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In 2017 I’m excited to be offering a new course: something different from my usual self-study format. ‘The Voices of the Wells: the Eco-Heroine’s Journey’ is something I’ve been planning since I first started writing the old story of the rape of the well-maidens, from our native traditions about the Grail, into If Women Rose Rooted. Those of you who’ve read the book will know that this story of the lost Voices of the Wells, and the coming of the Wasteland, runs throughout, and provides the key focus for the journey I describe in the book – all the way up to its core message:

‘If the power of the Celtic woman is the power of place speaking, then this is the gift that we can offer to our world, the contribution that we can make to the healing of our Wasteland. We are the carriers of the wisdom of our native places, the knowledge of the plants and the animals, the rich intelligence of the cycles of life and the seasons. We are the mediators of the wisdom of the Otherworld, the Voices of the Wells. … Be the power of the land speaking. Pass the gift on. Pass it on, and in this way we, like our female ancestors from long ago, like the goddesses of Sovereignty in our native mythology, become guardians and protectors of the land. By taking up these ancient roles, we begin to restore life to the Wasteland. Refuse the continuing destruction, because what hurts the Earth hurts us. Because we are the whole Earth. We are the Voices of the Wells; we are the power of the land, speaking. Use your voice. Speak.’

Image: ‘Truth Coming Out of Her Well to Shame Mankind’, by Jean Leon Gerome

And so this journey which I describe in If Women Rose Rooted – where I call it the ‘Eco-Heroine’s Journey’ – is finally ready to be turned into a new course. In this course, we’ll explore old Irish, Welsh and other European stories about the Grail, and ask ourselves what the Grail quest means for women in these ever-more challenging times. Throughout the last century, writers and therapists with a Jungian background but little knowledge of the original texts and their origins, have framed the Grail quest as a purely inner journey: a journey to individual wholeness; a journey to individual spiritual gnosis. I profoundly disagree. Rather, it is a journey to restore the Wasteland which we have created – not just the inner Wasteland, but the outer: the Wasteland which is the world all around us. Physically, socially, culturally. The two, of course, are interconnected, and those interconnections will be the basis of our journey through the year. It’s a journey that will take us into the creative, generative heart of the Otherworld — the mundus imaginalis of Celtic tradition.

Course content

The world is changing. The old stories that western civilisation has been living by for the past few centuries – stories of limitless growth, of the pursuit of progress as the primary purpose of life, of human separation from and domination over ‘nature’ – are crumbling. These are the stories of the patriarchy. I strongly believe that the stories which we need to replace the destructive stories of the patriarchy should – and will – be born from the wellspring of wisdom which belongs to women.

In this time-between-stories, then, in these days of crisis and uncertainty, we need visionaries. We need the ‘Voices of the Wells’; we need the power of place, speaking. We need the stories of the land; the stories of our native traditions, and the wisdom which is encoded within them.We need to understand the mystery at the heart of the Grail.

We also need more than just talk: we need practical commitment to real, meaningful change. In this course, then, I aim to create a vibrant community, and to bring together a tribe of women who can explore the critical questions we’re facing now. Among them are:

  • What are the stories we need to guide us in the future? – stories which are life-enhancing, rather than soul-destroying?
  • What is the essence of women’s power and creativity?
  • What is the wisdom we need for these mythic times?
  • How do our old native myths and stories help us uncover more balanced ways to live on this earth?
  • How do we take those old stories forward for new times?
  • How do we encourage a greater sense of belonging to our places?
  • How do we encourage people to take responsibility for their own choices?
  • Most important of all, how do we begin to create genuine, authentic, and lasting change – from the individual, to the social?

This course is designed:

(1) To deeply and honestly explore our own individual journeys to authenticity and belonging;

(2) Beginning from the perspective we will gain by exploring our own journeys, gifts and skills, to then explore the ways in which women can reclaim our ancient roles as protectors and guardians of the land.

The central tenet of this course, as in the rest of my work, is that we can only feel a true sense of belonging to this earth, and can only become its guardians and protectors, by developing a deep, embodied, grounded relationship with the land. The creative imagination – and above all, the mythic imagination – is also critical to our work. The intertwining of the two is what I call ‘enchantment’. The content of the course will be derived from my academic/professional qualifications, and by my practice, as a psychologist and mythologist. The orientation will be deeply ecological.

(Please note: if you have already completed any of my online self-study courses, you’ll find that there’s some inevitable overlap in the issues discussed. However, both the approach to the issues, and the nature of the experience, are quite new.)

Course structure

In contrast to my self-study online courses, which take the form of a monthly download of written materials and (sometimes) audio files, this new course will be more intensive and it will also be interactive. At the heart of it is a private, feature-rich online discussion forum (independently hosted, not tied to any existing social media platform) in which I’ll participate; there is also the chance for you to join me in webinars/teleseminars throughout the year. The structure of the course, then, will allow for a unique opportunity to work more directly with me as we pass through the year; there will also be the chance to learn from invited guest contributors.

The course will be divided into eight main sections, anchored to the old Celtic seasons of the year: Spring Equinox, Bealtaine, Summer Solstice, Lughnasa, Autumn Equinox, Samhain, Winter Solstice, and Imbolc.¹ At these times, you’ll receive materials to download and work with, and there will either be a webinar (we’ll ‘meet’ together virtually four times during the year, in groups of no more than fifteen), or you’ll have the opportunity to call in and listen to a discussion with a guest contributor. In between times, you’ll receive weekly emails with reflections, practices and issues for you to consider, and which can be discussed in the online group.

If you are interested in participating in this course, please be prepared to participate along with others! – especially in the ongoing online forum. This is very much about sharing ideas and experiences. Above all, if you are interested in joining this year-long journey, please be prepared to commit yourself to it for its full course, and to work respectfully and caringly with your fellow pilgrims.

¹ Please note that, although the course will be structured around these seasonal dates, the material isn’t specifically seasonal in content. And so if you’re in the southern hemisphere rather than the northern, you won’t be at any disadvantage.

Fees, and how to sign up

The total cost for ‘The Voices of the Wells’ is 500 euros.

Course fees can be paid by bank transfer (in euros or sterling only) or via PayPal. Bank transfers incur no transaction fees. If you use PayPal to pay the course fee, their transaction fee is 3.4% if you’re in the UK or most parts of Europe, 4.4% if you’re in the USA or Canada, and 5.2% if you’re based elsewhere in the world. These fees will be added to your bill.

The course will begin at Spring Equinox (March 20) 2017 and will last for a year; there will only be one intake per year, and so there will only be one opportunity to sign up in 2017.

Please note that it won’t be possible to sign up for this course via this website in the usual way; you’ll need to email The Hedge School directly if you’d like to be included.

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