Chisholme Blog

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Humans as purely materialist individuals?
Chisholme Blog | Saturday, 1st July, 2017

"Perhaps it’s time to (re)read Jung." writes Gwendolen Dupré for The European Strategist, an internet publication and research circle.

"Perhaps it's time to (re)read Jung", writes Gwendolen Dupré.

We’ve just had the second very successful Poetics of Science (PoS) weekend.

Gwendolen Dupre was the opening speaker and she set the tone for the whole weekend. She spoke on the metaphysics underlying different religions.

Gwendolen also spoke at the first PoS in April. Her talk then has now been published in the European Strategist an internet publication and research circle that seeks answers for European society in postmodern times.

In it she contrasts two fundamental theories of the mind: that of Freud and that of his younger contemporary, Jung. Freud’s is a materialist approach whereas Jung believed in the real significance of images and symbols. As she says, while ”Freud offers a cynical account of human life... Jung’s ideas... present a more positive image of human potentiality.”

Gwendolen’s article is very well worth reading – it’s a short and easy introduction to the importance of Jung. It offers real food for thought. We look forward to more reflections from Gwendolen and others on Jungian philosophy.

Read the article here

The next Poetics of Science seminar is September 15–17.
Read more and book here

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Shane Jagger: a tribute
Chisholme Blog | Thursday, 15th June, 2017

A great and much-loved man has left us. Shane Wakil Jagger passed away on 14 June having lived at Chisholme for 34 years.

A great and much-loved man has left us. Shane Wakil Jagger passed away on 14 June having lived at Chisholme for 34 years. He touched so many who passed through Chisholme over this long time including Willa Shiel, a young American who volunteered here last Autumn. When Willa learned of Shane’s passing she wrote to us. You can read her words and a new poem by Wakil below.

Wakil: a tribute

I was asked before I left Chisholme in November to try to put into words what made the place so special to me and all those who pass through. I couldn’t find the words at the time, but it seems very simple now: people filled to the brim with love. Every Chisholme heart is warm. Wakil’s was one of the biggest hearts I’ve had the blessing to come into contact with in my life.

Pinned to the headboard of my bed is a poem he wrote on my last night at Chisholme, when pain kept him awake. I still read it most nights, and it takes on a new meaning today as Wakil finds painless rest.


In the cloudy
hours of the night
we wait for
the clear light
of day
dawn is not
far away
thoughts leave
as gentle rain
nothing left
to be said
in these
early hours
my head on pillow
wake me later
with a gentle
call to prayer

Sending my love to the people of Chisholme, who I know are holding each other close and lifting each other up today and every day, and of course my love to Wakil, who helped make me feel like I'd found a home when I found myself so very far from home.

With love and gratitude,
Willa Shiel

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Building Peace: with Scilla Elworthy
Frances Ryan | Saturday, 13th May, 2017

Sunday 28 May: How can we be useful? A workshop with Scilla Elworthy

Many people feel powerless in the face of what they see on TV or read in the news - a world in crisis, with wars and violence erupting across the globe.

Chisholme is delighted to be hosting a one-day workshop on Sunday 28 May, for all those who want to step out of helplessness.

Come and apply your own personal skills to do something about the challenges now facing us.
We’ll spend time responding to the question“what can I do about all this?”
We’ll investigate not only the myriad opportunities for service opening up, but also look into the skills we all need if we are to be effective in our chosen actions.

Scilla Elworthy PhD has been three times nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She is founder of Peace Direct, which works with local peace-builders in conflict areas, and was adviser to Peter Gabriel, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Sir Richard Branson in setting up ‘The Elders’. She co-founded Rising Women Rising World in 2014, and teaches self knowledge to young social entrepreneurs.

We need individuals like Dr Elworthy to start the work of preventing war…This has been my personal dream for many years.” His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Find out more...

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Nescio Ensemble
Chisholme Blog | Tuesday, 2nd May, 2017

The Nescio Ensemble from Holland at Chisholme, 28 April 2017

The Nescio Ensemble at Chisholme, 28 April 2017
Posted by Richard Gault

The email came out of the blue and with an unusual request: could we put up 12 young musicians for a night or two? In return they’d play for us. Perhaps because the musicians were Dutch (I have a Dutch wife) and the writer’s name meant wisdom, or perhaps simply because it seemed such a lovely idea, I immediately said yes.

Back in December the visit seemed far away. But as time went on and the April date drew nearer I did begin to wonder if not worry. Coming from Holland and including someone called Sophie was no guarantee that they would be good. And no matter how good they were, would anyone come to hear them? They called themselves Nescio - which means ‘I don’t know’ and I truly didn’t know. Had I been a bit hasty in committing ourselves to this event and adding to our workload?

I had not. The arrangement turned out to be perfect.

The Nescio Ensemble came; they played (to a full house: extra chairs had to be put out); and they conquered their audience’s hearts. It was a fabulous evening, the wonder of it heightened by the special ambience the beautifully decorated pavilion offered.

We were all dazzled. Nescio’s performance was a celebration and affirmation of the human potential both in the music they played and the way in which they played it. This was virtuosity and passion made manifest. Particularly stunning was Ana Termeulen's rendition of Ysaye's Ballade for Violin Solo. Equally impressive were the haunting sounds which Nescio produced in performing the String Quartet by the contemporary Turkish composer Fazil Say. This latter piece featured the violin of Burcu Ramazanoğlu – herself a Turk from Fazil Say’s home city of Ankara.

Burcu felt an immediate affinity with Chisholme and left hoping to return in the summer. We would love to welcome not just her but all of the other musicians of Nescio back. They have left us with an unforgettable memory and an appetite for more.

You can get a glimpse of their talent with this clip from their concert the previous evening at Cornucopia, Unit Four in Hawick – an excerpt from the third movement of Bartok's Divertimento for Strings.

Main photo by Sanne Gault

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Chisholme Then and Now
Chisholme Blog | Sunday, 16th April, 2017

Alastair Redpath traces the estate's history for The Hawick Paper's, April 14 edition.

Huge thanks to Alastair Redpath and The Hawick Paper for his excellent article published on 14 April, giving the history of the estate and bringing readers up to date with this month's Poetics of Science seminar weekend.

Download the article pdf

Full text below

Chisholme House is set on a beautiful estate in the hills beyond Roberton, an hour and a half from Edinburgh, Newcastle and Carlisle. The main house looks out over glorious landscaped grounds and woods of native trees – once the seat of the southern branch of Clan Chisholme. Chisholme offers a range of courses throughout the year and welcomes volunteers to work in the house, grounds and its organic walled gardens. This year’s highlight is undoubtedly a series of three seminar weekends exploring the Poetics of Science, to demonstrate the many ways in which science shapes and is shaped by literature, music and other inspirations.

Chisholme House was built in 1752 on historic lands formerly held by the Douglases of Drumlanrig and Scotts of Buccleuch. In the 18th century it passed into the hands of Sir William Douglas of Drumlanrig, then to Lord Hume. When the owner fell from royal favour, the estate was ceded to the Crown. In about 1826, William Chisholme, a member of the Selkirk branch of the family who made a fortune in Jamaica, bought back the estate and it remained in his lineage until 1871. At the end of the 19th century it was bought by a Mr Henderson, who added a wing, modernised the estate cottages, installed a new water system (including a hydraulic ram for supplying water), and built the approach road and bridge at Woodburn.

Following his death in the 1930s, the estate was bought by a Mr Bruce before being put on the market by his nephew two decades later. This led to large areas of the estate such as Parkhill and Woodburn Farms being auctioned off. Due to complicated property exchanges, deaths, and bankruptcies during the decade, Chisholme House was left without a resident owner and gradually fell into decay. Historic Scotland moved to list the site in March 1971. The house, open to the sky, became a shelter for sheep - the garden wall crumbled and the grounds and woods reverted to wilderness.

Chisholme’s fortunes changed for the better in 1973 when it was taken on by an English educational charity, The Beshara Trust, to become a school and retreat centre. In the true pioneering spirit of that time, a group of intrepid young people embarked on a renovation project, despite a total lack of funds and most basic facilities such as electricity, hot water, or even glass for the windows. Parts of the main house were made serviceable and the farm steading was transformed into student accommodation so that a six-month residential retreat could take place there in 1975.

In 1978 an independent Scottish charity, the Chisholme Institute, was set up with the specific aim of maintaining and developing the educational facility at Chisholme. The Institute maintains close links with The Beshara Trust to this day and collaborates with it in certain projects. By 1986, most of the land belonging to the original Chisholme estate had been re-purchased. Today the Chisholme Institute's focus is to provide education in the art of self-discovery to students from all over the world, and to promote an increased awareness of the real value of our connection to the world and each other.

The Poetics of Science: Inspiration seminar weekend offers a rich programme of interactive presentations and workshops, with speakers from diverse backgrounds including Buddhism, literature, psychology, art, the greater ecumenism, as well as films and music nights.

The compelling idea that inspired these seminars is inspiration itself. Speakers will include, among others: Edie Irwin, a trustee and director of the Tara Trust in Edinburgh who studied under the guidance of Dr. R.D. Laing and Akong Rinpoche from Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist Centre; local author and filmmaker Dorothy Alexander, a proponent of visual poetry and former tutor of Creative Writing for the University of Strathclyde; Narda Azaria Dalgleish, a Hawick-based Israeli-British designer, contemplative poet and moving image and installation artist.

The seminar weekend begins on Friday, April 21 and continues through to Sunday, April 23. For more information, email, telephone 01450 880215. Discounts are available for students, under 25s, and Chisholme volunteers participating in the Gardening Fortnight preceding the seminar weekend.

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