The shoulders on which we stand

Our work is informed by a rich weave of teachers and traditions, to whom we are greatly indebted for the beauty, depth and power of what we do.

Thanks to Sobonfu Some and Malidoma Some, wise beings and teachers from the Dagara people of Dano village in Burkino Faso. In their village grief rituals happen every week, not just for individuals to release any burden they may be carrying, but to keep the village a healthy place for all. Sobonfu passed into spirit in January 2017, after dedicating much of her life to bringing the wisdom of her culture to the west. Malidoma still teaches.

Books by Sobonfu: Falling from Grace, Spirit of Intimacy and more can be found here

Books by Malidoma include: Of Water and the Spirit and The Healing Wisdom of Africa

Martín Prechtel was adopted by the Tzutujil people of Guatemala, where he became a shaman, chief of initiating the young men, and flute player for the many rituals of the village. His teaching and writing describes a way of living where humans are interwoven with each other, with beauty, the natural world, and spirit – understanding Praise and Joy as two best friends who share the same appartment, in the house that is Love. You can read about the vital importance of praising and grieving in this culture in his book “The Smell of Rain on Dust

Francis Weller in the USA has brought together teachings from the Dagara people and others, and written beautifully about the importance of grieving in books including “The Wild Edge of Sorrow” and “The Threshold between Loss and Revelation.”

Joanna Macy studied Life sciences, Buddhism and the harm caused by the nuclear industry, and sat with the challenge of how to engage people to take action on an issue whose results are so diffuse, spread across the planet, and across centuries into the future. With others she developed Despair and Empowerment work – acknowledging that many people are not apathetic, or uncaring but simply overwhelmed into numbness or paralysis by the scale of the environment, social and political problems we are facing today. Now called “Active Hope” or “The Work that Reconnects”, this open source body of work offers resources, teachings and group processes that bring us together in gratitude, in honouring our pain for the world, enabling us to see with new eyes and go forth into the world with a renewed sense of interconnection, empowerment and motivation to act for good. The book Coming Back to Life is used by many as a huge resource of suggested practices for workshops.

graves beside the seaMaeve Gavin, founder of Way of the Village  (sorry that this website is not functioning at the moment) brought together many teachings to weave accessible and powerful workshops including the shape of Grief Tending in Community processes offered on this website. A recent project, the Keening Wake, researched and made more public the practice of keening – a tradition indigenous to at least parts of the UK and Ireland. (image is from the keening wake website)

Maeve died suddenly in October 2018. We miss you, bright spirit and beautiful teacher.

Stephen Jenkinson  is another teacher many find helpful. And there are increasing numbers writing, speaking, holding spaces and apprenticing to grief. We’ve included some fellow travellers who offer spaces for grief on this page

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