Juliet Yelverton is a healer and gardener, founder of Healing Waters Retreat and Sanctuary, Glastonbury. She shares with me her fascinating life story and positive views for the future.
Juliet originally trained as geologist, one of two females in a class of 60 males. When she left university her options were limited: employment in either the nuclear industry or an oil rig. She had trouble finding a job because of her gender, and so decided to drop geology. Juliet first went into peace campaigning work, and then switched to healing work.
Mural on the Healing Waters Retreat and Sanctuary, founded by Juliet
Juliet delights at how great it is that we can now go straight for what we are good at, we can shine our lights on the planet so much easier than when she came out of university. She believes that we are all needed now to make a difference at this critical time on the planet. Each of us need to do what we are good at, and accept that we each do it differently. By co-creating our lives in this way, the planet doesn't have to be in the crisis we find it now. We can turn global warming and any other issue around, and can do it now if we all do our part.
Ultimately everyone on the planet wants the same thing, we just come at it from a different starting point and different points of view. If we listen deeply to each other, we can co-create change. After the recent US elections, people were so disappointed Trump got voted in, but Juliet confesses that she wouldn't have been happy if Hilary Clinton was voted in either. But in fact an interview with Trump supporters shows that both sets of voters are expressing the same thing: they want change, they want corruption to stop, they are ordinary people wanting better lives, forced to choose what they see as the lesser of two evils. We need unity instead of opposition after the voting.
After university Juliet went to India, where she read about the anti-nuclear movement. She came back to London and went to a huge anti-nuclear gathering, where she heard about Peace Camps. Greenham Common was one of them, but there were many others outside military bases in the UK and one in Italy. Juliet went to Molesworth camp, where they were planning on putting nuclear missiles. Molesworth was on the front line of the anti-nuclear movement: they held many demonstrations, broke fences, painted the buildings white, talked to and tried to convert soldiers. They created a human chainbetween Molesworth and other base 13 miles away. The movements at Greenham common worked, and the base was closed down. The fence was broken up and sent around the world as a token of a successful campaign.
Juliet then organised a 3 month Peace Walk from Faslane base in Scotland and Greenham Common, a distance of 1,000 miles. It was a great experience for Juliet to organise and participate in it, along with monks from a Buddhist temple in Milton Keynes. The monks promoted peace by walking, chanting, and fasting outside military bases. Although Juliet found that this sort of non-violent direct action was very powerful, she started to see that even more powerful was to not be in resistance at all, but to work with healing instead. That took her to Glastonbury.
Before stopping her involvement in activism, Juliet went on a final peace campaign to Eritrea, Africa. There people were growing wheat on a military base, in a movement called 'Wheat to the Starving'. The military police ploughed up the wheat that had started to grow, which triggered response from the international peace movement, and supplies of wheat were sent to Eritrea. Juliet went out to see to the distribution of the wheat. She saw first hand what many of us only see in photographs: people living with no food, just skin and bones. She found it extremely inspiring and continued to support them after moving to Glastonbury.
That image of starving children and war has tormented Juliet all her life, but she now sees it differently: it's not just a disaster, it's done on purpose. When I nodded in agreement, Juliet said: ''I feel your acknowledgement, because 20 years ago no one realised this.'' Julian Assange of Wikileaks showed so clearly how wars are deliberately started. Because of this people feel overwhelmed, hopeless and despairing, but if we look at it like this, then that's what we go towards. It's crucial to realise that with these emotions, we give our power to those in control: it's important not to get sucked into despair. We have so much power with every single thing we do: we give power to corporations with what we buy.
When we make a choice to live differently, ethically, morally, eat wholesome food, form good relationships, create communities, we are not giving power to that which makes us despair. It's all about the way we live our lives.
Leaves in the pond at the Healing Gardens
Juliet began healing in 1980 in Glastonbury. She first trained as cranial sacral therapist, from which she learned two fundamental truths.
1- the most significant things happen to us before birth: we have consciousness pre-conception. The key points during our development (conception, when the eggs are released from the ovaries, the movement of sperm, how we grow in womb, our birth) all have profound imprints on our psyche. These are literally life and death moments, which leave strong patterns affecting our ability to cope in the world. These are the underlying imprints to trauma, and if we heal and re-pattern them, we can liberate the energy in our lives. We can change the way our life plays out, healing feelings that we can't succeed, or that our boundaries are overrun, and much more.
2- how fundamental trauma is in our lives and how much it affects us. Everyone on this planet is highly traumatised, and if they are healed, they are able to shine their light much brighter. With trauma it is easy to move into anger, despair and depression, meaning we do not function at our optimal level.
Juliet does one-to-one healing using many tools including cranial sacral therapy, and she trains others in trauma healing skills. This is essential if working as a therapist. Juliet's vision is that every person has trauma healing skills and knows how trauma affects us, including the police, teachers etc. Many from Juliet's generation were called stupid or lazy in class when they could not keep up, had tantrums, or were spacing-out. But these are in fact trauma symptoms. If children are given help from teachers rather than being ridiculed or ignored, then rather than growing up as failures, rebels, criminals or addicts, (all people with addictions are traumatised), they can instead shine their light on the world.
Juliet believes that this is the key to the shift in consciousness on planet. Trauma affects our ability to connect, to speak, to feel safe in relationships, even to make eye contact. How many people on this planet are in fear? They can't relate, can't feel safe, meaning they are either easily manipulated or they become the next Trump and Clinton: why do these people live from a place of greed, where does that come from? Trauma underlines every problem.
Trauma is not so difficult to heal. It's not a mental thing, you can't talk someone out of it, in fact counselling can cause re-traumatisation. For so long people have believed that if we get into the emotion, express it properly, then it would heal. It doesn't heal, it actually re-traumatises as the body thinks its happening again. When a person is screaming, their memory says this event is happening in this moment and the body goes into fight or flight mode: deeply embedding the trauma to the nervous system. A lot of people still practising this method- even in Glastonbury. Juliet tells me it is not necessary to remember the event: true trauma healing works with nervous system. She doesn't focus on a specific event, but focuses on what is happening in the body at that moment, and brings attention to that and work with that.
Woman made by children at the Healing Gardens
I am hoping to be a mother one day, and so I am very interested in the pre-natal side of what Juliet has been talking about.
I ask: ''can you heal the trauma before the baby is born or prevent it from occurring?''
Juliet runs healing birth workshops, about healing ones own birth. Quite often pregnant women come, because what happened in your own birth influences the way you give birth: you can project trauma onto your present pregnancy. Birth is potentially very dangerous, and doctors and midwives often go into their own birth trauma. This sense of emergency means that often interventions are put into place that may be unnecessary. To fully support a woman giving birth it's essential to be in one's own power, and not activated into one's own trauma. That is also true for the mother giving birth: it is important not to be activated into your own birth.
The mother needs to be present and in constant communication with her baby, working together through the dance of the labour. The baby has to make some choices how to get down birth canal: humans are the only creature that has to turn the head to be born. The more the mother is in connection with the baby, freely moving her body in response to what baby is doing, the easier it is to get through, and the baby feels supported. In hospital the mother is on her back, full of drugs, fearful, and in pain. The drugs are calculated on her weight not the babies' weight, meaning the baby is unable to make conscious choices because he or she is overwhelmed with drugs! Everything about the way we give birth is harmful and highly traumatising.
And afterwards the baby suffers more trauma when she or he is taken away for weighing and washing. This breaks bonding period: those first 20 minutes are critical for the setting of the nervous system, for the baby to normalise and connect with the mother. Likewise the cutting of umbilical cord is traumatising, because it cuts off the blood supply to the baby, forcing the baby very dramatically to take their first breath. It is a good idea to let it stop pulsating before it's cut, to lessen the shock to the umbilical area. Some mothers birth the placenta and carry that around with the baby until it drops off.
To answer the question of preventing pre-natal trauma, Juliet emphasises that if the mother is in continual communication with the baby, the baby feels loved and supported, and the mother always puts the baby first in everything- then trauma can be reduced. This is easier said than done! There is a point called the 'discovery phase', which is extremely traumatising for the baby: when the mother finds out she is pregnant! Whether she is happy or unhappy, the surge of hormones when she discovers she is carrying a child, is a lot for the baby to handle. If the mother is distracted by economic problems, illness, someone dying etc, the baby feels isolated and the mothers' body is not being taken care of. Pregnancy is a time of putting everything aside and being in constant communicating with the child: because they understand everything.
Juliet runs Healing Birth Wounds workshops in Glastonbury with the midwife Julia Duthie. It is part of the Healing Waters Retreat and Sanctuary, founded by Juliet. People from all over the world come and a group of therapists work there doing wide range of healing work.
The Healing Gardens is separate, but all the projects have a link: healing. It's all about be conscious of what our bodies are telling us, what food we put in our bodies, and it's about creating community.
The gardens consist of 3 huge growing areas, each one a 13m circle. They are named earth, air, fire circles, and are all interlinked. There are also chickens, bees, orchards, a pond and wildlife area. There are 25 members, and they have gardening days together or they can come whenever they want to help. The aim is to have lots of fun and gatherings. Membership costs £2.50 a month, around £30 a year, and gives you access to the gardens whenever you like, and in return for work you get a share in the produce.
Looking down on the Healing Gardens, Glastonbury
Juliets' vision of the future:
Her 26 year old daughter was despairing when Trump came into power, and Juliet told her that when she's Juliet's age, the world will look very different. Her daughter thought she meant different in a bad way, but Juliet explained:
''I think evolution is upward, and consciousness is growing. The world will be a wonderful place. New technology and the way we relate to each other gives the potential for immense change on the planet. I come from a position of positivity and trust, and I see the goodness that flowers from each one of us.''