Cornwall usually at the quarter-dates and/or the cross-quarter dates of the old Celtic pagan calendar, and designed to offer an experience of deep intimacy and creative expression arising from our relationship with the land and the local other-than-human species that share our land with us.
My ‘Ground of Being’ days, beginning in 2009, which incorporated slow walking, mindfulness and attention to our environment, psychospiritual awareness, bardic and druidic tasks and writing prompts, were billed as ‘ecotherapy’. They were most definitely healing, as such time spent outdoors always is.
However, early on I changed the focus away from ‘what we can get from nature’ to an awareness of mutuality and reciprocity – ‘what can we also give back to nature: what does nature need from us?’
At this point, I introduced the term ‘ecosoul’, where the imagination is in service both to our creative expression and also to empathy and compassion towards all that we see as Other – from which, of course, we are not in fact separate at all. This site reflects both aspects.
EARTH COSMOS PSYCHE
I believe that underlying our current ecological crisis is the loss of a sense of spiritual connection as well as a relationship, both physical and of the heart, to the earth and other species, coupled with an absence of a sense of deep meaning in our culture with its failures of imagination. In these times of bleak materialism and environmental destruction, I notice how many people who come on my courses are looking for a restoration of something more profound and relational, more soul-oriented.
Anxiety and depression are on the rise, and if, as psychology suggests, they may often arise as a result of a sense of not being in connected relationship to others, then our massive levels of contemporary anxiety surely say something about our disconnection from the rest of the natural world which is, in a very real way, our ‘ground of being’.
Way back in 1993 I wrote at the end of my first book, mentioned above, that we need new stories: stories about cherishing the earth and other species, relating differently to each other, restoring the lost feminine and soul to the world, rejoining ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’, celebrating the fact of being alive; green stories, stories of enchantment, connectedness, wonder and healing. I wrote something similar again in my Writing the Bright Moment – inspiration & guidance for writers (2005).
I’m still banging on about it all. Nothing is more important, it seems to me, than re-visioning our place in this delicate web that holds us all. The closest I can get is to speak of rediscovering a relationship of reciprocity and affinity between us and the rapidly-declining other species that share this web of life. (In the time since I began writing about it, this movement has grown immeasurably; not, I add, that I’m claiming responsibility for that!)
Bringing inner and outer worlds together seems to be key. All the work I do, offered via my programme of courses and my writings, is designed to help re-establish a heartful, sustainable and strong relationship with the natural world, as well as with our own imagination and the lost, forgotten or hidden parts of our inner lives.
Rooted in an earth-centred spirituality, the courses help restore reconnectedness through hands-on outdoor experience. Along the way, the animals, birds, plants, trees, rocks, seasonal changes, the earth’s turning points, and weather patterns co-create or help shape our experience. We listen to the land, pay attention to Other and remember how to be fully alert with all our senses, including the non-physical ones.
At the same time, we explore dimensions of our inner world and the life of the soul through the imagination – story, poetry, myth, bardic and native British pre-Christian spiritual teachings, land art, archetypes, plant- tree- and animal-lore, and eco-writing. We attempt to use our attention with full mindfulness. And we remember how to play.
Something of the liminal glides into such depth work; when we are immersed in profound connection in this way and the rational mind has stepped back a little from its usual dominance, the Otherworld seems close – the more especially since I often work in what are known as ‘thin veil’ places, and where animal, tree and plant spirit medicine (not ingested, by the way) step forward to help guide us.
Out of all this, new stories can grow, and we can live them.
Consistent feedback is that this work catalyses change. (You have been warned!)
You can read more about the what, how, why and where here.
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My commitment to animal welfare and the environment for 2016 was to create a vegan website. If this interests you, even only tentatively, please visit, and contribute if you wish: http://57billion.org (2019: I’m now writing a vegan cookbook+)
You may have read George Monbiot’s recent important article on the true cost of eating meat and dairy (9th August 2019, The Guardian). If not, read it here.
The material on this website, the sister website Fire in the Head, my blog and the contents and titles of my courses are my own work, developed over decades. You can see more on their origins here and my professional history here.
The last few years I’ve experienced a serious level of plagiarism. Apart from being an (illegal) infringement of my rights it has also been distressing, and has affected my ability to make a living, difficult enough in this field as a freelance even after 29 years. As you can imagine, I now feel strongly about copyright.
© Roselle Angwin, 1991 – 2020