The last time I wrote about the White Spring, I spoke of The Wounded Masculine and Seeking Balance, and the paradox that this presents. One thing that helps me a great deal when faced with expressions of ‘wounded masculine’ is to think them as ‘Lost Knights,’ The warrior archetype has been twisted all over the world. Many men and women with a strong warrior archetype are celebrated as fighters, turned into soldiers and sent overseas. The warrior at home often seems to have little place and so can become confused or lost. This idea of lost knights evokes my compassion and stops me from getting too fearful when faced with aggression.
Another keeper, after reading last week, commented that they had dealt with a tricky situation at the White Spring. In summary, a ‘wounded’ guy who often visits was very angry and complained that he couldn’t enjoy the Sanctuary in the way that he wanted because there were people bathing and being noisy. He was upset at the blatant nudity and said he could not meditate at the shrines because of it.
After patiently listening to why he was upset, the keepers explained about the bathing and apologised that the energy of The White Spring was not good for him that day – this had the effect of calming him down and he apologised for his anger. I am so happy to know that the keepers on that day showed such compassion and understanding. It is not always easy when faced with someone who is ranting. The wisdom of those keepers resonated beautifully with what I wrote about in the last blog – and to sum it up, in her words …
‘How do we get the balance right ALL the time? …the truth is we don’t! We go with the flow just like the Whitesprings itself does!! Sometimes there are blockages, fast flowing energies, peacefully flowing energies etc. that describe the waters and the people who visit there.’
This is spot on.
We don’t get it right all the time. One person comes to meditate, another comes to bathe (and may even squeal! It is rather cold after all); one comes to sing gently, another to drum; one wants peace, another wants a celebration; one wants to have a beer in the garden, another wishes to see only the sacred beauty and instead feels fearful of a man with a can; one wants to bathe naked, another doesn’t want to see nakedness.
It is a temple of life, and as such it changes and flows as a living and evolving thing. Expectations will not always be met, visitors may need to surrender their needs when they arrive, or wait until they can book a private session.
All of us have different expectations and needs. So how do we balance that whilst being all-inclusive and free? Well, as discussed already, we can’t … so maybe I should ask, how do we find harmony within that?
Let’s talk about the issue of nude bathing. This is a tricky issue, and one that need care in how we handle it.
Recently I was sent a message from lady who had enjoyed her visit to the White Spring, but had sat down to meditate and then, looked up to see a naked man. She was suddenly shocked and felt she had to leave. She was writing to me to tell me her concerns, and in particular that she was worried that we may get in trouble because we were allowing nudity in a public place, where children may be present. She did not know that ritual bathing has been taking place here for about 20 years (maybe even longer), nor did she think we had thought it through properly.
I understood some of her worries, even though they were expressed with a lot of fear around nakedness. I needed to be careful about my response and I checked that the law hadn’t changed around nudity.
If someone is naked in public they can be arrested and charged with an offence – however, if there was no intent to cause distress then it is very unlikely that a charge would come about. In any case, the White Spring is not a public place, so the same rules do not apply. Obviously if someone came with the intent of causing distress, naked or otherwise we would deal with it.
I do agree that a notice needs to be put up to inform people that nude bathing may take place, so that people are forewarned when they arrive. Whilst we wish to let sensitive people know, we don’t want to advertise nakedness, so it will have to be carefully worded.
I understand that families come to the Spring, and that children often come in with their parents. Occasionally I tell them that people are bathing when they are – and these families don’t seem to mind. Usually if children are there, they giggle and disappear to another place in the building. Their parents have a chance to talk to them about their feelings about nakedness and bodies. I actually think it is a good thing and it shows us that the human body is not something to be afraid or ashamed of.
Often the keepers find themselves as protectors of a sort – protecting the privacy of those who wish to bathe, and the sensitivity of those who wish to meditate. This can be challenging – I have even had to ask a couple to stop taking photographs of people bathing! Despite the no photography policy, taking photos of people ritually bathing is really not on.
I have seen one person on the site who was very upset about the nude bathing and left quite quickly, I talked to them just before they left because they looked quite freaked out. I told them that people often bathe, and if they wanted to enjoy the space without that possibility they were welcome to make a private booking at no charge.
I love the fact that people feel safe to bathe in the waters at the White Spring, many people come and have ritual baths and are very respectful of the place. I dont’ want to limit this and I am reluctant to set up rules around nakedness. However a few folk who bathe like to behave as if there is no one else in the building. One or two visitors in the past have been quite extrovert. Dancing around the pools, even doing yoga whilst naked. I know they believe they are acting in a sacred manner and we have been quite tolerant. Still, I have to acknowledge that some people find this quite uncomfortable.
So, I decided that the next time someone was overly extrovert in their nakedness, I would let them know that they can book the building if they want to behave as if no one else in there. Otherwise, I would encourage them to be more respectful and thoughtful of other visitors.
Then came the test.
On Spring Equinox, we had a wonderful and energetic celebration which ended in us all standing around the central pool. Everyone put their hands in the water whilst we said a prayer for the waters of the world, and then we splashed the waters toward each other, cheering and whooping. Such joy and exuberance led to several women taking off their clothes and jumping in the water. It was quite beautiful and innocent, yet very extrovert nakedness.
To see these women feeling so free and liberated was very empowering, both for them and for others who saw them. They danced in the candlelight, their voices echoing through the chambers. They felt so free in their nudity they even decided to run outside the building and up the road to have a pee. (Thanks to the girls for not peeing in the water!)
There was not the slightest hint of sexual behaviour or wishing to cause distress – if anything, it was the opposite. It created a huge amount of joy, everyone was smiling. Beautiful naked ladies, fun and laughter, a celebration that was just perfect for the moment.
So did I ask them to stop. No of course not.
We have to take each moment as it comes. I learnt that imposed rules are not always appropriate – had I followed through with my thinking I would not have allowed room for spontaneous moments of joy like this. Moments that seem just perfect.
The White Spring is such a unique place and we are blessed to be here, learning and growing as we discover more about ourselves. So we extend our welcome to all who wish to be in a temple of life where people feel free to express their true nature, where naked ladies (and men) can bathe, (thoughtfully, joyfully, repectfully) and where lost knights (male or female) may be found and remembered.
This is such a tricky issue, and i would love to hear from you about your thoughts on nakednes in this context. Please get in touch if you have any further thought or insights.
Next time I will be writing about another controversy – No Photos!