The Braided River

Dartmoor Workshops

THE BRAIDED RIVER

… 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, Book of Hag)

WORKSHOPS WITH CAROLYN 2024

June 29

THE CORACLE OF GRANDMOTHERS: A Song Tenderly Carried (kantlo-keno)    
Meaning: a song that slowly comes into being, a yearning voice born into sacred land
Includes: ritual drum traditions, creating bone chants, singing the Bronze Age mother language, weaving wild song… To book this workshop please follow this link

July 27
THE CORACLE OF GRANDMOTHERS: A Prayer Softly Whispered (wotlukeitĥ)       
Meaning: a prayer that is quietly held, a spell that is secretly offered, a shrine that is honoured
Includes: tending wild shrines, rituals with water and wind, working with salmon, wild horse & deer spirit traditions… To book this workshop please follow this link

August 17
THE CORACLE OF GRANDMOTHERS: A Trail Wisely Followed (bitîtu-westû)     
Meaning: a path that is guided by intuitive wisdom, deep trust and courage
Includes: treading ancestral trails, bone bundles and heron paths, sacred hearth rituals, ice drums and marsh drums… To book this workshop please follow this link

THE CORACLE OF GRANDMOTHERS (kuruko nanî) are three individual summer workshop days, with sister circles and wild sanctuary in the heart of Dartmoor’s high hills. The Coracle of Grandmothers refers to small oiled-skin boats that ancient women used to travel through watery land on their hunt for the spirit birds that protect and guide the human questing soul. This summer Carolyn is offering a series of individual workshop days designed especially for women who are newly discovering, beginning to explore, or curious to step into the teachings she shares. These are rare opportunities in which to sit with her around the sacred roundhouse hearth, to share ritual in the wild shrines and beside the wild waters, to explore the ancient hill farm where she has lived, created her work and tended the land for over thirty years. Each day we will braid together ritual song and drum, mythic tale, Proto-Celtic words, Weavers’ Oracle images, intuitive magic, raw prayer, wild dream and wise hands, ending with an evening ceremony in the ancestor roundhouse. There will also be some time for restful solitude. The land here will be in its summer abundance: wood and meadow, pool and marsh, each threaded by the dance of deer, dragonfly, moth, lizard, heron and owl. Step with us into this sacred ancestral coracle…

September 27-29
DAWEYO & LAGYÂNO INITIATION WEEKEND
This weekend residential workshop is for women who are travelling on the first two journeys of the Weavers’ Trail. Applications are now open – for details and application form please email.

November 22-25
TRAVELLING THE HAG ROAD
Three-day series of events created and presented by Carolyn, Glastonbury Assembly Rooms, including exhibition of fourteen new paintings, talks, evening concerts, workshop and book launch.

Full details and tickets for these workshops are not available yet – please sign onto the Braided River newsletter (below) to receive full information when it is published or check back here at the start of May.

BRAIDED RIVER WORKSHOPS

Carolyn has been creating and guiding workshop journeys for women, on Dartmoor and beyond, for thirty years. Her workshops, circles and gatherings at Lower Merripit Farm are part of the tending, sustaining, protecting and sharing that have been offered since 1995 in this place of wild sanctuary. Her workshops and teachings in the wider world have woven powerful and empowering threads of sisterhood and connection between many women, and the source of the work that we share is anchored into our many experiences of sacred land and ancestral remembering. Sometimes she creates and hosts larger events for women, including the Thirteen Moons Festival and the Braided River Confluence. Most workshops take place on Dartmoor but she has also taught in Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden, Russia, and the USA. Over the years, many thousands of women have participated in her workshop journeys. The residential workshop experiences are fed by all the strands of Carolyn’s creative work: words, paint, song, drum, craft, ritual and relationship with wild and ancient land.

STEPPING INTO THE RIVER

The first step into experiencing this Braided River is to start travelling with Carolyn in her online programme. With the opening of the Weavers’ Trail online programme in 2022, a new route was created into the residential workshop journeys on Dartmoor. It is now requested that women join the Daweyo Journey and travel with the trail for the minimum of a few months prior to applying a Dartmoor residential workshop. This enables each participant to undertake some of the work that helps to prepare for the workshop and to connect with other participants in advance. By doing this, we can dive deeper into the experiences that we will share when we on the land together. You are very welcome to contact Carolyn if you want to discuss this and talk about joining a a residential weekend. If you would like to make an application to a Dartmoor workshop or have any questions about attending, please email workshop application

THIS WILD SANCTUARY

Lower Merripit Farm is a secluded 1000-year-old farmstead located high up in heart of Dartmoor, in a quiet valley that offers wild sanctuary and a beautiful place in which to be nourished by nature, supported by sisters and inspired by ancient spirit. It is a small organic hill farm, with species-rich flower meadows, rare protected peat bog habitat and native woodland that has been planted in the last 30 years as well as some ancient grandmother trees. The land is rich in water with a network of small streams (one of which becomes a river during winter months), ponds, springs and two ancient wells. Our focus has been on protecting the diverse ecology of the land to the benefit of red deer, roe deer, badger, fox, buzzard, heron, snipe, curlew, tawny owl, water vole, salmon, otter, newt, dragonfly, the endangered marsh fritillary butterfly and many other moorland creatures. Fox hunting has been banned on this land since 1995. The farm has the care of a small herd of wild ponies grazing the open moors, and beehives which are filled with heather honey by September. The workshops are based in our large guest cottage, surrounded by 14 acres of meadows, marshes, streams, woodland and gardens. The ceremonial roundhouse, built in neolithic style with oak trees, granite stones & water reed thatch, sits within a ritual landscape of wild shrines and sacred trails.

 

Daweyo petroglyph

DAWEYO KERDÂ: Hearth Woman Initiation

This is the workshop to attend if you are stepping into Carolyn’s workshops for the first time. In the ancient mother tongue daweyo means the woman who kindles the hearth fire, the keeper of flames, the guardian of embers and ashes. Kerdâ is the Proto-Celtic Bronze Age word for skill or craft, journey or trail. This kerdâ is designed as a welcoming, inspiring and empowering circle for women who are arriving newly to this wild sanctuary land and roundhouse hearth, for women who have been exploring the daweyo work through the WEAVERS’ TRAIL and for those who wish to deepen their work by kindling sacred fire and sharing sister circles. We will explore the four ancient ingredients of the daweyo initiation: kruttâ (drum), fflinnâ (coat), dabâkâ (vessel) and oibelo (fire), and anchoring that work into the ritual landscape and the ceremony house. We will be shaping our circle in ancient and newly-envisioned ways with the ingredients of drum and song, prayer and ritual, ceremonial dance and sacred land, creating totemic items and the magical tending of women’s wild, wise and ancient fires. 

The next workshop for Daweyo women is part of the Daweyo/Lagyano Kerda weekend, September 27-29, 2024. Applications accepted only from women who have already stepped onto the Weavers’ Trail.

STAYING ON THE FARM

Sometimes the DAWEYO KERDÂ takes the form of a small group of 12 women; sometimes it stretches into the form of an extended camp offering 24 places. The workshops take place within the main group room, the deer camp nomad tent (summer sessions), the grove tent (summer sessions), the neolithic-style stone & thatch ceremonial roundhouse, and around the wild shrines and ritual landscape of the farm. Some workshops involve walking out onto the open moor. Each weekend is supported by 3 or 4 kindling sisters, women who have had previous experience of being on the land here, who help Carolyn to tend the circle. Accommodation is for two nights in shared rooms in the farm cottage (bedding provided) or camping in the adjacent meadow and garden (bring own tent). Priority for inside beds is given to participants travelling from outside the UK, those arriving on public transport and anyone with physical comfort needs or health issues. The farm and cottage are run partly on energy sourced and stored from solar panels. Participants are encouraged to use eco-friendly washing products as the farm maintains its own reed bed sewage system; all drinking water is pumped from two spring-fed wells. All food prepared and shared in the cottage is vegetarian (with vegan and gluten-free options) and we ask participants not to bring meat or fish with them during workshop weekends. Friday and Saturday dinners plus both breakfasts are provided; bring your own lunch items. It is possible to adapt most aspects of the workshop to accommodate most health issues or physical disability so please discuss your situation with us. Unfortunately the 16th c. cottage, in which much of this happens, is built with narrow stairs and small bathrooms so wheelchair access is extremely limited, but we have been able to adapt the workshop space for a mobility walker and attendance with a designated support worker. It is worth noting that the farm is located at 1000 feet above sea level and the nights may be especially cold. We also enjoy a very wet and misty climate so participants are generally advised to bring warm clothes, waterproofs, good boots and perhaps a hot water bottle. Arrivals are from 4pm Friday with the workshop completing by 5pm Sunday. Public transport onto the moor is rare so we aim to link those using bus or train services to Exeter or other local stations, either for a taxi share or lift with another participant. The nearest airport is Exeter (45 minutes) with a wider range of international services flying into Bristol (2 hours).


FEES & BURSARIES

We honour the financial contribution made by every woman in the form of workshop payments. Everything is used to care for this land and support the work that is done here. The fee for a residential weekend is £350 including a non-returnable deposit of £100. There are bursary options available for women who are under 30, students, full time carers, on low income benefits or who would otherwise find it difficult to cover the cost of this workshop. Payment by installments can also be arranged. Please email Carolyn to apply for a bursary.

THE CRONE’S GIFT

For some women we are able to offer a double bursary gift due to the generous donations made by some older sisters to support younger women and those with limited income, enabling them to participate in a Dartmoor workshop or on the Weavers’ Trail. These offerings are called the Crone’s Gift and we thank these sisters very much for this wonderful support which “enables younger women to experience help in their life from an older generation of women.” If you feel you would qualify for this offering and would like to find out more about the Crone’s Gift, please contact Carolyn. Our donating crones would like to remain hidden but we keep them in touch with how their awards are being used.

WORKSHOP PREPARATION

For preparation we recommend that all applicants enter the first journey of the Braided River online workshop programme and have the chance to attend at least two of the monthly live zoom sessions with Carolyn before arriving to the land. You can find out more about the Weavers’ Trail by wandering through this website. The opening trail journey, DAWEYO (Hearth Woman), offers a good foundation for the DAWEYO KERDÂ residential workshop. We feel that the textures and possibilities of the residential workshop journey will be enriched and deepened if participants have travelled this trail for a while before arriving to the Dartmoor roundhouse and ritual landscape. You will be able to attend the monthly zoom sessions with Carolyn (or watch the recordings made of them) and meet some of your kerdâ sisters. The Hearth Woman trail journey takes a minimum of four months to travel but you do not need to have completed the whole journey by the time you attend the residential workshop. Indeed, continuing with the online course after the weekend workshop, is a good way to anchor the work you will being exploring on Dartmoor. There are various ways to enter the trail, including low cost bursary options and monthly subscriptions. Full details may be found on the page unlock a journey.

OTHER WORKSHOP JOURNEYS

There are other residential workshops offered on Dartmoor for women who have already experienced the Daweyo initiation weekend. Places are not available on open application but if you are interested in heading towards one of these experiences, please contact us to find out more information. These are the workshops being offered during the next few years:

Lagyano petroglyph

LAGYÂNO KERDÂ: Shrine Guardian Pilgrimage

In the ancient mother tongue LAGYÂNO means the shrine keeper, prayer anchor or land guardian. This workshop is for women who want to engage with the raw and wild dynamic of the ancient moors, with the feral prayers of horse shrines and marsh trails, and with the tending of sacred places and ritual landscape. This KERDÂ is designed for women who have already been travelling with the LAGYÂNO arc of the Weavers’ Trail and are ready to anchor that work into a pilgrimage experience with wild shrines and sacred landscape. This weekend includes some walking on the open moor to ancestral ceremony sites, carrying drums, songs and offerings created to honour the ancient land. The group size is usually 13 women plus kindling sisters to support the group.

The next LAGYÂNO workshop is September 27-29, 2024. Applications accepted only from women who are already travelling this arc of the Trail. 

Soitla petroglyph

SOITLÂ KERDÂ: Bone Dreamer Covenant

In the ancient mother tongue SOITLÂ means the mystic, the spirit traveller or the shaman woman, all of whom may also be described as the bone dreamer. She is the woman who journeys with night and bear and hag and cave and raven. This late autumn workshop is wrapped around an intense initiatory ceremony, a COVENANT created between each participating sister and her own dreaming bones. This KERDÂ involves long hours in the roundhouse and in night vigil on the land. Previous experience of working with Carolyn and the Weavers’ Trail is essential. An undertaking to connect with your Kerdâ sisters during the preparation time and support each other during the BONE DREAMER COVENANT is crucial. The preparation is based on the work undertaken during the Soitlâ arc of the Weavers’ Trail and can begin at least 3 months before the workshop weekend. This workshop is by invitation only. The Bone Dreamer Covenant weekend will be held during the winter, early 2025. 

If you are interested in finding out more about the Dartmoor workshops with Carolyn, please email workshop application.