The Wisdom of Connection
I recently found myself down a rabbit hole of wild therapy, wilderness training, ecotherapy, ecopsychology, etc – you get the drift. I was thinking, “I already do so much of this” I know sometimes perhaps I approach shamanic work with clients slightly differently due to my therapeutic background but was thinking I encourage clients to reconnect with their own bodies, inner wisdom and YES Nature. For me we are part of nature, we are not separate from it. Yes, we have become separate, disconnected, but we are very much part of it. Today we have the ability to travel all around the world with relative ease, eat food from far flung countries. We no longer eat home grown food, food that’s in season here (in the UK). I hear you shouting at your screen – yes, it is on the increase, the ever popular foraging. When I was a kid, you just went blackberrying; you weren’t foraging, harvesting rewilding; it was the only way to eat them. The only way mum was going to make a blackberry crumble. I’m delighted by the uprising of grow your own. No matter how small your patch, you don’t need much room to grow a few potatoes, the odd lettuce, etc. Herbs on the kitchen windowsill. The phrase “I’m going foraging” does my other half’s head in. “You mean you’re going to pick some sloes, rosehips” (whatever is in season) I was lucky, I was brought up to be aware of the seasons, the cycles, what was ready for picking when to make delicious jams, homemade pies, drinks and so on.
This takes me to plant medicine. Often, I get asked if I work with plant medicine my answer is yes, but probably no to your question. What people are usually asking me is do I do Ayahuasca ceremonies or similar. No, I don’t, but I do work with plants indigenous to us here in England, or the UK. Every time we “forage” we are working with plant medicine, if we approach each tree and plant with care, if we connect, ask if we may gather, pick, leave offerings. A simple gesture of picking a nettle from the garden and having fresh nettle tea is plant medicine. Gathering Mugwort to create cleansing wands is plant medicine. It’s all about intention. The Mugwort that grows along one of the lanes here in Ingleton likes to be sung to especially lullabies. I stand singing to her, listen to her response to see which plants I may pick from which to leave. You know if you connect and listen. A Rosehip will snag you on a thorn to send you on your way to another plant.
I digress as ever, back to where I started. Shamanism for me is about connecting with the spirits of the land we dwell upon, the rivers we swim in, the hills we walk upon. The plants we are gathering from and the land they are growing on. We are intrinsically linked with all around us, we cannot escape the fact that we have a reciprocal relationship with the planet as a whole, our local environment and all the plants, animals, all beings that inhabit the land we too live upon. Shamanism teaches us this, it teaches us the importance of this reciprocal relationship and that each impact upon the other.
The healing work I do with women both within shamanism and yoga is about being aware of their own seasons, within each month, year and life cycle. By observing nature, we can also observe our own cycles. As women they can see their own summer – the fullness, abundance and full energy that we feel within us. We can tell if we’ve emerged from our winter too quickly – it will come and get us!! The trees and flowers take their time to gently, slowly emerge from the soil, to unfurl and uncurl; just as we should too. See how we treat ourselves can be mirrored by the world around us We can learn so much just by being and watching.
The increase in popularity of ecopsychology, re-wilding ourselves (all relatively new ideas in that format) isn’t a new concept at all and it can certainly learn from Shamanism. Imagine my delight when I opened the latest copy of Indie Shaman magazine and read the article “Ecopsychology & the Shamanic Path” by Gill Thackray echoing my thoughts. We don’t need to re-invent the wheel, as Lesley Gray says in this article “…we need only look to shamanism to discover a successful model of applied ecopsychology”
Disconnect from the TV, news, phones, social media and you will feel connected. So much research says that although we’ve never been more connected neither have, we ever felt more alone.
Go outside, visit a local park, hedgerow, stand in the garden, on the pavement. Stand, listen and see, really see all that’s around you. Soon you will notice the birdsong, the flowers becoming berries, birds leaving and others arriving as they take their migratory paths. Stand barefoot on the ground, arms out wide catch the wind in your hair and between your fingers. Catch a raindrop on your tongue. Create a connection with the land around you and all that inhabit it alongside you.