January 2022 Consent-Based Education Course!

I’m excited to share the dates and information for the January 2022 Consent-Based Education Course! There is a waiting list for this course, and place offers will be sent out shortly. If you would like to be added to the waiting list for this cycle (subject to availabilty) or a future cycle, please email hello@sophiechristophy.com

2022 is the 5th year that the course has been running, and I can’t wait to get to work with a new cohort of change makers on this journey!

The course will take place via Zoom, time and dates are as follows:

Time:

7-9pm (GMT)

Dates:

Tuesday 11th January

Tuesday 25th January

Tuesday 8th February

Tuesday 22nd February

Tuesday 8th March

Tuesday 22nd March

Communication during the course:

Once booked on to the course and before we begin, I will add you to a private Facebook group, which we will use for the duration of the course. This is where I will share the resources that lead in to each session, the plans for the session, other important info, and it is also a community space that will exist after the course cycle has finished.

What is the course about?

As parenting evolves beyond the traditional authoritarian, patriarchal model of ‘power over’, and families make the choice to live together in more mutually respectful, socially just ways that acknowledge the personhood and agency of children, essential questions arise as to what that means in regards to our relationship with ourselves, others, and our outlook and interaction with the world around us.

Consent-Based Education is a response to this tension. What happens when authoritarianism/patriarchy is stripped away, and we become more questioning, self-directed and empowered in our own lives, and desire this for the children in our lives too? What does it look like to move beyond patriarchy, to embrace our own personhood, agency and autonomy, and question the education, socialisation, social norms and values that we’ve experienced until now? What does consent, voice and agency mean to us, and how do these things relate to authenticity, self-direction and self-actualisation?

This course is designed for parents and people who live/work with children, who want to explore and go deeper into their understanding and practice of Consent-Based Education, for their own personal development and to support life-long living and learning in a consent-based way. It is especially suited to unschooling parents and those working in/practicing self-directed education.

The course is made up of the following six sessions:

Session 1: What is Patriarchy, its impact and effect?

Session 2: Breaking Cycles – the Process of Change

Session 3: What is Consent-Based Education?

Session 4: Love and Relationships, Boundaries and Freedom

Session 5: Living and Learning, Creativity and Flow

Session 6: The Bigger Picture

Each session will last for two hours, and include the following:

Agreement making (how we are going to work and play together),

Check-ins,

Me sharing on the theme of the session,

Chance for reflection, questions and deepening the inquiry,

Exploring putting the theory into practice,

Check out.

As you would expect, the sessions/course is run on consent-based education principles, so that it experiential as well as content based. Basically, I’ll be practicing what I preach in the way the whole thing works!

An important note about the transformational nature of the course:

This course has a transformational quality to it – it has been described as “life changing” by multiple participants. It is designed through the lens and process of my own journey, which has been profoundly transformative and impactful to every part of my life. Every time I have run this course cycle so far, it has again had a deep impact on my life, and been catalystic of change. This has included the ending of important relationships, changes in family relationships, personal growth, loss, grief, liberated creativity, experience of self-actualisation, deep personal alignment and spiritual expansion. I have witnessed this also happen in the lives of those that have taken part. You will be encouraged to manage your participation in the course in the way that you feel ready for and is right for you (consensual engagement), however it is important that in booking on to the course you do so knowingly of the impact it may have, and that change in yourself and in your life may be catalysed as a result.

A note on partners:

I run the course with my partner, Max Hope, present in the sessions. This is for my own development in running the course (she gives me great critical feedback), for support during the course (it’s a very intense experience that is transformative for me too), and to support her own journey and process in this work (it’s super helpful to be in the same process together and sharing what is going on). Where partners are enthusiastic to be part of this course together, it can be an amazing experience and I highly recommend booking two places. If you have a partner(s), who will not be taking part, you may wish to consider how you can ‘bring them along’ your journey in some way, outside of the sessions.

To book: A place on the course is £288. People on the waiting list will be contacted in order shortly with booking details. If you would like to be added ot the waiting list for this course (subject to availability) or future course cycles, please email: hello@sophiechristophy.com

#microUMA Reflections so far

I have loved doing the research and exploring this microUMA, finding out more about my new beloved instrument. I have dug some way into it’s origins, found the person that made it by their own hand, researched more about the history of percussion and particularly tuned ‘drums’ such as steel pans. I’ve explored and considered it’s name – a ‘steel tongue drum’ and why it might be called that, who mas made these drums. I’ve asked and wondered about the relationship between these instruments and senses of masculine and feminine energy, and I’ve been drawn to see who is playing these instruments, especially where this feels queered in some ways.

What I feel up to now, is that using vibration and sound is deeply embedded in human ways, and always has been in all places. Meeting the need for sound and sound connection, and the use of sound as a way to engage with ourselves and others has resulted in the innovation of all kinds of different instuments, over human history. The first place we make sound is in our own bodies, our voices, the clapping of our hands, stamping of feet, through movement, through contact with things around us. Through our own heart beat and pulse. There is a beat to it all, a movement, a vibration, expression. And instruments that are made are a way to further enhance, amplify, and vary our expression of this. My experience is that the instrument that I have helps me to release and channel a sound that comes through me but that I try to interfere with as little as possible. It’s a vehicle for the expression of an energy and a sound that is more than me.

By the way, I’ve decided my drum is called Snaily, because of the pattern on it looking like a beautiful snail shell, and as I love snails it feels fitting. So I will refer to it as Adam (who made it) did, a steel tongue drum (even though it isn’t technically a drum, I want to respect his sense of it), but then in my work and way with it I’m going to just call it Snaily. I hope, once I’ve settled into my own practice with it, to offer sound baths to other folk who like it too.

I’ve just been reading this article by Jennifer Engrácio. I loved this part:

“Drumming is often used in shamanic healing ceremonies; the drum can be used to shake up low vibrating energies that are lodged in the client’s energy field so that transformation can occur. The drum is used to harmonize chakras and restore balance to the energy field. In fact, studies are now showing that engaging in singing and percussion activities can help to heal the effects of historical and intergenerational trauma. (I highly recommend Resmaa Menakem’s book “My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies” for those who want to learn how to use these embodied practices.)”

Jennifer Engrácio

These feels so resonant to me and what I was describing in my first #microUMA post about psychic attacks and my experience of playing Snaily. I read this from Shaheen Miro:

“Because of the vibratory nature of bells they are an extremely effective form of spiritual cleansing and protection. Bells can ward off negativity and unwanted visitors, this is the origin of the funeral toll. The vibrations from the bells will break up the negative and stagnant energy left hanging in the air. They move and jolt to life the stagnant and worn-out.”

Shaheen Miro

What I want to say also at this point, is that I’m really not into the idea that playing these instruments, making this sound, is reserved in some way for some people, some places, some ways. Sound is a healing modality. It can clear our bodies and energy. It can break through aspects that are not serving us, that may be blocking or harming us in some way. It’s really powerful, and I fully believe in everyone feeling that they are entitled to and have permission to engage in this directly, and not be dependent on somone else or be limited by ideas that it’s not for them to experiment and engage in this. Some people like to wild swim, some people like to run, some people like to stretch, there’s s many different ways that people might be drawn to for spiritual and energetic care and healing. Making sound, by using percussion for example, can be as normal and everyday as getting in the shower, or stretching first thing in the morning.

I like to create a ‘set’ when I play Snaily – I like to light some candles, breathe first, relax, set up in an intentional and careful way. It helps me then to feel into what is happening and have as intuitive and free experience as possible. But that isn’t necessary all the time. I like to sing, I like to listen to music too, remembering to bring that into the every day is good for me.

Snaily was made from repurposed steel, from a recycled gas tank:

Adam forged it with love, care and intention. But this is Snaily, this is where Snaily came from, what it is made from, and I don’t intend to forget that by removing my sense of playing Snaily from something that is deep and down in the ground, from it’s roots. This is what has helped me heal myself and cleanse my energy. From this gas tank. Thank you gas tank.

Steel pans/drums also come from these types of material origins:

“In 1877, the ruling British government banned the playing of drums in an effort to suppress aspects of Carnival which were considered offensive. Bamboo stamping tubes were used to replace the hand drums as they produced sounds comparable to the hand drum when they were pounded on the ground.

These tubes were played in ensembles called tamboo bamboo bands.

Non-traditional instruments like scrap metal, metal containers, graters and dustbins were also used in tamboo bamboo bands. However, by the 1930’s these metal instruments dominated the tamboo bamboo bands. The bamboo tubes were eventually abandoned and replaced by the metal instruments.

These early metal pan bands were a rustic combination of a wide variety of metallic containers and kitchen utensils which were struck with open hands, fists or sticks.

The metal pan players discovered that the raised areas of the metal containers made a different sound to those areas that were flat. Through experimentation, coincidence, trial and error, and ingenuity on the part of numerous innovators, the metal pan bands evolved into the steel pan family of instruments.

As the pan makers knowledge and technique improved, so did the sound of the instrument.”

https://www.steelpan-steeldrums-information.com/steel-pan-history.html

And look at Evelyn Glennie play her kitchen:

The first percussive sound, first beat and vibration that we hear must be that of our mother’s hearts when we are in the womb, a constant beat. My babies are big now but they still love to cuddle up to that beat – it must be healing. This is my baby when he was little, resting against my heart:

I’ve had an idea for the hand bells that I am going to have access to once I’ve moved in a few weeks time. I’m going to try out something that I’ll call ‘intuitive ringing’. One of the great things about Snaily is that it’s tuned to a chord. That means, that whatever and however you play, the notes are complimentary. I want to try seleting a set of bells that are also a chord, distribute them to those that are there to play, and then create the opportunity for each person to ring their bell as and when and how feels right to them. I think I might experiment with setting a timer for this, so lets say, we all can play in this way, in the chord, for 3 minutes. I’d also like to try it where there is no timer, and like with Snaily, we start and continue until it feels time to wind down to the end. People will be able to close their eyes, and not worry about making a ‘wrong note’, becuase there will be no wrong notes. And we can see what it is that emerges, what we make together. I think it will be great.

I want to explore more about how I might bring bells and Snaily into my own spiritual and witchy practice. What types of ways I want to do that, how it might be and what if any other percussion I might want to add to what I already have as part of that. My partner Max has a rain stick, and I’d love it if she might want to weave that into this story too….

Note:

Today marks the last day of the microUMA 2 week stint, inspired by work taking place within the current Consent-Based Education course which also finishes today.

#microUMA reflections on masc and fem percussion instruments, and sound healing

I’ve been reflecting on the drum/pan name question, and have had some thoughts.

I’m wondering these things: are pans and tuned metal percussion instruments, such as bells, the steel tongue drum, chimes, more fem in energy? And are drums, more masc? The folk I have come across so far that are creating steel tongue drums/tank drums like the instrument I have are guys, and they are making their instruments and calling them drums, and I am wondering if there is something in there that is around their own masculine sense of identity – being a drum maker, calling the instrument a drum – when it might more acurately be called something like a pan, or a bell or chime related name due to the kind of instrument it actually is?

The process of making a steel tongue drum, for example, is quite masc energy in it’s activity and action: sawing reclaimed steel, fire and forging, the sawing of metal to create the notes. And then the end result, is this beautiful ‘drum’, that feels effortlessly fem resonating, and in the way that it is played, intuitive and fem feeling – but perhaps in the most gong like ring there is some heart of masc as well?. Perhaps it is the combination of a masc energy process and a fem energy end sound that is part of what makes it so special? Do the two somehow become forged? Or is it not like that?

When I am writing about this, mentioning masc and fem, I want to make it clear this comes from an energetic perspective. I believe that we can move in and out of these energies, that we can be in them differently at different times, that some folk might be more masc or fem leaning energetically – perhaps have a masc or fem dominant energy, or may feel in balance generally but at times lean into each way, but that this energy is not the same as the form of their physical body, or necessarily their gender identity. It is an energetic sense, an energetic quality, with a distinctive feeling. For myself, I experience myself generally as been masc fem energy balanced, but know when I am leaning more into a masc energy, or more into a fem energy. So it isn’t loaded for me, for example, if the steel tongue drum is either masc or fem leaning, becuase I can meet it in either place by shifting in my own energetic state of being.

These types of things are though very culturally loaded. I’ve done a lot of lovely deschooling around this for myself, and to me, what is amazing is when people feel really, really free in their energetic movement in the masc/fem spectrum/space, and do not hold any kind of self-judgement or sense of one or other being somehow better or more ok.

In our culture, which traditionally has held a very strict sense around what it means to be masculine or feminine, and who can be these things and what that looks like, this kind of movement and feedom in masc/fem energy and experience, can be described as ‘queer’ or ‘queering’. (Another tricky term due to it’s history as a slur, but the best term I have for describing this, I am using it as a function: to queer, means to me to move effortlessly across the masc fem space regardless of other features and identity.)

So, you could say, that a woman playing a masculine type of instrument is ‘queering’ if she is playing that instrument by leaning in to a masculine type energy to do so. Or a guy, leaning into a very feminine energy to play a feminine feeling type of instrument, is also queering it. It’s mixing up and playing with all of these things at once.

When I plat the steel tongue drum, I play it intuitively. I play mostly with my eyes closed, and with no intention of a tune in mind, but instead try to ‘get out of the way’ of what is happening, and play in as channelled and intuitive way as possible. To me that feels very fem energy. It ends up in a very flowy, meditative and cleansing experience that feels divine fem. I know what masc energy feels like, and I think I know what divine masc is, and that I think comes across more in other ways that I work and express myself. I know that I am not partnering with this instrument in a masc energy way.

But then again I come back to wondering whether there is an energetic union taking place. Becuase when I play, I experience the steel tongue drum as a means by which to express the essential energy that comes through me. By that, I mean the white light energy that is neither masc or fem but just is. And the instrument is just that, I means by making that divine light energy resonant in the world and a way to let it pass through my body without accumulating.

I’ve been doing some reading about this:

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2021/mar/08/why-do-orchestras-have-so-few-women-percussionists

and:

I’m interested in the history and issues around women playing – some earlier research about steel drums/pans in Trinidad and Tobago thew up something interesting about this:

“It really came from the bowels of our impoverished lower classes and we are extremely proud of that,” says Michelle Huggins-Watts, a Trinidadian steel pan arranger.

“It helped bring the players recognition, it allowed them to travel and see the world, it brought opportunities they would never have had if they had not been involved in this art form.”

Huggins-Watts is a rare thing. She is the only woman arranger to win the island’s prestigious Panorama competition with her band, Valley Harps.

“It wasn’t until the late 1970s or 80s that women even started playing the steel pan. It was a street instrument, it took a while to become respectable,” she adds.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18903131

I once happened to end up at an event where Evelyn Glennie was the keynote speaker, I’d love to know what she thinks about all of this, and what her persective/experience is. As she moves through different types of percussion, that I might thing of as masc or fem, I wonder if she experiences energetic movement, in and out of the masc and fem as she plays different things, or not? I’d love to know also what her thoughts are on sound and healing too. I’m going to look some more to see what I can find from her online.

I’ve started reading about sound healing. I’m trying to start to build my understanding of the work being done around this:

https://harmonicsounds.com/sound-healing/ and https://gostica.com/spiritual-nutrition/sound-healing-instruments/

If you know any good resources on sound healing, please send them my way!

#microUMA Finding the creator.

I’m so excited to say that I managed to find the creator of my steel tongue drum. His name is Adam. I’ve been in touch with him and he’s shared some really beautiful things about how we works – that his work is about being creative and making things that bring joy. He created his design for the drum through a “labour of love” process, including many “failed attempts”, to perfect them to how they are now. They are made from reclaimed steel, by dismantling old steel cylinders, cutting a sound hole and playing notes into them. The top and botton secions are then welded together, and a blow torch is used to heat the steel and create the coloration and pattern.

Adam said he doesn’t play them himself really, but that something led him to create them for others. He’s in Devon and has a workshop called Triple R Workshop – you can find his work on FB: https://www.facebook.com/TripleRWorkshop

I feel so happy to have found him and learnt more from him about my drum! He also said to me that his preference is “drums that play with a bang!” and he’s learning to play a standard drum kit.

I really love the role that fire plays in creating these instruments, and my instrument. That they are made through fire, feels so resonant to me, as I’ve been interest in fire as a medium for a while, reflecting on the energy of my own work as having a fire quality to it, I’ve also been reasearching and exploring over the last few years fire’s role in healing, including healing and caring for the land through aboriginal fire practices for example. I’ve been reading Fire Country by Victor Steffenson which is a brilliant book about this.

I’ve felt that fire is one of those things that can be easily misunderstood, or read differently in different gazes and with different senses of understanding. It can be felt as healing, warmth, regenerative, nurturing through cooking on it, exciting – I loved the fire at the bonfire night I went to last night, so hypnotic – but also can be seen and experienced as frightening, threatening, distructive, something to be put out, a danger. How does fire sit with itself in amongst all of this? I have considered now for some time how that is similar to how I have expereinced myself, in how I am seen also. It links to me with thought and feelings I have had about connection to Kali energy. I know that fire is part of my way, and I’m loving learning more about how to be with that. I feel it on a very physical, spiritual level, fire in my heart body and soul, I feel it in my work.

I’m grateful to Adam.

#microUMA What’s in a name?

Wow so this is so intersting! I wasn’t expecting my research to go in this direction, but when you are trying to explore and understand something, the search terms that you use are crucial to that process and to finding missing links and connections, and figuring out the right search terms for what I’m looking for isn’t so straight forward!

From what I’ve been reading, people have been making sound through hitting things for as long as forever. All throughout history and across all cultures, traditions, and geographic locations, people have innovated percussive instruments to make sound, and have used them for a variety of reasons – to get people’s attentio/communication (signalling a start, calling for prayer, warning of attack, marking time), for celebration and ceremony including as part of religious and/or spiritual traditions, to ward of bad/evil things including approaching storms, for relaxation/meditation/healing, in protest and conflict. The instrument that I bought, mentioned in my first post, is a percussion instrument – sound is made by hitting it – but more specifically, it is an idiophone. This means, that it is the instrument itself, that makes it’s sound, as wiki explains, “An idiophone is any musical instrument that creates sound primarily by the vibration of the instrument itself, without the use of air flow (as with aerophones), strings (chordophones), membranes (membranophones) or electricity (electrophones).

Therefore, my instrument is not a drum? As a drum has a membrane.? The instrument I have is surely an idiophone, but I when I bought it, it was labelled as a tongue drum. Why is it called a drum, when it isn’t a drum? The roots of the instrument I have are hard to figure out – some say it was invented by a guy called Dennis Havlena in 2007, wiki mentions it’s also called known as a hank and tank drum – hank comes from merging the two words hang, and tank (referencing the propane tank it’s made from). Dennis Havelena writes more about this on his website (where the design and instructions for making it are open source, which is awesome becuase other folk have patented similar instruments) that it was inspired by another instrument called ‘hang drum’ which is a patented design and expensive. On his website, he says: “hank drum: inspired by the hand pan/hang“.

As I read more and more, I feel like I’m tuning in to a world of instrument creators, innovators, imaginers, manifestors. I just watched this video showing a guy making a tank drum – it’s amazing- and it’s made me think about the person that made my drum, who I know is local to Devon – I think I might have found who made it, and I’ve messaged them to see if I can find out more about it. But I think there is this community/network of pretty badass instrument craftsfolk out there, making these things. And in some cases like the hang, innovating a design, patenting it, and then moving on to innovate another design, taking it out of production which then leads to a scarcity of the intstrument where the artists who created it’s interest and time/capactity has moved on to create the next iteration/something new.

Anyway, there are so many different names flying around to describe the instrument – some names are protected through patents, like the hang. Maybe drum is used in reference to the material used to make it, steel drums for example are also technically pans, but as I understand it are called drums in reference to the oil drums that they are made from. Is it ok to rename an instrument that has been made by someone, for your own personal understanding of it? When I play my ‘tongue drum’, I don’t feel that it is a drum, becuase of the material it is made from, how it sounds and also how it’s played really. I’d rather call it a pan I think, but that feels harder to say. And in researching it, my search terms are dipping between the different terms to try to find out as much as I can and trace this quite amazing creative landscape of instrument creation.

#microUMA link dump

Part of the UMA process includes blogging all the bits and bobs, kind of as part of the discipline and to try to make the process as transparent as possible. For me, it’s also where some of the key deschooling happens, because of the vulnerabilty of posting scrappy content. Today I did a bunch of reading and research on my phone in amongst a busy day, but I didn’t have the opportunity to process it and write up notes and reflections properly. So this late night post is mainly a link dump of what I found, to come back to later. Grateful for the internet, and all of the things that I can find there!

A few things that came up for me today that were interesting, was the history of steel drums in Trinidad and Tobago, the Canboulay Riots, and that in 1877 the ruling colonial British government banned the playing of drums. I’ve also been considering the name of the tongue drum that I bought, and questioning it’s name. In my previous post I mentioned wanting to call it a ‘bell drum’ and also referred to it as a ‘bell ball’. As I understand it, it isn’t actually a drum at all, pan might be a better description. The tongue drum seems to me to be very similar to the steel pan (more about the origins of the tongue drum via the links below), and this is from wiki on the name of steel drums/pans: “Drum refers to the steel drum containers from which the pans are made; the steel drum is more correctly called a steel pan or pan as it falls into the idiophone family of instruments, and so is not a drum (which is a membranophone).” I alos love the etymology of idiophone:

“Etymology[edit]

The word is from Ancient Greek, a combination of idio- (“own, personal” or “distinct”)[2] and -phone (“voice, sound”).[3]

Links from today to come back to:

https://www.shantibowl.com/blogs/blog/tongue-drums-complete-guide

https://www.tongue-drum.net/origins.html

http://www.dennishavlena.com

http://www.oddmusic.com/gallery/hank-drum.html

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idiophone

https://www.steelpan-steeldrums-information.com/steel-pan-history.html

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.bbc.com/news/magazine-18903131.amp

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steelpan

‘Micro UMA’ – 2 week stint

We just had session 5 of the Consent-Based Education course, which is Living and Learning, Creativity and Flow, and for it I shared some resources relating to the unschooled masters project. As an optional between sessions activity, I suggested folk in the group could do a micro UMA, on whatever they wanted, as a way to get into the groove of their own self-directed education, and also as a support to their deschooling process (you can hear more about deschooling via the UMA experience in this podcast that I recorded with Pam Laricchia).

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to do one myself!

Here is the brief I shared with the group:

Create a ‘micro unschooled masters’, in two weeks. It doesn’t matter where you end up, or what form it takes, but as a suggestion for where you start: write your intention for it, and your why. Let yourself be led either by something that currently lights you up inside and ignites your curiosity, or something that makes you feel mad and is a problem you want to understand and solve. If you want to really push your deschooling during this, share each and every part of the process in the public domain

– Session 5, CBE Course Nov 2021

So I am going to respond to that brief here, and use this blog as a place to document my micro-UMA. Here’s the intention and why for what I am going to do….

Intention:

Over the next two weeks, I am going to explore the use of sound generated by bells and bell like percussion instruments, in folk and spiritual practices. I’m also interested in their symbolic representation, and stories that might exist around them and their use. I’m going to blog here what I find, and my reflections along the way. I’m hoping by doing this, to enrich and deepen my understanding of these things.

Why:

When I was young, I used to ring in a hand chime and then hand bell team. I did this from the age of about 9 – 14. I stopped when I was 14 due to having ‘less time’ due to exam pressure and other extracurricular commitments, and maybe because my priorities shifted at that age and it just seemed right to stop. Prior to that I had practiced in a team once a week, and loved it. I’m about to be moving to a new village, and a couple of weeks ago noticed on the village’s community FB group, that they were looking for people to come and ring the big church bells. I got excited at the thought of this, and then it got better when I commented on the post and and it turned out that there is also a set of hand-bells, that are not currently being used, but I have the chance to start a new team.

Recently I’ve been suffering a lot with psychic attacks, related I believe to the nature of my work. Nothing that I have tried to do (yoga, water, protective shields, meditation, rest, magic work, bodywork, nature immersion etc etc), either to protect myself from them or surrender to help the energy move through, seemed to help. The last one was really debilitating over a number of days and made me seriously consider if I could carry on with my work in the way that I have been doing – I felt so vulnerable to these unpredictable, dibilitating and horrible feeling experiences.

Last week, I was on a trip down to Devon, and was in Totnes. On the train there, listening to Yoga for Witches by Sarah Robinson, I had this thought about getting some witch bells for the door of the house. I held off ordering them, because I thought, of all places, I might be able to pick some up in Totnes. Anyway, I walked all over town looking for bells, and didn’t find any. A few days later, I was in town again, and this time, I visited a music shop at the top of the hill that I had missed before. In there, I found a few single hand bells, but I also found the most amazing tongue drum, which is like a big ball bell made of metal, that has tuned parts, that you can play with beaters or your fingers/hands. There were three of these tongue drums, of different chords, and I was allowed to play with them. To my surprise, it was the highest pitched tongue drum that resonated with me the most. The folk in the shop said they nearly fell asleep as I was playing! I knew without any doubt I needed to get the drum. So I did!

I believe that this lovely instrument was the piece I needed in the puzzle to help me stave off the messed up energy that was coming into my field, and help me be safe, balanced and sustainable in my work. Honestly, it feels like a life changing miracle, to have it. Nothing else I found could touch the weird shit that was going on – this belldrum (I’m going to call it) seems to cut straight through it in the most effortless way!

It has caused me to reflect on my early years of bell playing – did I in some way at that time know/feel that being in that sound was helping me keep clear and fresh from an energetic perspective? Perhaps that was what kept my interest in playing and kept me coming back for more? And what a funny syncronisity that in the space of a month I found my way to a set of hand bells, and then also this amazing bell ball, just when I needed it. I feel so happy and lucky to be open to these things and the process of exploring and trusting the tiniest hints of curiosity even when you don’t really know why or where it is headed. What a blessing.

So, in light of all of this, I would like to learn more about how bells and bell like sounds are used and have been used for energetic and spritual reasons.

The Guiding Principles of the Lodge

The Lodge was established in September 2021, as a follow on setting from the Cabin (established in 2018 for home educated young people aged 5-11), that will ultimately include people up to 16 years of age. Like the Cabin, it is a values-led setting, based on the same set of Guiding Principles:

  • Self-direction
  • Consent
  • Ed(ucation) positivity
  • Democratic
  • Children’s rights

These guiding principles serve us in co-creating a culture and environment for education in which people can stay aligned, whole, and free, where people can experience themselves fully and authentically, that honours their intrinsic sense of curiosity, need, purpose and expression, in a community context where mutually respectful, consensual relationships are modelled and supported.

Each person’s experience of the day has qualities of sharedness and uniqueness, depending on their needs, interests, and how they choose to use their time. The personalised and independent experience of consensual self-direction means that each person can choose to do what feels right to them, with the opporuntity to also share experiences and feel in community, through collaborations, the opening and closing meetings, and lunch time.


What does it mean to be self-directed?
Being self-directed means tuning in to your most authentic self and working from
that place forward. It means listening to and trusting our innate knowings and
questionings, and being guided by the sense of interest, curiosity, and problems
that come from this place. Self-direction enables us to explore the world around us
in a meaningful, relevant, and contextual way, aligned with our own state of
readiness and need. It results in us picking up the knowledge, tools and skills that
are necessary to be creative, knowledgeable, problem-solving, self-aligned and
self-actualised people in the world.

What is democratic education?
Democratic education seeks to embed democratic practices in learning
communities. For us, this means developing formal and informal systems,
mechanisms and beliefs that normalise equitable and shared decision making. We use nuanced
and equity-minded methods for resolving conflict and solving problems, community
influence on practices and procedures, individual and group participation in
planning processes, and individual and shared responsibility for community
hygience and wellbeing. This is most visible in our opening and closing meetings, conflict
navigation processes, and use of consent-based agreement making around risk management and resource use. We rarely use
a ‘majority vote’ to reach decisions, but when appropriate we do.

What is Consent-Based Education?
Consent-Based Education is the ethical counterbalance to self-direction. Consent is
a process that needs to happen when one person’s self-direction comes into
contact with another person’s self-direction (or the environment). Consent creates
the opportunity for people to say yes, no, or maybe to what they participate in, to
ask for more information if they need it to make an informed choice, and to change
their minds at a future point if needed. Consent-Based Education can only exist in
environments that are trust rather than fear-based, and behaviour is regulated by
authentic relationship and open and direct listening and communication rather than
through means of coercion, reward or punishment. For consent to be meaningful, it
must be freely given, informed, and coming from a deep sense of
self. As facilitators, we endeavor to provide the community with the information, affirming culture, and critical lens that they need to make an aligned and informed choice about how they wish to use their time whilst there. Consent-Based Education requires, and places in high regard the spiritual, emotional, bodily and emotional agency and
autonomy of all people, whatever their age or stage, and the personal boundaries
that accompany that.

What is Ed Positivity?
Ed Positivity is an education philosophy that combines self-direction and consent
culture with a transcendence of traditional of subject siloing, and biased notions of
subject and activity value. It addresses conscious and unconscious biases that
presume that there is some information/knowledge/activity that is inherently
superior or suitable as opposed to other information/knowledge/activity, and
instead reveres each person’s own unique needs and processes around living and
learning – so long as it isn’t harmful to themselves or others. An Ed Positive approach welcomes questioning, curiosity, rest, and interdisciplinary thinking and doing. It embraces exploration and critical thinking. It is open-minded
to the many different motivations and manifestations of an individual’s path in
seeking knowledge, solving problems, and learning in general. Ed Positivity respects
all learners unique, personal, and often private journeys in understanding the world
around them and their place in it. Ed Positivity is based on a belief that given the
conditions that meet our own basic needs for growth, we will do our best to grow in the way that is right for us.

What are children’s rights? *
The UK signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on 19 April 1990,
ratified it on 16 December 1991 and it came into force on 15 January 1992.
Everyone has a duty to uphold the rights in the convention, and we
take our responsibility of ‘duty bearers’ very seriously. The UNCRC underpins our
policies and practice, and we endeavor through our language, behaviour and
mindset to create a rights respecting environment and culture. Everyone is entitled
to know about children’s rights, and we work to share rights-based information with
each other, the children and families that are part of the community.

*What is our commitment to equity, inclusion, social and environmental justice?
Going even deeper in explaining our commitment to children’s rights: we are
committed to equity, inclusion, social and environmental justice and to be a
welcoming and inclusive space for all children, young people, families, and facilitators. We
are proactive in creating a space which enables everyone to express themselves and
be themselves, and to be accepted for who they are. We recognize that identities
are complex and multi-layered, and that children and young people are at a particularly sensitive stage for exploring, reflecting and
‘growing into themselves’. We want to bring in resources, materials, people, and
activities which will enable us to create spaces for exploring and affirming
experiences and identities, including those relating to gender, sexual orientation,
race, ethnicity, dis/ability, social class or culture, and age. We will reflect on and
challenge our own cultures and practices and we initiate and welcome of critical feedback and
discussion relating to this. We also know that we are not separate to, but are part of
the natural world, that we exist in an ecosystem where everyone and everything
has an important part to play in regard to the health and wellbeing of that
ecosystem. We know that feeling in connection to and care for the ebbs and flows, rhythms
and ways of the natural world is an essential part of being in connection with
and caring for ourselves.

Consent-Based Education Course Sept 2021

Welcome to the September 2021 Consent-Based Education Course! This information is for folk on the waiting list who have been emailed and offered a place. If you would like to be added to the waiting list, please contact me at sophiechristophy@gmail.com

The course will take place via Zoom, time and dates are as follows:

Time:

7-9pm (GMT)

Dates:

Tuesday 7th September

Tuesday 21st September

Tuesday 5th October

Tuesday 19th October

Tuesday 2nd November

Tuesday 16th November

Communication during the course:

Once booked on to the course and before we begin, I will add you to a private Facebook group, which we will use for the duration of the course, to share the resources that lead in to each session, to use as a community space, and to post links for the Zoom calls.

What is the course about?

As parenting evolves beyond the traditional authoritarian model, and families make the choice to live together in more respectful, socially just ways that acknowledge the personhood and agency of children, essential questions arise as to what that means in regards to our relationship with ourselves and others, our outlook and interaction with the world around us.

Consent-Based Education is a response to this tension. What happens when authoritarianism/patriarchy, the basis of all our existing systems, is stripped away, and we become more questioning and individually empowered in our own lives and desire this for the children in our lives too? What does it look like to move beyond patriarchy, to embrace our own personhood, agency and autonomy, and question the education and social norms and values that we’ve experienced until now? What does consent and voice mean to us, and how do these things relate to authenticity and self-actualisation?

This course is designed for parents and people who live/work with children, who want to explore and go deeper into their understanding and practice of Consent-Based Education, for their own personal development and to support life-long learning in a consent-based way.

The course is made up of the following six sessions:

Session 1: What is Patriarchy, its impact and effect?

Session 2: Breaking Cycles – the Process of Change

Session 3: What is Consent-Based Education?

Session 4: Love and Relationships, Boundaries and Freedom

Session 5: Living and Learning, Creativity and Flow

Session 6: The Bigger Picture

Each session will last for two hours, and include the following:

Agreement making (how we are going to work and play together),

Check-ins,

Me riffing on the theme of the session,

Chance for reflection, questions and deepening the inquiry,

Exploring putting the theory into practice,

Check out.

As you would expect, the sessions/course is run on consent-based education principles, so that it experiential as well as content based. Basically, I’ll be practicing what I preach in the way the whole thing works!

An important note about the transformational nature of the course:

This course has a transformational quality to it. It is designed through the lens of my own journey, practice and experience, which has been profoundly transformative and impactful to every part of my life. Every time I have run this course cycle so far, it has again had a deep impact on my life, and been catalystic of change. This has included the ending of important relationships, changes in family relationships, personal growth, loss, grief, experience of self-actualisation and deep personal alignment. I have witnessed this also happen in the lives of those that have taken part. You will be encouraged to manage your participation in the course in the way that you feel ready for and is right for you (consensual), however it is important that in booking on to the course you do so knowingly of the impact it may have, and that personal may be catalysed as a result.

To book: If you have been offered a place on this course by me via email, and you would like to confirm that place by booking, please pay the course fee of £288 by Paypal here: http://paypal.me/SophieChristophy