Episode #19 Lockdown: A Moment of Rebirth
– In conversation with angharad wynne
If Lockdown is a moment of rebirth, what do we want to conceive? And how can we connect to the Web of Life in ways that will help us to conceive the best possible future?
Angharad Wynne offers the wisdom of a life lived on the edge of being – and a close encounter with death – to this conversation of ancestors, Brythonic lore and red kites
Angharad is a visionary, land-walker and storyteller. She works to reconnect people from around the world with the wild lands and ancient lore of Britain.
Her own encounter with death has transformed an already-deep connection to the land, and the lore of the islands of Britain. She draws inspiration from her storytelling – and the ways it is led by the deeper needs of the ancestors to have their voices heard – and from her spiritual practice, leading pilgrimages deep into the edge-spaces of Wales.
She is a profoundly spiritual individual with a deep, grounded, authentic understanding of the potential of this moment.
Manda: [00:01:05.28] My guest today is Angharad Wynne, a woman of astonishing depth and experience. Angharad’s a dreamer, a storyteller, a myth maker and a place holder. She’s part of the team that when we’re not in lockdown, introduces people to pilgrimage on this land based at Cae Mabon in Wales. It’s fair to say that her entire life and practice is steeped in the pre-Christian native spirituality of Britain. She’s someone who teases out the fragile threads of ancient Brythonic myth and poetry, to draw together the fragments of lore that can help to guide and sustain a living spiritual practice in deep connection with this land.
As with Natalie Nahai last week, Angharad and I originally recorded a conversation long ago in the days before lockdown. It was a lovely conversation and we might release it sometime as a bonus podcast. But the world has changed and we decided we’d rather talk again. And in the process, we discovered points of common experience that I really hadn’t expected and found deeply moving. So I hope you, too, find moments of connection in an Harrod’s deeply spiritual view of life and death and our place on the timeline. So People of the Podcast please welcome Angharad Wynne.
Manda: [00:02:40.26] So welcome to Accidental Gods. And we did record a while ago and it was a lovely recording. And I even have the transcript. So we might release that as a bonus episode at some point. But it did age very quickly because we recorded when the floods were the focus of our chaos. And quite quickly after that, floods stopped being anything at all. So how are you in week five of lockdown?
Angharad: [00:03:11.79] Thank you, Manda. And yeah, thanks for hosting this chat again for us to update on on that. Where I am is is profoundly interested in this process that we’re going through, and in a deep place of listening. I feel as if I have this kind of space, and I suppose I’ve come to think of it as a ritual space in a way, as if everything in the universe is asking us to create space around us, to just be and to listen and to come back to the fundamentals of life, and connection.
And that’s been a really beautiful time for me. Like most of us, I am running around doing things, servicing different clients, and jobs and and all those kind of things, as well as trying to live in this more spacious, more meaningful spiritual life that is very important to me and is is the basis of all my life. But that business can often override that connection quite easily. So I’m feeling very grateful for the spaciousness. I’m also incredibly aware of my privilege of having a garden and space and access to nature. And so whenever I drop down into it, there’s a great deal of gratitude and listening.
And there’s also an awareness of how this is not the same for everyone. And how this is a very personal journey through, this time. It’s a really interesting time — the first time that all of humanity is sharing one story. For each of us it’s an individual story, but there are themes that are coming out. I think and that’s really interesting.
Manda: [00:05:22.54] I would like to explore those themes. But you were talking about ritual space and treating this time as ritual space and time to listen and time to connect with the fundamentals of life. And I wondered if you could expand on how practically you are doing that in ways that people listening might also be able to do?
Well, like many people, I have a contemplative daily practice that nourishes me. But I feel that that’s been able to expand during this time. I find myself in a more prayerful flow. I feel as if I’m becoming more human. I’m getting to know what it is for me, what it is to be me. And that means, as it often does in ritual, meeting the difficult bits of myself in this silence. And I’ve really struggled with this. Obviously, everybody has many different sides, but but one of my big sides, if you like, the things that I hold and carry with me, is that kind of worry energy of being and doing, and trying to solve problems and make things happen and be causal, and to defend and care for people.
Angharad: [00:06:54.94] And finding that in this situation, on that very physical plain, there’s nothing much that I am actually equipped to do. There’s some things I can help with – to do the shopping and things like that. But I’m actually being asked much, much more to attend to the listening, the more the more mystical dreaming side. So, to come back to being more human, I’m finding that, for instance, I have time to garden much more, but I’m gardening in a different way. When I’m planting seeds, each planting is a prayer.
I’m reminded of how seeds were taken into the burial chambers of our ancestors to be blessed because death and rebirth and life are intimately connected: those threshold places. And so I’ve felt really at the threshold, being in a place of death and rebirth. And watching it be in the ether, tending to building a shrine, for instance. I felt really compelled to build a shrine to the grief and those dying. There’s a lot of sadness in this world at the moment. I wanted to go there and to be with this for for that time, but also to plant seeds, because we have a poor relationship with death in our society. I think our ancestors did tend to think about it in a better way, that it was a gateway, a threshold, and that those transitions in and out are really important and to be to be with that.
And so for me, planting seeds with a prayer for the dead, the dying and the suffering is really important. And then to watch them grow.
Manda: [00:08:44.03] Right. What kind of seeds are you planting?
Angharad: [00:08:47.83] Oh, I’ve got tomatoes and kale, flowers and all sorts of edible seeds and and flowers. I think creating beauty is really important. I’m really in touch with the beauty of my garden. Every morning I go out and I’m just over-brimming with blossom on the on the cherry tree and and a Blackbird singing in it. And it it blows my heart open. And I’m feeling through just being connected to the small things in my garden: to the frogs and the tadpoles in the pond, the birds that come and visit to the blossom, it’s as if I’m really intimately connected to the beginnings of the Web.
And if I can link into that, then I can be linked into all things. And that for me is where I want to be more. That’s the space I want to be more. I think that’s the place where where it’s at right now for me. And that connection with that great web of life. That’s what I mean by becoming more human. I’m able to exist in my space of connection much more by this quietness, the spaciousness, this bringing it down to that, the small, the very local, the very intimate, very much what is right around me. And that enables that opening into the greater web of life.
Manda: [00:10:14.35] I’m really genuinely curious, because I had thought that you lived a life of deep connection anyway. You have your work at Cae Mabon and with the Dadeni, which you might like to tell us a little about? We may well play our original conversation, but in case we dont get to it, it would be useful to have a potted history of that. But I do imagine you as someone deeply connected, and that you took the time to connect. And so what I’m hearing is that you have more time now, or simply that the requirements of this time have sent you deeper on a spiral that you were already on.
Angharad: [00:10:58.3] I think it’s a bit of both, probably. I think as for most of us, there are many things in life that are important. I have a daughter. I have I have to attend to her nurturing. I have to attend to keeping a roof over our house and food in the fridge, and all those those things. But they take away from maybe my ideal of being, the kind of the spirit person at the edge of the village that just tends to the relationship of the village with nature.
I’d love to be that, but that’s not the world I live in right now. So while I have a daily practice, I’m really lucky in my work that I get to take people out on pilgrimages. I get to walk the land a lot in order to prepare for that and for my own sanity. So that is my time of really deep connection.
Like you, I get to work with wonderful people in ceremonial situations, in group situations. And the pilgramage practice is an opening to that. So, yes, I do probably live a more connected life than the many are able to. But this has given me more space to just be alone to do it
Angharad: [00:12:28.47] That doesn’t mean that I’m always alone – there are a lot of Zoom meetings going on and there’s a lot of connecting here and it’s a really good counterbalance to that. But there’s also something about this time that every time I go and meet the All There Is, there’s a requirement to just listen and stop and not think about doing or responding, but just just being with what is and noticing. And I’m truly grateful for that. It’s as if we’re being given, a glimpse of a deeper connection that humanity can have. And the challenge will be to hold on to that in a more profound way as we move through this.
Manda: [00:13:21.4] Which is really interesting because I am getting exactly the same. I go up the hill in the mornings and particularly in the last 10 days, there’s an absolute imperative to be heart open in ways that I thought I knew. But now I’m learning layers and depths and a balancing in the moment that goes beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. And it feels as if that in itself a deepening and there’s layers and layers and layers. And each time I come new to it, I start where I left off yesterday and go deeper. And it does feel to me as if this is it. I was expecting more to be asked, and I am absolutely open to what does the world need of me and it is this being-ness. So it’s very heartening that you have that, too.
Angharad: [00:14:15.09] Yes, that’s a very similar experience. I’m really interested in this. There’s something evolutionary in this. A friend of mine who is just getting better from Covid – a consultant doctor. And he said that 10 percent of the human genome is made up of viruses. So, his take on this is that this part of our evolutionary process. And this virus has very much an evolutionary purpose.
Manda: [00:14:54.32] When he’s well, we might invite him onto the podcast because I’ve been reading Greg Baden, who is what I would call a quantum Scientologists which means they take Quantum science and they spin it to places that I don’t really think it can actually go. But that doesn’t mean that what the underlying truth of what they’re saying is wrong. I just think they’re trying to spin it in ways that are not yet joining up dots. But he is very keen on on how our genetic makeup is constructed and that there is our a gene that codes for the way we are able to move our laryngeal muscles to create sound is key.
I hadn’t realized, but it’s true once you think about it – He said every other species speaks in vowels. And we have consonants and that gives us much more range and much more ability to do what we do, which is to take very small patterns and reassemble them in new sequences that create everything that we understand about our social evolution, our ability to take ideas and spread them very fast over very wide distances. And he is very keen that Gene Two arose suddenly out of nowhere. And we dont’ know how. And we don’t know why, but it was an emergent property of the complexity of the time. So it would be very interesting to talk to somebody who is presumably quite bedded in the material world, but also understands where genes come from. I’ve tried to get hold of Greg Baden, but he’s immensely busy.
So this may be part of our evolution because the work has not yet been done on the people who recover yet. In what ways are they different?
Angharad: [00:16:44.5] I’ve been curious about this and in that kind of looking at it in a shamanic perspective of what being carried this virus to us? Now I’m going to put aside all the conspiracy theories and just assume that actually did come to us through a bat. And a bat is using many more ways of perceiving the world than we can at the moment. And it comes back to this thing of listening. It’s almost as if the requirement is to listen. And sense and just be still. To really open up our senses more than just the five senses that we’re used to working with. I’m sure that our ancestors used the ‘muscles’ of other senses that we’ve forgotten.
And so it feels if there’s a message in the bat messenger that it’s time to reconnect with some of those muscles and try to sense the world in a different way.
Manda: [00:18:03.29] And do you find when you’re in the presencing, whatever we call the the being in heart space. For me, my senses all become sharper when I am deeply in that space. Is that the same for you?
Angharad: [00:18:18.23] Yes. And there are waves of it. So I become conscious of having to be careful of getting myself out of the picture again. So it wavers, but there’s a real crystalline quality about it.
Manda: [00:18:38.87] Yes. That kind of sharpness of crystals. And, for me the quality of the light is as if everything is coming through a lens and becoming sharper as a red kite.
Angharad: [00:18:52.94] A red kite has come and graced us by flying immediately above us. And we didn’t have red kites in this immediate area until the beginning of this pandemic. The red kite is a bird that I work a lot with and I just love them. But every now and again I’ve been having a really profound conversation. And it just appears in circles above. And it’s just such a blessing.
Manda: [00:19:24.71] Yes, we’ve had a couple over the hill. But I was up the other morning doing something that felt to me transformative. And I looked up because there was a shadow that kept going over me really low. And there was a kite that was just flying back and forward about three feet over my head. And the dog and the cat, we’re pressing themselves closer and closer. And then I looked up and there were seven circling over the hill and I had never seen that many. So thank you to the red kite.
Manda: [00:20:03.08] So we were just talking about the crystalline nature of reality when we finally find the balance and the way that our senses sharpen and deepen. And I would like to talk a little bit about dreaming later, but I know that you and I had a number of conversations to the effect that death is more prevalent at the moment all around us.
People die every year. People die of the flu every year. But people haven’t died in the way people are dying with the coronavirus for us before. And I know that you are quite a profound psycho pomp, and that you were looking into the needs of the newly dead. And I wonder if you can speak to that a little bit.
Angharad: [00:20:45.98] Yes, let’s be clear on this, there’s not significantly more death in the world right now that there would usually be. 20,000 children die from starvation every day. The difference is that this death is at our door in a more profound way. And also for me, I think there’s a little bit of something that I’ve been finding quite difficult is the sense that people have had to be alone in hospital, not having their loved ones around them. That’s not to put down the amazing work that the staff in those hospitals do, in tending to the very sick and dying, I think that’s amazing. But they are all gowned up. It’s not the same as what most of us would want in our passing, which is to have our loved ones around us.
And I think that’s also incredibly difficult for people left behind who haven’t had a sense of being able to say goodbye. So I was curious about what is there in the ether on this? Have we got lots of very traumatised souls having real trouble crossing over?
And every time I went to check, it seemed that’s not the case. The trauma seems to be this side of dying – in this world. And it’s to do with the fear around dying. Again, we’re not very good at this threshold stuff. We’re not terribly good at birth: we’ve medicalized it. And we’re not very good at that death.
Angharad: [00:22:36.5] I think in both cases we’re getting better. It’s as if we have gone to the peak of medicalisation, that we were bringing more natural processes in, we’re understanding the importance of certain conditions. And more than anything, we’re really understanding the role that fear has both in birth and in death.
I’ve been with people who’ve died, who’ve slipped away very gracefully at the end of their years. And it’s a beautiful passing and there’s a real grace to it. And it’s it’s profoundly enriching and a real honor to be to witness, because I think it gives anybody witnessing it, a sense that this is a transition, is not an ending.
The same with with birth. I’ve been at good births and I’ve seen lots of good births and heard of lots of not so good births. And I’ve also known people dying who’ve been very afraid and have really struggled with it.
Manda: [00:23:43.42] Yes, it’s about dying well. I read somewhere at the start of this pandemic, somebody in conversation in an Ecuadorian village and the conversation went along the lines of, ‘You have no ventilators. You cannot possibly get anybody here to a hospital where there will be a ventilator. What are you going to do when the virus reaches you?’.
And the old grandmother to whom this was addressed looked at the white Western individual and frowned for a moment and said, ‘We’ll call the shaman and make sure they have a good death. As if even if there were ventilators, it’s the good death that matters. And a good death, as I understand it, isn’t necessarily a painless death. It’s a death met with grace and equanimity as a way of stepping into the next phase of our being.
And so I am partly wondering if some of the teaching of this time is to help us in a wider scale find the grace to die. Because I think you’re right. Our culture has got to the point where people can reach the moment of dying and never have encountered death (other than insects on their windscreen) at any point. And so I’m wondering, are you finding people engaging differently with death as you’re encountering them? Is this something that’s happening or is it something that we can help to happen? And if so, how?
Angharad: [00:25:25.01] Well, that’s a really good question. The deeper concern with these thresholds is creating,’ well ancestors’: an ancestors that is able to be in grace and service or at peace. But also that that has not got so much trauma, that there’s lots of stuff to resolve on the other side. And most shamans or spiritual leaders – people who’ve got very ancient tribal knowledge – will tell us that the living and the ancestors being in balance and in being in good relationship with each other is incredibly important.
And so honoring our ancestors is one thing. But often if there’s lots of trauma that has two impacts: one, it impacts in that that is a whole lot of grief on the other side as a whole, a lot of difficulty. And that comes down in in terms of bloodlines as well: people carry that through. And we also know that it effects us genetically. There is science around the fact that Holocaust survivors have a genetic mutation that tends to cause depression in people who come after them.
Manda: [00:26:54.96] Is this an epigenetic change that happens during the life of the individual and then is transmitted down the gene line?
Angharad: [00:27:02.51] I suspect so. I’m no scientist – I’m processing the science to a place where I can understand it. It’s just there seem to be enough scientists telling us that this happens, that major trauma can cause physical changes to our DNA and everything like that. It seems that there’s there’s less holding on the other side, from what I’m being told, other people may hear different things. But that’s my truth at the moment, that’s what I’m getting. But it is something to do with our relationship to death. And therefore, if we change our relationship to death, our relationship with life becomes so much more exquisite.
Five years ago, I came very close to death myself, within a few hours of it and I lived with a pretty dire diagnosis for a few weeks before they changed the diagnosis.
And what happened for me feels very similar to what’s happening now. I came into a place of deep listening and spaciousness and I saw how precious life was through very small moments and things. I saw kindness, love, connection, beauty, nature, exquisiteness; that conversation between everything and the Web of Life.
That was a real rite of passage for me. And I’m really grateful that I survived the other side. But it was the one thing I remember realizing is that actually when it came down to it, I didn’t actually fear death. And the process of getting really close to it showed me a great beauty in the holding that there is for that; the holding the spiritual holding that there is for that, the ancestral holding that there is for that space. What I was afraid of, was leaving my daughter at a very tender age. That was my hold back to life. That was the real anchor. And that has been profoundly important for me.
Angharad: [00:29:31.07] And when I look at this time now I’m starting this morning when I was dropping down, what came through for me this morning is that we’re in the process of dying, which is necessary between two epochs, between two moments in our own lives. But there will become a point when dying changes to conception. And then we’re going to be gestating a new child to give birth to it.
Now, if we think about this in human terms, when a mother conceives a child, if she wants it to be healthy, she’s very mindful of her diet, very mindful of what she takes on as influences. In traditional societies, there’s a whole lot of holding for that mother, because the energy of that mother during that time is very important for how the transition of a child manifests: the child’s birthing into the world. But also, we know that each child comes in with their own spirit, which comes in from the start. So that holding is only one part of it. That child has its own gift that we can’t know until it’s born and it comes here.
Manda: [00:30:53.18] And just to be clear, are you suggesting that we will be that child or that the children conceived now – of which I’m assuming they’re going to be quite a lot – are the new children?
Angharad: [00:31:04.18] I think it’s more metaphorical than that. I think it’s more that we are all a part of birthing a new epoch. Whatever it is that comes from from this death, there will always be something else. It’s a transition from one thing to another. But part of what we create next is down to us. Now, that’s a very complicated thing, because we’re all on a different page. And if we asked ten people in our community, how we wanted to envisage life, we would get 10 different answers. I don’t have the answer to this, but I think there is a challenge here. And we also know, going back to the metaphor, that when it comes to the point of birth, parturition can be really difficult and a real struggle.
[And the more fear there is, the harder it is to drop into confidence in the body and confidence and All That Is really supports that flowing through. And we will go through birth throes with this. And it’s about having courage and letting the flow for birth to come through/
But during that time of gestation, how we hold this and how we co-create whatever we want – part of it will be conscious, a part of it isn’t for us to understand it’s happening anyway.
Manda: [00:32:44.37] And I think for me, this comes back to you and I were saying about the sense when we engage in our contemplative practice in our different ways, that our role just now is about having a physicality in my heart space and a sense of really being fully present in my heart in ways that are totally new. I’ve been doing this for 40 years, I really did think I knew this, but I’m learning depths of it.
And so listening to you, makes a lot of sense. My felt sense that the world is holding its breath – at that moment between death and rebirth. There is a moment of all potential and that we’re in that moment of all potential, and that the thing we must not do is engage our heads. We have to be in our heart space and have the courage to allow the being to arise out of that. And for the birth to arise out of that. And if enough of us can do that, then it seems to me that the birth could be really very joyful.
Because in that heart space, there is such wonder and joy and awe – and depths of grief that go beyond anything that I’ve known, but they’re not a destructive grief. Which surprises me because my experience of grief is that it takes me apart. But this one doesn’t. And I’m wondering, is that something that speaks to you?
Angharad: [00:34:16.7] It does to me. I cannot speak for the people who are going through very personal grief right now. But for me, there’s just more of a shedding and letting go and trying to let it go gracefully. And trying to attend to those bits of me that need to change. Maybe part of this time is that we all need to attend to our own stuff and get rid of the stuff that really doesn’t serve.
Manda: [00:34:45.69] And something about being an actor really brings all your stuff to the surface.
Angharad: [00:34:50.48] But if we go into ritual silence to meet ourselves. This is what we’re doing. There are internal struggles and things. We’re very human and imperfect and beautifully so. So it’s just a real a real gift.
And I’m reminded of a beautiful burial chamber on Anglesey called Bryn Celli Ddu, and comunities came together to build that during the Neolithic period and it would have looked like a pregnant belly on the landscape, with the chamber going in that channels the light at midsummer. Only certain members of the community that were placed in that. The archeologist don’t understand why some people were being chosen. There seems to be a cross section of young and old, gender difference – those kind of things. But it certainly wasn’t a whole community.
When I dream into this, my sense of it is that they were choosing the qualities that the tribe needed for the next renewal: they were choosing certain things. So, for example, if there was a farmer that was really good, his knowledge of farming and his ability to understand things was extraordinary, and we needed more farming, he would have been planted like a seed, like an ancestral seed in that pregnant belly.
Angharad: [00:36:38.64] If a medicine woman was what was needed when the medicine woman of the tribe, the threshold keeper of the tribe died, she would go in there so that the next generation conceived might take on something of her essence.
And there’s plenty of evidence from caves and sacred place that these places were also used as place of conception. Just think about that- people would go in to conceive the next generation amongst the chosen dead who were recognized for their gifts. The tribe needs them so they had a part in creating new life.
And to take us back to the metaphor of death and pregnancy – if we can be with the wisdom of this dying and understand what was good about this moment, then maybe we can conceive together how we want to move things on, what we hope for in this new child that we’re birthing. And we talked earlier that there seem to be few themes that are coming out.
Angharad: [00:38:00.53] One is there’s more kindness. Certainly there’s more connection. Even though we’re apart, there’s more connection and wisdom. What wisdom is it to try and make humanity feel love for each other by stopping us being with each other. Those first hugs we’re going to have with parents and loved ones are going to be astonishing.
There’s something about this time that is a real gift to really sensing into that. You know what’s happening in terms of pollution, what’s happening with people being more settled in one place, because they’re communities. There are some things in this dying that are really precious.
Manda: [00:38:48.58] Yes. On every level. We’ve shut down an economy that we said could not be shut down. At the same time as discovering the things that really matter.
But I’m still very curious about the concept of, ‘well ancestors’. And I know that you have put a lot of time and effort in to go into places where the ancestors have not been honoured. So during the extinction rebellion action last October, you were working in London with places that would have had the unremembered dead and doing ceremony to help honor those.
And I’d like if you could speak a little bit about that, but also if we can speak to what people listening can do to help the ancestor line to be healthy and whole and honored so that our conception does come cleanly, without projection. I find there’s a huge amount of projection goes into ancestor work, which is one of the reasons as you know, I don’t encourage my dreaming students to work with ancestors until at least we’ve worked together five or six years so that we’ve got through some of the most spectacular projections.
So what would be good is to know how can we help people to work with this in a way that’s clean and doesn’t hook into the inevitable projections around this?
Angharad: [00:40:16.05] That’s a really good question and it’s a really difficult question to answer wholly in a very open forum. Because, like you, I’m very careful about when people are prepared to do this. Becuase it’s quite deep and profound work, and it’s certainly not something that everybody feels comfortable with.
But I think there are general things that people can do. And one thing is simply to be aware of that we are a product of all our ancestors. Each one of us living in this moment now is a product of thousands upon thousands of chance meetings and connections. And our ancestors all had stories. They lived lives and something of that comes through us in terms of genetics. But my personal understanding is that also we carry some spiritual genetics – that we come through with some of the trauma that is is resolved, with some of the joys, with some of the talents, with some of the knowledge. And so whenever there are difficulties in the ancestor lines, The invitation is for us to become aware of it.
And without going into a whole lot of stuff. I would recommend the book Ancestral Medicine. There are people doing deep Constellation work who are very good at holding this. And I would encourage people who are interested to to engage with that kind of greater holding.
Angharad: [00:42:07.98] I do think that just merely saying thank you. If you can find out the stories of your ancestors, please remember them, even if it’s creating a shrine, even if it’s honoring them.
I was engaged to do a storytelling project in India some years ago. I knew that I was compelled to to do it. We hooked up with some beautiful desert musicians and a classical musician a lovely musician from Wales. It took 3 or 4 years to build that. But I was really the first year I went to this beautiful place called Mehrangarh fort in Jodphur in Rajasthan.
I was struck by the site of older women wearing beautiful saris, touching little plaques of hands on walls at the great elephant gates of this fort. And it turned out these are Sarti hands – thee handprints of the women, many of them the concubines of the maharajah’s. Theres were women who were not seen by any other men other than eunuchs and the Maharajah. And some of them would have chosen to follow the funeral cortege and throw themselves on the pyre. The practice was outlawed by the British, but we know there are occasions when it has still happened, even in the 20th and 21st century.
So in the end, without me being really conscious, I became quite obsessed this and the story became about wanted to reclaim the story of one of these women in order to represent them all. Because when I spoke to the archivists, they didn’t have the names of the concubines and there would have been hundreds, if not thousands of them – and none were recorded; only the official wives were.
Angharad: [00:44:28.1] And yet there were at least 150, if not 200 handprints on the gates And two years ago, we told the story in the shadow of the palace for 500 people there. And partway through, we all realised simultaneously that something had changed – we had dropped into ritual. And at the end, there was such an outpouring of grief. There werr lots of tears. There was applause but really masses of tears and people coming up and shaking our hands and saying, ‘Yyou don’t realize what you’ve done. You’re healed something. You’ve healed something here.’ And I really understood something which I think I’d had an intellectual understanding of, that telling somebody’s story – historically reclaiming a story – helps to reweave backwards, the ragged, frayed parts of the world.
And if we can do that as an active service, the ‘now’ becomes more whole. So tomorrow becomes more whole. And the next day and the next day and the next day and our future becomes vital. And one of the things I realized at the end of that was I had never been in control of that production at all.
Yes, it had helped me. You know that the great beings of the holding of this world had had me in its sights. And I thankfully yielded to it. And it was a profound experience. But it taught me something about that. So, yes, for me, reclaiming the stories, telling the stories of groups of ancestors, honoring them – is a very easy thing that we can all do. It gets more complicated when we get to the one on one. I think that needs more careful holding.
Manda: [00:46:25.8] I am still very aware of one of my early teachers who said ‘Just because you die, doesn’t mean you get to be wise’. But that’s moving into shamanic work. And so I think that’s one of the things that I would like to say – We absolutely need to honor our ancestors, but but we need to be careful also. There’s a balance to be had. It’s very interesting because we haven’t talked in great depth about this, but in my morning ceremony on the Hill, every morning I face the southeast and I honor the ancestors of my blood lineage and the ancestors of my spirit lineage and I thank them for the gift of this life.
And in the last 10 days to two weeks, that has taken on an entirely different texture and feeling and meaning. And my sense of the timeline opening up, that I’m standing in the present and I’m opening to the All-Time at one end and the No-Time at the other end has become richer somehow and deeper. And I always thought that the very, very, very far distant ancestors were the primary guides in the writing of the Boudica books and things. So we’re talking 20 years of a sense of connectedness, but my goodness, it’s deepened in the last little while. So it does feel to me as if things are shifting at that level in ways we can’t understand.
Angharad: [00:48:05.36] I think the more of us in this moment now that become conscious of this work, that return to ritual – which has been happening over the last particularly 20 years or so, I’d imagine, – and lots of teachers from across the world have come to Britain from all across the world and reconnected us with that. So there is a growing sense of that. My sense is the more that that happens, the more the ancestors attend. Colin Campbell, a wonderful, wonderful teacher that I have had the joy of working with talks about the idea that if you want the ancestors to attend, you should make a noise. You know, you’ve got to call them. They’re all kind of standing under the trees, having a fag, doing their own thing. But if you want them to attend, you have to call them out.
Manda: [00:48:56.75] And he’s South-African, it’s worth saying. So he’s got quite a strong lineage of ancestor connection.
Angharad: [00:49:03.84] So I think there is enough awakeness of connection with ancestors and that we are returning to ceremony, we are returning to connection. Not everybody is. But there is a critical mass. And it feels to me as if that’s being met by all the unseen realms. By a gathering. There’s a lovely South-American image that I will often begin sessions or stories with which says that when human beings gather to do ceremony, to tell stories and share songs or around a fire, the gods and the ancient ones listen.
And they will ride on their chariots from the stars and gather around and throw a cloak around all who are gathered. And it’s a cloak of listening. And I’m sensing that now on a huge scale. As if there is great listening, great watchfulness from the other side, and they’re throwing this kind of cloak around us for us and watching for what we’re going to do, how we’re going to respond.
There’s plenty of space in there for our freewill. But there is that cloak around us. I think this is maybe what this lockdown time is. It’s a cloak around us. It’s the crucible of listening as a part of us and a great epoch dies, waiting for us to see what ancestors, what knowledge, what wisdom, what virtues we want to surround the conception often with.
Manda: [00:51:06.59] We are the fairy godmothers. And what is it that we want to bring? I think that’s huge. One of the things that I’m doing with the accidental gods students is offering a meditation of how to get into a felt heart space sense of what if we got it right? Because we need to know what does it feel like in a world where everything flourishes? We don’t know how that feels until we explore it. And then we know the courage and the awe and the wonder and the sense of relief and release that happens then. And if we can bring those as our gifts to the birth, I think it could be miraculous.
Angharad: [00:51:51.22] Yeah, I think it could be. It could be extraordinary. I think we have to be careful of not thinking that it would all be perfect.
We’re human and one reason why we’re going to struggle with this is that human beings have never experienced any moment in history that is ideal. So culturally, it’s going to be different. And we dont know what that feels like. So we have no sense within us of what that is. So I think the work that you’re doing with Accidental Gods is incredibly important and it comes down to our creativity of dreaming into just a few things that could be better that you know how that would feel.
But there is a challenge there in that that answer will be different for different cultures and different people. And over to you on that, because I don’t quite know how to meet that yet.
Manda: [00:53:14.12] I don’t either. But I also nothing that I’m getting suggests that that is my problem, to be honest. And that’s one of the things that I’ve really learned with the shamanic stuff is I go up and go, ‘How do we fix this?’ And they go, ‘That’s not your problem.’ And learning to have the humility to know that I can’t fix everything, that there are things that I can do and I need to do them as well as I can. And there are things that are outside my remit and I need to let them go and take on trust and faith that somewhere that is somebody else’s problem and they’re dealing with it. Because we can’t fix everything. And there is no possible way that I can reach a Kurdish woman in a village, you know, under assault by the Americans and the Turks trying to look after her family. That’s so far beyond my ability to touch. But I can work with those that I can reach. And be grateful that I can.
Angharad: [00:54:16.81] I think that that brings me to one thing that’s been coming through for me as well in all of this is getting comfortable with being in the place of unknowing or getting really comfortable with that. Surrendering to it, actually.
Manda: [00:54:31.96] Because our culture is head based and all our lives, we are supported in the idea that we can fix things by working them out with our heads. And I think the absolute learning for now is that there are some things for which our heads are better. If we need to work out the logistics of how to get masks to everybody, that’s a head thing. And that’s what our heads are for. But there’s a lot of the what you and I have been discussing, the pregnancy gestation, the qustion of what we are birthing that has nothing to do with our heads and everything to do with our hearts.
And learning how to allocate head to head and heart to heart is part of what we need to do just now. I’m aware that time is running on. We’re nearly at our hour – but you’ve mentioned several times that you have a contemplative practice. And because quite a lot of the people listening are engaged with Accidental Gods one way or another. Can you describe in a way that is useful for people in lockdown, how you reach that practice and what it consists of in a way that isn’t intrusive to your private practice?
Angharad: [00:55:40.45] It’s a long journey. And for me, it was learning from other people and then getting comfortable with what works for me. So I would always encourage people to find a way through different traditions and things, but also to hold that lightly and find actually what works for them.
As a child, I remember being able to do this really easily. Part and parcel, I think, of being a child until you get shut down in some way and then you have to be re-learn it as an adult. For me, I like to sit in nature and this this beautiful weather we’ve been having is just glorious to just be able to do that. So I would just sit in my garden right now and it begins with, I suppose, listening to birdsong around me and dropping down and just stilling. I connect with breath, but I also envisage myself as a node within a web. And reach out to the things in nature that are immediately around me: the teachers, the rocks, the plants, the trees… and grow it from there.
And there’s a point at which I no longer have to have to use my imagination. There’s a point at which doing that breathing, being with that web, that just goes free flow. And I think that comes from practice and getting myself out of the way.
And as part of the setting up of this, I usually take a handful of birdseed and go out and place it and acknowledge myself as a part within the web of life. I offer the bird seed to nature because I know I get some joy back. So it’s an exchange. It’s an easy way to remind myself of being in the web and certainly not husbanding and and above it or anything like that, which I think as humanity we have a tendency to do.
And also to to thank all my ancestors and all of creation for my chance of being in this precious life right now. And that’s something that’s grown for me over the last four years, since kind of coming close to death: the sense of how precious a chance it is to be in this life.
And then I’ll go and sit. And I tend not to time it. I tend to allow however much time I need to be in that space. It’s rarely possible to be in there for hours, but it’s as long as it as it takes. And there’s a very natural time to come back to the here and now.
And in that space, all sorts of things are allowed to rise. Much of it is about listening. Sometimes it ends up as a journey. It’s just very visual. Sometimes it’s very sensual. Sometimes it’s just peaceful and loving. And I don’t try and overcomplicate and think about what it should be or shouldn’t be.
Manda: [00:59:21.14] It’s so beautiful and such a wonderful place to end on. Thank you so much for this. It’s been really profoundly moving in many ways. And I think we’ll open gates and doors for people listening and give us all a chance to have a sense of that moment between death and rebirth, which feels so potent just now. So thank you. Thank you so much.
Angharad: [00:59:46.07] Thank you, Manda. Thank you for the work you’re doing with Accidental Gods and and everything else. It’s really important this time.
Manda: [00:59:54.29] So that’s it for another episode. Enormous thanks to Angharad for the authenticity and integrity and sheer heart of her work.
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