it´s been a while…

Hello dear family and friends of Mount of Oaks and the White Stone Association,

Apologies for the lack of communication / information in the last few years… Apart from our personal encounters with some of you who live closer, we are aware that our virtual communication with those who are far, has suffered drastically. We are sorry as we are always so grateful for all the support we have been receiving from all of you, and we are aware that we just haven’t communicated that to you for a long while. So, THANK YOU for continuing to journey together nonetheless 🙂 .
As for means of communicating we are more keen lately to keep it on a closed circle through email or face to face, as we´ve also realised how much energy and time consuming it was for us to use all the social media platforms as we were used to. As a result, our web page, facebook pages, instagram pages, etc, have been neglected for at least 2 years :-/ … We are still not sure if we want to re-activate these platforms, but if we do, it will not be regular, and I hope you understand… Life is much more exciting away from a screen 🙂 especially living on a farm :-). Depending less on high-technology is also part of our message 🙂

I would suggest a nice cup, or glass, of your preferred drink and a relaxed time to read this update that ended up longer than expected 🙂 as it happens when communication is not so regular… sorry about that too :-/… it might require 10 more minutes 🙂


OUR DIRECTION THESE LAST YEARS :With all the changes the world has been facing the last couple of years (in what seems to me as at a very high speed), we felt the need to slow down (as most of you probably), and re-think what really matters to us… Where is the Wind blowing us to?  What is that really is calling us?  What is giving life to us, and through us to those around us? Our almost immediate response since March 2020 has been these :

Prayersinginghealing and service to our local community, have been very present and important in our lives and in this place.

NEW RESIDENTS :
Me and Emma are still the main resident guardians (and we finally started to build a house for us last year… whoop whoop)…Since last summer we have had the pleasure to share this responsibility with Ricardo, who is currently living here in a caravan. We get the pleasure to also have Ricardo´s children for a week every fortnight –  Eva, 10 and Amadeu, 3 (nearly 4 he´s very proud to say), and their cat Peachy.
This “molecule” has been working well so far (apart from some cat fights with Peachy who is the new kitty cat in the hood) , and it has been helping us to clarify what we really want and realistically can support in this 5 hectare piece of land…We don’t see more than 2, max 3 resident dwellings.
Something that became clearer as we were slowing down, was that we (me and Emma) really need a private space that is “safe”… And the same will be for any resident, as the work can be quite intense at times. It´s part of looking after ourselves in order to be able to look after others .We are an open house and it can be exhausting when we don´t have clear boundaries or literally a place to “hide” ( says me, the introvert)… Our own house, away from all common spaces, is definitely in response to that, and also the clarity about the amount of residents we would like to see in this land…
We are looking for long term committed residents, willing to share responsibilities, as well as their hearts, willing to contribute with their finances, as well as their working hours, useful skills and willing to serve this land the same way we have been since 2006, with the awareness that we are serving a greater good 🙂
( Note: We are also volunteers contributing monthly with our own personal finances for the running of this place. We are giving of our time to work here and therefore we cannot take on full time jobs. Emma was offered a job this year, so we are for the first time having a wage at the end of each month which is a novelty, and a blessing at the time we will have big expenses to build our house the way we would like :-)… Divine timing :-)Ricardo is in an initial and transitional stage, and he is giving what he can. So, if you feel like supporting him personally, do get in touch and we can share more about this)

WHAT WE ENVISION AT THE MOMENT AT MOO :After 16 years, and with so many different people/ groups passing by, me and Emma feel it is time to call long-term residents to share responsibilities… We´ve been hosting volunteers to come and stay for short periods of time and some even for longer periods…that has been a great help and most of the time a very pleasant experience, but it has been exhausting too at times… We have gladly been sharing our skills and time with those that have passed by, and now we are looking for either already skilled folk or for those who would like to set roots here and share the lead…   Living in  community in such an open “house” has not been easy… Sharing our kitchen, our living room, our leisure places has been a privilege, but also a sacrifice at times… So we felt it was time for us (me and Emma) to call what we really want to see in this place, meeting our personal needs and desires instead of often trying to meet the expectations of those who pass by, above our own… What we aim is to have our own private space  and leave the common spaces  for all those Associates who would like to use them for workshops, events, etc… The residents will take care of general maintenance of land, animals and structures, and develop the general vision.
We envision 2 more dwellings max (and maybe one more is enough), of people who will live permanently and share all responsibilities, and all the benefits, of what it means to be a guardian of this land. After 16 years, and with many more tools and personal skills, I can say that it’s quite manageable at this stage, but it’s much lighter when responsibilities are shared, as there is still lots to do just in maintenance for example, never mind developments… We would like to include more animals in our ecosystem, for example, but we would not do that until we have others to share this huge responsibility. Also, I´m looking forward to having more time for other things apart from land management and building  🙂 .
Ricardo is at the moment in a one year trial, and he is already taking on some of the responsibilities which we are grateful for. He is in temporary housing and after a year, if we are all in agreement and alignment, he could start to build his own dwelling if he´s ready for that, or wait one more year. After that, we will request a clear decision.This is the process we are adopting… There is a long term commitment which enables us to share more responsibility, but we are all still “testing” for at least 2 years to see if it will really work for everyone in the long term. We will see how life unfolds…


MORE LAND …
Last year we added 2 small plots and a long “wildlife corridor” to the existing land… The “cabeço”, which some of us call it “the eagle rock”, or “the alien rock”, or “E.T” , and the little ruin next to it which is being called by our neighbours as “a capela” / “the chapel”, since I mentioned that was the purpose we envision for it :-)… a small open house of prayer  🙂

The “wildlife corridor”, or “boar land”, was purchased last year with many donations that most of you sent, for which we are very grateful… We were not necessarily looking for more land, and we definitely didn’t need more work, but a series of events led us into buying it, and “it just happened”… All these lands and all life in them are very happy they will not be sprayed with chemicals or plowed anymore 🙂
At the same time we were suddenly approached by other friends who expressed the desire to stay close and have their own plot of land in this valley and cooperate with what is already developed while doing their own thing ( which is what we prefer) …  it  all came as a big wave and it felt at times overwhelming… other times too good to be true 🙂

OTHER VISIONS COMING ALONG…So it started to make even more sense our idea to have our own separate and private space, and live more in a collective where others will have their own separate and private space, and we could share responsibility on taking care, managing and using the common spaces at MoO…This is still maturing and unfolding… next episodes to be developed :-)…

May clarity come to the surface… As I said before, it´s most times too exciting, other times a bit overwhelming … specially when it comes to other people´s expectations, and our tendency to see everyone happy and living up their own calling 🙂 … 


EXTENDED COMMUNITY…Beyond our little valley, there are other small collectives emerging between us and Póvoa de Atalaia, or between us and Alpedrinha, which are the villages closest to us for those who don´t know … it´s all very exciting… Actually, not only here, but all over Fundão area and surroundings… very interesting people with very interesting visions and projects.A stronger sense of community and family also comes along which is very encouraging too.
Another big news, as I mentioned briefly, is that Emma has a full time job this year… She was not even looking for it, but the offer came to her from the City council of Fundão, who recognised her skills in the area and she’s now a “mediator” between the english speaking foreign local community and the local council … She´s pretty much being paid for what she has been doing for years 🙂 … For those who know Emma, it’s not surprising to say that she’s doing much more than that… She has been helping the other migrant groups that are now coming to Fundão too : Asian and Brazilian workers, Afghan, Syrian and Eritrean refugees and as of this week Ukrainians…Prayers and support will be more than welcome. As much as it is part of her calling and passion, it is also quite exhausting to deal with so many different worlds, needs and realities at the same time. 
It has been a massive change and adjustment here in the land too, but I think we are managing it well, and we need to trust that this too is part of a bigger picture that surpasses our understanding 🙂


ACHIEVEMENTS AND GOALS AT MOO FOR THIS YEAR…
We are in mid March, so we already have a few great achievements to share, and a few more goals for the rest of the season.
So, we started the year having our new solar system installed which is working superbly so far… Even after all these cloudy days it´s working totally fine… It was a nearly 2000e expense, but definitely worth it . And I´m glad I took the time last year to build a new roof for the panels, perfectly facing south and without big trees in front of it 🙂 We will be able to run a better fridge and even a washing machine, imagine… much progress ahead, we better watch out… Emma is particularly happy with that last part so she doesn´t have to drive her laundry back and forth to Fundão anymore 🙂 I´m more excited that I don´t need to use our generator every time I need to use a power tool 🙂 We all have our preferences… and I will definitely use the washing machine too… I still have to install it though :-/ …


This last month me and Ricardo have been working on final finishes on our common space… A book shelf inside and lime plaster outside with some 3d earth plaster features… even Eva and Amadeu helped with the 3d clay and lime wash 🙂 … I don´t know how many years that has been on my list, but finally the time has come, and it felt very satisfying… 

As I was in the flow and it was just next door I also lime plastered the outside kitchen wall that was still unfinished… very satisfying too 🙂


Me and Ricardo also prepared loads of fire wood for the next year and the Mimosas are quite “under control” already, which is also quite satisfying. We have had a very dry winter which helped as well… But we do hope lots of rain come in spring time 🙂
Apart from a few more Olives, most of the pruning of all our fruit trees is done 🙂 


Our GOALS for the rest of the season– 

fix a few things in our compost toilets and shower house
– extend electrics to the shower house and camping kitchen
– continue the work in our house ( I will run some one or two day workshops in different stages and share it mainly locally as I am resisting getting back to social media for advertisement. If you are interested please send an e.mail in our contact form and I will add you to a mail list). This includes a rocket stove with a cob benchstrawbale wallcob walladobe brickswattle and daub walls, earth floor and lime plasters
– host gathering for the refugee women including food and medicinal plant identification
– host fire night and drumming with the African youth

– host weekly medicinal singing circles after April

– host Sweat lodge ceremonies 
– host a healing ceremony

– Plant more fruit trees in Autumn 

And I think I must have covered the essential communication from the last couple of years… Pheeeeeew 🙂 Thanks for bearing with me until here.
HAPPY DAYS !!!!

P.S. – If you are interested in becoming a “White Stone” Associate with a 25e yearly fee, let us know. Thank you in advance.

 Aims of the association:
   The association has the aim of promoting health and personal, social, spiritual and ecological well-being through contact with nature. The association is both multicultural and multilingual.

   Our main goals are:
   * Creation of collaborative spaces to promote social, economic and spiritual well being, local economy initiatives, community gatherings and educational opportunities.
   * Model and educate about the advantages of a ‘simple lifestyle’ and raise awareness of current environmental issues.
   * Promote healthy choices for the consumption and production of local, organic produce.
   * Encourage rural ‘ecological and educational tourism’ in a sustainable manner, respecting the cultural and local resources.
   * Offering accommodation in naturally constructed buildings and basic natural camping facilities.
   * Promote intercultural collaboration 
   What are the benefits of becoming an associate?
   By paying the annual 25E fee you will be able to have discounts on some of Mount of Oaks products and accommodation.    As an Associate, you will be able to use our spaces and structures to host your events, workshops, ideas, at a reduced renting price.   And more importantly you join a family of supporters committed to these ways of being, and you will be supporting us, the residents, and encouraging us to keep doing what we have   been doing. Basically you are participating in what we do with our lives here. Together we can achieve great things.


Barbara(in the name of all beings at MoO)

Farm Family Update

Cultivating Kindess and Potatoes!

As I began to write this email yesterday, we would have been hosting the April Fools Day (1st April) Annual General Meeting of the White Stone Association, the legal entity of Mount of Oaks. By now we would have been finished with the formal part and about to prepare a fire, getting the instruments out, sharing some food and ‘craic’ with our local supporters and friends…..Alas along with many other beautiful cultural/social events, gatherings and classes, our meeting has been postponed until further notice. We are considering a virtual meeting….we have been considering serval virtual options, and even making little videos of what we are up to. But more about that in another message later..


This morning, while ‘welcoming the day’,  our daily practice of liturgy, silence and space for circle sharing (most days we sing/chant but not this morning), I read a passage from “The Book of Joy” a conversation between the Dali Lama and Desmond Tutu, and we considered how much JOY plays a part in our every day. We are practicing to notice and become more aware of when joy rises, what sparks joy, or when we feel it fading from us. 
We are 5 living here at the present – we were 7, then 8, and now we have been a core of 5 for nearly 2 weeks. These beings living with us are not prepared to go back to Italy, Israel or Ireland – even if they wanted to, they have been advised to stay put here for the foreseeable future. So here we are – getting on with life as best we can. Sharing highs and lows, deepening our connection to ourselves, and to the nature and wildlife all around us. The connection to ‘home’, our families/loved ones has been continually tested and also strengthened. The gentle rhythm of the day helps, being active with the body and doing meaningful work in the garden – making the trenches for the potatoes; chopping and splitting the wood to heat water for the shower and to keep the common space cozy; foraging for flowers and leaves; COOKING – well we are utterly blessed to have a Middle Eastern, Italian, and veggie/vegan Irish playing with the fresh herbs and spices and being creative with what we have and don’t have!! A shift in our reality, such as this, has brought out so much creativity not just in the kitchen, but with how we apply ourselves to our time management. We have trippled the time that we give to communal prayer/meditation and each of us have felt the benefit of the community disciplines. We have fasted together, cried, laughed and supported ourselves through various states of separation. This molecule has proved to adapt to the current circumstances. 


Yes, we are blessed to be living outside, so close to nature, off-grid and able to cocoon ourselves ‘ n’ on the farm – leaving to collect fresh spring water and the occasional bag of coffee or some bananas from a shop in the village – while taking all the necessary precautions. We have also been going to buy fresh veggies from a local farmer for us and our neighbours who don’t yet speak Portuguese and also one have an auto-immune disease, so needs to be particular and careful. We are being even more careful and taking necessary precautions for his sake this last month. We had Isik and Eva arrive to prepare for the Yoruk retreat early March – just as we were all trying to get a handle on the situation that has been unfolding. It took a few days to realise we would have to cancel the gathering, and all the efforts of Eva, Isik and ourselves to prepare the land and ourselves for hosting was to be put on hold. The ladies stayed and were in great quandaries if they ought to continue to stay here on ’the island’  – for that is what we have felt that MoO has become – a little island of peace, and freedom of movement within the land and lanes, and a sanctuary from which we can hold many others in our prayers.
Our elderly neighbours are STILL coming to feed their animals on their farms that border MoO. We speak at a respectable distance, over the fence and exchange ‘laments’… Tia Adelina’s son is in France and has fragile health at the best of times. She cries, talks about the operations she had the previous years- all of which we saw her bounce back from – knee and hip – she is made of strong matter. At 84 years of age, she considers herself healthy and worries for her less robust village neighbours..The same woman demanded that I pass a hoe over the fence and allow her to show me how to sow potatoes and beans ‘properly’. Yes, we have mentioned the humble potato a lot in these last weeks here. Tia Adelina gave us a bunch to plant and we bought more – considering while we have good land to sow it and we can share whatever surplus to folks around here in a few months.
And life continues on the farm, spring rumbles on – cherry blossom has passed, so has the almond. Oranges and tangerines are in full aroma and we are harvesting the flower to dry and add to a relaxing tea mix. We are harvesting wild lavender, camomile and wild calendula. There are so many edible greens all over the place – chickweed, plantain, nettles, venus’ navel, various sorrels, cleavers, wild rocket, dandelion…and much more. The chickens are well. There is one who wants to sit, so we have gathered an uneven number of eggs and we will put them under her tomorrow when her ’nursery’ is complete. Ba was outside arranging new accommodation for her, so we can easily feed her, give her water and so she can be in seclusion and protected until the chicks hatch. One year, we remember that it was on Easter Sunday we discovered chicks – it definitely won’t be the case this year!

We have said many many times over the 14 years since the first beings nomadically lived at the Mount of Oaks, WE (whoever the ‘we’ is at any given moment) will be here and stewarding this land, nurturing soil, life and a refuge, praying and planting hope and healthy food, giving space for difficult conversations and facing ourselves in the bare of nature, we will continue to be here – foraging food, transforming and fermenting, chopping down and building as naturally as possible….. we will continue in the ways of simplicity and we will continue to try and need less and love more, we will join with you our brothers and sisters in urban areas, cities and other farms, those of you near and far, we join and we seek to remain with our hearts open and practices humble – we have no idea what is coming next, but we will continue to resist by giving space for diversity and noticing when joy rises and falls……
What is happening in our planet right now does urge us to reach for something greater than ourselves, something of the mystery and the divine. That we cannot see the destination forces us further into stillness and silence, and to pay attention to the current that calls attention to our hearts. We have been praying with and for the vulnerable, using our own words and some of those below. We have been inspired by the words of Wendell Berry, as offered by Parker Palmer, captures why walking into solitude, despite its discomforts, is the basis for cultivating our connection with the world. “Always in big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into,” he writes. “You are undertaking the first experience, not of the place, but of yourself in that place. It is an experience of our essential loneliness, for nobody can discover the world for anybody else. It is only after we have discovered it for ourselves that it becomes a common ground and a common bond, and we cease to be alone.”
These last weeks have been so intense and we have been nourished by various streams, chants, old school worship songs from Taize and cell groups, poems, letters, now daily links from the corrymeela community, all sorts of liturgy and a line from a piece written by Isik and Eva, ‘This is where I stand as a sacred channel between earth and sky’ has been offered many times over the last weeks. Our heart pouring out for the displaced, poor and those without the ability to social distance or cocoon at home with a stock of food. We are not disconnected from the world at this time, but we feel extremely grateful to work with soil and continue to propagate organic life, fragility of little seedlings and harvest the abundance of ‘weeds’ to keep us healthy. 
On behalf of all the animals, plants, trees and beings living here at Mount of Oaks we thank you for supporting us with your prayers and economic support – by becoming members of the White Stone Association – or those of you who have given support to either Barbara and I over the years. We thank you with all our hearts. We have no idea with we will be able to open our doors again run courses, host retreats or go to the markets with our produce – so your kindness has and will continue to be welcome. If you have not renewed your annual subscription to the White Stone, and are in a position to do so, please follow this link – with that 25€ we can do A LOT! 
In peace, Emma, Barbara, Monty, Noam, Michael and all the animals, plants and trees. 
As a final question – we wondered if we are going to start a session of wee videos – are there things that you would like us to report on? Teach? Share? Have chats about?
God of pan-demos, God of all-people,how odd that it takes a global diseaseto show us that we are all one:one species, one familyone genomic form,one people dependent on you.There are some among usacutely at riskto an invisible, indiscriminate foe.We join in prayer for them and us, that in our shared vulnerabilityyou would cure us of this sickness.And the other one,the one that divides us,so that in healing we might become whole. Amen.
 31 March 2020 Alex from Corrymeela.

For all that is good in life, thank you,
For the love of family and friends, thank you,
For the kindness of good neighbour and Samaritan stranger, thank you.

May those who are vulnerable, hungry or homeless, experience support,
May those who are sick, know healing,
May those who are anxious or bereaved, sense comfort.

Bless and guide political leaders and decision-makers, with wisdom,
Bless and guide health workers and key workers, with strength and well-being, Bless and guide each one of us, as we adapt to a new way of living.

And may the light shining from our windows,
across road and wynd, glen and ben, kyle and isle,
be reflected in our hearts and hands and hopes.https://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/news-and-events/news/2020/churches-join-together-in-call-for-national-day-of-prayer

LockdownYes there is fear.​Yes there is isolation.​Yes there is panic buying.​Yes there is sickness.​Yes there is even death.​But,​They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise​You can hear the birds again.​They say that after just a few weeks of quiet​The sky is no longer thick with fumes​But blue and grey and clear.​They say that in the streets of Assisi​People are singing to each other​across the empty squares,​keeping their windows open​so that those who are alone​may hear the sounds of family around them.​They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland​Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.​Today a young woman I know​is busy spreading fliers with her number​through the neighbourhood​So that the elders may have someone to call on.​Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples​are preparing to welcome​and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary​All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting​All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way​All over the world people are waking up to a new reality​To how big we really are.​To how little control we really have.​To what really matters.​To Love.​So we pray and we remember that​Yes there is fear.​But there does not have to be hate.​Yes there is isolation.​But there does not have to be loneliness.​Yes there is panic buying.​But there does not have to be meanness.​Yes there is sickness.​But there does not have to be disease of the soul​Yes there is even death.​But there can always be a rebirth of love.​Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.​Today, breathe.​Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic​The birds are singing again​The sky is clearing,​Spring is coming,​And we are always encompassed by Love.​Open the windows of your soul​And though you may not be able​to touch across the empty square,​Sing.​– Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM March 13th 2020

Where there is fear, may we bring love…

Lockdown

Yes there is fear.

Yes there is isolation.

Yes there is panic buying.

Yes there is sickness.

Yes there is even death.

But,

They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise

You can hear the birds again.

They say that after just a few weeks of quiet

The sky is no longer thick with fumes

But blue and grey and clear.

They say that in the streets of Assisi

People are singing to each other

across the empty squares,

keeping their windows open

so that those who are alone

may hear the sounds of family around them.

They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland

Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.

Today a young woman I know

is busy spreading fliers with her number

through the neighbourhood

So that the elders may have someone to call on.

Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples

are preparing to welcome

and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary

All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting

All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way

All over the world people are waking up to a new reality

To how big we really are.

To how little control we really have.

To what really matters.

To Love.

So we pray and we remember that

Yes there is fear.

But there does not have to be hate.

Yes there is isolation.

But there does not have to be loneliness.

Yes there is panic buying.

But there does not have to be meanness.

Yes there is sickness.

But there does not have to be disease of the soul

Yes there is even death.

But there can always be a rebirth of love.

Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.

Today, breathe.

Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic

The birds are singing again

The sky is clearing,

Spring is coming,

And we are always encompassed by Love.

Open the windows of your soul

And though you may not be able

to touch across the empty square,

Sing.

– written by Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM

Become a Member?!

For those who are interested in participating in the life of Mount of Oaks by becoming a member of the White Stone Association – click here to fill out the online form.

By becoming part of the association you have the opportunity to participate more fully in the Mount of Oaks project, promoting and benefiting from the activities developed.

You also are supporting a model for a low-impact lifestyle and grounded spirituality that serves as hope for those wanting to practice simplicity, locally and further afield.

Aims of the association:

The association has the aims of promoting health and personal, social, spiritual and ecological well-being through contact with nature. The association is both multicultural and multilingual.

Our main goals are:
* Creation of a collaborative spaces to promote social, economic and spiritual well being, local economy initiatives, community gatherings and educational opportunities.

* Model and educate about the advantages of a ‘simple lifestyle’ and raise awareness of current environmental issues.

* Promote healthy choices for the consumption and production of local, organic produce.

* Encourage rural ‘ecological educational tourism’ in a sustainable manner, respecting the cultural and local resources.

* Offering accommodation in naturally construction buildings and basic natural camping facilities.

* Promote intercultural collaboration.

Our AGM will be 11th March – and drop us an email if you are interested in joining! mount.of.oaks@gmail.com

‘Water and Ashes’

Webinar with Kedar S Brown
27 Feb at 7pm Portuguese/UK time – ONLINE

We had a beautiful, informative and moving conversation with Kedar about the grief ritual we will host – to watch, open the video below.

To read about the encampment and the necessity of the grief ritual in these times – follow this link to Rites of Passage website.

Please REGISTER by following this link.

“Within the sacred space of ceremony and ritual we use the seasonal aspects of nature as our backdrop and guide for exploring the dispirited thresholds of your life. ”

— Kedar S. Brown

Loss is part of Life

Kedar S Brown, ceremonialist, healer, intuitive and teacher of psychological and spiritual awareness with over thirty-two years of professional experience will come to Mount of Oaks in May to host a Grief Ritual.

He says, ‘As modern culture has moved further away from the cycles of the natural world we have learned to avoid the natural turning of the wheel of life. We push away the darkness with electric lights and screens, shield ourselves from winter with central heating and heated seats and shy away from our grief with endless entertainment or busy-ness. Indigenous cultures know all to well that night always falls, winter is inevitable and we all experience loss at some point.’

Whether it be loss through the death of a loved one, the end of a signifiant relationship, transitioning out of a job, moving away from a beloved community or the growing awareness of the loss of species and precious ecosystems on our planet grief finds each of us in time.

Grief is to be Shared

‘We are not designed to experience our grief lone, however personal it might feel. Since the beginning of time humans have come together to share their grief and help move it though so it doesn’t get stuck in the body and psyche causing lingering sadness, physical pain and disease or disruptive behavior patterns passed down through generations. In indigenous cultures grief rituals are held for the health and wellbeing of the individuals and the community. It is our collective responsibility to hold each other through the most challenging times in life. ‘

Indigenous cultures have always known this. It is only in modern times that we have banished our grief and so we turn to cultures with intact rites and rituals for dealing with grief in community.

What is a Grief Ritual?

‘The Dagara tribe are from Burkina Faso deep in West Africa. One of their respected Elders and medicine men is Malidoma Somé whose first name means “friend of the enemy”. His purpose in life – ascribed to him before birth – is to help bring the teachings of his tribe to the modern world to reconnect us with our hearts. The Grief Ritual offered by Rites of Passage Council is an adaptation of a three day grief ritual traditional in his village.’

Kedar describes the ritual like this – ‘Our version is a closed container that brings 20-40 people together for four days in a beautiful natural setting. Here we create our own village, build community and learn to trust each other. On the last day we collaborate to create a ceremonial space, gather our bundles of grief, and set up the drums. That evening, and often late into the night, we grieve together, as a village, as a people who share a common life experience.’

“This Indigenous African Grief Ritual offers a soul cleansing rite to release grief, lighten our soul and let our true spirit be heard, deepening our sense of balance and fulfillment. From the indigenous perspective, grief is not only for the living community, it is also a source of sustenance for and connection to the ancestors. Our communal tears will flow as a river from this world to the other as an offering that activates connection and healing in both worlds.”

— Kedar S. Brown

What’s Included?

Bring your camping gear and get yourself to the meeting spot – everything else is provided, including:

  • Breakfast and dinner each day
  • Traditional West African grief ritual
  • A beautiful private property to camp, roam and swim (depending on the location you choose)
  • The full attention of our dedicated, highly-trained staff
  • Drumming movement and poetry
  • Instruction in the Four Seasonal Shields of Initiation
  • Personal myth making and storytelling
  • Self and group generated ceremony
  • Ritual process, body centered, group psychotherapy
  • Healing ancestral trauma

We will provide you with a full gear list and many more details on the activities after registration

TO REGISTER follow this link

To take part in a live webinar Thursday 27th Feb (7pm UK/Portugese time) register here

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

If you register and cannot attend the live conversation, no problem -it will be recorded and emailed to you after the event.

Volunteer Blocks for 2020

Welcoming all those who are interested in coming to learn and help out at the Mount of Oaks in 2020. Below are the dates when we are open for people to come and participate. Also in this post are the types of activites to expect will be going on, and therefore what you will be getting involved in!!

If you would like to read more about what it means to come help out and experience the Mount of Oaks – read a detailed description here And follow this link for the application form.

SPRING BLOCKS – due to Covid-19 we had changes of plans…..

2nd March – 3rd April

  • Preparing the land for the Opening of the Season (Land management, cleaning and beautifying)
  • Natural Building
  • Gardening
  • General Land management
  • Helping to Host our guests
  • Transforming and preserving our produce (fermenting, drying herbs, etc)
  • Helping to sell our produce in our local organic market (twice monthly), and connect with the new and old local community of like minded people

NOTE: Apart from daily tasks, all the rest is an invitation to participate and learn, and not an obligation.

Daily tasks are part of the daily life and well being of our community, so these are expected of all participants in every Block : Cleaning of common spaces, Cooking, Washing dishes, watering plants, caring for animals, etc.

13th April – 11th May

  • Helping to host our “MoO Open Day
  • Helping to host a four day “Grief Ritual”
  • Help to host our “Silent Day”
  • Natural Building
  • Gardening
  • General land management
  • Helping to Host our guests
  • Transforming and preserving our produce (fermenting, drying herbs, etc)
  • Helping to sell our produce in our local organic market (twice monthly), and connect with the new and old local community of like minded people

Daily tasks are part of the daily life and well being of our community, so these are expected of all participants in every Block : Cleaning of common spaces, Cooking, Washing dishes, watering plants, caring for animals, etc.

18th May – 15th June

  • Helping to host our “Silent Retreat”
  • Helping host our “Parents and kids Natural building weekend”
  • Natural Building
  • General land management
  • Helping to Host our guests
  • Transforming and preserving our produce (fermenting, drying herbs, etc)
  • Helping to sell our produce in our local organic market (twice monthly), and connect with the new and old local community of like minded people

NOTE: Apart from daily tasks, all the rest is an invitation to participate and learn, and not an obligation.

Daily tasks are part of the daily life and well being of our community, so these are expected of all participants in every Block : Cleaning of common spaces, Cooking, Washing dishes, watering plants, caring for animals, etc.

SUMMER BLOCKS – we are open for a small group of volunteers due to Covid-19

24th June – 20th July (Women only)

  • Help to host our 8 day residential “Women Natural Building Course”
  • Natural Building
  • Gardening
  • Transforming and preserving our produce (fermenting, drying herbs, etc)
  • Helping to sell our produce in our local organic market (twice monthly), and connect with the new and old local community of like minded people

27th July – 24th August

  • Help us host  the 8 day residential “ Natural Building Course”
  • Help us host our “Silent Retreat”
  • Natural Building
  • Gardening
  • Transforming and preserving our produce (fermenting, drying herbs, etc)
  • Helping to sell our produce in our local organic market (twice monthly), and connect with the new and old local community of like minded people

NOTE: Apart from daily tasks, all the rest is an invitation to participate and learn, and not an obligation.

Daily tasks are part of the daily life and well being of our community, so these are expected of all participants in every Block : Cleaning of common spaces, Cooking, Washing dishes, watering plants, caring for animals, etc.

31st August – 28th September

  • Possibly helping host the 5 day residential YÖRÜK Retreat
  • Natural Building
  • Gardening
  • General land management
  • Helping to Host our guests
  • Transforming and preserving our produce (fermenting, drying herbs, etc)
  • Helping to sell our produce in our local organic market (twice monthly), and connect with the new and old local community of like minded people

NOTE: Apart from daily tasks, all the rest is an invitation to participate and learn, and not an obligation.

Daily tasks are part of the daily life and well being of our community, so these are expected of all participants in every Block : Cleaning of common spaces, Cooking, Washing dishes, watering plants, caring for animals, etc.

AUTUMN BLOCK

5th October – 15th November

  • Help host a week retreat from “Refo” community 
  • Natural Building
  • Gardening
  • General land management
  • Helping to Host our guests
  • Transforming and preserving our produce (fermenting, drying herbs, etc)
  • Helping to sell our produce in our local organic market (twice monthly), and connect with the new and old local community of like minded people
  • OLIVE HARVEST
  • Prepare fire wood
  • Woodland management
  • Prepare for winter

Autumn Begins in the Garden

We are delighted to be gifted with some amazing helpers at the moment and the main activity is in the garden. We have Javi and Elisa who have come on an Erasmus Plus programme from Spain (though Elisa is from Ecuador) and are with us for 3 months, Mischa from Germany and Clara from Portugal.

Mischa, Elisa and Clara preparing the new raised beds in the kitchen garden.

New Raised Beds

We decided because of an invasion of an annoying grass that we would construct raised beds and invest in a cover for the paths. Many missions to collect goat poo from our neighbour and friend Antonio meant that we have beds that will be ready for Spring planting.

Mischa and Elisa – the beautiful dog is Punky!

The way we prepared the beds was to calculate the size we wanted, put down cardboard, wet it well, then the logs to make the edges, then covered with compost and finally a layer of mulch. We have a total of 15 new beds.

Herb Spiral

The first herb spiral here came to life over 10 years ago, so it was time to renovate and design a new one. Clara, a lady with much experience in all sort of permaculture practices made the new design after we chatted about what plants we want to grow.

The base of the herb spiral

Elisa did a great job of deconstructing the spiral and removing the stones, and then together we built it up again!

Clara directing operations!

We finished the spiral after a mission to collect larger stones, and it looks great in the centre of the garden – ready for plants.

Irrigation

A main priority was to develop a new watering system for the garden. Barbara and Clara took charge and the rest of us had fun learning and doing.

And the winter cabbages and leeks look happy!

More pictures and story to come! Apologies for not being online much, its been a busy summer season. Thank you for taking the time to follow our updates. Much love from those of us at the Mount of Oaks.

Wellbeing Festival: Kids+Clay, Fermenting Fun!

The bi annual Well Being Festival in Fundao was again held at the Parque de Convento this summer. There were workshops, gong baths, live cooking, stalls and lots of different types of therapies.

Many of our friends from BioEco were present, and Mount of Oaks shared 2 sessions.

In the pictures below you can see that on the Saturday I (emma) had a great time playing with the kids as part of the programme organised by Susana Carvalho. We built with clay and then made crowns from natural materials. It was brilliant to chat with the kids and their parents about how enlivening it is to play with mud, get dirty and be outside!!!

 

And after making a castle we made the crowns…..

On the Sunday morning Marcia Luz, Jeannette Trevethyen and I ran a fermenting workshop and tasting session. While it started with only a few participants, buy the end we were a big group of food lovers ~many with questions and comments!

Thank you to the team of organisers, in particular Paula Roque, and look forward to an even bigger crowd in 2 years time!!

 

 

Mixed Talks: Summer Social

We had a lovely relaxed evening in Fundao on the last night of the Cale/SangriAgosto Street Festival. A bunch of new people who have moved to the area in the recent month came along. We ate, chatted about language, school options for kids, even how to register with a local doctor….the things that people who have just moved to the area have questions about. This was the 4th of these gatherings that have been hosted in Fundao as part of the Inclusion/Integration programme run by the council.

It was also really worthwhile to get to know the team working out of the old Seminary building. Ana Teresa, Andreia and the newest member Nuno Calvario.

The plan is to have another gathering before Christmas, so watch this space for news and the theme.