Across our earth, land has inspired many different cultures, languages and spiritual traditions. In Britain our oldest traditions, our earliest cultures, have been buried under many waves of invasion and layers of cultural influence. In looking for authentic traditions it’s easy to turn to surviving cultures elsewhere to feed our spiritual hunger. It is tempting to borrow their practices, plant medicines and rituals but there is a danger we end up consuming other people’s cultures at the cost of overlooking what is left of our own.
DADENI is a call, a howl, a shout-out, to those who want to work spiritually and ritually with the land and connect with the ancient, native spiritual threads of Britain. We believe the best place to look for our deepest root is before Christianity, before the Roman invasion, back even as far as the end of the last Ice Age. We may even find our way back to 32,000 BC when a young man was buried ceremonially in a cave in South Wales. This so-called ‘prehistoric’ period is often overlooked, but contains some of the greatest treasures of these islands.
Our ancestors had no Holy Book, and neither do we, but there are many traces of their lore that have survived into our times. There are a dedicated few who have given their lives to delving into different aspects of our native lore. Some of these will be our DADENI teachers, helping to weave together the tattered fabric of our tradition into a spiritual practice based on the old ways but relevant to now.
The poetry and stories of Wales contain some of the most ancient lore of this land. For many centuries they were borne on the oral tradition before being written down by medieval scribes. They hold the surviving myths and wisdom of the Brythonic people who lived across Britain (south of Scotland) until the Anglo Saxon invasion of the 5th Century. That’s why we’ll focus our work on Wales’ ancient texts and traditions.
The hills, tors and sacred sites of Dartmoor will be our main stomping ground, with a final retreat pilgrimaging in Snowdonia and Anglesey (Ynys Môn) where the ancient Druids had their heartland. People came from all over Europe to study with them. They added their own sacred and magical practices to the Bronze Age and Neolithic sacred sites, deities and traditions that were honoured for thousands of years before. Because these landscape is still fairly wild and undeveloped, many ancestral traces - standing stones, stone circles, burial chambers, trackways and hillforts - can easily be found. Here is as good a place as any to immerse ourselves in indigenous spirituality.
Our retreats will be based at Embercombe at the edge of Dartmoor. Over three years we will deepen into the mythic, spiritual and ritual landscape of Embercombe and Dartmoor. We will walk its songlines and listen deeply at its sacred places, respond as ritual arises from the land and is met by our human need for ceremony and the sacred.
While DADENI is essentially a ‘spirit school’ it is not about top down learning. The word 'education' has two different Latin roots. They are educare, which means to train or to mould, and educere, meaning to lead out. Both meanings will be present on this programme. Our teachers will share their knowledge, particularly in the first three retreats, as well as help to draw out that deep intuition already slumbering within us. This has been the way of teaching and handing down lore amongst traditional people since time immemorial: learning, practicing, experiencing, intuiting and understanding. The final three retreats are a deeper dive and by invitation. This will be a smaller group ready to learn, grow, experiment, explore at a deeper level, building upon the taught foundation of the first three retreats.
You don’t need to be from this land to do this work. Land calls to us regardless of race or birthplace. Importantly, this programme will provide a framework and set of tools for working with landscapes elsewhere, where other native spiritual traditions have been almost lost or overlooked. Ultimately, this is about using instinct and intuition to connect to an older, wilder way of knowing Land, Nature and Tradition. It’s about learning to deepen into a soulful practice aligned with our corner of the earth.
If your soul is stirred by this call, if you’re ready to commit to three years of spiritual enquiry and growth through learning, ceremony, song, myth, plant spirit medicine, intuition and landscape with a small group of people who will become your dreaming tribe, then please consider filling in an application and joining us on DADENI.
Due to interruptions caused by COVID, our first intake are still on their journey. Applications for our next Dadeni will now begin in 2022. The next intake will begin their three year journey in April 2023 at Embercombe. More details will follow soon.