Inspired and Inspiring

The 3rd Seed Festival took place near Stroud this weekend at the inspirational Centre for Future Thinking; Hawkwood College thanks to changemaker Victoria Whelan.

The sun shone,the skies were blue,the people were beautiful, the setting was to die for and the focus truly inspirational.

Cutting edge speakers Mac MacCartney, Caroline Lucas, Rob Hopkins, Molly Scott Cato, Sir Tim Smit, & Satish Kumar, shared the stage with wondrous musicians including the groovy Ganda Boys and the sublime Rising Appalcahia whilst workshops galore invited participants to step into their power and realise their dreams for a brighter future.

Caroline Lucas speaking in the Seed Marquee

Highlights for me were hearing Caroline Lucas speak from the heart, practising heart dialogue with Joanna Watters, Chris Paradox’ punchy poems, Marion McCartney’s indomitable spirit, dancing walking stick in hand, seeing my good friend Cliona O’Conaill realise her dream of taking her conscious dance practice Earth Beats to a new level and have us all dancing on the grass,  and the touching responses to my workshop “A Journey to the Heart” where we explored people’s responses to the relational challenges that stand between us and the changes we want to see from the vantage point of my new book- in- the- making’s setting: “The Utopia of 2050″and expressed the acts we would have done by then to bring about a positive future…

Here are a few:

I will see children playing in a garden I have created for their connection

I composed a story called “The Awakening” which has connected them

I will be supporting people in community

We’ll belong to the land and who we truly are

I will have opened people to their heart awareness and to their purpose

I will have worked with yoga and mindfulness with kids

I will have provided opportunities for young people to live sustainably 

I am going to be less judgemental towards others

I will help birth a culture which recognises and supports the role that our inner emotions and feelings play in allowing us to understand each other

I am trying to reduce the separation between the masculine and the feminine sexually and emotionally,allowing people to BE and therefore actually be together.

I will bring healing sounds and nature connection

We will  be connecting sex and heart and spirituality, revealing our magnificence

We will be living in harmony with nature

No wonder I came home so energised and ready with my plan to use my MA dissertation research to spend the next 2 summers travelling around collecting these intentions and visions to help describe Utopia in my book!

I was  also touched to bring my Transition Tales to a new audience and find new folk, north of the border, to be inspired by Transition, and to birth a new event – along with good friend Herewood Gabriel, who had launched his exciting new community game The Village Green the night before the festival, and new friend Nicola from Montrose who has been working on a game where we put ourselves in others’ shoes to really understand different perspectives and find common ground. Together we’ll be sharing our inspirational games up in Scotland – looking for feedback, and hopefully, inspiring change as we go! The many of you who have played  my game The Quest to 2050 may be excited to hear that it now has inner challenges too and is looking for new groups to try it out!

Conscious dance teacher Cliona O’Conaill and Innovative Game Designer Herewood Gabriel                                         chill out.

I felt honoured and humbled to see my name on the big green chair along with giants of our time and really take in that we, all of us who care, are making history;we are the gate keepers to a New Age…and what a privilege that is.

The Big Green Travelling Chair

Joy welled up as tears so many times as I experienced a weekend of what for me is paradise on earth; long hot summer days and nights, a fire pit, loving caring people,live music, spectacular big horizons (geographically  and metaphorically), bright flamboyant clothing, bare feet, children running and playing on hay bales,old and young dancing and singing together, seeing so many familiar faces, many offering their gifts as workshops and or performances and all amidst a huge bio-dynamic garden full of living food!

           a heart full of promises

I was thrilled to discover, as my research, and that of Mac McCartney, points to the  druids and our indigenous people’s wisdom in understanding our place besides nature and cosmology, and all our myths show the way to rediscovering those truths, that Hawkwood College was first know as The Grove…

A final thought, from Mac MacCartney’s inspirational talk; there are many spirits just waiting to incarnate;to feel the soft green grass beneath their feet, to know the tenderness of holding hands, to taste the foods and drink the waters, to gaze into a beloved’s eyes,to dance upon this earth – who are we to waste this opportunity,to love,to be happy, to make a difference for the generations waiting to come….


Harnessing Our Power

The theme of the white horse began for me as a small child and the haunting but compelling tune of ‘White Horses‘ (from the old BBC children’s programme, sung by  Jackie Lee) that I played over and over again on my parent’s record player. I didn’t understand the fascination, nor did I ever want to ride a horse as many other girls did; what I loved were images of wild horses, manes a-flow, as they galloped across plains, representing for me absolute freedom to be. The metaphor of the horse as a symbol of the freedom to harness personal power is widespread; from the ancient horse goddesses Epona and Rhiannon to the Windhorse of the Buddhist tradition; the white horse is archetypal and powerful.

In the Celtic myth of Old Briton; the 13 Treasures, it is the 5th treasure which represents the theme of today’s show: the Halter of Clydno Eiddyn could bring any horse to us to take us swiftly to where we want to go. Back in the Bronze Age when wild horses were first being tamed an unparalleled phenomena was taking place across Eurasia; millennia old wandering tribes of Hunter Gatherers and settling farming communities were beginning a long process of assimilation and change. As the two peoples met and separated at the edges where hunting and foraging grounds met territorial boundaries of villages, then towns, then cities, difference began to emerge, not as a thing to be celebrated, but as a cause of disconcert, unease and fear.

It is said that the biblical tales of Eden and the notion of Other, and of good and bad began there, as the farming settlers troubled by every nuance of climate from a flash flood or a drought to climate change on a grand scale, began to both resent and despise the freedom of the wandering tribes, who in turn, as the settlements grew ever larger to incorporate more and more growing land on which to guarantee a good harvest to feed an ever growing populace, seemed ever to remove from their lost Eden more and more of the landscape the  Nomads held sacred & revered. It could be said that it is here that fear took a hold of our ancestors in such a way as to be overwhelming, to be held back and repressed lest it reduced them to powerlessness.

And so it was that by the Age of Chivalry the Arthurian cycle of tales told of the wounded masculine, the Fisher King, the forever wounded monarch and consort of the land.

On a magical journey with a siblinghood of fellow seekers at the Elmhirst Centre on the Dartington Estate our bard sang to the ancient old yew grandmother. …

We sing beneath

2000 year old yew

But I am drawn

To her son


A magnificent specimen

Just there to one side

He speaks to me

Of a connection to be made


I speak to Yew

It is I who am sick

Says he

The castrated male


See me

Know me

So that I may know myself

From the inside

In the gardens I wandered on a shamanic journeying to feel into the deepest roots of the unfeeling pain of our times. I entered an old oak split by lightening, stood in its centre, & picked up from where he had fallen a broken branch, the castrated male within. Took him home and placed him in the midst of the large tropical love plant that grows toward the light on my stairs, there to ponder daily, this question, this piece of our wholeness I have felt called to find.

The sacred feminine is not dead, she merely waits, bides her time, for the king, her consort to be healed and the land replenished by his grace, his humility, his love.

In the myth of Parzival we find the answers to this eternal dilemma. Parzival is young, impulsive, rash and foolish; the perfect young fool; hero in the making. He leaves the woman he loves to roam the lands as a knight, seeking out fights, chopping off heads at the slightest provocation, looking for his glory, seeking fame and honours. So head strong and ego centric is he that even though he is chosen to enter the kingdom of the grail, where none but a few are called, he fails to carry out the task he was destined to undertake; to ask a question of the ailing fisher king.

Many there are that seek to tell of why the consort of the land incurred such a wound, in his groin, that would not heal, caused him endless pain, yet did not kill him but I like the interpretation of Irish wise woman Sharon Blackie who tells of the Well Women, the keepers of the sacred waters of the earth and of how they, free, virgin, sacred servers of the feminine grail, were raped by the masculine warriors who had lost their senses; that rather than guardians of the land their sovereign, they served their own desires instead, and the balance of the world was lost. African myth tells us that fire, the element of the warrior, is ever in relationship with earth, the element of the sovereign, and only when fire serves earth is balance restored.

Parzival, having failed to do the deed he was called to do must leave the wondrous kingdom of the grail, where the lands have lain barren and dead, since the time of the king’s wounding and wanders ever more dismal till he meets an old hermit with whom he stays and learns many truths till he is dejected and finally ready to listen to advice.

Did you ask the Question?

No, I did not.

Things go and things come as they are wont to do in story and by and by Parzival finds himself back in the realm of the grail and once more before the fisher king.

“What ails you uncle?” asks he

And at once all is well. The old king is healed of his wound and the land all around begins immediately to lose its pallor, new shoots spring, and life has returned to the kingdom of the grail, and more, Parzival is its new king, is reunited with the woman he loves. who has waited for him, and all is well.

The myth speaks of the hero’s journey from fool to king. It is only when the warrior learns humility, to act out of love for others, nor fear and rash violence, that things change, the earth has her consort once more and the true nature of courage, as inner surrender, is learnt and balance restored.


Could to do nothing

Be the greatest act of all?

Could to stand witness

And mourn


Be sacred work?

To then let the joy

Of passion

Guide us


To play our part?



We venerated you



We’re gone

And you still stand

We exist to feel


To feel, my friends

To feel

To feel our connection

And then to joyously


Connect with all our glorious physicality

The hairs on the fox’s paws

Shiver in resonance

You get it



This is it

Your purpose

The visceral





To life itself


‘Twas your control that

Fucked it

After all,

Wasn’t it?


Your fear of annihilation

Brought iron clad prison walls

 to bear

On paradise


You feared the deluge

The flood and the desert

You feared the fire and brimstone

The earthquake and the tidal wave


Cyclone and dust bowl

Landslide and mudslide

You feared for your life

And in doing so


Took it yourself


You locked away every last cell of magic

From yourself and your kin


Your children

And their children’s children

You took imagination

And twisted it unmercilessly


Into a parody of itself

Created monsters

And places to hide

From your self made fear


We are here to feel,

my friend

To live

And to die



On the edge

Of ecstasy

In every moment


The enemy, my friend

Lies not in politicians’ words

Subcontractors rude actions

The steady onslaught of technological progress


The enemy lies within

Loose your fear onto the world

Let it show

And let it feel


We are small vulnerable creatures

We bleed, we bruise,

 we break

And that is our power


We feel the rawness

Of a January day

We feel the

Cold slippery mud


We feel



And afraid


Look at it


This fear

Of what are we afraid?


To lose that tender sensation of exquisite sensitivity?

Hasn’t it gone already?

What have we got to lose?

Only our fear, my friends.


We cling to a parody of life

For deep down we deeply honour this

Time in our bodies

We know its precious vulnerable essence


We protect it in iron clad prisons

We may as well be dead

We are our own gaolers

And how well we perform that role



And feel

Wail at the loss of beauty

Till you are spent


Then feel your passion rise

And dance

My friend

The dance of life itself


It will tell you all you need to know

Is wrapped up

In one precious moment

Called Now


Storyweaver Clarissa Pinkola Estés, in her Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype: “Women Who Run With the Wolves” has this to say:

The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious.
If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door.
If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door.
If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.

And Derek Tasker this:

I wonder what would happen if
I treated everyone like I was in love
with them, whether I like them or not
and whether they respond or not and no matter
what they say or do to me and even if I see
things in them which are ugly twisted petty
cruel vain deceitful indifferent, just accept
all that and turn my attention to some small
weak tender hidden part and keep my eyes on
that until it shines like a beam of light
like a bonfire I can warm my hands by and trust
it to burn away all the waste which is not
never was my business to meddle with.

Romeck van Zeijl posted on facebook that we have the power to make things worse in every moment. Fitting words for a Fisher King blog. Here he is in conversation with me on this month’s “Stories with Steph” talking about Circling, Trauma and Ecology, and authentic relationship.

In every moment we can choose fear or we can choose love; re-visioning ourselves with every breath.  Perhaps when we understand that both change the world, and it is our choice what changes happen, we will realise our divine natures and act responsibly.

Thanks to Romeck van Zeijl

Boe Huntress

Michael Holt Music

Lua Maria Wild White Horses

Derek Tasker

and Clarrissa Pinkola Estes “Women Who Run with Wolves”


Old Story New Story

Today I have uploaded all the blogs from my facebook page The Warriors’ Way – A Journey to the Heart onto my blog here so that you can follow the story of my walk across Wales all in one place…Enjoy!


The Pilgrimage Begins – 31st May 2015
We live in changing times; the great turning as Joanna Macy calls it, transition times, a time when some of us are living the story we have been accustomed to since birth, the prevailing story our recent ancestors believed and passed down to us in their genes and their beliefs, and others are challenging that story, in their own lives and in what they tell their children. Of course many of us are living the paradox of both as we struggle to envision a future based on quite different principles whilst still needing to survive in a system that has certain expectations of us.
It can feel as if we have arrived in a time that has never been and of course in some senses that is true; we have never yet inhabited a planet where our species has used so much of the resources it finds around it that we have seriously impacted on the wellbeing of many other species including many of our own kind. At the same time,however, we are simply reliving a very familiar story; that of the dominant culture being challenged by another. Our history books are full of such turning points. It seems to be how humans evolve.
Today I left my peaceful Devon village, with my cat trying hard to walk with me, till my resourceful cat sitter tempted her back with biscuits, for a new foray into the world I live in. First stop Totnes, where the market was in full swing. Under the butterwalk two stalls set up side by side proclaimed very different messages yet both clearly manifestations of a new story emerging.
In recent times this area of our ancient market town has become known as a bit of a speakers corner albeit in a quiet understated way. Today a stall calling for the end of austerity stood beside one that was looking to the future in a rather less confrontational way; it was folk from the most recent transition initiative to have seeded in the area; a move to grow and process our own oats in the south hams. The transition team were offering free homemade flapjacks and crowd funding to purchase processing machinery for the town.
Across the road Dr Bike was in his usual pitch beside an ailing bicycle already set upside down ready for transition co founder Ben Brangwyn to work his magic on.Dr Bike can be found on the Saturday market most weeks repairing bikes in exchange for hugs, cakes and other such feel good exchanges.
Good tales to carry with me from Devon to Wales, where I am about to begin a month long storywalk.
Tonight I am in Caerleon, legendary court of king Arthur, though its actually an iron age hill fort closer to Caerwent where I am headed tomorrow that is more likely to have been the stronghold of the Briton’s king.

Without doubt though, Caerleon was a Roman fortress town. The magnificent amphitheatre is testimony to that, along with an impressive immaculately cared for museum filled to the brim with Roman artefacts uncovered in digs in the town from fine glassware to a stone coffin complete with its skeleton and burial goods.
I didn’t get much if a feel for Arthur’s presence here, even in the very well preserved amphitheatre that legend says was originally his round table but that may have been because of the teenage group who were chilling on its banks with their ghetto blaster pounding out rap of the kind that would feel appropriate in downtown Manhattan.
An elderly man with his newspaper shook his head and left his quiet seat on the outer edge and left.
School boys in soccer kits played tag and a couple of pairs of lovers sat in sheltered alcoves amongst the old stonework whilst I walked in the arena trying to feel the raw emotions that must have been present in this most barbaric of entertainment arenas.
Nothing. Carefully manicured grass and neat display boards.
The Briton’s and the Romans coexisted here once. How must that change of times have felt? Later the Angles overran the isle and the Britons were left to their Welsh and Cornish strongholds.
In the Hanbury arms I eat an early evening meal as the locals watch the cup final. They speak Welsh amongst themselves and I remember that I am in another country now. I am one of those Angles. I think of my great grandmother who was Welsh. Did she speak this language? Did she have to learn English when she crossed the border to work as housekeeper in a big house? I wonder how difficult it would be for me to to write in this our native language.
Tennyson sat in the hanbury Arms overlooking the river as I did this evening. He wrote of king arthur. I have a similar quest but it is Merlin whom I seek. I find him in an impressive sculpture of oak in an otherwise rather garish sculpture garden, its art rather subsumed by the quantity of pieces and the new age crystal shop that inevitably follows Arthurian legend about britain.
Why do I seek Merlin? Well I may be able to answer that question better at the end of this pilgrimage that will end on Bardsey island at the end of the month. Suffice to say for now that in this old story new story time in which we are living one of the themes that keeps reemerging for me is that if how important it is that we examine our roots before we choose how to live.
I suspect that the Arthurian legends, that body of story that so stirs us century after century, is likely to contain all that remains of the old teaching stories of our aboriginal peoples. That contained deep within its motifs are essential truths ..not so much for how we live in the world as how we manage our inner lives …and that now more than ever we have need of that wisdom.
Merlin has been a constant in my life. The grey bearded elder, Tolkien’s Gandalf, Rowling’s Dumbledore, exerts such a benign presence in our lives that the essence of that archetypal image has inspired poets and storytellers for time immemorial. What does he really represent? This is one of the questions I am carrying with me as I traverse these lands where the Briton’s took their culture when the Angles spread ever westwards.
Merlin carried with him when he journeyed this way that I will walk, this that I have christened the warriors way, the 13 treasures of Britain. You may think you don’t know this legend but the adventures of the hobbits and of Harry Potter are full of its symbology. Merlin took these treasures to the house of glass on Bardsey island. Why, and what did they represent? I hope to discover this as I walk. Was this last walk of his after he had fallen in love be with the maiden Nimue who patriarchal myths tell us took away his power?
Walk with me then on this journey of discovery, and discover with me what were these ancient teaching tales were telling us. What is the essential wisdom of the Britons that we lost sight of as the story of the invaders gradually became mainstream and what went before relegated to myth and faery tale?