The School of Earth & Soul • Celtic Wisdom 2: Sacred Earth

John Philip Newell

May 13–15, 2022

Tuition $225 + 2 nights

Reawaken your awareness to the sacred in all things through the recovery of Celtic wisdom for today. Through study and spiritual practice, participants will be invited to pay attention to how these teaching translate into compassionate action for our world. Sacred Earth is designed to nurture a vision of the earth and every human being as sacred and to enable the work of healing in our lives and world.

John Philip Newell began a teaching initiative in 2016 that is now called The School of Earth & Soul (formerly The School of Celtic Consciousness). Sacred Earth is part of a three-year cycle of teaching and spiritual practice. Participants may join at any stage in the three-year cycle and attend any of the Earth & Soul venues across the country.

The theme of reawakening to the sacredness of the earth and every creature is explored through these resources:

  • the teachings of Gaelic Ireland philosopher Eriugena (c. 815 – c. 877)
  • the Carmina Gadelica, a comprehensive collection of poems and prayers from the Gaelic tradition of oral poetry
  • and John Muir, Scottish-American naturalist and early advocate for wilderness preservation

The essential text for the three-year program is John Philip Newell’s Sacred Earth Sacred Soul. The shared prayer book of the school is Sounds of the Eternal: A Celtic Psalter.

Learn more about the School of Earth & Soul by visiting

Please review and understand SMC’s current COVID-19 policy before visiting SMC.

What to expect

The School of Earth and Soul annual retreats are three-day teaching and spiritual practice events. Each day begins and ends with meditative prayer and chant. In the morning and early evening John Philip teaches from the wisdom of Celtic prophets over the centuries, applying this ancient wisdom to the most critical challenges of today. In the early afternoon there is silence and free time for resting and walking. In the late afternoon there is spiritual practice before the evening meal, bringing one’s inner attention to the presence of the sacred within us and within all things. Meals are shared in common and on the evening of the second day there is a celebration of time together at the School. On the final morning before lunch there is a closing ritual of thanksgiving.

Endorsements for Sacred Earth Sacred Soul

“JP Newell has been leading the way for a number of years now, giving us a clear and hopeful direction for the future. I’m convinced that we’ve only begun to see just how far and wide his voice is going to be heard.” (Rob Bell, New York Times bestselling author of Love Wins)

“John Philip Newell offered me a new creation story for Christian faith. I commend Sacred Earth Sacred Soul to anyone who is ready to be born again.” (Barbara Brown Taylor, New York Times bestselling author of An Altar in the World)

“Many of us have been indebted to John Philip Newell’s writings for years but, in this book, he reaches new depths in his vision of the earth and the human journey. We need this Celtic wisdom among us urgently.” (Richard Rohr, New York Times bestselling author of The Universal Christ)

“In this wonderful new book, John Philip Newell dives deeply into the life-affirming wisdom of the Celtic tradition to deliver a powerful message of hope to our frightened and disoriented world.” (Cynthia Bourgeault, author of The Wisdom Way of Knowing)

John Philip Newell

John Philip Newell (born 1953) is a Celtic teacher and author of spirituality who calls the modern world to reawaken to the sacredness of the earth and every human being.

Canadian by birth, and a citizen also of Scotland, he resides with his family in Edinburgh and works on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2016 he began the School of Earth and Soul (originally called the School of Celtic Consciousness) and teaches regularly in the United States and Canada as well as leading international pilgrimage weeks on Iona in the Western Isles of Scotland.

His PhD is from the University of Edinburgh and he has authored over fifteen books, including A New Ancient Harmony, Sounds of the Eternal, The Rebirthing of God, and his latest major publication Sacred Earth Sacred Soul.

Newell speaks of himself as ‘a wandering teacher’ following the ancient path of many lone teachers before him in the Celtic world, ‘wandering Scots’ (or scotus vagans as they were called) seeking the wellbeing of the world. He has been described as having ‘the heart of a Celtic bard and the mind of a Celtic scholar’, combining in his teachings the poetic and the intellectual, the head as well as the heart, and spiritual awareness as well as political and ecological concern. His writings have been translated into seven languages. In 2020 he relinquished his ordination as a minister of the Church of Scotland as no longer reflecting the heart of his belief in the sacredness of the earth and every human being. He continues, however, to see himself as ‘a grateful son of the Christian household’ seeking to be in relationship with the wisdom of humanity’s other great spiritual traditions.

Program Details

Registration takes place from 2– 5 pm on your program start date. All participants and volunteer staff must check in at our Guest Registration house. Please arrive before 5 pm to check-in and settle into your accommodations. Your program begins with dinner, followed by an orientation. The Guest Registration house closes at 5 pm after which no one is available to provide information or orient you to your accommodations. All programs usually end at 12:30 pm on the program's departure date, followed by lunch. Further specifics regarding your program's schedule will be available upon arrival. If applicable, you will receive an email from the program coordinator in the week prior to your program with any additional information you may need.