Drink from the Well-Springs of Scottish Highland Heritage in Spring 2020

Another set of enthusiastic participants has completed the latest round of course offerings in the Hidden Glen Folk School – Reclaiming the Roots, for the second time, and Radicalizing the Roots, for the first time –, and it’s been a wonderfully enriching experience for everyone, including myself. Our group conversations have frequently reflected on how a deep engagement with Scottish Gaelic tradition can help to root and center us as we work on the incredibly complex and delicate challenges in the world around us.

These two six-week courses will be again offered in the Spring, from early April to mid May, as well as a new four-week introductory-level course about Scottish Highland heritage. See the Course Listings on this webpage.

For the first time, I’ll be making video recordings from the summary portion of class sessions available to participants who cannot attend the Zoom chats in real-time. I’ll also be adding an “open office hour” on Sundays (usually 3:30 – 4:30 PM EST) via Zoom to answer questions and address issues for course participants.

If you’ve been wondering what these courses might offer you, and the sort of people who take part in them, here are comments from some of the participants in the latest round of courses:

“This course is perfect for those with Gaelic roots looking to decolonize themselves and heal from toxic whiteness because it presents a message and a history full of connection to land, song, prayer, responsibility and kinship. This kind of history cannot be simply learned from a book. The course allows participants to connect to each other’s personal journeys and context, and Michael’s guidance throughout allows for assumptions and misrepresentations of indigenous Gaelic culture to be gently replaced with a deep and transformative awareness of a history waiting to be reclaimed.”

“Reclaiming the Roots served as a valuable confirmation for the wisdom of my Highland Ancestors. I enjoyed seeing glimpses of their culture and cosmologies that were interwoven with the land. This class would be useful for anyone who wants to understand how colonialism affected Indigenous Highlanders. The tactics of shaming, displacement, and loss of language were used against our ancestors before they migrated to other lands. This course is based on historical research from original Gaelic sources.”

– Hilary Giovale

“I recommend this course to anyone wanting to understand how the Gaels were colonized historically, and to explore the consequences of colonization for modern-day Gaels. Michael Newton is one of the very few scholars with expertise in this area, and his extensive knowledge of Gaelic culture and history makes him the ideal instructor. I very much appreciated the course as an entry point into the study of Gaelic de/colonization, and I feel much better prepared for further study of this topic, and to participate more sensitively in community conversations.”

Dr. Heather Sparling, Canada Research Chair in Musical Traditions, Cape Breton University

“My family’s story is one of Nova Scotia Scots settling in the then new colony of British Columbia, of clearing over a hundred acres of trees to create a farm, and of displacing the indigenous population. The course has helped me integrate that family story with the larger Gaelic story. And the course will somehow enable me to deal with our family history with less freight, less through a lens of guilt and more in a contextualized way. … How reassuring to know that one can embrace all of what we experience, and not confine ourselves to considering as praiseworthy only the dissectable, measurable, controllable, harnessable and merely physical parts of what we experience. I like to think that I had this realization before taking the course, but having this realization articulated with clarity and in context certainly has been very good.”

– Douglas MacAdams, Q.C., D.D. (Hon), British Columbia

I’ve also been busy doing talks and presentations on the historical background of the immigration of Scottish Highlanders to North America, so as to put the Outlander saga into its proper context. Here are a couple of pictures from recent events.

Talk at library in Cary, North Carolina.
Talk at library in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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