‘I thought I was coming on a writing course. Now I realise it’s really about how we live.’ (Participant on a 2013 retreat)
At the hub of all my work is my belief in human potential, and the power of the human spirit in conjunction with inspiration and creative expression to renew, re-envision and regenerate itself. To this I bring my therapy training and study of depth/archetypal psychology, which has underpinned my life since the 1980s. Alongside this is my own passionate commitment to deep ecology, plus a strong need to celebrate: this earth, its beings, the fact of being alive.
Inevitably, this includes an awareness of the delicate tensile filaments in the web of being that enfolds us all – human, animal, bird, marine creature, insect, tree, plant, fungus, microbes, all utterly interdependent. It’s impossible not to be aware of how very badly, and swiftly, we’re trashing this web, and therefore at this time the celebration is tempered with sadness and the need to act. Almost all of my work now aims to keep our attention at least in part on this interconnectedness and what we can do to honour that, and be a force for good on the earth.
My own creative work primarily takes shape through words and images: my books and my paintings.
Equally important, though, is the work I do with others, primarily in the fields of creative, reflective and eco-writing, but always with an undercurrent of soulwork and the evolution of consciousness.
I’m interested in the power of the word, and in the importance of communication. I am interested of course in what makes good writing. My courses will enhance your understanding of the tools and dynamics necessary to create work that is the best you can produce; and frequent feedback suggests that they also enhance your understanding of yourself and of the world. (Elsewhere on this site are a few of the many testimonials, and more can be seen here).
I’m also interested in writing with soul and imagination, in eco-mythology, and in writing as practice: writing in the service of truth, wisdom, evolution of consciousness, psychospiritual development, as therapy and also in its urgent role of raising awareness of the ecosystem of which we are a part and on which we depend.
My first workshops in the early 1990s were offered under the heading of ‘Myth as Metaphor’, and offered the practice of exploring our lives in writing via the tools of myth and archetype. These workshops proved both deepening and popular, and out of these was commissioned my first book Riding the Dragon – myth & the inner journey (Element Books 1994). I still very much employ these tools, overtly or implicitly, and I’ve been privileged to work with many truly lovely people from all over the world in the last 30 years.
So a common theme running through all my work is a dialogue between inner and outer landscapes; this is underpinned by my own Zen practice and training in Transpersonal counselling as well as a lifetime spent in rural living and also in wilderness exploration (as much as is possible in Europe). I guess you’d call my work ecobardic.
Increasingly I’m finding that I want the work I do to deepen our relationship with the natural world, and to this extent from 2010 many of my workshops have taken that focus as ‘Ground of Being’, now incorporated into my other website: www.thewildways.co.uk.
I don’t see these things as mutually exclusive; however, in these pages, the writing is the central focus, and on The Wild Ways website, as above, the emphasis is more on eco-psychology, and writing as a medium to explore and express our experience of interrelatedness. (End of 2019: the contents of the two are increasingly merging.)
To this work I bring a lifetime immersed in poetry, story and myth (especially of the British Isles and northern Europe). The Celtic tongue, its bardic and shamanic mystery tradition and the development of the Grail legends in their original languages were the main focus of my degree course at Cambridge. Art and music are part of the mix; also archetypal and transpersonal psychology in which I have a counselling qualification and much personal/professional experience, wisdom traditions, and the human potential movement, all informed by mindfulness techniques from Zen practice and my profound and continuing commitment to deep ecology.
I believe that the writing process is as much a passionate journey into inner space as it is about reaching an outer creative destination. I believe in the alchemical power of words to forge connection: to oneself, to each other, to the natural world, to creative consciousness and the human potential movement, and to the silence from which words grow… and if these things interest you too, then welcome, friend…
‘Although I’ve had the privilege of learning under some truly great teachers, some of them academics, some spiritual guides, I don’t think I’ve ever had a more rewarding learning experience…’ (Online and Iona retreat course participant)
Fire in the Head is committed to an environmental ethos. The publicity material and some of the books are printed on recycled paper, and I am very conscious of careful consumption, as also are most of the people who attend these courses.
Many of us, rightly, are seriously concerned about climate change; and, while clearly the only true way to do anything about this issue is to simply reduce our consumption in every way, one thing you might like to consider doing is to ‘offset’ the environmental cost of travel to one of the courses, especially if you drive, or fly (many of my courses can be accessed by trains, which is of course a greener option; and much better for the soul! In 2007 I made the decision not to fly any more; for this reason I offer courses only in GB and France, plus online.)
An organisation local to me will plant a tree on Dartmoor in your name (or as a gift) to help offset carbon outputs: www.moortrees.org
There is also Trees for Life
Tree Sisters is a wonderful & inspiring initiative: https://www.treesisters.org/. Do visit & join if you’re minded. This is their mission statement: ‘TreeSisters mission is to make it normal for every person to restore our world. We would love you to join our tree planting tribe if you are not already with us!’
And check out The Woodland Trust.
Or maybe you have a favourite environmental charity?