By the time this goes out, another workshop will be over and our Companions will have dispersed for another year. Inevitably, every time we go back to Great Hucklow, we think of that very first workshop… and for me, that meant laughter…
“What have you done with my mother?”
The laughing sally greeted our arrival and my offer to climb into my son’s home through his bedroom window. It set the tone for the day… one mainly filled with laughter. It is often so.
Laughter, smiles, joy… they are as contagious as a yawn… or as any other emotion. They can also turn a moment of fading sadness to beauty. It is a well-known phenomenon that depression can affect those living with someone suffering from it, in almost the same way as the cold virus will spread through a household. The negative emotions set up a downward spiral as, for instance, a partner closes him or herself off emotionally and a domino reaction sets in which affects the whole family as needs are not answered and individuals feel unable to communicate those needs for fear of setting off an even deeper reaction. Unconscious resentments, fear, fragility begin to dominate the minds and hearts of those concerned and it is a vicious cycle difficult to break.
In the same way a group of people coming together in an atmosphere of comfortable laughter will soon put others at ease and allow them to open up and be themselves. We saw this in action in April at the launch event in Derbyshire. We were a new School and this was our first major, public event as a School. To be fair, no-one knew what to expect.
Steve, Stuart and I had left a School we loved in order to follow the path we felt we had been given to tread. There was a certain nervousness when we began to publicise the Launch, wondering if anyone would come. Steve had run similar workshops before, notably the Alchemy series, I had taught in other ways… but the School was new and untried. We had only our vision to work with.
Gradually the bookings came in. We were delighted to see a group of people forming from all spiritual paths, from the Druidic and Shamanic to the Mystical… from traditional Western Mystery to those who follow a personal vision. This was what we had hoped for… this was about bringing our School to birth without barriers. Even more wonderful it was to see people flying thousands of intercontinental miles to attend! There was never any question of recruiting new students… that is not what a workshop is about. A workshop of this nature is a public opening and sharing… a simple and mutual exploration of concepts. Most of all we hoped people would come along and simply enjoy. We wanted it to be fun.
The workshops begin late on Friday. At other workshops we have all attended it often takes until the next day before everyone settles and feels really comfortable. A few of us who got there early to set up had gathered in the pub next door. Gradually others filtered in… the laughter was infectious and by the time the whole company gathered to begin after tea, the atmosphere was simply buzzing and everyone seemed to have known each other for years, though few had ever met before. It was delightful and lasted the whole weekend!
I think you have only to read the posts written by some of those who joined us that weekend to hear an echo of that laughter…you can find links to some of their articles by clicking here.
It was an object lesson in how infectious joy can be. Perhaps it went further than that… maybe it was an object lesson in how we each, individually, define our own worlds. By meeting in joy and laughter we were able to create a world of fun and friendship for that weekend… a small pocket of light that lit us all from the inside out, sustaining friendships made there by planting them in fertile soil.
The School is now established with students across the globe… yet the sense of joyous adventure continues, born, I think, of the shared laughter of the launch weekend. .. the ‘infection’ continues, and long may it do so!
I have a feeling that these first moments of any relationship… with people, organisations, situations… colour how that association develops. The playful laughter that gave birth to the School has certainly coloured it for me and painted it golden … and those who joined us there and shared that moment will always have a very special place in my heart.