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Let Darkness Be Your Candle


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Course dates: 
Monday, 11 December, 2017 to Friday, 15 December, 2017

With Jay Griffiths and Chris Salisbury

Join us for moonlight walks, exploring the poetry of the night, the meaning of the trickster-twilight and the nourishing power that lies hidden in the darkness. Jay Griffiths will lead a themed creative writing course on night and winter, dovetailing with Chris Salisbury leading an investigation of our own relationship with the dark through immersive experience and storytelling.

At A Glance

  • Awaken the transformative powers and gifts of darkness inside of you
  • Enjoy the beauty of the night during professionally led nightwalks
  • Engage in creative writing under the support of an award-winning author

About This Course

What does the history of sleep tell us about a respect for the dark? How does a screen-addicted lifestyle affect the body and the mind? What happens in the woods at night? What are the creatures of the dark and how do they communicate? What has the night sky meant to poets? Can you see by starlight?

This week-long course will look at twilight and the Trickster, glorious mycelium, stories of the wintering times, the history of sleep, the natural world by night, the idea of hibernation and the ways in which the realms of night are devalued in contemporary society. We will fully explore the wintering times, seeing our way by starlight and befriending darkness in all its manifestations.
'Let darkness be your candle', wrote Rumi, and this course will explore the powers and gifts of darkness not just as the tomb of death, but also as the womb of creation and a source of renewal. Literature of the night will help us to see our way to our own writing about aspects of winter; ecological or chronological, public or private. We will examine myths of the moon and emotional winters, looking into the necessary subsoil of imagination and the cultural meanings ascribed to the dark.

Jay Griffiths will tutor a creative writing course using exercises themed around night, winter and darkness, and will introduce literature which explores the social history of night-time, and which examines the social and physiological aspects of sleep and dreams, as well as the poetry of winter and the night. As a participant you will have the opportunity to produce a piece of writing on the themes of the week. Intertwining with this, Chris Salisbury of WildWise and the Westcountry Storytelling Festival will lead activity-based explorations of the themes, including nightwalks, meditations, natural observation, stargazing and movement work. He will also use his long experience as a storyteller to drum up the best of winter's tales.

As a whole, the week will look at the often secret gifts hidden in the dark, at what is intuitive and innate, and examine the prejudice of contemporary society towards the darkness, night and winter. At this darkest time of the year, we will seek ways of redeeming the night and winter to find their inherent values of transformation.

No writing experience necessary.


Jay Griffiths

Jay Griffiths is a writer whose work covers wide cultural issues. Her first book (Pip Pip: A Sideways Look at Time) was about the politics of time and her second (Wild: An Elemental Journey) explored ideas of wilderness and was shortlisted for the Orwell prize for political writing and won the Orion Book Award in the USA. She has written about childhood and the natural world in Kith: The Riddle of the Childscape, and her fiction includes A Love Letter from a Stray Moon. ‘If bravery itself could write, it would write like she does.’ (John Berger)


Chris Salisbury

Chris lives on the other side of the forest with his beloved wife, daughter and dog. He has a background in the theatre, a training in therapy and an ongoing career in environmental education. Chris uses every creative means at his disposal to encourage people to enjoy and value the natural world. He is the course carrier for the year-long ‘Call of the Wild’ Foundation at Schumacher College, where he also facilitates some of the short course programmes. Chris founded WildWise in 1999 after many years working as an education officer for Devon Wildlife Trust. He is a professional storyteller (aka 'Spindle Wayfarer'), and is Artistic Director for the Westcountry Storytelling Festival. Chris is trained as a Be the Change facilitator and offers symposiums for interested groups.

£ 620.00
Course fees include basic accommodation, all meals, field trips, materials and all teaching sessions. The programme will run from Monday to Friday afternoon, and includes four nights private accommodation and all vegetarian meals from the first lunchtime you arrive through until the lunchtime before your departure. We ask you to arrive between 11:30 - 1 on the first day of your course so that the group can begin the experience by dining together. We recommend attending this course as a fully residential participant however for you may choose to book as a non-residential participant. Please call 01803 847237 for more details.