Karen Markham, Hermit and Musician

Karen Markham has a first class degree in music from the University of Leeds and a PhD in musical composition from the University of Durham. She began her spiritual training in the Sufi Community of Sheikh Muhammad Rahim Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, in Philadelphia, USA, from 1995 – 1997. Since the autumn of 2000, she has worked closely with Hieromonk Silouan of the Monastery of Saints Anthony and Cuthbert – http://www.orthodoxmonastery.co.uk/Orthodox_Monastery/Welcome.html – , absorbing the Orthodox Liturgy, the Eastern Christian eremitical tradition and the Mystical Theology of the Eastern/Western Church. In 2002 she resigned from her position as lecturer in music at the Leeds College of Music to embrace, full time, the eremitical contemplative life, training at the Monastery from 2002 – 2004.
divine wisdom hermitage
Karen Markham has lived as a hermit for since 2004 at the Hermitage of Divine Wisdom – http://www.hermitageofdivinewisdom.org.uk/index.html – in Acton, Shropshire. In 2009 she was consecrated to a solitary life of prayer and contemplation by the Rt Rev Michael Hooper, the former Bishop of Ludlow.

Her daily regime follows the rules of solitary living laid down by St Benedict, the founder of western monasticism, and involves rising at 4am to spend three hours praying and chanting divine names, as well as spending time in contemplative silence. She is committed to a life of chastity. She has no television, takes no holidays and has very few personal possessions of her own. She weaves hand-loomed rugs using wool from local sheep.

“It is of infinite value to have a solitary living in the community with this vocation, which supports us all and never allows us to forget God,” the Bishop said.

Modern hermits are usually either members of religious orders who live in separate dwellings or otherwise make vows to live a single, consecrated life, but they are as likely to be found living in a city as in a rural retreat.






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