Virtual Meetings and In-person Gatherings
You will need to have access to the internet, space away from others in your household and, ideally, access to outdoor space where you can sit for periods of contemplation and connection during the weekend. Some people have situated themselves outdoors for the weekend, joining the zoom calls via their mobile phones.
This course previously consisted of just three residential weekends aligned with spring equinox, summer solstice and autumn equinox. It never felt quite right that the winter season was not included but asking people to buy and transport (often over long distances on public transportation) enough camping gear and clothes to keep warm over a winter weekend seemed consumerist and prohibitive. As mentioned before, this course isn’t meant to be an endurance test; nor is it meant to require a shopping spree.
In 2020, the course was cancelled altogether due to lockdown restrictions and as the first scheduled weekend in 2021 approached, the situation was still quite restrictive. The course was previously run with twelve participants and two facilitators and it was still uncertain whether guidelines would allow for a group of 14 people to meet in early 2021 .
In order to avoid cancelling the course for a second year running, a rather reluctant decision was made to hold the first ‘residential’ weekend via zoom. This proved an unpopular prospect with many people who had applied for a place on the course, as it was hard for them to imagine being able to tune in to nature or getting to know a new group through a weekend online. And fair enough.
There was, however, a group of 6 people who were willing to go ahead with the virtual format so we went ahead and the results were so positive that they have re-shaped the course offering for 2022. Working with a smaller group allowed for a greater sense of certainty that we would be able to meet in all but the strictest of lockdown conditions, allowed for much more one-to-one contact and allowed for the possibility of social distancing within the campsite facilities.
The virtual format of the first weekend proved highly effective at facilitating a strong sense of connection and community with each other and with the natural environment nearest home. It also set things up nicely for the first residential weekend as there was none of the usual trepidation about going to a new place to meet a whole new group of people. Embracing virtual meetings has had the added benefit of allowing for more whole group contact and one-to-one tutorials between the weekends. It is gratifying to have found a way to incorporate all eight seasonal festivals so that when our time together comes to a close, a new solar cycle will soon begin and the attunement to nature can continue in ever deepening spirals of connection.
“I usually shy away from video calls as much as possible, yet this way of working opens up a new realm of possibility for connection when we can’t be in close physical proximity. The space that Jane creates is sacred. It is a space of tender, perceptive connection, and presence. It isa space that expertly hold, invites, nourishes, and challenges. It made meeting for the first camping weekend all the more special as it felt as though we were welcoming old family and slipping back into something deeply established and known. Magic can be created over zoom: I’ve felt it.- R 2021 cohort
“At first I was hesitant about starting a course on reconnecting to nature on Zoom, especially after so much pandemic-induced video call fatigue, but the entire experience was wonderful from start to finish. Jane created a virtual space for us expertly and beautifully, there was the perfect balance of online conversation and getting outside to our ‘sit spots’ and by the end of the weekend, I couldn’t believe how deeply connected I felt to a group of people I had never met in real life. When we all met in person on the first residential weekend, it was like greeting old friends, and we settled into the weekend in such an easy, comfortable way. In the end, it was perfect to have first connected from the comfort of our own homes, in our safe spaces, and then have our energies all come together physically.” AR