Edge of the Wild 2013



Bill Plotkin, PhD, is a depth psychologist, wilderness rites guide, and ecotherapist. As the founder of Colorado’s Animas Valley Institute, he has, since 1981, guided thousands of people through nature-based initiatory passages, including a contemporary, Western adaptation of the pan-cultural vision quest. He is the author of ‘Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche’ (New World Library, 2003) and ‘Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World’ (New World Library, 2008)

Geneen Marie Haugen is a writer, wilderness wanderer, scholar, and guide to the intertwined mysteries of nature and psyche. Her creative non-fiction and eco-essays have appeared in many anthologies and journals, including the recent book, Thomas Berry: Dreamer of the Earth, and Going Alone: Women’s Adventures in the Wild. She is a former tipi-dweller and whitewater river guide who lived for decades in the land of bison, grizzlies, elk, and wolves, absorbing their furred, antlered, clawed, and howling teachings. She now lives amidst the creatures and features of southern Utah’s sandstone labyrinth.

Polly Higgins, barrister, international lawyer and award winning author of Eradicating Ecocide, proposed to the United Nations in April 2010 a law of Ecocide to be classed as an international law alongside Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, Crimes of Aggression and War Crimes as a 5th Crime Against Peace. Polly has now mounted a global campaign to have Ecocide recognised as the 5th Crime Against Peace at the 2012 Earth Summit. See www.eradicatingecocide.com

Photo of Polly from pollyhiggins.com

Workshop programme:

Nadine Andrews: Daoism, mindfulness and connecting with nature
In this experiential workshop we will explore Daoist philosophy of living in dynamic balance and harmony with nature through the practice of Lishi tai chi. With a focus on developing embodied cognition, we will discuss core concepts as they manifest moment by moment in the practice, and how these concepts can be woven into our day to day lives and work to benefit ourselves, our clients and the rest of nature.

Nadine Andrews
Nadine has been practising Lishi for over 9 years and is an accredited coach using mindfulness based and nature based approaches with individuals and groups, and completed mindfulness teacher training with Bangor University. She is currently doing a PhD at Lancaster University researching how individuals can influence their organisation’s activity with regard to ecological impact. See cultureprobe.co.uk

Suzanne Keys and Chris Robertson: Awakening Ugly (at the edges of Wild) Giving a place to the 13th Fairy
This is less of a prophecy and more a description. With merciless cuts to those least able to manage, cynical exploitation in the food chain, abuse in high orders and devastation to other-than-human species, ‘Ugly’ is already here. But s/he was not invited. Like the 13th fairy, the repressed and denied is returning to seek vengeance. Are we cursed asleep to what is happening? Central to the sleep is splitting in which the ‘ugly’ is projected out onto the ‘others’, so preserving our esteem and sense of goodness.

This experiential workshop is about re-owning the ugly shadow side of ourselves that we let others carry – those abusive human others and the other-than-human who often disgusts us or those aspects of mother Earth that scare us. This is not about empathy, let alone sympathy for exploiters, it is about not colluding in the splitting that disconnects us from difficult engagement….it is about encountering ourselves and each other in the context of a very differently told fairy story of awakening to Ugly. This may involve moving/dancing between previously split poles in ourselves to further reconciliation between them. Such reconciliation works to dissolve the alienating separation between the polarities of male/female, dark/light and spirit/earth.

Suzanne Keys
Suzanne Keys is a Person-centred psychotherapist and author with an active involvement in the political dimension of psychotherapy. She is on the steering group of PCSR and works with young people and as a tutor on a counselling course in London.

Chris Robertson
Chris Robertson is co-founder of Re-Vision, a transpersonal and integrative psychotherapy training centre, where the 8-month ecopsychology course is in its third evolution. Chris and Suzanne will bring their different perspectives on this theme to facilitate whatever emerges in the group.

Nick Totton: Introductions
Open to anyone, but especially for people who feel new to this community, and/or to the field of ecopsychology. The workshop will offer a brief tour of what ecopsychology is about, and what is going on at the moment; together with structures for you to introduce yourself as a person, what you do, and what your interests and visions are, and to meet and make contact with others and explore your feelings about being here. After a brief introduction from me, we will talk and interact in the whole group, in pairs and perehaps also in small groups; the space will be informal and open to whatever people bring.

Nick Totton
I am a body psychotherapist and trainer, and by the time of the gathering will have recently moved from Yorkshire to Cornwall. I have been involved with ecopsychology for more than ten years, and have written and run workshops in the field; last year I published ‘Wild Therapy’ (PCCS Books).

Rhonda Brandrick and Michael Connors: Nature and Soul
In this workshop we will look at nature based practices and mindful practices that bring us into the contact with inner depth and outer wild.

By opening the gateways of senses within this relationship and quieting the mind the calling to our depths or soul may appear. It may be seen , may be felt, may mysteriously appear in the interaction with the other than human. It is possible that this calling may reveal further the dreaming of the earth and our part in the emergence of a new earth community as set out in the great work of Thomas Berry. The calling is often very subtle, the soul a quiet whisper hidden in the noise of our modern life and modern personalities. Thus part of this workshop will include mindful ways of being in connection with nature . As the soul appears more readily in symbol, creativity and paradox the use of threshold to access a mytho-poetic realm /imaginal world will be incorporated. Influences include, Theodore Roszak, Bill Plotkin, Geneen Haugen, Brian Swimme, Mary Tucker and Thomas Berry all of who have offered some of our deepest inspiration. Techniques used may include: ceremony, sensuous mindfulness in nature, threshold, solo time, sharing, discussion. Appropriate for all people interested in the topic of Nature and Soul: eco psychologists, psychotherapists, eco therapists, all who work on the land with others or themselves.

Michael Connors BSc, PGCE, ML, Adv Dip Couns and Psych, Dip Supervision
Michael has worked with people for the past 20 years as a teacher, trainer, psychotherapist, supervisor, manager, mountain leader and wilderness guide. He is Director of Services for Human Nature and has a long experience of creating services across health and well being and education, he has worked therpeutically with people and groups for many years and as a mountain leader has worked with people in UK wilderness. He is passionate about the vision of Human Nature and is determined that this vision manifests over the coming years. As a poet and musician he delves deeply into the mytho poetic realm in nature, where he finds a great source of wisdom and beauty that guides him.

Rhonda Brandrick Dip couns. Trainer, Supervisor and outdoors expedition leader.
Rhonda has worked for twenty years supporting people in their process of individuation, healing and ensouling. She have been drawn to working with peole in the natural world and has particpaited in the running of groups and indivual sessions. She is passionate and inspired to be with others in nature and trusts both human and the natural world in its extroidanary ability to bring out the very uniqueness of each the other. For her there is nothing more uplifting than watching someone deepen into their very inter-connectedness. She, as co director of Human Nature, is committted to offering and developing services to reach as many as possible.

Annie Spencer: How can ecopsychology learn from indigenous cultures?
A look at healing methods from indigenous peoples around the world. Depending on the time, this could be experiential or mostly a talk and include references to Navaho sandpaintings; different forms of burials – Native American, African and Australian First Nation; healing with fire.

Roger Duncan: Reading the language of the plants. Our current story of relationship with nature has grown out of Darwin’s Victorian ideas on evolution; it has given us a lot of answers. Yet we continue to live what indigenous people call ‘the big lie’ that nature and human consciousness are separate. Despite the increasing interest in ecopsychology, experiential learning and hands on biology, nature can remain as emotionally remote from us as the specimens behind glass in a Victorian museum or Zoo. We can look, but we must not touch, except with our minds. Descartes rests easy in his grave. Drawing in the work of Goethe, Steiner, Batson, Steven Foster, Meredith Little and others, this workshop will step off the edge of the known world into an imaginal space where Soul and Nature talk to each other. Gathering some common plant specimens we will attempt to break the glass case of our contemporary biological narrative in the hunt for some simple archetypes that manifest both in Nature and the human Soul. An invitation to fall in love with some plants we walk past everyday…

Roger Duncan
Roger Duncan trained as a biologist, Waldorf educator, wilderness rites of passage guide and a Systemic Family Psychotherapist. He was one of the pioneer tutors of the Ruskin Mill Education Trust working for ten years as the woodland manager and setting up the wilderness experience and transition programs. Roger has led vision quest for adults and youth groups in the Devon, Scotland, Spain and the Sinai desert. He is former Deputy Principal and Head of Education and Therapy at Ruskin Mill College and currently works as a Family Therapist for Oxford Health Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.

Kamalamani: Breathing Space
This workshop is an invitation to gather together, breathe and take the chance to reflect upon our practice of ecopsychology – whatever shape or form that takes. Inspired or challenged – or both! – by the content of this ecopsychology gathering, we’ll have the chance to look at our practice of ecopsychology, whether it’s evolving, blossoming or changing direction. My hope is that this workshop will not only give us the space to review our practice, but also to also digest content and conversations from the ‘Meeting at the edge of the wild’ ecopsychology event, giving us food for thought in the year ahead.

Kamalamani works as a therapist, supervisor and facilitator in Bristol. She works at the interface of Embodied-Relational therapy, ecopsychology and ecodharma, drawing upon her previous experiences as a development worker in Africa, a lecturer at the University of Bristol, a meditator and a child lost – and found – in nature. She is a steering group member of PCSR and editor of its in-house journal, ‘Transformations’. She is part of the Embodied-Relational Therapy and Wild Therapy training group, working with Nick Totton and co. She also runs training based on themes from her book ‘Meditating with Character’; exploring meditation and reflection through post-Reichian character positions. http://www.kamalamani.co.uk

Sue Blagburn: Why Horses?
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, Equine Facilitated Learning, Horse Assisted Education, Hippo-therapy. There are many different names emerging in the growing field of what can loosely be described as horses helping humans. Media coverage has reported horses helping people with addictions and autism, natural horsemanship is being taught to prisoners and young offenders with remarkable outcomes; soldiers with severe PTSD are also being helped. There are remarkable stories of how children from deprived or dysfunctional backgrounds or young people with learning difficulties learn life skills, develop self awareness and self esteem – through horses. Horses are also helping people in business become authentic, empathetic leaders, and in personal development horses can teach mindfulness, resilience and re-connection with nature and other- than -human life.

As we evolve and we try to recover from a mechanistic, materialistic age, horses can offer a non-judgemental space for healing and insight, a mirror to reflect our light and our shadow without words or criticism, and lead the most wounded into new pathways and more positive behaviour patterns. A well facilitated session with horses engages us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, takes us out of our comfort zone, into the unknown, and back again – to see ourselves and the challenges we face in a more connected way. In this workshop you will get the chance to experience or witness some of the basic exercises used in this work, thus exploring the question” Why Horses?” Wear good solid shoes or boots with low heels; women should wear trousers not skirts, and no umbrellas even if it rains please.

Sue Blagburn
Sue Blagburn is a qualified riding instructor working with young people with special needs. She has worked with horses either full time or part time for over 40 years. Sue has trained in various Equine Assisted Learning programmes and Natural Horsemanship. Sue is also studying Ecopsychology, Complexity and Goethian Science at Schumacher College.

Kelvin Hall: Wildness Regained?? The Quest for Integration in the Human Encounter with Other Life.
Individually and collectively we can adopt many different postures, often unconsciously, in our transactions with other-than-human life. A few examples out of many include: Master, Owner, Lover, Healer, Partner, Victim, Child. Some of these can be discerned behind the differing narratives about the domestication of other life, offered by ethnologists, historians, eco-psychologists and others. These differences imply searching questions, such as: did humans impose domestication or did animals offer it to them? A broader question underlies them all – how do we find an authentic relationship with the Earth and her creatures that transcends the limitations and delusions inherent in all these “masks”?

After a brief presentation we will use structured exercises and group interaction to explore these questions. We also hope to call upon the assistance of horses for the facilitation of this workshop, thus offering some examples of the practise of equine-assisted process.

Kelvin Hall
Kelvin Hall is a psychotherapist, storyteller, eco-psychology and equine-assisted process facilitator. He tutors the BCPC course on the Ecological Self and has contributed to a number of publications in this field including Earthlines and Horsemanship magazines and the Vital Signs book (editors Rust and Totton).

Zita Cox: Environmental Constellations: An Experiential Workshop
Constellations give us systemic understanding of environmental issues, they offer us the chance to join together different areas of knowledge and gain surprising and unexpected insights. A method through which we can engage empathically with the whole Earth community, whether you are an Eco psychologist or therapist, outdoor educator, lawyer, or activist researching the next step in a campaign, a scientist, a naturalist, gardener, walker or swimmer wishing to deepen your knowledge and connection to other beings on this planet or simply a human being who wishes “to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves” (Wild Geese by Mary Oliver). Constellations will give you a chance to ask questions, a chance to explore your knowledge and relationships in a different way. A Constellation can be deeply personal and therapeutic; it may have the quality of a dream whilst at other times be practical and informative, a guide to campaign strategy or legal action or an educational resource. Which of these it is depends on who you are and what you ask. The Constellations work has left me with a very powerful sense of the interconnectedness and aliveness of everything. In my gardening work on Monday , the day after the constellation, I felt very strongly I could connect with the plants and space I was in and pick up information they were communicating. I have always had a sense of this, but it was greatly amplified and I now feel it as a given, a fact.  It is very strong.”

Zita Cox MBACP: MSc. BA hons; Dip Counseling; Dip.H Eco-Psychologist and Psychotherapist Zita Cox is an experienced international facilitator of Environmental Constellations for individuals and organisations. Two years’ intensive training in Systemic Constellations with Dr Albrecht Mahr in 1999 led to Zita extending and pioneering the application of the constellation technique to issues relating to the environment. She has worked extensively with individuals and groups for 24 years. Zita has written an article on Environmental Constellations, ‘A Different Kind of Field Trip’, published in ‘The Knowing Field’ January 2007. She did a research paper into Bystanding and Intervention published in ‘Balancing Act’, editor Hazel Johns.

Caroline Frizell: The dance of despair
There is so much suffering. The relentless pursuit of progress and development at the expense of the delicate balance of life itself is pretty depressing. It can be tempting to pull the duvet over your head, park your body and drift into an ecstatic dreamland as an escape. Another alternative of course, is to face the challenge head on, engaging in frenetic fire-fighting activity, from which you soon burn out; anything but to be with the suffering. Yet, there is a spontaneous dance deep inside each one of us which offers us a language through which we can move deeply into that vulnerable place and find a renewed energy through our creativity. In this place of compassionate wisdom, we can discover the dance through which we can become powerful, creative and convincing. This workshop will offer you a space to embody and express that spontaneous internal dance and to root that individual dance in a shared experience with the group. Both left feet welcome….no previous experience necessary….and you won’t even have to take your shoes off….unless you want to! This is an invitation to come alive through the dance of despair.

Caroline Frizell is a Dance movement psychotherapist and ecopsychologist. She has a small private practice in South Devon and also runs the MA in Dance Movement Psychotherapy at Goldsmiths. http://www.movingdifference.co.uk/

Caroline Brazier: The Dream and the Reality: Encountering nature through human minds
In this inter-active talk, we will explore the relationship between what we see and what exists. Nature can teach us, but too often our conditioned view turns experience into a mirror for our human-centric and ego-centric stories. Such a picture book can be a resource for creativity and mythic projection which is rich and life-expanding, but it can also confine itself to a circle of its own process. Nevertheless, like a one-way glass, whilst we are mesmerised by our own reflections the environment sees and speaks to us. The Ten Directions model offers a format for reflecting on therapeutic work in the outdoors. At its core is the exploration of this relationship between our conditioned view and the environment of the truly other. This talk will set out some of its basic principles as well as exploring the question of conditioned perception.

Caroline Brazier
Caroline Brazier is course leader of the Tariki psychotherapy training programes, including Ten Directions Certificate in Enviromental Therapies, and author of six books on Buddhism and psychotherapy.

Mary-Jane Rust: Wild swimming

There are two places to swim at Green and Away: one is a cool fast flowing river and the other is a still and warm reservoir. Immersing ourselves in water brings us sharply into our bodies and into the body of the earth; this, together with the physicality and regular motion of swimming, affects the way we think. This workshop will be a space in which to digest the conference so far with our watery selves and with our playful selves

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