Ava Osbiston on the Wisdom card project

Back in the Autumn of 2014, as part of an epic adventure around France and Spain, I took part in a Permaculture training course that changed my life and paved the way for the next steps I have and continue to take.

The beauty of this course was that it was focused on the ‘People care’ strand of Permaculture; Emotional management, group dynamics, how to really collaborate and how to really work together. With the understanding that the compost and the growing and the physical design happens much easier when people get on and can make decisions and communicate well. This focus has really directed my next life steps and I have since certified as an Integral Development Coach and am deeply passionate about the ways we work, live and learn together.

As part of the course we were taught a process called Dragon Dreaming; ‘A living systems approach to build successful organizations and projects for the Great Turning’. Originally developed by John Croft and his late wife Vivienne Elanta, it has been developed by people around the world including Angel Hernandez who is the founder of the Dragon Dreaming Institute. The training was delivered to us by the exuberant and inspiring Julia Ramos Puente who works to create projects that transform the world and we were so lucky to be taught by her enlivening teaching. This fascinating process derives much of its wisdom from Aboriginal wisdom and combines mindfulness, self awareness with practical skills from social and environmental activism, the new physics, Gaia and Earth sciences, living systems and chaos and complexity theory. I found the process to be incredibly inspiring and it really drove me to want to work more with people and organizations to deepen and widen their understandings of what it can mean to work together.

As part of the Dragon Dreaming training we were offered a list of 26 ‘wisdoms’- guiding principles to keep in mind when working on any project, especially those in service of the ecological world or the greater social, spiritual or collective good. Now, I am as skeptical as anybody on the the value of ‘motivational quotes’ but something about this list felt so life giving and so nurturing to the collective shifts that are so desperately needed I kept the list close to my heart. First writing them out and sticking them to my wall and subsequently coming to illustrate each one.

I chose to illustrate the wisdoms each with a wild animal from my home land, as the place I am aspiring to connect with, to learn from and to - (the UK), as as the collection grew organically I felt into which animal spoke to the wisdom being shared. Sometimes this was obvious (Snails represent ‘Everything takes longer’, sometimes logical (the Cuckoo depicts ‘Fake it until you make it’) and sometimes it was just a feeling (The Owl represents ‘Don’t take anything personally’- I just have a feeling that Owls are good at that you know?).

I wanted to develop the illustrations and to give them more life and to share them with more people and so began trying to writing some descriptions of each of the pictures to make into a blog or a deck of cards , but very quickly realised that, despite loving to speak, I am not a writer- I needed a collaborator!

Lucy White is a skilled coach, writer, facilitator and a dear friend and had been very positive about the illustrations I had already shared on Instagram. I invited her to work on the project and she gave me an enthusiastic YES! So we began our work together and from April 2020 until December 2020 we have been in the practice of meeting once a week to discuss each card. We have had many months of interesting and productive conversations together. We recorded our informal discussions and Lucy is now proceeding to write her response to the illustration and our discussions to be shared here each week. She will write a bit herself to describe her process and how her responses might spark thoughts… I am so excited to introduce this new project, to begin to reveal the work we have been cooking up together and to see where this goes, thanks for reading and I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas for the project.



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Ava Osbiston and Lucy White

We are two friends collaborating to bring you our exploration of Dragon Dreaming wisdoms through illustration and creative writing with a new ‘card’ each week