The Eleventh UK Residential Shamanic Gathering
The eleventh UK Residential Shamanic Gathering took place September 13-17, 2017 at the Earth Spirit Centre, in Compton Dundon, just outside Glastonbury. Seventy people attended which was the same number as attended the very first gathering, an SSP-sponsored conference in 2007 which was held in the town of Glastonbury. The SSP support continued until 2014 at which time the event was successful enough to fly solo under the skillful guardianship of Howard and Elsa Malpas.
The Earth Spirit Centre is an ideal location for shamanic gathering. It is an old farm dating back dating back to the 17th century with a beautiful converted barn at the centre of the complex. The site lies in a valley between two sacred hills, which in turn lie within the sacred enclosure of Avalon and the mystical Glastonbury zodiac.
The eleventh gathering, organised by Howard and Elsa Malpas and Derek Gane, was a fabulous opportunity for the shamanic community in the UK to gather together and share ideas and knowledge. The goals of the gathering are:
- To expand knowledge about shamanic practice
- To enable participants to deepen healing skills
- To facilitate the learning of new ways of doing the inner work, necessary to live and practice with integrity
- To foster and build a growing shamanic community
- To provide a space and time for self healing so that participants return to the world revitalized and inspired
This year the gathering ran for five days, an extra day from previous years, and the extra day was greatly appreciated as it allowed time for participants to relax and absorb the workshops and ceremonies. The extra day also provided time to network and engage with members of the community, to share stories and ideas.
The atmosphere throughout was friendly and warm, latecomers and newcomers embraced and welcomed into the fold with hardly a ripple. There was plenty of laughter, gentle tears of healing, and many, many awe inspiring, profound moments.
Participants were supported by “home groups,” each having a group leader. Every day before the afternoon sessions began, the home groups gathered to check that all members were doing okay. The home groups offered space to share how the past 24 hours had been, the highs, the lows, and to let individuals ask for support if needed. The home groups were a key component in the conference because they provided an environment where deep work could be processed, especially if individuals felt vulnerable and raw.
On the first evening a Sacred Fire was lit and a ceremony took place led by Howard and Derek. This was followed by Antony Blakemore who drenched all those present in the sound of the Gong and led a meditation and healing ceremony. A great way to begin five days of shamanic work.
The first full day, and every day thereafter, early risers had an opportunity for a morning wake-up before breakfast with a program of sound energy to prepare oneself for the day ahead. This was led by Patti Richards and allowed participants to let go of anything they were carrying and start the day anew.
Each day officially began at 9:00 a.m. when everyone gathered in circle in the main hall for the daily announcements, followed by a ceremony or activity that connected us into the spirit of the day. This lovely offering was held by different teachers, and so the activity each day was quite unique in its content and beautifully presented. These exercises allowed the group to reconnect with each other before breaking off into separate workshops that were held across the site. In general, the conference’s workshops provided plenty of food for thought.
On Thursday, the first full day, three separate morning workshops allowed us to connect with plants, trees or ancestors respectively. The two afternoon sessions provided encounters with spirits of the land or with the sky. The day finished with chants and movement led by Leo Rutherford and a moving pipe ceremony led by Derek Gane.
Friday dawned a beautiful autumn day with bright sunshine and clear air, the perfect conditions for the morning workshop, led by Andrew Steed, which took place outside in the Celtic Tree Circle. With his usual vivacity and humour, Andrew took us on a journey through wonderful Celtic myths and stories that encouraged us to give gratitude for the beautiful fertile earth on which we live and to connect with this sacred land.
Two Friday afternoon workshops were led by Leo Rutherford and Rachael Caine, aka Doris Eagle Feather. Leo, one of the revered elders of our community, has worked with the medicine wheel for many years, and always holds the space beautifully and creates a warm safe environment. He introduced us to the Star Maiden Circle, a way of working that is deep and profoundly healing, touching all that were present.
The other workshop of the afternoon, facilitated by Doris Eagle Feather, was titled “A Magical Awakening: The Path of the Sacred Clown.” I was not on the inside for this workshop, but by the shrieks, groans, diverse music and laughter, it was clearly exhilarating and rewarding for all those involved! The Friday evening ceremony was conducted by Moira Lake, Howard and Elsa Malpas, and Derek Gane, with an intention and focus on “Nurturing the Earth.” Something very much needed right now.
By the time Saturday arrived, the gathering had bonded well and the atmosphere was relaxed, and individuals were deeply into the rhythm of the gathering. Andrew Steed brought in the Spirit of the Day with much enthusiasm and laughter after which we again divided into our workshops. The three choices that morning were “Trance Dance” with Barry Goddard”; “Be the Change you want to see in the world” with Supi, a workshop looking at one’s purpose in life; and “Feather and Pearl” with Jennix Sessions. This workshop was focused on the Hollow Bone, and the earth’s need for us to take responsibility for ourselves and to return home to who we truly are. This turned out to be one of the most deeply moving and profound workshops I have ever attended with beautiful, powerful energy. Many participants found a deep sense of past life connection, and a deep healing of other times and other places. Blown away by this event, I ate food to replenish and ground then took a walk in cleansing rain on the ancient hill fort that forms one of the sacred hills nearby.
That evening Andrew Steed held a workshop for the whole gathering in which we were encouraged to find our Spirit Voice. For many in the group this was deeply challenging since so many of us have been taught that we “can’t” sing and have been silenced in many ways. It was beautiful to be in the room and to hear so many spirits sing through those that were present. What added to the beauty was that Andrew encouraged us to sing to one another, and for the other to receive that song. It felt a great privilege and honour to hear Spirit sing through the individuals I worked with.
Sunday, the final day, was the Shamans’ Market, a rich and colorful display, where individuals could sell any books they had written or shamanic tools they had crafted. There are some remarkably talented and gifted people in the UK’s shamanic community. Following the Shamans’ Market, we gathered in our home groups to design a closing ritual as an offering to the larger group. Our group was Eagle, and a stunning Eagle song was produced by one member and a wonderful chant by another.
The whole group came together in the Circle of Trees and each home group performed its ceremony to the larger group. More beauty and more laughter! More singing and more chanting……. and joy, such joy!
A final lunch was shared and more conversations about anything and everything. Then a beautiful give-away ceremony. Everyone had been asked to leave a gift, unwrapped, under a blanket in the main hall, which was carefully folded to form a large parcel that was carried by four members of the group while Darren, guided by spirit, pulled out gifts for each member of the gathering. Accompanying this whole procedure was drumming, rattling, and chanting that made the room hum, the land sing, and the spirits dance!
Finally the time arrived for the final closing. Everyone filed down to the sacred fire, which had been carefully and tenderly tended by participants throughout the gathering and was now to be ceremonially extinguished. Derek Gane led the ceremony, perfectly interrupted by Doris Eagle Feather, who read a hilarious poem, which summed up the whole event. All laughed until they cried, and finally Derek completed the closing ceremony and the fire was extinguished. Until next year. And so we offered blessings to the land, to the spirits who guide us, and to the ancestors who walk with us.
The next UK Shamanic Gathering will take place at the Earth Spirit Centre, Compton Dundon, England, between Wednesday September 15th and Sunday 19th September.
Please contact email@example.com for further information.
Or take a look at https://www.facebook.com/events/120435698657986/ for up to date information.