Three Metasagas took place at Battleby in Perthshire as part of Grounds for Learning's National Conference. Watch the video here
The Stumpy Tree
DSC02591.jpg After a short introductory presentation in the Holly Room the group emerged out into the strong spring sunshine. The idea was to gather at a rather unusual tree out side the front door. Kate, being from Shetland, does not have alot of knowledge about trees so throughout the day asked for people to identify this poor tree. So far there has been 5 different identifications, so feel free to make your ownIMG_2162.jpg
Have a really good look at this tree.
  • No branches
  • No leaves
  • No colour
  • No life
DSC02593.jpgBut round the back what is this? New shoots of green.


What has been chopped off your organisation?
Where is the new life coming from?
What can you not identify?
What needs to be cut away?
Members of the groups even at this early stage came forward with questions.

The Summer House
Tucked away in a corner of the grounds was a Summer House . It had a lovely view out over the Perthshire countryside. The words that came to mind to describe this place of retreat came thick and fast.

CoDSC02574.jpgsy, secluded , private, space, safe, peaceful, separate, creativity, view, light, escape ...... What does it suggest to you?

The questions followed : Where do you feel cosy and peaceful?
Where do you feel safe and why?
Where is your creative space and what do you do there?
What view are you looking at in your organisation? CAn you see the horizon?
Where is your special place?

The trees
If you go down to the woods today you're in for a big surprise.............. After leaving the main road we wandered a narrow path among the trees andDSC02598.jpg realised we were being watched. On the trunk of a tree was a face with one ear . Suddenly we realised they were all around us.

Creativity, surprise, listening, watching, imagination,

They were like the Ents from Lord of the Rings.
Who watches you?
What has surprised you recently?
Who only half listens to you?
What would this tree have seen in its lifetime?
This is being ceative with the natural environment. How are you using the natural environment?

This was not the only thing to surprise us on our walk.

DSC02576.jpgA Splash of Colour
Red is the color of fire and blood, so it is associated with energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire, and love.Recognized as a stimulant, red is inherently exciting and the amount of red is directly related to the level of energy perceived. Red draws attention and a keen use of red as an accent can immediately focus attention on a particular element.
Around the corner the Dogwood certainly caught our attention.It stood out dramatically in the winter garden. Another surprise for the group. People were so drawn to it they walked right past the faces on the trees.

Colour, Passion, Anger, attractive
How do you stand out from the crowd? How do you attract attention?
Do you bring colour to a dull grey environment?
What does red mean to you?
How do you act when the red mist descends and you get angry?
Red is also for passion. What are you passionate about?
Next to this vibrant red was a patch of white

The Snowdrop
Snowdrop - hope, purity - from the Latin 'nivalis' - meaning 'snowy', an apt name for one of the earliest spring flowers that arrives during cold conditions. It is known as the 'flower of hope' - a sign of life returning to the earth after the long winter months. the Victorians also linked the snowdrop to the dead because it grew close to the ground and therefore closer to those buried. It is another bloom that is considered unlucky to pick and bring into the house. The whole plant is poisonous.

"Into a dark worldDSC02580.jpg
A snowdrop comes
A benison of hope and peace.
Carrying within it.
A green heart." - Kate Mcilhagga

All around Perthshire and down the A9 huge trees had been smashed by the winters heavy snow. A week before the whole area had been covered with a heavy blanket yet these small flowers survived and stood tall, bringing Spring to us all.

How do you survive under the weight? Do you stand tall?
What do you consider to be unlucky?
What is poisoning your organisation?
What brings you hope? What do you look forward to?
There is a green heart at the centre of the Snowdrop. What is at the heart of your organisation?

Which Bridge?

DSC02577.jpgFurther along the path we come on a deep green pool. There are two bridges and participants are given the choice; the narrow ornate bridge or the flat, wide walkway. Whatever path you take we will end up together at the same place in the woods. Both bridges allow access to a deeper part of the wood.

Are you allowed to choose a different path in your organisation, if not why not?
What is ornate but useful in your organisation?
Is there a different way to get around an obstacle in your work place?
How can you make your organisation more accessible for all?

A Rookery

So far we were concentrating on the visual but this whole walk had a soundtrack from a nearby rookery.mag25pi5.gif
Looking up through the trees you could see this high rise community.We could hear their constant chatter.

Where is your community and who belongs to it?
What soundtrack do you hear at work?
How do you communicate with each other?

We let the group find their own way back to the house , asking them to look for more metaphors. As guides Lesley and I did this Metasaga three times. Each time we saw more and more and heard different groups ask different questions. We learned that yes we can give people a taster session on Metasaga in an hour but it needs to be at least a morning to really do it justice. A special thanks has to be given to the group who endured the video cameras. Kate