Updated: May 28, 2020
I live and work in Stroud in the Cotswolds in South Gloucestershire, UK. I have been practising as a healer for 25 years developing techniques and learning from many teachers both here in the UK as well as the Americas. As we evolve spiritually there are many of us searching for a more rooted connection to our ancestors, to the spirits of place wherever we may live. The following piece describes my research into our deep history locally and the very pleasing discovery of tangible evidence of our ancestors' respect for the feminine and love of Goddess.
Those of us who grew up in the developed world are so disconnected from mother earth that traditional Shamans regard us as orphaned. Out of all the training and research which I have undertaken over the years a new type of training has evolved. ‘Keepers of the Earth Cauldron’ - offering healing, meditation, initiations, rites of passage, workshops, ceremony and training - all of which help align your energy body with the forces of nature and enable you to communicate with her directly. This may be of interest to you - women and men - if you yearn to connect deeply with nature and experience the divine marriage of feminine with masculine. There is more about this at the bottom of this article.
In my quest for connection to our deep history locally I have searched for threads linking the human story to the divine feminine. I have read legends and fairy stories from the Celtic lands of Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Cornwall and Brittany and been searching for deeper meaning, closer to home, here in the Cotswolds. I have also during the course of my own shadow work uncovered pieces of the collective pain of a culture which denigrates the feminine as well as unravelling my own personal story. I have felt the outrage and grief of the collective debasement of women and mother earth as it’s woven into my DNA, all of our DNA. And it’s very, very painful. I have found solace in nature, in falling back into the arms of mother earth, in finding therapeutic Shamanic techniques to offset this pain and shift perception. I have found stories of this land where our ancestors venerated mother earth and honoured the feminine.
In his PhD research Stephen Yeates wrote about the discovery in 1951 of a votive relief in a field at Daglingworth inscribed with Cuda and which depicts a seated mother Goddess with three Cuculatti. Although this plaque was written in Latin it speaks of a much older culture indigenous to this area. Mother Goddesses have been found all over the world of course but my interest here is with this land. Mother Goddesses have been found all over the Cotswolds - some in triplicate - a Celtic motif; some with fruits or babies in their laps; some with cauldrons and ladles. Cuda is recognisable because of her attendant trio of hooded Cucullati - the guardian spirits of place. Our Cotswold Celtic ancestors who revered Cuda were the Dobunni tribe and they seem to have continued with their beliefs after the Roman invasion: both sides absorbed some of the other’s culture as well as keeping their own. For more about my personal encounters with Cuda please read here
The Dobunni also depicted Mother Goddesses with cauldrons and ladles. The Hwicce came after the Dobunni in this land. The Hwicce were a tribe whose name suggests that their Goddess too had a sacred vessel or cauldron. It has also been suggested that the name Hwicce itself arose from the shape of the landscape which both tribes inhabited - ie the Severn Valley basin between the Cotswolds and the Malverns: the inference is that the land herself is the sacred vessel from which all life emerged.
Cauldrons as sacred vessels of transformation have been found all over Europe, often cast into a lake or marsh or buried with a person of power. Cauldrons have also been found with the vestiges of divinatory or hallucinogenic substances such as Mugwort, Ergot or alcohol in them, they seem to have been used in a ritualised way to bring about perceptual transformation. In the case of the Hwicce tribe the word could relate to the shape of the land and Hwicce could be translated as ‘Keepers of the Cauldron’. “The Hwicce were, not only the people who knew the sacred vessel, but also, the people who were born and who lived in or even sprang from the sacred vessel...the tribe believed in a divine father and mother, but the cauldron of the mother, the vessel from whence life sprang, was associated with a specific location” Stephen Yeates ‘The Tribe of Witches’.
Yeates goes on to assert that while the Romans and then the Christians brought other religions with them, our indigenous ancestors continued in their veneration of the divine feminine and “for over a thousand years the Dobunnic mother ruled and haunted her tribe of ‘witches’”.
To this I would add that when this part of England became a part of Mercia and the Hwicce tribe was absorbed by Mercia, the new ruling class also respected the feminine. Mercian royal women had special status - they were the legitimisers of male power (and to me this harks back to the Druidic idea of sovereignty). They had a very important role in the culture at court. In the early 900s Aethelflaed (who was the oldest daughter of King Alfred the Great) worked side by side with her brother Edward to consolidate the formation of England. She was as courageous in battle as she was wise as a peace-weaver. She brought St Oswald’s bones to Gloucester where she built a priory where she herself is buried with her husband. Upon her death her daughter was made Queen by the Mercians, the only accession by a daughter to a Queen in the history of the royal family.
Uncovering these stories tucked away in the folds of these valleys adds another dimension to the experience of connecting with the local spirits of place and powerful forces of nature. As we reawaken ourselves to the divine feminine and give thanks to our beautiful lands another piece from our history falls into place. The facts of patriarchy are undeniable and painful to face, the concomitant erosion of sisterhood is undeniable and painful to face and these are necessary things to witness, acknowledge and embrace in ourselves and each other, men and women.
I walk lightly on this land and listen deeply, gathering wisdom, communing with nature spirits. As I research the hidden mysteries I feel deeply relieved to uncover the stories of respect for the feminine which have been shrouded in the mists of time. I rejoice in these discoveries of local, hidden stories of the divine feminine and true female power and feel liberated from victimhood. There is another story to embrace. I let go of blaming patriarchy for mine and my brothers’ bad behaviour and I cease to blame patriarchy for mine and my sisters’ bad behaviour. Instead I acknowledge all the heaviness and misinformation which has been bandied about and handed down the generations, I acknowledge my part in it, and I choose the stories of love, gratitude, respect for the feminine. I drink deeply from the nectar of the Mother Goddess in all her forms. I choose an authentic way to personal power learnt from Goddess. I disengage from alpha female power games as I reject alpha male power games. I surrender to the Goddess and find my true power there, in service.
I dream of a time when we all take our place by the fire under the full moon, male and female, of all paths of spirituality, each in our true power, harmonising our unique energies and gifts, embracing the sacred feminine and masculine as they exist in all of us.
I am deeply grateful to Goddess, to my teachers in human form as well as nature. A brand new training is emerging which has been gestating for a long time now. ‘Keepers of the Earth Cauldron’ is an offering of Workshops, Meditation Techniques, Shamanic Healing Tools, Initiations and Rites of Passage, Medicine Spiral, Shadow Work, Ceremony and Ritual, Training - an alchemical Cauldron where tried and tested energetic pathways are opened up within us as we come back to our indigenous selves in right relationship with nature.
One of my teachers Dona Maria, is a 4th level Quechuan Paqo (Shaman) who conferred upon me the gift of the Nustas (Initiation of the Feminine Healing Energies of Nature). Maria took me on a walk to show me the healing plants in nature. She also told me that I need to grow this energetic wisdom in my own land. Don Sebastien at the same time gave me the Lightning Initiation and invited me to be his apprentice in his village outside Cusco. I was unable to take him up on this wonderful offer but the lightning initiation has grown in my healing practice ever since.
Much as I yearn to be with these two as well as all of my teachers over the years, I carry their teachings with me and learn from them on a daily basis, especially when walking out in nature or working with clients. It is this distillation of energy medicine which I offer now and which is relevant and applicable wherever you live in the world and at whatever stage of life. If you feel called by this you will find here energetic techniques to heal yourself and others, techniques which you can apply in your local landscape wherever that may be. These techniques are ancient and are transmitted energetically as initiations for you to digest and grow in your own way. ‘Keepers of the Earth Cauldron’ draws on aspects of the life force, ancient Andean techniques, nature spirits, the wisdom of mother earth, as well as relating the powerful Quechuan practise of Hucha Miquy to its equivalent here on the Welsh borders ‘Sin Eating’ . 27 miles north of Gloucester and along the River Severn, the Worcester area was home to the ‘Raven Tribe’, who would have been a part of the Dobunni and then the Hwicce. As the Condor is revered in the Andes as a messenger from the Gods, so the Raven was revered by our ancestors here in this land. A bringer of magic to the Earth Cauldron of transformation. The life-transforming energetic seeds and practises offered here are transmitted WITHOUT ingesting hallucinogenic plants. To quote another of my teachers, Juan Nunez del Prado, ‘there is no fast track to enlightenment’!
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