Braided River Workshops & Apprenticeship Programme

Created and guided on Dartmoor by Carolyn Hillyer

This new programme of women’s workshops began in 2019 to provide a collective vessel for the teachings, circles, ceremonies and gatherings that have been happening in this place of wild sanctuary and around this sacred women’s hearth for over 25 years. Here you will find the threads that we have been braiding into this river and the programme dates that are available during this year and beyond…

Please note: if you have a ticket for the BRAIDED RIVER CONFLUENCE on Dartmoor this has been postponed from September 12 until March next year. The event will now take place over two days, March 20-21, and we will be in touch with you later in the year about new arrangements for this gathering of women. More tickets will be available for the Confluence from September.

Braided River Dates

Last updated July 2020


From January: SALMON SISTERS APPRENTICESHIP | ongoing | 5 places | booked
May 22-24: SUMMER HEARTH CIRCLE | weekend gathering | 12 places | fully booked, postponed to 2021
June 19-22:  BRAIDED RIVER APPRENTICESHIP | 13 month journey | third river cord | first group | 9 places | postponed until 15-18 January 2021
September 11-14: SALMON SISTERS CIRCLE | weekend gathering including Braided River Confluence | 39 places | by invite | booking
September 12:  BRAIDED RIVER CONFLUENCE | single day event | 130 places | postponed until 20 March 2021
October 16-18: WINTER HEARTH CIRCLE | weekend gathering | 12 places | postponed until 2-4 July 2021
November 13-16:  BRAIDED RIVER APPRENTICESHIP | 13 month journey | first river cord | second group | 9 places | booked

WILDSONG: we hope to begin these evening sessions again on Dartmoor this winter if the changing situation allows. All women welcome.


January 15-18: BRAIDED RIVER APPRENTICESHIP | 13 month journey | third river cord | first group | 9 places | booked, postponed from June 2020
March 20:  BRAIDED RIVER CONFLUENCE | single day event | 130 places | postponed from September 2020, booking available again soon
May 21-23: SUMMER HEARTH CIRCLE | weekend gathering | 12 places | booked, postponed from May 2020
June 18-21:  BRAIDED RIVER APPRENTICESHIP | 13 month journey | second river cord | second group | 9 places | booked
July 2-4: SUMMER HEARTH CIRCLE | weekend gathering | 12 places | booking, postponed from October 2020
October 22-24: WINTER HEARTH CIRCLE | weekend gathering | 12 places | booking soon
November 19-22: BRAIDED RIVER APPRENTICESHIP | 13 month journey | third river cord | second group | 9 places | booked

Applications are open for 2021 Hearth Circles and to be on the reserve list in case of earlier cancellations or for 2022 dates.

Applications are open for the Braided River Apprenticeship third group beginning June 2022 (previous participation in at least one other residential weekend required).

Braided River Programme

The Braided River programme is formed around a commitment to sacred wild land, to the sacred house of women’s shared wisdom and ancient memory, and to the sacred circles of our sisterhood. It aims:

To offer a weave of environments and gatherings for women that encompass these things: sanctuary, celebration, ceremony, intimate hearth circles, welcome weekends for new sisters, deepening weekends for returning sisters, guided apprenticeship journeys that travel over thirteen months, bearing witness to apprenticeship journeys that travel over a life time, wild singing, wild pilgrimage, the creation of mutual bonds between sisters and lands and cultures, the creation of small prayers that protect and honour and change our lives, the creation of vast prayers that protect and honour and change our Earth.

To enable women to anchor a deeper sense of belonging: to these wild moors, to the sacred roundhouse hearth and to the sister circles that are shared here. It embraces women have planted their footprints and sung their soul songs into this land for a few or many years, and it welcomes sisters who are newly arriving to these circles and who want to taste or travel a while with the shared journeys that we are unfolding. _

To create a continuity of shared experience, sacred work and wild magic that avoids tying sisters into a formalised structure or hierarchy of power, while braiding us into a supportive, inspiring, challenging, healing, innovative, effective and rebellious sisterhood! Our most profound apprenticeships are created directly from our intuitive understanding of our own journeys; our most expansive and meaningful initiations are drawn from the vessels of our own courage, tenacity, integrity and intuitive knowing.

  HEARTH CIRCLES (weekend events)

Welcoming HEARTH CIRCLES will continue to be a gateway through which women may have their first experience of working with Carolyn, either for a single visit or with a view to stepping into the braided river apprenticeship. These circles offer a safe, inspiring and empowering environment for women who are new to sitting in sister circles or who wish to travel deeper on their own journey of exploration within the sacred house of women and in the wild ancient landscape of Dartmoor. Summer hearth and winter hearth weekends for 12 women will take place each year, tended and supported by braided river apprenticeship women and salmon sisters.


This apprenticeship is a recent addition to the women’s gatherings here, enabling Carolyn and a small group of 9 sisters to work together intensively during a thirteen month period that will include 3 workshop weekends on Dartmoor, participation in the Braided River Salmon Camp or Confluence (whichever is happening that year), monthly group sessions within the online roundhouse to share and work with apprenticeship sisters and a Roundhouse Hearth Tending. The apprenticeship is created, braided and guided by Carolyn and will involve three cords of exploration and initiation. (1) HEARTH KEEPER: the work of women’s ancient and mystic fires; udegan (hearth woman) magic in the tending of domestic, ceremonial and wild hearths; creating fire to honour ancestors, awaken spirit, hold the integrity of circles, travel through vigil; working with drum, song, dance and prayer to honour and empower the hearth. (2) LAND GUARDIAN: creating protection and making guardian totems for a sanctuary, a circle, a ritual; walking boundaries and strengthening edges; tending the shydi and other wild shrines; night vigil, wild hearths and the embrace of fear, vulnerability and aloneness on the land; caretaking burial cistvaens and ancient bone bundles; working with drum, song, dance and prayer to honour and embrace the elements and weather. (3) RIVER DREAMER: working closely within roundhouse and braided river rituals; exploring ancient dreamer ceremonies and intuitive oracles; travelling with stone, earth, moon, night and animal spirit mothers; working with the shydi (wild shrine); engaging with and empowering personal thresholds (such as significant life experiences, motherhood, eldership, bereavement); working with drum, song, dance and prayer to honour and travel with the braided river.


For long-time returning women who have worked with Carolyn previously over several or many years and who have forged strong connections to the roundhouse hearth, this sanctuary land and the sisters who regularly gather here, there are SALMON SISTER CIRCLES. Many of these women have offered their time and energy as kindling sisters (supporting other women’s workshop journeys), or as coordinators, contributors and crew at previous women’s events. In these ways they have already braided many cords in this river and, as salmon sisters, are able to gather together to deepen their own journeys, as well as continue to support the explorations and initiations of other women. The SALMON SISTER APPRENTICESHIP is an informal, flexible vessel of previous and ongoing sacred work and initiation, created by each individual sister to her own needs and vision, supported by Carolyn and other women within these salmon circles. This ongoing apprenticeship is for sisters who are working to dissolve boundaries, travel beyond edges, explore intuitive landscapes and dive deep into the braided river. It enables women to work more intensively and profoundly with any or all of the three cords of hearth keeper, land guardian and river dreamer.

  BRAIDED RIVER CONFLUENCE (single day event – next scheduled for 20 March 2021)

There events take place every two years, enabling us to gather in greater numbers to share and strengthen the harvest of our circles. The BRAIDED RIVER CONFLUENCE (single day event in Dartmoor venue for up to 130 women) is open to all women who are inspired to come into these waters, sharing workshops and presentations, drum circle and wild song, celebration and ceremony.

  CEREMONIAL RIVER DRUM-MAKING (weekend event, no date scheduled)

In addition to the regular annual drum-making weekends that take place on the farm, Carolyn will offer occasional ceremonial river drum-making weekends for women who would like to make their first drum or add a new instrument to their collection.

  WILDSONG SESSIONS (evening event)

We hope to begin Wildsong Sessions again on Dartmoor during the winter, 2020-2021. No booking required but email Carolyn if you would like to be on the list to receive details, dates and directions.

  ROUNDHOUSE HEARTH TENDING (75 minute online session)

Individually shaped one-to-one online sessions with Carolyn using zoom. Fee is on a sliding scale basis and for women under 30 years, exchange may be non-monetary. Currently no dates available.


This is early news that we are in the process of designing and creating a full online Braided River workshop programme, involving a blend of pre-recorded films, live zoom sessions, written texts and a bundle of physical workshop materials delivered to each participant’s door.  More details to follow this winter  once we have a launch date.


Please email us for an application form. You can find more details about applying for workshops on the general information page. You are welcome to contact Carolyn if you have questions about access, suitability, bursary places or any worries about attending a residential weekend. 


HEARTH CIRCLES: due to changing circumstances, we have postponed all 2020 Hearth Circle bookings for women arriving to the land here for the first time. These weekends will begin again in May 2021 with additional dates being added to the programme. If you would like to make an application to attend a Hearth Circle in 2021 or beyond please contact us for a form.
BRAIDED RIVER CONFLUENCE: tickets for this event will be on sale again from the end of September.
APPRENTICESHIPS: enquiries and applications are welcomed for the third group of apprenticeships starting in 2022.
RESERVE LIST: please contact us if you would like to be on the reserve list in case of cancellations for fully booked workshops.

“… And beneath it all the river sang. It sang with the insistent clatter of gravel and the protesting pummel of stones and the fierce resounding resistance of boulders, all rolling forward in the water’s force. Surfing through the foam, we could hear it all. And we could also hear the dip and rise of women’s songs being threaded through the water. They sang with the gathering gravels of hope and the transforming stones of justice and the great unstoppable boulders of truth… Over and again and maybe forever we will make our river rebellion, until the solidity of water and women has changed the shape of the ocean, until the force of our songs has cleared the silt from the estuaries, until the power of our gravel and boulders has swept away the banks that contain us, then we will all ride the tides that are equal and free…”  (from Rebellion at the House of Rivers, 2018)

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