The Blessing Thread: A Virtual Voyage to Wales and Ireland Saturday, January 30- Monday, February 1 11 am - 1 pm PST each day Also recorded for later streaming- as-you-will Available on sliding scale
We follow the mystic thread of the contemplative Western tradition from its roots in Egypt and Mary Magdalene's cave inGaul (Provence) to the wild and windswept Celtic lands of Wales and Ireland. Here a spiritual philosophy flourished that taught that human beings have an imperishable seed of goodness, but we need to be reunited with our true essence through study, silence, nature, friendship and spiritual practices passed on by the contemplative traditions.
We will discover how the Celtic church, springing from the root of monastic teachings in France, promoted a radical kind of friendship and spiritual equality between men and women, exemplified by the story of Brigid being consecrated as a Bishop. Renowned artist Sue Ellen Parkinson will guide us in creative explorations of "Brighid's Blessing Hand" for our Blessing Books .
We will find in the Celtic lands a tradition seeking harmony and balance and honoring the longings of our hearts as a Royal Road to the Divine through art, poetry and music as a pathway to Divine Union. Guest poet Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer will enchant us as she gives voice to the beauty of the heart through her words.
Justin Coutts will share the stories of Brendan the Navigator, fearless adventurer and mystic who set off to find the Isle of the Blessed in a rudderless boat blown by the Breath of the Holy Spirit ---and who founded the first Irish monastery in the Aran Islands. We will drink in the imagery of the wild and windswept islands like Skellig Michael ( film location for the Last Jedi's Library of Wisdom) and the pilgrim paths to St Kevin's cave at Glendalough. We will drink in the lush photographs of beehive huts perched high atop the sea where small communities of "monastic families" created sang their psalms to the birds and the waves and created illuminated manuscripts and high crosses that symbolized the profound interwoven relationship of the cosmos .
We will be honoring the Celtic traditions associated with Imbolc (February 1 ) which marked the beginning of spring. We will learn about the traditions of this festival, its connections to the elements of fire and water and the traditions associated with Brigid's Day: doll making, Brigid's Cross and special food for feasting. Polly Paton Brown will introduce the tradition of a "Bridesdoll" for Brigid, with instructions for how to make one of your own.
Recent participants of Kayleen's Virtual Pilgrimages have raved, " I cannot believe how much inspiration I received from this experience! Not only was I fed by the images, stories and songs I learned, but I now have the tools to unlock my own creativity. The biggest surprise for me was how deeply I connected to other pilgrims. I had no idea it was possible to feel such a sense of intimate community online. This experience changed my life"
Join us for a celebration with pilgrims from four continents as we celebrate the light within!
General Admission: $150.00 Reduced Tuition/Financial Assistance: $100.00 Scholarship Donor ( self plus scholarship for another): $200.00
Students in need of greater scholarship assistance, we would love to have you join us. Please complete the application at the bottom of this page, telling us of your circumstances and indicate what contribution is possible for you right now.
Includes live webinar or access to videostream of class for later viewing and links for readings, prayers, music, art and other material for further exploration.
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From the Prayer of St Patrick
I arise today Through the strength of heaven; Light of the sun, Splendor of fire, Speed of lightning, Swiftness of the wind, Depth of the sea, Stability of the earth, Firmness of the rock.
As part of our journey, we will be creating Blessing Books of art, collage and journaling. You will need a large notebook with study blank pages, watercolor paints or colored pencils or markers.
Recommended Reading: Celtic Benediction, John Philip Newell Listening for the Heartbeat of God, John Philip Newell How the Irish Saved Civilization, Thomas Cahill The Soul of a Pilgrim, Christine Valters Paintner The Soul's Slow Ripening, Christine Valters Paintner
Guest Faculty Include:
Sue Ellen Parkinson, Expressive Arts and Ritualist uses painting as a medium for healing, self discovery and community connectedness. You can read more about her and see her icons inspired by the themes of the sacred feminine and mysticism at www.sueellenparkinson.com. Her work has been particularly influenced by the legends of Mary Magdalene and the Black Madonnas and seeks to convey the theme of the interconnectedness of all life and the affirmation of all races of women. She writes, " I experience the creative process as a form of prayer. It is my sanest response to the world: it keeps me whole and connects me to the mystery"
Justin Coutts, Celtic scholar, is the founder of New Eden Ministry and the Virtual Chapel, an online Celtic community with a reach of thousands of participants. He is currently preparing his book on the Celtic Wisdom tradition for publication. A resident of Manitoulin Island in Ontario, Justin attended divinity school and worked as a minister in a mainline Protestant church before feeling a call to explore the contemplative Christian traditions of his Scottish ancestors. In Celtic Christianity, he has been able to integrate his early childhood formation as a Quaker with the indigenous wisdom he had studied with Ojibwe elders as a youth and Christianity. His work is deeply steeped in the writings of St. John Cassian and the spiritual quest to find our way through the "contraries" to a place of unity and harmony. Learn more about Justin and read his writings here.
Polly Paton-Brown is a UK trauma therapist and expressive artist with deep roots in the Celtic Wisdom tradition. Trained in the field Equine Facilitated and Eco-therapy, in pre-covid days Polly could usually be found in her little wooden cabin by a lake or in the nearby fields or woods working with clients to help them remember who they were and to rediscover their potential through a connection to nature and animals. A long time member of the Iona Community and more recently a Sister of Belle Coeur and a member of the Wisdom Council for the Abbey of the Arts, Polly has led many retreats and workshops. This last year she has been devoting more time to exploring what it means to be made in the image of the Divine and the arts as a path for connecting to Mystery. Polly will be guiding us to make a "Brides Doll", an Irish tradition for St Brigid's Day. You can find here website and blog here.
Above is a timely twelve minute video conversation between Kayleen and Celtic scholar Justin Coutts about the theme of uniting opposites and holding contraries in the mystic Celtic and Magdalenian traditions and the works of Jung and Hildegard of Bingen.