Hygge Life, dispatch #7

Wilkom in, wyld folks, and greetings to the followers of this blog. Have you noticed the stars recently, or taken time to breathe in deep draughts of fresh cool night air into your lungs? The metamorphosing treasare telling me that fall has taken our lands by the heart, and now it is going into entropy and hibernation in one last wonderful display of color… and it’s also getting a lot more hygge.

A few new forest inhabitants and some old friends have been lurking around the nest lately, the coyote gangs still howl in the crepuscular hours, and turkey vultures are scouring the aether for the weak and slow. A night possum was caught tramping around in our 1 km long driveway after a night out, and he rather awkwardly steered himself through the tall grasses towards a soy field. I’ve heard the saw-whet owl on more than one occasion, near a waterfall gorge, and in these backwoods. Fallow deer also abound, but leave mostly footfalls and prints to eschew their presence. There have been a few moments in the fortnight since the last moon turning where the mood and everything has just lined up so perfectly, where I thought just how hygge everything felt. A powerful rainstorm of sleet and mist invaded our nook in the forest, and made everything tremble and moan, I was fasting this day and safely inside, drinking homemade maple coffee and relaxing on the daybed with our feline friends. On top of a busy farm life, where I work in the land adjacent to ours, I have been soaking up some precious half hours of yoga in the nighttyme, while I deepen my practice and contemplate further training, maybe a South American pilgrimage is in order?

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A certain sentiment that makes sense to me for living a thriving lifestyle is the balance of work life and hyggelig lifestyle, or as I say ‘full employment vs. full enjoyment’. This is something I have battled with in the past as our dominator, workaholic western culture always pushed people into over-overtime, and working more hours than there are in the days, or at least so they have no proper time to make wholesome meals, engage with their family, do extra-curricular activity, maintain full time schooling, etc. Sometimes I go into stints where I will work so long and hard and everyday, and really do a number on my body, and I earn a lot of money, and then I come out of it, and I am depressed, sore, and need to seek treatments, excessive company, vice, and indulgence which then eats up the money I have had. This is rare mind you, and I have only done this when life demands have been too much or I find myself in precarious hard rock places, you know them. On the other hand I then come to connect to myself in a more holistic way, and have recently stepped back from such a vigorous schedule to allow time for these other things to flourish. Maybe working three days out of the week, and during the other days in between, spending time immersed in foraging practice, nature, home projects, preparing especially good dinners, reading, enjoying music, and speaking with friends. This is the essence of hygge and often is threated by domesticity, which brings me to my next point of the challenges faces through sedentism.

When living in one place, you can’t really see the world, you are limited to a locality, and belong somewhere specific, this is for the most part nothing to turn from but there are challenges. When you have a very specific range of interests and work inclinations, it does become extremely difficult to make a living while grounded in a certain range of space. I also find that you must come up with new and novel ways to be stimulated by your landscape, in your home, your possessions, and often patterns of behavior can develop where you may neglect what is around you because it has became menial or boring. Boredom is another hard one to stave off, fortunately I enjoy and am skilled with diy projects, and wanderlust in the natural wilderness around me, so this is usually not an issue. When living with someone else however, your attentions start to become highly focused on a lot of people that are not you, and suddenly you realize that self-nourishing has skipped a pulse, and you may feel a sense of lack or annoyance. Sometimes I just want to escape again, travel to a far away country, and I am sure it will happen, but I remember why I came into this lifestyle in the first place, and see then what would be missing without it. There is always a sobering perspective hidden in there somewhere. When you are sedentary you need to have a mission, a support circle of friends and allies who will enhance your dreams, some kind of employment of your time which brings home the cash (just not so much that you don’t know what to do with it), and you need past times, ways to fill the idle hours of the evenings, or days off, or the winter months; foraging, crafting, building, fire circles, meditation, reading, study, thinking, these are all my go to’s. How you find your balance between work life and hygge, and the methods of domesticity is a kind of delicate game, but is essential for happiness.

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So I’ve been gathering, not really so surprising to hear maybe, but it is always a different story, this time I have been out on a couple plant walks, solo and with others, foraging and collecting various roots, tubers, vine flowers, fruits, nuts and veggies, to name a fairly modest list; hops, sun chokes, melon, marshmallow root, black walnuts. I’ve put some of these to good use already, though I don’t recommend hop tea very much, I made some fire cider with some freshly dug horse radish from the garden, my batch of pumpkin kombucha is delicious, and I also gathered some golden birch chewsticks which have a nice wintergreen taste. I like to gather as much as I can from the land during the cycles of the season, eat some fresh and freeze, dry, powder, or preserve in some way the rest, and use it as a currency, so I can trade for things I don’t have or exotic imports that others have bought and I am not willing to pay for. I have been starting to conserve a lot more, but not only making preserves and dried edibles, but by rationing staples. I stocked up a couple weeks ago on grass fed butter because I know that the cows will soon only have corn meal, so by freezing some, and using it a bit more conservatively, I can enjoy this superfood all through winter, or at least that is the intention. The maple syrup stores from the Amish is also a highly valued sugar source, and I enjoy the conscious attention needed to keep things longer so we can enjoy them anytime, when in this age we can just go buy anything at anytime of the year, blueberries in January anyone?

This weekend I am leading a foraging plant walk with a lady friend, and have been taste testing the wild rose hips which are slowly becoming more mushy, sweet and delectable. I am looking forward to cooking some Scandinavian cuisine, and earth porridges with the nuts, berry preserves, and raw honey recently collected from the hive. I have noticed a peculiarity between my own foraging style and Julie’s, in that I tend to focus more on earth terroir, calorie rich, dense nutrient foods and fungal hosts, like nuts, acorns, mushrooms, roots for tea, and tubers for cooking. It’s a lot of food from the north. While she focuses primarily on berries, plant leaves, lighter food not necessarily high in caloric intake, and flowers. There is a balance in there that seems to work, and may go back to our ancient ancestors who lived in tribal settings and had proper division of labor.

On Ancestry, I just got my results back a few nights ago, and discovered some interesting ties to Western Europe (Belgium, France, Switz, Germany, Denmark) , the Celtic countries (Wales, Ireland, Scotland), and also lower Scandinavia like Denmark/Sweden, even some small percentage from the Mediterranean. These are all great places, though I have not traveled to every one of these countries, I am proud to hail from here, and look forward to going even deeper, further back, and maybe finding the paths that distant family went, or what impact they left on life, were any of them Viking descended, or farmers (most probably), I know there was a lot of fur trading in my lineage, and a French Canadian ilk of people in my recent line.

As the days grow dimer, our circadian rhythms stay the same, yet we start to feel more tired, earlier and earlier, and use a lot more artificial light to ignite our homes. One way to counter that is to create ambience with amber light and is something I have loved doing in the past, by switching to low color lights or amber lightbulbs that filter our blue wavelength and therefore keep us from supressing melatonin flow, therefore sleeping tight and dreaming sweetly. It is also very hygge to sit in the basking light of candles, old edison lights or fire flicker, while doing not much of anything and simply being. Try listening to the Icelandic band Mum, while you are at it, that is what I am going to do, let me know where you end up.

Skal!

 

 

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A Plant Walk in the Carolinian Forest

Every new foray should bring back new experiences, new knowledge, and new understanding of our place in space, our role in nature. I try to carry this sentiment when I go out into the land, not as a separated observer of wildness, but as a participant in its ecology. This (Sun)day I was joined by a fellow plant sister, to take a slow walk through the woods of my habitation, in the lush and verdant Carolinian forest of the Hamilton escarpment. We started as we did any walk, meandering towards the patches of land which held diversity and abundant plant life, and quickly took a deep dive into the native and visiting wild flora that grow here. The first friend we meet was mallow root, not the domesticated marshmallow plant but the wild strain of which all parts of it’s body, both aerial,. grounded and subterranean are edible and used in delicious concoctions. The red flare of a young sassafras aroused our attention next, as its leaves seemed so contrasting to the still early color shift of the forest. The root of this tree is used in the original root beer, which today, the contemporary carbonated variety bear no use of. It is a lovely an ancient looking tree with mitten shaped leaves, thus it gets the folk name of mitten tree. Pig-weed and garlic mustard also crept up neighboring the stalks of corn, the latter of which I quite enjoy, and though not native to this eco-region, she slyly commented, neither are we humans.

Along a grassy trail leading through 75 acres of primarily hardwoods we lightly swaggered our way past several non assuming plant relatives. Rose hips budded in excess, though not as mushy and sweet as the beach side variety. Nightshades and dolls eyes, also shown that the landscape is not all for us, and these were not the focus of our edible forage. Down near the creek, we found golden birch, and cut to make wintergreen like sticks for oral use, and the spicebush, which is not a common presence here, but one fully embraced. Strange reptilian skin lichens sheathed the logs with their companion mosses on the saturated ground. Next we found the hawthorn apple, a gem of a fruit, though not as succulent as their sometimes domesticated cousins, holds a lore and a pleasure of its own. The perennial fruits were what graced our palette next, as we came to the autumn olive tree, which is not an olive at all, but a berry, and sweet around this time, yet astringent still in the summer.

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Circumnavigating our route, and our eyes less fixated on the branches and stems of trees, we found many good prospects growing betwixt the tall grasses and damp soils as we trampled through the trail almost missing them. The magic mushrooms of the psilocybin species were dotted between blades of grass, and ready for the taking, standing erect in piles of feral apples freshly fallen, perfectly tanned skin, and their supple nipples showing off to the world, their real magic. Sorry for the sexual metaphors but it’s true. These fungal hosts of psychedelic compounds, are light brown in sunlight, and have a kind of button or nipple that is used by mushroom foragers to identify them. Well yes, there are spores too, but we will save that for the mycologists.

We returned with a small bounty and pages full of notes, as soon this weird October heat become almost intolerable to sit out in, and migrated to our porchfront to converse about recipes, superfoods and medicines, while looking forward to the next outing, with more people in tow for the exploration. Until then, new life will grow and others will wither, and we can continue to be humbled by nature’s gifts.

Hygge Life, dispatch #6

Aho, wild ones! The pregnant luna is bathing us in autumn moonlight, in what is our first of the season here at our nest, and it is actually getting cold during the dark hours, as the nights stark to come sooner and last longer. I have heard the Saw-whet owls (Aegolius acadicus) croon and thee black squirrels are rambling for the autumn nut harvest. Since I like to include some of their dietary choices into my food regimen, I also have a small cache of nuts and seeds; black walnut, butternut (or what I call northern macadamia for its similar taste), sunflower seeds, and looking to go out for gingko nuts soon. I did harvest a creole basket full of red oak acorns, but to my dismay, despite their perfect looking condition, almost all of these had weevils. I did some research into this grub, and decided that I will mulch the acorns, and potentially save some for a yule craft. I have found that white oaks re more resistant to disease and acorn weevils, so I am going to get out again before next moon and harvest some more before it is too late. These will be processed to make flour for pancakes, or battering fish and seafood, and roasted for coffee substitutes or bread. Apparently there is an albino squirrel that lives around here, but I have yet to see it.

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Besides acorns I have been out on the land harvesting what autumn brings, our ground cherries, popping corn, sunflower seeds, cranberries, and elderberries, which I dried for use in nutritional cereals/porridges. It is a novelty to have our very own popping corn straight from the garden, and I have been enjoying some dried dulse jerky from the shores of New Brunswick. We canned over 30 jars of peaches from the Niagara and made several batches of peach salsa. I tried elk for only the second time in my life this past week, and I have been trying some new recipes with wild game, and highland cattle beef. I bought a few pounds of organic grass-fed jersey butter while the cows are still out in the field eating an appropriate diet and froze it so I would have good butter through the winter. I also went out with my brother to collect tree resin for wood restoration on our homestead, which also doubles as good wax for moustache and beard, and makes great salves. We also collected milkweed fluff, corn kernel roots, and dried grasses for tinder material.There are several gmo corn fields around where we live which carry no nutritive value and are grown primarily for cow feed, but there is one positive in that these are great places to hunt for insects, especially grasshoppers. I caught a small batch with my brother, and freeze dried them, and today I toasted them on an iron skillet with ghee, and smoked paprika, for a quick snack. I am going to be developing my entomophagy practice (that is, eating insects), though I have not had a strong pallete for bugs in the past, a trip to Mexico this past winter really aroused the interest of using exo-skeletal bugs, ants, termites, and bees in culinary recipes, condiments and spice mixes. Around 3 billion people eat insects around the world and it is an ancient practice but of course it is only now starting to catch on in our western culture. Another interesting food I tried recently was a type of fungus called Corn smut (Huitlacoche) which grows on the ears of corn as a kind of parasite. The smut itself is more nutrient rich and protein filled than the corn itself, and though it destroys the cob, is considered more of a delicacy in Mexican culture, and worth more in farmers markets. It has been described as a Mexican truffle, and I would not lie that the comparisons are similar. This food has been eaten for thousands of years, and I made a traditional Mayan quesadilla with this black fungus, which tasted sweet, earthy, and savory.

 

 

Recently I built a compost toilet box, and the other day I gave it a true finish after sanding it, using a flame thrower and some rancid olive oil, the effect of the fire and oil (linseed is also good), creates a vintage, antique look. We use a compost toilet here to save water, instead of flushing several liters of fresh potable water down a drain, and into septic systems, the ocean, etc. With the humanure we fill crates made of pallets and age the organic material for 1 full year with two rotations of the decomposing material, after this time, the result is a golden brown and black supersoil that feeds all our gardens, in addition I use weeds for mulch, hay for ground cover, and spent coffee grains for pest control. This is just one of thousands of permaculture principles that I think separates a normal farm task or house chore into the sacred and the profane, which has a lot to do with the essence of hygge. By recycling what most people see as waste, a new paradigm is accepted where the work of the homestead is sacred, and the concept of empty, menial toil is re-worked into something sustainable, beautiful and fun. Our distant ancestors didn’t produce a lot of garbage because they too saw the importance of materials, resources, and things, thus why we don’t find much when we dig in the ground for signs of old cultures. I think it is important to adopt this connection to the functionality and use of resources and work so that it serves as a sustainable and sacred system, rather than one based on supply, demand, and throw away.

 

 

As the longer fall days begin to latch onto us, and we soon will turn back our clocks, at least those living in the northern hemisphere we will take a deep dive into the long cold nights, start to where more layers, and come inside more often for the comforts of home. I see two things that are exciting for me when I think about the autumn and winter, is that it’s perfect sauna season and there is hardly anything more relaxing than sweating it out in a sauna on a grim winter day with snow outside, and detoxifying our bodies, when fresh produce and seasonal food is not readily available in our diets and we may eat more refined foods. The other is somewhat ironic, but it is the practice of hormesis, that is intentionally getting out during these times to continue doing what we always would do, and enduring short exposures to discomfort in order to keep our immune system strong, stave off sickness, keep our muscles from atrophying, cold conditioning, etc. Whether its sleeping with the windows cracked open in January, fasting and deep solitude for introspection, walking in the dark without light sources to train our eyes, or other practices that keep our levels of stamina, strength, and thriving nature in tact. Meanwhile it is fun to come inside and sit by warm fires after you have gone through this, and we just did our first ceremonial hearth lighting last week on a particularly chilly day. Using only tinders and ash wood cut from our land, ignited with the sparks from a flint and iron, and given life by our breaths, both adult and youth, then invigorated into the hearth, while we swept out the ashes of the old and infused our homestead with the radiant warmth of stored solar energy, and the flickering amber light on the walls.

Tonight I went floating, (not in a space suit mind you), but in an isolation tank, which I have done a couple times now throughout Canada and really enjoy. It is a type of therapy where our bodies are completely relieved of our own gravity inside a specially built tank filled with epsom salt infused water, where you float for 60-90 minutes, and have the potential to experience deep healing. Not only for the body, the muscles, tendons and nerves, but also the skin, for headaches, inflammation, old mental traumas, spiritual dis-eases, sleep apnea, and a plethora of other benefits. It is a very novel feeling and does look quite futuristic when stepping into one of the samadhi tanks, where you are submerged in a kind of void, with no sound, or sensation of gravity or temperature on your naked body, this releasing of stimulation can be quite psychedelic and for those looking to know more about float isolation, I would suggest reading the works of John C. Lily, who invented the first tank prototypes and the water solution for proper floating. To compliment the floating, I have been getting out to agricultural and wilderness areas for natural yoga, which I do intuitively based on what my body wants and how the mood of the place feels, this has given me the time I need to decompress, heal myself from farm toil, and awaken my senses to this land even deeper.

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As I continue this living experiment and gradually encounter new ways to overcome domesticity, the opportunities to thrive become more and more apparent, and I am for the first time in my life, truly starting to feel home in one place. Here, we build our own nordic temples, and where we can live out the hygge concept in every action within our routines. Every new movement of the celestial bodies passing in time with us as witness and participants, is another chance to grow, engage and live out our dreams.

 

Hygge Life, dispatch 5

Vær hilset and greetings again, hygge people of the world!

So much is coming out of the engine these days, that I can hardly keep up, and it has been a challenge in itself to keep the fuel reserves necessary to attend to all that is happening here in the Canadian countryside. To live for hygge-ness, it is important to take down time as well as on-time, so I usually try to multi-task when I am busy, which maximizes the time I can simply sit back and be, to listen to the coyotes and cicadas, to visit the local conservation parks with beautiful broad-leaf forests and mangroves observing the changing colors of autumn, do yoga in my living room, and sitting back with a book that I love, still I’m reading the ‘Women Who Run With Wolves’ and ‘Plant Intelligence & the Imaginal Realm’, which I can highly recommend both titles, the former is an integral work in understanding the archetypal primal feminine, and is a great book for wild women with strong natural lifestyle, the latter is a re-thinking of the world of plants, and reconditioning how we think about sentient intelligence in plants, there is so much to digest in there, and the Gaian theory is one of the strongest paradigms I have come to know since reading Darwin as a teenager. I heard of a film called the Swedish Theory of Love, which is also one I want to check out.

Together with my partner, we recently put together plant bundles, and made herbal salves to sell together at a local health and yoga fair at a nearby organic farm. This was a world I have not readily hurled myself into before, making medicines and hygiene products with plants, but something I took deep enjoyment and satisfaction with, and was honored that my loving partner enlisted my help. I also made a run of travel photo prints compiled from my four year long nomadic journey, which will find new homes in other (hopefully hygge) houses.

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My attentions have pretty diverse lately, I’ve looking into ramping up my fishing practice and moving outwards from the land to local lakes and conservation areas, studying the fishing zone I live within and the species that dwell here, and am set to taking a hunter education course in January, so I am already excited to move further into that world next year, and become involved with this ancestral practice with focus on conservation, and ritual-like hunting. I made a few rabbit snares for use on the land, but have yet to find any gifts from that. One things I have noticed from living in one place now for two months, or two full moon cycles, is how it becomes far easier to live an organic lifestyle. While traveling, we often eat out a lot and the majority of this food is exotic, or novel to our taste buds, and it is not always healthy for our bodies to change our dietary intake so consistently. I think we all are guilty of settling for non-organic, gmo or store bought food while we travel, because it is simply too much work, and concern, and sometimes we just want a treat. Living at the nest has allowed for a more rooted connection with the food I eat because I know the story of it, and we tend to have six major methods of acquiring our food; foraging, harvesting from our gardens and vineyard, fishing it, alliances with other farms that sell or trade us vegetables and fruit, farmers markets, or liberating it from a local health market dumpster, the last would be buying it, which we usually reserve for specialty items like coconut oil, nut butters, chocolate. Recently we made connections with a local farmer for raw milk, and a family relation for raw butter, so I am happy to have those products in our fridge while our freezer is being stocked with beautiful meat from my partners sister, who owns 27 highland free range cattle, and gave us several cuts of one of her cows and a friends’ fruit and grass fed hogs in exchange for some cleaning work; spare and back ribs, bacon, steak, burgers, brisket, tongue and heart are now in our deep freeze. As a friend of mine said to me, “A man needs to bring meat back to the hall!”

 

As the autumn starts to wax, this means a few things to me, acorns are dropping, and so are black and white walnuts (a.k.a. butternuts), and I have been on all fours, crawling through the cornfields that skirt the edge of the broad-leaf forest here where several old red oaks (quercus rubrus) stand. My partner has an easy to remember meme to identify the oaks, she says ‘white mans bullet, red mans arrow’, referring to the morphology of the leaf, and the shape at the ends, I have used this trick to easily spot the trees I want to forage from. Picking up all the brown acorns that haven’t been pecked by a bird or chewed through by a squirrel, its a kind of race with our fellow rodentia species to get out and gather these before they are cached and buried underground, and I find great joy in it. I was able to gather a few kilos of nuts in about an hour from just three trees, and the next step is crushing them out and leeching them in the stream to remove the tannins. We also jarred up all our staghorn sumac (rhus typhina) for our tea hutch, and packaged several pounds of nettle seeds for immuno-enhancing tonics, adrenal boosting, and greenish black brews, which are soul warming on a cool day. The black walnuts and butternuts on the other hand are new to me, and I have had minimal experience gathering nuts in the past, some almond foraging in mexico and nut collecting in england and newfoundland aside, this is a food that was used and heavily relied upon by our paleo-lithic ancestors so it is something that can be fit into those following the paleo diet. The butternut (juglans cinerea) tastes like a northern macadamia nut and is going to be great in my winter porridge. I have about ten pounds of nuts solar drying now.

 

This is the season for pawpaws, so I have been checking out the trees for fruit, and may make a mission soon in the Niagara valley where there are good foraging spots. Our morning glories and hops are also drying on their climbing vines. I would like to use the medicinal compounds of the flowers in the future, by saving the morning glory seeds which contain psychotropic compounds similar to l.s.d. I would make beer but I am more of a mead lover, and our bees are making a lot of honey. By the first frosts we will have a few racks of comb honey ready, and we recently added a ‘honey’ super to our hive, to give another level to the bee stack, so a mead fermentation winter will be in store. I also recently had an interesting nutmeg experience, for those who might know this aromatic plant from the spice islands, used mostly on egg nogs and european coffee. If you take enough of it, it is not unlike a pleasant cannabis high, and last from 1-2 days without any side effects. It is a great plant ally for use in rainbow gatherings, or the Scandinavian Ting, because it allows for a high degree of empathy. It is certainly a lot kinder to our health than most domestic ‘drugs’ like tea, gluten, carbs, and sugar, which most folks don’t ever think about as drugs at all, while nutmeg is completely legal and low risk.

But besides all the food, I have also been experimenting with fasting for the past two months, one day a week, usually mondays, my partner and I eat nothing, just teas and for me, I like to start the morning with bulletproof coffee, that’s coffee blended with butter and coconut oil. During the fast I just do light work, drink tea, read and fill my mind with literature, or read about how to build saunas and cordwood buildings. Our bodies are naturally capable of switching to a different fuel called ketosis, instead of using up all our muscle and protein stores, and this is something ancestrally wired into us, that our bodies have adapted to in times of food shortage, and traditionally done in rites of passage and vision quests. I am learning a lot on this fasting exploration, and although they are only intermittent, and I am not diving too deep yet, it has been a useful practice in the week that further connects me to my sense of self, the sensual sides of my surroundings and the innate animal hunger that we all feel but sometimes take for granted.

I wanted to touch on ancestry as well before I wind down this post. I recently ordered one of the kits from ancestry.ca and this is something I have wanted to do for many years and always put off as somehow not a priority. Well, ‘Halloween’ is in October, which I don’t celebrate, but it is also the ‘Dia de los Muertes’, the day of the dead, or the ancestors. I observed this holiday in Oaxaca, Mexico a couple years ago and it is a time when all the families congregate in the medinas, in most of the towns, cities, and villages throughout the southern states. Flowers are seeded months in advance and a blitz harvest takes place before the day, people honor their ancestors and old family by bringing the floral bouquets, their favorite foods and traditional songs and dance are made in the streets. To our Germanic ancestors, this was also the first day of winter, and they held blot, or sacrifice to the elves, and the mothers or disa. All of these traditions had me thinking about how much we still owe to our ancestors and how vital it is to know where and who we came from. I needed to take this upon my shoulders, and form those lines back in time, and my partner and I built an ancestral altar in our woods to bring this ancestral spirit onto our land.

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Sauna season is soon coming, and I have already been in the sauna a few times, sweating it out, and am looking to build a cordwood version next year. There is no hygge without sauna, especially the rustic Scandinavian styles. This is something I am excited about, and shall be cutting the softwood in the proceeding months to get ready for curing for next years use, by this time next year I hope to see one of my own in the backyard and to invite some friends over for traditional sauna sessions. I am thinking about floating again soon, in the isolation tanks but I think I wait when the days are shorter and the work is less, which frees up more time for meditation and restoration. Until then, I’ll keep enjoying these last hot days and chances to launch out into the wild world, and encourage you to come with me, at least in spirit.

Hygge Liv #4

Wassail! and takk for reading once again, whether you are from Europe, America, Africa, Australia, Brazil, Japan, or Mexico, and all other places on the earth. We are now halfway through what was known in the ancient Germanic calendar as the ‘Holy month’ or Halig-mōnaþ, and it is a time when the foraging prospects and harvests are abundant but also tailoring towards its end. When I sit down to write these posts on the new and full moons, they are some of the only infrequent times when I am inside for any stretch of time, and these warm solar powered days have been keeping me out of doors or walls, or cars, and any other enclosure most of the time. Our home is filled with plants from the garden, cactus, pine cones, taxidermy, bones, and sheepskins, and flowers so even our inside is much like our outside. I do like to frequent our tea wall however and enjoy a brew during my work on the land.

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I just returned from a foray in the maritimes of New Brunswick, where my mate and I spent five nights camping, half of this time at the bay of Fundy where I took in some beach time, and scoured the sands for Atlantic surf clams, digging them out of the wet sand after the tide had gone out. I didn’t see too many others on the coast foraging which led me to think my luck would run dry, but I was able to collect nine of these saltwater treasures, and boiled them over a campfire for our hearty forest feast. Along the boulders laden with salt mist, I picked fresh blue and cranberries, the bushberries and crowberries also grew in the vicinity and was added to our dinner. Saving some of the clams, we were able to cook our eggs over the coals for breakfast.  I really liked the ‘tongue’ and ‘belly’ of these clams, boiled and then steamed in a primitive manner, and with the shells, did as our ancestors did after shucking their meat, by throwing them overhead and forming the beginning of a midden (a pile of shells and crustacean biomass) at our campsite, hopefully this will inspire others to do the same, so that wild foraging and ancestral food can be practiced in the future, the way it always has been here at the vast Atlantic ocean.

Some of our time was spent further inland, near pristine rivers, evergreen riparian zones, and farmers land, on a field plot that was tended by a community. Our friends out there are in the process of finishing their small house, and it was interesting to see the organic building and insulation techniques they were using to prepare for the long Canadian winters. I helped pack straw mixed with river clay into the wall cavities which was much more fun than any kind of contemporary insulation process I will tell you. They also use a composting system for the toilet as we have here, and are completely off grid. The countryside of New Brunswick is beautiful and remote, and I was able to get some naked sun time in the brooks and rivers, and it had me thinking about how wild nudity, and natural beach bathing is regarded in North America. I feel like there is still this awkward stigma around it, and that there is going to remain this inhibition to let ones skin be bare in wild places, such as swimming and hiking areas, especially with other people around. For me, the first thing I want to do when I find a sandy stretch of beach is remove myself of the burden of clothing, especially since it can be so energy draining, and even a serious health concern to wear modern clothes. I see people wearing plastic swimsuits, that are toxic to their bodies, and then letting those materials rub against them while heating up in the sun, and it doesn’t make sense. I need to feel the water directly on my skin, and experience the sand lightly scraping away dead skin cells keeping it vital and clean as a part of wild hygeine. I feel more aquadynamic when swimming naked as well, and feel that is what our bodies are meant to do, that perhaps we did evolve very closely to coastlines, and lost our hair due to the balmy hot weather and the constant need for immersion in water for fishing and hunting purposes. We are so streamlined when we are our fittest, and I think nudity in wild spaces like beaches should not be so stigmatized, and for that matter, on woodland trails, or deserts, I think clothing just creates this disconnect from our natural habitat, an inability to feel the environment and thermoregulate and you don’t observe it in animal nature, and therefore why should we do it? It truly is a kind of cultural conditioning. Therefore I encourage those reading this to also spend some time before the cooler days of fall comes and get sun on your body, you can call it your daily vitamin-D harvest.

Back at the nest, I’ve been experiencing for the first time in my life what it feels like to travel away from a real home and coming back to the same place. The immediate signals I receive are the visual changes in the plant life, the way everything is taller, more robust, or perhaps starting their death cycles and waiting to be reaped by a careful hand or a sickle. I like to take the trail that leads from my home to the back of the land, about 70 acres deep, and just browse the bushes for edibles, like walking into a market and checking what each table has to offer. The last of the wild and cultivated blueberries are ripe on the stem, ground cherries are dropping in our garden, and I found a small patch of elder berries, along with salmon berries and the autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), which is a wild perennial species from Japan, naturalized here. Our first grapes are also coming to ripeness and a few arctic kiwis, which are quite a novelty for southern Ontario.

While I was in the east I also made it out to visit some friends north of Montreal, and spent some time in their neck of the woods, so we were able to forage quite plentifully on wild mushrooms; Chagas, Chanterelles, Coral, Boletes, Fly Agarics, Reishi, and Puffballs were not even half of what I saw amidst the forest carpets. It was also pleasing to see many of the species in the farmers market there, actuallyimage6 two stands selling different strains and variety of fungal colors. As Gaia produces these strains of fungal medicine just in time for when we need their adaptogenic, anti-inflammatory, and medicinal properties. We also sourced some wild boar bacon, and bison sausage from the same market, and had me thinking about how uncommon it is here in Ontario to find wild game, so I definitely consumed some healthy fat and lean protein from these meats while in Quebec, and would love to acquire more wild fat and protein leading up to winter. We made tempeh burritos and wildcrafted tea of the finest kinds. In the meantime I have enjoyed making some health smoothies, homemade ancient grain pizzas, vegan energy balls, and butter coffees, keeping things hygge at the nest.

I wanted to talk further about something I want to coin called ‘wild hygiene’ and that is any kind of natural, ancestral, and sustainable practice that is done for the purpose of health and wellness, and keeping in balance the vitality of wild places. Sometimes when I am out in these wilderness, I am purposely immersing myself as another creature that is meant to occupy these places. Often I find I enter an altered state of consciousness, not dissimilar from powerful medicines and plant drugs, but when there is some pieces of garbage lying around, unnecessary signs, railings, etc. and it takes away from the overall atmosphere and experience. Often these wild places are tarnished by a pile of beer cans left behind by a fire circle, or bits of plastic packaging, broken glass and coffee cups. I think I can only count two countries in my travels where I did not see this in the wild spaces I spend my time in, and sometimes I pick them up and carry them out with me but then it changes the whole energy of the trip, and I feel like I would rather get paid to do it. I feel that there should be more allocation to full time work in cleaning up natural areas, so that this wild hygiene can be allowed to thrive. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve also been using my licorice root chewstick more often to clean my teeth, and animal sinew in replacement of dental floss, I like to rub cinnamon bark oil into the sinew as well. I usually use a bamboo toothbrush but I feel like before we could make bristles on a brush or file between our teeth with threads, our ancestors would have just used properly cleaned sinew from a freshly killed prey species, and twigs from trees for their own dental health, and I find most contemporary hygiene products so toxic, and wonder how this still makes it through the cracks as acceptable, even though it is ruining many peoples health, the same goes for hair and skin products as well, which I am almost strictly a proponent of Dr. Bronners, so I really want to push this wild hygiene aspect of living as a way to re-cultivate an integral, natural, and primal state of health.

The last thing I thought worth talking about in this dispatch is the concept of alloparenting, which I thought Aldous Huxley wrote eloquently on in his ‘Island’ book, and I have been moved into a world where this reality is very forefront to me, it is defined along the lines of ‘a system of parenting in which individuals other than the direct genetic parents act in a parental role, either for a short, or extended period of time. This definition does not exclude alloparents who are genetically ‘related’ to the offspring, such as siblings and aunts, who are often observed as ‘helpers at the nest’. Being that I don’t have kids, but my mate does have one son, it is not just our relationship or my personal growth that gets focused on, but also on another youthful being with many needs, questions, concerns and wishes, which has put me in the lines of being a kind of archetype, the same way I feel that I am to my youngest brother who is fifteen years my junior, and the need to emulate a strong, earthen, supportive and inspirational model, as well as assume the role of the alloparent in the homestead so that we thrive as a collective unit instead of disengaged individuals. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It has been a challenge of course to share resources, time and energy, so much that my own limits are sometimes tested, but I do think it is a naturally evolved and involved way of being, that primitive humans have always done in early societies, in a way that strengthens the tribe before the nuclear family. It is even observed before our species of homo sapiens, so there is also much to be learned of this form of alloparenting from the higher primate world which we have evolved out from. In Huxleys ‘Island’ book, this is the form of parenting that is founded in his utopian community where one youth does not only have one set of parents but all of them, including siblings who are caretakers and symbols of the parent archetype.

This has been a busy fortnight, but it is the good kind of busy, because I have been involved with a plethora of different engagements, next time I am going to talk more about sustainable fishing, a building project I have in the works, and an interesting nootropic plant. Until then, stay feral and hygge!

Hygge Life, dispatch 3

Greetings, feral homesteaders and those of the land!

Since the last check in, abundance is being created, the plants are overgrowing our gazes, mushrooms are sprouting, and its been raining, a lot… kind of like Norway or the Rainforest. This day we are awed by the rare solar event of the full eclipse, and I think of my ancestors, and the collective ancestors of everyone, and their relationship with the sun in the past. I think about we take for granted the sun as a society today and how we truly are out of tune with its cycles and its effect on crops, our circadian rhythms and moods, the quality of our water, our internal biology, and so many other things. People used to worship the sun, and many sun cults are the primordial forms of early religions. During a full solar eclipse, our planet is blacked out of the cosmos for an ephemeral but remarkable time, and it gives us a chance to contemplate our own worth and importance in this universe. I think about all the mythologies that have grown out of our connection with the sun or sun(s), as in some cultures, and I find it a life event, a kind of primordial nexus point that connects me to all other beings, through the suns energy and the sheer existence of it, this is also a night with ‘no moon’ or the new moon, and thus a very dark day worthy of constellate star gazing if you are so inclined, I hope you are somewhere without too much city light pollution.

There’s lots in season now, and I have been trying my hardest to forage, harvest and reap as much as I can, and process, or consume it while it lasts. Black thimbleberries, autumn olive, blackberries, ever bearing strawberries, sea buckthorn, raspberries, sumac, chokecherry and wild grapes are all in various stages of fruit. As a denizen of this land, in this part of the Carolinian bioregion, I like to get to know what is at hand at any one time, to make the most use of the available natural plunder. I’ve been out with our foraging baskets more than once, and love the feeling of coming back with a full pack. It means we are more connected to our food, and retain that food sovereignty, over relying on the corporate food supply chain. Most of the food that makes it to our table is either picked fresh from our gardens, scavenged from the wilds, fished from local watersheds, liberated from organic market waste bins, or traded with nearby organic farms, the rest comes from farmers markets, country stores, and the odd product from commercial retailers like butter or goats milk. I am looking for a connection to get raw goats milk, but non-homo water buffalo or sheep milk is the closest I can find to raw so far. As the seasons flourish, it is berry season, I am anticipating the pawpaws, persimmons, pears, and apples later on, and the last of our domestic vegetables and tobacco in our garden. I forage because it connects me to the seasons, my ancestors, and the source of my food. Last week I made some fruit leather from seaberry and homemade maple syrup, which went over well, and started a kombucha mother, with a strain of cacao orange tea. I am interested to see how a stimulant like cacao will come out after the fermentation process.

Last time I mentioned that I was beginning the process of tanning and curing a pelt, This is a highland cattle pelt, acquired within the family that I have now shaped, removing any rotten and dreaded fur, combed with a metal brush and clean with dr. bronners magic soaps, it is now racked and tightened to a frame awaiting scraping, this will have to wait until I get back home from the maritimes of Canada with my partner to resume. I am definitely no master at this, and have only dabbled with furs in the past of various small animals like raccoon, squirrel, sheep and opossum, usually already damaged fur found on railways and roads, but last year I had a change to work on a really large bull hide in Guatemala. It is definitely a labor of love. Once, brain tanning and curing was an entire career, taught in a guild fashion and passed down usually by men, to their sons, and their sons, and occupied several decades of a growing mans life, as his craft improved with each new skin. Something else I have been exploring is mycology and how mushrooms can be cultivated locally with quite a high sense of control and yielding abundance. We have some inoculated logs near a creek bed on our property, and with the balmy 30 degree+ climate during the days and the torrential waterfalls of rain in the evenings and nights, the ecological conditions for growing the fantastic extra-terrestrials is ideal. I like to knock the logs with a stick mallet to shake of the spores inside, and find it effective to grow larger caps. So far we have turkey tail, and shiitake mushrooms that have already sporulated and grown to epic proportions. Wild mushrooms have also chosen to colonize our cultivated dens like the puffball mushrooms. I check periodically on the shrooms and pick them when needed, which make great patties for burgers, or eaten alone soaked in butter, garlic, cheese and herbs. Mycology is an avenue for the average person to engage themselves with this kingdom of food, and with the price of mushrooms now, I am diving in to this alternative.

As a steward of the land, I see the importance of conscious action, and sustainable practices to ensure that all life can thrive here, not only my own. This extends deeply into whatever I do to the land, including the tools I use, and I wanted to make a point to mention a few of the tools I use and why. In the day to day practice I tend to use a small spade adapted to plant young tree seedlings. I used this to plant over a hundred thousand trees in western Canada, and find it extremely effective in the young gardens here, or for transplanting various small herbs and crops. I also use a sickle and scythe regularly to clear weeds. I have heard of using blowtorches as a way to destroy unwanted weeds, but there are some problems I see with this, one being the damage it does to the soil, as it can destroy the humus layer, where as a scythe or sickle merely distributes it or tills it lightly if at all. I enjoy learning the proper techniques for both of these tools and find that they are more kin-esthetically beneficial for our bodies. These tools were passed down through the generations and have acquired character and age. I find the machete useful for larger stalks and trail breaking, and have used a chainsaw for cording wood to ready for chopping with a maul. I think there is a sentiment and accuracy that comes with hand tools that can not be rendered by power tools, that being said, there are two workshops on the neighboring farm that we have access to, and I think I will be learning some new tools in the future.

During these longer ‘dog days’, sometimes I just want to take a siesta, and find some place on the grass to relax, or come back to the nest and take a nap. This is something western culture doesn’t really embrace, because we are made to think we should always be awake during the day, to work, and be somewhere for something important. When you start working for yourself, you start to realize though how essential sleep is, and how it is like a practice in itself. I tend to enjoy a siesta now and then, having traveled extensively in Mexico and Guatemala, where this is a normal part of the day, to sleep during high sun, and revitalize oneself, then continue a few hours of work into the early evening. Now we have obligatory coffee and cigarette breaks, but it is clearly not a substantiate for what a mid-day rest can offer the body. It also gets us out of the sun during the hotter hours of the day, and thus not depleting our energy stores unnecessarily. Here is my favorite spot on the land, until next full moon.

Be hygge.

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Hygge Life, Dispatch 2

Aho, wild ones! We are now coursing through the full luna of August, and a few flowers have decided to bloom here at the nest. Our Hawaiin baby woodrose, a.k.a wooly morning glory (Argyreia nervosa) has unfurled its petals and climbed our trellises side by side with some native hops, the main ingredient in beer of course. Morning glory is a well known hallucinogen, but its simple beauty is also something to take awe in. The garden which I planted last week has shown a few sprouts of melons, kale and snow peas, the transplanted tobacco is staying strong, and the cactus is recovering from being smothered by thistles, grass and mugwort which now sits next to my coyote skull beside our living room window. I would love to have an entire patch of cactus but we only have one native species here which is the eastern prickly pear. The abundance of wild things and life is in full swell here in the Carolinian deciduous woods. We live in southern Ontario, near the Niagara region, and share a bio-system that is not unlike that found in  New England to the south of us. The pawpaw fruit is native here, and we have a few trees ourselves growing beside a spring fed pond, which I am Ohio Pawpaw Festival 2013 | The Whispering Crane Instituteanxiously awaiting harvest in a month or two. We live in one of the only parts on Ontario with opossums and flying squirrels and many hardwood species, like ash, oak, walnut, hickory, chestnut, and tulip trees. Acorn season will be in a couple months, so I am looking forward to scouring the ground for these protein rich dietary staples, which I can use as a coffee substitute, or a dark earthen color flour. The flora here does have a kind of tropical to sub tropical ecology, and so rich in therapeutic hues of green, sunflower yellows, fruit reds and sunset oranges.

During these hotter months, I am a strong advocate for barefoot living; in the garden, in the forest, on the trail. Having the freedom to step out of modern, uncomfortable shoes, and regain my primal posture and gait with feet firmly planted in their right anatomical position to the earth. Of course anyone who also treads the earth with skin rather than rubber or plastic knows the long term damage that shoes do to the feet, and how liberating it is to have them free of constraint to move in their natural way, to breathe, and have the level of articulation needed for locomotion and navigation. When the ground is too rough, or covered in nettles and thistles, I enjoy wearing my minimalist fivefinger shoes so I still get the connection to the ground I need, while still feeling free. These seasons are dominantly spent outdoors by my mate and I, and I feel it is important for us to engage our biology and tune in with out natural movements. I love free climbing rock faces, the way a mountain goat would, or brachiating through tree branches, the way lesser primates demonstrate in their natural habitat. I’ve rigged out our porch with hanging gymnastic rings for those times I would rather stay closer to our home and still have the ability to hang, lift, twist, swing and suspend myself in appropriate ways for my physique.

 

 

We have three cats that live ‘part time’ in our home, and what I have come to meditate on is how feral the so called domesticated feline still is when they are allowed to be outdoor ‘pets’. Sometimes I watch them stalking in the tall grasses, and imagine them twenty times heavier with a muscular frame in the savannah, or high in the himalayas in the snowdrifts and I think of tigers and amur leopards, their ancestors and cousins, and I see then the wildness in their cat-ness. They are hunters and predators in their own ecology that often gets overlooked and leads to people keeping them cooped up inside with no freedom to move beyond an apartment complex or a bedroom, and they never get to enjoy a free life. I watch them fight other cats to defend their territory. I see the importance of retaining this wildness in our pets, and nourishing their ability to co-exist with us while still being unkempt by our domestic training protocols. They return to our home and their fur smells like the forest, rich soil biome, fresh rains, and pollen. They are all the more hygge to lay down next to as they rub against your hands and skin after being outside in the forest or planter beds, rather than in the city dirt, and the litterbox.

We choose to live intentionally off the grid because to us it makes more sense to keep an open habitat for us to thrive in, and not be inundated with the trade offs most people make for a stable lifestyle that infringe on personal health, well being, and privacy. We do not own a tv, or heaps of electronic devices, our internet/screen time is minimal, and we believe in the ceremony of homemade nutritious food made with love over store bought meals. Our focuses are on our basic needs before anything superfluous; having clean air that smells of wild things, our water comes from untainted springs surrounding our home that has  p7310002.jpgtraces of beneficial sulfur, there is little to no light pollution at night, and there is never true silence, but the sounds that are heard are not cars, sirens, and construction, but birdsong, coyotes, and thunder. If the nights are cool, we love bathing in our cast iron bath which sits in one of the gardens, sown into the shape of the female yoni, and being surrounded by plants. The other night we gathered sulfur water from a local spring and took a healing mineral bath when the big light went out in the sky.

I have been introducing some new foods into my diet and have been enjoying having a local meat monger who sells wild organic game and grass fed beef and pork, so I have been sampling some exotic, and more localized meats into my paleo-influenced diet. Kangaroo burgers are becoming a favorite for its lean protein, and bison sausage cooked slowly in grass fed holstein butter or ghee is a treat lately. I am also enjoying some full fat, non-homogenized, water buffalo milk, and goat milk rather than cows milk. The reason I prefer non-homogenized is because it is the closest you can get to raw milk here in Canada, and is more readily metabolized by our bodies, when the cream is separate from the rest of the milk. In industrial milk procedures, the liquid is heated and brought over a suitable temperature suitable to kill any form of pathogens or disease and mixed together (thus homogenization), which then actually renders the milk almost impossible for our guts to process, and we end up with extremely high levels of lactic acid build up, and the fat which sticks to our arteries. I’ve also been making my own protein energy balls from organic ingredients like cacao, almonds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, coconut oil, and carob powder. Instead of the packaged bars that line the shelves of nearly every health food store, I prefer to something that is fresh, and not coated in preservatives. Health has taken up a sovereign place in my life over the last four years but especially in this last year, as I moved from a nomadic existence to one of a more bioregional nature, and getting to know the individual species which thrive here and in this environment, and not having to rely on sharing other peoples food diets while traveling and living on farms. I have a lot more control over the food I am eating now, and have recently acquired a new fishing rod for fresh/salt water which I hope to test my luck with later this August while in the Maritimes for cod, haddock, and catfishing, and around here on the reserves for bass and trout. I am looking forward to testing out a new rod in the sea waters of New Brunswick, and hopefully bring a catch back with me in the cooler. The pond here on the land holds bass, so I have been able to catch and freeze a few for breaded fish, and fish tacos for the future, yum…

Hygge Life, dispatch 1

Aloha, wild people, feral travelers, and dreamers…

This is the first dispatch of the Hygge life set I am writing from the Nest, in the beautiful Carolinian forests of southern Ontario. It’s berry season, and my mate and I have been scavenging the woods and our garden patches for our seasonal harvests of blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, gooseberry, red and black currants, and strawberries. Most of these have built in thorns and spikes to prevent overgrazing mammals, birds, and other insectoid life from getting too close to these sweet sun ripened gifts, but with a little dexterity and the right tools, we can ambidextrously pluck, pinch and pull to our hearts content, and one thing with these berries, unlike many other wild foraging species there is no lethal harvest, so we have been preserving as well, making pure blackcurrant juice, which we are using as a concentrate, as well as jam, both have xylitol for sweetnees as currants are extremely sour when raw.

 

We also harvested several pounds of garlic, and have trays of mugwort drying in the solar dehydrator, which I am using the leaves of this medieval plant to make a dream pillow. It is well known for it’s use as an oneirogen, a naturally occurring dream enhancer, so there is a deep epigenetic value to using this plant for sleep practice. We have been catching and fermenting the wasps that have decided to swarm and build their nests around our home, as a biodynamic way to repel further hives being built, this is perhaps a lean to Rudolf Steiners teachings of fermenting and burning agricultural pests and then spreading the ashes on the fields to deter further invasions. Our bees are thriving, and have made a new queen after swarming a month ago. Half of the racks in the hives are being filled with sweet honey from the surrounding flora. I have been learning more about apiculture, and viticulture, that is beekeeping and grape growing. There is a hidden world of plants and fauna that always impresses me just when I think I understand them

On our forays out from the land, we have already found some favorite foraging spots for milkweed, hypericum, and queen annes lace (Daucus carota), also called wild carrot. This is a plant used traditionally used by women as a contraceptive. I have been using the milkweed flowers in some tasty kangaroo burgers which we tried for the first time a short while ago. I am going to be planting a new bed of seeds to overwinter, and for late harvest this year of some herbs like stevia and anise, and increasing my vegetative diversity with yellow pear tomatoes, red russian kale, melons, romano beans, and arctic kiwis.

I have been fishing off the local waters for bass, and have been able to bring in a fair catch each time of a few fish, which we have been trying as fillet, and breaded in spelt flour. I would like to build some snares for rabbit in the coming weeks. In the meantime I am getting a lot of naked sun time and soaking the photons deep into my body, setting my base tan before the autumn comes, using the energy from the sun to thrive in this beautiful setting. It is our natural form of photosynthesis after all.

The days are hot and tropical followed by torrential downpour every other day when we stay inside the nest, lay on sheep skins, watch the fireflies at night, drink hot cacao and dandelion root teas, and eat nutritious organic meals. The cats are out hunting at night, engaging their primal biology, and turkeys have been rummaging in the forest. I have bison sausage from a local meat monger, and plenty of wild rice. Sometimes we go to liberate the wasted food behind a local whole foods store. And in our downtime, we are planning new trips, exploring our love, dreaming, and laughing. Anything to make life more hygge.

 

‘Hygge’ Life

Aloha, those who loyally follow here or those who have stumbled upon this post through the tangle of the internet… I am going to be offering something different over the course of the next months while the solar seasons are nourishing ... of the little book of hygge the danish way to live well which explainsabundance and the sacred work is being done here at the nest. My partner and I try to live closely to an organic, traditional homesteading, wild foraging lifestyle as possible so that is what I shall be writing about here in the ‘Hygge’ posts. This is a word from the Scandinavian regions, primarily Denmark, Norway and Sweden which doesn’t have a direct meaning, but relates to a certain set of feelings the people have towards culture, social life, the comforts of home, and well being. It is a concept we live for, and about in most aspects of life, in the way we approach our work, our love, our shared space, and the pace we make through the day. I have found it describe in jest as

“Hygge (“heu-gah”). The art of building sanctuary and community, of inviting closeness and paying attention to what makes us feel open hearted and alive. To create well-being, connection and warmth. A feeling of belonging to the moment and to each other. Celebrating the everyday. Hygge happens when we commit to the pleasure of the present moment in its simplicity. Its there in the small rituals and gestures we undertake to give everyday life value and meaning, that comfort us, make us feel at home, rooted and generous. Hygge is a kind of enchantment – a way of stirring the senses, the heart and the imagination, of acknowledging the sacred in the secular – a way of giving something ordinary a special context, spirit and warmth, taking time to make it extraordinary. Hygge is about appreciation. It’s about how we give and receive. Hygge is about being not having.”

It’s a burning fire and woven wool sweaters on a cold wet day, it’s wild picked berries from a lush forest, or hot cacao in winter, it’s the closeness of your lover, or your cats, and sun bathing in the nude on a sandy ocean beach, it’s wooden cabins in the forest, music and dance in green grasses, it’s animal pelts adorning your furniture, and sleeping in on rainy mornings, and it’s something that moves you that leaves its imprint on your experience. I like this idea, and with a focus on country living, biodynamic farming, hunt/gather/forage lifeways, ancestral traditions, gaian ecology, rewilding, and many other branches of the feral path, I will regale some regular and seasonal posts about our life on the land, our continual acquirement of nutritious food, health information and forming an integral relationship with plants and animals, and more on rewilding lifestyle and biohacking our new paradigm with the world.

An Ancient Path & Finding Home

Into the WildOne time, we were all nomadic…

Every human living on earth has descended from successful nomadic people, who explored the planet and thrived on it, whether they were the Teutonic peoples of the Germanic North, the Vikings, the Sami, the Gauchos of South America, the Mongolian Kazakhs, the San Bushmen, the Native Americans, the Pan Eurasian cattle herders. Some followed animals, the megafauna prey, or tied to their own domestic breeds, by camel, dog, horse, others went with the seasononal ebb and flow and traced river veins through vast grasslands, or trekked in deserts, and over mountain scapes, while moving from climate pressure, waring tribal tension, the search for resources and indeed a great lure for the unknown and adventure.

At the age of 22, the wild and ancient instinct descended upon me for the need for ultimate mobility and freedom, the wanderlust of travel, enculturation, and raising my being to the highest branches of our species tree of growth. For those who have read this blog since the beginning, or are late joiners to my story, you have vicariously come to know where I’ve been, along with portions and parcels from this expedition through the world as a contemporary nomad. I experience life as an experiment in ontology and a building of a personal mythology, it is a deep and revelatory learning practice, and becomes a spiritual practice when the precious minutes of the hour are embraced. Travel is also a great medicine, as you walk over the earth, and collect the bones, talons and teeth of things that once lived, crawled, slithered, and flew, where you now walk, you come to know the ancient age of being and how it is connected in coexistence.

Unlike a wolf, a coyote has a bushy, thick tail, which it holds low to ...In the magic of the Northern woods of Canada I learned to yoke the primal awareness of Self with the essence of nonSelf, things like trees, cascades, avifauna, the flux of weather, but also more subtle essences like the tracks of animals, my own sweat, the way a well built shelter feels to the psyche, the feeling of being outside of time. I saw, physically, and metaphysically that there was more to LIFE, a lot more than I became accustomed to understanding, here there was gnosis, and a kind of expansion that even felt overwhelming to the spirit. So much openness, country, culture, and experience that I had not been espoused to. Nature was my bride, and a kind of youthful naivete couple with an organic lust for self-evolution and personal fulfillment drove me onwards, and stretched the sinews of my soul into portions of existence almost too great for the eye of the man. At least, it was the man I was, before seeing the wildness inside the reflected eyes in my skull, and a limited time to be able to explore this ancient push. Thus began four years of continuous travel.

To speak to purpose, and intentionally live, with a mission and a mind fit for new change, one goes into the fray with spiritual armor against anything that may harm his progress. It is important to remember that it is sane, and natural to dream, and long for something better. Our species has been doing this since the dawn of mankind, and our global cousins are not far removed from this archetypal calling of the world upon our imaginations. We are all native to earth, but as a species, we are technically invasive upon every other country outside Africa, in our human timelines, our bodies have changed little, only aesthetically, and we are still the creatures which roamed hundreds of miles through grasslands for woolly mammoths, or following herds of bison and reindeer by estuaries. We have crossed land bridges that took weeks to traverse, and sailed the open oceans in skin and tree bark boats to see what else was out there. We have ascended the highest mountains of Kilimanjaro and Everest to get a new perspective of the lay of the land, and let migratory birds decide our way through immense jungles and swampland. We have used allies to become nomadic, when our feet were too tired, or it was more efficient for us to do so. I have always seen the great wandering beasts as a source for traveling inspiration, the stallions, the bison and elk, the reindeer, kangaroos and the less herdlike fauna that go solo over terrestrial distance, coyote, auroch, mountain line. They all embody the kind of tuned in dynamic with the land and mobile territory that I am coming to intake from my own movements through my natural habitat.img_9701

Eventually, people started to ‘settle down’ into specific bioregions, the ways animals adopt a niche environment for the duration of their existence where they can thrive, and engage with their environment. The human ecology is unique in the sense that we have and will continue to live just about everywhere, from the arctic icefields, sandy dunes, humid jungles, and coastal paradises, to other planets and cosmic bodies. We are not a far way from Mars or other planetary moons, that represent the inclination of our kind and our ego to colonize. I don’t aim to say that there is a linear evolution that improves as we stop to claim space, and leave behind a nomadic lifeway as inferior, for surely the damage we do to nature, air, waters, etc. to build cities and box stores, and mine for the metals to run our technologies to keep us comfortable all year round is not an efficient example of a sedentary, ‘settled in’ lifestyle. At this point in my life I am experimenting with having a home base, and after four years of travel began to feel the ancient longing of belonging somewhere, setting roots, and being able to get to know one place really really well.

I didn’t know how long I would travel when I left Montreal in the spring of ’13, it seemed like the best thing to do at the time, and I had my heart set on a rural homesteading life in England, which of course only happened in part, and I Montreal Skyline and Supermoon Compositediscovered how much I liked the times in between places. The movements and liminal times before and after a temporary dwelling spot. As I commenced a journey much larger than myself, transiting between farms in the southern English isles, Roman villas, and Northern Viking territory, I came to my first winter, and took it upon myself to keep going, to see the other side, rather than get ‘normal’ work, or rent myself into a modified living environment while trying to salvage happiness from a domestic existence. I moved three times in my first winter and came out of it with a broad vision of my capability to transcend my own sights of what was possible in travel. For the next three and some years I kept this lunar like nomadism, and would be in a new location or country with each moon cycle, why I did this, I don’t know, but there was an intuitive feeling that guided me, while I dug in to my new setting over a one month time period, took time to explore and open energetically, and hone my being with new perspectives. Some zen masters say it takes 3 weeks to engrain a new practice, and I always experienced this fluctuating timeline to be the amount of time I needed to at minimum become exposed to a place, adapt a routine, and get my bearings, then I started to experience a transition from the virgin, new, vulnerable, and foreign energy of the land into a more grounded, fluid, dynamic relationship with where I was in space and time.

This kind of organic personal growth eventually led me to spend my days involved with people and cultures closer to home, and more like my own. The pan-Scandinavian lifestyles, rural Canadian farm societies, and a North American brand of radical politic, a form of hearkening back to an atavistic way of living. It feels normal to move in this way, in order to uncover more of the deep self in the process. I opted once to go more slowly, and seek land and tribe on the south shores of Nova Scotia, but experienced a kind of transitory limbo, where I knew that big change was imminent but one I was not yet fully matured to adapt to, nor ready to enjoy, it was a kind of dis-ease and I started to feel restless without a road to follow. At this time of my life, I still had not collected enough money from meager work prospects and fill in jobs on seasonal farms to make anything of my wealth, and thus had to keep moving and jump back on the train so to speak. It was too early yet, and I took yet more circuits through the Northern regions of Europe, and south into Central America to feed my lust for travel, it started to became a kind of vice because I could not sustain it, and thus I struggled like any other animal to get by, went into survival mode, and became more humble than I have ever been in my life.

p174_origLove kept me alive, and kept me going through the days, and I tried to inject every moment with meaning, while remaining open to awe, novelty, and beauty. It wasn’t until I had lost just about everything, that I was free to do anything, at least, I could start over, if I tried. In Guatemala this happened, and I turned to the one I loved the most at the time, my lover, to seek my wyrd, or a kind of fate. I had almost nothing left to lose besides physical items, and my health was degrading. I shed my ego and asked for guidance from Gaia, love, and the divine feminine which nourished me with soul food, and a reforged will. I returned to my homeland, where I came to manifest a revived life energy and a rerouted path towards where I find myself today. I met my anima in dreamtime, the woman who would then cross my path soon after, my consciousness was instilled with a sense of gnosis, of the deep metaphysical background behind this tremendous re-birthing. It was a much more mystical and beautiful than I could imagine or even expect once the fire had been lit, the way a bond forms between two wolves.tumblr_op9zstJatA1romrx1o1_540.jpg

Love again, brought me through the threshes of a nomadic life of four years, into a more refined, focused and slowed down version of the day to day living. From where I write now, I am living and thriving on seventy five acres of wildland, with minimal cultivation, in a bio-region known as the Carolinian forest, marked by deciduous trees, riparian zones, balmy heat, and wet tropical like weather during spring and summer. It is similar to that of Vermont, Maine or New Hampshire, and is ideal for the growth of crops, flowering bushes, berries, fruit and perennial vegetables of all kinds. It is a domecile, a beautiful nest, and therefore ‘domestic’, but one that is off grid, and out of sight from the urban chaos, the industrial pollution, and the altered landscapes of the city. It is a place I see myself staying for awhile now, at least a few years to sink into its gifts, and learn its teachings. There is so much abundance from the land, and potentials for exploration within its boundaries. I have chosen now to maintain a home base, and see the benefits of life in one place. While my former nomadic path is part of every muscle, fibre and sinew of my body, I am now moving my energies wholeheartedly towards the safe tending of this particular place, so that it may serve both my partner and I in ways that life in constant mobility can not. It preserves the ability for me to travel away at anytime and yet return to somewhere where I can feel as king, in my own domain with familiar sights, smells, and sounds. To me there is nothing more beautiful than that, and it is ironic to me to have encountered it at this time of my life, when I least thought I could end up in such a paradise found.

Wilderness God Quotes. QuotesGram