Returning with wisdom from dragonfly, harvestman, and mouse...
#visionquest #embercombe #gratitude #ceremony #spirithorse #wildtime #naturesbeauty #wyrd
"Stand still. The forest knows where you are. You must let it find you." David Wagoner
Rich and nourishing medicine walk yesterday connecting with the Land in a way that matters.
This silver birch branch arrow directs participants towards the fire circle from the crossroads in Vert woods.
#wildtime #medicinewalk #solo #solowalks #aimlesswandering #blessings
...However there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it."
#gully #dartmoor #pooplace #medicinewalk #lettinggo
Humanity's disconnection from nature is the greatest crisis, and the greatest challenge, that we face.
I came across this in a blog post by Ed Gillespie:
"We’re at a very real and severe risk of a self-reinforcing cycle of disconnection – where those who grow up with less direct firsthand experience of nature are consequently less likely to care about and act to protect it. This is not inevitable however...
...we need to actively address one of our generation’s core issues – how to fall back into what story-teller Martin Shaw calls a ‘love tangle’ with our one and only wild and wonderful planet."
Now that more than 50% of the world lives in an urban area - by 2050 that's forecast to be 70% - we're all having less direct contact with nature, at the same time there's an increase in anxiety and mental health disorders, especially in cities.
A study by Stanford university shows clear benefits of spending time in nature: less brooding, less rumination and generally feeling better.
Their conclusion: we need to consider how to get nature back into cities, and give people more opportunities to interact with natural environments to get the benefits for our mental health.
"Never in human history have we spent so little time in physical contact with animals and plants. Scientific evidence shows that we miss nature..."
There's lots of research that shows being in nature reduces stress, makes us happier, healthier, builds community and can give us a sense of oneness with everything.
So what are you waiting for?
Clip from 2013 Documentary Project Wild Thing, reproduced with thanks to the Wild Network.
On yesterday's Medicine Walk, I ate dandelion, ground ivy, yarrow and rosehips, made friends with a ladybird, saw a rat above my head, and sang to an appreciative herd of cows.
Am very much feeling my place in the family of things.
With much gratitude to Rebecca Joy Card and the land for supporting this mysterious journey.
For those who came, and for those who will come, the kettle is definitely on.
This time last year I was on an outdoors course in Stanmer Park.
As a group we met every Monday to sit around a fire and do some exercises to explore how nature can be therapeutic.
One particular Monday, Martin the course leader explained that we were going on a short solo quest.
We spent a quiet moment tuning into ourselves and then we each went off in a direction that we felt drawn, paying attention to what happened along the way...
Good vibes, sunny weather and impressive gardening skills from a great group at our Mindful Wild Gardening session yesterday: clearing beds, making space for plants and trees, and a veritable feast round the fire after.
When we garden, we connect to the earth, and other living beings and sensory organisms. Gardening is centring, it’s grounding, it’s slow - it feels good to make space for this in our modern lives.
Even though we derive many physical and psychological benefits from being outside in nature, our modern lifestyles have created a disconnect from the natural environment where we spend significantly more time indoors.
In fact some researchers estimate that we now spend up to 90% of our lives indoors.
For the vast majority of human history, the outside was always part of the inside, and at no moment during our day were we ever really separated from nature.
It's been a tough few weeks in the UK… but if you’re looking for a way to feel better about it all, a sit spot can help.
I first came across the idea of a sit spot on a Meetup walk run by Mark Sears - just before he landed a job as head of The Wild Network.
Mark led us up Hollingbury Hill to a spot near the fort and quietly told me he'd been going there every day to sit for half an hour, for a year, come rain or shine.
He'd got to know the birds and the plants, and it'd helped him to find some calm, and decompress after hectic days.
It's an idea that I read more about in Jon Young's excellent book What the Robin Knows.
If you haven't heard of it, a sit spot is somewhere you go regularly on your own to sit quietly and look, listen, smell and feel the surrounding landscape.
It could be in your back garden, or a park, or somewhere a bit wilder.
The EU referendum in the UK has just been won by Leave, and as the UK faces Brexit, I saw this post on Facebook. It sums up why we need to work together, why connection is better than separation, why love must win in the end....
"When you walk into the wood, think of it as a community: walk with a feeling of reverence, a bit like going into a church,” says Alistair.
It’s a clear fresh morning, and we’re standing inside Butcher’s Wood, the first stop on Sensing the Land, a guided woodland and downland walkshop that we're doing around Wolstonbury Hill and the South Downs, in Sussex.
Butcher's Wood is a small patch of ancient woodland that’s just a few minutes walk from Hassocks station and quite close to the London to Brighton railway line.
Pictures from our most recent event: A Day in the Woods with Fire, Conversation and a few Exercises
Spending time in the woods round a fire, sharing food and meaningful conversations with lovely people, and practising skills to feel more connected, aware and alive.
I'm still feeling the benefits.
What's not to like? Fire, great people, relaxed atmosphere, awareness building, spending time in a wood, shared food and discovering a new skill to make smoke 'not get in your eyes.'
What a lovely day with lovely people in a lovely place. Thanks everyone for being so present and so mellow.
You use them every day to gather information about the world around you. Your senses that is.
You have sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing... you have amazing powers of consciousness, reason, and creativity.
But your body is chock full of 'extra' senses that you may not even be aware you're using, like some of the mysterious powers that other animals possess.
You can access them if you drop out of your rational, thinking mind.
If you pay attention to what you feel in your body, you can detect and feel things around you that you can't see: objects, movement, emotions...
To try this out, at our last School of the Wild session, after some centring and grounding exercises, then fox walking and owl vision to get into the 'zone', we walked blindfold through the woods.
The results were extraordinary.
Friday April 22nd was a pretty big day for the planet.
170 countries signed the Paris Climate deal at the UN, and it was also Earth Day, a movement who's ambitious aim includes planting 7.8 billion trees, and making cities 100% renewable.
At a time when the planet needs us more than ever to make choices that are nourishing for body, soul and the Earth, at School of the Wild we're passionate about ways that bring us closer to nature.
Alistair Duncan and Natasha Lythgoe are leading our session on Becoming Earth, May 15th 2016. Here they explain what it's about.
I saw this poem on the wall of Redwood, a Brighton coffee shop, and thought it was really great. You can read it in full below.
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Today we sit inside the willow dome, instead of our usual spot outside by the fire. I notice I'm feeling uncomfortable.
I like having full view of the plants and the sky, and today, even though it's not totally blocking everything out, I'm feeling hemmed in by the structure.
I say this. It's not universal. "I prefer the womb-like feeling of being in an enclosed space," someone else says.
It's funny because I've been thinking a lot about structure this past week. I'm working on a presentation for work, and have been wrestling with getting all my thoughts and ideas organised into the right framework.
Martin says it's a question I should keep in mind for today's session. And he begins, explaining the Four Directions, as understood by the School of Lost Borders.
West, where he's sitting, is about adolescence and struggle. North is about adulthood and responsibility, East about spirituality, death and rebirth, and the South about childhood and playfulness.
We spend a quiet moment tuning into ourselves and then each go off in the direction that we feel drawn, paying attention to what happens.
Despite a thought to go west, a place of struggle, I feel drawn to the south. Playfulness. It's a direction I haven't walked in from here before, perhaps because there's a hedge in the way, and it has felt closed off to me.
I cross the threshold of the space, and start off east, turning south when I hit a track.
I'm calm, and content to just follow whatever happens.
Behind the hedge, south from where I started, is a field I feel drawn to get into. But I can't. It's surrounded by fences, with no gate. Behind it, further south, is another field where horses are grazing. It looks nice, and I decide I'm going to find a way in.
I continue south, down the track, and turn off west into a small thicket, thinking I might find a way into the field behind.
I look down. There's a beautiful grey, black and white feather at my feet. Wood pigeon. I smile, "I must be on the right path," I think, and pick it up. The thicket is overgrown and dark, and I claw my way through the undergrowth, following a faint trail made by an animal or child... my coat rips on a thorn. It all feels playful, and also strangely symbolic, like a descent described in mythic stories.
I've just set up my dream course as part of School of the Wild - the project I decided to really 'go for' after doing The Journey at Embercombe in the summer of 2015.
At the end of The Journey, I pledged to stand up for what I believe, and this is it: The Nature Connection course.
The aim of this course is to experience a deeper, more participatory relationship with nature, learn new skills, and discover new ways of seeing yourself and the world.
The idea is that because it's local, and because it's weekly, we'll all go on a bit of a journey and the relationships and the connections - to the participants, and to the trees, animals, birds and plants - will continue beyond the course.
I've set this up because I truly believe that our separation from nature's health sustaining, nonverbal wisdom is responsible for the world's environmental problems, and many of the emotional and health issues that we suffer from.
If we can get the connection with nature back, we'll become better stewards of the planet, and of ourselves.
We are part of nature after all.
There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature.
The assurance that dawn comes after night and spring after winter.
Rachel Carson, Environmentalist
Author & Curator
Nigel Berman is the founder of School of the Wild.