In 2005 some friends came to Cae Mabon and left a possibility rather deliciously hanging in the air. They were travelling around Wales doing ceremonies with crystals to bring healing to the land. They came here because Emma had divined – by communion with the spirit of Merlin – that she and her crystal healers should visit. It was early April. After Emma’s impressive invocation around the Roundhouse fire, three of the group channelled voices. They had a form of words at the beginning where they named who they were speaking for in what became a trance-like state of possession.
The second person spoke in the voice of Taliesin, the great bard. At first I was sceptical, thinking she’d say these things if she was pretending to be him. But then she said: ‘There used to be a mystery school here’. Suddenly I was hooked! It didn’t seem likely to have been right here, but nearby perhaps. After all, the Celtic high priests, the Druids, had their stronghold in Môn (Anglesey), a mere ten miles away across the Menai Strait. If they’d headed straight for the sacred mountain of Snowdon, yr Wyddfa, they’d have come through here. Good place for a mystery school then. Later the voice of Taliesin said: ‘And the man looking after this place is doing a good job’. Well that did it! ‘Maybe there’s something in this after all,’ I beamed! It was like getting a pat on the back from Taliesin himself.
I took it as encouragement, an affirmation from the Great Spirit, a thumbs up from the Holy Ghost. I’d followed my bliss (and blisters) and the Universe had rewarded me. Thanks be to God. But more than anything I felt I was getting the ‘ok’ from Taliesin, the inspired mystic, the one whose story contains a template for initiation that may go back to the Druids. He is the creative one. He’s got the awen, the buzz and tingle of riding the wave. He is fully awake, imagination writ large. This was the goal of Welsh poetic tradition: to be inspired like Taliesin.
I’d been telling Taliesin’s story for many years by then, kept it alive and, in a way, become him over and over again. Also one of the key themes at Cae Mabon had always been creativity – in dwellings, landscaping, story, art, poetry, sculpture, dance and ritual… Making the place beautiful in song and shape was an abiding intention. So yes, thought I, maybe Taliesin does like this. Perhaps we are unwittingly doing his bidding.
But the delicious possibility that was left hanging was the idea of a mystery school. That was intriguing. I pondered. Could we make a mystery school here, or something like it? It was an idea that was tossed about a lot in the next ten years. In some ways Cae Mabon already was a mystery school. There is a mythic quality to the place. Its setting in a forest clearing near the foot of Snowdon is special. Every year a procession of wonders pass through here and no matter what people do they often go deep. The work done here is with a knowledge that’s largely hidden, hence a bit of a mystery. A mix of therapy, healing, shamanic practice, creative expression, mythic delving and the serious play of ritual make for the possibility of profound transformation. We’ve had some renowned teachers here including Alida Gersie, Tom Cowan, Bill Plotkin, Caroline Carey, Malidoma Some, Philip Carr- Gomm, Laura Simms, William Ayot, Dawn Morgan and David Luke, to name but a few. Woven through all of this was, surely, the makings of a mystery school. Perhaps it just needed a little tweaking.
And yet maybe it needed to be something more. A programme, a course, a syllabus… A commitment, a communitas, a sangha… Integrated and purposeful… Angharad was particularly clear about this. Some of our curriculum may be already covered in events going on at Cae Mabon, but this would be a community of inquiry dedicated to exploring the root spirituality that arises from this land. Though overlaid and obscured by classical civilisations and Christianity, this is something other, older, mysterious and alluring. It is native and indigenous. It is autochthonous, meaning the ‘self of the earth’.
We decided, in the end, to call it the ‘Dadeni SPIRIT School’. Dadeni is a Welsh word meaning ‘renewal’ or ‘rebirth’ or ‘renaissance’. And SPIRIT is an acronym for ‘A Soulful and Practical Inquiry to Re-imagine Indigenous Tradition’. It will be based in Snowdonia at Cae Mabon and guided by Angharad and myself, along with an inspiring band of trusty tutors. We’ll be doing two, five-day retreats per year for three years. We’ve recently completed the process of gathering together an amazing group of fellow inquirers and will be doing our first retreat this coming October. More information is on the www.dadeni.org website.
So this is a fruit that has truly been a long time ripening.