3rd-6th September 2020
Spirituality in the Face of Collapse
Many people find that the real and serious threat of ecological and social collapse prompts a reflective turn of mind. This retreat offers a few days to pursue that reflectiveness in the company of others, to write and to read drawing on a library of diverse philosophical and religious sources.
The plan is simple. The time is for retreatants to read and to write as they wish, interspersed with breaks for refreshments and meals. There is a meditation room in the house which will be available to retreatants, who will also be welcome to join the regular daily worship of the resident community. The beautiful gardens are designed for reflective walking, and there are plenty of wilder footpaths just beyond the boundaries. In the afternoons we will offer the option of joining a workshop or structured discussion for those who wish. The Hosts will be available for one-to-one or small group consultations (between times when they too will be reading and writing). Retreatants will be invited to send an outline and perhaps a sample of their writing plans in advance.
The Fintry retreat house is home to a unique library of books relating to the world’s great traditions of religion and philosophical enquiry. These include works in English and original languages on Daoism, Confucianism, Shintoism, Egyptian and other pre-Socratics, Plato and Neo-Platonism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Paganisms and so forth. We expect these will be a fascinating resource for retreatants, along with whatever other sources you are exploring.
Writers' Meet & Greet
Time to settle in, tea/cake/fruit
Welcome drinks and dinner
Writing Session 1
Writing Session 2
Optional Workshop B
Drinks & Dinner
Writing Session 3
Optional Workshop C
Drinks & Dinner
Writing Session 4
Writing Session 5
Optional Workshop D
Some thoughts on facing collapse
Contemplating the pace of climate change and the escalation of its effects, it is not surprising that there is a wide range of conscious and unconscious responses. Protest, rebellion, activism, renunciation, xenophobia, selfishness and self-sacrifice; calls for strong leaders or for cooperative communitarianism; new laws against ecocide and old lawlessness of privileged elites. Meteorological and other sciences, so long a restrained expression of reason, have become harbingers of floods, fires and famines.
We are not the first culture to face its own near-term end: many others have been overwhelmed by colonisation, wiped out by disease, or starved by ecological collapse. The scale of the current crisis may
trump all previous ones, but the catastrophic disruption of all social and economic norms is something that has been faced many times before. As in our own time, responses have varied, including apocalyptic prophecies, millenarianism, ecstatic sects, avoidance and denial. But there have also been beautiful and profound insights into what it is to be human, to be part of nature, and to be spiritual; and practices that connect with transcendent Life, Light and Love – prompted perhaps by the prospect of a cultural ending that is so much more unsettling even than that of personal death.
So on this writing and reading retreat we are concerned with the spiritual resources that may be helpful in facing collapse. To be clear, we are not opposing activism, renunciation or any of the steps one may take oneself or urge upon the wider political system. It’s just an opportunity to develop the inner aspects.
Eleanor's research deals with the literature and culture of medieval England, focusing especially on Anglo-Scandinavian interactions, narratives about the Vikings in England, representations of the pre-Conquest past, and the intersections between historical writing, hagiography, and romance. Her first book, 'Dragon Lords: The History and Legends of Viking England', was published in 2018 and examines a range of legendary narratives relating to Viking invasion, conquest and settlement in England.
She is currently Lecturer in Medieval English Literature at Brasenose College, Oxford. Eleanor completed her doctorate at the University of Oxford in 2013, and then held a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities.
Eleanor blogs about medieval literature at: and
tweet as @ClerkofOxford. In 2015 the blog won the Longman-History Today award for Digital History, and she now writes a regular column for History Today. She also writes frequently for a range of other publications, including BBC History Magazine, and have published translations of Old and Middle English poetry.
Miriam works as a coach with people figuring out what they want to do with their lives. She has co-hosted all of Pelumbra’s Lambay writing retreats and is the principal point of contact for this one.
Fintry is the HQ of The Fintry Trust (an educational charity) and The Universal Order, which offers courses in religious philosophy. This retreat is organised by Pelumbra Ltd, as part of its series of writing retreats.
Accommodation is in single or twin rooms (please state your preference), each with writing table and chair. Bathrooms are shared, so bring a dressing gown and slippers.
Meals will be prepared for us and there will be a rota for help with clearing and washing up. Vegetarian is the norm and we will cater for
vegan and other diets as requested.
The Fintry Retreat House is located near Godalming within easy reach of London by train or car.
You can find out more about the Fintry Trust here.
Katie started by catering for busy families with very specific dietary requirements almost 15 years ago, and has since gained training and awards in healthy food and special diets. Her belief lies firmly in cooking fresh wholesome food to fuel the mind and body and to nourish the soul.
Registration and Cost
To register and for another questions about the Retreat, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
The fees include:
· Writing workshops and advice sessions
· Accommodation for 3 nights/4 days
· All your meals: 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners
· Morning and afternoon refreshments
· Use of wi-fi, sitting rooms, library, gardens, and local know-how
Single Occupancy £760
Double Occupancy (Two single beds in one room) £600
Fees do not include airfare, travel insurance, additional accommodations or personal expenses.