With the first draft of Stag Rider nearly finished, and a few months of editing ahead before submitting to agents, my thoughts edge toward Earth Guardians book three. While you’ll find the series in the fiction section of a book shop, everything I write about is experiential. Preparation begins with a vision quest this summer – To be alone in Nature for four days and nights. To eat nothing. To drink only water and open up to the elements. ‘To quest is to honour a fallow time in our spiritual lives. An emptiness into which something utterly new and generative might enter….’
Until rehab happened, I’d never written much more than school work and the odd letter, but I always had a fascination for how words pieced together and flowed. A lot of the healing in Cape Town was triggered by written work. Now, the whole journey from rock-bottom, upwards, has given me an opportunity to release my writing in earnest. The first words I wrote of ‘Awaken’ started an avalanche. I received the ending of the second book and the title of the third, divinely I guess, before I’d finished the first draft of ‘Awaken’. Funny how it just takes that first leap, then there’s no going back – ever!
I meditate between these two trees frequently. It’s a very special place for me, high on a South Downs hill looking out to sea. Today was incredibly beautiful as the Indian Summer sun beat down on me. Nature was so present. Funny how the spirits of nature and weather always want to support us, because we are of the earth as they are, and today on the Celtic festival of Samhain when the veils between our two worlds is thinnest we are blessed with beautiful warm weather. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
The more time I spend writing, the more I realise it’s what I am meant to be doing. Satisfaction comes with perseverance, which is my forte, but there are times I guess many writers experience when the end of a first draft feels millions of miles away. That’s when I remember what my friends and my amazing wife tell me and how much they believe in me. This journey has also taken me to some stunning magical landscapes for research, like the Old Man of Storr. ‘Don’t give up!’ he said. I replay his words often. So here I am, a couple of months away from a first draft of Stag Rider, a book I am already feeling very proud of.
The Vision Quest has been calling me for a long time. It provides a time of solitude in nature, where profound spiritual guidance and healing can be found. The guidance and healing can relate to any area of your life. You will spend three days alone in nature, fasting and praying, allowing the mind to move into a place of stillness. Here you can distinguish your true self from the endless chattering of the mind, allowing a new space for mystery to come into your life and show a way forward. Quests can open immense possibilities, and help to heal deep wounds of separation and isolation. They can help reveal your life’s purpose and restore your passion and appreciation for life.
On the Vision Quest you can make the choice to move consciously from one life phase to another. You may also be gifted with new meaning and direction. Held in a secluded place of natural beauty, Northern Drum’s Vision Quests follow a traditional structure: separation from the known, a period of isolation, and then the return. Entering a solitary space of prayer, meditation, stillness and focus you can open up to the guidance of heaven and earth, Great Spirit and Mother Earth.
Optional burial ceremonies are offered on the night before entering the vision quest. A night inside the dark earth is a time of healing, where you can pray for a letting go of what no longer serves you, asking the earth to transform the patterns and beliefs that you are ready to release. At sunrise you emerge from the grave reborn and cleansed, ready to receive the wisdom and new life teachings during the vision quest.
Trained vision quest guardians will be on hand during the quest to guide you through the preparation time. After the quest they will support you through the beginning of the integration of your vision quest.
So, it’s 4:30am on a Sunday morning, my wife and children are sleeping – it’s time to write. I have to find the time from somewhere to finish Stag Rider. So this is how I do it, in this special stillness. Rehab was a success for me because I put everything into it, so now I put everything into my writing and I’m going to make it a success. Writing isn’t a hobby of mine, I’m learning a new vocation and I love it! It’s something I pour my heart and soul into. Sure, I want to inspire people and show them what’s possible, but I also owe it to myself to give this my best shot… now, where’s the coffee?
A few pics from our 30 mile solstice pilgrimage to enliven the spirit of The Ridgeway and deepen our own connections with the land. Led by a wonderful female shaman, representing Yin, and six Yangs, we walked with our ancestors to Avebury along ley lines and ancient sites, offering prayers, ceremony and so much laughter. We live on such a beautiful land. It’s time to realise we are all Earth Guardians.
This morning at 4am I was fortunate enough to be walking with a small group of like-minded people, to sit on top of White Horse Hill in Uffington and look over Dragon Hill as the midsummer sun rose in front of us. The full moon watched it rise and we began our walk along Europe’s oldest road, The Ridgeway, which touches ley lines and power points near ancient sites like Waylands Smithy, a warriors burial site. There’s more walking ahead of us this week, but here’s a taste of what’s inspiring me and my writing at this magical time of year.