Contemplative School of the Heart
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2017 Holy Island   |  2020 Holy Island

The Hidden Kingdom of God: The Vision of Wisdom

August 22nd – 29th, 2020

In this eighth year of annual summer Christian retreats on the island (since 2012), the daily programme will include silent prayer, Holy Communion, creative liturgy, chanting and spiritual conversation. This year, within the context of a contemplative retreat, Margaret Barker will be leading daily morning teaching sessions (lectio divina, with icons) on the hidden tradition of the kingdom of God, Holy Wisdom, the Queen of Heaven, the mysteries of ascension, resurrection and glory and the celebration of creation. There will be opportunities for conscious work in the garden, walking meditation and a pilgrimage to the cave of St Molaise.

Led by Margaret Barker, Julienne McLean and Rev. Michael Gartland

The ancient and sacred location of Holy Island is what the Celtic bards call a ‘thin place’ where spiritual realities are powerfully present. It is a sanctuary of peace, holiness and radiance and has a long history of Christian pilgrimage. It has been home to the Tibetan Buddhist community since 1992 and is, uniquely, a place where ancient spiritual currents of East and West intertwine and flow swiftly and deeply together.

Gathering together in prayer and spiritual friendship on this retreat allows ourselves to be drawn more deeply into the mystery of this beautiful island, as a place of sublime stillness and infinite spaciousness. In particular, the Christian ‘desert’ tradition of prayer strongly resonates with the Buddhist tradition of meditation, as expressive of deepest reality.

The Venue

Holy Isle, located off the Isle of Arran on the south west coast of Scotland, is officially designated as a UK Sacred site and has a long spiritual history, stretching back to the 6th Century. It is endowed with an ancient healing spring, the hermit cave of the 6th century Celtic monk, St Molaise, and evidence of a 13th Century Christian monastery. The island was bought by Tibetan Buddhists (Kagyu tradition) in 1992 who run the Centre for World Peace and Health on the north of the Island. Alongside their ongoing retreat and course programme the Centre is a focal point for meditation, prayer, peace, and multi-faith retreats, as a true, peaceful refuge from the hectic modern world.

Daily Retreat Schedule


Silent Prayer


Breakfast (silent)




Morning Session


Lunch (silent)


Work in the Garden


Walking Meditation and Prayer


Supper (silent)


Evening Session


Booking Form

The cost for the retreat is £190. To book, please send an email to, with your name, address, phone number.

To confirm your place, please send a deposit cheque of £100 made out to the Contemplative Spirituality Network to Flat 21, Christchurch Court, 171 Willesden Lane, London. UK. NW6 7XF or an online transfer. The remaining £90 is due by 31st April, 2020.

The cost of the accommodation and full board (vegetarian) for the retreat (7 days) is £385 for a single room, £280 for sharing a twin room and £224 for sharing a dormitory. This cost is paid directly to the Holy Island Conference Centre at the beginning of the retreat.

For all enquiries, further information and booking the retreat, please contact Julienne on 020 8 451 5255, 07527 993696, Judy on 07816 155 483 or email


The Retreat Leaders

Margaret Barber is a biblical scholar, who has spent many years researching the mystical traditions of the Jerusalem temple. They have almost disappeared from the Bible and yet are the root of later Christian mysticism. The Holy Wisdom was the Mother figure in this ancient faith. She gave her children spiritual vision, and her oil anointed the Messiah. Memories of this Lady shaped the later veneration of Mary. Margaret is a past president of the Society for Old Testament Study and a Methodist local preacher. She has published more than 15 books, including An Extraordinary Gathering of Angels (2004), The Gate of Heaven (2008), The Hidden Tradition of the Kingdom of God (2007) and Temple Mysticism. (2011).

Julienne McLean is a psychologist, Jungian analyst and spiritual director in North London. She has had a lifelong involvement in the Christian mystical tradition, and teaches, writes and runs retreats on Jungian psychology, prayer and Carmelite spirituality. She co-facilitates the contemplative school of the heart programme. She is the author of ‘Towards Mystical Union’ (2003, 2013), a commentary on St Teresa of Avila’s book, ‘The Interior Castle’.

Rev. Michael Gartland is an Anglican priest and transpersonal psychotherapist working mainly in the NHS, leading a multifaith mental health chaplaincy and counselling service in West Yorkshire. He has research and teaching interests in fourteenth century English mysticism and Theravada Buddhist psychology. He has extensive experience in leading retreats and of involvement in Buddhist-Christian dialogue.

   Printable 2020 leaflet

Retreat details can also be seen here on the Holy Isle website.




Holy Isle picture gallery










Holy Isle picture gallery








Holy Isle picture gallery





Holy Isle picture gallery











Holy Isle picture gallery





Holy Isle picture gallery