“Human presence is a creative and turbulent sacrament, a visible sign of invisible grace”. John O'Donohue

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Life, Death and After - A Winter Solstice Workshop

Wednesday 12th December
19:30 - 21:00 GMT (UTC+0)
check your time zone
Online: Zoom

Following on from our first event in October, this free online workshop, hosted by Jude Murray and Richard Harding, will lead us gently into an exploration of death and dying. 

We will share ritual space to safely facilitate discussions and meditations around the theme of death: feelings, ideas, cultural associations, fears, mythologies, concerns and questions.

The Winter Solstice is the darkest time of the year, the time in the ancient calendary when it was believed that for a moment, the heavens stood still. It is a time to retreat into the inner cave of our being. A time for contemplation. A time for stillness. A time to acknowledge the death and rest cycle of nature, in the knowledge of renewed life in Springtime. In the last workshop we introduced the Buddhist meditation - the Nine Contemplations of Atisha as taught by Joan Halifax. In this workshop we will explore the first of the Nine Contemplations - That all of us will die sooner or later - death is inevitable. We will weave this theme through meditation, ritual, poetry and discussion. 

Jude and Richard both have extensive experience of working with people and nature in and through the process of dying and beyond. Jude is an inititated Druid, lay minister, celebrant and ritual leader, embodiment facilitator, yogini and hospital chaplain. Richard is a healer, ritual space maker, paramedic practitioner, yogi, forest gardener and plant alchemist. 
BOOKING ESSENTIAL - follow this link 


Saturday, 1 December 2018

Embodied Prayer: An exploration

A warm welcome for people of all genders, and people of any any faith, or none.

Join us for this warm and wonderful afternoon as we spend time together exploring ways to bring the body into our prayers. 

Embodiment is about working with our posture, movement, breathing, awareness and intention to gain deep insight of our own patterns. By deepening our awareness and changing the way we move, breathe, and pay attention, we can change the way we live. An embodied approach can be a powerful, personal process of transformation.

What does the body long to pray for? How can we involve our bodies in prayers of devotion, supplication, grief, gratitude or surrender? How do various cultures bring the body into prayer?

Embodiment holds that the body, mind and spirit are interconnected and hold great wisdom if we slow down, listen and express creatively. This workshop honours the body as an essential spiritual gift and helps us work with our bodies to connect more deeply with spirit. Our intention for the workshop is that it helps you explore your spirituality and strengthen your present spiritual path.

This will be a friendly, welcoming and inclusive workshop hosted by Jude Murray (Inter-spiritual minister and embodied facilitator), and Chris Brown (trainer and embodied facilitator). The workshop will involve movement that can be adapted to all abilities. 

Please contact either of us for more information or with any questions. We hope to see you there!

For this event we are running a NOTAFLOF policy.

NOTAFLOF means No One Turned Away For Lack Of Funds. If the early bird or full price is beyond your means, you can pay buy donation (see ticket options).


Monday, 5 November 2018

Midwinter Stillness - A Solstice Workshop

2 - 5 PM

With Jude Murray & Richard Harding

Midwinter Stillness is a quiet and meditative celebration of the season through yoga & embodied exploration, meditation, chanting and gentle Celtic ritual. With a luscious Yoga Nidra to finish. 

It serves as a welcome oasis of stillness amidst the seasonal shopping and socialising. 

Jude has been offering this workshop every Solstice since 2005, with Richard joining her in 2017. It is always very popular, so book now to secure your place! 

We are offering this workshop as gift economy, meaning you pay what you can honestly afford. We would normally charge about £30. If you can pay more, great, if you need to pay less, great, we want everyone to be able to come. We ask for a minimum contribution of a fiver as we need to be able to cover the costs of the venue.

Register Now

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Life, Death and After - A Samhain Workshop

Wednesday 31st October 2018
19:30 - 21:00 GMT

This free online workshop, hosted by Jude Murray and Richard Harding, will lead us gently into an exploration of death and dying. 

We will share ritual space to safely facilitate discussions and meditations around the theme of death: feelings, ideas, cultural associations, fears, mythologies, concerns and questions.

Samhain is the ancient Celtic Festival that honours the beginning of winter, and the death and dying part of the natural seasonal cycle. It corresponds with Halloween (all Hallows) and All Souls Day in the secular and Christian seasonal calendars and has resonances with the Mexican Dia de los muertos. 

Jude and Richard both have extensive experience of working with people and nature in and through the process of dying and beyond. Jude is an inititated Druid, lay minister, celebrant and ritual leader, embodiment facilitator, yogini and hospital chaplain. Richard is a healer, ritual space maker, paramedic practitioner, yogi, forest gardener and plant alchemist. 


Thursday, 13 September 2018

Harvest - poem

seeking a new
name, crafts
an elegant game 
of shadows. Crawling
out from the 
thorns with 
hands full of 
and trinkets, 
it pits 
hearts against 
hearts, and minds
against falsities. 

A war of
pictures and
lies and which 
will capture,
light of  
eyes on 
the brink
of boredom. 

Your attention, 

A harvest of 

Saturday, 1 September 2018

The R Word

Image result for RYesterday someone - on Facebook - called me retarded. Actually, to be fair to him, he called what I said retarded. It is a lame enough response to a difference of perspective. But, as we all know, that is often how discussions of Facebook go. One person says something, another person argues with them and at some point one of them will insult the other one for their stupidity/ignorance/ lack of education or reading.

Sounds familiar, I know. You might even have been called retarded, and it may just have slid off the proverbial duck’s back, or possibly made you a little irritated at the person’s lack of erudition. Or, like me, you might have felt the need to challenge them. Before I go any further, this discussion was in a group where I would, under ordinary circumstances, have felt like I was safe and in like-minded company.

This was one of those times that, despite every cell in my body screaming a self-preserving “walk away!”, I took on the challenge of explaining to this person why “retarded” is a word that should go the same way as the other words - like spaz or mong  – that we rightly no longer use to describe people or things. I didn’t insult him and I made the challenge in a balanced way, kindly, and in the spirit of calling in (explaining the impact with compassion and patience) rather than calling out (shaming the other person)

What is wrong with the word Retarded?

Not so very long ago, this expression was one that was used to describe people like me: autistic people. And  people with intellectual, social, developmental or educational disabilities. Retarded – from the latin retardare – means slow, or backward. If you look up a modern dictionary it will also say OFFENSIVE/DATED. Describing someone as slow or backward is no longer OK. It never was, but we shall forgive the misunderstandings of the past.

However, whilst it is no longer medically used to describe disabled people, it is still used as an insult. “That’s retarded” or “You’re such a retard!” essentially means that you – or your ideas - are stupid and - by association - like a person with an educational disability! This "reinforces painful stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities being less valued members of humanity." The R-Word

In this particular conversation, I disclosed - by way of offering context and baring my humanity - that I am autistic. This turned out to be a dangerous move and resulted in me being shamed and abused. But despite its negative impact on me, it provided the perfect and almost textbook reactions that disabled people face regularly when they (have enough strength to) challenge prejudice. Because of that, I thought that it would be a pretty useful thing to share. It will also, no doubt be familiar to people from other groups and identities who seek to challenge prejudice when they encounter it.

I will describe them as a set of manoeuvres.

Manoueuvre #1. Denial of any offense.

Message: You are over-reacting.

E.g. “There’s nothing wrong with saying the word retarded, because I wasn’t talking about you, I was talking about what you said…”

This is a common reaction. However, in common with many other words that have a loaded history, the word retarded cannot be used in isolation as if its context is irrelevant. It’s not just a word. He could have said any number of words to suggest that he thought my ideas were silly or stupid. (They weren't but he has a right to say so!)  But he chose that word, because he was culturally aware, as we all are, of its resonance. 

Manoeuvre #2: You can’t take a joke!

Message: it is your problem (i.e. lack of humour) that you are offended.

Another classic: Taking offense to something means that I don’t have a sense of humour. And not being able to laugh about something that was a “joke” turns the offense back onto the person who is offended. In fact, I have an excellent sense of humour (I am hilarious!) I just don’t like being called retarded. It isn’t funny. Stop saying unfunny things and trying to pass them off as “jokes!”

Manoeuvre #3: You don’t look/act disabled OR you can’t be disabled OR That’s not a disability! OR You are not disabled in a “bad” way! or putting "disability" in inverted commas!

Message: I don’t believe you/take you seriously as a person.

Often this manoeuvre shows up as something like “My cousin is autistic and there’s no way you are like him!”  (that's because your cousin and I are totally different people!) 

In this case there was some of that, but it became much, much worse. Another person (who I am pretty sure now was a troll) joined in and started saying some really nasty and offensive things about me and about autistic people in general. At one point she said something like “You are no more autistic than I am the Queen of England!” When it gets to this point, you know that any chance of doing some decent advocacy is lost. With a troll in the room, it's Game Over. But I guarantee that every disabled person has, at some point, and some of us regularly, had their disability minimised, denied or ridiculed in this way.  And not by a Facebook troll. 

I am ashamed to say that at this point I told her to fuck off. And therein lies a deeply engrained issue that many autistic people, and other disabled people live with. Shame. We feel ashamed for… just… being. For asking for our needs to be met. And for reacting (sometimes with anger) to others’ abuse of us.

Now, some of you may be thinking “But Jude doesn’t look or act disabled.” I will forgive you for thinking it. The whole autistic people (especially women) learning to “pass” conversation is for another blog. (Google autism + passing for some excellent articles on the subject)

The point is, if someone tells you they have a disability, it is not your job to tell them they are wrong, or why you think they are wrong. Trust that the person knows more about their disability and their own experience than you do. This is a good rule to apply to...well… everyone! At the same time it isn’t the disabled person’s job to educate you about disability. They might try, for the sake of awareness and advocacy, and on behalf of those who cannot advocate, but it would be way less exhausting if we didn’t have to!

Manoeuvre #4: Grow up!

Message: Your inability to cope with “Just a word” means that you are childish and weak.

This is nothing more than an attempt to infantilise the normal human emotions that arise when we – any of us - experience prejudice or abuse. I know that I can ignore things and walk away, or pretend that it’s a bit of fun, or a joke or that it doesn’t really matter when people say these things. But that is not the truth of how it really feels. Why should we make it OK for people to use abusive language, just so that we can avoid making a scene, and thus avoid being dismissed as childish as a result? Denying one’s upset feelings at abusive language is not “grown up”, it about sparing the feelings of the abuser, it’s repressed, and deeply unhealthy.

All of these manoeuvres are in reality Disability Shaming. A feature of Ableism (prejudice against disabled people, favouring non-disabled people)


When we minimise, deny, ridicule, infantilise, overrule, and dehumanise people with disabilities we are shaming them about and because of the fact that they are disabled. In other words, a form of Ableism. This is the power of language. We may think that words are just words, and of course they are in the very basic way of being contructed of consonants and vowels. But words are cultural constructs which carry meaning, and power. Each and every word has a history of usage, and a cultural context. For good reason, some of our historical words have been buried. We may resurrect them now and again for use as examples, or in some cases, for the marginalised to reclaim the power of words that were once used to hurt them.

The worst part of the experience I had yesterday, was that only one person, out of the dozens who were party to the conversation, said anything about the open and hostile abuse that I was receiving, or indeed anything at all to support me.  (I did receive three personal messages afterwards) The admin's advice? - "Just block them..." 

Technically, what I experienced was  a hate crime (yes even if it happened on Facebook)  Suffice to say the admins removed all evidence, and  I am no longer a member of that group. Speak up, friends, if not for yourself, then for the people who can't or can't face it. 

 And - please -  stop saying "retarded!" 

All love