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…
Braided River Dates
March 2021: THE CREEL JOURNEY, resumes for salmon sisters BOOKING
Early Summer: WILDSONG SESSIONS, evening singing sessions planned to start on Dartmoor again, all women welcome NO BOOKING NEEDED
June 18-21: BRAIDED RIVER APPRENTICESHIP, 13 month journey, first river cord, second group BOOKED
July 2-4: SUMMER HEARTH CIRCLE, weekend gathering, 12 places BOOKING
July 9-11: SUMMER HEARTH CIRCLE, weekend gathering, 12 places BOOKING
September 11: BRAIDED RIVER CONFLUENCE (The Wide Kombero), 113 places, Scoriton Hall, Dartmoor, all women welcome BOOKING
September 12: BRAIDED RIVER CONFLUENCE (The Small Kombero), 50 places, Scoriton Hall, Dartmoor BY INVITATION
October 22-24: WINTER HEARTH CIRCLE, weekend gathering, 12 places BOOKED
November 19-22: BRAIDED RIVER APPRENTICESHIP, 13 month journey, second river cord, second group BOOKED
Applications are now open for 2022 Summer Hearth Circle (May) and Winter Hearth Circle (October). You are welcome to be placed onto the reserve list in case of earlier cancellations. Once you have applied and been accepted to a Hearth Circle you may make an application to be considered for the Braided River Apprenticeship third group beginning November 2022-23.
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.
BRAIDED RIVER APPRENTICESHIP (13 months)
This apprenticeship enables a small group of 9 women to work together intensively with Carolyn during a thirteen month period that includes 3 residential workshop weekends on Dartmoor, monthly group sessions within the online roundhouse to share and work with apprenticeship sisters; 4 months of gentle and guided individual preparations before the start date; participation in the Braided River Confluence. 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.
SALMON SISTER CIRCLES & CREEL JOURNEY (on-going)
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 CREEL JOURNEY is an informal apprenticeship, a 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 thirteen aspects of the Creel.
BRAIDED RIVER CONFLUENCE (single day event – next scheduled for September 11 2021)
There events take place every two years, enabling us to gather in greater numbers to share and strengthen the harvest of our circles. Up to 113 places are usually available, held in a Dartmoor venue and 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 in summer 2021. No booking required but email Carolyn if you would like to be on the list to receive details, dates and directions.
THE BRAIDED RIVER ONLINE PROGRAMME
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 once we have a planned start date.
APPLYING TO THIS WORKSHOP PROGRAMME
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.
“… 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)