Tasting Beauty

May 17, 2018

I left the house for a early morning walk just before 7 o’clock this morning, and it is the perfect May Spring day. I wouldn’t like to say this is my absolute favourite time of the year, as I love all the seasons and feel a little sadness inside as each of them pass. That said, this time of year fills me with such a lift and I find myself rising earlier and earlier in the morning with the bird song drawing me outside with such an urgency.

I am out on a walk through the woods and moorland behind our home on the edge of the West Pennine Moors right now as I write this. If I look in one direction I can see across to Manchester. When I turn to face the other way there is a long expanse of remote rolling moorland in front of me, with not a car, person, building or road in sight.

Living on the edge

It reminds me of that notion of the fertile edge where there is a real richness of life. In nature we see an abundance of life and activity at the edge of the woodland as it joins the meadow, where the sea meets the land, and on the riverbank. Two authors which immediately come to mind who have written about the fertile edge are Glennie Kindred in her book ‘Letting in the Wild Edges’ and Sharron Blackie in ‘If Women Rose Rooted’. I am sure there are many more.

Jason and my work through the way of the Buzzard is edge work. Through our own personal quests to find a different way of being we have found each other and united our own individual takes on what creating a new Earth might look like.

We have been away from home recently, hiding away in the Spring woodland in Cumbria. It is a huge undertaking to mobilise 160 like-minded folk to join us, and takes us a little while to recover and land back home afterwards. So this is the first chance I have had to come out and create this blog to share just a few of my highlights of Space to Emerge.

For four days we hid ourselves in the most beautiful of woodlands rising up from the banks of Lake Windermere. Scented by the perfume of bluebells we immersed ourselves in the Springtime energies of emergence and allowed ourselves to see what might come through us over those few days together. This is edge work.


Exploring Earth Spirituality 

Each year during Space to Emerge I run an ‘Introduction to Shamanism and Shamanic Journeying’ workshop at some point during our weekend together. It is a chance to gather and hear our take on Shamanism and how it has helped transform our lives through gaining a close dialogue with our Spirit Guides.

Early in the workshop I ask the question, “what does Earth based spirituality mean to you”. Small groups form to share their views with each other and then we feedback into the whole group.

It was around ten years ago that I first heard the term, and it was a light bulb moment for me. In my upbringing as an Evangelical Christian Earth care was never talked about, and nor was it mentioned at school. It was through a day experience during a holiday to Wales with my Mum and Dad when I was twelve years old that I first learnt to consider such things. That day at the Centre of Alternative Technology was my awakening to the impact our Western way of living is having on the Earth and it set my path for life.

It grew into a career around environmental protection, but for the following twenty years I never thought of teaming Earth and Spirituality together. No-one had suggested it to me, and it never crossed my mind. So when I was told about a charity called GreenSpirit I was blown away. It put me on my new course in life right at the perfect time when I was at a junction looking for a different direction to follow in my work in the World.

Jason and I have discussed at length what Earth-based Spirituality means to us, and it mirrors what people feed back to me in my Shamanism workshop at each years Space to Emerge.

It is about working with nature and the Earth at a deep level, including using ritual to reach a space of deep reverence for nature, honouring what is with us here. By doing this is it puts us in a more connected space with nature on all levels, so we can live in harmony and life can be in balance and flow. It is also bringing into that the Nature Spirits, and the God and Goddesses as parts of nature.

It’s a way for us to be human here on Earth. We are spiritual beings coming into an animal body and by aligning with nature we can find a way to coexist with nature and grow. It is our route to the Divine. It is our route to redefining culture here on Earth and transcends any religion that tells us how to live.


Community in nature

Drawing people together to be in nature is one of my main driving forces in life. Something quite incredible happens when we go outside. It is like a piece of us finds it’s way back. We break open a little bit and can hear our souls longing just that little bit louder.

We know it is good for us to go outside and yet so often we can resist that urge to drop everything, shut the laptop down, move though the distractions and the noise and make our way out to the front door.

Yet once we are outside everything becomes clearer. We find a little bit of peace. We have a different perspective on things. We get new ideas. We feel uplifted. All this happens when we are simply going for a walk, or sitting looking out over the hills, or sea or lake. So imagine the power of nature when we go out with an intention to learn something, change something, receive guidance…

… and imagine the joy of sharing this experience with other like minded travellers.

This is why we throw ourselves into creating a space to emerge in the northwest of England every springtime.

Spring is all about emergence. In just a few weeks the memory of winter passes, the sun rises high and long in the sky, and that magic wand turns the bare trees into a lush of green. Carpets of spring flowers adorn the woodland floor and bird song fills the early morning mist.

So we take ourselves into the woodland to be a part of this magic.

We dance, sing, craft, reflect, meditate, and celebrate our way through the long weekend

We lie in sunny woodland glades.

We honour the Earth with sacred altars.

We celebrate.

We walk the Labyrinth to hear what the great thigh of the Mother wants us to hear.

The men gather to be men. The women gather to be women. The children gather to run free in the woods.

The dancers swirl. The singers join in with the dawn chorus. The crafters create.

We share stories around the campfire. We catch up with old friends and make new. We just simply let ourselves be.

And then we say our goodbyes knowing we will cross paths again one day, and step into our Spring with a new depth of knowing and understanding. We leave invigorated and full of hope for the months of sunshine promise.

Onward promise 

Now that Jason and I have landed back home Space to Emerge almost feels like a dream. A hazy memory of smiles, laughter, joy and tears. A taste of human beauty.

So we are looking ahead to our imminent plans over these coming weeks with an excitement in our step. We are in the final days of preparation to launch our new offering to the World to help folk connect in with their Spirit Guides through Shamanic Journeying.

It was one of my Spirit Guides, through a Shamanic Journey, who gave me the idea to call our weekend Space to Emerge. She told me to focus on creating a space where we can emerge with Spring, and it continues to touch so many of us in our journey. For me it is helping me grow through leadership, and grow through community. My guide is continuing to hold my hand as I weave forward on the path of helping us all fall back in love with the Earth once more.

Our Spirit Guides are lined up waiting to give us guidance to help us transform ourselves and the immediate World around us. The time to connect in with them is now. Incredible things await for us, that I am certain of.


Born into being

Earth Spirituality to me is a feeling. A feeling from which my actions in the world are born into being. Powerful things are so often hard to put into words but here is what comes to me today when I ask myself what Earth Spirituality is to me right now.

It is learning to listen to the guidance of the Earth
It is living in harmony with nature, and finding the balance so we no longer dominate
It is finding what it is to be human again
It is dropping into a different state of being
It is moving beyond civilisation and what we are told is right but which feels inherently wrong
It is learning to fall back in love with the Earth again
It is reclaiming what was lost when we were removed from our land
It is reclaiming back what nature based indigenous people still have. We can’t lift their tradition and make it our own but we can rediscover that’s ours through our own ‘remembering’.


The forest and the village

When I come out to the moors to write blogs I often walk as I type… slowly mind, so I don’t trip over!  I have just turned back away from the moorland and am now looking over Lancashire across to the sea. I can see over to Runcorn one way and Blackpool the other.

It reminds me again of the age old message in fairy tales, which is the importance of coming out into the forest seeking the wisdom which is right for our time and bringing it back to the village. This is much like going on a Shamanic Journey into the other realms.

The role of the Shaman or people in the shamanic path is to dream the world into being… but we need a place to escape to to find our dreams.  This is from where the inspiration, and the change comes.

To close I want to share a few words from others about their experience at Space to Emerge. I love to hear from others the magic that they felt when they escaped to the woods and so we ask people when they leave and have captured a few tales to share here.


“A spellbinding time was had… the woods were magical..people and community made it very special.” Chris

“A wonderful, healing experience, so many lovely friendly people and wonderful, fascinating conversations throughout, so much to think about and so much help with dealing with some challenges I have currently, and also moving forward on my spiritual path. So much love not just in the people but in the place itself.” Samantha

“I feel so humbled by nature and all it has to offer us. Totally out of this world…space to emerge was exactly what it says….feel like I’ve deepened my connection with nature.” Vivienne

“It was a healing and uplifting experience. Particularly the trance drumming I was able to completely surrender to the moment . And let go of feeling afraid. I went on an amazing spiritual journey. Thank you.” Maggie

“It was and will be the most beautiful weekend of my year, spent with the nicest of people in a stunning spiritual space.” Emily

“The best weekend we’ve had in ages. A very special and sacred time surrounded by beautiful woodlands and some genuine, authentic folks. Thank-you so much Nicola and Jason for what you created here. Space to Emerge fed my soul and inspired me in so many ways. Not least to get out in nature more.” Liz


We will be announcing next years Space to Emerge dates soon so keep an eye out for that too to make a note in your diary if you would like to join us next year.

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. It sounds wonderful and I like the asking of what earth based spirituality means to me….so I will ask myself when I am out in the garden in a short while, I have some digging to do as the fruit bushes, no longer wanted by us, are going to their new home later today…I listened to the plants and asked what they wanted, some wanted to stay and are being planted elsewhere in the garden and some were happy to move on 😉 So thank you for making me pause in my day to ask myself the question. Many blessing and much love to you

  2. Sounds like such a joyful weekend. Well done N&J. I’m not able to join in at the moment but your writings and gatherings inspire me to keep on the path. You look truly fabulous by the way Nicola.
    Lots of love,
    Lou xxx

  3. I went to Space to Emerge on my own, knowing no one who had been before, I read a little info and it felt right. Wow was it right for me. A beautiful, rich, nourishing and expansive experience for start to finish. Totally in alignment with where I am at spiritually and where I am heading – outside, to be, and to ‘be with’ others as I take my play therapy business outside. Julie

  4. Amazing time in bluebell woods connecting with the earth, myself and the wonderful people. The kids become aligned wild children of the wood and said it was there best holiday ever. Thank you for such a wonderful experience. We felt blessed. X

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