Space to Emerge Magic

June 1, 2019

Space to Emerge had a new kind of grace to it this year.

The day we arrived to set up, as we began to unpack our things seven buzzards circled the thermals above. We took it as a good sign.

This was our fifth year of hiding away in the woods together with a gaggle of like-minded folk. Five years ago, our Space to Emerge woodland gathering was born out of the question, ‘what might happen if we run away with fellow travellers and hide away under the trees for a weekend?’.

Over the years it has grown into something ever more delicious. So, this year we decided on arriving home afterwards, to set ourselves the project of pulling together some of the overriding themes which emerged through the weekend. This is no easy task, as you can imagine. With 150 people gathering over four days, partaking in over thirty different workshops and two healing tents, there was a huge amount happening, all of the time!

So, this writing comes with the caveat that not everything which happened has been included here, as that would be an impossible task. That said, drawing on the feedback from the facilitators here are three of the key emerging themes of the weekend that came out of our space to emerge.


The first theme is connection and at Space to Emerge this happened in a world of layers. There was connecting with each other, in community, as old friends and new friends gathered with intention away from the busyness of world business.

How rich our time was in connecting in with each other. The deep sharing. The taking time to reflect on questions about our lives, as well as to hear others stories.

Then there was the connection with the other dimension, or the Otherworld and tuning into the wisdom of our spirit guides. There was so much guidance and support available to us. Through shamanic journeys folk received advice on all manner of things.

They received wisdom from the animal spirits and the tree spirits, and powerful insights were gained which have the potential to set a new course in life. There was the tuning into the animal kingdom and learning to communicate with animals as well as the rocks and the trees.

Then going within ourselves there was the connection into the deep wisdom that is held within each and every one of us. There were so many opportunities to tune intuitively into our own inner wisdom and share this.

To give you a snippet, there was deep sharing in the red tent, with the opportunity for reflection, remembering and hearing how it was and is for women.

Then there was the sharing and connecting with each other as we created sacred anointing oils. The anointing of fellow souls with intention, and the deep connection which was created by people working together in this way.

There was the connection back in with the old ways, recovering ancient British traditions, which have been temporarily lost to us over the last thousand years plus, but are there for us to bring back now.

We honoured the ancient Celtic goddess Creiddylad who was a sovereignty goddess whose role has been obscured by the patriarchy.

There was great passion expressed about honouring her and winning her back. Just as there was an eagerness to reclaim our rites to herbal wisdom, so that we can heal ourselves through the medicines the plants and trees hold for us. With the runes, there was an excitement in learning about this old way of divination. Folk were surprised about how effective and accurate the runes were.

Then finally, of course, there is the connection with nature herself in all her tangled beauty. Fell Foot Wood was awash with a spread of bluebells, and they dressed in their absolute best for us. The fresh new leaves of birch, oak and maple gave us a luminous blanket of green to rest under. The old yew tree circle sat perched at the top of the hill, these old trees gazing down on the unravellings of the weekend.

Our need to quench our thirst for nature time was apparent through the weekend. People in particular this year were drawn to the trees. Of course, this may have been in part because we were immersed in a wood and so we were surrounded by them, but it felt bigger than this.

It seemed like there was a yearning to learn more and develop a closer relationship with them. Dropping into nature connection time folk learned how to slow down and let nature give them a bit of solace and a bit of comfort. They learned how to begin to perceive messages and words that are coming from nature on a deeper level.

We live in a world where we crave meaningful connection, amidst the distractions of television, suppressive work regimes, and brick homes with locked doors. We live in a world where we don’t know our neighbours names, and where we spend more time engaging with people via social media who we barely know, than with true friends in the flesh and blood. So, it is no surprise that connection has come up as one of the most prominent themes of Space to Emerge.

Connection in this profound and deep way is essential balm for the soul.


The area of change and transition is not a surprising theme to emerge either. The folk who are drawn to Space to Emerge are undoubtedly on the spiritual development path. This isn’t a music festival or a dance festival. It isn’t an event themed around a particular hobby interest.

Space to Emerge isn’t really a festival at all. The weekend has more of a retreat energy about it, where we retreat away into the woods to let the magic work on us. Naturally inner work is included in that.

That is what wild time does, it peels back our outer layers and plunges us into the dark world which lies just beneath our skin.

Of course, just as is recorded in every fairy tale ever told, when we delve within the dark and murky waters of our inner selves, change inevitably happens, and it is rarely pretty. In fact, far from it.

We have been born into an incredibly complex world which has been built on trauma. A world where destruction is normal, pollution is an outfall of progression and where there is grief and suffering is on every street corner. Our concern of these things was not forgotten, and but rather shared.

We are born into a world where the expectation is to work very long hours, and give our lives over to something we don’t believe in. When we reach despair in this strange society, we naturally push our head above the parapet to see what else might be out there beyond the wastelands of modern culture.

To get there, inevitably we need to descend before we can rise. We need to strip away our preconditioned layers. We need to overcome our fears and challenges. We need to release old blockages. We need to let out our rage, and the rage of our ancestors which we carry within us.

So what a gift that we can come into the woods together and hold each other’s hand whilst we do this.

We are not running away from the madness of the outer world; we are running into the depths of our own inner world.

At Space to Emerge people felt like something was shifting inside through the combination of the whole weekend and workshop activities.

A space was provided where folk could first release their anger then rejoice their new-found freedom from negativity by going into a fun dance, both metaphorically and literally!

When we can let go, something truly beautiful emerges on the other side. It is through this work that we can emerge a little different.

A little rougher around the edges maybe, but we are real. Through the rawness there is an immense relief with the permission and space to truly be ourselves, as surprising as it often is to see who our true selves are.

This work is sacred work. This is our spiritual currency. This true expression hasn’t been possible in our lands for many, many hundreds of years through suppression.

So, it is a real gift that such deep work can happen here, deep in the woods, being deeply together.

Passion in Creativity

Something especially beautiful happened around the campfire on Sunday evening. We leave this space open, with no plans other than to gather to see what happens.

It is a breather from the full programme of activities which happen throughout the rest of the weekend.

Space to Emerge has always been about creativity. After all we hold it at Beltane which is the most creative time of the year. The whole of nature is busy growing so it is the most natural time to open ourselves up and give our potential creative greatness space to emerge.

Around the evening campfire fire musical instruments were shared and songs were learned. Dances were danced. We were carried through into stories of the wee folk, the fabled Shropshire vole and rabbits who lived in trees.

Poems were recited, and intimate writings were given the gift of breath and spoken out loud. Into the crucible of creativity, the rich ingredients of inspiration, bravery and depth were stirred together with the great wooden spoon that is Fell Foot Wood. We dreamed our way through the evening as the stars popped out one by one to watch our magnificence from above.

There were tears shed in the creative writing morning practice workshop. Just the simple process of reading three poems and then writing for five minutes can unlock such incredible work from deep within us. Folk are always surprised at what they are capable of. We are always blown away by their secret ability to become, in a flash, the great poets of the wild wood.

The sound of people singing drifted through the trees with the morning bird song. Wild voices joined the chant of the chaffinch and the rhyme of the robin. The sound of the gongs was called into the collective as those of us having a sneaky lie in stirred into this world on the wave of the gong hum.

Lower down the hill in the family area the children were happy to engage with simple nature arts and crafts and share all the resources with each other. There was tribal face painting, with muddy faces and leafy crowns. Adults and children alike blended so naturally into the trees that we were sure if they stayed there long enough, they would sprout tails and never leave.

There was a passion to create Space to Emerge, with a team of over forty people coming together bringing all their wonderfulness with them.

This is building on what my ancestor Spirit Guide Elder told me which is that the most important thing we can do in the world right now is build community. I didn’t fully understand why this was when she told me all those years ago.

But, walking around Fell Foot Wood, watching all the things going on, hearing the stories, the laughter drifting through the woodland floor mixed up with bluebell perfume, I can see why now. 

As in community, the right community, we can find the strength to move towards our edge. We can push ourselves to see just how far we dare to go, being cheered on from behind, in front and on the left and the right.

What is so clear to me now, is that it isn’t about how well we do, or even what we do. It is that we show up, in all our rawness and apparent incompleteness, because we are brave, and we want to see what might just emerge from within.

In the world of enforced consumerism, it is a gift that we can strip ourselves back to our bones, go and sit in the woods and rediscover what it really means to be a human being.

A sign of a good weekend is that folk do not want to go home. But go home we must. In many ways each year once Space to Emerge ends, and we are all unpacked and settled back into the routine of life, there is a tug inside me to run this again later in the Summer. Why do we have to wait a whole year to experience something so special? Maybe that is what makes it so special.

But wait another year we must, as Beltane only comes once a year, and in the meantime we can hold tight that feeling of immense joy that we collectively create in the Spring woods together.

What magic is held in that little woodland, stretching up from the banks of Lake Windermere as we reconnect to our ancient knowing and sense of tribe and community. What magic we are when we come together and let ourselves just be.

To see more memories from last year, and a video please see our Space to Emerge website here...

... and to pre-register your interest in joining us next year, and to keep informed of our Space to Emerge 2020 developments, please enter your email in the sign up box below and we will keep in touch as plans emerge.

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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. Just beautiful Nicola – This really captures the magic of the wk end for me. It really blew me away particularly the sense of community, as without this. the magic would not have been so powerful. I am very excited to be part of this again next year!

    1. What a wonderful read Nicola. Like being back there again to savour each delicious moment. I arrived at Space to Emerge feeling exhausted and a little defeated by life. Tired of feeling the odd one out, of trying to solve problems, of giving so much away of myself and in doing so, losing parts of myself. Each workshop healed me a little more till at the end I felt renewed and full of life and fully myself again. I was able to return home and carry that with me out into my community. Not an easy thing to maintain when the distractions of life come pushing in but the weekend was transfomative in so many ways. It was an atmosphere of trust, friendship, support, creativity, connection, gratitude, care, joy and hope. What a gift. Thank you !
      What wonders will next years Space to Emerge bring. I’ll definitely be there to find out.

    1. Oh thank you Pete, this is really valued feedback, and thank you for all your hard work in capturing the weekend so beautifully on film!

  2. Just reading that made me miss my physical presence at Space this year even more. I did however still feel the connection with you all, could imagine the chanting, music and dancing and all the good work being done. Very much looking forward to being with you next year.

  3. As first timers, Jo and I were blown away by the power of what went on at Space To Emerge this year. It is no exaggeration to say that we were both profoundly transformed by the experience – as, I expect, were many others. Yes, we have to wait a year until the next Space To Emerge, but it feels to us that, in the course of that Beltane weekend, we became part of a community that exists despite us all going our separate ways at the end. We made connections with people that will endure despite separation in space. Connections that continue to give us strength even when the people cannot physically be with us. Just knowing that those people exist makes life a little sweeter, a bit easier. Back home, we sit beneath hawthorn, watch the buzzards circle, cast the runes, light the fires and beat the drums and we remember that gathering in the woods and we feel part of something bigger than us.
    Thank you for writing so beautifully about the weekend. It sums it up perfectly and warms us on a cold, wet June afternoon.

    1. What beautiful words to read here Andy, thank you. This is just wonderful to hear your reflections one month on. I am blown away by them actually. It was superb to share the weekend with you and Jo and all that you brought. All there is left to say is Shropshire vole, Shropshire vole, come out come out of your Shropshire hole!!! 🙂

  4. Space to emerge indeed! In a world that can label me weird, great to find and connect with others on the same spiritual path. Freedom to talk about crystals, the ancients, the shamanic connections, wild plants, trees, animals and birds… more about birds next year please

  5. Thankyou Nicola , you so beautifully put into words what I’m sure everybody feels . Im really looking forward to next year and feel blessed to have so many beautiful people in my life xxx

  6. Wow, Nicola, this is beautiful. I had tears streaming down my face reading this. I truly hope to be able to join you next year. Thank you for putting your beautiful work and energy out there into the world. With love, Ann x

    1. Gosh thank you Ann, what feedback to receive. I am so pleased 🙂 and yes lets hope you are able to share in Space to Emerge next year 🙂 x

  7. Beautifully crafted words as always – thank you for this vivid summary of the weekend.

    We could always make it a week long?

    1. Now there is an idea Carole! We have floated the idea between us for something longer later in the summer. But yes, a week-long Space to Emerge. Delicious idea! Thank you for your kind words too 🙂

  8. Beautifully written. Beautiful weekend. Space to Emerge marked the end of a long winter for me this year and filled me with the optimism and hope that only time in the woods can. Thank-you Nicola and Jason for all you do and for who you are. Love and Gratitude. ❤️????

    1. Oh thank you Liz, it was a real joy to share this weekend again with you and Chris and I am so pleased it offered a beacon to what was a very difficult winter. Thank you for your really kind words and here is to many more special times together. With love Nicola & Jason 🙂 🙂

  9. Thank you Nicola. I am so excited about my commitment to come to Space to Emerge in 2024. I am enjoying looking at the pictures and films and continuing my commitment to take part. I am still considering whether to drive from Kent or make Coach or Rail Journey. Your films and Jasons Photos and Films and your Writing are showing me the way. I know this will be a healing experience for me and I need it. I am a healer but I need to connect to other healers and to heal. This opportunity to camp in a Bluebell wood is strange because I have bluebell woods near to me in Kent but fear keeps me from going there alone. I have a lot of fear to overcome. I hope that I don't just buy the ticket. I hope that i take part. Like so many people I have faced a lot of challenges in the past years and this is an opportunity to grow and heal. Whether I make it or not…the experience of being a member of your School is a valuable opportunity. Thank you for your inspiration.

    1. I can really hear where you are at with Space to Emerge, Miranda. I am chuffed that you are setting the intention to join us. Have you thought about sharing the journey? There are often a good 5-6 people who come up from Kent. It will be so lovely to share time in the bluebells woods 🙂

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