Circle of Belonging

Humanity is at a Threshold

We are witnessing the current systems and structures that have defined our evolution for eons crumbling: systems of government, education, healthcare, social care, economics, energy methods, environmental harnessing. There is no aspect of the system that is functioning in a healthy or long-term sustainable way. Any one of these aspects alone having difficulty, we might be able to remedy but it’s no longer about moving the chess pieces on the board to see if we can get a better position in the game. It’s become clear that the game itself is flawed at a vision and design level. It’s simply impossible to have eternal (capital) growth on a finite planet. Our resources simply cannot replenish themselves at the rate we use them.

Whether we agree with the current system or want a different one, the reality is the current system we are operating within IS falling apart all by itself whether we like it or not. The alive question of our time is how do we respond ?

We can either clamour to try to keep it running: attempting to mend the broken pieces by robbing Peter to pay Paul (and it’s endless) or we accept that the machine is fundamentally broken beyond repair. We need to ground zero and vision again how humanity can go forward in such a way that we stop putting ourselves at the top of the chain and seeing the natural world as a servant to our evolution. This for me seems to be the fundamental issue at the heart of it. I love the principle of the children’s fire which is an indigenous law originated by North America’s native people and it says simply this: No law, action or decision shall be made unless it works for the children of the 7th generation from now. Wow, can we even begin to imagine what kind of choices we would be making ?!

Why is change not happening?

I believe the problems began when we shifted from humans being equally embedded within the web of life with an acceptance of our rightful place in it (no higher or lower than anything else) to a position of seeing nature as a commodity to serve our human evolution and the thriving of our species. We didn’t stop to think of the impact of doing this and at what the cost might be.

I believe that one of the key reasons change is not happening is because it feels beyond bearable to feel how we do actually feel, which is most likely a combination of terror, anger, despair and grief. For me the madness in our world is that we are NOT on our knees daily feeling the grief and despair of our broken world. That we carry on with business as usual, kidding ourselves that somehow it will be ok and if not, then let’s just stay in denial as long as possible and deal with it when we can no longer turn away – most likely when it arrives on our own doorstep. Thing is, it’s already been on the doorstep of developing countries for a long time and mostly to countries we in the west have exploited. It is though, now, landing at our door and we respond with some kind of righteous outrage. This baffles me, what part of this did we not expect?!

It’s no longer enough to firefight the crisis and find the next handout for those who are on the breadline and dying – deeper, much much deeper change is needed. This change begins with a personal and collective shift in our consciousness: in how we think, it what we value, and in our reverence for nature and in living lightly on the Earth. I don’t believe we are powerless to do this, we can make this inner shift together, but as long as we continue to believe the in current system that says ‘every man for himself as there isn’t enough’ we will stay powerless, fighting each other.

We can turn towards each other and feel the grief of our broken hearts, for what we have lost already and what we are continuing to lose. This grief leads us to our hearts as we only grieve for what we love. Once we connect to our hearts and to love, we see life differently. The power of Love and collaboration can become our compass of integrity.

The importance of Belonging

It’s a revolutionary act to come together, to shift our consciousness, to help each other. To create community, to lead from the heart, to step outside the box. The current system will do all it can to stop us connecting back to the simple things in life that give meaning that are free: they don’t cost a penny.

We need to embed ourselves back into a more humble rightful place within the web of life and understand that everything affects everything, there really is nothing that exists in isolation, so even a simple act of caring for the Earth is felt by the Earth and it responds: the entire web responds.

If we could begin to ask the question about whether we give back as much as we take from nature, we would soon see that it is massively out of balance. Reciprocity is needed and we can create communities that include exchange rather than money for what we need and a willingness to collaborate rather than bringing our begging hands to the door of the government and raging at their behaviour.

I believe we all need to feel a sense of belonging, a feeling of being welcomed deep down in our Soul, to know we are part of a community and that we are valued – and mostly I believe we need to give our gifts to the world. To not give our gifts hurts us more. But how can we do that when we are struggling to get enough food to eat? Some of us are in a much better position than others to give time and energy to this change, whatever the reason may be. Rather than shame each other how about those of us who do have a little more and are not on the breadline, let’s take the lead, align our energies and crack on.

I’ve dedicated most of my life to being a part of this change, I have made many mistakes and failed many times in my endeavours and have no claims of perfection in my pursuits – however – I am committed to continuing as long as there is breath in my body. This shift in consciousness is my focus now and thats my gift, my offering to the mending of our world. I believe with a passion that embedding ourselves back into nature is at the heart of it and thats why I created EarthHeart.

If you are someone who also feels passionate about some of the themes I explore here and you are in a position to contribute to the exploration of the shift please consider this offering (and thereby supporting those who can’t right now)

If you long to feel a sense of belonging, if you long to be in community, if you long to do more but are not sure how to do it alone, then please join me. I have spent nearly 40 years waiting to offer this year-long journey and now the time is right.

Join us at Circle of Belonging

Has your relationship reached a threshold?

How's your relationship?

It’s a question we don’t often take the time to answer meaningfully. So I invite you, now, to take a moment to consider it. How’s your heart? 

The last 2 years have been difficult for lots of us. So many of the people I work with have come to me with make-or-break situations in their most intimate partnerships. We’re witnessing so much heartbreak, loss and confusion, as well as insight, awakening and growth. It’s an intense and volatile time, no wonder our romantic partnerships are being tested. We are meeting a threshold as a collective of humans, but also many of us are meeting thresholds in our love relationships.

This is why it’s important to zoom out and remember our interconnectedness. Humans are elemental nature beings and our feelings and experiences of being human need to be contextualised within a wider understanding of our ancestral deep time conditioning. A lot of what we get stuck in with relating is due to the systemic generational patterning that we get taught down the lineage and through cultural conditioning.

Let’s first take a look at what I mean when I say “threshold” in the context of relationship. Thresholds in our intimate relationship can take many forms, but some of the most common experiences are : 

~ Feeling the potential in your relationship to go to the next level but not being sure how to make that happen

~ Wanting to see what is possible between you, but feeling the edges of the unknown

~ Going round and round in the same conflicts and arguments

~ Longing for things to “work”

~ Feeling a need for change

~ Being on the edge of splitting up or just feeling at a loss

All of these things can bring up our deepest wounding, but they can also be portals to a deep wells of healing if we can tend to them carefully. Often when we get to a threshold, it feels painful because we feel so powerless: unable to get to where we want to be, or that some deep longing or need is not being met that feels too fundamental to let go of. We’re desperate to move beyond it, but we can’t see a way out, and we give up.

Working with these worn-out, terrified parts of ourselves is a delicate, vulnerable process, so there’s a lot of wisdom in seeking support at this point. Often if we just rely on our partner to muddle through, we can end up even more dug into our triggers and defensiveness. 

In a lot of ways, this has been my work throughout my life : to offer you the vision that is so hard to see from inside the issue.

Working with our shame

Many of us feel shame when our relationship isn’t how we’d like it to be because we’ve been taught that we should just naturally be good at love. We grow up with fairytales that end with “and they lived happily ever after”. The message we receive is that once you’ve found your partner, the work is over and you can just relax and have a good time. So when that isn’t the case, when we are struggling, it’s very natural to feel like something has gone very wrong.

Our culture supports us to be beginners and students in many areas of our lives, but somehow relationship is something we’re all just supposed to naturally succeed at. There might be fear, despair and hopelessness, or even anger and frustration underneath. But the first step is to come into connection with any shame we might be experiencing, so that we can then really feel into the depths.

The good news is, once we’ve taken that top layer of shame off, the threshold is a ripe place of transformation.

Reframing relationship struggles

The work of tending to a threshold can be deep, raw and challenging. I don’t want to minimise that. But honestly, when I’m in a session with a couple, this is exactly the moment where I start to get excited. I feel the potential for transformation; right at the point where both people are feeling completely hopeless is when change is ready to happen.

The chrysalis is about to become the butterfly.

I’ve seen it happen time and time again. But from inside the situation it’s hard, if not impossible, to hold that vision.  Just as the goo in the chrysalis doesn’t know it will become a butterfly, so we often miss the moments of potential in our connections. If all we’re experiencing is chaos and uncertainty, pain and overwhelm, seeing the bigger picture can be nigh-on impossible.

It feels like such an honour to sit with a couple in these processes, to be present in their process of death and rebirth. The energy is potent, I feel the transformation that is possible so strongly. 

Throughout my 3 decades of working with couples, I’ve seen alchemy happen, in even the most painful of places a couple is stuck in. I’ve witnessed ‘aha’ moments where the sacred space of the heart dissolves all the strategies, all the defences that keep you separate, unreachable and scared to let down your guard. And this doesn’t mean that all thresholds end with the relationship staying together. Sometimes the truth of our hearts is that we need to go our separate ways. But I truly believe it’s better to know that, and hear that from this place of soul, with support from community and land, than it is to continue in our stuckness.

In moments of threshold in our relationship, if we are willing to lean into the composting process, to go into the darkness and examine what is going on, there are treasures to be claimed. If, however, we can’t bring ourselves to meet the process, the new birth we long for can’t happen. We must allow the old ways of relating to die, to fall away, to be fully composted so that the new seeds of life can crack open and be supported to grow from the soil that was made by the death process.

It takes a village

We were never meant to do this alone. In this 21st century, our relationships become ever more isolated bubbles, and it’s easier for thresholds to get drawn out. In cultures that have retained their ancestral practices and traditions, a couple is often offered the support of the village, through ritual, practical support, ceremony and the listening ears of elders.

What we do at Couples in Threshold is offer you such space. We sit with you in person, holding you both in love and the highest regard, because this work is so vulnerable, and the field between you might be volatile or even feel totally numb. We offer you a container of safety to go to the places you haven’t been able to reach on your own. We sit with you and offer our guidance and kindness while you feel your way into the darkness together to see what is moving and how to come back into the light.

We don’t have an agenda for you, other than that which feels best for both of you. 

Another advantage of the format of Couples in Threshold is you stay here in the forest with us long enough to get through your layers of protection; you have sufficient time to pierce the membrane and get into what’s really going on. You can hold your breath, bite your tongue, hold back for half a day, or even 24 hours. But 4 days is enough time for your nervous systems to drop enough so that you are available to do the work that’s being asked of you. It’s time enough for you both to feel the pulse of the in-breath and out-breath ; to do the work and integrate it, here on the land. You are surrounded by magnificent nature, which allows your nervous system to assimilate and digest before finding the next layer.

We hold you, and so does nature itself, who is all-pervading here at EarthHeart. You can witness the cycles of the day and the movement of the weather as a mirror to your own processes of work and integration, and remember your places within them. We offer ample time for all parts of the cycle.

If you and your beloved find yourselves at a threshold, and feel you would benefit from guidance to make your way through, Couples in Threshold is a supportive retreat in which to find a way through.

A Light in the dark

My barefoot childhood

When I was a small child I loved being barefoot and ate with my hands when no one was looking. I spent time in nature, talking to the non-physical world and seeking solace with the animals and trees. Because of my early trauma, I found it hard to trust humans and therefore developed an ability to connect with the spirit realms, with the light beings, and with the nature all around me which guided me to navigate what I was experiencing in my family of origin growing up. I felt held and safe in this company. I developed a deep capacity to ‘see beyond the veil’ and be in the company of this wisdom and guidance. This has remained the case for the past 50+ years.

In my family of origin I was seen as weird, a rebel, the crazy one, the difficult one, the one who would not comply, the who was ‘away with the fairies’ and worst of all, I was seen as stupid, uneducated, a liar who didn’t have anything of value to bring. I witnessed the vulnerable ones around me slowly have their spirits broken by my father who was too hurt to know how to care and cherish others. At age 5 I made a sacred promise to my guides that I would not let him break my spirit or tame my soul. This has cost me in some ways, as I have largely lived on the margins of life. I have lived a very ‘alternative’ life : seeking the company of others who I felt resonance with.

In my late teens I discovered shamanism and through the experiences of plant medicine, to my delight, discovered that it was not me that was the mad one at all. It was our tamed and disconnected world that had reduced itself down to a very narrow bandwidth of existence. I felt both elation and deep sadness simultaneously as I realised there was division in our world and that MY experience of life was the one that was perpetually denied and repressed. Not only that, but it looked like it wasn’t about to change any time soon.

Being a voice for the mystery

I have spent the rest of my life speaking up for the mystery, for this half of life that few of us let ourselves experience. I have spent much of my life with the beauty and magic I have encountered that I do not know how to put into words. It exists outside of words. But it’s a love and a profound magic that is so wild and expansive that it has left me not fearing what is on the other side of death.

I don’t want to live in a world of division. I want to live in a world that allows everyone to have their experience and where no one is made wrong for it. I also passionately want people to experience some of the things I have, because I believe it would transform our world from trauma to freedom and living once again in a whole, loving and integrated way. I want us to live in balance, equality and with respect for ALL life. Most importantly, I want us to equally respect and value the guidance offered by that which exists beyond ‘industrial revolution capitalist growth thinking’.

I don’t need to make science wrong or anyone who has never experienced these things. But I do believe with a passion that our world is broken BECAUSE the developed world has lost touch with spirit. We are only living as half of who we are and the resulting division exists within us as a schism in our psyches.

I have dedicated my life to being the voice of the mystery; holding the flame of coming back to wholeness and I am not about to stop now. Call me a conspiracist if you want to, call me a witch, call me mad, call me anything you want. It does not take away my experience or make it less valid. I know what I know and I see what I see. This seeing does not live in the realms we have all been raised in. We fear what has been put in the shadows and my life has been devoted to bringing this all out and into the light.

I am not willing to dilute myself so as not to offend anyone.  I have seen what is happening now on Earth coming my entire life, I saw it in visions in my teens. It’s not hard to see if we are willing to step beyond the division and use the eyes of eagle to look at the sickness we are in. It’s a sickness that comes from a disconnection to the mystery.

We are at a Threshold, a spiritual crisis, and spirit is calling us home: calling us to turn around and look. It’s not going to be easy and it’s going to bring fear to the front and into the light. But we have a choice right now and it goes beyond arguing about whether certain medications are right or wrong and it goes beyond scientific data. These are important of course, but they are merely symptoms of a much deeper brokenness that we are facing. We are trying to fix the brokenness with the same tool that broke us in the first place. It can never work.

                           Love is the ONLY thing that will take us through,                                            a willingness to see what we have done and open our hearts to feel it.

I have a knowing that rests within the wisdom of the web of life, both the visible and invisible life. It comes from what the flowers and herbs show me, it comes from the animals and the trees, from the water, from the air, from the beings that are liminal to the eye. I know we are out of balance and I don’t need to see any more scientific studies to know that. I know we are a traumatised species and I know that unless we wake up out of this disconnect and out of this mass hypnosis we will not be here for much longer and nor will much of the life on this planet.

The time is now, it is not next week, it is NOW. This time of winter solstice is a potent gateway if we are willing to sit in the darkness with the firelight to guide us. I will walk with you through this passage, I will walk with anyone who is up for walking through this passage, in the grief and in the love, hand in hand. And I know I need you too, I do not want to walk alone. I may lose some of those I love and I may lose friends, I can bear that in devotion to the bigger picture of transformation, we will all come together again in the end anyway.

First step is to allow the letting go of the old ways, to honour our grief. I am dedicating the whole of 2022 to honouring grief by offering held spaces for this. These spaces will also hold the space for laying new stones for a new path of love. Grief and love are like 2 wings of the bird, we need both to fly.

The human guidance we have been following in our world over the past few hundred years has brought us to where we are now and if this does not put a huge flashing neon light of ‘failure’ on them, I despair at what we need to see in order to get it.

What is happening in our world now has been shown to us for millennia – “It was even in the bible”, say the Christians. “It is in the stars” say the astrologers, it is in the the prophesies of the mayans and many others. Indigenous people from around the globe have been telling us this for the longest time, yet we refused to hear it and thought we knew better. Even scientists and philosophers throughout time have told us this and still we have covered our ears and closed our eyes.

I say it is time to listen to these ways, to let go of this arrogant superiority and accept that we have failed. It is no one person’s fault, it is not about blame. But to see where we are and to say we have not failed I believe is the real madness in our world.

I am spending most of my time in the darkness of the EarthLodge at the moment and will be there through the passage of 2021-2022.

On December 31st, I will open up the lodge, live through the internet, so we can prepare to step through together. If you want to join me my arms are open and is the fire and the company of the ancestors.

Information and booking is here

The image above is from our local sacred spring which is a scrying spring. Have been asking water to guide me at this time of the full moon.

Join us at Light in the Dark 31st December 2021

Reclaiming the power of Menopause

A woman’s womb journey through her life is a journey into power.

There is a spiritual power that is in service to the thriving and harmonising of life itself along with a guide map for women. This power is rooted in the womb-consciousness of their bodies. The womb has been misunderstood and denied for millennia in attempts of the old states to keep women down. Knowing that the womb is what connects her to herself this had to be shamed and made to be ‘just for reproduction’. In actual fact the womb is a complete and powerful guide map for a woman to navigate every aspect of her life from how to feel safe, to creativity, sexuality and wellbeing.

There are four rites of passage in a woman’s life and birth is the first: our initiation into being into this world.

The second rite of passage is menarche, which marks the time of our first bleed. This is an initiation into the spiritual power which a woman will need to learn to embrace and deepen throughout her life. But she cannot do this alone, she needs the guidance of elders. This cyclical nature of our menstrual cycle plugs us into the cosmology of the universe; as what happens within the womb mirrors the cycles of life. It’s what I term Wombology. Menarche is an initiation into spiritual power through a deep, profound connection with the spiritual nature of life. We step into our role as creatrixes ; tending to life in its different forms.

The third rite of passage, the one I want to talk about today, is menopause. In menopause there is a hormonal change at a physical level and with it a portal opens within us to deepen and alchemise our spiritual power. Every rite of passage is a cycle of death and rebirth, and the menopause is one of the most potent ones; when we are invited to put on the compost heap all that no longer serves us in order to crown our high priestess.

The ways we give ourselves away

On the surface, menopause is “just” the end of our menstrual cycle, but there’s so much more going on underneath. It’s one of the most misunderstood areas of medicine : 41% of medical schools in the UK don’t have a mandatory menopause module, meaning many GPs qualify with no idea how to support women through this time.  Of course, our ancestors understood innately how to navigate the menopause as their spirituality was earth-based – following the cyclical nature of life through the year. Of course they saw this cycle clearly mirrored in their bodies, and worked with it instead of against it. As a woman reaches the autumn of her life she is guided to go further inside to mine for the gold of her wisdom and her potency, so that she can bring this in service to a better world.

However, this is a challenge for many women in our modern system because they have spent a lifetime in ‘override mode’. Predominantly driven by the ebb and flow of oestrogen, which is commonly referred to as the ‘accommodating hormone’, women are programmed to nurture life. How many of us have sacrificed our own desires and needs for the sake of our partners or our children? How many compromises have we made over the courses of our lives?

In the healthy community of our deep-time ancestors living within nature and the cycles of life, nurturing would have looked like caring for the children, listening to the land and tending to the wellbeing of the hearts and souls of the village : guiding them where healing needed to happen. 

As menopause arrives, women experience (among many things) a sudden drop in our oestrogen levels. Hormonally, it’s like being in the pre-menstrual part of our cycle but multiplied by 100 and lasting several years! This is coupled with most likely a lifetime of trying to ignore our menstrual cycle and not realising it has been our most sacred guide map. No wonder peri-menopausal and menopausal women have the highest rate of suicide among women ; they are experiencing enormous change, with little to no support or understanding of what is going on for them. 

With the loss of our accommodating hormone, the veil drops away and we suddenly feel all the times we gave ourselves away. It’s like taking a truth pill, a tsunami of truth arrives at our door and it can feel emotionally overwhelming. Every moment we overrode ourselves comes back to us, and many of us find ourselves wanting to burn every aspect of our lives on a big bonfire. We question everything we thought we knew:

Why am I in this job?
Why am I married to this partner?
What do I want sexually?

This process can feel terrifying, but there is a profound opportunity here to change history and lay the path for the future. We must allow all the parts of our lives that no longer serve us to fall away, to die, so that we may be reborn. More powerful than ever.

How we can embrace this rite of passage

At this time in a woman’s life, she is invited to look at the entirety of it and place herself, unapologetically, at the centre. She must step out of the sacrificial loop, and into service to the mystery, service to life in a way that means she is sustained. Menopausal women come to understand that it is possible to be in service to life, but it cannot be at the cost of themselves. Our third rite of passage offers us the precious reminder that the service we offered throughout our creatrix years should never have been at the cost of ourselves. We have a chance to step back into our power and live life from there. We no longer have the energy resources, or time to do anything else.

Anything less than deep connection to the sacred falls away.

The key piece, for me, is having the necessary support to navigate the transition of menopause, and reclaim it as a stepping into deeper connection to life. This is exactly what I offer at Autumn Queen, my weekend workshop for menopausal and peri-menopausal women.

Let’s step into the mystery together, in circle, as our grandmothers would have.

Join us at Autumn Queen 24 - 26 September 2021

Igniting your passion

Maintaining the spark of desire in long term relationship ?

When we first meet someone, passion is often the way it begins: erupting spontaneously between us as if out of nowhere and we are pulled, like bees to nectar, to each other. It connects us instantly to the places in us that live beyond our fears and human wounds. Somehow we feel free and able to open up and be intimate as we surrender to the intensity and excitement. This new person is a wild adventure for us to embark on, with discoveries and growth around every turn.

As we go deeper and spend more time together, things begin to change,  they become a little less exciting but maybe more safe, comfortable and familiar – the spark begins to fade.

When longterm partners have this deep soulful friendship, they can lose some of the more passionate intensity. Sex and desire might begin to feel more complex, or even fall completely off the menu. The spark that flared so easily in the beginning between you is now harder to find. 

After the subject of communication (more on that here) sex and intimacy is the next most common issue couples bring to me, and through my many years of doing this work I can say that it doesn’t have to be the end for your relationship or your sex life, and it is entirely possible to get it back and make it even better.

You can have closeness AND passion, if you’re both willing to do a little work.

Passion mismatches

A common dynamic I see in couples is what looks on the surface like a mismatch of desire between you. One of you expresses desire for sex and the other says they don’t want it. This might be expressed in a myriad of ways:

  • I’m too busy
  • I feel overwhelmed
  • I don’t know how to switch from work/busy doing mode to intimacy mode 
  • I’m too tired and depleted and Ive got nothing to give
  • It feels too complex, like I have to meet so many criteria to get it right.
  • I’m afraid to really open up and let you in.
  • I feel the pressure to be the perfect lover.

The list goes on and in my experience it is rarely as black and white as one of us wants it and one of us does not.

Usually underneath this top presenting layer, we find that you both really want the same thing which is to connect, feel close and have an amazing sexual connection. What often gets in the way is fear and the belief that we cannot be met the way we want to be or that we are not good enough for our partner. Once we see this it is actually very simple to find connection. We have developed a powerful but simple process that addresses this exact issue.

After 25 years of working with couples using this method we see it working again and again and again. Couples have told us they had tried therapy for years and through this one method got back loving intimacy within a short period of time. Sometimes even 5 minutes !!

It can be challenging to find our way back without support, which is exactly what we offer at Ignite the Passion – our four week online journey into intimacy.

Tending to the garden

Our intimate connection doesn’t take care of itself. The garden of our passion needs care if we want it to bear fruit. It needs compost, periods of weeding, space, light; a gentle and constant tending, we need to feel the seasons and meet them in ourselves. 

We must let go of the fairytale that love will always feel perfect, and that working on a relationship means we have failed. In my experience, if a couple feels safe enough to be able to do this tremendously brave work of holding and alchemising their wounds together, that’s a really encouraging sign. 

Difficulties in relationship happen to almost everyone. Very few of us were taught how to come into healthy connection with those we love, we’ve had to figure it out as we go. The wounds we carry around our sensual expression can run deep, so having experienced facilitators holding you through the process is really helpful.

Instead of despairing that something has gone wrong, let’s remind ourselves that like anything else we want to master in life, intimacy takes practice.

Join us at Ignite the Passion for practical tips and exercises that you can apply right away, as well as support to make sure the flames of your passion endure.

The question ALL couples ask me

Over the 25 years that I have been working with couples, the one thing I get asked more than anything else :

How can we communicate better?

At some point in relationship (or often at lots of points) communication breaks down between us. We find we’re unable to be heard, unable to express ourselves or both and we seem to feel triggered and hurt by what our partner says. This can leave us feeling frustrated or even angry, sad, isolated or hopeless.

In fact I would go so far as to say that communication is often the first place that relationships struggle. I have rarely worked with a couple who haven’t had some sort of issue with it at some point and without the right support this issue can spiral and even cause the breakdown of the relationship.

When we have a way of communicating that works for us, so many other aspects of the relationship can be supported to flourish. But if basic communication is not flowing, it can have a devastating impact on the whole of the relationship and undermine the confidence and trust of both partners.

The way we relate to each other is a vessel for looking deeper at ourselves, and for healing through our connection. It’s the foundation of healthy, soulful relationship. When communication falls off the map, it takes a big chunk of our connection with it. So it’s a pretty key piece of the puzzle! And yet who among us was ever taught this when they were growing up?

Most of us never actually learned the ingredients of good communication. It’s something we’re all expected to pick up as we go, and then when it falls apart we’re left blaming ourselves (or each other) and wondering what went wrong.

But like any other skill, good, soulful communication can be learned. It takes practice, but if you and your beloved are willing to try, it is transformative.

There are different ways a communication struggles can play out :

Either communication just stops; one or both partners withdraw and shut down. We find ourselves floating in a distant cohabitation, passing each other by like ships in the night

Or we try to stay in connection, but there’s an underground volcano simmering away and bubbling out sideways. Everything our partner says to us has a bit of bite in it. We both feel anxious, resentful and stuck.

Or one person withdraws, struggling to say anything at all and the other becomes much more vocal. We find ourselves out of balance; one of us in freeze mode and one in attack (even if it’s well intentioned!) The gulf between us widens as we dig in further to our opposing positions.

Sometimes both of us are fiery and loud, talking over each other without listening.  We have so much to say but no space to be heard so we fight even harder for it. Everything the other person says becomes a trigger, and everything we say gets misunderstood : we exhaust ourselves going round and round in circles.

These are just some of the ways I’ve seen, but your own communication issues will have their own particular flavour. It can feel hopeless, but there are ways through this, it doesn’t have to be the end for your relationship. 

The underlying roots to all of these dynamics is that we ‘translate’ what our partner is saying; what they say and what we hear is not always the same. We start running their words through our own internal filters and end up hearing something completely different to what they intended.

Or we get into a right vs. wrong thing where we argue about the “facts”, we hold on for dear life to our position as “right” and theirs as “wrong”, forgetting the humans underneath.

Or because we feel hurt by something they did or didn’t do and because it touches our wound of not feeling lovable, or feeling like we aren’t good enough, we hear what they are saying through this lens. We take it as evidence of what we already believe underneath it all. Our partner becomes someone else for us in those moments; often the caregiver who wasn’t able to meet our needs when we were young.

If we aren’t hearing their words as they intend them, if we’re desperate to prove them wrong, or if we’re seeing them as the parent who hurt us – we might as well be speaking two different languages.

So what do we do when we reach this stage?

Therapy?  It’s brilliant, but it doesn’t necessarily give us tools to take home. Lots of couples go to therapy and have great success during the sessions. They making all kinds of breakthroughs with their therapist in the room, but the difficulties begin again as soon as they get in the car or get home because they haven’t been given the day to day hands on solutions they need to step out of their patterns.

What Mark and I are passionate about is ensuring that the couples who work with us become self-sufficient. We want to give you tools so that you’re not reliant on us being there to be able to connect. We distill what we know into simple, practical exercises that don’t take hours and hours to work.

My skill and my  genius is to cut to the chase when a couple is struggling and get to the core of the matter. Through my years of doing this with couples, I’ve developed a method that is really accessible; you can take it, apply it and feel the results immediately.

It’s my life’s work, the work of Soul Intimacy, and this is what we teach you at Communication Alchemy.

Therapy is there to help heal and hold us at the level of our humanity, of our personality structure. Traditional therapeutic methods however, don’t always recognise that we are spiritual beings and so much more than the wounds of our humanity. If we only work at the level of personality, we’re just reshuffling our deck of cards, hoping to be dealt a slightly better hand. Sometimes it may change things for a while, but often we find ourselves needing to reshuffle more and more often, with less and less change occurring.

I believe we need to remember that our wounds are carried in our lineage, and that they are not the bigger part of us. It’s in this remembrance that we can make those sometimes seismic shifts back into connection. If we don’t have that context, the work can feel endless; like we’ll be in therapy for the rest of our lives, and never get to true liberation. I want us to get there, I want lasting change for all of us who feel stuck in draining communication dynamics.

At Communication Alchemy, we do this work of Soul gardening together. We tend to the seeds of our lives by infusing the soil they’re growing in with spirit, with the tender recognition of our souls and their work here in this life. We know that seeds cannot grow without the right environment, and we offer you all the tools you need to cultivate that environment with your beloved, so that you can both grow and thrive together.

Weathering the Storms of Relationship

All relationships have the energetic patterning of seasons and weather, just like in nature. Different stages of our relationship can make for overarching seasons and the weather is more a reflection of the day to day experiences between us. Many of us feel a constantly changing, unpredictable, British-style weather as we navigate interaction and connection with our partner. Society has told us that relationship must all be like summer days and that rain is a bad thing, but I believe that weather is a potent mirror to show us the health of the relationship and highlight which aspects of it might need some tending. And just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village (a robust, resilient support network of people) to support our relationship. This is the heart of the work I do with Mark and the couples that come to see us.

Of course we like the sun to shine, but sometimes we get a particularly heavy storm. Sometimes the nights feel too long, and the bursts of sunshine too short, and too few. The earth between us grows cold, and it can seem as though nothing tender will ever grow there again.

In these moments of long winter, it’s tempting to think that the relationship has died and abandon ship. However, often it’s actually a particular way we have been relating that needs to die rather than the whole relationship: a dynamic we have got stuck in: a pattern of communication or a hurt that has not been healed for example. But we often don’t recognise this and throw away the whole relationship prematurely. These times are what I call a threshold, and thresholds hold the key to transformation. 

These thresholds can be recognised as the times when we feel hopeless, powerless, emotionally overwhelmed, like it’s unbearable and just all too much.

If this is how you feel in your partnership, you have come to a threshold and this liminal space holds the key to transformation.

What we need to do with these thresholds is re-frame them. Often when we get to a threshold, it feels painful because we feel powerless, unable to get to where we want to be or that some deep longing or need is not being met that feels too fundamental to let go of. We’re desperate to move beyond it, but we can’t see a way out, and we give up. But when I’m in a session with a couple, this is exactly the moment where I get excited : I feel the possibility of transformation; everything is right at the surface asking to be met and moved. 

Which might sound weird, I know, but hear me out. When things feel their absolute worst is when change wants to happen. The chrysalis is about to become the butterfly. I know that sitting in the mush feeling like it’s pointless and couldn’t possibly become anything better is hard. Just as the mush doesn’t know it will be a butterfly, so we often miss the moments of potential in our connections. If all we’re experiencing is chaos and uncertainty, pain and overwhelm, seeing the bigger picture can be nigh-on impossible.

This is why there is wisdom in being able to recognise the chrysalis in process and reaching out for support in these moments; to see what needs to die and whats wanting to be birthed. Seeking support here is a wise and powerful act of self love and care for the relationship.

This is exactly what Mark and I do, we offer you the vision that is so hard to see from the inside. I really come alive in these moments and it feels like such an honour to be present in the process of death and rebirth. Sitting with a couple facing a threshold is potent – I feel the transformation that is possible at these times so strongly.

Even in the mush. Even in the deepest darkness. 

Transformation is possible.

Just as in the darkest point of winter, when the ground is cold and the days are short, and it looks like nothing is happening above ground. Underneath, spirit is having a conversation with the soil and the rotting leaves and buried seeds and negotiating the new birth that will come forth in spring.

In moments of threshold in our relationship, if we are willing to lean into the deep soil and mulching leaves, to go into the darkness and examine what is going on, there are treasures to be claimed. If we don’t do this, if we can’t bring ourselves to meet the process, the new birth we long for can’t happen. We must allow the old ways of relating to die, to fall away, to be fully composted so that the new seeds of life can crack open and be supported to grow from the soil that was made by the death process.

It might be that your relationship is ending. That’s a possible route that the transformation could take. But in that case, I believe it is better to be out of the murkiness, to finish your time together with awareness and acknowledge the gifts given and received. When you’re in the winter and it all feels dark, it’s normal to start asking if it’s the end. We have to meet the dark to find out. We can’t know it from above ground.

But if we can take courage and step inside there is an inner light shining that is our Soul’s longing calling us home to our hearts and to the next step into Love.

What we do at Couples in Threshold is guide you through this process. We sit with you in person, holding you both in love and the highest regard, because this work is so vulnerable, and the field between you might be volatile or even feel totally numb. We offer you a container of safety to go to the places you haven’t been able to reach on your own (and not being able to reach them is probably why you find yourselves at a threshold now). We sit with you and offer our guidance and kindness while you feel your way into the darkness together to see what is moving and how to come back into the light.

We all need support at different times in our lives, and there is real value in getting that support from people outside of the situation. We can’t be therapists to our partners: we’re too invested, we can’t be objective or remain unaffected by their emotional expression. Mark and I can see your relationship from a different standpoint, we help you to get the whole picture because we’re highly skilled and experienced at seeing the things you can’t see from the inside. We can create the safety you need to go to the stuck places if safety doesn’t feel possible within your relationship.

We don’t have an agenda for you, other than that which feels best for both of you. 

Another advantage of the format of Couples in Threshold is you stay here in the forest with us long enough to get through your layers of protection; you have sufficient time to pierce the membrane and get into what’s really going on. You can hold your breath, bite your tongue, hold back for half a day, or even 24 hours. But 4 days is enough time for your nervous systems to drop enough so that you are available to do the work that’s being asked of you. It’s time enough for you both to feel the pulse of the in-breath and out-breath ; to do the work and integrate it, here on the land. You are surrounded by magnificent nature, which allows your nervous system to assimilate and digest before finding the next layer.

We hold you, and so does nature itself, who is all-pervading here at EarthHeart. You can witness the cycles of the day and the movement of the weather as a mirror to your own processes of work and integration, and remember your places within them. We offer ample time for all parts of the cycle.

If you and your beloved find yourselves at a threshold, and feel you would benefit from guidance to make your way through, Couples in Threshold is a supportive retreat in which to weather your storms and tend to your composting so that new life can grow.

Picture by Johannes Plenio

Apparent short term gain for real long term loss

This is a love letter to the Earth, and a call to action to all of us who call this planet home.

We cannot continue like this. Something has got to change in our consciousness as humans, specifically those of us who live in more economically developed countries.

With the pandemic rolling into its second year, we are witnessing a large-scale example of the way we humans mistreat our sacred and beautiful Earth home in the pursuit to save our own lives. Our pattern as a species is to lurch from crisis to crisis, spending our time putting out fires, slapping plasters over gaping wounds and hoping for the best. We deal with the immediate symptoms of our Earth’s distress, but none of these crisis solutions to our problems are really working because they literally cost the Earth long term.

Our short-sightedness is costing the Earth

We realise too late that the apparent solutions we’ve put in place to deal with the immediate threat to human life have caused more problems further down the line. We experience some unforeseeable consequence with catastrophic effects that we could have avoided if we had only taken the time to listen to the more-than-human world around us, and respond to its deeper needs. Instead, we see ourselves as a superior species in that ‘other’ forms of life have to be sacrificed to ‘keep us alive’ at all costs. We tell ourselves we’ll just take care of this immediate crisis, and after that we’ll find the time to tend to the long-term picture. But we never do. There’s always another crisis that threatens human life, and we never learn.

And our mother can’t take it any more.

The long-term solution is  the urgent crisis, and if we don’t tackle it we won’t have a long term future.

Our place in the web of life

Every time we approach a crisis with our emergency mindset, the Earth pays the price. As I see it, the problem lies in our deep-rooted belief that we are superior, more important than any other life. We think that our need to survive should take precedence over everything else, but we couldn’t be more wrong. 

This is the shift that needs to happen and it’s inside our minds, it’s systemic in the way we have been taught to think about life : we need to remember that we are not the centre of the web of life, we are only a part of it and we need to honour and respect life as sacred, not as something to be consumed. We are only as important as the bacteria that break down our waste, as the tiniest microscopic algae that absorb our emissions, no more no less. We need to heal this sickness in our consciousness, and remember our place.

This has always been at the heart of my work, but I want to say it again:

The evolution of our consciousness is reliant on the thriving of the natural world

AND

The thriving of the natural world is reliant on the evolution of our consciousness.

Read that again.

Let’s find a way to get this truth into our bones, into our souls. 

And then act as though it’s real, because it is.

We need the natural world, and right now, more than ever, she needs us to protect her. To act, to speak up for her, to challenge our established ways of being, and develop new ones that honour and nurture her.

Every day should be Earth Day

This is a love letter to the Earth, and it is a call to us to show her our love for her in our every thought, word and deed. Because love is a verb, a state of being, and love is direct action. I am committed to doing what I can to support us to make this shift in our consciousness by finding our way back to our hearts and connecting with ourselves, each other and the more-than-human world from that place. 

Every day should be Earth Day. Let’s make that happen.

 

Image by Elena Mozhvilo

Connect to love, connect to life

Our intimate relationships are more important than ever, right now. Why?

Because our social circles are greatly reduced, transformed into short bursts of outdoor meetings where we cannot hold one another, or online conversations where it can be so hard to really feel one another as we look between our respective screens and camera lenses. We rely on our partners for our very normal human needs for connection, touch, affection. 

I notice that the pandemic has exacerbated an idea, one which has been gathering steam in the west for years – that your partner should be all you need to be happy and fulfilled. If we aren’t mindful, the person we live with finds themself bearing the burden of being everything we once counted on our village to be. Our culture puts a huge pressure on relationships to ‘look a certain way’, requires a laundry list of each of us to be amazing lovers, co-parents, best friends, creative muses, personal trainers and the list goes on… It’s exhausting. 

When we try to live up to these expectations we forget why we got into a relationship and what our intimate relationship offers us.

The gift of soul intimacy

So let’s think about that: what does our intimate relationship offer, at its essence?

Those moments with your beloved when all the business of life falls away for a moment as you look into their eyes; and in that moment you find yourself again, not even realising you had been lost. Moments of wordless, effortless, soul intimacy.

The gift of being seen, truly seen and loved just exactly as you are : without needing to “be” a million different things. The profound blessing of being loved for being you.

If we look a little closer, we remember that intimate relationship is a potent form of awakening – through it we plug back into the interconnectedness, to love itself, to the things in life that give meaning beyond the material and the slog to survive. It’s what calls us to sex. Good sex opens hearts and gives us those experiences of something so much bigger than us, of a vastness, a love so big we almost cannot handle it.  But somehow, held in the eyes of our beloved, we find a way.

Our romantic partnerships hold a deep potency, and when we’re connected with their magic the absolute awe and majesty of nature, of life, of beauty and of our souls remembering. I believe we ache to bring this medicine to more people, to spread the love. I believe we want to give to each other – beyond the endless polarization of our arguments on social media – we want, so desperately, to love.

Carving a path back to our awakened, soul self

Right now on planet Earth, there’s a portal wide open to humans, a portal to Love, as we go through a collective transition to a new world. Shifting our consciousness is ever more important as we begin rebuilding the world of our longing. Moments of soul intimacy with our beloveds fuel and inform this process, infusing it with the full glory of all we can be when we drop the surface drama that divides us and come back, again and again, to love.

A way to connect

A simple way to reconnect with love is to just sit with your partner, even for a moment or two, and look into their eyes. Without words. Choose to remember the moments when you first fell for them, to relive all the giddy, head-over-heels of that time together. Choose to remember all that you adore in them. Choose to see them as they are, right now in this moment. Breathe together. Hold each other. 

Sometimes simple acts are all that’s needed to plug back in to the great web of love and life that surrounds us. And we need that connection, now more than ever.

Sex and the Menopause

A woman in her menopausal years is at her highest sexual potential.

Yes, you read that right.

Contrary to the script of a patriarchal mainstream culture, when a woman reaches menopause, a gateway opens to an entirely new sexual landscape. Our immersion in a culture that recognises female beauty only in the guise of the beauty of maiden or mother has led many of us to believe that the ending of the fertile years brings with it the death of ourselves as sexual women.

Yet here’s the truth: a menopausal woman in her full power has a beauty that shines from deep within her, a radiance that is juicy, alive, truly erotic. When she lays claim to that power, those who come into her energetic field may be transformed. A menopausal woman can access entirely new levels of creativity borne from a radically re-aligned connection of her spiritual self to her sexuality.

Throwing off the domination of her hormones, she may initially find herself at a loss, experiencing a void where her old habits no longer serve her. She may be a mother whose children no longer depend on her. She may be a career woman whose career suddenly loses its gloss. She may be in a committed relationship which now feels unsatisfactory.

And in the bedroom, she may find that the sex she’s gotten used to over the years is the sex she suddenly no longer wants. Worse, because it’s so often a taboo subject, she feels isolated in her dissatisfaction. Without a map, without the familiar currency of the maiden or mother incarnation when sex was equated with lust, desire for family or with her need for love, the spotlight is suddenly on her.

If she doesn’t want to be touched and met like that, then how does she want to be touched and met? Does she want sex at all?

It can be a time when she feels that life has lost its meaning. No point to her job or relationship, no point in sex, no purpose. It’s a time when the mystery calls, the veils thin, and the world of spirit calls more strongly. Without a deeper understanding of the changes she’s going through, she struggles to navigate this time, to step into her new power with grace.

Instead, she may turn to the familiarity of the maiden archetype, using Botox, surgery or HRT to remain youthfully attractive. Or she may subvert her needs once again to those of her partner, of her family, again vacating her own embodied longing in order to lose herself in others.

After all, if she has lost intimacy with her own needs over the years, then to begin to express her longings and desires at this time may seem impossible. She may just give up on sex, believing that she will never be met in the way she yearns for.

Yet menopause offers a profound gift — to enter the temple as a woman whose sexuality is wholly infused with the luminescence of spirit. In order to do so, there is often a reckoning to be made.

An honesty with herself about the times in her life where she has overridden her needs and desires in order to remain in a relationship, or to gain acceptance in a culture that prizes younger women who are sexually available (in just the right way).

With this reckoning often comes a slow-burning resentment, or a raging fire of anger. Sometimes tears and what can feel like a deep well of grief for her own betrayal of herself.

All of these feelings are waymarkers on the rite of passage that is menopause. If she stays connected to her feelings, and connected to the strong call of her spirit, she will stay connected to her sexual energy. Whether or not she is in a relationship, her sexual energy is the essence of her creative energy however she feels to express it.

It offers a pathway into the sacred mystery and an undying spark that can move us beyond nihilism when we feel like we have lost our way. We must, as women, be willing to compost all we have grown familiar with. Our habitual ways of relating to others, our self-identity as sexual women, our identity out there in the world — these are all up for a profound shift as woman enters the cocoon of the menopause.

It can be terrifying. There is no telling what lies on the other side, and in our patriarchal paradigms there are precious few waymarkers, all too few sexy, erotic older women to inspire and guide us through this change.

That’s precisely why we need each other. We need circles of menopausal women to hold a mirror to each other’s inner power and radiance, to remind each other in the midst of a mess of tears and anger how beautiful we are, how desirable we are, how important our needs and our voices are.

It is time to reclaim the ancient temple mysteries, and that which the wise ones of old knew. That a woman beyond her fertile years becomes a bodily transmission of spiritual light. She must be respected and cherished. And often such a woman demands to be met by a partner who can bring him or herself fully, to receive this transmission as an initiation into his or her own deep beauty.

The Dalai Lama famously proclaimed, “The world will be saved by the Western woman.” I would add that it will be saved by the menopausal Western woman, when she is in full possession of her power and vitality.

Such a woman will dare you to meet her.