Peaceful. Warrior. Two words that sit together with discomfort perhaps? An oxymoron even? But that's just it - what we are doing isn’t working, we only have to take a quick look at the news to realise that, so now it is time to create some oxymorons, some new dynamics, some slightly (or totally) crazy pairings that could just bring in the new.

We need new. The old ways are crumbling but as yet there is little clarity, for most, about what could come in its place. With our UK prime minister clinging on with her fingernails, dogged denial her principal ally, staunch conformity and resolute small-mindedness her closest friends, no great shifts are coming through her.

Then there’s Trump (sadly no introduction needed) diligently working his way through all that we hold sacred – our planet earth, our people, our sense of humanity… Like a warped cartoon, Mrs Denial and Mr Blind Rage are rampaging through our world. And that’s just two examples, it doesn’t take much to find many more.

And so to the ‘warrior’. The warrior who knows that, in the words of Tina Dico “it ain't no time to sleep”. Now, more than ever in my lifetime I feel a call to arms, a need to clarify whose side I am on, to rise up and fight… and yet… it’s within that rally call that I discover more discomfort again. The fight, resistance, uprising, meeting violence with violence… this fight has been fought for millennia and we know it well. It’s in our DNA. This is not a discussion of whether violence is ever justified, though an interesting question. The question here is 'what is fueling it in each of us?' The answer will depend entirely on the individual.

The reoccurring dynamic of good versus evil - it’s compelling, but is it that simple? Can we expect to make a real difference to the violence in the world if we still hold violence within ourselves? I don’t think so. Our efforts become distilled to the point of disappearing, sucked into the vortex of our own unresolved issues that drain the life force out of any actions we take, or worse, create more and more of the same. If we don’t look deeply at the places we are afraid of in ourselves we will meet those aspects again and again in the world around us, spiralling us back down the rabbit hole of self-righteous justice and spitting us out on the shore of angry detachment and disappointment with the world. “It’s them, not me”.

I know the other side too – the ‘peaceful’ – that part of me that hopes I can make a difference by talking about the change that needs to happen with people who see the world like me, creating a bubble of calm in my bit of the world. That's the part of me that doesn’t want my peace to become uncomfortable. That doesn’t work either. It leads us to become insipid, fearful, and unable to speak out when injustice is in front of us, retreating to our safe place to recharge and balance ourselves at the time when we are called to stand up and speak out, to reach out and support, to feel our vulnerability and stay anyway.

Both, in truth can create more damage than benefit. By creating sides, disappearing into sanctimonious blabbering or not taking responsibility for our own shadows, we become an undeniable part of the problem, many miles from the solution. Each of us will identify with one more than the other - recognise your pattern and you begin to shift it. But combine the best of the two and a secret dynamite is created.

The wild, courageous passion of the warrior combined with the self-reflective responsibility of the peaceful are an alchemy-in-action when paired. With self-responsibility, the peaceful warrior goes out into the world and calls out the injustice she sees. He speaks out when he hears racist remarks, and not just when it’s easy – in those times that mean he could be ostracised for it too. She seeks ways to create community rather than doing it alone and calls in methods that upset the apple cart, that uproot earth damaging practices, that create space to welcome those who are being scapegoated and pushed out.

The “No” with the “Yes”, the courage with the acceptance, the love with the power. This is what we need right now and it is a big ask, but even just a few peaceful warriors will start to create change. Their integrity is so compelling it will spread like oxytocin, the love hormone.

These times can feel desperate but we each have it within us to find our inner Peaceful Warrior. Now is the time to collaborate, to join together and share our gifts. Gone is the time of the lone wolf, we need to become a community, working together to create the world we want future generations to live in.

How will you heed the call?

The inspiration for this piece has come particularly from three places. I have just finished reading the book "Why I Am No Longer Talking to White People About Race" by Reni Eddo-Lodge. I urge you to read it.
I have also been greatly influenced coming back from my most recent shamanic training, the Munay Ki. A powerful and beautiful training, it is from this tradition that I was introduced to the archetype of the peaceful warrior. Find out more here.
Thirdly, inspiration has come from the writings of Beth Maiden’s Little Red Tarot. Here you will find thoughtful resources and passionate writing to help fuel your journey.

Once upon a time there was a little girl. We will call her Star. Star was very young but she knew a lot. And she had already seen a lot. Her skin shone in the light, her eyes were deep brown and her wild black hair had curls that fizzed out like fireworks. Star was a child of nature and used to know how to communicate with the trees, the fish, the plants, the animals, the water, the sun, the moon and the stars. But she had forgotten.

Star had been on her own for a long time now.

Time is a very malleable thing - it can feel long or short depending on what is happening. Star knew this. She had a memory of her Mum's shining eyes and her Dad's hands reaching out to hold her but nothing else apart from a song she had heard.

She had been stuck and alone for too long, but three days ago something incredible had happened - she saw a light shining in. Star had been so used to being curled up in the dark that she didn't know how to get out at first. She had been telling herself that she must stay inside, that it wasn't safe to come out, that she would destroy everything, or be destroyed. So she had stayed inside, forgetting all she knew, apart from one thing - she never forgot the sound of the blackbird singing, or the feeling of freedom it gave her.

So when light started streaming in, Star remembered the sound of the blackbird singing.

She stayed a few more days in the dark, just feeling the space above her that had opened up. Waiting for the courage to somehow stretch up and get out of the place she had been trapped in. But the strength didn't come. Star stayed inside even though now, finally, she could get out. She was afraid. She didn't know what she might meet outside. Would she be eaten alive? Would she be even more alone with all that space around her?

Days passed and nights went by and Star started to feel things she hadn't felt for a long time. She felt the breeze blowing her firework hair and a giggle erupted from inside her. It felt nice, the bubble of a giggle that came up from her heart.

She felt the warmth of the golden sun as it shone on her skin and it was like she was being warmed from the inside and outside all at the same time.

She felt drops of rain touching her eyelids, her face, her hands and she licked them off, remembering the freshness of the waterfalls she used to play in.

And then she remembered why she was in the dark place.

A surge of pain went through her like a lightening bolt as she re-lived the moments her world fell apart... when she ran and ran away from the noise, the confusion, the darkness...until she found this safe place where she could shut down and hide.

The memory brought great sobs, tears of despair, loss and heart-wrenching, physical stabs inside her. Star had run from this pain, she didn't want to feel it. and yet, right now, with the wind, the sun, the rain there with her, she felt like she could sob for eternity. She felt held.

All of the feelings that had been stuck in time came out and were heard, witnessed by the wind, the sun and the rain.

A great gust of wind tipped Star over and she tumbled out. Shocked, she stopped crying and gasped as she felt her hands sink into the grassy earth, covered in daisies. Her head was spinning from all of the feelings and new experiences. She lay on the ground and felt the earth support her.

With her head down on the earth, she opened her eyes and looked into the green grass around her. There were ants walking through the stems and she followed one with her eyes until it disappeared into the daisies. Sitting up, she saw a willow tree and followed the sweep of its leaves up to the branches, softly blowing in the wind.

And then she saw it - a blackbird was sitting in the tree and in his mouth was a daisy-chain crown.

The blackbird flew down and dropped the daisy crown onto Star's head. As it landed she felt a rush of warmth flow through her and she sighed in relief. The blackbird landed on her shoulder and started to sing.

Star smiled from a deep place inside her and took her first steps on this new land with her power animal, her daisy crown gift and a courage that she had forgotten she had. She looked at the world with tear cleansed eyes and saw how interconnected she was. She felt her breath rise and fall in time with the dolphins in the sea, and she knew that now, she was ready.
Watching the birds and the dogs, all of the animals, I am continuously struck by their absolute total capacity to be exactly who they are. Babies do it too – when you look in their eyes, they are absorbed by you and you have a chance to be absorbed by them. A sparrow is 100% sparrow, no pretence, no shame, no wondering what it would be like to be an eagle or a worm. It is sparrow.

Running through all of the (non-human) animals I know and love in my mind’s eye, I see that this is a trait they all share.

Watching sparrow sit on a gate and chirp, scratch, chirp, listen, chirp, scratch… I see a being that knows how to embody every aspect of itself without holding back.

A sparrow doesn’t go on a quest to find its true self. She is just sparrow. Until she is not. And then she is dead.
They fight, they build nests, rear young, eat, drink, form relationships, scratch, dust bathe, fly, chirp… Each action done with complete commitment.

Inevitably, I then begin to compare their example of presence and commitment to myself. I am learning to be like sparrow. To eat when I am eating, to speak, to sing, to listen with such wholeheartedness.

Sparrow doesn’t have ego, or inner work to do, that’s not her path. But I do. And it is that inner work that has led me to be more like sparrow – not wanting to be someone different, not needing validation for living on planet earth. Sparrow owns her spot on that fence with clarity and grace. If challenged she will fight or acquiesce but each is done with full commitment.

I was talking to a good friend today about my current project – combining my three websites into one and designing a logo. Just like sparrow, I am bringing all of myself into one space, sitting fully on the gate, singing, with all of my feathers blowing in the wind. Sparrow doesn’t assess whether she will be accepted before she sings. She doesn’t compare her song to the blackbird’s song. She just sings. She knows, on some level, that she is exactly who she needs to be – sparrow. And so she does her sparrow thing.

During this conversation with my friend, she asked me many questions. One of them was “What are the words you would use to describe what you are doing in your work?”

I closed my eyes and felt my body held by the earth, I felt the wind on my face and the warmth of the sun on my skin. I heard the birds singing and felt them there in the trees, part of my experience, close but untouchable.

George Monbiot came to mind – his re-wilding – bringing back the wolves that then eat some of the deer, allowing trees to grow and rivers to reform, deepen and consolidate due to the new boundaries given by the trees.

I realised that I equate my life and work with the coming of the wolves, the re-wilding that George Monbiot speaks of. I tried for many years to hold back the process, tactics that many will recognise – eating nice food, emotional and physical intimacy, chatting on about stuff, keeping busy… all lovely things but they can also be used as a distraction from feeling deep pain, fear or hurt. And if it is not felt, it can’t be let go of, so it stays with you, hurting.

Resistance is not a pleasant occupation and yet I tried it for many years – resisting the call of my heart to be really seen. Which means I was resisting all of the connections and collaborations that could be made with a brave and visible heart.

The wolves can come in many forms – physical and mental illness, loss, accidents, divorce, redundancy… whatever pulls the rug out from under you. Their purpose though, is not to cause suffering but to show you how your river can run through the earth in all its power, sustaining you and those you meet. They come to shake you out of your old outmoded ways and show you who you really are. They come if you have not been listening to the call of your inner wild heart.

I am not sparrow. I do question and doubt sometimes, I do take time to work out who I am and why I am here. But something has happened recently. My river is running more deeply and I have made friends with the wolves. And now it is time for Woodspring – Finding Your Wild. Here you will find all that I am, wrapped up into one. I hope there is something in here that touches your wild spirit, and if something does, I look forward to seeing you soon.