By Ann Hill
Earthsong Camps are a series of gatherings held during the summer in Ireland each year. They are the creation of drum teacher John Bowker and his band of merry women and men who dedicate themselves to getting every detail of this eclectic experience just right. Going to Earthsong is like taking a trip to India or Antarctica or the moon. You might think you’ve been somewhere like it, but once you go you know there is nowhere like it at all.
The Camps are a delicate mix of down-to-earth living on the land as well as a kind of cosmic road-trip around the universe of creativity and joy. The Camps are strictly non-electric, bringing you back to a simpler every day life, and free from all drugs and alcohol, so whatever magic happens, it’s created by the beauty and vision and authentic creativity of all who attend or are involved. It is these uniquely strict boundaries that make Earthsong such a safe space for the wild and gentle human spirit to run free. The heart of the Earthsong ethos, is that a group of human beings come together in agreement to live together consciously for a week.
Each day is filled with workshops in a variety of disciplines including drumming, dance, song, the arts, healing and transformation in more ways than you could think of. Everyone lives co-operatively, camping in circles of 15-30 people around central fires where food is cooked together for the week. Each circle becomes your homestead, and some of the people you meet will become the people whose hands you hold while crossing roads for the rest of your lives. This summer four camps will be running at two different venues in Ireland.
Co. Clare Camps
The venue in East County Clare is a site which has been specially managed for hosting camps. It’s a beautiful, secluded location with a private swimming lake, stone circle and an atmosphere of wildness and beauty that makes it the perfect container to hold a deep retreat.
Healing Drum Camp, June 6-13: Healing Drum is aimed specifically at those who have some experience of Earthsong or Tribal Spirit Drumming weekends. As the Camp is small in size and suitable for adults only, it offers a very intimate healing space. While there is an emphasis on drumming, a wide variety of indigenous cultural healing tools are offered to create the possibility of deep transformation. Enjoy the Sweat Lodge, Native American chants, Dance of Life, Sharing Lodge and more. The safety of the camp allows a very playful spirit to come out and this sense of play skips through the whole week and lights up the journey for everyone.
“Healing Drum Camp gave me sanctuary after some difficult events in my own life to be with people in a safe group dynamic where my expressions of grief were accepted as easily as my joy and enthusiasm. The connections I made with people have stayed with me – it is impossible not to bring them away with you.” – Ruth.
Midsummer Solstice Camp, June 17-21: The Midsummer Solstice Camp is a celebratory camp which captures all the joy and mischief of this time of year. While the camp runs for six days, tickets are available for any number of days from three or more, making it a perfect camp for anyone who wants to dip their toes into the enchanted Earthsong pond for the first time. The Midsummer Solstice Camp is open to adults and accompanied teens.
Some of the offerings include Heartsong, Dances of Universal Peace, Rainforest Chants, Dance of Life, Sauna, Beginner Drum and Experiential Astrology. This year the Camp will place a giant standing stone on a ley line and the week will be celebrated with a Midsummer Firedance.
“This camp is the perfect way to celebrate the summer solstice. It was free-flowing and high energy with drum sessions in the stone circle, dancing and singing, swimming in the lake. It was a lovely way to experience the fun and human connection of a weekend festival without the usual messiness that any event where there is alcohol and a lot of people usually entails.” – Ruth.
Co. Tipperary Camps
In Tipperary, the Earthsong Camps are hosted on a beautiful organic farm which is transformed into the type of village that fairies might live in for the weeks of the camps. There is a shop selling vegetables from the garden, a café with straw bale chairs, a crèche for the babies, a river to wander by, woods to stroll and chat in, big tops and marquees where open-hearted people are playing, singing, dancing and listening. Both of the Tipperary Camps offer a rich menu of workshops which run all day, with an individual programme for children, tweens, teenagers and adults.
Dance Camp, July 4-12: Dance Camp is an upbeat and joyful week of celebration of everything music and dance. Some of the highlights on offer this year include Heartsong, Flamenco, Gong Bath, 5 Rhythms, Kirtan, Belly Dance, Family Drum, Singing from the Heart, Laughter Yoga, Firedance, Trance Drum and dozens more. At the heart of the Camp is the beautiful village green where each evening a band of what seem like fairy folk play instruments for all to dance or listen to while the sun goes down over the Tipperary hills.
Harvest Camp, July 18-26: Harvest Camp offers all the joy of music and song and also many opportunities for deep personal transformation work. This year’s workshops include Heartsong, Family Constellations, Heart Mapping, Liberating Voices, Sound Healing, Yurt Making, Sacred Clowning and very many more.
“Going to camp each year has been one of the most beautiful gifts I have been able to give myself and my children. It is hard to put it into words. More so it is a feeling – of wonder, magic, merriment, community, depth, laughter and connection to ourselves, each other, the planet and Source energy. It brings me hopethat the planet can heal.” – Nichola.