Hartwell healing

EarthSong: a Rite of Passage for Young Women aged 18-26

Tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
Mary Oliver

​Conscious of the changing face of our world and the new, and emerging struggles faced by young women, we are offering a four-day Rites of Passage for young women aged 18-26. It will be held deep in the Welsh mountains in July 2023.

Would you like to join us?
We offer this rare opportunity for a small group of young women to immerse themselves in the natural world. This is a chance to deepen into nature, slough off old skins and be renewed, a chance for each young woman to reach out into the wild hills and their own wild heart just as far as they dare.
Stepping away from life as you know it, you will together move into a place of seclusion where women who have experienced different phases of life will guide you with traditional story, ceremony and time in nature. And then you will return to be welcomed back into community with feasting and celebration as you step out to take your place in our wider society.

Ceremonies from many cultures and all parts of the world have one thing in common – community is at their heart. A sense of community is something we often feel the lack of in our modern world. So, we are hoping to work with the young women over the winter months, ahead of our summer gathering, weaving a sense of belonging and mutual support.

‘Horsetail Girl’, the story that Annie Spencer tells here, is an ancient magical story from Sakha.  Such traditional stories teach us so much about life on many levels and each telling of a tale is different.  This one emerged on a sunny day in a meadow when Annie was designing a rite of passage for young women.

In September we will hold gatherings for any interested young women who wish to meet one another and some of the women who will hold them on their journey. You will learn about the ceremony and be given plenty of opportunity to ask questions before committing to the journey.
We can also arrange to meet over zoom if attending a meeting is difficult because of distance.
If you would like more information on the next gathering, please email Annie: anniezhartwell@gmail.com

Who we are
We are led by Annie Spencer, an elder with many decades of experience of the traditions of First Nations people in North America and of Mayan teachings from Guatemala. We are a group of women – older sisters, mothers, grandmothers – who have trained in a variety of Earth-based spiritualities for many years; some are storytellers, some are singers, some are skilled in sacred crafts and some are healers. We all love the Earth and work to protect her, sometimes through our sacred ways, and sometimes through campaigning and protesting.

The ceremonial group is supported by the wider community, held by a small team led by John Scaife.

We come together at this time to share our experience, skills and knowledge to support young women, to help them stand strong and bring in the transformations needed in our world.

You can read biographies for the core group below….

Wider Community
In traditional cultures the young women would be taken away from their village to the ceremony, and the village would hold a great feast to honour them upon their return.
To give a small sense of this, we called together a community who have joined us for previous ceremonies in Wales. Once more, the village will gather, made up of friends and supporters, and the young women who were initiated in previous years. Friends, partners, and relatives of this years young women are invited join in also.

This is a chance for them to support the incredible journey the young women undertake, as well as to enjoy time in nature with feasting, music and storytelling.
This invitation is also open to anyone who loves and wants to support ceremonies such as this one.

If you are interested in joining this community contact John at freegull@hotmail.co.uk

It is important to note that we do not charge for the ceremony itself. 
We do however need to collectively cover the costs of accommodation and food. These will be kept to an absolute minimum to ensure that the ceremony is accessible to all. If you can afford a little more please do offer it, this may support someone else to attend. 

For the Ceremony

Annie Spencer
ANNIE SPENCER has long experience of this work and a background in North American and Guatemalan Mayan teachings. From these ancient ways Annie brings teachings that enliven the traditions of this land. For ten years she co operated on an inititiation for young adults in the US. A well loved storyteller, she creates magical spaces for change to happen.
Annie is deeply committed to working with young people in a way that reconnects them with the land and instils in them a sense of belonging; that kindles their imaginations and sense of hope; and imspires them to look beyond the life they know in a creative way
Read more about Annie:

Christiana Aro-Harle (Chrissy)
A shamanic healer, holds degrees as a Music Therapist, Breathwork Therapist, Beekeeper with a diploma in Women’s Consciousness, as well as a shamanic drum-birther.
She has been working in the field of shamanic healing for over thirty years. Her path is woven with Land and Song, through Tuvan shamanic initiation with deepening paths into the Spirit of Song: the keener, the healer, the birther, the journeyer, the stinger.
Christiana is passionate about supporting and guiding people to find their path, heal, remember and re-connect with Mother Earth and all Beings. Visit her website: www.solavoima.fi

​Andrea Bolton
Andrea is a secondary school teacher with 10 years’ experience of encouraging young people to create community between themselves and a different relationship with the Earth, be it by learning survival skills, to learning about sustainability, to sleeping out under the stars.
Andrea was Annie’s apprentice for 5 years and now aspires to moving into elderhood graciously, passionate about facilitating a more honouring way of giving back to Earth, our source, through ceremony.

Michelle Easton (Shelly)
Michelle was apprenticed to a Canadian First Nation storyteller throughout her 20’s. She travelled with him and supported in sweat lodge, dances and pipe ceremonies. 
Later, she spent 5 years as an apprentice to Annie. This focused on creating ceremony on these lands and has formed the basis of her sacred activism.
These experiences gave her a different way of looking at the world, deepening her love of the land. They also inspired her to take action, so she returned to university in her late 20’s to study Countryside Management. 
Weaving together her spiritual background and her scientific study, Michelle has become a devoted environmental activist and campaigner. She has promoted sustainable agriculture, spent a year on an anti-fracking protest camp in Yorkshire and is currently working for Somerset Wildlife Trust.

Christianne Hythe-Cronin
​Christianne is a Healer, Teacher and Ceremonialist. As a young girl, Christianne always had a Spirit guide and friend. Her formal training started in 1998 at “Shamanka” shamanic training for women.  Christianne was apprenticed to Annie and continues to enjoy Annie’s teachings and their strong friendship. 
She has also worked with many other gifted and inspiring Shamans from North America, Peru, the Amazon Rainforest and these lands.
Christianne’s training has empowered her to work locally in Kent for Mind as an art therapist, undertake four years training in Counselling skills, working with counsellors and staff at a counselling charity service. She is a qualified Kinesiologist and Aromatherapist and currently teaches Yoga and Meditation. She always looks to incorporate her Shamanic gifts into all her practice.
Her love of this work and her deep connections with Spirit continue to make her heart sing.

Ellie Little
​Ellie has completed a 5-year apprenticeship with Annie.  With humility Ellie seeks to create ceremonies of beauty that resonate in the heart.  In times of broken lineage, we are all shoots on old roots. Where our indigenous connections have been cut we seek a way to bring our self into good relationship with the Earth. Ellie’s passion is for creating healing ceremonies for the Earth and people and she is interested in crafts, storytelling and plant healing. Ellie spent 5 years learning at Bolads Kitchen, the school of Martín Prechtel in New Mexico. This has deeply nourished Ellie’s being and informs her love of story, ritual and nature. ​Ellie is also a trained therapist offering bodywork and spiritual healing, reflexology, womb/ abdominal therapy,  flower essences and offers classes and workshops.  Connect and reach out for treatments here:   www.awenhealingarts.com

For the Ceremony

John Scaife MA Cantab
John was lucky enough to stumble upon the nascent mytho-poetic men’s movement 30 years ago, learning from Robert Bly, Michael Meade, Malidoma Some, Robert Moore, James Hillman and Martin Prechtel. He went on to study extensively with Pretchtel and Some, developing his own deep sense of ritual and the sacred, which he has sought to weave with traditions here, tapping into his skills as storyteller, writer and life coach. He is now exploring how to create ‘life stage marking’ events.
A sportsman and lover of the outdoors, as often as possible in his native Northumberland, he is also very aware, from over 35 years in banking and business, of the need to ground these learnings in the practicalities of the day to day world we live in.