Wednesday 23 March 2011

Wise Woman Series: Ruth Marshall

Ruth Marshall
talks to
Órfhlaith Ní Chonaill

For 17 years I have been editor of Network Ireland, a holistic magazine for mind, body, spirit and earth. I inherited it in 1994, when it was seven years old and have carried it since then, voluntarily at first and then, as it grew, it became a small business. That’s been my main concern in that time. I also gave creative writing classes, sacred dance classes and taught reiki – as well as lots of other things, such as abundance groups for parents at the Steiner school; teaching in a Steiner school for teenagers; storytelling; writing, as well as being a single parent. And before that, I was a puppeteer, ran a wholefood shop in the Scottish Highlands, and was a folklore collector.

I took this year out and declared it a transition year for myself. So I went off to help run a B&B on the Isle of Mull for the summer and started training as a life and business coach as soon as I got back. It has been a wonderful training. Having done lots of counselling as well as counselling and psychotherapy courses, I felt that counselling keeps you going back into the past, into the hurt. In coaching the focus is on the future rather than the past. It’s about accepting where you are now and asking where you want to go, and what you are going to do about it? Because you are the one who can do it. You have all the answers within yourself.. I found it so empowering personally, just to sit in conversation. To really listen to another human being is to get a glimpse of the Christ, the divine, in the other person. I find it a huge honour to work with people in that way. I came to see that I don't really have to do anything; I just have to be there. The picture I have of it is that I just stand there in the doorway – like the goddess Brigit - holding the door open. If someone wants to step through that door, then I’ll accompany them. And if not, fair enough, but the door is there, and it is open. I have just finished training. On the last training weekend I felt myself given a robe and crown, felt them enter my body’s cells, my whole being. It made me think – that was some training!

I facilitate The Transformation Game which emerged from Findhorn about 35years ago. It’s a board game that a small group, 4 or 6 people, can play. I act as a guide. People play this using their own real life issues, using something they want to change. They focus on that and they move around the board, just like Monopoly but, instead of buying houses, they grow in awareness. They move from square to square with different actions. They learn a bit about what's holding them back from making the change they want to make. They learn what support is there for them in terms of their own actions and what support will come from the spiritual world, if only they will take the steps, take those actions and make the change. Huge things happen for people in the transformation game.

I work with personal transformation. I see that as related to Brigit as well. The three aspects of the goddess, Brigit, are poetry, healing and smithcraft. I think all of these things are working with fire; all of these are working with transformation. In poetry it’s the spark of inspiration; in smith work it’s transforming metal, changing the physical form; in healing it’s the life spark, life-force. It’s all transforming.

In my workshop at the Wise Woman’s Weekend in May, I will facilitate Games That Build Trust. There will be a bit of wandering about with eyes closed being accompanied by a guardian angel. There will probably be a bit of storytelling, and a bit of looking at our intuition and learning to trust what our gut is telling us. We will learn to trust what we already know, but have ignored because we don’t realise that we know it, because we don’t accept that we’re powerful enough to know. We can get too used to asking others because we think someone else has got the answers. Paradoxically, in order to learn to trust ourselves, we need to give ourselves up and trust that someone else is going to care for us. If we allow ourselves to let go of a lot of preconceived notions and let ourselves play with boundaries, we learn about where I end and something else begins.

In a lot of what I do I have to operate on trust. A coaching session or the Transformation Game are not things I can prepare for. People are going to bring all their own stuff. It’s not as if I can sit down and read a manual and know what to do when someone brings this or that. I just have to operate on trust. I do my inner preparation, and then, I’m just there. And if I’m feeling something I have to just say it and trust that whatever comes out my mouth has some relevance to the person. Thankfully, it usually does! I have to trust myself to speak.

I just realised that, without even intending to, I have been talking about trust, transition and transformation, which is the theme of this year’s Wise Woman’s Weekend. That happened completely miraculously and by happy accident.

I still feel like a relative newcomer to WWW but I’m happy to be part of it. And in this strange transition time for the Wise Woman’s, too, we all have to become comfortable with uncertainty. We don’t know where things are going, but we can, by our actions,
to some extent choose where they go.

Ruth Marshall is editor of Network Ireland magazine and a facilitator at the Wise Woman’s Weekend, 13th – 15th May 2011.
Órfhlaith Ní Chonaill is a writer and Event Manager of Wise Woman’s Weekend 2011.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely interview =)
    I am particularly inspired by Ruth's passion to keep learning, keep developing and transforming. It's amazing the amount of different hats she has worn already in this lifetime - a wonderfully rich tapestry of experience! The Transformation Game sounds intriguing too...