Marrying shamanism and creativity

Dates and details of next year’s courses:

Fruitful Arm

a recent poem and a painting from 2018; the dance between Eros and Psyche

A new poem in response to a recent workshop with me (and a dream I had of different stairs), by Kathy Wray:
Playground snake
marked at each step
one vertebra
a climbing backbone
where eyes can rest
and wonder free and wide
beyond senses
becoming of that time
only in that line
one form, formed

A place
a white page
where the stairs aren’t always down
they are sideways, behind you
lying down, pushed back
and pulled flat
no question to think
no forward place to move
where analysis is a waste
a wastage in a wanton age
lost in its own game, again
and again

When I’m stilled in this flow
flowing through its own stillness
tree rooted
a wooden staircase routes
itself down
wooded self in a line of time
ley line
without moving on
behind still
beyond the self
beyond remembered times.

The ancestry
600 years BC
is the cycle that drowned
went below its ground
we are on
swaying still
a fragility
feeling its wheel.

The sun is where we
call out towards
a light
that’s already inside
noticing its pull
letting go when full
in a formless vision
set free.

I love it when students and participants respond like this. There is another one below…

Dawn on Iona.

Carrying horse

After Horse Island Woman by Kate Walters

When the grey light of sun’s going settles,

I raise you up, gather your hooves in my hands.

Under the bulk of your belly, my skull is pressed,

when the grey light of sun’s going settles.

Starlight falls on red fur, pink petticoats,

as we summit, gasp angel breath. Here we stand,

when the grey light of sun’s going settles.

I raise you up, gather your hooves in my hands.

Nikki Kenna

In my workshops I like to bring together the most powerful and pregnant impulses. We tune into the highest power, and ask for guidance. We ask what we should give in exchange. We honour the sacred nature of the work. We see that Spirit wants us to play and to reflect divine beauty in our bodies and our creations. I love it when the drum sings.

Here is a picture of twin cloud spirits speaking to each other. I saw this just after we’d crossed into Scotland.

I’m just home from teaching workshops on Iona and in Devon. Dates for courses for 2022 (Devon) and 2022 and 2023 (Iona) are below. The Iona courses are almost fully booked already, and I will begin waiting lists.

Below is some feedback on both courses.

The first passage is by Sally Tripptree, Devon, October 25th – 28th, 2021.
– Reinforcing, searching continuously for the authentic place.
– The Sacredness of the work – connecting to your highest power.
– Never-ending journey – working with devotion, passion, intensity and genuine-ness.
– Respect for yourself – enables and supports authentic work.
– Gratitude for being with the feminine
– To live and be with grace, as the inner bodily pulses are ignited.
Kate’s wiseness, holding, being with, reaching in, containing, high level intensity and connectedness enables the unknown to become known, and with this knowing the artist is enabled to access their authentic self.
The results speak for themselves in the work that rises from the once blank space. Stuck-ness or a feeling of being lost becomes a distant lens and clarity emerges.

The second passage is by Maggy Walters (no relation!):
These last few days have been busy with the day-to-day but with the music of ‘Making Your Mark’ replaying gently behind the surface. This course really built upon all that came before with ‘Connecting With the Ancestors’ and I see very clearly how the personal and group connections can be strengthened and enriched through regular and repeated practice. For me, this newly discovered way of being, experiencing and exploring through the Shamanic Journey and alongside creative process seems to provide a perfect balance where moments of insight and clarity intermingle with the ungraspable, indefinable or ineffable.

I experienced the three days of ‘Making Your Mark’ as a kind of blind but trustful wandering, led kindly by the hand through deep waters, through clouds, shadows and reflections, into an unexpected, strangely but beautifully-lit place. Painting to music carried me from a pulsing, energetic, earthy rhythm within the body toward an increasing tenderness; a holding state for the soft feminine – vulnerable, quiet and beloved: a place of sanctity and devotion.
This was and is an inner space with echoes in the outer world, a place of deep peace, later followed by a sense of something descending, like a shower of tiny droplets or light particles with the quality of fine rain or snowflakes, that perhaps could be called ‘Grace’? This was a very profound experience that has repeated briefly a couple of times since. I have yet to define it and probably should not even attempt to do so!
What I found was that from the groundwork of the previous course, a pathway became visible and a few more faltering steps have been taken, steadied by the holding of Kate and the group, who have established a real sense of trust, of commitment and of adventure.

The third passage of feedback is by Emily Player:
Many thanks once again for another wonderful experience. I really struggle to articulate how amazing the process of journeying has been. The feeling I have is like being reunited with a favourite childhood toy I forgot I had lost. It has been transformative, and while there have been many profound visions and moments, there has also been a lot of joy. I never expected that I could find laughter and playfulness as well as insights into deeper aspects of myself, others, the earth and universe. Everything feels connected, and elemental. I am not sure I even understand fully, but what I have seen, felt and experienced has been so beautiful and precious, I have felt so safe and comfortable to explore what has always has been there but perhaps ignored and not listened to before (by me) – it is extraordinary to be shown how to access it. Thank you for being our guide, sharing so generously.

You talked about the safety, and this being a safe practice. It truly has always felt safe and comforting, free from any judgement – I had a sense of absolute faith and goodness emanating from you, we may have all experienced some vulnerable feelings but I never felt vulnerable while exploring them. I hope that makes sense. I look back at the course in August and I know I sobbed, cried, and felt so raw – at times I could not put into words what I had learned, but I had a deep sense of knowing. It gave me an absolute trust in myself that I have rarely felt. To meet my power animal, to be with them, be guided, it makes my heart sing. The animals, spirits and beings I have encountered, as well as places, visions, colours and senses; I am totally in awe and humbled by the ability. I wish I could communicate better what ‘it’ is, but the language I have doesn’t seem right somehow. It feels sacred too, exactly as you said, sometimes I can’t articulate it but I am fully aware of what I have and carry with me.

I thought I was learning a technique to assist my creativity. It has done that and nothing short of changed my life too. My life is exactly as it was before, but I understand it better, I experience it differently. I can access clarity if I choose to, even if my questions are answered with questions. I know there is a seen and unseen in everything and it is up to me to try and learn about both. It does feel like a rich resource, and one that lends itself to my art, my flow and my creativity – also my relationships, my family. It helped me understand what I wanted, and as drawing and making are a large part of that, the two things went hand in hand.


The following feedback is from Bridget McKenzie, who attended my recent course on Iona.
“I don’t think I’ve ever found a creative course or retreat so helpful, deep and stimulating as this. It was a perfect balance of being caringly held with structured activity and being set free to explore inner and outer landscapes. I was amazed by the power of the drum to bring mythopoetic imagery so quickly and vividly to mind, and the prompts you gave for our questioning were profound and clear, and they built up progressively over the days of journeying. I particularly appreciated walking as a serpent, painting to music, and browsing books, as well as the Hollow Bone session.”

One day we followed directions to a secluded beach of rounded stones, to search for the carcass of a whale, washed up a few months ago. It was a humbling experience to be near the body of the whale. A few days previously I had asked about the spirit of the island, Iona, and I’d been shown the eardrum of a whale. I’d thought it was to do with sound, with the creamy delicacy of interiority, of being carried: I didn’t realise it might be so literal. I brought home one of the rib bones. I’d been thinking about wands in my own work and in my teaching. It felt like a wand which had been waiting for me on the beach: clean, adrift, garnished with weed. I stood near the smashed body with her pale upturned hands carrying armfuls of burnt orange; slabs of blubber palest pink and tacked with dark stars mesmerized me. I made studies from memory in my notebooks. I used oil bars. It had to be fat. I raided the kitchen for greaseproof paper to protect the other pages: the oil, the fat, the smell of bones and flies and sea.
and my heart was opened…