Alchemy in Community

June 22, 2017

Do you crave something deep inside which you can’t name? A craving which only settles when you are out spending time with people who ‘get you’?

I had this unsettling feeling inside of me for many years, which I couldn’t describe. It was an anxious feeling and a yearning for something. It’s gone now, and looking back I can put my finger on exactly what it was .

I didn’t belong in the world that I had created around me.

I did find moments of respite from it. Two things helped. One was spending time with my friends on trips out and weekends away, usually including drinking and partying. The other was when I was at a festival in one of the spiritual talks or workshops. I used to go to them on my own, as my friends wanted to carry on drinking and partying. But at the festivals I wouldn’t join them until the evening. Instead I would always seek out the Healing Fields zone, up at 8am for early morning Qui Gong, and then going on from there right the way through to tea time. I would arrive back home and seek ways to find that same experience up here in the northwest. It was a hard search, but each encounter bought me closer to finding what i was looking for: my spiritual community.


Finding Community

I have long been aware that it is community which pulls us through, but until recent years I haven’t fully appreciated what kind of community we need to build around us. I used to think it was about being friendly with your neighbours, and having a presence in shaping the village or town through voluntary community work.

Now firmly on my spiritual path, I find that there is a more important community which we need to find ourselves in. Our spiritual community. This is the place where we can drop all the facades we build up around us to fit in, and discover who we are under all the layers of conditioning.


Beltane at Gorton Monastery, May 2017

Can I stay here forever?

One of the most common things people say when they come to our The Way of the Buzzard events, is that they come to spend time with like minded people. I can see why. It blows me away time after time when I see what an incredible thing it is that we can create when we get together.

It is through spiritual community that we can find our true voice. Where we can be witnessed by others as we emerge into our authentic selves, and accepted for who we really are. And so often, so many of us don’t know who we really are. Until we give it a go. It is where we can experiment with new things, and find new parts of ourselves, or parts we had hidden away long ago. It is where we can allow our enquiring mind to open up, and ask questions, seek new knowledge, where we see what lands with us and discard the rest.

Some even say they want to stay here forever, in this community, in this space we have created together. They don’t want it to ever end.

Of course, its not possible. This way of being in this world, sharing these amazing times together are short lived. Most of us don’t live in those kinds of communities full time at the moment, and so we need to find a way of saying goodbye, and resourcing ourselves until we can share moments like that again.

Storytelling at Craft & Creativity, June 2016


Building that world we crave for

I read a quote a few years ago which said, “if you do not belong to the world you are born in to, it is because you were born to create a new one”. With The Way of the Buzzard work, that has been what we are all about. We wanted something like this in the northwest of England, and so we created it. We wanted a retreat festival away for a weekend so we created Space to Emerge. We wanted to hold ceremony at sacred sites like Arbor Low stone circle and Gorton Monastery to celebrate the solar and lunar events, so we went ahead and organised them. We wanted to spend time in community in some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, certainly in England, and so we created our summer retreat to the Yorkshire Dales called Craft & Creativity.

Waterfall swimming in the Yorkshire Dales, Craft & Creativity, June 2016

In this blog post are a few photos from the community experiences we have already shared. So many of you have been a part of the amazing thing growing around us, and we are truly grateful. We hope that you and others will continue to enjoy these spaces for many years to come. Just think when we look back in ten years time, at what we have achieved in our lives, and the people who we have become, now that will be a ceremony and celebration they will be talking about for time and eternity beyond!

Full Moon at Arbor Low, September 2016


We all have a role in creating that New Earth that we crave. The trick is to find out what each of our roles is, and to be brave and step forward to do it. It might be going along to an event that you have seen that you like the look of, and taking deep breaths knowing that you will be walking into a space where you know nobody, but that will only be for a short while until you make some acquaintances who may become friends.

It might be signing up to a new course which will teach you some skills so you can begin to hold your own spaces for people to come and share, and be themselves. It might be to reach out and support someone through the transition, or to reach out to ask others to support you. To hold each other as we live in turbulent times when daily we are faced with things that just don’t seem to make sense to us any more.

You might find your next move through reading a book which really speaks to you, or having a chance conversation with someone you only meet once, but they say something that lands perfectly to guide you on your way. It might be an online group you join in with, where you can be amongst kindred spirits in social media world.

It might be that you have been considering starting regular counselling or psychotherapy sessions. That you have been thinking about finding someone you can go to weekly and share your struggles, who is trained and experienced to hold you through these transitional times in your life. Someone who you can share your pain with, and who can give you wisdom – like the Elder in the tribe. I know this has been something I have needed for many, many years, and drawn on for almost a decade now.

Maypole dance in the bluebells, Wander the Wheel at Beltane, May 2016

It might be any of these things, or none. But find time to bend you ear to the wind, and hear your community coming forward. Their voices are quiet, but they will become louder as you hear their calls.

Closing Ceremony at Space to Emerge, May 2017


About the Author


Nicola Smalley is an edge-dweller, shamanic practitioner and writer living in Anglezarke on the edge of the West Pennine Moors in Lancashire, England.
Following a career in corporate sustainability, she now runs The Way of the Buzzard with her husband Jason. Her passion is anything connected to nature and the mysteries of the Earth.

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  1. Such a good piece Nicola, I am living with Spriritual values and my lifestyle is above all focussed on healing and learning. Nature is all around and I am so blessed to have my life, we have a apple tree that produces nice sweetish(!) fruit every year, I recognise the apple tree message to be grateful for abundance. I am so grateful for the community I know and meet at the circles and at Space to Emerge…your words echo my true thoughts.. thankyou !

  2. Thankyou for this beautiful piece. I am greatly limited in contact with any form of community due to ill health and other restrictions, but just knowing it is out there is a comfort. I am greatly blessed to be able to meet with my Druid Grove from time to time this year after not being able to manage to attend for the last few years :). When all else fails, there are always the moors and my dog!

    1. Thank you Katherine, yes circumstances can make it hard to meet in community at times, but things eventually clear to make it possible. Yay to your dog and the moorlands – I love the moors too 🙂

  3. You are a wonderful writer Nicola , very heartfelt and inspiring. I feel so blessed to be part of our spiritual community xxx

  4. That writing was so right and lovely Nicola. It was great to see you at ‘space to emerge’. See you somewhere soon. Sending lots of love to you and Jason.
    Love from Karuna.

    1. Thank you Karuna, yes it was lovely to share Space to Emerge with you, and hope to cross paths again sometime soon when the time is right 🙂 x

  5. I loved reading this and how having strength and tenacity of holding true to a vision of living for the greater good of all, strength in surrender to spirit even if the path is uncertain. Creating a sacred space for all the changes of seasons and soul transitions, gathering like a goose girl your community, what a gift and guiding light you and Jason are. I almost cried with longing at the swimming in the Dales! Beautiful writing and inspirational. I decided to hold a picnic to bring together all the people who have come into my sphere in my direct community and branching a little further. Such a simple thing to organise but it sparked new friendships and creative partnerships. I understand utterly how it feels to be with kindred spirits and then feel adrift back into your tower struggling to make cosmos from the daily chaos. The more moments we can have the better. Better still is we can have a group to reach out safely to in tender times. Moments when we can gather together, a feeling that there many hands at our back, they are the thread that keeps us going in bleaker moments. Bowing my head to you and your brave, noble heart. X

  6. Thank you Nicola very beautiful and thank you for creating a space for a wonderful community of people to come together. It really is a special time for me and opportunity to meet wonderful people. Much appreciation and many thanks x

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