Gillian Monks

'Making Fairytales Come True'

Category: Out and About (Page 1 of 2)

Woodland Foraging

Out until twilight this evening in Beddgelert forest, gathering the abundance of the woodland for a workshop I am leading this coming Sunday afternoon. It is part of the ‘Vibrant Vegan’ retreat at Trigonos and I am busily assembling baskets and baskets of acorns, beech and alder masts, hazel nuts, heather, berries and foliage to provide the twenty-two participants with enough living potential to make autumnal door wreaths, broaches, table decorations and – lastly – cute little fir cone gnomes.

All good fun, and gives me a lovely excuse to be wandering the  woodland ways with my family and dogs as I source and gather the necessary wild materials. And yes, I am always respectful, and ask each bush, plant or area if it is willing to donate some of its produce to whatever I am making. I am also careful not to over-pick from any one tree or place so that no one can actually see I have been there and taken anything. One also had to bear in mind that many insects, animals and birds rely on our autumnal abundance for winter food. They are mostly territorial and we humans need to be careful not to completely denude one territorial patch and leave some wild creature without supplies.

Always remember to be thoughtful, grateful and appreciative. Otherwise, a stroll in the sunshine to collect some bits and pieces to make a seasonal wreath is a really lovely past-time for this time of year. Take a walk out… and enjoy!

Stepping Through The Archway

Earthwalking ArchwayHere is a picture of the Earthwalking Archway – symbolic commitment to entering the Earthwalking cycle. There are still a couple of places left on the next cycle – do any of you reading this feel that you could step through the willow into the space beyond?

We all had a lovely time together on Sunday at the Earthwalking introductory day. Numbers gradually grew throughout the day and as the weather improved, by the middle of the afternoon we were able to move outside into the hot sunshine.

The morning began with lots of grey cloud, damp and cool, as we tramped around part of the land and I was able to point out the stream, (which provides our water), the willow bower where on hot days we sometimes retreat into the shade while we journey or hold discussions. We also walked around the ritual grove area where the embryonic circles of oak saplings are flourishing and past the willow labyrinth with its four interconnected spirals and on to the tiny island of apples… the water channel around it being mightily overgrown at present but bursting with wildlife.

We also took time to connect to the four elements, to spend time with and savour them. People sat besides the lively stream who’s waters were swollen by the recent rain and bowls were individually drawn from it, peaty brown and stirred from the depths of the Earth herself. Tiny fires were carefully built and lit upon the bank of the stream and time spent entering into the dancing flames and appreciating their warm… their cleansing and transformative abilities… their potentially destructive power. Hands were muddied from digging out the earth and cheeks were cooled by the presence of the gusty wind.

Coffee and mint tea (picked fresh from the herb beds) were brewed and home made flapjack passed around before we went on to discuss why it might be necessary to regularly cleanse oneself psychically/spiritually; some of the ways to go about it and the best times to do it.

By one o’clock we were all ready for lunch – thick farmhouse tomato soup, cobs of brown, crusty bread studded with crisp seeds, blocks of cheese and piles of fruit followed by pieces of moist lemon drizzle and sticky chocolate cakes. By this time we had been joined by our youngest visitor to Earthwalking ever – a very small little lady who only celebrates her first birthday at the end of this month. She was  absolutely charming and impeccably behaved and quite stole all our hearts!

The afternoon was spent looking at the Celtic Spirit Wheel which is in fact a

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The Height of Summer

A wonderfully deserted beach!

My latest literary endeavour is now to turn my attention to the content of my next news letter which is due out at the end of July. (Any of you who haven’t yet signed up for it and would like to do so, just visit my author’s web page at www.gillianmonks.com ) I have to say that I am fairly staggered at how quickly these three month slots pass by!

The beach is a particularly good place for me to be just now… the wide open spaces of land, sand, stones and sky… the quality of light… the fresh breezes… very effective in clearing away metaphorical cobwebs of all kinds! And an utter delight to simply soak up the light and warmth and very essence of midsummer.

Looking around the countryside there is plenty of evidence of the season. Fields now shorn of their verdant grass lie pale, flat and smooth in the evening light; the hay harvest now safely gathered in. Hedgerows are smothered in blackberry flowers and sweetly scented honeysuckle. The tiny bouncy lambs

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Out and About

MBS Fair, LlandudnoHow to spend a gloriously sunny Saturday – among other lovely people who share an interest in healing, thinking and different spirituality, of course! This picture was taken of me yesterday at the Mind, Body and Spirit Fair at Venue Cymru in Llandudno. You can even read some of the details of the various workshops which I am offering this summer and autumn! Had a great day and met some marvellous people. Next one is on the 3rd August, if anyone would like to mark it in their diary and come along for a chat and explore the various possibilities of such alternative ways of thinking, healing and living.

Merry Midsummer!

Cader idrisHere we are! Despite the peculiarities of the weather (being hot too soon and cold when it shouldn’t and too dry or too wet at inconvenient times) and all the worries and deep concerns about the state of our planet, we have come through the winter into spring and then into summer.

Here we are at the Summer Solstice – the day of longest light when dusk only comes just before eleven o’clock in the evening and  the nights are hardly truly dark at all. This day is the culmination of the past six months of struggle from the cold and dark into the lush green fecundity of a burgeoning natural world. It seems to have been quite a long hard slog.

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A Summer’s Tale

Me at Portmeirion

On my way down into the village

Summer is here… or so it has been rumoured. I am not too sure about it myself! But what better time to indulge in an cream tea with my dear husband in celebration of Father’s Day – even though our adult ‘child’ was teaching all day and couldn’t join us.

We chose Portmeirion, home of the world renowned pottery of the same name and where the 1960’s cult T.V. series, ‘The Prisoner’, was filmed. I haven’t visited here for some time and we left home bathed in warm sunshine and sporting sunglasses and walking shoes with every intention of exploring some of the 70 acres of gardens and woodland before arriving at the hotel for tea.

Unfortunately this is Britain, and as all us U.K. residents know, the last thing that can be relied upon is

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Evening and Afternoon Talks

FAMILY KARMA AND HEALING YOUR ANCESTORS: How to better understand yourself and your family and heal the repetitive problems and challenges which can unnecessarily follow a genetic line through several generations A talk being given to the Theosophical Society at 7.30.pm. on Tuesday, 22nd January at Hirael Hall, Ambrose Street, Bangor, LL57 1DF. £5 entrance with free refreshments.

Also the same talk at Parkway Community Centre, Rhos-on-Sea, LL28 4EE at 2.pm. on Thursday, 24th January.

If anyone is in the area with a couple of hours to spare on either of those dates and would like to come along, you will be most welcome. My apologies for putting this information out so late – life has been extremely busy and somewhat hectic since Twelfth Night… and even before then!

It would be really lovely to see as many people there as possible… come along and say ‘hello’ – just as long as it doesn’t snow too much beforehand. Safe travelling!

Celebrating the Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice 2018

On my way into the woods

Celebrating the Winter Solstice yesterday came as a timely antidote to all the travel and excitement of being in London the previous day. Nothing could possibly be more different from the hustle, bustle, noise and frenetic movement of several million people crammed into a relatively small space. The deserted mountains of Snowdonia thickly cloaked in swirling blankets of grey cloud lay like moody sleeping giants around us. Occasionally the lowering skies wept gentle showers of rain. Everything lay damp… and very still… and very quiet.

Carrying baskets of torches and candles, firewood and goodies, we walked deeper into the woods which now cover the deep scars of what was once one of the biggest slate quarries in North Wales. We headed for our usual spot amongst the birch, willow and oak trees and here we lit our Midwinter fire and our coloured lanterns to hang among the trees.

We came to reminisce about the year just passing; to set out intentions for the coming cycle of seasons; to sing our old, beloved carols and songs; to give great thanks

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The BBC, Talk Radio and the Streets of London

Me at BBCI have just spent the most amazing time in London!

From meeting my wonderful publicist, Debbie, (who has done a really brilliant job of promoting my work!) to all the truly lovely people at Broadcasting House and Talk Radio to all the utterly amazing people I came across in the bustling streets of the city, to having a belated lunch with my very dear editor, Katy, I have been totally blown away! I am still trying to process it all now I am back home this morning!!!

Going to the BBC was an experience in itself… sitting in the Green Room, meeting everyone involved, being in the production room and handing round the tin of home baked Solstice biscuits I had taken with me before I finally went into the studio to talk to Jenny Murray on air. This lovely lady was kindness itself… even when I overran slightly on my last answer!

In one sense I felt slight relief when I re-emerged back into the Green Room – lots of hugs and the taking of photos all round. But then Debbie informed me that Talk Radio had been in touch with her and could I go and chat to them live on air just after lunch? Of course, I jumped at the opportunity! Unfortunately, Debbie had another appointment to go to so couldn’t accompany me but in one sense, that was when my real adventure began…

I was let loose on my own in the main streets of London – my most favourite part of London – Regent Street and the quieter backstreets down to Piccadilly. But I found I could hardly progress along the pavement or enter a shop without causing quite a stir. I had dressed for the occasion of talking on the radio about Christmas and Midwinter and was wearing my long red dress with the white fur collar and the little matching white fur pillbox hat with a seasonal decoration pinned to the side. Everywhere I went I had people calling out Christmas greetings and seasonal compliments and references to Santa Claus and Mrs Christmas. If I mentioned that I was so dressed because I had just been on national radio to talk about my book, everyone wanted to know about it. I found myself holding brief impromptu discussions in cafes, stores and in the middle of the pavement on various aspects of the origins of our Christmas celebrations and what the Solstice actually is.

One delightful lady asked if she could have her photo taken with me to send to her family and went eagerly off in search of ‘Merry Midwinter’.

I began to feel remarkably conspicuous – although everyone was so hugely kind, enthusiastic and interested that it was real pleasure – but it was with a little sigh of relief that I could sink back into the brief anonymity of a black cab for the drive to the Talk Radio studios.

Here, again, I was met with smiles and loads of kindness. Jamie East was wonderfully easy to talk to and I was frankly amazed when the conversation turned away from Midwinter as such to druidry specifically – it was a direction I hadn’t seen coming! What the listeners thought when Jamie began to describe the outfit I was wearing and finished by saying that I smelled gorgeously of mulled wine I have absolutely no idea. I just hope that they assumed I was scented with Christmas spices and not reeking like a brewery – in actual fact it was my favourite perfume, ‘Charlie’!

After that, I met up with my wonderful editor, Katy, of whom I have become immensely fond. She wanted to take me to a late lunch, but by this time I was so awash with excitement and adrenalin  that I was practically hovering at ceiling height! So we settled ourselves in a lovely Turkish restaurant and had a simple selection of starter dishes while I gradually relaxed and drifted back to earth!

And we talked… about possible new projects which I shall begin working on in the new year… if they get approval from my publisher, Unbound. But that is a tale for another day….

Off to the BBC!

Me going to BBCThursday, 20th December, Radio Four, 10.am., ‘Woman’s Hour’: Tune in your radios to hear me being interviewed about ‘Merry Midwinter’ and coping with a modern Christmas! My editor and publicist both tell me that I am incredibly lucky to be asked onto such a prestigious and popular programme. So London here I come!!!

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