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My most popular courses for two decades now have been my indoor and outdoor Isle of Iona retreats. ‘Islands of the Heart’ is due to happen again in 2021, but of course is COVID-lockdown or otherwise dependent. In the late summer and early autumn of 2019, I offered a new holistic writing retreat on this sacred island, where I’ve offered springtime ones since 2001. Like the others, it involves walking, soulwork and creative practice, mainly writing, outdoors, but also has extra and subtle different qualities. (For instance, we included the idea of a mini-retreat within the larger retreat, and a greater sense of spaciousness to open up the usual intensity.) This will happen again in early May 2021 – we hope.
At the bottom, I tell you a little about the shape of an outdoor one-day GROUND OF BEING workshop (these happen from time to time), as illustration of my style of working.
If you would like something more tightly-structured, bear in mind that I offer online courses supported with an abundance of study material and individual feedback.
For THE WILD WAYS, I’ve a few to date.
One is a single-day self-study course: THRESHOLDS is designed for Imbolc, 2nd February.
At the other end of the duration spectrum is a year-long online course that first made its way into the world for the last full moon of 2018, on the winter solstice: Tongues in Trees. The next course begins at the winter solstice 2020 for the whole of 2021.
My book of this work is due out in June 2021.
NEW FOR 2020: Poetry, Nature & Mindfulness.
New for 2021 Poetry & the Ensouled Life; and more with a mythic basis coming soon.
The longest-running ones are my FIRE IN THE HEAD ones: writing poetry, and the Storymaking one on writing a novel (this one takes you step-by-step through the process, and has at its heart the archetypal basis of The Heroic Quest, as detailed in my first book Riding the Dragon). These have had consistently excellent feedback. (I’ve been leading these online courses now for several years; decades, in fact.)
Please ask! Drop me an email via the Contact form.
Since 1991 I’ve been leading creative and reflective writing, myth, story and poetry, ecopsychology and psychospiritual courses and retreats for many other organisations and groups in addition to my own. I’m very happy to tailor-make a course for you if you can host one: one-day, weekend, week-long or regular meetings are all possible. If you have an idea, do contact me.
This the typical shape of my original (and I believe unique) outdoor GROUND OF BEING days, which take place in the megalithic landscape of Dartmoor, and sometimes on the Devon and Cornwall coasts, in all weathers and seasons, usually at the equinoxes and solstices. Aspects of this day are incorporated into most of the other workshops, including in the Hebrides and in the wild Cevennes mountains of southern France.
When I take people out onto the ancient land I love so much, and ask them to slow down, be silent together, maybe take off their shoes, and engage all their senses as well as their imaginations, something magical starts to happen.
I ask them to listen with all of themselves to everything. This way, we create a contemplative way of walking in the present moment on land where our ancestors have walked for millennia, sharing breath that every other being shares. I ask them to try to be fully aware of the nature of this land, of the animals, birds, plants, and of their response to all this, so that a conversation between inner and outer can flow.
As I tell them the stories of this land, human and other-than-human, and invite them to allow their own stories and responses to arise, I can already see a transformation occurring in the way people start to really slow, really loosen. Then, as their powers of observation sharpen and they begin to let their imaginations fly, the stories that emerge truly become a collaboration between person, soul, place and anima mundi.
When we then write, what emerges is the process of uncovering, discovering, recovering our ancient kinship with the natural world, and a creative sense of living in a vast web of connections, vibrant, energizing, whole.
‘[Alone] in the wild, we shed the conventions that keep society ticking over — freedom from the clock, in particular, is a hugely important factor. We are opened up to other, less conventional, customs: in the wild, animals may talk to us, birds will sometimes guide us to water or light, the wind may become a second skin. In the wild, we may even find our true bodies, creaturely and vivid and indivisible from the rest of creation — but this comes only when we break free, not just from the constraints of clock and calendar and social convention, but also from the sometimes-clandestine hopes, expectations and fears with which we arrived.’