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An Interview with J.J. Middleway (Part Two)

December 8, 2015

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 9.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Five)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: December 8, 2015

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2016.

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,901

ISSN 2369-6885

J.J. Middleway

Abstract

An Interview with J.J. Middleway. He discusses: prominent interests in personal life; interest in healing, energy healing, Chakra balancing, Reiki, holistic health, and meditation; response to protagonists and antagonists in consideration of these practices; Yukon Assignment and the overarching theory and implemented practices, and plans for the future; why, and how, he became involved; “Mentor/Witness/Elder” from 2010-2013 for the United Kingdom Boys2Men organization and duties which came from this position; and the enrichment of personal skills for druid practices in the domain of leadership and mentorship.

Keywords: Boys2Men, Chakra, druid, druidism, elder, J.J. Middleway, leadership, mentor, Reiki, witness, Yukon Assignment.

An Interview with J.J. Middleway (Part Two)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes and citation style listing after the interview, respectively.*

7. What sub-set of these interests seem most prominent in personal life?

A term that isn’t used above, but which perhaps links them all, is ‘holding space’ which, in my experience, has an intimate link with ‘presence’.  Those in turn link with a paradoxical ability to both ‘be fully out in the world’ and yet concurrently hold a space of inner refuge – what might be termed ‘a sanctuary of solitude’ – at my core.  So, I see that in my life, I spend a lot of time creating celebratory and reverential space – for instance for handfasting/wedding ceremonies, or baby naming ceremonies or for Parting/Funeral services. I have been told that I have a capacity to create a form of magical space, in which and through which, others may express and share of their humanity -and indeed of their divinity. Again, I have heard it said that Shaman, Priest or ‘Walker between the worlds’ best describe what I do.  For me it doesn’t matter so much what I am called as how I manifest my love in the world.

I also find it necessary and important to take solitary time; in nature, by the sea or simply ‘as is’, wherever that might be.  I like to meditate; however this can include many forms; from parking one’s bum on a meditation stool, to washing dishes or chopping wood (mindfully! :-))

Therefore it is not so much a case of which sub-sets of these interests are most prominent in my personal life.  Rather, these sub-sets are but examples – part of the kaleidoscope of colours – which go toward making a composite whole, which, in its entirety reflects the magnificence, foolishness and uncertainty of a fully lived life.

8. You have an interest in healing, energy healing, Chakra balancing, Reiki, holistic health, and meditation – among others.[3] Many consider these crucial to their reduction of stress and improved wellbeing, and general wellness.[4] Others for personal development in conjunction with their or their community’s druid path. Even further, others see these as pseudoscience and without merit, especially because of, by definition, existing in the alternative health domains rather than mainstream medicine for improved wellbeing. What seems the most reasonable stance with respect to these and other practices to you?

To maybe start from a place of ‘I don’t know’.  That seems a good place to start.

Strangely enough, it was in the sciences that I furthered my education (in the mistaken and, with hindsight, slightly comical notion that I might qualify as a medical doctor).  And also perhaps unconsciously, following what I think is Kirkegaard’s wise advice, in that to know who you are, you must first go by the way of who you are not.  So I will freely state that I am no scientist.  Yet I hold science and the rational as honourable and worthy members of a wider family of attributes of the human condition.

Just as science has the wisdom of ‘laws’ which acknowledge that ‘to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction’, I am sometimes puzzled why this can’t be applied to the full panoply of life.   i.e. just as there is a rational, visible world view, why should its opposite – namely an irrational, invisible world view, not have equal status?   Then the apparent ‘opposites’ might be reconciled into a wiser and a healthier union; the magical and mystical fusion of opposites which is the very birth spring of life.

Re-reading the terms and practices used in your question, I just note that, for the most part, these have been chosen by others to describe what I offer.  Healing and meditation I recognize and own.  The other terms, I respect and accept since others have experienced it so; however, for me these have come out of what I would term ‘presence’ and ‘love’.

So the most reasonable stance for me in relation to the above practices and treatments is to to acknowledge that for me, where they work, I offer them to myself and others from a place of integrity and with love.   For anyone who chooses to believe or practice otherwise, I respect and indeed value that.

9. How might one respond to those protagonists and antagonists on either side of these practices – those with outright acceptance and rejection?

With humour –  Good humour. 🙂

10. You have association with the Yukon Assignment.[5],[6] What amounts to its overarching theory and implemented practices, and plans for the future?[7],[8] 

The Yukon assignment is a wonderful example of courage, devotion and skill.  It is a great role model for boys and men in particular and an inspiration for women disillusioned by poor examples of manhood.

In essence, a ‘grown up son’ teams up with his middle aged father to plan and embark upon ‘the journey of  lifetime’. Having been dropped off by helicopter, with basic supplies, they spend months kayaking down hundreds of miles of sparsely mapped river, in an extremely remote area of the Yukon.  Both men have experience of ‘the great outdoors’ yet push themselves to the limits of challenge and endurance to forge and celebrate their link to the land, the wider community (through their example) and to each other as Father and Son.  These are my words and that is my understanding.

It is designed to inspire and motivate others to ‘go for their dream’ and to forge their destiny through actively embracing adversity.  So the plan is to use it as a model in relation to adventure training and life development. I believe the intention is to take it into schools to encourage and inspire young people in their development.

11. Why, and how, did you get involved in it?

It would be a gross over-exaggeration to say that I am ‘involved’.   I am an active supporter – that’s as far as my involvement goes at the moment.  However it does tie in with other work I am involved in, concerning mentoring and supporting teenage boys in their journey to manhood,  so there is a strong link in that way.

What is more interesting is how I come to be associated with the Yukon Assignment in the first place, and my own ‘great adventure’.

In January 2006 I headed off to the remote wilds of Patagonia as Deputy Expedition Leader for a Raleigh International Expedition involving 77 young men and women aged between 18 to 25, along with 36 staff – for whom I was largely responsible – mostly aged between 25 and 35. So, aged 54 at the time,  I was the ‘old man’ of the bunch.  It is fair to say that, at that time, it was the toughest and most challenging thing I had ever had to deal with.  The first week felt like climbing Everest. (emotionally, physically and mentally). The second week, like climbing Annapurna – and on it went, relentlessly. I was often working 18 hour days. And although the title said “Deputy Expedition Leader”, I had been warned , and found it to be true – “This is the most demanding role of all”.

The basic idea was for  groups of around 12 to 15 youngsters, under the leadership and direction of 2 to 3 project staff, to go off for a month on an environmental  project adventure, ( tree planting or deer census) then return for a few days at base camp, before getting mixed up and going off for a month on a community project (building an old people’s centre or a children’s play area – we are talking fairly remote areas here)  with a third month on an adventure project (e.g trekking across the Northern Ice cap or canoeing in the wild seas off the coast of southern Chile.)  I had the responsibility of coordinating, monitoring and organizing all that. It was fantastic because it mixed up very privileged youngsters from the most prestigious schools in England (Prince William had been on it the previous year) along with inner city recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. There were some local youngsters from Chile on it too, including an 18-year old convicted murderer – but that’s another story.

I learned an awful lot about myself and others on that trip – an in particular, that I could lead through inspiration and respect.

You’re waiting for the link to the Yukon Assignment – and here it is.  One of the adventure projects (there were three – two trekking, one canoeing) was led by a young man aged 25 at the time (the same age as my son as it happens).  His name was Chris Lucas. I was amazed at his maturity, capabilities in the wild and inspirational leadership. We became good friends.

After the expedition proper, about 17 of the staff, went on our own adventure together, with Chris and another couple of mountain leaders, guiding us towards a dramatic – quite possibly unclimbed -glacier.  Four of the party – including Chris and I, together with Leanne -an inspiring nurse from Australia – and Wim – an extremely tall canoeist from Belgium, climbed up the glacier and spent a remarkable and never to be forgotten night perched on ledges in the ice. We didn’t sleep; the ice was creaking and groaning around us and we genuinely wondered if we’d make it down – or at least I did. I made a vow to shave my head if I got off safely (which I did and it has stayed short ever since!) .

Chris, his girlfriend and I travelled on together through Chile, Bolivia and Peru after the expedition. We forged a strong bond of mutual respect and friendship. That’s how I come to know of the Yukon Assignment – Chris is ‘the son’ I spoke of above.

12. You held the position of “Mentor/Witness/Elder” from 2010-2013 for the United Kingdom Boys2Men organization.[9] What duties came with this position?

The application of ‘Mentor/Witness/Elder’ as a term in my working life, extends well beyond Boys2Men or Journeyman UK.  I think the vagaries of LinkedIn, or more likely the vagaries of my relationship to it, have conspired to mislead. 🙂

The situation is, that I have indeed offered those skills in a Boys2Men arena over the past few years; most recently over a four day spell in the woods, six weeks ago, with 34 men and 16 boys on a journey of initiation (for the men as it turned out, as well as the boys). My role was to ‘hold space’ as previously referred to, and to be fully present. To support and if needed, nurture, the lead team, by dealing with upset individuals or mediating between parties. I also ended up accompanying a boy to hospital to be checked out after an accident.

More generally, I facilitated and led the ceremony of blessing and initiation at the end. A great honour and privilege – and very humbling too.

That work continues and is current. It extends to include a number of groups/tribes/clans of varying descriptions, and largely of low or nil profile on the web. Not because they are in any way ‘secret’; merely that they operate ‘low key’ and function simply. There are advantages to that, and not everything of value is to be found online – although clearly, much of value is 🙂

The role of elder is an interesting one. As with much else in my life, this seems to have ‘come to me’ rather than  ‘me to it’.  It seems that while eldership is linked to age in terms of requiring some life experience to support it, it does not relate directly to being of a particular age: More that it reflects a way of being in relation to a stage in life. So I find myself invited naturally into that role in number of spheres of activity – Druidry being one of them.

The duties which come with the position of mentor/witness/ Elder more generally, are the by now familiar chestnuts of being honourable, being present and being true.

13. How did this enrich personal skills for druid practices in the domain of leadership and mentorship?

In reviewing my life and often asking “how did it come to this?” I see how each phase or experience in life has prepared or ‘enabled me’ for the next.  They seem to link together in some kind of ‘random- yet ordered’ array of ‘teachings’.

So, just as my experiences with the boys work, have complemented and fed into my Druidry, so too have my leadership and mentorship skills learned in the Druid arena, fed into and enabled the boys2men work.  Indeed, those leadership, mentoring and eldership type roles have emerged significantly, through cross fertilization between two seemingly unlikely bedfellows: Druidry and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) with some ‘compassion for each from the other’ on my part, along the way.

A prime example perhaps of ‘walking between worlds’ – and also of being unconventional.  I could move almost as easily (though not always as comfortably) between Brigadiers and Wing Commanders at a Board Room table, as I could amongst Hippies on a Field.  A strange combination I know.  Those days are gone; however, for a considerable period of my life, I straddled this ‘complementary duality’ as I would see it now, each teaching something to the other and me learning to acknowledge and hold both.  Thus were my leadership and mentorship skills in MOD as much informed and aided by my experiences in Druidry, as they were ‘the other way round’. It is for instance, interesting on reflection to observe that much of my work in the MOD involved mediating and acting as ‘a bridge’. You get the idea I hope, as this cross fertilization of unlikely bedfellows has come to pervade my life somehow.  For instance, my work these days (which isn’t work in the conventional sense, but rather a vocation which I love) takes me almost literally “from Palace to Ditch” as I term it,  and encompasses “All Faiths and None”.

If you imagine a floor of wooden boards: Whilst most people might live their lives mainly in one ‘channel’ or single board, perhaps occasionally straying slightly out of comfort zone by visiting the boards on either side of ‘theirs’,  my life seems to take me from one side of the floor to the other: Across all the boards – and occasionally off the edges too  – although I have learned from experience where those are now, and lived to tell the tale, so hopefully less likely.      🙂

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Druid;  Member, The Order of Bards Ovates & Druids; Celebrant; Healer; Mentor/Elder/Witness, UK – Boys2Men; Ritualist; Druid Mentor, Elder, and Witness.

[2] First publication on December 8, 2015 at www.in-sightjournal.com.

[3] Please see LinkedIn. (2015). Jj Middleway. Retrieved from https://uk.linkedin.com/pub/jj-middleway/59/117/240.    ​

[4] Please see LinkedIn. (2015). Jj Middleway. Retrieved from https://uk.linkedin.com/pub/jj-middleway/59/117/240.    ​

[5] Please see LinkedIn. (2015). Jj Middleway. Retrieved from https://uk.linkedin.com/pub/jj-middleway/59/117/240.    ​

[6] Please see LinkedIn. (2015). Yukon Assignment. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/grp/home?gid=4999455&goback=%2Enpp_jj*5middleway%2F59%2F117%2F240.

[7] Please see LinkedIn. (2015). Jj Middleway. Retrieved from https://uk.linkedin.com/pub/jj-middleway/59/117/240.    ​

[8] Please see LinkedIn. (2015). Yukon Assignment. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/grp/home?gid=4999455&goback=%2Enpp_jj*5middleway%2F59%2F117%2F240.

[9] Please see LinkedIn. (2015). Jj Middleway. Retrieved from https://uk.linkedin.com/pub/jj-middleway/59/117/240.     

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with J.J. Middleway (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal [Online]. December 2015; 9(A). Available from: https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/12/08/an-interview-with-jj-middleway-part-two/.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2015, December 8). An Interview with J.J. Middleway (Part Two)Retrieved from https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/12/08/an-interview-with-jj-middleway-part-two/.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with  J.J. Middleway (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 9.A, December. 2015. <https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/12/08/an-interview-with-jj-middleway-part-two/>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2015. “An Interview with J.J. Middleway (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 9.A. https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/12/08/an-interview-with-jj-middleway-part-two/.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with J.J. Middleway (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 9.A (December 2015). https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/12/08/an-interview-with-jj-middleway-part-two/.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2015, ‘An Interview with J.J. Middleway (Part Two)’, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 9.A. Available from: <https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/12/08/an-interview-with-jj-middleway-part-two/>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2015, ‘An Interview with J.J. Middleway (Part Two)’, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 9.A., https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/12/08/an-interview-with-jj-middleway-part-two/.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with J.J. Middleway (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 9.A (2015):November. 2015. Web. <https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/12/08/an-interview-with-jj-middleway-part-two/>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with J.J. Middleway (Part Two) [Internet]. (2015, December); 9(A). Available from: https://in-sightjournal.com/2015/12/08/an-interview-with-jj-middleway-part-two/.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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