Dark Veil

The Dark Veil: Honouring The Cycles of Life

With Ian Siddons Heginworth, Angharad Wynne,
Joanne Tremarco, Rupert & Claire Callender

An opportunity to prepare for the colder, darker days of Winter, and to reflect on life and death. Honouring the turning of the seasons and of the year, considering our own mortality, and forming a living connection with our ancestors, at the time when the veil between worlds is said to be at its thinnest, through ceremony and ritual, play and conversation.

Times: 5 pm Thursday 31st October – 2 pm Monday 4th November

Fee: £500 (incl. accommodation, all food and tuition fees)
£380 (Non-residential)

Limited bursary places are available at £380 on application.

This course includes entry to The Birth of Death a live performance by Joanne Tremarco on 2nd November. You can buy additional tickets here.

Dark Veil

This course is for you if you would like to:

  • explore different ways of thinking about death, and the cycles of life
  • change your relationship with your ancestors, and those who have come before you
  • relate to the turning of the year in a way that contributes to your own wellbeing

Join us as the season changes, the veil thins and we turn inwards to face the the dark.

This is the time of year when we honour the ancestors and embrace our own mortality, understanding the potency this meeting brings to our lives. It is the time of year when we travel inwards to find connection with ourselves and the creative forces of nature as they wane.

This a time for processing our grief, for stillness, for seeking guidance and listening out for the answering voices from within and without. But is also a time for joy, for celebration and for sharing the riches we have harvested in the growing season of the year.

It is All Hallow’s Eve, so find your place around the fire as we explore and celebrate the dark, and seek the riches, the pain and the joys, to be found in the shadows that surround us.

What You Can Expect

Expect ceremony, expect performance, expect dialogue.
Expect tears and laughter, expect to feel uncomfortable, expect to feel relief.
Expect art, expect movement, expect stillness and silence.

Expect to be connected to invisible, powerful forces.
Expect to feel subtly and inexplicably empowered.
Expect to change your relationship with the dark and the dead.

Each of the facilitators will be leading 1 session/day:

Ru & Claire Callender: Performance ritual designed to really feel how porous the line between life and death is. It involves honouring our ancestors, but not fetishising them, and is a deeply sincere yet lightly held exploration of our fears and our responsibilities. Also opportunity for conversation and discussion with the celebrant undertakers, and founders of the Green Funeral Company.

Ian Siddons-Heginworth: An environmental arts therapy workshop honouring both the elders that have gone before, our beloved dead, and ourselves as elders now and the new seeds that we are carrying into the darkness for the year ahead. Involving the creation of artifacts, and drawing on the celtic tree calendar (the Tree Ogham) as an indigenous frame of reference for this land, honouring the end and beginning of the cycle.

Angharad Wynne: Ceremony to welcome Winter and Celtic New Year, followed by ‘Soul Cakes’ ritual (an offering of our sensory experience to those who have passed), the use of story, naming and dreaming with the seeds of the coming year, Dreaming/Journeying & time sitting out in nature to gather thoughts, converse with the oneness of things and respond.

Joanne Tremarco: Following the performance of The Birth of Death, Joanne will lead a workshop….Who is the inner being? Where does it go when we dream, when we die? Crossing the veils between the seen and unseen worlds…(the scene and unscene). Each of us will turn up to the workshop with our physical bodies- presenting how we wish them to be presented and at the same time giving away traces of secrets through the idiosyncracies that we haven’t been able to preen out of ourselves or hold back. This workshop will welcome and celebrate these revealing treasures and quirks that some how managed to get out of line, and wave to the audience in spite of the tight rule of our internal dictators.

Beyond our physical bodies lies the inner world, which both keeps us seperate as we preoccupy with it, and connects us as their is only one infinity and we are all a part of it. Can fearless play help us prepare for a fearless death? Who knows? The invitation is to gather around the time of the day of the dead- when the veils are said to be at their thinnest….To dis-cover and honour our dead dreams and deceased loved ones and to be be re-born fool-hearted.

The Birth of Death:
As part of this course, we will be treated to a live performance of ‘The Birth of Death’ The Death Wife Project, performed by Joanne Tremarco (directed by Yael Karvan).

Imagine you have two bodies. One you move in every day and one you move in when you dream. Where does the dream body go after death? Let Tremarco, a spiritual fool, laugh and cry you over to the other side. Leading you with gentle humour through fears, feelings and ideas about death.

Drawing on end of life conversations with her mother, training as a death doula and adventures as a Lucid Dreamer, Tremarco has created an “utterly remarkable” “ tremendous piece of heartbreaking, exhilarating, breath-taking physical theatre.


Ian Siddons Heginworth

Ian Siddons Heginworth is a leading practitioner, innovator and teacher of environmental arts therapy, a practical ecopsychology that uses the locations, themes, cycles and materials of Nature as its therapeutic media. He is a drama therapist registered with the U.K. Health Professions Council and has an Mphil in drama. He is employed by Devon Partnership Trust as a specialist practitioner, running the Wild Things project, which combines environmental arts therapy with outward bound activities, for mental health service users in Exeter. He is also employed as a lecturer and workshop leader on the Exeter based M.A. in drama therapy course. As the founder of Dreamtime Theatre he has led many large community arts workshops, performances and rituals in outdoor locations throughout the U.K and in the U.S. He has worked as a therapist for over twenty years and runs a private practice as an environmental arts therapist in therapeutic woodland around Exeter.

Angharad Wynne

Angharad spent much of her youth exploring her Welsh homeland by foot and delving deeply into the western magic, healing and spiritual traditions in order to piece together the lost parts of her own indigenous culture. Connection and dialogue with with nature and landscape is central to her work as is the magic of everyday, the creation for meaningful ceremony for our lives today and sharing the spirituality and mythology of her homeland with others.

A published author and poet, Angharad is also a storyteller who uses story as the starting point for deep enquiry and a source of timeless wisdom and healing. She regularly runs spiritual and creative retreats including the Return to Centre series for women, In the Footsteps of Ancestors, an annual pilgrimage following ‘Songlines’ across the sacred landscapes of Britain, and Dreaming the Land which she co-runs with partner and collaborator, Eric Maddern. She speaks widely about finding ‘the dreaming’ of place; of working with intuition, knowledge and landscape to draw together threads of spiritual practice which are connected and meaningful to and arise from specific geographical and cultural landscapes.

Angharad Wynne

Joanne Tremarco

Joanne Tremarco  has been working with the Archetype of The Fool for 14 years, for 7 of  which she has been touring solo improvised plays which endeavour to link the audience up with the archetypal world, disc-covering what holds us back and propels us forward and going to places angel’s fear to tread.

The Fool is Zero and so has nothing to lose, can become anything. It lives in the world beyond judgement and yet can show us something about how judgement shapes our reality.

In 2012 she supported her Mother  spiritual, emotionally and physically as an end of life companion and for the 49 days after death, Joanne made her self available to her mother as a guide between worlds by offering the course of readings and meditations from the Clairvision school, Death The Great Journey.

Since these experiences Joanne has trained as an End of Life Doula with Living Well Dying Well and a Birth Doula with Birthing Wisdom in order to support people find their own way and their own peace in order to enter and leave the world with the clarity, love and acceptance that is their birth right.

Tremarco has also collaborated with Internationally acclaimed director Yael Karavan to create The Birth of Death a powerful, interactive piece of theatre that addresses Death – the elephant in the living room- through humour, honest story telling and stunning choreography.

Joanne Tremarco

Claire and Rupert Callender

Claire and Rupert Callender combine the role of undertakers and celebrants, and do everything and more that is required around a death.

They set up The Green Funeral Company in 1999, and cover most of Devon and Cornwall.  They visioned and established Sharpham Meadow, a natural burial ground on the Sharpham Estate, and for the past ten years they have been based on the Dartington Hall Estate. They remain one of the most progressive undertakers in the UK today, and their approach involves honesty, appropriateness and participation, for both themselves and the families they work with.

They were inspired to become undertakers by the work of The Natural Death Centre charity, an organisation that sprung directly from the counterculture, and their training mainly consisted of reading The Natural Death Handbook, bereavement and the bad funerals that followed.

They also bring unusual personal and cultural influences through their experience of punk, acid house and crop circles.

Ru and Claire have been described as ‘alternative’ funeral directors, and it is true that they are the opposite of the mainstream funeral world, which they feel is often highly corporate, patriarchal and resistant to innovation. They prefer to describe themselves as radical undertakers.

They are also involved in a bold art project with Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, former members of the KLF to build a pyramid of bricks containing the cremated remains of the dead. This process is called MuMufication.

Upcoming Dates & Booking

We aim for all of our courses to be as inclusive and accessible as possible – please contact us for information on paying in installments.

There are also a limited number of bursary places available for this course at £420 on application.

If you have any questions please call +44 (0) 1647 252 983 or email support@embercombe.org

Image courtesy of: Mary Sill on Unsplash

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