The School of Christian Mysticism
Religion and spirituality have been central to Jo’s life since early childhood. She was raised as a Christian and remained an active participant in the Anglican and later an evangelical church until her late teens when she became disillusioned with regular religion, unable to find in it a source of nourishment for her yearning to for a deep spirituality.
In her early 30’s Jo reengaged in the spiritual journey, finding this first through Yoga practice and philosophy and later through Buddhist meditation, both of which introduced her to meditation practice leading to inner experience. With a regular personal practice she returned to the Abrahamic traditions through its inner pathways, firstly the Jewish mystical pathway of Kabbalah which helped her map out and find names for inner experience.
By her 40’s Jo (Sufi name, NurJamil) had found universal Sufism, the inner path originating in Islam, as an ongoing mystical training and practice. Simultaneously she returned to the Anglican Church and the life and message of Christ Jesus finding she had the experience and understanding to travel better its inner pathway of transformation and illumination.
Now in her sixties, Jo lives in Ceredigion, Wales where she feels privileged to run a meditation, healing and retreat centre offering teaching and practice in both universal Sufism and mystical Christianity, both paths emphasising love, reconciliation and the opening and development of the heart. She is a spiritual guide, leads the healing work of the Inayati (Sufi) Order in the UK and offers retreats in Sufi and Christian mysticism often, as a storyteller, making use of metaphor and story in her work.
In 2016, she felt guided to initiate a School of Christian Mysticism. With Vivienne and Tim, she hopes this will be one way to make more easily available the powerful and beautiful inner path of Christianity.
Vivienne spent her professional life in teaching and teacher education. Since retiring in 2000, she has transferred her interests and skills to guiding meditation and spiritual development groups and classes for multi-faith studies and training. She is a qualified spiritual healer, with over twenty years’ experience, using sound and colour, as well as touch, in her work. She is a volunteer complementary therapist at a local hospice.
From an agnostic upbringing and academic background, she was always a seeker of meaning and after a profoundly opening revelation of other dimensions in her mid-twenties, she found inspiration and nourishment in Christian Mystical, Taoist, Hindu and Buddhist texts and a range of esoteric traditions such as theosophy, and the Alice Bailey writings.
In the 90s she encountered Sufism (Sufi name, Hadia) in the Inayati Order International –a modern Western expression of ancient exemplars. She is a graduate of the Order’s Suluk Academy, a Representative (teacher) and Conductor (exponent of distant healing service) within it. She undertakes and guides alchemical retreats based in the writings of Hazrat Inayat and Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan and is also a student of Alain Forget, a French philosopher and practitioner of deep inner work, including dream analysis.
Spiritual pursuits and healing are central to her life and she draws on a rich variety of sources and approaches. Long a student of Christian mystics ancient and modern - Hildegard of Bingen, Teresa, Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, Evelyn Underhill to name a few- she is currently excited by different perspectives on the teaching of Jesus afforded by explorations of Aramaic and of the Gospels of Mary, Philip, Thomas and other materials outside the accepted Church canon. For relaxation she enjoys the arts, travel, writing, a capella singing, gardening and the company of friends.
Fr Tim Ardouin:
Tim is a Church in Wales priest, currently Priest in Charge in North Gower. He was ordained in 2008.
Tim spent his teenage years through thirties traveling, playing music and teaching. Some of these were years of hard travel, hitch hiking, busking and sleeping rough but the rawness of all this taught Tim a deep appreciation of the beauty and power of the natural and of the innate generosity and empathy of human beings wherever he went. It was a time of opening for him and he was acutely aware of the presence of the Divine in him and in his surroundings. Christ was for him a constant companion. Nevertheless, and despite descending from a long line of Welsh priests on his mother's side (Wilkinson and Thomas) it was for Tim something of a shock when, while wandering into a deserted church in the South of France, travel weary and simply desiring a moment for prayer, he received what seemed an insistent and irresistible call from God to the church. Resistance was offered with a passion but to no eventual avail.
In the early nineteen nineties Tim studied for BA Hons at St David's University, Lampeter, and later a Masters degree at Cardiff before ordination.
Growing up at Pwll Du beach and Parkmill in Gower, contemplation and meditation came naturally for Tim and he expressed the faith and harmony he found there in his poetry and music. However, it was after discovering a book, sometime in the early eighties, about the Jesus Prayer by Metropolitan Anthony (Andrei Borisovich Bloom) that his life long journey into contemplative prayer really began. Tim leads retreats and teaches people to pray within themselves, and this contemplative way of being informs the way he does ministry. Tim is also Bishop's Officer for the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon for Interfaith Dialogue and a Trustee for St Madoc Centre in Gower.