In the Centre of the Forest, at the Heart of the Work.
The EarthHeart centre is about an hour north of Bristol city, on the river Wye right in the heart of the 200,000 acre ancient Forest of Dean.
It is the home of Jewels Wingfield, where so much of her earth-based spirituality work is done.
“It’s a place where I can be vulnerable, open and real.
With no judgement, I’m accepted as I am – in my entirety.
It’s a place to expand, to share, to nurture, to learn and to grow.
A place to be seen and understood.
A place to be.
A place to breathe.
A place to feel alive.
A place to love.” Gaye Williams, Initiation participant 2018
I have deeply loved nature from as far back as I can remember, even as a very young child. As a child nature would speak to me and I would enjoy speaking back and listening for answers to questions I had. I experienced nature as the body of ‘God’, as divinity itself somehow. It always brought me back to this, especially during the darker times of my life. It kept reminding me in such a simple yet powerful way, of the sacredness of all life and about my place in the interconnected web of life.
Nature became my religion. I experience it as a profound teacher of Love within an Earth-based spirituality that makes sense to my body, heart and soul. It showed me the truth about relating and about the need for respect and balance between the feminine and masculine in all things. How every element in nature is aware of all that is around it and how all elements are all giving and receiving from each other.
When I left home all I wanted was to live close to the land and in community. I have spent as much of my life as possible doing this. From as early back as my mid-teens I started to listen to the wisdom within the natural world around me and received such profound support I began to listen more. I also was being guided by a circle of ancient beings who showed themselves to me and I call my ‘council’. They encouraged me to listen deeply and to trust what I heard and what was being asked of me.
I found myself creating temporary sacred spaces wherever I went, for people to gather and share in. I held a vision that one day I would be the guardian of a piece of land that meant that this sacred space could grow ever deeper roots. A place that people could come to and experience nature as our teacher, an opener of our human hearts and a re-membering of our sacred interconnectedness. A place to slow down enough to be able to hear the heartbeat of the earth and the wisdom she brings, to commune in her wildness, to sit with her stillness and be in her awe-inspiring relentless beauty. A place to bring consciousness to human fragile hearts and to heal our relationships between the masculine and the feminine in humanity.
To discover such connection in ourselves through this that the natural outcome is to want to honour all life as sacred and to live from a balanced place within so that our lives grow in the service of Love for the collective evolution of all humanity.
“…this place showed itself to me, I listened, and here I am…”
After many years it has come into manifestation. It feels important to mention that contrary to occasional assumptions, the finances raised for the creation of EarthHeart were not by inheritance money, but from the past 20 years of my work in the world.
It comprises 4 acres of land in the middle of the beautiful 200,00 acre ancient Forest of Dean (a place I have visited my whole life to come and feel connected again) next to the Wye Valley just north of Bristol.
The place itself is stunningly beautiful. Off the main road and about a mile along a forestry commission track with a house and buildings and a small spring-fed lake at one end
(see aerial view).
It is surrounded 360 degrees by forest. The house itself was originally part an old mining dwelling with lots added over a few hundred years. It is now a 7 bedroom house that has been made into a beautiful space in which people come and stay, play, share and connect.
Planning permission was granted on 12th December 2012 (12.12.12) for change of use, to build a Forest Lodge, a space to gather together, to journey deep into our nature with guidance and inspiration from the great nature around us, a 12-tree greenwood timber-framed eco construction with turf roof and floor-to-ceiling windows along the whole length of the west-facing wall that opens out into the forest. This space is truly inspiring and in harmony with its surroundings
…while inside you feel like you’re in the forest…
There is a secluded camping area for going on quiet retreat and during the summer month we can immerse ourselves in the wildness that is the forest. We are working towards growing as much of the food as possible and getting as much of the fuel needed from the surrounding woodlands (which should keep us going for a little while with 200,000 acres !!)
The vision at EarthHeart is to be an experiment of a gratitude economy in action. I have always believed in finding ways to give and receive what we need from each other in creative ways that don’t involve money. I have taken great inspiration from Charles Eisenstein on this subject and was delighted to discover someone mapping so clearly a way I have aspired to live for so many years. A beautiful and real map for how to give and receive with each other in the currency of gratitude.
…money is currently used as a currency of power and separation. Gratitude is the currency of the heart and relationality…
My deepest wish is that eventually the EarthHeart centre works entirely as a gratitude economy. It is early days as there is much to learn about how to do this but it has already begun.
Everyone has a gift to offer and EarthHeart is an experiment for ways we can give and receive our gifts beyond (but including) the need for money. This is living as Love.
Want to get involved?
There are various ways you can be a part of the EarthHeart vision:
– Come along to one of our open days
– Become a residential volunteer, either short, medium or long term
– Take a year apprenticeship
– If you’re local, day visit volunteering
– Attend one of our workshop or courses offered throughout the year
– Join one of our summer camps
Open days at EarthHeart
Open days happen at various points between spring and autumn and are a great way to visit EarthHeart, get a sense of what it’s all about. They offer a chance to see how else you might like to get involved, what it is like to be in community, meet Jewels and ask questions.
Check out the Calendar to see when the next EarthHeart Open Day is.
No need to book, just turn up, if you have lots of questions to ask please make sure you come in time for the tour at 2pm which will be the time to voice what you feel curious about, and find out more about the project.
EarthHeart is an experiment in human evolution becoming more deeply aligned with our natural world. Our vision is of environmental harmony, of respect for all people and of our sacred connection to nature. It is a place to come and reconnect with our own essential nature by being immersed in the nature in which EarthHeart thrives. It’s an alive, ever-evolving vision with a fluid community. EarthHeart aspires to be a mutually supportive experiment in co-creation with each other, nature and life itself. We seek to grow people, find their gifts and encourage them and create a context for meaningful work.
These aspirations are balanced with the ongoing needs of the caretaking of EarthHeart. Most of the work is outdoor and land-based, there is sometimes indoor work or specific skill-based work. Being here requires a willingness to engage with whatever needs to be done at the time, whether outdoors or in inclement weather, skilled or unskilled. It requires a good outdoor waterproof coat and sturdy working footwear. Some of the tasks and projects happening may not be your favourite activity and some may well be. We try as much as possible to find a good flow between the two, and this can only work with ongoing dialogue and flexibility on both sides. Because we are not a charity we are limited in the range of work we can offer. Again, this is an evolving experiment.
EarthHeart has a life of its own. It many respects IT is the teacher to all who come here and we the learners. We are all in some ways in service to the vision and to how to keep evolving it. Listening to what it needs through nature itself and being able to respond while at the same time supporting the people who come here and vice versa. Volunteering with us is one way of contributing to the vision and to “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible” (quote by Charles Eisenstein)
Initially the vision was to create a place that did not need money to keep it running, however this has proved to be unsustainable until the mainstream world is more open to the gift economy. This means that EarthHeart relies partly on the generosity of volunteers to keep it alive. It is for people who want to experiment and explore how human beings can live more consciously and lightly on the planet. If you feel to join us to get in touch and we can send you an application form. Below is more information about the volunteering program we offer.
Practical skills needed
- Carpenters / hippy chippies
- General DIY odd jobs “I can do a bit of anything”
- Gardeners / food growing
- Experience of pond development/management
- Outdoor stone work/landwork
- Fundraising/networking/Facebook etc
- Just happy to help – no particular skills needed
Money as a symbol of gratitude
You might really want to support the project but simply don’t have the time to volunteer just now but feel that offering money in the spirit of gratitude and interconnectedness is a way you can be a part of the vision growing and deepening. If you would like to make a gift this way we have a special account set up for this purpose. It can either be anonymous if you prefer. Do please get in touch and I can give you details.
Thank you to those of you who have already gifted money and or time so generously to this experiment.
We would not have got this far without you.