Going slightly off track from the normal blog style, here is something that I feel is important to encourage the experience of the outdoors.
Many of us that have, lets say, an alternative view point to the norm and connection we do tend to go on about being in touch with spirit, the land, sea and sky. But how many can physically put this into practice with the modern pressures of life, but it doesn’t need to take much effort.
As part of my working life I do the Shamanic and Runic stuff, but I am also mainly an Outdoor Education Tutor working on the Jurassic Coast of Dorset in the UK. Teaching everything from ropes course teamwork, environmental studies, local history and just about being outdoors and encouraging a respect for the natural world.
The respect for the natural world is inherent within all of us it is only pressures of the media, which influences the modern peer pressure which leads to conformity that only humans are important and as such they only have a spirit. So why then in my Forest School do the children give names to the log that they sit on, the bugs they collect and call them ‘Fred’ and ‘Doris’. This shows that young people have an inherent memory of animism, that everything has a spirit; it’s not just a woodlouse it’s ‘Fred!’ living in the woods, and from this there is a series of learning and links
Fred the Woodlouse
- 40 species in the UK
- He is a crustacean, related to crabs and lobsters
- He evolved from life in the sea and still has gills and 14 legs
- The female has a brood pouch
- He eats rotting wood and plants releasing the waste to fertilise more plants and trees
And there is the natural cycle of connectivity, action to create a reaction
Fred from the sea to the land finds the niche, in that niche supports his home and habitat and within that community of life, one of the cogs turning in his ecosystem.
We are all cogs in a system of a kind, and to a lesser or greater extent; others, our culture, business, spirituality and most importantly our home, the Earth, rely us upon which could be argued as by being the spiritual quest in its own right. The present and ancient hunter-gatherer tribes would have known you can only take what you require and put back or leave alone what you don’t need and pass on the gifts of the hunter, the herbalist and the healer; the shaman.
In this generation we have seen one of the fastest moves away from the natural world, save the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, and the gifts of knowledge and wisdom have become watered down and even lost over this short time.
Looking at the need and our thirst for wisdom and knowledge of our ancestors and that of a traditional way of life, we then should be aware that in time the next generation too would need our knowledge and experiences to learn from. In the UK there has been a number of cuts and outdoor centre closed or others, like my own ‘Wide Horizons’ become charities, the Scouts are still in operation as too are the Woodcraft Folk and for pre-school and upward there is Forest School from Scandinavia bringing a natural form of pupil lead activities in the woods and fields into which engage students positively and is proving to be a success on the holistic development of a person. In other countries this is just away of life and is instilled in their education culture, for others its not the and in other countries its in flux of popularity depending on how much they’ve spent on their nuclear budget or bailing out bankers bonuses.
So what’s this got to do with shamanism?
It the spirit of connection, the relationship between ourselves, the world of society and the natural world, the things I do as an outdoor tutor I bring into shamanic practice, to encourage adults to look and remember.
Here are some examples to try yourselves with your children
The Journey String – adapted from the Aboriginal map string used during the ‘Walk About’ by those achieving manhood initiation.
Take a piece of string about 18” long and go for a walk, as you walk tie on pieces of the environment from a leaf, a stick, a stone and so on
Cut some 4” square put a strip of double-sided sticky tape on it, go for a walk create a rainbow from nature or your own micro picture from petals, grass and soil
(Don’t forget to take a litterbag with you)
All sounds a bit fluffy, but give it go, to connect even deeper write a poem your Journey String or Nature’s Pallet.
Or just sit listen to the sounds and draw the patterns of the sound and create a map of sound in the environment
These little activities start the thought process opening up the imagination and therefore magical spirit connections open up to further investigate, to talk with people, and from a child’s point of view doing something together that does not involve electronics or pressure to do it right, because there is no right way. And by reconnecting again through a child’s eyes and mind, you too might see their ‘imaginary friend’ or even yours that was with you all those years ago.
The path of our life is our own and for so long we get shaped by others, this unavoidable, but the purpose of this blog is to say, that we, and I include myself, don’t have to do it all the time to let the conformity of detachment or fluffness of the natural world be instilled in the next generation, so as the wanderer lets go for a wander outside, to walk, to look, to remember, to learn, and to respect and protect the generations of the natural world.
There are loads of recourses to have a look at for inspiration in the outdoors; here are some links
Wide Horizons Outdoors Educational Trust
George Monbiot at Wide Horizons Tyn y Berth
Institute for Outdoor Learning
Forest School Learning Initiative
Woodland Trust’s Nature Detectives
*please note this blog was made using only one finger of my non writing hand while on morphine after an operation*