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Our Courses…

Open Spirit started in 2011 and from Autumn 2014 we expanded to offer depth courses in holistic western spirituality through our Wild Wisdom School. In July 2017 we completed our first three year Wild Wisdom School course. We are now taking a pause for reflection but hope to be able to continue in future years.

We offer three ‘one year’ courses, with one offered each year. Each course has something of a progression but they don’t have to be (though are better) taken in order. Participants commit to a year’s journey together through the Western Mysteries, which builds a wonderful sense of being part of a spiritual learning community.

Course members also receive notes with suggested reading, the option of three ‘community days’ often featuring a field trip and are encouraged to engage in a personal study or creative project based on or inspired by the theme of each day, which can be shared in the Friday evening of each weekend and in a concluding celebration. Group members can also stay in touch through a confidential Facebook group.

Each Course starts with a summer Community Day, followed by Introductory Day in the Autumn and then five weekends.Courses are co-ordinated, tutored and facilitated by Rev. Sam Wernham and assistants (With deep thanks to Beth Thomas, Clare Viner and Jan Nuttall for all their hard work over the last few years.) We have a strong emphasis on collaborative wisdom (valuing different wisdoms whether spiritual, intellectual, emotional or experiential) and embodied spiritual practice, including sacred time outside in nature. Our venue is a beautiful, period thatched home and garden in central Dartington generously shared by Juliette Rich. Each weekend (from Friday teatime to Sunday) is non residential with refreshments provided. Please bring lunches to share, or there are several places to eat out within walking distance in Dartington.

Wild Wisdom

An experiential journey through Western Spirituality with a holistic method of learning, a fourfold wisdom way that engages head and heart, body and spirit through study & discussion, storytelling & sharing, meditation & spiritual practice and time for creative expression & being in nature.

‘method – from the greek – meta hodos…way of knowing, enquiry’

Each day also engages with material that restores the love of the Divine Feminine and Mother Earth to balance our often more masculine conceptions and ways of experiencing the Divine. Together we travel through her/history and Mystery to develop our own thealogy and theology – our own understanding and embodied spiritual experience of the Source of all being.

‘material – from the latin – materia…matter, substance, wood – and mater…mother, origin, source’


Course Themes

In Year One we touch into the ancient cultures and myths underpinning the Hebrew Bible & Christian Old Testament, alongside looking at parallel traditions from our native pre-history/herstory and Druidic/Celtic traditions. After the Welcome Day each weekend offers an exploration of the roots of Western Spirituality from a feminist perspective including practical exploration of engaged spiritual practice.  The story and themes of the weekends are introduced through ‘Welcome to Wild Wisdom’ including our Saturday tales and our Sunday mythic motifs from the story of ‘The Handless Maidenwhich are then revisited and expanded over the year as a path of spiritual initiation for women and men.

Each Saturday and Sunday has its own themes as shown below:

• Saturday One – Held by the Mothers
An imaginative exploration of the Earth’s story and of local pre-his/herstory.
• Sunday One – Under the Apple Tree
Meet like minded souls and share personal stories and hopes for spiritual practice and community and your own experience of sacred ground and the sacred circle of the seasons.

• Saturday  Two – A Cauldron of Bright and Dark Knowledge
A return home to the pagan celtic traditions, including an exploration of the fourfold elemental and shapeshifting initiation into bright and dark knowledge of the Divine Feminine.
• Sunday Two – Deep in the Dark Wood
How can we can transform our relation to depth, difficulty and darkness – welcoming both ‘bright and dark knowledge’ as equally valuable and part of being whole? Practices taught will include embodied presence and ‘welcoming’ of the inner & outer family of all beings.

• Saturday Three – Celebrating the Sacred Marriage
An enquiry into the sacred marriage of feminine and masculine through Ancient Mesopotamian his/herstory and myth.We will meet the Goddesses and Gods Ningal & Nanna, Inanna & Dumuzi and touch into motifs of descent and return.
• Sunday Three – Meeting in the Midnight Orchard
Can we create relationships with self and other and holistic spiritual communities that truly value both the diversity and the equality of all beings and of different ways of knowing? Practices taught will include Jewish Pardes and Christian Lectio Divina, with an emphasis on  reading the ‘Big Book’ of nature and wilderness.

• Saturday  Four – The Wild Bird of the Soul
An introduction to Ancient Egyptian his/herstory and early motifs of the Divine Mother and Son in the Ancient Egyptian Myth of Isis, Osiris and Horus.
• Sunday Four – A Bird Nest Crown
An invitation to explore the nature of your own sense of vocation and calling. Practices taught will focus on embodied spiritualitity including sitting and walking meditations, contemplative sharing circles and elemental ceremony, including collaborative communion.

• Saturday Five – The Tree of Life and Sacred Garden
An open feminist perspective on early Hebrew mysticism and the foundations of Kabbalah, including Hebrew Goddesses such as Asherah and Anath and biblical women. Also touching into later motifs of the Tree of Life, sacred groves, gardens and different forms of sanctuary.
• Sunday Five – A Wildwood Wedding
Further exploration and some conclusions to our exploration of holistic spiritual practice and mutual ministry based in compassionate holding and welcoming of body/earth, self and other, being and Source.


Summary of Course Themes

Ancient Greece and The Mysteries of Eleusis
Early Christianities and the Marian Mysteries
Wild Monastics – From the Essenes to the Desert Mothers & Fathers and Celtic Monastics
The Loathly Lady and the Matter of Britain
Medieval Female Mystics and the meeting of Clare & Francis


Summary of Course Themes

Seeking the Green Lion (a tiny but tantalising taste of alchemy…)
Wisdom’s Call – A Return to Sophia & Shekinah ( from early Gnostics to Renaissance Kabbalah and beyond)
Iconoclasm & Reformation (from Orthodox iconoclasts to the Reformation… and are we in the midst of a second one?)
Healers of the Soul (Nineteenth century mystic & magical schools and the birth of psychology and beyond)
The Unseen University (A wild medley of more recent strange characters including Neopagans, Druids, Shamans, Chaos Magicians and contemporary wisdom schools and wild monastics…)



Call: 01803 ~ 862541
Email: enquiries@open-spirit.co.uk
Copyright © Open Spirit 2015

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Website last updated: 06 Sep 2017