A few years ago a site visit would have meant something very different to me. With notebook and pen, donned in a hard hat, high vis jacket and steel toe capped boots, I would march around construction sites conducting audits, advising on concepts like resource efficiency, waste management and environmental legislation.
Maybe I would squeeze in a talk on buying sustainable timber to some trade contractors, or some coaching in the site cabin for a new unsuspecting graduate who had just been given the title of ‘environmental coordinator’; attempting to bring the reality of mans unsustainable ways into the workplace to influence finding a different way.
Graced by a Buzzard
Today my idea of a ‘site visit’ is a world apart from that corporation reality. I am sitting in a circle of yews, my gaze casting out over Lake Windermere, surrounded by spring birdsong, and the sound of a Cumbrian waterfall close by. The sun has revealed his face and is dappling the ground around me with a mosaic of light and shade. Buzzard has been here, welcoming my arrival by gracing her presence in the central glade area below; a rare close up display, signalling that I have come to the right place, and at the right time once more.
Fell Foot Wood is another really special place for us up here in the northwest of England. It’s where we run our annual shamanic woodland retreat Space to Emerge, amongst the blue bells and bunting in mid May.
I have come here today to put the finishing touches to our plans, and I have been flooded with excitement ever since I drove up the track. My mind filled with good memories from last year, and the anticipation of what is to come in this blissful place in just a few weeks time.
The door to my corporation days is firmly closed behind me, but only last year this was not the case. I clung onto my career running a climate change training business, with many of the big names in my client base.
Convinced that this was my path, despite the consuming agony of constantly fighting upstream, burdened with the ever growing threat of legal battles, and uncomfortable commercial harshness, through the tears and anxiety I thought I must have to soldier on. But it was Space to Emerge, and the few weeks leading up to that retreat which, looking back, was the beginning of the turning point for me.
My life was to change forever, and a new chapter begin, which had been a long time coming.
Space to Emerge is conceived
Space to emerge was conceived on the day after our handfasting, although it didn’t have a name then. The conversation went something like “let’s have another gathering in the woods, for a whole weekend next spring, and see what happens.” One of my guides, the ancestral guide I work with on designing anything to do with holding community, told us to call it Space to Emerge.
I thought it was just for other people, to come and emerge through spending time in community in the woodlands. But last year I came to realise it was also for me. It was my space to emerge into something different, aligned with my soul purpose here in this life.
Less than two months after our gathering in May I was able to do something I had tried to do so many times before. I turned my back on the corporation, and stepped into a relatively unknown but becoming increasingly familiar reality; The Way of the Buzzard reality.
The Circle of Yews
I remember falling to my knees in this very yew circle on the first day of our retreat here last spring, tears cloaking my face. Here on my own before people had started to arrive on the Friday afternoon, I had come to say hello to the old yews, and was suddenly overwhelmed with happiness as I entered the circle.
I began to build the male altar, a place to honour and work with the Green Man. He was so close at that moment, closer than I had ever been to him. I felt him next to me, and he remained in this circle all weekend. He watched over our activities, and shared his guidance whenever we asked.
On the Sunday I held a workshop here, I remember five of us huddled around a single candle, wrapped warm in blankets, with slightly soggy drums, incense clinging in the damp air. That morning the Green Man showed us what community will look like in the future, something we ask him often in groups we run, and we are consistently shown the same images. But that is for another blog, another time.
Today I am sitting with how transformation happens, and how it has happened in my life. How we can cling onto something which we convince ourselves in our mind is right, but how wrong it feels in our bodies. How we can fear the change so much, but where the fear of change brings far more suffering than the change itself. How when we come into nature and let go, and find our support in community, the magic can truly unfold.
So let’s turn off the chattering in our minds, listen to our hearts, and watch the path unfold in front of us, one step at a time together taking us to the new Earth.