Date(s) - 08/11/2019 - 10/11/2019
Across the world, from Ireland in the west to Siberia in the east, from Scandinavia in the north to India in the south, from the classical cultures of Greece and Rome to the Plains Indians of America, ancient peoples have held Winter Wolf Healing Ceremonies. Some modern peoples either still do or are seeking to revive them, as we are. Traces of these ceremonies remain in the early Vedic texts of India, the Icelandic sagas and the medieval literature of the British Isles. In all these places, they shared certain common characteristics. They were organised by groups who recognised the Wolf as their primary totem animal. They were invariably held during the winter months. They had a number of purposes, one of which was to stave off the adverse effects of the onset of winter, often represented as a sentient or semi-sentient wave of sickness that swept across the land. This sickness resembles what modern medicine has designated as S.A.D., Seasonal Affective Disorder, and as vitamin D deficiency which, in combination, can cause or exacerbate a range of psychological and physical disorders. Winter Wolf Healing Ceremonies are designed to combat the sickness by spiritual means, the essence of which is to strengthen body, mind and soul by connecting or re-connecting with our power animal spirits.
Although traditionally organised by groups who have the Wolf as their spirit animal, the Winter Wolf Healing Ceremony is open to all. As humans, we all, whether we know it or not, have a power animal spirit who acts as our companion, guardian and guide. We may keep the same animal throughout our lives or they may change as we change. Only in exceptional circumstances do we completely lose connection with our spirit animal to the extent that they abandon us. If they do, it is usually a sign that we are not long for this world. Enhancing our relationship with our spirit animal enhances our personal power, including the power that gives us immunity to illness and injury. It is this enhancement of relationship that we seek through the Winter Wolf Healing Ceremony.
Meet Your Power Animal
As this is the first year in which we are recreating this ancient ceremony, there is likely to be a stronger than usual focus on creating first connections with your spirit power animal. This animal will already be with you. Our role is to get the two of you to consciously meet. This entails a certain amount of responsibility on your part. Once you have met your spirit animal, you will be expected to enhance and maintain your relationship with her or him. If you do not, your relationship and, therefore, your health may suffer. This is, of course, offset by the great benefits that will come to you if you do maintain a good and strong relationship. The Winter Wolf Healing Ceremony aims to give you the best possible start in doing so.
What to Expect
The ceremony takes place over two nights and three days. The first night will be introductory and will culminate, for those who need it, in a journey to meet your spirit animal companion. The next day will be spent in preparation for the main ceremony which takes place on the second night. This preparation will involve creating costumes, practising songs and dances, playing games, etc. During the ceremony, you will be encouraged to strengthen your bond with your spirit animal by drumming, chanting and dancing with and for her or him. Don’t be embarrassed. Everyone will be doing the same and joining in with you. On the third day, there will be more games and opportunities to share your experiences.
Before the ceremony, it will help if you can learn some of the songs and chants that are a part of it. These will be posted online.
What to Bring
It will help if you can provide some of all of the costuming needed. Details and instructions will be posted online. If this is not possible, e.g. if you don’t know the identity of your power animal in order to make an appropriate mask, then there will be some time for costume-making during the second day. Other masks, such as those of the Wild People (right), may be made in advance. Bring materials for costume-making if possible, e.g. lengths of material, stiff cardboard, paints, body paints (red, black and white preferred), etc.
Bring food you would like to eat. This will ensure that you don’t go hungry. There will be a feast on the second night for which we will provide the centre-piece, a haunch of Venison (or alternative if not available). We will not be providing a vegetarian option, so please bring your own if you are not a meat-eater. The venue has a well-equipped kitchen.
About the Venue
The venue for this first event is a rural retreat centre in Shropshire, set in 40 acres of woodland. This benefits from being home to our Iron Age roundhouse. The venue can accommodate a maximum of 50 people. The roundhouse, however, only has room for 40, so numbers will be limited, making early booking a good idea. Accommodation is mostly communal. You can bring your own tent or a camper van by prior arrangement with the venue. Some mattresses are available by request in advance. You must provide all other bedding and towels. There are showers and a sauna available.
The fee for the whole weekend is £150 per person, payable in advance. A limited number of concessions are available if you are willing to forego some of the events and ceremonies to help with food preparation and serving or have other specific skills to offer, e.g. overseeing costume creation, supervising games. With numbers limited to 40, early booking is advisable. To book your place(s), go to our payment page.
I had hoped to stage one of these ceremonies last year, but circumstances prevented it from happening. As a result, I was ill from Midwinter through to the end of March!