Reviews & Testimonials
Bristol Spark newspaper (1997)
Spirit Horse Nomadic Circle...Into The Wilder West!
I’m reluctant to tell you about my time at Spirit Horse Nomadic Circle for two reasons. First, to put the experience into cold, hard print, I have to blow my ‘Kate Adie of Positive Change’ cover and confess to being a damaged person trying to patch myself back together. Also, I don’t want you to book all the places on this year’s camps.
You see, Spirit Horse rekindled fires in me put out when I reached adolescence, threw away my hunting knife and Narnia books and tried really hard to believe in money, mortgages and traditional family values. But Spirit Horse showed me there was magic on 20th Century earth, if I opened myself to its daily spiritual, physical and mental challenge. When I went to the Spirit Horse Shamanic Contemplation camp in Wales, I’d been trying to find a spiritual path for a while. The combination of Buddhism and Shamanism seemed ideal, despite knowing little about either.
Hungarian healer Erika Indra, and Irish ceremonialist and storyteller Shivam O’Brien have exclusive use of a beautiful valley somewhere near Welshpool. Over the eight years they’ve been running courses they’ve built up a small settlement of carpet-lined yurts, tipis and benders dotted among trees and gorges and by streams. You can take your own tent, or stay in theirs. Or, do what I did, stay in several. I also ate like a horse and made friends like never before.
Shamanic contemplation turned out to be a spiritual group process. Bring together 20 strangers, led by two delightful, charismatic, respectful but challenging human beings experienced in the power of ritual and groups and, as Erika said ‘things start cooking’. They said we wouldn’t leave the same people and they weren’t kidding. Recurrent phrases were ‘seize opportunity by the forelock’ and ‘don’t wait until you’re ready to do it, just do it’.
Erika and Shivam made a great team: she seeing each of us, seeing though our defences and behaviours; he driving the group through the ceremonies, almost challenging us to do and be more than we thought we could.
At the time I needed some serious healing, love and a new hunger for my life. I didn’t know this and turned up wearing my cynical front. After three days I had no front left. I was a huge relief.
The midnight sweat lodge (a native American idea, ritual performed in the pitch black in a bender tent converted into a kind of sauna), alternately terrified and elated me. We spent the day building it and collecting old wood for the huge fire to heat the rocks in. Being naked inside a very hot, dark bender, knowing I couldn’t leave until the ritual was over was at first terrifying (actually most things on this camp scared the life out of me and I became increasingly angry at the way I let my fear hold me back). But I did two sessions out of three and was damn proud of myself.
The singing lesson struck terror in my heart. Years of shaming mean I don’t sing in front of anyone, buster. I said no and fell apart. But the group waited for me and that afternoon on the mountainside I discovered my voice was not so bad after all. And I got angry at the monsters of my youth who’d told me it was.
Several of us were in deep childhood pain, so Erika and Shivam introduced ceremonies to help us heal and grow up. Bear-hugging (I wept), chocolate giving (I wept), burying our parents (I grew up a bit). Walking through a medicine wheel (I came out silently triumphant). I even got a rocking – 18 people cradled me in their arms and sang to me, while others massaged my feet and head. I said it was the most beautiful experience of my life and I meant it.
One day I visited Erika, Stone Medicine Woman, in a cave by a waterfall. I’m not telling you what she told me about myself, but I left several inches taller. Most of the week I was either in bits or dying of self-consciousness. And always someone took care of me, such as one of the site crew, Bear, who won a place in my heart forever with his gentleness, instant lyrics and didgeridoo playing.
By the end I’d amazed myself several times by doing things I’d always thought I was incapable of. And was operating mostly with my extra senses, not my head for a change. I wanted to stay there the rest of the summer.
To sum up: Spirit Horse is a wild, fantastic, romantic, real, useful, inward bound and outward bound spiritual adventure. I got more out of that nine days than four years at university, and am now doing their year long course. Go if you want to confront some of your fears, destroy some of your illusions about yourself and grow. If you’d rather just relax, keep your denial system intact and your extra senses shut down, I’ve heard Butlins is very nice!
After her first visit in Summer 2018
"Deep in the heart of Wales, there is a valley... 200 acres of wild land, twisting oak trees, fairy moss, lush ferns, huge cascading waterfalls, and crystal clear water... A valley of secrets, of mystical, magical energy... Ancient spirits live here, the trees talk to you... Mother nature cleanses you...
Do you hear the call?
This is the Emerald Pool... I walked alone into the wilderness, naked, seeking it. And I was rewarded, with the most beautiful place to bathe I have ever seen. In awe of its beauty.
In this place, I was completely my natural form, not blocked by stimuli, internet and electricity. Completely in nature and disconnected from the outside world. And, as I was given this safe space, a lot of demons came up for me. I really struggled while I was here, and I wanted to run. Run from myself and my mind. Run from the valley and distract myself from my pain again. But, I waited. I stayed, and I took my space. Nature cleansed me, and allowed me to process. I fell in love with the valley.
I have so much gratitude. Thank you Spirit Horse."
Spirit Horse Community (2017)
"Spirit Horse is a home to anyone willing to bite the truth emanating from their hearts. An authentic communal project rooted in tradition and freedom which our world does not allow, has ignored, bastardized or forgotten. Spirit Horse extends the memory of the past, through the stories woven in the sound of the river flowing, through the strength of the trees rooted in the earth, and she snaps it into this present allowing us to be. Allowing us to be, to be in nature, to be with ourselves, the trees, the land and the people. Beings who share those same yearnings, those some pains in their heart for something true, for something helped together by a deeper truth, people willing to hold space endlessly without judgement or a need to be somewhere else, a authenticity exists here which honours the process, your process no matter what schematic shape it might take. And you are safe, supported and nurtured through it, warmly, tenderly, with aliveness and passion..."
Spirit Horse Elder
"Spirit Horse has given me many things, but most of all a sense of connection. Before I went there, it was easy to float on the surface of life, with occasional excursions into reality. But at Spirit Horse I felt for the first time a much deeper connection, both horizontally and vertically. By horizontally, I mean across to my brothers and sisters, to animals, flowers, trees, water and the earth itself. By vertically, I mean up to my ancestors and the people of the old stories, maybe down too, to all who are to come. Barriers dissolved, understanding dawned, I started to listen to every rock and ripple. And to address them, in increasingly fine words. All this has given me a deep sense of gratitude, for the food the earth unstintingly offers me, for the sounds the winds carry to my ears, for the great dance of life all around me, in which I am given the chance to make my own wild or clumsy steps.
Also, of course, gratitude to those who had the vision of this sort of awakening and took the risk of starting something that might lead to it. And persevered in an absurdly difficult task. Aside from that, there is a lot of human fun at Spirit Horse: singing and dancing and showing off in the finest (though not the most expensive) clothes. Also the special delight that comes from doing some task or meeting some challenge - however unnecessary it might look to a motorist at a service station - collectively. I first went to the valley so that my children would have the chance to mess about in streams and tents, as I did as a child. We have had plenty of that, but in this particular Welsh valley, I found so much more. I will love and serve her as long as I have the strength to do so."
Upon his first visit to Spirit Horse
"Answering the call of wilder ancient ways... A returning to myself and a returning home, welcomed by the beautiful land and people that is Spirit Horse. Blessings and thanks - my soul has yearned for such a space and is now full with the potential of what has and could be again.
The Welsh have a word, with no equivalent in English. Hiraeth, speaks of yearning a deep nostalgia for place. Layered with grief, rooted in the loss of those we have loved; composted and enriched with deposits of sadness; a deep and abiding melancholy, fed by a particular soil and its ancient, ever present dead."