Courses Overview >> Short courses >> Tender is the Night - Exploring Darkness

Tender is the Night - Exploring Darkness


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Course dates: 
Monday, 12 December, 2016 to Friday, 16 December, 2016

With Chris Salisbury and Jay Griffiths


We live in a culture that mistrusts the night. In its desire to understand and control chaotic nature, our society deifies the light at the expense of the dark. 

This is partly physical, so the light of electricity blots out soft, dancing firelight and shadow. It is partly metaphysical, so the inherent gifts of darkness - enchantment, intuition, dream and renewal - are devalued. At this darkest time of the year, it seems appropriate to seek ways of redeeming the night, darkness and winter. 
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?  The course will explore the importance of twilight, winter, and examines our relationship with the mysteries of  night time. 
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? What are the evocative echoes of Enchanter's Nightshade?
'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.  In early lunar and solar myths, the time of darkness was always the time of transformation when death was followed by rebirth as the new crescent of the moon and the new disc of the Sun. This pattern of nature has informed our mythological consciousness and offers us a way of understanding the mysteries of our own darkness. 


During this short course, Chris Salisbury of WildWise and the Westcountry Storytelling Festival will lead an investigation of our own relationship with the dark through a series of physical explorations and activities. These will include nightwalks, meditations, natural observation, stargazing, storytelling and movement work. Jay Griffiths will use writing exercises to tell our stories of the dark, and lead workshops on the poetry of night.  We will search collectively for an understanding, and connection with the gifts hidden within the night, towards a deeper respect for this underappreciated realm.




About Jay Griffiths

While travelling the world in order to write her award-winning book Wild, Jay Griffiths became increasingly aware of the huge differences in how childhood is experienced in various cultures. One central riddle, in particular, captured her imagination: why are so many children in Euro-American cultures unhappy – and why is it that children in many traditional cultures seem happier? In Kith(link is external) Jay Griffiths explores these questions and many more. Moving from communities in West Papua and the Arctic to the ostracised young people of contemporary Britain, she asks why we have enclosed our children in a consumerist cornucopia but denied them the freedoms of space, time and deep play. She uses history, philosophy, language and literature to illustrate children’s affinity for the natural world and the essential quest element of childhood.

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 ( is external)) 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 ( is external)). 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 in our Elmhirst Programme at Dartington Hall. Vegetarian Meals from the first lunchtime you arrive through until the lunchtime before your departure are included. This course will take place as part of our Soul | Spirit | Story Programme