Edge of the Wild 7th Ecopsychology Gathering 5th – 8th July 2018
‘melting polarities, finding our flow’
This summer we’ll gather at the Edge of the Wild for the 7th time to explore our individual and collective ability to respond to current environmental crises. There will be keynote contributions from dance and movement psychotherapist Sandra Reeve, and from Sharon Brown and Rebecca Smith of Seeds for Change (see more details below). You can have a look at the full programme here.
Through our songs, stories, rituals, fireside sharing, workshops, poems, artwork, dreamwork, and movement, we continue to explore our reciprocal relationships with the earth and its beings on whom our wellbeing depends.
Cost, bookings and information:
Until 31st March the early bird bookings are as follows: £210 (3 days), £150 (2 days), £75 (1day).
From 1st April, the costs are: £245 (3 days), £170 (2 days), £85 (1 day).
The gathering runs on a tight budget, but if you feel you cannot afford the regular price please email us about concessions.
See the bottom of this page to meet this year’s organising group…
Edge of the Wild Programme.
This year’s programme is taking shape, and you can read about the key note speakers, the morning dream matrix, and an overview of the workshop programme below.
Each morning there will be movement and mediation with Salma Darling. On the Friday night Robbie and Fi from Common Ground NI will again host the open mic around the fire – what’s becoming an important Edge of the Wild tradition! On Saturday night: Punch the Sky from Birmingham will play and invite all of us to dance our hearts out!
Key Note I: The Ecological Body: Movement Dynamics as a Tool for Change – Sandra Reeves.
Reach out to turn handle and open the door.
Using appropriate level of energy,
to move arm forward, push handle down, and push door open
means that nothing happens in the world but a door opening.
Excess energy in that action carries the full force of all my fears, my anger, my need, my hate – out into the world.
Multiply that by all the humans pushing open all the doors in the world, and you have a world of devastation.
During this session I shall experientially introduce movement dynamics present within all the realms of life, which by their very nature ‘incorporate’ us into the movement of the world around us.
Movement is intrinsic to human expression. It precedes and underpins cognition, language and creative art. Movement may be seen as the most fundamental ‘skill’ and one that adapts constantly to the environment.
Movement and attitude are inseparable. The way I move across the room or over the hill, my gestures, my breath patterns, my facial expressions, the quizzical tilt of my chin – all these determine how I am in the world and how the world receives me. My habitual movements hold me firmly within certain affective patterns and within predictable patterns of thoughts , conditionings and activities.
By simply practising these dynamics we can begin to reconnect with the flow of life around us at a visceral level. We can feel our embodied participation in the flux and flow of changing circumstances and begin to experience ourselves as a process rather than as a rigid holding on to a fixed view of ourselves as the ‘centre’ of the world.
Sandra Reeve is an Honorary Fellow at the University of Exeter, where she initiated studies in Performance and Ecology after completing her thesis on the Ecological Body. ‘Move into Life’ is her annual programme of autobiographical and environmental movement workshops which stimulate her movement research in complexity thinking, sustainability and performance. She both facilitates and creates small-scale ecological events. She is a movement psychotherapist and supervisor.
Key Note II – De-mystifying Direct Action – Sharon Brown & Rebecca Smith
Want to ‘do something’ about climate change but feeling overwhelmed? Keen to be involved in protest but concerned about the risks? Inspired to take direct action but don’t know where to start?
Too often, direct action and protest are associated with machismo, and people who are ‘hardcore’ or ‘out there’. However, long-running protest groups have developed many practices and approaches to make it possible for a wider range of people to get involved in effective actions.
This session will break down the steps, techniques and support systems involved in making direct action safer and more accessible. We will create space for you to explore and share your personal motivations and barriers to getting (more) involved, as well as looking at inspiring examples of other people’s actions. This will provide a springboard to look at methods used by direct action groups, e.g.: finding appropriate roles for each person; collective planning to take safety and personal needs into account; communication and decision-making methods for the heat of the moment; creative ideas for minimising risks; and practical support systems for before, during and after the action.
Seeds for Change
Seeds for Change is a small workers’ co-op of experienced campaigners, co-operators and trainers. We believe that to create real change, we need to come together to confront injustice and build alternatives. Our aims are to support groups who are trying to do just that, and who share our core values of equality, freedom and solidarity – for human beings, other animals and the ecosystems we are part of.
We offer training, facilitation, online resources and other support for campaigns, community groups and co-operatives. Our training is grounded in our experience as activists. We can help movements for social and environmental change cross-fertilise, by passing on methods, skills and techniques we’ve seen working in other groups. Ultimately though, our approach is about supporting people to share their knowledge within their group, reflect on their experiences and work together to find their own solutions to the problems they face.
Sharon Brown has worked for Seeds for Change since 2011, following a career in experiential education in the outdoors and youth work focused on engaging young people in political activism. Sharon first got involved in activism at the first Camp for Climate Action in 2006. Since then, she has been active in campaigns against open cast coal mining and fracking, as well as co-organising community events such as a free shop, small local festival and film nights.
Rebecca Smith joined Seeds for Change in 2009. Rebecca previously worked teaching English as a foreign language in a wide variety of settings in the UK. She first got involved in activism during the war on Iraq in 2003. Her first action featured a fellow activist getting stuck on top of the fence to a US military base, and needing rescuing by police officers with ladder, before all getting carted off to a cell. Since then she has learnt some things about planning, strategy and safety – and applied them from campaigns ranging from GM crops to feminism to climate change. She is currently involved in the anti-fracking movement in Lancashire, and in collectively organising a regular queer night in her town.
Seeds for Change website.
the Dreaming Matrix at Melting Polarities, Finding our Flow
Social dreaming is an ancient practice revived for us by Gordon Lawrence. It provides images and stories from dreams that may enrich, enable and energise a communal undertaking. The naturalist and tracker Jon Young (What the Robin Knows (2013) Mariner Books) advocates finding a spot in nature to visit on a regular basis. He also teaches how to approach and be in such a place; how to walk and sit in presence so we may ease into the connectivity of species and matter from which our human narcissism can blind us.
When a person walks through woods mindlessly, crunching leaves and twigs underfoot, perhaps with earphones, or chattering, the space around them is disturbed, small animals, birds, flee from the path. As Jon puts it the zone of disturbance is greater than the zone of perception. Walking quietly, observing, the zone of perception is greater than the zone of disturbance. Arriving at one’s chosen place to sit, observing what may come, what plant or tree flirt with your eye, the zone of disturbance reduces even more, with practice and experience perception is enlivened. As we attend our environment we let our selves into interactive fields of consciousness of plants, trees, and animals in which we become participants.
So it is with dreams. Commonly we think of dreams possessively, as ‘my’ dream. Rather they are visitors, like a curious bird in the woods, they have their own being. It may seem a strange idea, but it’s important.
A dreaming matrix is a quiet space in which we are in community with dreams. In the matrix we speak dreams that come to us in response to our theme Melting Polarities, Finding our Flow. The dreams are not interpreted. They are regarded as not belonging to the individual, rather as visitors to the matrix. We tell dreams and may speak briefly and reflectively of something that happens in response: a body feeling, an image or sensation. We amplify the listening by responding. We may choose to make a sketch on a pad on our knees.
Afterwards we will reflect on the themes that have emerged in the matrix and their significance.
We begin each day of the gathering with a Dreaming Matrix. This will last about an hour. Being in community with dreams and/or our companion species is nourishing.
Ecopsychology, along with sources in neuroscience, the arts, and spirituality, shows us that consciousness, is what we think of as ‘mind’, is relational and embodied participation in flows of energy.
You can read more about James in his organising group profile, please see below.
This year’s workshop programme:
(participants will be invited to sign up for these on arrival at the event). You can download the full workshop programme.
Gill Coomb: Honouring Diversity, Healing Division.
Imagine all of Gaia’s guardians acting in mutual support. How much energy, creativity and potential could we release? How might we shift humanity’s relationship with the living world we’re a part of? In this interactive two and half hour long workshop we’ll explore how naming and addressing difference, in it’s many forms, can support eco-activism.
Henry Fletcher: A Site-based Exploration of Polarity; Finding the River Within.
For a two hour period, we will become performers in our own story, invited to walk our polarities into and onto the earth while inviting its response. In this we will hold an intention to experience and explore the nuanced degrees of our polarisations as they manifest within, now and beyond.
Jennifer Horsfall and Mark Graham: Between Worlds
Using the ancient practice of the sweat lodge we will explore the creativity that lies behind the masks that we wear to protect our vulnerability. Through the creation of a mutually supportive group, we will acknowledge, honour and move beyond our protective patterns. More about Jennifer.
Steve Mandel: Melting the Polarities between Conventional Economics and a Sustainable Economy.
The workshop will explore why the apparent polarity between the present approach to the economy and protecting the environment is completely false. What is the psychology behind the present system and how could the transformation take place in hearts and minds that would enable such a change to take place?
Emma Palmer: Edge of the Wild Truth Mandala.
We’ll take the opportunity in this workshop to meet together for a ‘Truth Mandala’, held by Emma, and following in the footsteps of Joanna Macy… this simple, powerful, transformative practice and circle of meeting can support us in being with and exploring our fear, grief, anger, emptiness and hope. More about Emma…
Allison Priestman: Supporting Wildness: Working Relationally with the Wild Mind.
What does an embodied, relational and wild therapeutic approach look like?…I will be exploring ways in which liminal awareness, daydreaming, embodiment meet, and offering the concept of Wild Mind as a way to think about working relationally across these territories. More about Allison…
Joanna Callaghan is both an artist and woodland manager, finding inspiration for her art work from the woodland she works in. She organises and runs woodland wildlife educational events for the local community, and woodland craft courses for adults and children.
Joanna set up The Woodland Creative Project – a project that provides opportunities for artists, creative practitioners and aspiring artists to explore their creativity in a natural environment to enable a greater understanding of woodland ecosystems.
Before she engaged in woodland work, Joanna worked full time as Head of Art Therapy at the Huntercombe Stafford Hospital. She has also worked as Head of Art Therapy at Oxfordshire Mental Health Trust. She trained as an artist at Falmouth College of art. Her artwork has been exhibited at Ludlow Arts Festival, Shropshire; Clisset Wood, Herefordshire; The Gateway Arts Centre, Shrewsbury; Hatfield University, Hertfordshire; The Mill Arts Centre, Banbury; The Omega Centre, Rheinbeck, New York, USA; Time Square ‘Envision’ Film Festival, New York, USA.
Meet this year’s resident artist: Joanna Callaghan
Meet this year’s organising group
Prior to being a therapist, I was a teacher of English and Art, and a carpenter. Since 1983, my path as a Jungian Psychotherapist has been one of constant learning. The demands of personal and relational growth never cease to amaze, challenge and reward me. Relational psychoanalysis, neuroscience, energy psychology and ecopsychology have helped me understand consciousness as an emergent phenomenon between all matter and species in which we are dependent participants. Shamanism and social dreaming have enabled my courage in occupation of imaginal reality. I am in awe of the creativity inherent in suffering brought to psychotherapy in which something is being said that has not been heard, and can’t be expressed in any other way. In my personal experience and for those I work with, insight, when it comes after confusion and chaos, can have clarity of language close to that of poetry. I am a member of the West Midlands Institute of Psychotherapy, The Confederation for Analytical Psychology and the College of Psychoanalysts. I have hosted Dreaming Matrices at the Edge of the Wild Gatherings for some years. I co-founded the training in Jungian Analytical Psychotherapy at the West Midlands Institute for Psychotherapy in 1990. I draw, paint, grow vegetables, and ride bicycles.
I am an Integrative Body Psychotherapist and trainer living and working in North Norfolk. As a child I lived in a remote hamlet on the Essex coast. I had a love of butterflies and spent long hours observing them. My family took in a variety of abandoned young animals, including a heron called Hank, who lived with us for several years. From an early age, our responsibility towards the natural world and our interdependent relationship with nature was evident to me. Later I went on to read social anthropology at Cambridge, and during my thirties was a community and social worker. Both in my work and through personal experience, I came to believe that our sense of self, and our relationship with the world around us begins with the body, and learning to be comfortable in our own skins. In the late 1980s I trained as an Integrative Body Psychotherapist at the Chiron Centre in London. Since 1994 I have lived in rural North Norfolk. Over the years I have worked within the NHS and the Adoption Service, and have offered training courses to local authority and third sector agencies. I have a private psychotherapy practice, contribute to the training at Cambridge Body Psychotherapy Centre and am a part time tutor at Anglia Ruskin University. In my free time, I play the guitar, love the great outdoors and am a keen amateur photographer.
Whilst studying Psychology at Bournemouth University I was privileged to study Ecopsychology under Paul Steven in my final year. Like many this was like a light bulb switching on in my head as I felt the culmination of what I felt spiritually, saw in the natural world around me and what I knew to be true of the human mind. I am currently working as a Support Staff Supervisor and Out of Hours Site Manager for Wiltshire Wildlife Trust at their brand new Care Farm; Lakeside on Lower Moor Farm. I support children and young people with additional needs and those who are at risk of being excluded/have been excluded from school. Using forest school, animal care and horticulture we connect these vulnerable people with the other than human with the aim of helping them achieve their individual goals. I am very excited to be on the Edge of The Wild Organising Group 2018 and although I have been on 2 previous organising groups this is my first run at being the treasurer so please bear with me!
Growing up in Hungary I was lucky enough to spend lot of my time roaming free in the forests, swimming in rivers and lakes, wild camping in the mountains and to develop a deep connection to the land. It was both my refuge and natural habitat. Later I studied psychology and in recent years trained as a body psychotherapist – exploring the landscapes of our bodies and psyches. Attending my first ecopsychology gathering two years ago was where these two worlds finally came together in me. I am fascinated by what emerges moment by moment both inside us and through our relationship with each other and with the other-than-human. I live and work in Bristol where I enjoy riding my bicycle, writing and performing poetry and learning new things.