Join us in a revolution of the heart!

May 30 – June 7, 2015

Gather with us for the 41st annual Conference of the Great Mother and New Father, founded by Robert Bly.


2014 theme below. Check back soon for updates on 2015 Teachers and Theme!

Character, Language, and the Art of Growing Down

“I am not I. / I am this one / walking beside me whom I do not see, / whom at times I manage to visit” – Juan Ramon Jimenez

An old Siberian folk tale claims that when the right bride appears for the son of the Khan she will arrive from a wild place – and when she speaks, precious red beads will pour from her mouth and black sable will stroll where she walks. Through the threading of these beads into a necklace, every bead becomes a story, a dance, a ritual, an art form that revives and deepens the cultural life of the community. The wild is wedded to the village.

This year’s meeting is a gathering of those red beads to celebrate the past, present and future of the fortieth year of the conference.

We ask the question: are we individually, culturally, and communally still tuned to recognize the arrival of such a being? What are the stories the West tells itself in private? Later in the story, the tribe let in a grotesque mimic of the red-bead woman, and much trouble ensues.

Many archaic cultures insisted that discernment was born of a close relationship to what Greeks called the Daemon. This being – neither human or deity – pads alongside us, trying to turn our attention to the kind of life our soul signed up for. Without that clarity, in comes the mimic.

The daemon will utilize both trouble and opportunity to get us focused, and so may show up in your life like an angel or devil.

Through poetry, story and the wider arts we investigate the sometimes shattering presence of the daemon and honor the difficult shape it has given to many of our very greatest thinkers. We will explore four modes of what the ancients called “growing down” – accepting the Daemonic companion: through the growing fragility of the body, accepting the darkness of family, being owned by the land, displaying full attachment to the world. We will give thought to the seeming limits or constraints of this position – so at odds with the belief that we can “be anything”. Maybe we were meant to be something very specific.

Do our stories (personal and collective) contain enough trouble, enough flamboyance, enough elegant failure to be a good nest for the daemon to settle in?

A story too reduced, too compartmentalized by childhood trauma, is robbed of its magical disclosure, of its more-than-human agency.

Working alongside a telling of both the Grimms tale, “The Earth-Gnome” (a tale from the very earliest years of the conference), and the Yakut story “The Crow-King and the Red-Bead Woman”, we have invited a host of artists and musicians to contribute their art to the fertility of the daemonic imagination.

We leave at dusk. Bring your dancing shoes!

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

                                               - Jalaluddin Rumi

Read “Combing the Dragon’s Hair: The Earth Gnome”

Read “The Crow King and the Red-Bead Woman”