Standing On Burning Coals

December 21, 2019

A few years ago I was given a dream which led to a restored optimism that I’d not felt for at least a decade.

In the shadow of last week’s General Election results, momentarily that optimism vanished. Now after seven days of staring into the darkness at the bottom of the well with my fingernails pushed into the dirt, tentacles of hope are finally emerging once again. We are just moments away from the Winter Solstice, and so as the wheel turns towards the light once more, if you have been feeling the same as me, anger, despair and bewilderment maybe these words will offer a little much-needed balm for the soul.

I am usually a glass half full kind of person, and I also have an ability to rise quickly above a situation and see rationally what is going on from a long-term perspective. I lost both of these qualities this past week. In the rawness I, like many people, swung on the pendulum of ranting and raging at one end to retreating within and going completely silent, lost for words, on the other. I didn’t get a whole lot done as my creativity disappeared out of the window, to be washed away with the endless rain which fell outside. I felt the black dog scratching at the door.

I think the reason for this amplified feeling compared with the last three election defeats, is because this time I felt an emotion in the days preceding it which I haven’t felt so strongly for a long time. I haven’t dared. But in the final days in the run-up to voting day last week I felt it in bucket loads. It was hope.

It began when the economists started to back labour but the clinch for me, and I know many of you chuckled along with this too, was when Boris walked into a fridge to hide from a persistent reporter on the final day of his campaign. Surely, I thought, with such a terrible campaign and refusal to speak to the people he can’t win.

So, on hearing the election results, to fall from such a great height I could only crash to the ground at great speed. I didn’t land well, and it hurt. I know from years of exploring all my broken bits, when I am in my wounded place, I can see a very different world. It has taken me a whole week to emerge the other side.

I am a firm believer that it is good to be angry. It is good to rant and rave and let it all out in order to emerge into something else. I don’t think I am done yet, but I am in a place where can I can offer some perspective which has helped me, and to do this we need to travel back to Victorian Britain in the late nineteenth century.

Ancestral knowing

What my ancestral research going back seven generations tells me is that we stand at the front of a long line of ancestors who are watching our backs. These ancestors have felt the hopelessness we feel when the ruling elite make decisions which are in their own self-interest rather than that of the people. These ancestors have felt the same despair we feel right now and found their way through it. We are not alone in this, and I can take comfort from that. They have survived through adverse conditions which are barely imaginable, and I am living proof of that.

I have many ancestors who were cleared from their land in the early part of the 19th Century and were forced to take their chances in the slums, factories and workhouses of the Industrial Revolution. I carry many of their stories in me, brought to the light after lying waiting in archive documents for two centuries. There is one story which has captured my heart above all others, and that is my paternal great, great, great grandmother Catherine. She was an economic migrant, fleeing the Great Famine of Ireland in 1848. Escaping certain death in her homeland, she found herself within a few months both a widow and a mother of a new-born daughter in a foreign country. Destitute with no means of earning a living on the streets of Westminster, just one mile from Buckingham Palace in one direction and one mile from the Houses of Parliament in the other, she walked barefoot down the cobbled streets of Soho to the doorstep of one of the world’s greatest social atrocities, the workhouse. Designed to strip a person of their soul and demean them to the lowest place a human being can descend to, it was here in the Piccadilly Workhouse where she attempted to raise her daughter to the age of two. Had Charlotte survived the whooping cough which claimed her little life, she would have been ripped from her mothers’ arms close to her second birthday and sent to an orphanage for her remaining childhood years.

The following three decades are not a pretty picture. I have struggled to find any happiness in Catherine’s story from that point on. Between slum living and the workhouse, working up to eighteen-hour days and alcoholism, she had a further two sons who grew up in what were called ‘Industrial Schools’. Deprived of the love of their mother, the only person they had in the world and the very person the state believed would breed insolence in them, her sons lived in Oliver Twist style orphanage conditions to emerge as young men in the late 19th Century. They were trained from the age of two years old to be prolific workers building Victorian Britain. One of these sons was my great, great grandfather.

There was no hope for Catherine during her lifetime. Parliament took little or no interest in the plight of the Irish. They believed the poor brought their conditions on themselves, and that through hard work anyone could work their way out if they really wanted to.

Sound familiar? It wasn’t the government at fault, it was the poor. The poor were just lazy and should just work their way out of poverty. This is what people were led to believe. This is what the poor were led to believe. That this was all their own doing.

Now you might be wondering why, given that you are already at an all-time low point, I am sharing such a story of despair. Well, there is a reason, and that is that there was one person who was instrumental in changing this rhetoric. He saw the plight of the Irish for what it really was and being in a position of leadership strove to do something about it. That person was called William Ewart Gladstone and was Britains Prime minister for a total of twelve years. On leaving office in 1894 aged 84 he was both the oldest person to serve as Prime Minister and the only Prime Minister to have ever served for four terms.

Gladstone liberalism

Gladstone is acclaimed by many historians to be the best Prime Minister we have ever had and one of Britain’s greatest leaders. He began his political career as a Tory and over time defected towards the left and was instrumental in establishing the Liberal Party. His political principles emphasised the equality of opportunity and his popularity amongst the working class earned him the title ‘The People’s William”.

During his time in office, he brought in major reforms around the election process, including the introduction of secret voting and extending the vote to agricultural labourers, taking the number of people eligible to vote up to 6 million. He successfully fought for the rights of coal dock workers and arranged employment for ex-prostitutes. He unsuccessfully fought for the abolition of income tax for the labouring community. He also believed in what was called Home Rule for Ireland. He proposed several bills during his term as Prime Minister to give the Irish control over their own country once again. His proposed Home Rule Bills were overthrown several times whilst he was in office, the first overthrown in the House of Commons and the second making it through only to be overthrown in the House of Lords. Despite these setbacks, when we take a longer term view we can see that the seed Gladstone sowed ultimately lead to Ireland achieving its independence several decades later.

I first came across Gladstone in a dream. I was on a camping holiday in the Yorkshire Dales which coincided with the government’s announcement that the moorlands I love so much behind my home were being opened up for fracking license applications. I was devastated and I couldn’t sleep for several nights. I felt so hopeless and so angry. Then one morning I woke in my tent shouting the words Gladstone, Gladstone, Gladstone. I am not a sleep talker and so I thought there must be something in this, particularly because I had shouted that word three times. So, I spent some time googling Gladstone, and the breadcrumb trail begun. I read essays written by him and opinion pieces written by historians. I even stumbled upon an entire chapter on him in an old Irish history book I found in a second-hand bookshop in Scotland which is when the jigsaw pieces started to come together.

Gladstone is a bit of an enigma for social and political historians alike. In reviewing the man behind the movement, I am yet to find anyone who is sure why he worked so hard for the Irish cause. He didn’t have any vested interest and he didn’t have anything to gain.

Gladstone fought to give back the power to the Irish so they had a say in the running of Ireland. It didn’t happen immediately, in fact it took many years beyond Gladstone’s death, but change did come. His vision set a precedent which I have read ultimately led to the fall of the British Empire as swathes of countries followed in being granted their independence from British rule.

He also fought for the rights of the poor. He sat and listened to prostitutes speak and then set up schemes to help them. He supported the dockers when they went on strike. He fought for the common man to have the vote. In the final few years of his long life he said “I am not so much afraid of Democracy or of Science as of the love of money. This seems to me to be a growing evil”.

Just days after my Gladstone dream Jeremy Corbyn was chosen as the new leader of the Labour Party. Ever since then I have associated the two leaders together.

Jeremy Corbyn has always filled me with hope. Just as Gladstone was someone I have shared values with, so is Jeremy. I haven’t engaged with the smear campaigns which began immediately he took his post and reached their ultimate crescendo last week. For me Jeremy is a light. Finally, here was a man whom I can stand behind. Over the years, despite the multi-billionaire controlled media’s very best and quite extraordinary attempts to turn the tide, I don’t see they have succeeded. Yes, they have won this election, and will now set in motion changes which will affect us for maybe another seven generations to come. However, Jeremy has painted a vision for us now and that is not being put to one side.

I have heard calls for Labour to move to the centre and radically reform. Tony Blair is holding the loud hailer for this, but he is godfather to Rupert Murdoch’s daughter so I think it’s fair to say he isn’t a man to be listened to. This week I have been encouraged by seeing speeches made by some of the MPs proposed to take over the leadership of the Labour Party. These are not politicians who sit in the centre. These are passionate people who have risen through a life of hard knocks right at the bottom of the ladder.

Let there be hope

This is where I still see hope. Jeremy’s vision will live on.

I also see hope in that despite everything that was published in the newspapers about Jeremy, over 10.2 million people voted for his new vision, just 3.6 million fewer than voted Tory in this election despite all the money and propaganda they had behind their campaign.

Corbyn also secured 0.7 million more votes than Tony Blair received in his 2005 election victory.

There is a movement here. There is an appetite for what Jeremy Corbyn stands for. We might not be able to see it right now. We are all tired and we are being told this is the greatest defeat of Labour since 1935. Yet when Labour returned ten years after that defeat, and return they did, they led an extensive programme of welfare measures which included our National Health Service.

With a hard Brexit taking centre stage on the table alongside our Christmas turkey we know we are in for tough times. We are all wondering how we will be affected, and I see a wave of people considering their move out of England. I have family and friends who have already left for Europe.

This has left me wondering where I want to be amongst all of this, and my vision is very clear. My place is to remain standing on the burning coals.

Esoteric Philosopher William Meader taught me the model of standing on the burning coals at a workshop I attended many years ago. When we awaken, we move across the coals and walk to the other side from one world to the next. It is a difficult process, but we are pulled towards a place the other side, this new world which is where we intuitively want to be. There is a group of people who make it to the other side and live there contently.

But there is a group of people who stop and look back to where they have just been, towards the old world. Doing so, they see all the people who haven’t yet started to make the journey across. They realise that we are in this together and that we aren’t complete until every last person has made it across. So, they stand in the middle, firm on the coals and reach out to help people cross. That is my role. This is where I have chosen to stand. I have foreseen this descent for two decades. Working in a career in sustainability you can’t avoid the fact that a crash is imminent in my lifetime. However, many years ago I decided that my path wasn’t to go somewhere far away. My path was to stay exactly where I was, in the heartlands of the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution where much of this began.

The currency of being awake and seeing things for how they really are is grief. The grief that it could be different. The grief that it really doesn’t need to be this way, if only… if only the media didn’t have such a hold… if only people wouldn’t believe what they read in the papers, if only people would wake up… if only… if only.

But waking up is a painful process and so it is natural to avoid it. We usually only wake up when things get terribly, terribly bad. What this election told us is that things just aren’t bad enough yet.

That makes me fearful, yet I also know as I sit in my anxiety the one thing that always emerges from chaos and crisis is something new. We see this in nature all the time. We see this when we reflect back on our lives. I know I had my biggest insights when I was at rock bottom. We see this in social history which I have been studying alongside my ancestral research; of Catherine’s story and how Gladstone saw her plight and put in motion changes which were to give Ireland back to the people in two generations time.

The point when real change happens is the point when we are sitting in the depths. Last Friday I felt us descending. This week I have watched Boris form his new Government and make daily announcements which alarm me to the point where I have pretty much forgotten about Christmas. I certainly haven’t reached that ‘Christmassy’ feeling yet. I see the beginnings of a dictatorship emerging, and the thing I am so passionate about, democracy, slipping away from underneath us. I see not just a country divided, but families divided, friends divided, and so much charged emotion flying around. This polarisation greatly worries me in one sense, but I also know from my own experience in group therapy and knowledge of psychotherapy theory, amplification of polar views is a necessary part of the process in order to ultimately find a resolution. It is never pretty. Sometimes it doesn’t happen in time, but other times it does. I know which horse I am betting on.

Moving to empowerment

So how can we move from this anger and despair to be a positive force once again in the world. Joanna Macey in her ‘Work That Reconnects’ talks about the idea of honouring our grief and then moving through it to a place where we can take empowered action.

For this again I turn to my ancestors lives for inspiration. When they felt powerless, in most case as far as I can see they were powerless. They were unable to change their lives, their living conditions, their prospects in how they lived their lives. They had just one choice, which was work or die.

In the 21st Century, at the moment and I hope for some time yet, we have many more choices available for us and I find this incredibly empowering. I know at times it really doesn’t feel like this, but it is certainly my experience and the experience of many people who stand around me. So here is my list of eight things I have done to move myself into a different space. Maybe some of these things might chime with you today. I have balanced four outward-facing actions with four internal process actions.

Campaign for Proportional Representation.
I have been into this for some years now as a different model for our election and one which many other European countries follow. The way the votes are counted in the UK at the moment means that our country is governed by a party that most voters rejected at the ballot box. Only 43.6% of the electorate who chose to vote voted for a Tory government.

Proportional Representation is a model which levels the playing field, so Parliament reflects the people and all votes count equally. Have you ever lived in a constituency where there was little point in going to the ballot box because you knew your vote wouldn’t matter? I have. I lived in the Tory constituency stronghold of Macclesfield. Here my vote for Labour didn’t count, as there was never a chance of Labour getting this seat in our current First Past The Post system. Taking the 2019 election results as an example, with a Proportional Representation voting system, the other parties would have benefited from this fairer system, as Labour would have gained 14 additional seats, the Lib Dems 59, the Brexit Party 10 and the Greens 11.

There are really positive moves to change our current First Past the Post system to Proportional Representation and you can help this momentum by donating to the charities who drive this and be ready to go to the protests when they are announced. Here are the two I donate to monthly: The Electoral Reform Society and Make Votes Matter.

Give to charities.
Look at the groups of people the Tories have cut funding for and start up or increase your charitable donations to these groups. The homeless and those vulnerable to losing their homes are two of the groups I have begun regular direct debits to this past week. If you are time-rich then also consider volunteering out on the ground.

Join the Labour Party.
I joined the Labour Party the week Jeremy Corbyn became their leader. I didn’t think about it, I just did it and set up my direct debit there and then. Finally, I had a voice in one of the major political parties and so I was prepared to put money behind them. Now more than ever this is important as the Labour Party is funded by the people, not by billionaires. Here is the link to their website.

Invest in real news.
I can’t understand why it is legal for a political party to be allowed to run a campaign on lies. An investigation found nearly 90% of Facebook ads paid for by the Conservative Party in the first few days of December contained misleading claims.

In Finland they have embarked on a programme to fight fake news, with children being taught to be critical of what they read, and are at the top of the league table of nations most resilient to fake news followed by the Netherlands and then Sweden. Meanwhile, some countries including Germany and France are legislating to try to combat fake news. My approach is to invest in organisations which are championing real news, and I have a regular direct debit with Double Down News.

Their current caption on their home page is “Jeremy Corbyn is the lantern but the movement is the light. That light will not be extinguished. This genie will not be put back in the bottle.”

This is news which I can believe in.

Find your balm.
For me, and for many of us, this is getting outside, as much as possible. Nature has the answers and I always feel better about things when I have been for a wander or a sit. Today I took a bracing walk up onto the moors. I was all alone for over two hours and was given a fresh perspective on things, including insights for this blog.

Last Friday it was pouring with rain, metaphorically and literally and I didn’t have it in me to leave the house. Instead that day nature came to me. I pulled one of my Celtic Tree Ogham sticks and received a message from Gorse. It was a surprise given my state of mood as I was expecting something more like Blackthorn with its sharp thorns or Vine with its restrictive binding.

What Gorse taught me in just a few minutes was that there is something else going on here outside of the jar of dark treacle I found myself sitting in on that day. There was the beginning of a harvest, the beginning of fruition from a life of hard work. There was hope that we would achieve this restored direction. Just not today.

Find your connection to your guides.
Go and ask them what it is that you should be doing, and then do it. Einstein said we cannot solve the problems with the same level of thinking that they were created with. We have been left to the limitation of our conscious minds for too long. Learn a technique to access your inner guidance, your spiritual guidance. Then practise it, and practise it, and practise it until you have nailed it. Then follow the messages that you receive. For me it’s shamanic journeying with the drum, nature connection, dream work and observing synchronicities. For you it might be this or something else.

Build your team around you.
My guides have told me one of the most important things we can do is build community. You need to find people who think and feel like you if you haven’t already done this and spend time with them. Don’t be alone in this as you don’t need to be.

For the big stuff, the really hard stuff to work through, reach out for professional support. There’s a whole world of people out there who have spent their lives training for this moment. Friends and family, as superb as they are at supporting you, just don’t have the skills you need for the inner work you need to do. When the atrocities in the world ramp up they shine a light on our own inner workings which need sorting out. If you haven’t sat with an elder yet in your life, go find one. There are countless psychotherapists and counsellors out there waiting for you to reach out for help.

Be creative.
We were born to create. Our creativity will lead us to life fulfilment and spiritual fulfilment. It is the thing we most loved to do as children but it is the thing which so easily disappears once we become adults. Follow the tug towards creating absolutely anything you are drawn to, no matter how random, for it will lead you to where you need to be. If you want to find out more about this read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear this holiday season.

Standing in the eye of the storm

We are going into a new decade now. Amongst all the adversity which awaits us, let this be your decade. Let this be your decade to find what it is that you are here to do if you don’t already know. Create a life which is yours, doing the things that you love doing. Being free is the most radical act that we can do in these times. If you aren’t sure where to start, keep an eye out for my next blog coming around the time of the new year where I will be sharing my story of how I made my great escape.

These times are hard but we were made for these times and you have your ancestors standing right behind you watching your back. Decisions were made seven generations ago which impacted greatly on my ancestors lives and I am living with the effects of this now, two hundred years on. But I know they still loved, laughed, found joy and found meaning in their lives. I know that they passed on their strength and their resilience to me. Your job is to ride what is ahead with the same grace your ancestors did, with the same character and style, and live your life to a greater degree of freedom than they could only dream of.

Standing in the eye of the storm, dare to dream this new decade into being.

As the great Sufi poet Rumi said: “I know you’re tired but come, this is the way.”

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. Thankyou so much for this Nicola, it’s meant a lot to me at a difficult time. Strangely, a comforting little chant came to me a few weeks ago, which includes gorse as a beacon of hope in a time of sadness!!

    1. I am so pleased Sam, that was my intention behind the blog. Not to polarise people even more, but to share some hope for those of us who were struggling to see any this past week. Now on to Gorse. I wonder if it is related to those yellow flowers in the depths of winter, which are so important to the early insects? That beacon of light, food and nourishment. Fascinating that that song came to you. Gorse is now my tree/shrub of 2020!! (apt really given I think I have a gorse thorn in my finger from cutting some yesterday!)

  2. Thanks for sharing this Nicola. I have not finished reading the whole of you mail but I will do. When I started reading, It brought to mind a small coincidence/synchronising I experienced the day after the election. I was idly trawling through You Tube videos of 70/80’s music. I do not usually do this. The following day a friend shared a post which had been sent to her as a condolence for the election result. I just remarked that it was a bit of a coincidence that I had viewed this the day before. Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush (Don’t give up).
    The coincidence led me to see if there was any story to this song.
    Gabriel wrote it during the Maggie Thatcher years. He was inspired by reading of the plight of American depression, dust bowl and looking at old photos. Gabriel is the helpless voice of despair and Kate Bush is the voice of hope. (Don’t Give up). My reaction after the election was more a feeling of incredulity, astounded, amazed. After hearing the song I did feel like I was being given a message of ‘It’s Ok.

      1. Similar reaction from me when reading your blog (oh WOW). Its amazing this intricate weaving of all of our thoughts.

          1. Yes Nicola,
            I am feeling that below our individual thoughts there is a field of collective thinking where the seeds have been planted, especially maybe , when large changes are afoot. Yes, I feel also that these collective thought seeds are planted elsewhere. If we allow our minds to be open and tune in/synchronise, to our dreams, our environment etc, then we can pick up on these thoughts. And as Jan has suggested, (in recent post), to all ow these thoughts to take root and establish, it takes some individuals (such as yourself, walking on burning coals), to make a bold statement, take a bold leap.
            I think I am tapping in to another one here on this solstice morning. I am bolt upright alert, with mandala and flask of tea in bag. I shall be awake and honour the solstice. looks like the weather is dry and fine also. Wonderful

          2. Thank you, Mike, and here is wishing you a delightful time celebrating the Solstice bright-eyed and bushy-tailed 🙂
            You are bob on about the collective thinking planting seeds…

  3. Thanks for sharing your heart felt message Nicola, I do share a lot of what you posted . I have never been one of the masses, I will never give up hope we have to stand tall , Solstice Blessings to you and Jason.

  4. A lovely inspiring piece. Thank you. I’ve always thought that Mr Corbyn’s ideas and ideals have a sound basis, but that the country isn’t quite ready for such a leader. If perhaps he had been a more centrist leader’s help mate, then perhaps we would be somewhere else. Though I take your point about Mr Blair!
    I love your suggestions for moving forward.

    1. Thank you Heather. Yes, I was fascinated to hear this evidence for where Blairs alliances really lie. So pleased to hear my ideas for moving forward land with you 🙂

  5. Wow, Nicola. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I too have been feeling the weight of my own powerlessness recently. It manifests as a creeping ivy smothering me into a dark bower, hidden, shut off, isolated. This has reframed the view. I can feel the shelter here, and the chinks of light, the wall isn’t inpenetrable, I can break out when I’ve gathered my strength and figured out what I want to do. In the meantime, your words have reminded me of what I already knew but had lost sight of, in the dark smog of the recent turmoil, roiling grief, loss of hope, sense of self and purpose, a pointlessness with blurry edges. Its not my job to fix it all, I can’t possibly do that. I can do my own little bit though, and that is enough, and will make a difference. In the eye of the storm, a new decade. Bring it on ?

    1. Just marvellous to hear how you are seeing a light now. I completely feel how you have been feeling – your words sum up how I have been too. The analogy of ivy is a great one. Your point about it not being your job to fix it all reminds me of the Greek myth about Atlas, carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. I might look that up and tell it at a future retreat.

      Indeed, 2020 bring it on 🙂

  6. This totally reflects how I feel and thank you for articulating it for me. Amongst the despair and anger, I can feel seeds of hope and kindness being sown. It will take a long time for the wounds to heal but I have to do what I can to nurture those seeds – not for me (I don’t think I will see real change in my lifetime) but for my son, stepson and their children. I voted Labour for the first time in my adult life, having previously voted LibDem, and I have come to admire Jeremy Corbyn and his basic goodness. I have to take action and have a plan for a Kindness Exchange project in my community. I will join the Labour Party and support my local candidate. I have to do something so that I can have a clear conscience. Thank you again.

    1. Just marvellous to hear Patricia and thank you for sharing here. That is fascinating to hear you moved from voting Lib Dem to Labour. Your panned community project sounds just perfect. 🙂

  7. This is a magnificent blog, Nicola. It explains very clearly the feelings that I imagine many of us have been going through this past week. Disbelief, despair, anger, helplessness. And, most importantly, it articulates a way forward. Thank you ?
    I have found little solace in the idea of Christmas. All that enforced jollity seems inappropriate. Ho,ho,ho my arse! But observing the Winter Solstice has been the key to dragging me out of the doldrums. By observing Nature, we understand that there are cycles and we are in one of them. It may seem dark now, but the wheel will turn, the light will return. So today I feel accepting and hopeful. I might not understand why we have to go through what the next few years have in store, but, for some reason, we have to. And that’s ok, actually. It’s the way it’s got to be for now. Our job is to endure with grace and style. Like you, Jo and I see ourselves as standing on the coals. It’s not an easy place to be but I would rather be here than any place else.

    1. I got goosebumps hearing that you and Jo are standing on the coals with me. You are so right, the ‘happy Christmas thing’ just isn’t quite there for me. I am planning to turn on Christmas on the 23rd after the Solstice. Thank you so much for your kind words about my blog Andy, that means a lot 🙂

  8. Nicola – this is a wonderful piece of writing. I too started to feel hope that society could move forward and was so inspired by Jeremy Corbyn ( and several other labour shadow cabinet members,), I was in total disbelief and grief last Friday. I was not only disappointed that people hadn’t grasped the opportunity Labour was offering – I felt totally out of step with society. How could people not see through Tory lies and propaganda? So it has reassured me that you, and I know many others felt deeply disappointed by the election results. And angry. I have not quite got out of this yet. I still feel so sad that things are going to get so much worse for so many people for many years. I need to re-read your blog. And do some journeying. Thankyou so much for writing this piece.

    1. Hi Linda and thank you for your kind words about my writing. Yes, journeying will be insightful for you I am sure.

      I am with you with the sadness and I don’t think it is going to shift. For me, I think it is a case of learning how to live with it as I watch the implications of last Friday unfold. I take comfort knowing my ancestors lived with this sadness and made it OK.

  9. Thank you so much for this Nicola. My hope was rising too in the final week of the campaign – in response to the same things yours was i.e. fridge etc . I went to bed in tears of disbelief, pain and anger the night of the election as I realised what was happening and by how much. How could that happen. How can so many people not realise what’s really going on ? What makes it harder for me is that I work in a school where I know many people voted Tory to ‘get Brexit done’ – I could quite happily string a series of expletives here as you can imagine. They’re all lovely people too which makes it more agonising. Anyway, your piece has cheered me up some as it’s added to my own flicker of hope that I had to dig deep to find and also just that feeling of connection with other like-minded people.
    Thank you so much again for taking the time.
    Wishing you both a peaceful and blessed Solstice. With love Katie ?

    1. My experience was the same as yours – disbelief that so many people would vote Tory to ‘get Brexit done’. I also couldn’t believe how out of touch I am with what so many people are thinking. A few days ago listened to the lady who worked in the greengrocers explain to me for 5 minutes why she thought the outcome was an excellent one. Such polar views between two women of Chorley who are both basically nice people trying to do their best in their lives.

      Thank you so much for your comments here Katie. I am so pleased my blog has helped.

      Here is wishing you a glorious Solstice and holiday time.

  10. What a wonderful post. Reflecting the pain and despair that so many of us feel, not only about the election, but about the drift of so many governments to the right, the continued destruction of nature for money, our species’ tragic disconnection from the rest of our world. Yet there is always light in the darkness, and you are part of that light, Nicola. Tomorrow I join my wonderful local shamanic circle to celebrate Solstice, taking the beautiful drum that you made, and choosing to be part of the force for good, for truth and love and Spirit. We rebirth ourselves again and again, re-dedicating ourselves to serve that which is connection. We weep and feel paralysed by the endless task, then we hear the distant music and remember who we are and find our friends and allies: human, animal, plant, stone, rain and sun, alive and in spirit, we join the dance and refuse to be diminished. We light the fire, share the warmth and carry on…

  11. ps. I have loved gorse ever since I moved to Ireland over 26 years ago. I had never been in close contact with it before. The beauty of the golden flowers, always a few of them shining out through the hardest winter, the luscious smell of coconut in the summer, and those fearsome thorns that forbid all but the most careful touch. Gorse bushes cover the hill above my home, the farmers in a constant battle with them, and I have to see them as the power of perseverance through every attempt to eradicate them, through every kind of weather. Blessed gorse.

  12. Dear Nicola, I am so grateful for your intelligence and articulate observations of life in this country as it is now and as it has been in the past.
    I am grateful for this community and the sense that as I sit in the darkness for a while this solstice eve I know I am not alone.


  13. Thank you Nicola. Oh how I hear your words. We must have hope. A good friend said to me. We dont give up, We continue to build our communities despite what has happened in Westminster. We will rise again and when we do we will be stronger.
    Yule and Solstice blessings

  14. Thank you Nicola, this is just what I needed to read right now.
    I will take your words into 2020
    Inspiring & Hopeful
    Love Barbara

  15. I love this article Nicola and thank you for being so brave to nail your political colours to the mast. Although its a no brainer, its still a political act of courage to stand up and be counted. I come from a politically outspoken and active family and have learned to speak up to contribute my bit towards creating a more equal and fairer society. Scotland tells a very different tale in the recent elections and youre always welcome to come and live here when we become independent from Tory rule as theres lots of room, especially when we reform the feudal land laws. I agree it is a movement and its not a linear journey but one we must not give up on. We have much more power than we know and the more we share this message, in whichever way we each see fit, the nearer we edge towards a fairer freer world. Hope over Fear, always. Jan x

    1. Thank you Jan, it did take some courage but I felt it was time, after some soul searching, to offer some light to so many of The Way of the Buzzard community who are feeling as I do right now. These times are too important not to now. Thank you so much for the idea of me being welcomed into Scotland. I love your country so much and have been on many many holidays there… and the Scottish people are amazing. So are so right in what you say… 🙂

  16. Hi Nicola.
    Thank you for this awesome and inspiring blog. You have hit the nail on the head for me in so many ways and given me a better understanding of these feelings of loss and bewilderment. I feel that, with conscious input from myself, the mist will start to clear and the path forward will reveal itself for the benefit of all.
    Yule blessings xxx

  17. Thank you so much for this post, I think so many of us have been struggling to make sense of this result. I have also been trying to make sense of my own internal response to it. Like many, I was heavily invested in this election…there was finally something on the table that I could really get behind and a chance for our society to do things differently, to look to heart centred values instead of the same old money driven injustices causing division, suffering and alienation. If you had asked me how I would feel to wake up on the 13th to a Tory landslide, I would have anticipated grief, anger, fear, deep disappointment. Completely inexplicably to me, I woke up to that worst possible result and felt light and hopeful. This was not because I thought this government would do anything other than what they have already started to do, but I have been unable to shake the optimism while at the same time weeping and heartbroken for what this result means for too many vulnerable people. Your post has helped me to start to make sense of that response…perhaps fittingly for this solstice time, I am now asking whether this election was about lighting a spark within millions of people that can now grow towards its full expression over the coming years. Corbyn has been an extraordinary catalyst to turn people back to heart centred values and remind them of who we can be as human beings on this planet, to empower them to make a difference in their own communities. There is a bigger picture than this one election. The number of posts I have seen on our local social media of people offering help to others over Christmas since this election result is truly heartwarming. Perhaps this is the transformation that needs to happen first…to be strongly rooted in the hearts of individuals. Maybe then we will be able to collectively say yes to a government that reflects our internal state as a nation.

    1. Hi Beth, what a fascinating insight into your experiences since the 13th. That is amazing that people are reaching out like this in your community. I love your sentiments about this perhaps being the transformation that needs to happen first. Thank you for sharing.

  18. Great thoughful Blog. After the Tory Tsunami I went into a dep fugue of disbelief. Impossible to gain any clear perspective. I fully support everything Jeremy has said and the manifesto. I also wept listening to miners in the north east saying they would be voting tory. I had demonstrated against Thatcher and the destruction of mining communities at that time. There will be a lost of ghosts of miners rising to haunt them! I think this was not about the socialist policies in the manifesto and it was primarility about Brexit. The sad desire to respond to the nationalistic call of the rich. The destruction of the NHS and public services, the rise of homelessness, Child poverty lost sight to the lies of deceit of Boris the bigot. Sad times ahead.

  19. Such an inspiration to read, Nicola, including the response you’ve generated. I wonder if you know about Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden? If you become a member (I think you set your own sub) , you can go whenever it’s open. I went to Gladfest a few months ago – sorry can’t do link as out and about. Lovely place. I’m starting a Writing Historical Fiction course in Sept and have considered my Irish ancestors though I know nothing before the turn of the 20th century. In History I studied Gladstone and the ‘Irish Question’ but didn’t know about his work with prostitutes and the poor. You’ve given me a lot to think about. Thank you, and the other contributors, so much!

    1. I haven’t heard of that library Jean thank you. I will definitely pay a visit. How interesting you are starting a historical fiction course. Wow 🙂 and yes we have had some amazing contributions here below this blog which is so good to see. Thank you for your kind comments and sharing here 🙂

  20. What an interesting and informative blog Nicola.
    Thanks for articulating in such meticulous detail the feelings of many of us about the results of this last election. I was flabbergasted, incredulous, astonished, yet felt this is where we are supposed to be. It feels like part of a process. I don’t believe there is better leadership elsewhere I feel this crisis is pretty global! We’d be standing on burning coals wherever we’d go.
    Thanks for sharing your view of how we can move forward e.g. subscriptions and funding relevant parties, real news, etc. This is a real positive for me and I’m grateful to you.
    Glad you do all this research and spread the knowledge by sharing with anyone willing to learn more.
    There is hope, just look at the lights from each decorated house you pass by, it’s truly magical, me thinks…
    Merry Winter Solstice?

    1. Thank you Enza and I am so pleased you have found this blog interesting and the ideas for action helpful. Yes it does feel like part of the process doesn’t it. I find when I am able to come out of the thick of it and take a meta view I can see this clearly. Merry solstice to you too 🙂

  21. This is a really interesting and courageous piece of writing as others have already suggested. I, too, was devastated when I got up on Friday 13th and heard the news. Like others, I have been trying to come to terms with it because you can only move on once you truly accept where you are, warts and all, as they say. I was involved with the Liberal party in the early 1970’s and they were talking about PR then, nearly half a century ago, and we are no nearer to it it seems although hopefully recent elections will wake people up to the fact that FPTP is not a very democratic system . For many years I voted for the Green Party candidate even though I knew it was a wasted vote in my constituency as the sitting incumbent was a Tory with a huge majority. However, things changed in 2015 when a young woman, Cat Smith, stood for Labour, I voted for her and she won, amazingly. I have continued to vote for her and she won again in 2017 and 2019. Yea! I write to her constantly about a whole plethora of issues and she pretty well always supports what I am saying where the Tory man and I never saw eye to eye. The pity is, that as Labour are not in power, she has not been in a position to change much and it will be even more difficult now probably. But, as you say, we must do as much as we can to try to bring about a fairer society. My worry about the election was the apparent lack of interest in the crisis we are facing globally although some were a bit more forward thinking than those we have ended up with. Incredible!! In the meantime, as you say Nicola, we must continue nurturing ourselves by getting out in nature, doing our rituals and creating and supporting communities where we can as well as continuing the fight to try to save our planet from further destruction and build a fairer society. You and Jason are certainly ticking a lot of these boxes. Love and blessings to all for an enjoyable festive season and let us hope that 2020 and the start of a new decade will bring a new wave of optimism.

    1. Hi Jill, I have loved hearing about your relationship with your labour MP and how the ride swung from Tory to Labour where you live. I also voted for green for many years before Labour went left again. I really like many of their policies. I hear everything you say here and thank you for your kind words about our work. Yes let’s spring into 2020 with hope 🙂

  22. Thank you so much for this Nicola. It resonates so closely with something I posted on my own FB page after the election, differing only that I supported the SNP as the viable alternative to the Tories in the constituency in which I live, and that my ancestors were indentured labourers in the Caribbean, a single mother and her 4 year old son transported from northern India to work the sugar plantations.
    I too experienced that almost unnatural fgeeling of hope – even excitement – before the election results, and was devastated when the impact of what had happened hit me – although I did have the comfort that the SNP candidate won this constituency.
    We need to rebuild from the bottom up – by working in and with the community, winning hearts and minds. There are so many who feel the same, I sometimes wonder who did vote for this, essentially, neo fascist government (I did look up the meaning before using the term).
    I am using the season of solstice to search for the way forward.

    Thank you again.

    In hope.

    1. Thank you for your kind feedback Lynda. I am fascinated to hear your lineage back to the sugar plantations. You are bob in about holding from the bottom up and this is incredibly empowering too. Thank you for everything you have shared here 🙂

  23. Thankyou, i needed to read this! not only do you share the same knowledge i have had and been alarmed by, but very similar thought processes re labour. Corbyn for me too was that “wow! finally someone with integrity n honour that i can stand behind fully” guy. i joined labour simply to vote to ensure he remained leader, tho being on ESA, it was a one-off. What i lacked, thats kept me stuck in despair was your wisdom n experience, thankyou for sharing and confirming the seed of hope i started to cultivate today 😀

  24. OMG! Nicola I have found this enlightening on a different level. Need to digest it in more detail. I am assuming you are happy firvitvyi be shared for the greater good (or parts of it? I will dm you soon.

    Many thanks John Beckett Norfolk ?

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