Samhain – November 2014
Samhain 2014 Newsletter Article
We’re fully into Autumn in our neck of the woods. The gutters need cleaning every week as the leaves just keep on falling. We’ve been blessed with some good rainfall and our hydro electricity system is purring away transforming the movement of water into electricity at a greater rate than we need it. It’s hard to take in the beauty sometimes. It’s so overwhelming to witness nature doing its thing and to feel the land and the animals preparing for the winter. And so are we. Susannah is just leaving for Paris to go and teach her first weekend away since the Summer. And my mind is turning towards all the events I’m involved in later this month and into December. And you can find them all on our beautiful new website which we are delighted with. Please go and take a look and feel free to send us any feedback.
We recently took a trip away from home to celebrate 25 years of marriage and 25 years of teaching. Since the summer, I’ve been in a deep internal dialogue about will and surrender. As any of you who regularly read our newsletter contributions will know, our summer break was very much taken up by the death of Susannah’s mama and her funeral and all the upheaval that the death of a close family member or friend brings. We were really in need of a rest and we were very grateful that we had planned a break for October in order to go away and then return to take some time to begin the next chapter of our creative projects.
Our holy days took me into a whole new level of enquiry and experience on this subject. Even though there is so much we have learned and love to share, it is no cliché for me to recognise just how much of a beginner I am. The basics of our self-knowledge, I mean to really know who we are and to live from this knowledge, seem to take a whole lot longer to land than my mind thinks they should! To accept my own limitations and to really put my trust in the great choreographer is no easy task. And even though Susannah and I have been together for 28 years, we have recently come to see how, at times, we have been deeply and unconsciously engaged in the battle between the sexes. Peace is not something that just arrives by itself. It takes a lot of energy and attention to become conscious of the patterns that so often drive our behaviour in a strangely human attempt to repeat the dramas of our old stories. On the other hand, as our friend Usha used to tell us over and over again: ‘you can’t stretch a leaf, it’s a growing thing.’
Having said all this, I am more and more astonished by the wisdom and sheer intelligence of this mirroring universe we live in. I had some quite clear ideas of how I wanted to celebrate our anniversary but they were all very quickly blown out of the water by circumstances. I used to think of surrender as a form defeat so it’s never been easy for me to let go and for the part of me that still believes in the reality of that story, it’s still just as big a challenge as it ever was. What has changed is my ability to be able to witness the story that’s being told, and my access to the strength of the one who knows he has a choice, always. So when life is demanding my surrender, it’s not so hard to predict which characters are going to come into play and do their best to fight off the inevitable. Surrender, I have discovered, is not the same at all as giving up. It’s not a passive place. It’s a step-by-step process of bringing consciousness into the dark caves within the psyche and letting myself see what is necessary in order to help me to let go. I am beginning to find the subtle blend of safety and courage that is enabling me to enter the realms of relationship and living that I have been longing for.
Consciousness is great but when it comes to making changes and bringing what we learn into form, it is only the beginning. Dare to Dream is my new workshop this Autumn. It’s all about the yin yang balance needed in the art of bringing our dreams to earth and into form. And I’m noticing that when I’m in a process of deep change, life keeps on giving me opportunity to choose whether or not to fall over the old banana skins and maintain the status quo or wake up and decide to walk on new ground.
So back to this intelligence that seems to know what I need even if it seems to be opposed to what I think I want. I often ask how does that work? What is that intelligence? The truth is, I have no idea. It’s part of the mystery and I often say, I kind of prefer it that way. Some things are in the realm of the unknowable mystery that is part of life.
Let’s go back to our holy days then. Here we were, in no mood for celebration, in a beautiful place, and having the ground shaken beneath us by an energy field we were vaguely conscious of. We ended up staying right opposite a super sacred power point that had been the home for rituals and prayer for many thousands of years. We then met a very fascinating man who had spent 40 years working on this island power spot as an archaeologist. He was our guide and he turned out to be a guide in many more ways than one. He was in fact more of an Oracle. As he showed us around the ruins of an ancient city dedicated to the union of the Masculine and the Feminine and the celebration of life incarnate, he slowly, really slowly, opened up to us. By the time we had boarded the boat for the short trip back to the mainland, the old, rather unremarkable and stooped being that had politely but rather unenthusiastically greeted us was no longer visible. In his place, here was an elder, a wise one in touch with the old ways, a seeker and a finder and a genuinely mysterious being. He enigmatically and indirectly pointed us along roads we needed to travel down. The Great Mystery had brought us to our Don Juan and it was like drawing back a stage curtain to reveal the underlying purpose of our visit to this part of the world.
He really opened up to us when over lunch, we told him about the latest challenge we had set ourselves. We had seen a documentary on the BBC, recommended to us by our good friend Jem. It was called ‘The Men who Made us Spend,’ and it cleverly and concisely brought our attention to the way our collective awareness has been caught by the apparent need for new things. It described in great detail how big business had made a conscious choice to attempt to keep us dissatisfied and feeling like we were deeply and genuinely in need of buying the next what-dya-call-it to secure our happiness. Even though we knew the story and had written about it in our first book, we had to admit that we were still caught in the clutches of consumption in ways we didn’t actually want to admit. But once the cat is out of the bag in our household, there’s no way of getting it back in there. We decided there and then to make a pledge not to buy anything we absolutely didn’t need for a period of one year. So, naturally, food and music and things that we need for running our school or looking after our land are within the range of genuine need. However clothes and gadgets and things that may be beautiful, we decided just to stop. As you may have noticed, when you make an intention known to life, life has a way of testing you. And here we were, staying right opposite a sacred site, surrounded by the most beautiful clothing stores we have ever seen, all of them in 60% end of season sales. The shopper in each of us was truly awake and sensing a great deal of prey all around us. But we had made this commitment. And so we watched as all kinds of characters rushed onto the stage with ever more intricate and clever ruses designed to persuade us that the need we felt was real and genuine. We watched as the theatre piece played itself out, occasionally recognising the need to dance and bring a little love and healing to the insecurities and emptiness in some of those characters who believed they were born to shop.
And yes, in our rituals and prayers, that storm that seemed to have infinite energy, soon petered out and left the kind of calm that only ever follows a storm. And there it was, a new ground of peace and plenty grounded in the beauty and bounty of what already is.
Since we returned, we’ve been integrating our experiences and I’ve been coming back to writing my book. It’s been a struggle and a really worthwhile one. This may take me a while. As I write down the stories of my initiations into the shaman’s way, I am having to look very closely at what I have learned along the way. The writing in itself seems to be a ritual of integration and clarification of what everyday shamanism means to me. The one thing that seems to show up again and again is that life responds to our deepest intentions. In the journey of bringing our dreams to earth, intention is the rudder that guides us through the vast ocean of the unknown. And I have found that coming back again and again to this rudder, adjusting it, and making sure that the underlying intentions that we set are in alignment with the growing sense of who we are and what we are here for is super important. If you recognise the need for that, you may want to take a look at the Dancing with the Heart of the World workshop that takes place at Waldhaus over the Winter Solstice. Solstice time is a perfect moment to listen deeply and re-confirm your choices for the new year ahead and to dance for all that we care for.
We are very happy with how Movement Medicine is finding its way into the world. There are a bunch of wonderful teachers and facilitators out there making their offerings and we are proud of how this Movement Medicine child is growing. Movement Medicine is now being taught in Australia and Japan, as well as throughout Europe and South Africa.
I hope you can join us for one of our Autumn events in London, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Zurich, Warsaw, or Waldhaus. I am particularly excited about presenting at the Gateways to the Mind conference in London and then bringing my Holy Trinity workshop to the big smoke.
Wishing you all the time to stop for a moment and feel the miracle of the changing seasons and the beating heart.