Most of us have a profound need to mark important events in our lives with some kind of ceremony. Often these are occasions that our culture finds easiest to celebrate – for example, births, marriages and deaths - but there are many other significant life experiences that demand attention. Sometimes a personal or private ceremony is the answer; sometimes a more public event where friends and family can bear witness. In a changing social and cultural environment, where confidence in traditional religion has often diminished, the challenge is to create appropriate and authentic new rites of passage. This is our starting point for the Winter School which will examine the Hows and Whys of ceremony and celebration.
Beginning with an exploration of the way that ritual has featured in our own lives, we will look at what else might call out for special attention: beginnings and endings; gains and losses; transitions. We will examine how both positive and negative life events can be distilled into myth and poetry and how we might create meaningful rituals to contain them. We will also look at how witness is an essential part of ceremony, and the ways in which music, visual art, the elements and appropriate words can be used to enhance ceremony.
Our intention is to provide a balance between inward and outward work, between mental and physical activity. There will be opportunities for listening, participating, pooling ideas, writing, and whatever else arises. Gilly Adams and Sue Gill will provide theory, information, and – they hope – inspiration, but most importantly the course will be shaped to fulfil the needs and aspirations of participants so there will be plenty of opportunities to create ceremony and to experiment and play with new practice in a safe environment. Our working day will be 10am – 9pm, with breaks for shared meals cooked especially for us, and finishing at 2pm on the last day.
East Woodlands is a charming venue, set in woodland just outside Frome, and only a two hour train journey from London [to Westbury station close by]. We are happy to be returning there as it offers us an intimate and secluded environment and also the opportunity to work in landscape, weather permitting. The full fee will be £395 (excluding accommodation but including all meals) and a non-refundable deposit of £75 will secure a place now. The balance can be paid in a couple of instalments of £160 each, dates to be agreed, before the start of the workshop.
Sue Gill, The Beach House, Swinestead Lane, Baycliff, Ulverston LA12 9RY Cumbria
We run courses for people interested in ceremony and celebration. Sometimes people who are already trained as secular celebrants come along to refresh and top up their skills and gain new ideas and approaches to creating ceremony.
We get a wide cross section of people signing up: usually several from complementary therapies or counselling, college lecturers, creative arts practitioners of all sorts - storytellers, singers, performers, visual artists - each seeking to widen their existing practice, searching for meaning and exploring new contexts for their work. Some work in the community arts field, some from eco/environmental backgrounds. The one thing in common is that people want to spend these few days considering the role of ceremony in our lives today, and to look laterally at different ways of marking significant milestones. Everything from loss and bereavement to achievements and new horizons.
Some are practising independent celebrants, looking to refresh their practice. Some have no wish to train to be a celebrant, rather they sign up for their own learning, maybe at moments of change and transition in their lives. The agenda can include issues around health, home, work, relationship, breaking with tradition, creating new rituals .....
The rhythm and focus of the workshop ranges between group activities, working in pairs or small groups, and working solo - we tailor it to the needs of each group, and they are, of course, always different! There is invariably a generous exchange of practice.
All ages from early 20's onwards. There is no 'vetting' procedure. If it feels right for you, then we hope you will come along. The food is good and specially cooked just for us. We work long days – 10am til 9pm – we find that once people have managed to get time off work, sort out childcare, found the fee and made the journey, they usually want to immerse themselves fully and use every minute. But of course we are flexible if people have different needs.
All bookings are made directly by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Once we receive your enquiry we will contact you with details of how to pay and other useful information.