Category: Business, Leadership and coaching
Publication date: October 31, 2018
Extent: 216 pages

The Children’s Fire

Heart song of a people

Mac Macartney


The Children’s Fire forges a trail into Britain’s wild and ancient Celtic past. It locates the fragments of a story that still has resonance today; the pulse and surge of an older wisdom that cracks the mendacity of the shopping mall’s vacuous promise. It is a passionate evocation of a generous, inclusive, diverse and spiritually significant world – the world of our longing.
In the winter of 2009 Mac Macartney walked from his birthplace in England across Wales to the island of Anglesey, once the spiritual epicentre of Late Iron Age Britain, navigating by the sun and the stars, with no map, compass, stove or tent, and in the coldest winter for many years. The Children’s Fire records that journey, and seeks to lay bare the aching loss of knowing and understanding sacredness as it applies to everything ordinary that brings joy to the human heart. It asserts the emergence of a new story; the story of a people coming home to a truth made all the more poignant having so painfully broken faith with nature, our deeper humanity, and the paradise we fouled with such casual disrespect. It is a love story and part of a larger narrative that is surfacing all around the world. It seeks to reclaim our future and name it, beautiful.


“…Not often do I read a book which stirs me so deeply, yet flows so freely that it is a struggle to put it down.”

“Highly recommended book, powerfully written.”

“An inspiring story. Authentic and thought provoking. Thank you Mac for sharing your journey.”

“Mac’s book tells a story great than his own journey from Malvern to Anglesey. It is one that is deeply touching and really strikes a cord about the roots and origins of our modern disconnected culture and how we can go about repairing it for the benefit of ourselves and future generations.”

” …I find myself deeply inspired and uplifted by this amazing book…This is a valued, must read, inspirational bible that should be in all book lover’s libraries.”

“I highly recommend this book to all!”

“The book has had me gripped by masterful storytelling in the account of the journey, moved to tears by achingly poignant passages and laughing along with the author in his beautifully irreverent and un-lofty moments of warm humour.”

“…It is both nourishing and challenging and it can help us to reconnect to something far greater than we may have assumed possible. Just read it and pass it on!”

“Mac’s (second) book both inspired and educated me, highly recommended, I devoured it. Well written, a compelling blend of his story, history and wisdoms. “

“Mac writes a touching personal account of journeying from his birthplace to reconnect with spiritual ancestors on Anglesey. I was spellbound by his storytelling and inspired by the invitation to rekindle The children’s fire reigniting a deep purposeful connection with our planet and all its children.”

“This is a book of pilgrimage, of re-connection to ourselves, each other and place, of courage, curiosity, dreaming, reflection and of simple ceremony, purpose, peace and presence to life. Thank you Mac for your magical storytelling, your authenticity and for your love of the children.”

“This book is every bit as good as I expected it to be, given what I’ve previously seen and read of Mac Macartney. It is an honest, captivating piece of writing that effortlessly combines Mac’s re-telling of his month-long pilgrimage alongside startling insights into Britain’s indigenous and ancient Celtic past. It is courageous, and full of integrity and vulnerability. A real gift. Thank you Mac :)”

“What an inspiring book. Mac has an incredible way of taking you wherever he is at his journey, feeding you with wisdom and showing you the compassion you need to love & care for all living beings. I’ve learned so much from this book. A new perspective which enabled me to see world in a different narrative. It’s beautiful.”



‘Few amongst us have both the integrity of spirit to undertake a genuine earth-walk and the poetry of soul to write about it afterwards in such passionate, powerful terms. Mac Macartney is one who has both. In this time of great turning, when we each must examine our heartfelt relationship to the earth and the more-than-human world around us, Mac’s journey is a guiding light and an inspiration, a paean to the possible, to the best that we can be. With strength in the vulnerability, spanning the wide, wide spectrum of what it is to be human on this earth at this time, there could not be a more important – or timely – work.’ – Manda Scott, author of the Boudica: Dreaming series
‘Mac Macartney is a prophet of cultural renewal, an interrupter of the Western egocentric-consumer worldview, a wild man, an elder, a humble pilgrim, perhaps a present-day druid, and an enchanting storyteller. In The Children’s Fire, he recounts his three-week solo journey on foot, without map or compass, through the scarred but still-sacred lands of his native Britain to a mythic, real, holy isle – a dreamtime pilgrimage to reclaim his/our original human wildness and belonging to the land, undertaken on behalf of the children of all species seven generations hence. You won’t want to be left behind. Join him.’ – Bill Plotkin, author of Soulcraft and Wild Mind
‘A haunting paean to an indigenous culture that has been misrepresented for centuries, and a call for a new dedication to the Earth and all its children.’ – Richard Louv, author of The Nature Principle and Last Child in the Woods
‘At a time when England wrestles with identity, Mac Macartney explores some origins of traumatic violence, reaching back to Roman times. Here is a pilgrim quest through geography, history and spirituality. Captivating, haunting and at times disquieting, yet: “… walking into a death landscape … I knew that I was walking into life.”’ – Alastair Mcintosh, author of Soil and Soul and Poacher’s Pilgrimage
‘When Mac Macartney speaks, you listen. His is a true and, sadly, rare voice of wisdom in our times. His words come from a place of ‘embodied’ knowing, rather than the all-too-common preachings of the conceptual mind. His written words resonate with the same depth of wisdom and, if you let them in, will nourish your very core. Our minds may have become adept at dismissing wisdom, but our hearts know what really makes sense. Mac writes to your heart – listen to him and to it.’ – Bruce Parry, documentary maker
‘If, like me, you are baffled by how it’s possible for humanity to throw itself headlong, in the face of overwhelming evidence, down a path that is impoverishing our environment then this book hints at an intriguing possibility. Honest and soul-bearing, The Children’s Fire is an account of one man’s journey, unaided and on foot, following an ancient path through landscape and history to reveal a rich vein of British indigenous culture. Like so many indigenous cultures around the world, the tribes of Britain lived in concert with, and at the mercy of, nature’s rhythms. And, like so many indigenous cultures, their demise was marked by a brutal invasion that left a deep collective trauma and disconnect. The Children’s Fire makes the bold suggestion that this trauma more than ripples on today – it is firmly in the driving seat of our dysfunctional relationship with the natural world. A fascinating re-framing of Britain’s ancient history that offers a fresh perspective to a very modern question of whether it’s possible to live our twenty-first-century lives in harmony with the natural world.’ – Gillian Burke, biologist and broadcaster
‘Do not be deceived by the beautiful lyricism of The Children’s Fire. Beneath the evocative and multi-layered description of Mac’s wintertime pilgrimage from Malvern to Anglesey lies a hard-hitting commentary on contemporary society, emphasising the existential threat inherent in our present direction, and the vital need to shift from “dominion over” to “relationship with”. Highly recommended.’ – Roz Savage, author, speaker, ocean rower
‘I have often lamented the seeming European lack of in-touchness with indigenous traditions – but this book forcefully erases that lament. Operating from a dictate by a Native American elder to make contact with the seemingly “lost” indigenous soul of his own land, the author moves courageously in both theory and practice to heal the soul loss. Theoretically, he makes a strong case for the imperial conquest of Rome having not only wiped out the ancient wisdom and cultures, but even the appreciation of these cultures, and he sees that same imperial energy operating during 2000 years of Western history. In practice, he dares to undergo his own rite of passage by embarking on an adventurous pilgrimage on ancient trails in the depths of a severe winter to arrive at a holy place of his Celtic ancestors. The result is a magical, spiritual, political tour de force – a trumpet blast that pierces the spiritual somnolence of ages, that England is back and it is the ancient respect for the sacredness of creation that will retire human anthropocentrism and its accompanying imperialism and will awaken Europe again. Creation spirituality indeed!’ – Matthew Fox, author of Original Blessing
The Children’s Fire is a roadmap for our species. Charted by a remarkable explorer who has made this journey himself, it takes us deep into forests and places of wildness, and into the heart of “incorruptible sanity”. It steers us back from the brink of planetary extinction.’ – Richard Reoch, former President of Shambhala, the global community based on the Buddha’s teachings on Enlightened Society
‘Mac Macartney inspires me. He is an important guide for our time. In The Children’s Fire, he invites us into a deepening of life and love of life. He describes a sacred purpose we can all share and take part in – to mend what is broken – contributing to the recovery of our world and ourselves.’ – Chris Johnstone, co-author of Active Hope – how to face the mess we’re in without going crazy
‘I love Mac’s book. Here’s a glimpse of a journey of a man choosing the high road – as he treks, he travels deep into his innermost being and steps out of his comfort zone. And what an odyssey – one that had me living and breathing with Mac, every step he takes. The Children’s Fire shall burn deeply into all our hearts.’ – Polly Higgins, Ecocide law pioneer, award-winning author and barrister


List of Maps
Biography Foreword An Invitation to the Reader Preface Chapter 1 The Children’s Fire Chapter 2 The Land, Our Land Chapter 3 The Journey, Our Journey Chapter 4 The Netherworld Chapter 5 The Far Shore Chapter 6 Rekindling the Children’s Fire Going Forward Bibliography Acknowledgements



Audiobook / 9781788602259 / November 10, 2020 / £15.00

Paperback / 9781788600453 / October 31, 2018 / £12.99

Ebook / 9781788600460 / October 31, 2018 / £6.99

Paperback and eBook Bundle / £14.74


Mac Macartney

Mac Macartney has a foot in several worlds. He is the founder of the inspirational social enterprise, Embercombe, an international speaker, writer, and leadership consultant. Mentored by a group of Native American teachers over a period of twenty years, he made a pledge to do all he could to re-kindle an ancient indigenous teaching known as The Children’s Fire wherever he found, or could create, the opportunity to exert influence. Mac is the author of Finding Earth, Finding Soul: The invisible path to authentic leadership, and has published many articles on sustainability, leadership, and spirituality. He was presented with the Enlightened Society Award by Sakjong Mipham Rinpoche in 2013 and in 2015 was awarded an honorary doctorate in Education from Plymouth University.