Monday, 3 April 2017

The Medicine Path - Medicinal Gardening Workshop 2017

The Medicine Path 

As a girl, I would drape myself in a cream coloured sarong and hold my mothers hardwood mortar and pestle in the crook of my arm, humming scrapes of songs my subconscious would stumble upon, songs from my ancestors that harboured deep connections with the natural world. 
I would ‘pretend’ I was a medicine woman under the static of the suburban power lines, and as I grew I would seek out the ‘wild’ places, the storm water drains that were lined with green, the gullies that were so steep they were safe from the sprawl, the creeks littered with McDonalds wrappers… These were sacred places to me, these were the only ones I could find. 

All I knew was the natural world, seeing living, breathing, growing things, had an effect on me like no other. It balanced me. I felt a sense of instant calm, something that was not so common to me. I felt held. I could ‘listen’ to the trees and plants, even if they did not speak in words with tongues, they would say something deeper, and it spoke directly to my heart. 

People crave this connection with Nature. We are Nature. We crave the connection with ourselves, and being immersed in a natural landscape quite often gives us the space to tune into our own being, come to understandings and realisations we often do not make time for. 
As I grew, the world became more complex, and I started to understand that the lifestyle I was a part of living was directly and indirectly responsible for land degradation worldwide. I realised that the world I longed for actually used to exist- where huge flocks of birds blocked out the sun, and mammals roamed free in a landscape dense with diverse vegetation that provided fibre, medicine and food. 
I became angry, as I saw the main cause for the deterioration of my plant and animal companions was money and greed. The despair I felt during this adolescent discovery has been unsurpassed by any other in my life, and at the time I did not know what to do with the grief which engulfed my being. This was made especially difficult as I watched everyone just keep going… I wanted to scream and fight and yell, I couldn’t fathom that the Earth was still turning when we as humans were presently causing the 6th greatest extinction this planet has seen in billions of years. 

And then came the second wave of despair: what was I doing to help? 
The guilt gripped me, leading me down a staircase of self-erosion, as over years to come I berated myself for not doing enough, somehow feeling personally responsible for global environmental and social outcomes. 
My constant strive to remain close to the natural world in some way meant that I was open to some great wisdom, and I was taught how to listen rather than do

If we cultivate a relationship with our chlorophyll-ed companions, we can learn some profound lessons, and I now see Medicine not as an object, a thing, a product; but as a path. 

Medicine is an everyday interaction. Medicine is a relationship. Medicine is a way of being, a way of living. Medicine is air, water, food, movement, connections and even thought processes. 
Although I have a reference for plant life, the science and constituents that are responsible for physiological responses and cultivating these for the creation of herbal products, plants have taught me more about being my authentic self, letting go, listening, pausing and appreciating than anything else. Leaf, Seed, Fruit, Root, Bark, Berry and Shoot fill me with an immeasurable joy, an undeniable gratitude, and a chance to be still within my productivity and be with myself. 

I am constantly learning, and as I feel the anxiety and panic rise in my throat sometimes, I am more able to breathe and remember my place in the world, perhaps look to my friend Avena saliva for some support, and take some time to nourish my being, just as I would tend to my plants, I need to tend to myself: Have I been watered? Do I have enough space to put down roots? Are there enough nutrients around me in order to flourish? Have I had enough rest so I can grow?
Just taking the time with the plants reminds me of these questions. 

As I took the steps on this path, first looking to the ground and asking “What plant is that? What does it do?”, I now take longer strides, and the way I contribute to The Medicine Path and act in service is Education. 
I have committed myself to inspiring and empowering others on their own path of Medicine. Through facilitation about the soil, the plants, and the relationships between all things, I hope to provide a space of nourishment, awe, excitement and comfort. 

This is the space that myself and my now Herbal companion, Willow Herb-nerd, aimed to create last weekend during our first workshop at Geo Echo Farm, which I am pleased beyond words to now call my home. 

Medicinal Gardening Worksop; March 2017 

The Perma Pixie and Willow Herb-Nerd 

Day 1: 
  • Introductions of plants and people 
  • Germination: Learning the art of seed scattering and propagation 
  • Design: Using Permaculture strategies to improve Medicinal Garden growth 
  • Lunch: Home made Sourdough & Nettle Pizzas in the Cob Oven! 
  • Cultivation: Planting out the Medicinal Garden and learning the herbs hands-on 
  • Botany: An introduction to plant families and how they are identified and used in medicine 
Day 2: 

  • Energisers and Reflections
  • Energetics and Temperaments: How to determine your own temperament and how it works with medicine 
  • Constituents and Actions: Understanding the building blocks of herbalism 
  • Lunch: Home made Sourdough & Nettle Pizzas in the Cob Oven! 
  • Medicine Making: Making your own practical Seasonal Medicines

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Medicine as a Lifestyle: Natural Cosmetics Workshop

Natural Cosmetics Workshop 
CERES Environment Park 
5th June 2016   

  1. 1
    involving or relating to treatment intended to restore or improve a person's appearance
One of my missions during this workshop was to shift focus from pure cosmetic focus, to a more holistic approach based on Rewilding, Permaculture and Herbalism. 
Our society is so based on aesthetics and cosmetic value; we are bombarded with billboards and advertisements luring us towards (Chemical) products which are mass-produced and create environmental degradation through extraction, laboratory testing, embodied energy and chemical waste. Our own personal environments are polluted as we reprimand ourselves for not being beautiful enough; our self-esteem is plagued by the media catastrophe owned by companies with their best interests in mind. If we have low self-esteem, we will reach out for quick fixes, often in an insatiable attempt to be loved. 

Although I myself am not impervious to the aesthetic pressures of society, I am trying to reframe the way I think about myself, others and my Environment. 

This workshop was not about creating products for skin-deep beauty, it was an attempt to facilitate a change in how people think about such things, as we explored the lifestyle one requires for a radiant appearance.

All products were designed to be medicinal to some degree, or have a purpose for deeper healing. 
We discussed the modern Western lifestyle, and using Sleep, Sun, Diet and Movement as nutrients that lead to vitality and looking your best. Companies can't sell you sleep. One of the easiest things to do is get more rest, and yet we are worked to the ground, trapped inside this productivity mind-set, using more technology and more techniques to move faster and faster to DO MORE... and then we are sold products as band-aid or symptomatic solutions; Foundations for pale skin, Concealer for bags under the eyes etc. 
If we learn to listen to the rhythms of our bodies, we can look and feel delicious!

After experiencing my fair share of burnout last year, I decided to start rewilding myself more and instead of just focusing on the productivity (walking in nature, trying to make fire with a hand-drill, foraging for wild foods etc.) I decided to turn myself into the rhythms of nature properly, and start to try and live more like my hunter-gardener ancestors did. 
Since making that decision, I have been looking into movement therapy, making it a regular part of my routine to not only do some kind of exercise (I usually participate in Hiit Training), but to actually MOVE. Get up from my desk and MOVE, do some yoga and MOVE, climb a tree and MOVE, stretch it out and MOVE... I have been exploring primitive movement and how our bodies need many times of movement to be mobile, healthy and functional. 
I have also started using sleep as a nutrient, especially in the colder, darker months of Autumn and Winter. I have paid attention to my body.... 8:30pm and I'm tired? Awesome, I'm going to sleep! 5:30am and I am awake? Great, I'll get up and sit in the darkness before dawn and drink tea and contemplate the horizon. Its a great practice, and I have been reading books on the science of sleep and how to have a better sleep practice. 
For example, when cortisol levels are down, melatonin levels are up, meaning if we increase stress levels (even in the form of exercise) before bed, we are decreasing our melatonin, which is needed for healthy sleep. 
Sleep helps us repair our cells, helps us retain information, helps us to actually stay fit! 
I am loving the Winter at the moment, as its one of the first years I have given myself permission to rest and recover. 

I am learning so much about wellbeing, for myself and for the Earth. (Its really all the same). 

During this workshop I shared what I have been learning, in the form of lifestyle techniques and the making of delicious products good enough to eat!

Although it was important for me to touch on these aspects, we did move into the making quite quickly, as I know there are many kinaesthetic learners out there that need to get their hands dirty!  

During the workshop we made: 

- Stimulating Coffee and Orange Body Scrub 
- Foot Cream for Circulation using Cayenne, Black Pepper and Ginger. 
- Nourishing Face Cream for sensitive skin using Marshmallow root and Calendula. 
- Cleansing Tooth Powder using Clay and oils of sage, frankincense and peppermint. 
- Anti-Viral Lip Balm using Lemon Balm and Rosewood.

There were 5 stations set up so that groups of 4 could rotate, and all materials, equipment and recipes were provided at each station. Each station was explained during the start of the day, and after that groups were encouraged to get in there and follow the recipes, while I dotted around the room asking questions, providing information and checking if anyone needed a hand.

This way participants were able to all have a go in a small group environment, rather than it being like a cooking show with me staring, displaying the methods and creation of products. People learn from doing. Its a lot of pre-planning to ensure all the ingredients are there, each station has the necessary equipment, everything is calculated right to ensure there is enough for each person in the group and the recipes are written out (with each ingredient calculated correctly for the number of people in the group), but I find this way so much more interactive and fun!

Participants could take photos of recipes provided, and I created a small 'Zine' with the recipes and information about herbs, lifestyle and what chemicals to avoid in products. Some people need to write things, some people need to read things, most need to do things... this small token of information meant participants could concentrate on the tasks at hand, knowing the ingredients and methods were supplied for them. 

The workshop was sold out this time, and I look forward to facilitating more in the future, pushing the boundaries of how we can make and use cosmetics, and how we can assist the development of the species through caring for our health, esteem and wellbeing. 

I do envision a different world for the next generation, one that does not place profit at the cost of the Environment, one that does not purposefully guilt and shame people for the individuality they have to offer, a world where children can grow up confident, radiant, full of love for themselves and others. 

This workshop was but a small contribution to that world...

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Medicinal Gardening Workshop

March 5th - 6th 2016

It seems bizarre to me to learn about plants through only the medium of books, the internet and bottles of liquid extracts. During my time studying Natropathy at university when I was 18, I found that what I thought would be a wild and luscious journey through the thick wisdom of my ancestors, was reduced to a strict, white walled, stale and academic grind. Don't get me wrong, I love learning, I love delving into the intricacies of biochemistry, and learning the complexity of anatomy, but what worried me was that Holistic medicine was not being taught holistically... there was no connectivity.
I was essentially expressing my skills in pharmacology, I was giving medicine in the form of potent constituents, straight from a bottle.... no idea of the essence.

I wanted to touch the plants! Taste them! Smell them! Feel them! I wanted to see a beautiful garden and witness plant to potion! It alluded me that, just like our food, as a society we had no idea what our medicinal plants looked like.
My interest in the natural world kept growing like the plants themselves, and I took a new wild journey down an old stone path... I came to meet Permaculture. Through this modern movement of ancient thought, strategy and wisdom, I was able to focus my mind on the growing and my hands on the sowing.

My love of Herbalism stayed alive, although at times it would sink deeper into my veins, not because I didn't care, but because I didn't have the blood to donate to everything at once...

Through Permaculture I realised what I wanted to offer the world: Education.
I set to work studying, learning, experiencing... and now I facilitate learning.
I now create the workshops I wish existed in Australia.
I think of the wild, magickal, lush and whimsical atmosphere I wanted to open the doors to when I started my Herbal studies.... and I try and create it.

Welcome to my Garden.

On the sweltering weekend of March 5th 2016, I woke up at Agari Permaculture Farm, ready to take a group of wide-eyed individuals on a Grassroots herbal adventure!

The first day consisted of getting our hands in the dirt and creating a Medicinal garden for Agari Farm, and the second day was spent making delicious hand-made medicines!
In between we explored Botany, Taxonomy, Herbal constituents and properties, as well as some Permaculture design themes.

Our days were broken up by late-afternoon swimming at the nearest water hole, as it was 38 and 39 degrees Celsius that weekend. Luckily, we stayed hydrated with coconut water, swam and rested in the heat of the day, enjoyed refreshing lavender and chamomile face mist and kept ourselves running on pure enthusiasm!

The first question I asked myself when designing this workshop was "How do I enable people to design a Medicinal Herb garden from scratch, with no gardening or herbal experience?"
You see, I didn't want it to be MY garden- I didn't want to hand people something I had designed, give them some pots and say "there you go, plant it... there!.. no, no, not there... a little... yep, there! you got it! Thanks!"
People learn through doing, thinking for themselves and being involved. I wanted it to be our garden. Our collective garden that we had all thought up, dreamed up and created together.
So, I made cute little colourful Herb cards, each card dedicated to a particular plant, with the information; name, family, cultivation, origin, identification, description, root structure, height, width, constituents, properties and contraindications.
Participants were divided into groups, and each group got 5 Herb cards. Using the information on these cards, the group had to design these plants into the bed, considering the height, width, cultivation, root system and native habitat in their planning.

The bed had been pre-prepared with manure ands straw, and we layer out stepping stones in a beautiful radial pattern. The plants had been purchased from mud brick cottage herb farm, and after we reviewed each groups planting design, modifying where appropriate, we started to dig in before the extreme heat of the day set in.

Rosemary, Sage, Licorice, Elecampagne, Evening Primrose, Santolina, Calamus, Lavender, Thyme, Rue, Sea Holly and Mullien, to name a few...

After wading in the water that day, we sat by the bank, basking in the mottled sunlight peering through the foliage of the eucalyptus trees overhead, and had a sweet little botany lesson by the river.

The weekend was catered by Agari Farms Dani-Wolf, who creates delicious nutrient dense foods, with a focus on using food as medicine.

Participants camped under the stars, waking to the sounds of the chickens and cows, the crows and cockatoos, the wind and the deep hum of the Earth...

The Sunday had us making our plant potions, and after a lesson of constituents and properties, there was an exercise in making medicines for common ailments.
The afternoon was spent medicine making, everyone huddled in the Earthy cob community building, mortar and pestles grinding, measuring and pouring, chopping, weighing, making labels and chatting wholesomely.

The medicines that participants made to take home with them were:
Autumn Chest Salve: Beeswax, infused oil, Thyme, Eucalyptus and Sage.
Restorative Elixir: Hawthorn, Oatstraw, Rosehips, Red Clover, Skullcap, Ashwaganda and Maple syrup.
Digestive Bitters: Lavender, White Sage, Orange Peel, Calamus, Cardamom, Clove, Cinnamon and Gentain.

I am grateful for my journey.... it lead me to all these people! These people that share a common thread, a desire to really know plants, to listen to them, understand them, know them like you would a friend. These people that support my work, support me on my adventure of sharing, creating atmospheres and spaces of deep nourishment, enjoyment and comfort.

And the journey continues...
The Garden grows.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Appearance on The Permaculture Podcast by Scott Mann

Here are my appearances on The Permaculture Podcast!

The first Episode discusses practicing permaculture right now, where we are, in the culture and world we live in. With that is also some talk of self care, so that as practitioners we don’t get frustrated or burned out, but can continue on our path while remaining whole. We also touch on the importance of finding your own niche, and understanding your personal needs and wants so you can practice authentically, and not create more harm than good, or to compare what we do with others, but to be who we are and do what we do.

Episode 1555: Standing in Two Worlds with Taj Scicluna, The Perma Pixie 

The second focuses on the topic of Professional Permaculture, discussing the development of a permaculture business, and the work required to be a small business owner. Along the way we also talk about education, and some of the differences between Australian and American training, including the work to formalise the permaculture design certificate. 

Episode 1603: The Perma Pixie on Small Business Permaculture

As a regular listener, I am deeply humbled to have had an appearance on the show, as I often listen to many people I admire in the same lines of work.
This show is an incredible resource, growing the mycelial mat further, establishing connections, and inspiring people to grow, thrive and exchange.

Many Thanks and hope you enjoy!

Monday, 30 November 2015

Permaculture Politics: From Competition to Co-Operation

When I discovered Permaculture, I found more than knowledge and skill, I met my community. Over the years, as I have tried to make a living doing the only thing that makes sense to me, I have found currents of self-righteousness and competition in what is now considered an industry. The ethics and principles that had drawn me to make Permaculture my purpose, were not always being practiced.
To have an impact environmentally, we must look at our social patterns and conditioning. As the movement grows, I am relieved to witness a generation of people willing to discuss, share, and admit they don’t in fact, know everything.
There is a symbiosis of nutrient exchange and co-operation exercised in these systems that enables the forest to continue cycling in a self-fulfilling and efficient manner, with no waste.
If permaculture aims to mimic nature effectively, we must change our individualised compete and segregate mind-sets to that of co-operation and integration. The politics of permaculture have had the ability to veer far from its very own principles and practices, causing rifts within an industry based on culture and community.
I thought this analogy quite lovely, and very fitting in my experience.
So I thank those pioneers for the rich soil they have created, and the hard work done photosynthesizing in a harsh environment.
The next succession species is a little more fleshy, diverse and palatable, nursing the surrounding conditions for saplings to take hold and grow tall into the canopy.

If progress is to be achieved in the movement of permaculture, regenerative living, and earth renewal, then we must begin to act like a forest system – constantly exchanging, sharing, and cooperating to achieve a state of symbiosis.

During the first Permaculture Design Course (PDC) I participated in, I was met with much more than just practical knowledge, design skill, environmental inspiration and strategies for action - I met my community. 
The beauty of a two week permaculture immersion is the sense of close family that develops over such a short period of time. 

Each time I have taken a PDC or Diploma, Advanced Course etc., I have been blown away by the sheer diversity of people that come together for one thing: love of the environment and its inhabitants. I have witnessed men that work in the corporate sector work alongside vegan gutter-punks to create compost. I have seen people of all races, sexualities, religions, beliefs and lifestyles work together to follow the same set of ethics and values. 

This is one of the things that inspired me to follow and practice permaculture. 

Permaculture is based on systems thinking  using ecosystems to gain insight into the workings of the natural world, so we may then apply these strategies to our own systems - whether they be landscape, social, economical, or otherwise.

My Permaculture journey has not always been met with such free-flowing acceptance, love and understanding. Upon my introduction to permaculture I was made painfully aware that the two co-founders of the concept, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, do not get along. This struck me as odd, as one of the main messages I receive from permaculture is the need for community. Over time, this need has become ever more prominent in my mind, as I see that to truly become regenerative as a species, we cannot carry our individualised Western mindsets into the future if we are to be self-sufficient - it is in fact, unsustainable. 

I thought it ironic that the people that worked on a methodology based on systems thinking, with a firm understanding of the balance between interspecies communities, could not themselves work towards a future of communication. 

This is not a criticism of those as individuals; it is more an observation that this has been the foundation of permaculture, and I have often wondered what that has meant for its evolution. 
I have witnessed people within - what is now called ‘a movement’ - gossip in regards to the reasoning behind the founder’s disengagement, and I have even been asked (multiple times) whether I am in the 'Bill or David Camp'. If I am to be completely honest with my readers, this question utterly disgusts me. To ask this is to go against all I believe permaculture stands for, and I feel if we carry these ways of thinking, this idea of segregation, into the future, we really have no hope of environmental repair. Because we are part of ecology, and if we cannot repair our social structures, and the individual mindsets that create them, we will see no true progress. 

Miles Olson, author of 'Unlearn, Rewild' states in a podcast hosted by Ayana Young: "Imagine that suddenly the wheels of the system grind to a halt, completely stopped. Well, there was a time that I thought 'Yes, thats exactly what we need, thats the answer!’ I’m quite convinced, and I don't know if anyone could convince me otherwise, that I think a truer analysis of what would happen in such a case of collapse or a revolution, is that by noon of the day after the revolution, everyone would be all back at work, in the same repressive patterns building the same structures unconsciously. Because what really builds the oppressive structures that we are surrounded by, is a programming that is internalized, its all stuff we carry with us internally." 

As such we must move away from certain modalities of thought in order to progress with this movement of permaculture, regenerative living, environmental justice and Earth renewal. 
I am in neither camp and I never will be. There are people’s work which greatly inspire and influence me, but I do not compare the apple tree to the raspberry cane in a food forest. Comparison will be the downfall of this species Which brings me to my next point: Ego must be redefined in Permaculture if we are going to progress with the ideas and ethics it presents.

As I delved deeper into this movement, and it became my scene, my home, my family, friends, colleagues and peers, I was exposed to an astounding amount of comparison, criticism and righteousness. In some cases I saw a competition mentality, people not exchanging knowledge and ideas like a forest does nutrients, but arguing and debating points. Ironically most of this knowledge was not battled from personal experience, but from books written by other pioneers, and then used as ammunition. 
I would see the subtle scoffs and scowls as some younger generation earth stewards would state opinions, ask questions, or try and create a business within the industry. Some pioneers puffed up like pigeons, others guarded their turf with the fierceness of a flock of magpies. Gossip of who was doing what slicked the rippling movement like an oil spill, disabling the next generations from even taking a breath. 
The permaculture principle of 'co-operation not competition' was not being embodied. 
I felt the social conditioning of our culture was ever prevalent, and we must remind ourselves that culture is what has enabled the indigenous peoples - whom permaculture has developed its principles from - to live in such a balance with the natural world around them.  To practice PermaCulture, we must create stable, resilient social systems and structures, and embody a culture of change. 

I must say that I have not only encountered the rigid mentalities discussed. I have also experienced great warmth, support and empowerment. 
Now, I am being exposed to a new generation of Permaculturists, and the more farms, courses, talks and events I attend with a density of younger enthusiasts, the more hope I have for changing the trajectory of the industry. 

People sit with their cups of nettle tea discussing different ideologies, scientific views and theories, techniques and belief systems, keen and interested in communication with their fellow Naturalists. 
These people have witnessed the common burn-out that permaculture pioneers have experienced, and instead wish to find a niche, and let others fill the gaps of succession around them, in a mutual exchange which benefits the whole. 
Like a mycelial network, I see practitioners inviting people on board to projects, have less reliance and focus on intellectual and financial capital, and more on social, experiential and cultural capital. 

When I co-facilitate our PDCs, I run an exercise on the ‘8 Forms of Capital’, and as it turns out, cultural capital is what people in our society are lacking.  Considering our racial diversity and history of attempted indigenous genocide, this makes sense. If we are to reformat our society into an interconnected fabric of resilience within community, our self-righteousness, ego and pride will need to be fuelled with awareness and regulation. 
We need to create a welcoming, understanding and inclusive atmosphere to involve and empower people of all creeds, beliefs and scenes. If this movement is to move beyond a niche, if we are to finally move beyond "is that like horticulture?", we will need to include people of all streams to formulate the river of potential possibilities. 
A senior Permaculturist explained it beautifully when asked about the politics and attitudes expressed within the movement. He stated that the pioneer species within permaculture were just the same as those of a land-based system - they were prickly, harsh, and grew in a disturbed environment ready to create more optimal conditions for the next generation. Although they were protecting and nurturing the soil for the next generation to grow in, the very thing that made them pioneers was the very same reason they had trouble getting along with others - they were thorny, spikey, rough and tough!
Hopefully, with the right mindset, and the application of permaculture’s principles in all facets, those late succession species will shade out and make obsolete the current system, fostering both ecological and economic growth, providing enough fruit for generations to come. 

Monday, 2 November 2015

Sacred Ecology - AIR Weekend

The weekend of the Spring Equinox in September of 2015 was dedicated to the exploration of the element Air, and was the second of the Sacred Ecology workshop weekends.
Although, the course was never intended to solely be about skills and workshops, but to give people a chance to delve deeper into an awareness of natural systems, and an awareness of the self.

I arrived feeling a little apprehensive as course co-ordinator and co-facilitator, wondering if I had forgotten anything, going over lists in my head.... I left feeling recharged, replenished and serene. This gave me a sense of how powerfully nourishing these weekends are; if they can effect even the person co-ordinating in such a significant way, they must be having a consequential impact on the other participants as well.

The first night brought us to circle in the beautiful little cottage-style house of the Natural Healing Space- the fire was on, the tea was boiling, and after a nutrient dense meal we all sat down and took a moment to reconnect. There were quite a few who knew each other from the first beautiful winter gathering at Hollyburton Farm, and their were some who had decided to join the course in Spring, so we each took a moment to introduce ourselves and express lyrically the trajectory the winds of our lives were taking. Some were tremulous, others breezy, with as many directions and fluctuations as the wind itself.

Bathed in candlelight, Claire Dunn (co-facilitator and author of 'My Year Without Matches') weaved us through basketry, and we sat and stitched the night away.

The next morning dawned bright, the sun spilled onto the Earth's skin, cracking the winter with its warmth. We gathered for a morning of Nature awareness exercises, and each found a sit spot where we would observe the natural world at different intervals through the weekend.

In the Spirit of Air, I ran a class on fermentation; as the presence or lack of oxygen is key to this process, as well as factors such as time and temperature. During the session we had a look (and taste) of creamy milk kefir, sparkling lemon water kefir, kombucha, Saurkraut and home-made tempeh (which is a recent exploration that I am hoping to perfect this summer).
Our incredible nutrient dense food cook, Mel, also brought a few of her delicious fermented goods to share, including pickled choko!

One beautiful lesson I myself learned that day, was the art of feeling into group energy. There were certain activities which had been planned, but with the emergence of the sun, we decided to give the afternoon to the breeze and let it cradle each individual in its arms, allowing participants to explore their own direction. It was luscious. We all were lying around, some talking, some enveloped in the embrace of hammocks, others lazing on the grass watching the clouds pass and a few with methodic hands continuing the weaving of baskets.
It is one thing to be a facilitator of knowledge, but it is another to allow peoples facilitation of their own wisdom, through nature, themselves and each other.

The Spring ritual differed greatly from that of our Winter gathering, as the depths of Winter often bring our shadows to the surface, and we look more closely at deeper issues that effect us. Our Winter ritual symbolised the return of the sun, focusing on what it was we were wishing to let go of, so we would be ready to step into the light after shaking the shadows.
The shadows shaken, Spring symbolises the seed that is sprouting, and we each planted a metaphoric seed that we are hoping to nourish to fruition.
Snaking our way up the hill, wreathed in jasmine and with drums beating we focused on the air in our lungs and the sun on our backs.
In groups, we carried on from the Winter weekend as Claire guided us in making primitive fire. We created the fire for our ritual circle with our own hands, an incredible skill and a beautiful offering.

During the ritual, one of the participants honoured and invoked the element of Air with one of the most incredible songs I have ever heard. When we were all lazing in the sun, she was meditating on the question of how to bring Air into our circle, and was gifted with that song. It sent such sweet shivers up my spine, and tears came to my eyes as I was experiencing true magick. The magick that is within each one of us, if we choose to listen.

I watched as the last of the circle made their way down the hill, skipping in their spring garlands as the sun set. I then sat with Claire as she held the fire board, assisting me as I attempted to make primitive fire on my own. I settled myself, took a breath, and placed my hands on the phallic Xantharia stalk. Claire took the fire stalk once and 'floated' it for me, keeping it warm so it didn't loose friction and heat. I then grasped it between my plams once again, and was so focused on my technique, on my breathing, on my core.... that I was shocked when I heard her say "You've got a coal!". A fire inside me burst as I looked down at the smouldering coal and tears sprang to my eyes. This was a milestone for me. Fire to me was a responsibility, a true ability to respond to any situation. It was a birthright. It was the way of the ultimate provider. I felt, for some reason, if I could make fire with my hands, I would always be ok.
It symbolised a big step, as during the Winter weekend I practiced, but could not get a coal on my own. And as I sat in my cold little room in the hills, lighting a fire with matches and newspaper, I was reminded each time how much I relied on this combustion, and how disconnected I felt when creating it.

That night the course combined with the Spring Sauna Celebration at the Natural Healing Space- an incredible and rejuvenating night enjoying a hand built sauna, cold plunge and hot tub, accompanied by a home cooked meal and replenishing coconut water. As the night drew to a close I had my second cup of chai and raw chocolate treat, smiling to myself as I floated to bed under the starts.

Yoga was offered each morning, and after breakfast we reconvened to learn about the world of bird language, and how to connect deeper with nature through awareness of sound and song.
More time was given for people to enjoy their sit spot with their newly acquired knowledge.

The afternoon found us in the garden, as I took a class on planting seedlings, microclimates and some basic Permaculture design principles. I watched, hands covered in soil from planting tomatoes in the greenhouse, and observed everyone pottering around in the garden, covered in hay and wearing sun hats. It was a wonderful collective activity, celebrating the new growth of Spring.
I guided those who were unsure of where to plant things, but tried not to give too much away, as I feel that some of the joy of planting comes through your own connection to the land, and I believe people won't develop their own intuition with nature if they are told what to do all the time.

After sharing our last nutrient dense meal of the weekend, we gathered in a circle and spoke of what we would take away with us from the weekend, and I ended with a paragraph from Stawhawks 'The Earth Path', the book in which the course is based on;

"Praise and gratitude to the air, the breath of the living earth. We give thanks to you for our lives, for our breath, for the literal inspiration that keeps us alive. praise and gratitude for those ancient ancestors, the first magicians, that lean red to use sunlight to make food, and so gave us the gift of oxygen. Praise and gratitude to those who learned to burn food for energy, and to the great exchange, he world breath that passes from green lung to the red and back again. Praise for the sun that sets the cauldron of the winds in motion, and to the great winds that soar over the face of the earth. Praise to the storm that brings the rains, the water of life to the land. Gratitude to the creatired of the air, the birds that lift up our hearts with their songs, the insects in their erotic caress of the flowers - a caress that brings the fruit of the seed.
May our minds be as clear and open as the air; may we learn from the wind winds how to soar across barriers and sweep away obstacles. May the air and the winds of the world be cleansed. May we learn to be good guardians and friends and allies of the air that is our life; may we make the right decisions that can restore the balance.
Blessed be the air."

We are now taking bookings for our Summer Sacred Ecology Weekend. For more information and bookings please click here.