The story goes on…
The Scottish weather is washing down into the borderlands where I lay to sleep at night. Keeping the window slightly opened, the winds whips and howls across the gap, while foxes, nightbirds, and owls add a sonorous nocturnal orchestra to the soundscape of the night. The planting resumes, though temperamentally, as the conditions tend to come full blunt and make conditions quite masochistic for any outdoor laborer. A few unexpected days off once in a while, leaves me in quiet reflection on my progress, and allows me to take stock with my body again. Yule-times has come into the fray of my daily consciousness, and I prepare myself soon to go to moot, to meet with my distant kindred. Life goes along as it will in the village, and people keep to themselves mostly, and Mother Terra continues to revive with the medicine I give.
You shall be in the know already from the first journal that Kielder and Hexham have quite a full history and a genuinely extraordinary heritage. The remnants of Hadrians wall, situated around Hexham, Collerford, Corbridge and running to the West Coast of the Shire are possibly the relics of Englands most turbulent history. This wall that marks the further advancement of the Romans into the English kingdom, along which were built several fortifications, towers, and bath houses. My recent visit to the Cillurnum (Chester’s Roman fort) proved to be a tangible and influential experience. Several of the original fortresses are preserved in immaculate condition, including the Warden’s home, and the gatehouse. The Roman Bathhouse, like a modern day Sauna also sits nestled just up from the River Tyne beside a sheep farm. I paid my honors to the heroic establishment, and poured the honey madhu over the stones, and took in the grandiose beauty of the quintessential English countryside. A refurbished Anglo-Saxon hut survives standing in a nearby town, cairns, Celtic and Pictish houses, centuries old sheep folds, and natural earth features compile the landscape of the land North of the Wall.
“Englishmen everywhere! Bretheren all!
By one great name on your millions I call
Norman, Saxon, Gael, Celt,
Into this fine mixed mass ye melt.” ~Winterfylleth
The planting of trees seems to have an effect on the body, as does the repetitive cycle of living in the same house for years. Your very cells start to remember. You know how the tree feels in your hand and after closing the hole whether it will live or die. It is beginning to become instinct for me, the movements through the rough terrain, the endurance of the elements, the rough hands at the end of the day, and the endorphins pumping through me for 8 of my waking hours. This is something that I want to do, not something that I have to do for a job, or for some mundane reason because it seems bearable. I don’t believe any work should be like this, and though many would disagree, I experience tree planting as one of the platforms where those last bastions of honest and true ability is brought out in modern man. This season I planted 22,050 total and in life so far, that number sit at 117,766. I am seeking unique experiences, fitting in with this self styled mythos, of people who are here for more encompassing reasons. The level of conformity in the tree planting culture is harrowing, and few people I meet are outspoken of what really moves them, all they talk about is the planting and nothing else. In fact, as a planter myself, I aim to destroy these shallows directives of the ‘typicalness’ of the faceless. In my first proper season, I became to be recognized as the most unfit for contemporary society. Why? Because tree planting is not part of the mass producing, horde of industry that characterizes the modern world. In itself, the planting of a tree, is a heroic deed, a metaphor, a resistance against commercialization, it is anarchic, and outlawed. Because modern society does not value sentient life, and nature higher than it’s own gain. Constantly, radical environmentalists, farmers, anarchists, and guerilla rewilders are punished, questioned and even put in jail for their actions, because if you are doing everything you can to actually increase the true quality of life, of your folk and of the animals or the environment, it means you are not in Tesco, buying some new trend piece of electronic junk that was hyped up on the evening news, and you’re not lazy enough to buy your dinner at a restaurant, and you make your own entertainment with friends and worthwhile company. If you are not supporting the system, you are an enemy! This is part of the reason I am a fuckin’ treeplanter, because I want nothing to do with any kind of ‘on the grid’ living, or system or tax, or class of people. I have no bank account, or council bill, or rental agreement, or car insurance, these are worthless to me, and unnecessary in life. When I plant, I get very close to my animalistic nature, the sound of only my breath for hours on end, being exposed to any type of weather that afflicts too the birds and the deer, honing my physical capabilities as did my ancestors did in the mines, or in the forests waiting for the hunt.
I enrich my body with the yoga of the east and the rune stadhas of the North. Getting to know the local smith and his lass here in the village has been a worthwhile prospect for some elder craftmaking. I have the bull-roarer which I bring to the block and blow out before and after planting, and a couple ideas for some horn cut off bangles, like the ones given from the drighten to his men over in Lindisfarne in times past. The ‘Holy’ Island may be a travel destination in the not so distant future. Being out of doors for a time almost equal to the time spent in doors, I often witness things in the course of a couple days that would otherwise go unseen by some people in years or even their entire lives. Upon finishing planting a block and heading down the logging road, a gang of renegade goats stood blocking the way. I went out of the planting truck and chased them half a km down the road and over a bridge. The stampeded over and under the bridge, and then two of them starting brawling. Two black goats fighting with their horns, trying to gain supremacy. I also observed this with some sheep vying for some food while one tried to push the other down a steep slope. It’s survival of the fittest out here! and I am one of them, a black goat, rustlin with my horns. My planting level stays at a constant, fluxing naturally it seems with the amount of sleep I receive, usually directly related to how late I stay awake the night before for study, reading meditation, and the endless projects I keep to. Another purpose of my presence here is to spread the message of ATWA. I traipsed out to a quarry and left my tag on the stone cut wall. These quarries are located near some several thousand year old burials of early settlers here, and I fear the rock piles may eventually be stolen or destroyed by the quarry work. Some recent solitude has given me some time to reflect on this past month, and the year, of the person I am, perpetually in a state of change, RISING, and conquering my own fates.
I have heard tree planters described as a tribe, but if pressed if whether I agree, I don’t see a faction of this kind within any of the planters I have met. There is no tribalism, no clan structure at all. To share a common interest in not enough. The tribe is interdependent, frithful, and able to move mountains with their combined force. It is a scarce occurrence that the sentiment of this culture goes off on any primitive tangent in the way that tribalism decries. In my opinion, this work does open an outlet for the primitive that is overlooked. It paves the way for other past times I occupy my time with when not planting. I live in a wild place, and view it in the same. There are still parts that are primitive, and relatively untamed. My life here is not dictated by a status quo, or a pseudo idea of morality. It is let to unfurl, when I go for a walk, with my head in the forest, and my eyes on the sun. If we are to be called a tribe at all, we must look inside and actually realize it, that family still exists, and we are brash creatures, with wild reserves of skill beneath our facade. I come to this land and choose to know it by it’s own terms, I belong to it, not it to me. I wish to see it from a primal perspective, and everything I do, because it is the reason I am here, not to make a living, but to see if I can truly LIVE.
“As for the primitive, I hark back to it because we are still very primitive. How many thousands of years of culture, think you, have rubbed and polished at our raw edges? One probably; at the best, no more than two. And that takes us back to screaming savagery, when, gross of body and deed, we drank blood from the skulls of our enemies, and hailed as highest paradise the orgies and carnage of Valhalla. ~Jack London