Nic and Susie Turner have always had connections to different worlds. They had both spent time travelling and studying in India, had practiced yoga and meditation for decades, become gestalt psychotherapists and constellators, and spent 15 years as students of the wisdom of the native American people. They had been part of the Rainbow futures community for 25 years. They were fully paid up members of the alternative movement!
Yet they had also been in the mainstream as Nic led cultural change work in some of Britain’s biggest businesses and then went onto to co-found and co-lead a consultancy focused on the space between consciousness, creativity and innovation. Susie was for many years the business and events manager of this consultancy, whilst also continuing her private psychotherapy practice.
The success of this business enabled Nic to work with some the world’s most aware and innovative leaders. He was the first Westerner to work directly with Jack Ma and the leadership team of Alibaba in Hangzhou, China for example.
These worlds were often quite different. The camps movement was a joyful celebration of personal and spiritual growth in a sustainable and ecological context. Costs were kept to a minimum to make the camps as accessible as possible and there was an ethos that if you could not afford to come you could “work your ticket” in some way.
The personal and professional development world was more rigorous. It was ongoing, grounded in the need to produce tangible personal change and demonstrable innovation. The teachers needed to be real experts in their fields and the events were usually held in residential venues. It was expensive and often required a lot of travel.
So whilst continuing with their busy lives of bringing up children and running an international business, Nic and Susie held the intention of finding a place which could combine the best of both worlds. They wanted to create a place where people could spend time on the land together, doing deep personal transformation work with world leaders in the field.
The problem was that they did not want to leave their family home in a little village in Derbyshire. In 2008, after several years of half-hearted searching, which always ended up with “it’s great but we can’t bear to leave our house” 8 acres of land came up for sale 350 yards from their house. Nic’s Mum had just died so they used some of the money from the sale of her flat to buy the land because they were sure she would approve.
The land at that time was known as “Salty’s nob”. Salty because “Salt” was the name of the farmer who owned it and “nob” because this is the Derbyshire name for a conical hill with 360° views.
2008-2012 Nic’s nob
For the first couple of years, Nic and Susie did not really know what to do with the land. They would sometimes camp up there with friends, have fires and indulge in adolescent humour, “would you like to sit on my nob and watch the sunset?”
A small community of like-minded souls began to gather to talk about what they could make happen. At one of these early meetings, they decided on the principles they wanted to form the basis: the land, community and family, consciousness, sustainability, fun.
In 2010, Sid and Jules, the leaders of the Rainbow Futures camps visited and persuaded Nic and Susie to buy “the Enchanted Tree Yurt” so that they could share it between the land and the Rainbow camps. This sensational 30 foot yurt gave us a space where we could be together and sit in a circle.
One of the consciousness traditions that has had the most profound and long-lasting impact on Nic and Susie is the Earth Wisdom teachings of the Native American people. Nic studied with the Ehama Institute from 1996 -2010. In 2011, the founders of Ehama and Nic’s long-time teachers RainbowHawk and WindEagle visited the land. Nic and Susie asked them about building a medicine wheel
“If people come to the wheel and awaken it with the power of their conscious intent, it’s a wheel. If they don’t, it’s just a pile of stones” RainbowHawk
Around this time, we decided that the name was just too sexist and juvenile. The core team were not quite sure what it was called but we were clear what it wasn’t!
Based on the advice of a FengShui consultant, in 2012 we began to lay out the land. The first thing we did was to build a huge woodstore so that we could become self-sufficient in wood by harvesting our woodland.
The second thing we did in 2012 was to build the medicine wheel. Despite being very ill, RainbowHawk still managed to guide us remotely. The first ceremony we conducted in that wheel was dedicated to RainbowHawk’s passing to the great round.
On the winter solstice of 2012, several of us gathered in the wheel to meditate on the Mayan prophecy. We opened our eyes forty minutes later, and all we could see was the fire in the middle of wheel. Everything else had disappeared, “Shit” we thought, “it’s really come true”, then we realised that the hill had become enveloped in thick cloud!
2013- 2015 Awakening the Space
The people who cared about what was happening on the land were becoming more opinionated. In spring of 2013, Nic and Amit, a member of the core team since the beginning, put forward a proposal about the name and branding.
“We don’t need a name, we need an effing toilet”
was the clear response.
It became very clear that for the dream to grow, we needed to develop the infrastructure. Up to that time, Nic and Susie had stored all the gear for the camps in their house! So in addition to toilets we needed a place to store everything. We also needed water and showers and some proper flat land to put the Yurts, tepees, and kitchen marquees up. Step forward Nick Lipman, a fellow seeker but with real practical skills and experience. We now have toilets called “Looisa”, hot showers called “Nickerless”, a container to store everything and flat land to camp on.
Nic had been working in Brazil and Argentina and had become close friends with a Brazilian consultant called Jose Weiss and his wife Cristina. When staying with them in San Paulo, Nic had experienced their channelling practice in such a way that his scepticism had been blown away. In summer 2013, Jose came to visit and channelled in the medicine wheel.
”Is this the right place to be doing this sort of developmental work?”
“This is the right place for much but not all types of developmental work and this wheel is absolutely right. We strongly support what you are doing here”
“What advice do you have for us?”
“The spirit world likes rhythm and commitment, at the moment you just hold ceremony here when you can”
We committed then and there to hold ceremony to mark every solstice and every equinox as a minimum. The Land community has continued to ask for insight through channelling ever since this time. We call these advisors the NEDBODs; our Non-Executive, Disembodied, Board Of Directors!
In 2015, we put the camp up for six weeks from mid-June until the end of July. The retreats went deeper, our second Sundance to mark the summer solstice, a Constellations camp, and a Ridhwan camp for students of A H Almaas in addition to our family and music camps. Many of the people who joined the retreats last year said that there was something about the land itself and the people on it that seemed to help them to go deeper. They felt that they were in a sacred place that supported their individual growth and the feeling of community.
What we were doing was emerging clearly enough that we could tell other people about it so we developed this website. We erected our nomadic village in June and July.
WindEagle, our native American teacher visited us to hold ceremony for the first time since the wheel was built and RainbowHawk moved on.
Nic and Michael Boyle ran the first 5Realms retreat. Other people from within the core team stepped forward to share their skills and expertise, Susie, Jeannie, Jos and Alli.
Ownership of the events on the land transferred to a “community association” made up of the land’s core team.
Core team members pay an annual fee which entitles them to attend retreats, put on their own events and camp on the land. Membership is open, by mutual agreement, to anyone who has attended one of the retreats.
2017 marked a turning point in other ways. The phase of investment in the infrastructure was completed and we therefore reduced our costs and broke even for the first time!
More people from the core team stepped forward to share their practice and we began to co-create new approaches by weaving together the magic of the people involved.
We repeated the successful format of 2017 with three retreats: one dedicated to the shamanic practices of the native American people; the Twinklearium which is a celebration of of the creativity of The Land community; and The Realms, using constellations, shamanism and channeling for profound transformation.
We also held a weekend exploring Druidry and held a Beltane hand-fasting demonstration. The two people involved in this, representing the Green Man and Spring Maiden, actually became a real couple for a year or so (having just met on that day!) – so don’t underestimate the power of this stuff!
A successful day combining yoga and coaching brought lots of new people to The Land and we hope to run this again in 2019.
We were blessed by such a wonderful summer, so wild swimming at our lovely beach on the Derwent was particularly welcome. It was also lovely to have friends from all over the world join us; Brazil, US, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, China.
We even made a small profit which we invested in two old geodesic domes so that we can have a warm dry space for our shorter workshops during the year.
We held three retreats during the land season this year. “Weaving the Magic of the Medicine Wheel” which evolved into a hands-on learning experience culminating with our fifth “Dance to the Tree of Life”. Others joined in the dancing, drumming, singing and meditating to mark the summer solstice.
“Twinklearium” was a family-friendly weekend with a singing workshop as one of the many highlights. Den-building was enjoyed by the kids (especially the big kids!).
The depth of transformation created by “The Realms” has grown from strength to strength every year and this year was no exception with many of the participants forming strong friendships and a vow to return to the Land whenever possible.
We continued our regular rhythm of seasonal celebrations for the equinoxes and solstices. Many new people have been welcomed onto the Land at these events.
We made a profit this year which has funded; a new washing up area (with views money can’t possibly buy), the first stage of the Rewilding process happening in February 2020 and this new version of our website.
In response to the COVID lockdown we put a sign on the entrance to the land inviting people to walk on the land. Who would have thought it?
We had always assumed that members of the local public already knew that they were welcome on the land. Loads of people began to visit and we realised that previously they had assumed it was private. We rather belatedly learnt the power of simple signs!
After some regrettable vandalism, the police recommended that we install cameras. We installed solar power for the cameras and put a wooden building by the side of the container to protect power tools and people. We modified the container and installed a permanent field kitchen. Chris Tree (aka Gregory) managed to get this all done just as the people arrived for the first post-lockdown retreats.
We were blessed by fledgling kestrels perching on the dome and the claiming stone.
The camp set up and pack down begins to flow as never before with the help of loads of enthusiastic people – many of whom actually know what they are doing! We get veg from Sam who is growing it on the field next door – food steps not food miles. The core team are full of energy and fun. Our retreats are well attended and we have our biggest Dance to the Tree of life yet (the tenth). The kestrels are back.
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Little Eaton, Derbyshire, United Kingdom
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