Tag Archives: listening

Wye’s Woman

I’m adding to the teaching I do for 2011, this is about some of the new work …

Wye’s Woman is about walking and sitting in the wisdom of the Land.

Most people live in towns and cities nowadays, they are not used to seeing a vast expanse of sky over them but have to peer up between rooftops to get a glimpse of sky. The times we live in do not encourage us to be still and quiet, to do nothing but listen and hear, feel, see, smell, taste, touch. If we go out, we have to be doing something, have a purpose and a goal, be able to tick the box when we get home.

The shaman’s journey is different. S/he goes out into the Land, not to change it but to be changed by it, by Her … the Celtic tradition feels the Earth, the Land, as feminine, as the goddess and calls her Sovereignty.

The goddess is in all things, from the smallest atom of rock to the hugest mountain. She is in tees and plants; animals, insects, birds; the soil and rocks and water; the air, warmth and light. She is within us too – if we will be still long enough to notice. She is in the River Wye, my home and mother-river, flowing around the land in which I live and she asks me to introduce her to others. So … Wye’s Woman.

The work is a lot about stillness, quietness, not talking but just being .. and opening up to hear the Lady, the goddess, speaking to us. This can be quite scary. You feel vulnerable, edgy. On the workshops you are encouraged to sit with these feelings, allow them to pass over and through you. This process washes you clean, makes space for the concepts the goddess wants to show you to come in.

The work is a form of shapeshifting, you let go of the shape-self you knew before and allow a new you to begin to grow. Most people who are interested will find the experience very deep, moving them into a new space. It’s usually a small but significant change that comes about – the goddess never pushes you beyond your limits but she can push you right to the edge.

Celtic World Tree

There are seven quests, between Imbolc and Samhain each year, exploring facets of our relationship to the goddess from the perspective of the seven points of the Celtic World Tree.

They all take place at sacred sites near the river Wye. I lead you into the Land and hold the energy for you but first we talk, I tell about the theme for that day, what we will do, what to expect.

We work through journeying, visioning, questing, poetry, song, dance and storytelling but most of all through listening in various forms of stillness. You can be still while walking, dancing, singing even …

The workshops cost £75/day, email Elen Sentier to find out more.

walk in the worlds of the Goddess
between the two lights
the twilight of sun and moon

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Interfaith, intrafaith

Cities tend to be multicultural places. Pagans are one faith group amongst many, and as society becomes more open to people following different faiths, this creates all kinds of interesting issues.

Do we want to engage with other religions? Should we be talking to people of other faiths? Secrecy and wariness have been part of pagan life for a long time and there are still places where it’s not ok to be openly pagan. Should pagans receive the same attention (and money and tax breaks) from governments that other faith groups do?

If talking to other groups, and sharing public celebrations is something we want to do, who speaks for us? There are probably as many kinds of paganism as there are individual pagans. It’s very hard to represent paganism to anyone else. There are at least as many differences as there are similarities between practitioners. (The same can be said of Christianity though).

Moots and open gatherings bring pagans of all and no tradition together. Sometimes that means exploring common ground, but it can equally lead to confusion, and discomfort. Eclectic public ritual can lose focus, becoming an ineffective crowd pleaser rather than a meaningful expression. Frequently what happens is that wiccan forms dominate, because there are more wiccans.

There’s at least as much misunderstanding between pagans as there is between pagans and non-pagans. As new branches of paganism spring up, this increases. Is it ok for us all to go our different ways? Diversity is good, but do we seek it at the cost of making sense to outsiders? Do we need to be able to speak with one coherent voice when dealing with other faith groups and people in authority? Can Fairy Wicca and Revivalist Druidry be recognised easily as part of the same thing as Gardenerian witchcraft, modern Heathenry or Celtic Shamanism? That’s scraping the surface of types of pagan. Sometimes about the only things we all seem to have in common is that we like the word ’pagan’ and we think nature is a good thing.

My feeling is, we need to keep talking to each other, and keep listening. And I don’t mean that with reference to subsets of paganism, or the interfaith scene. As human beings, we need to hear each other’s truth and stories, respectfully. We can all learn from each other. We are all different. We all want to belong somewhere and we all tend to designate some other group as ‘not us’ as part of how we understand ourselves.

I’m not a huge fan of formal interfaith things – I’ve had good and bad experiences, but they tend to emphasises ‘leaders’ speaking on behalf of ‘communities’ and that’s fraught with difficulty. But opportunities for sharing, listening and learning come up all the time. If people come knocking on your door wanting to talk about God, hear them out. We represent paganism best when we express it honourably, respectfully, in dialogue with others. We can do that, all of us, every day, and we can make all kinds of differences.