This document was sent a few days ago by a mentor, a sister and a friend ~ Joanna Macy.
"SOULand is a response to our uninitiated, traumatised, collapsing and transforming world.
"Initiation is a invitation to wildly court and lean into the SOUL of four Sisters - Grief, Love, Death and Birth. There is no true initiation without the ‘small’ death of our personality, our set positioning in life or our childlike naivety.
The Message of Water
SOULand: Making the World of our Longing...
Longing is the language of SOUL. A current moving through us, whispering wildly to us how to come back Home to Anima Mundi ~ The Soul of the World.
What does longing have to do with an Apprenticeship to Soul and Grief?
Most of us behave as if we were homeless to our SOUL and orphaned to our Earth with great consequences.
When we feel deep longings moving through our bodies and through our dreams we are blessed by SOUL. So what happens to these Longings? Why are we in such dire state if SOUL constantly speaks through our imagination, hearts and dreams? Are they like seeds falling on concrete? What does our SOUL need?
These longings moving through us... could be bringing us to one of the initiatory gates of grief. Grief of not being welcome, wanted, enough, or of not knowing enough, have enough support, money, skills etc...Paralysis, shame and envy can become the new guests in our beings.
Grief is a gate that most of us want to avoid at all costs, even if it costs us our lives ~ therefore we never move beyond the call of SOUL. An initiation to empower us to create the world of our longing is miscarried.
We stop, numb and stay small not to feel our sadness, our numbness, our fears and anger. We are not skilled in Grief neither in Love. A terrible poverty takes place in our heart and imagination.
SOULand provides collective spaces for the release of our sacred grief, so we can meet ourselves as creative gifted human beings ~ a little more empowered and resourced to make the World of our Longing as a great gift...
Grief Composting Circles
The Grief Compositing Circles are communal rituals of 4 hours infused with beauty and connection with all beings, humans and all others.
Grief in this context is the welcoming of anger, fear, sadness, despair, numbness and the mystery of all these emotions as we welcome them in a collective safe space.
The Circles hold an important part in total darkness as if in a compost heap, a womb or a kiva. Sounds and wailing are freely used to encourage our wild and sensuous selves to be present. Wild means of the sensuous land and waters, not feral or out of control!
The circles weave also the work of Francis Weller ~ Joanna Macy ~ Sobonfu Some ~ Steven Jenkinson and Martin Pretchel among others.
Conversations with Grief and Water
Conversations with Grief of Water is a series of interviews with women and men engaged fully with our collapsing world, our dying systems and our grief. People engaged with deep love and longing to fully participate in our world in ways of soul and beauty. They respond to the message of Water received on 2nd of December.
So far I have spoken with and recorded Joanna Macy, Simon Be, Li An Phoa, Jon
Young, Francis Weller, Manda Scott, Pat McCabe, Megan Hollingsworth, Stephan
Harding, Pablo Servigne and Stephen Jenkinson... each one bringing a thread for a cloth weaving in the past, present and future... I anticipate mystery and our bone memory to be awakened by it.
"Thank you SOULand for turning your gentle light onto long forgotten place and spaces which were desolate and ghost like within me. " Apprentice
"The strong, robust and respectful container you wove created a space for me to express my grief in all its wild forms. I love that.
The emphasis on personal responsibility and sovereignty is a welcome addition to allow me to find my own way." Apprentice
My deepest most passionate longing is to create a place called SOULand where we pray 3 times a day everyday in songs, communion and silence.
No electricity for 20 years, no wifi, internet, mobile phone. They pledged poverty to not take from the already very poor. They make their flour with ancient wheat grown by a neighbour, bake their bread. honey, olive oil, sweet chestnut flour are from their land and sentient beings. Their vegetables are stored in old washing machine barrels to last as long as possible.
Each day the 8 wildish sheep with large bells need tending. They help lessening the fire risk by eating the grass on the many terrasses made by the ancients of this land in the Ardeche in France.
Each week people from all sorts of background and walks of life, all pilgrims, come to pray and find a portal to spirit again. Some bring walnuts from their fields, butter (getting rarer in France) or chocolate from Carrefour.
Abundance always seem to enter that space.
Hermits living near by take care of the flowers for the tiny dark chapel made of schist, stones and local wood...so dark it takes a minute to see the simple icons, the long candle and the quiet welcomed stove in a corner.
Two 'little brothers' live there in a tiny Monastery 'La Demeure notre Père'. One 'brother' arrived as a young man at 20 years old 43 years ago, Paul. He went for a week from Holland and never left. The other arrived 36 years ago and is now 73, Jean-Michel. They follow and are totally devoted to Jesus and to some books that are not easy to take in as a woman (an other post). ...yet my heart opened like a pear tree blossom in their company this last few days perched in a sweet little wooden cabin by a stream where I lived and prayed.
3 times a day there were set time for praying together in the chapel in communion, in songs and in silence sometimes. I kept staring at Marie, she looked dignified, beautiful and kind there. I needed that energy so gratefully.
It has been a road of real mystery and quite humbling which I needed .
These people have been sharing their place with a hospitality, generosity and 'bienveillance' that as a non Christian I feel truly blessed by. Their openness to 'the other' has disarmed me...and taught me much.
Their impact on our earth is like the one of a honey bee... pollinating, creating beauty, living within mystery and of service to the greater whole.
That perhaps is the important element when setting up a place of sanctuary, that it is of service to a Divine entity. Creation, Pachamama, God, Jesus, Allah or anything else that connects us to the great mystery...then perhaps there is a possibility to get a glimpse at what being a human being could be and offer a place of rest and listening.
They fought, were grumpy, impatient and rough sometimes... They never pretended to be nor wanted to be perfect. Their humanity on their sleeves, knowing themselves, they fell down so many times and kept getting up to stand for life.
They work all the time through waves of elated exhaustion (63 and 73 they are) ~ welcoming a 'stranger pilgrim' and praying times always take priority. We prayed for two/three brothers to find their way there and stay to help out. And they want to keep working until the last breath...retirement? from what :-) they say?
Everything for them is borrowed and to be tended to. I think it might be love.
They are to me the pioneers of tomorrow.
Feeling blessed to have followed my broken heart after the suicide of a friend, to share a moment with these beautiful sacred and scarred souls. Thank you! Azul
The cost of our success is the exhaustion of natural resources, leading to energy crises, climate change, pollution, and the destruction of our habitat. If you exhaust natural resources, there will be nothing left for your children. If we continue in the same direction, humankind is headed for some frightful ordeals, if not extinction.
Christian de Duve
We will be creating spaces for Soul to feel welcome again. We will learn with passion and little patience to feed, care, court and praise Her back into being.
I look forward to a deep and wild conversation with you all in the company of Grief, Love, Death and Life as if our Wild and Precious Life truly Mattered.
Azul-Valérie Thomé is hosted by Donna Helete
San Luis Obispo is the first stop on Azul's 13 month international SOULand Pilgrimage in service to the care, health and maturing of the human soul. She brings with her a vision, sacred questions and a bundle of soul nourishing practices and rituals, including the Grief Composting Circle and the WomBelt workshop to bless, heal, celebrate and protect women's wombs, divinely timed offerings that are in such need right now.
Azul Valerie Thome will be traveling from the UK this February on the first international stop of her 13 month SOULand Pilgrimage generously hosted by Donna Helete.
Registration for Workshops & Trainings
WomBelt Workshops & Apprenticeships for Women
~ 2/7 (Wed.) For all women - all day
~ 2/18 (Sun.) For all women+apprenticeships - all day
Each WomBelt (event & apprenticeship) = £65 = $95 depending on exchange rate
Grief Composting Circles
~ 2/11 (Sun.) Circles for Men and Women - 3pm-7pm
Grief Composting Circle = £20 = $30 depending on exchange rate
Grief Composting Circle ~ Basic Training
~ 2/23-2/25 (Fri.-Sun.) 3 Day Training, all day each day. Must attend all 3 days. Non residential.
Grief Composting Training = £380 = $550 depending on exchange rate
Other offerings during the month of February include
Individual sessions of Soul&Sanity (50 min.) with Azul in person or via Skype
eARTh commissioned art work. Art infused with rituals infomred by our Motehr Earth for the Thriving of Life. Please email Azul directly for an initial chat on Skype: firstname.lastname@example.org
Grief Composting Circles are regular collective grief rituals informed by the work of Sobonfu Some, Joanna Macy, Francis Weller and Azul-Valerie Thome
WomBelt: Weaving Women back into Matter are events that bring 13 women together to bless, heal, celebrate and protect their wombs, the wombs of other women and of Mother Earth herself through the art of traditional backstrap weaving combined with story sharing and prayers.
River of Words and Images: A place to lay what moves, touches and inspires.