Wild Wisdom School One - Day 2

Written by Clare. 

"Under the Apple Tree"

How to describe this gentle work, which seems so simple, yet yields so richly? 

A journey; one foot in front of the other. Like setting out on a pilgrimage; there is excitement and anxiety, disappointment and delight, frustration and ecstasy, all curiously woven into a slightly tight coat. I have learnt, now , that I have only to sleep in this new coat a few nights and the discomfort goes away, it stretches like a new pair of shoes, until it is perfectly moulded to my body. And so I keep coming back to this seemingly, oh, so gentle work because it changes me in ways I can’t quite understand. 

It appears so very ordinary on the surface; we arrive, a group of people, a mixture of ages and backgrounds. We share a little news.

After a break  we begin the journey into the calendar of the year. This setting out on a journey; one foot in front of another. The familiar turns around the wheel of the year. We took paper and pencils and started to draw and to write as Sam talked us through, from Mid-Winter to Mid-Summer and back again. We learnt of Pagan festivals and Christian ones, of where they meet and complement each other. Personally, I delighted in the feasts of Mary, Mary the Virgin; her birth and death, Mary Magdalen around the same time as the Pagan Lughnasadh or harvest. I was warmed to make a connection with the flames of Pentecost in May and the Beltane fires that I am more familiar with.  I could feel those eager Disciples of Christ in the upper room, sitting together as the flame of the Holy Spirit poured over and into them. To me it felt ecstatic, exquisite, filled with the sensuality and joy that I have often disassociated from Christianity and attributed to Earth based traditions. Working with the calendar in this joint way helped me to feel into the possibility that early Christianity was originally also an Earth base tradition. That early Christianity followed the wheel of the seasons and the earth, in the same way as the Pagan traditions. It’s just that now it takes some investigation to link the traditions back to the earth; but the parallels do seem to be there.

In the afternoon (after a delicious bring and share lunch) there was an opportunity to do some movement outside beneath the apple tree, make lanterns from glass and leaves and paint, or simply reflect with a walk or reading. This time is in silence and the Pagan rebel in me struggles to be with so many interesting people and not be allowed to talk with them. Or is it ‘the rules’ that I battle with? The silence has an impact on me and I imagine that each of us experiences it in our own way. Afterwards Sam led us in a guided meditation as a prelude to sharing.

The highlight of the day, for me, was the ceremony that we co- created in the afternoon; each one of us invited to make a suggestion – a song, a dance, a poem….as we lit candles to our Beloved Dead, our ancestors , the room was filled with lightly dancing emotion. It seemed to me that our ancestors were warmed by the candles, that they drew in close and listened to our breath, that they sat in near to us like excited children, thrilled to be invited to this party. The candles shimmered. There was an excitement, a tremulous joy in me to be sharing this emotion, this ritual with other human beings. It was allowed and it was true, soft, intimate and beautiful.

Then the room emptied and Sam, Beth, Jan and I were left in the loving embrace of the warm energies generated through the day. With a deep sigh, we sat down with libations of gin and tonic - the gin being a particularly special brew created from foraged botanicals on the Isle of Islay, a hunter-gatherer spirit you could say!

As I left on Sunday evening with my usual feeling of excitement, irritation, frustration and delight all woven into a slightly tight cloak; I took note of my negative feelings and wondered at this strange business of being human. I am familiar with the term ‘healing response’ where some struggle preludes a healing shift in energy. Rationally I know this is a good thing yet the immature rebel in me (is this the ego?) makes a fuss about the tightness of the coat. Moving, moving, on this journey, on this pilgrimage to the heart.

A good night sleep and the new coat is already becoming more comfortable.  A new coat for the winter, it needs to be warm and it needs to be strong. The memory of those shimmering candles and the true, soft, intimate beauty will help.


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