Heathen ᛃ Farming

If anyone out there is a Viking enthusiast like myself, and take particular interest in the archaeology side of pre-European culture, you will probably agree that much of the relics we have preserved in our museums from the Viking age are either weapons, or tools. This is because the Viking peoples (both men, women and childen Vikings, not only the masculinized version of our model barbarian), but real Vikings lived in an aricultural age. Yes they had to fight, and had well established warrior bands, governed by the Kings, but the people of 793-1000 circa. Scandinavia were fundamentally a farming society. The warrior band depended on the peasant blacksmiths for the best forged swords, and their tunics and birkas were woven by the huswife, from hand washed lanolin merino sheeps wool, all the food in the cabins on the clinker ships would have to be from their locality, of a small part of a fjord coast, somewhere not too far from a port, but with optimal climate for growing vegetables. With only limited means of preservation like root cellars, and cool rooms for keeping produce from going bad, the Vikings would have chosen to go on their raids between harvest time and the winter when the crop was abundant, and big game was in full season. The Jarl’s roving warband could not fight and raid as they did for long distances over the sea without this surplus. This is also attested to in some of the sagas like Eric the Red’s saga and the Greenlander saga. For the Viking age, and other agrarian cultures of this era to be successful, there central tenet of farming had to exist, as a means of survival, but also as a means of lifestyle.

To reiterate this information in a different cultural accent, living in todays world, that is highly industrial/technological, we no longer fully depend on traditional farming the way it was done in the pre-millenial age. The vast majority of the worlds farms are no longer organic or tradition preserving in any way, they are monoculture, big business owned, and globally providing, which introduces an entire slew of different operation methods, machines, techniques, marketing, and ultimately failures. Gone are the days when one goat was worth 50 pounds of potatoes, and items could be traded fairly between different countries, without having to worry about the quality of the product being given. What I am getting to come around here is to ask the question what it meant to be a farmer in the Viking age?

A boy in the Viking age, let’s say around the age of 13 was very quickly introduced into his father’s way of life. Around this age he was taught to fight, and protect his siblings and his mother, he was taught how to take care of the goats, sheep and horses on his othal land, and given responsibilities, modern families today would not introduce into their household until ones young adulthood. At a little older he may be given his first sword, and taken on a raid. It was Leif Erikson that was a mere 19 when he sailed to Iceland and was given his own fleet of ships, then discovered Vinland in his twenties. Before this, Leif probably served his own time on a farm, like most Vikings did. This intitation of a boy becoming a man is aspiring to me no matter which way you cut it. A man could not be separated from his farm, when he returned from a raid in England filled with loot, and scars, he went back to the tilling and toiling of his precious soil.

In my life, I have my own set of dreams of persuance. One of these is to own land, and a farm, take care of animals, and provide a small tribe of people with healthy food, and a communal off the grid lifestyle. All of this was more or less a given in the Viking Age, there were no pre-requisites or degrees required to work the land. If your father spoke highly of you to another, then you may earn yourself some money making hay, or shearing sheep. This is what I am largely attracted to from this time period, is the governance not by authority but by reputation and idrottir (skills). The Vikings did not have to ask themselves whether what they were growing was 100% organic, fair trade, localized, and devoid of animal cruelty. Their livestock were treated as family members, their vegetable harvest was down with hand tools, and if their food came from Norway, and sold in Sweden, you can assure it was literally shipped, as is, from the ground to the hands of the buyer, without the standardized over-safe quality control on global food marketing.  I am using the term Viking to be synonymous with the word Heathen in this respect because I am contuing to reference specifically the age of the pre-christian Northern peoples.

The Heathen Vikings worshipped Frey before the harvest, and Frigg for the bounty. They kept their domestic life to the country and their business life to the villages. Thus heath-en, the world going back to the meaning of heath-dweller, or referencing one who lived in the country, the utangard of the hustle and bustle of the commerce centres. A Heathen in that age was someone who went against the grain of the infringing imposing society, in this respect, the Christian King’s rule. Many Viking age farms have been found just in the last century, we know they grow very certain species of plants, and even knew the tricks of producing different cultivars of the same genus of plants. They also grew medicines and product producing crops, like hemp and flax. The Vikings knew how to plant the seeds of their livelihood, and tend to them all the way through, with the sovereign help of the Germanic spirit. This is something I wish to cultivate in my own life, which I feel compelled to speak further on..

I desire to re-instigate a new curriculum of heathen oriented farming techniques, indiginous to a landscape that I can call my own othal homelands. Using hand tools to cut, till, toil, plant, reap, groom, tend, and harvest. The heathen method would use ancestrally native animal species for meat creation, wool harvesting, milking, food production, work, comaraderie, and creating a biodynamic relationship with the earth. A heathen approach to farming is something I have been gradually experimenting more and more with on my wide travels and varied farmstays, and I can say I have experienced the gamut of different techniques used through lower Scandinavia, upper Scotland, the English isles, and the coasts of Vinland, ranging from inorganic monoculture to fully traditional , non-chemical, hand worked, and communaly provided permaculture. A fully heathen farm, would take the time to acknowledge the spiritual, and the personal. Freyr, Thor, Frigg and Jord would take immediate involvement in the cycle of the seasons () The runes of man would work through the day, teaching him the way of the soil, the animals, the weather, and the land. All work in the field, fells and mountains would not be directed for the gain of the individual profit, but for the tribal whole. An accomplishent much greater and sacral, passed on through gildship and traditional teaching, tracing back to our own forefathers long before us. The Vikings were an independent people, Sjálfstætt fólk, but they were also a whole, every aspect of their lives was integrated together.

But this is not a re-enactment of a way of life, temporally bound in experiment and demonstration. It is a continued and growing mode of being, an ancient memory, that is NOT lost on us yet. Does this already exist in the contemporary world? I believe the closest thing we have is the rising permaculture movements throughout greater Europe and North America. Why is this? It is because it is eeded. Our world is calling for it, and certain groups are choosing to remember that the ways of yore actually worked quite well for us, and our modern methods of living with the earth, animals, air, and water is not going to sustain us. The modern day farmer must be Heathen in order for the Tribe to survive. We must not ‘start’ but continue to nourish a praxis known to our elders, for our blood, and our soil to thrive.

For Heritage.

WhiteWolf.

o

On the Question of De-horning Livestock, and Castration

The issue of goat welfare came up on the farm the other day, and raised a few contentions in my mind. It not being my own farmstead or my personal goats, I could have no control or coercement over the final situation, in the end, a decision was taken that in my mind was not conducive to goat and livestock welfare, and actually morally wrong, so I wanted to raise a flag, and see if there are any others who are alligned with the same mindset.

A male goat was to be sold to another farm in the locality, because her last goat, her only representive member, was ‘bored’, and needed an ungulate companion. Said farmer asked the owner of the farm I currently dwell on if she could buy one of her males. But she did not want any offspring, and concurently requested for the goat to be castrated and de-horned, you know, so they don’t fight or fuck, like that natural wilderness inside them impells them to, such would be a terrible thing, sarcastically speaking. Said man goat in his youth, was taken to a ‘friend’ by the farmer, and had the deed done, permanently sterile, and had his horns cut, and burned down… and then sold at a ‘fair price’.

Now, in the words of Sepp Holzer, and Austrian permaculturalist, on de-horning, he says “It is extremely painful for the animals and also has an effect on their behaviour. Acording to my observations, they act in a completely different and disturbed way. They butt each other in the stomach, which can lead to premature or stillbirths in pregnant cattle.In addition to this, I am of the opinion that dehorning cattle also affects them in other ways. I think it is possible that animals also store and dispose of harmful substances in their claws and horns. Dehorning as well as docking tails and cropping ears is nothing more than mutilation.”

Thus is can be said the same for goats, dehorning them only creates a false sense of equal rank, instead of establishing a hierarchial system that exists also in other mammals like wolves, the beta’s and submissive serve the alpha, usually female, or farm animals like the chicken pecking order, these are important natural orders that people try to manipulate and change for better keeping conditions, during the domestication process, they lose their innate behaviors and have problems with the social structure of their kin. Removing the horns is taking away their power, and possibly as Sepp Holzer notes, an external source of waste for possible pollutants, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, smog or processed and gmo chemicals and substance that enter the body, the same way humans do in their nails and hair. On the castration issue, I think this stands as obvious, that we must treat animals with consideration, and it is straight mutilation to do such a thing. Ask yourself what you think about circumsicion, or female clitoral cutting at birth, as well as that of castration, this is mutilation, a form of punishment or conditioning, a medieval torture method.

I generally go against domestication of any kind, including the human kind, and in my opinion, the ideal farm would be left partly feral, just tended to from the wilderness with space for animals to live in a natural ecosystem, not a paddock or pen. I could almost feel the pain of this unsuspecting goat, who was chosen to have its man parts removed for the sake of a quick sale. This goat is now sterile, essentially removing it’s lineage forever. It will lose its testosterone, and its meat will take a lesser quality, not to mention he may suffer from arthritis from the lack of strength in his elder years. He will be more susceptible to problems if he accidentally consumes infected grasses, poisonous mushrooms or chemicals that somehow infest its feed from the monsanto type companies that control much of the farm feed at its source. I am completely against this move, and ask others to consider what they would do with their livestock, and animals, and consider them like family.

A special note to add, only some centuries ago, our Celtic and Germanic Ancestors, of Northern Europe did not have a separate room for their cows away from the house, it was attached to the main building, and on specifically cold nights, they would sleep one or two on each side of the cow to keep warm. The cow was clean at all times, and not looked at as a kind of bestial creature, made for living in the muck. They had a name and a place. They were a valued member of the farm.

 

3 years of Vegetarian Nomadism

Vegetarianism, and for that matter Pescetarianism, and Veganism and other diets where one may only eat fruit, or raw food, and the like are all really new to us as a species. Even a few millenium ago, I don’t think it would have been possible to eat like this, and I acknowledge that vegetarianism is a product of the industrial age, and also it is not for everyone. In my core, I know I need meat and my own reasons for vegetarianism are for lack of better words or terms, pivoting on the realities of sustainability, ethic, and health. There is so much buildup of herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, insecticides and pollution in the grains and grasses that the omnivores of the field are eating, then most of them being pumped full of hormones, estrogen or testosterone, thowing our own balances out, and the severe overwhelming or underwhelming levels of the fats and minerals we need, in short, domestication and cultivation has ruined meat, and this can be closer to the form of Vegetarianism I have practiced over the past three years, while living a nomadic lifestyle.

To purvey further what I mean by that would mean a small window into the life demands this style of existing and thriving have. For instance, while traveling in Morocco or Mexico, I have been offered on occasion to spend some time with a family, these being poor peasant families, gypsies, or lower ‘class’, and when dinner time came around, I would be offered meat; wild deer, goat, or desert chicken. Usually these animals may have been slaughtered by the family that owns them, or hunted the same day, of course, being in such a situation, it is not acceptable or decent to pass it up ‘because I am a vegetarian’ I am one thing if not foolish, and this would be wild, healthy meat, with a much better diet. I became exceptionally grateful for these offerings, and did not waste a morcel. One of the only meat dishes I had last year was wild deer, served to me by a Mayan village man and his brother who had hunted it only that morning, it was sizzled in onions and fresh jalapeno’s from one of his pepper bushes, then we all ate it by hand in a circle, with 4 others, and another being some local haggis whilst living in the Scottish highlands.

Over this past year though, I have been gradually becoming more and more aware of the ingredients, cooking methods, and sources of what I am putting in my body, and have kept true to this vegetarian way. But I should say that is better to say that we are not simply eating ‘food’ but life, and that way we approach our diet in a much more respectful way, and everyone does have a diet, no matter if you think you don’t. Travelling my second time in Iceland, I was pleased to find many of the common markets to even hold a variety of superfoods, or super’life’, and these coming from as far away as india, brazil, asia, etc. and this is always a go to when we need to bring different species of plants and fungi into our diet. The Average American only eats 30 species of food a year. So I like to supplement these into what I am taking out of the ground, growing myself, or carefully selecting from the shelf, when I want holistic foods in my body for my most primal and optimal health.

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A few of these which I have been big on are; coconut oil, hemp hearts, wild fruits, chia and flax, organic farm foods, plant oils, blueberries, cacao, avocados, blue cheese, black coffee, raw eggs, raw milk,  kefir, kombucha, sour-dough bread, and all fermented foods, and am starting to bring in chaga and other medicinal mushrooms, lava salt, bee pollen, tinctures, and wild grains again. The books you could simply put together from these listed alone, are amply enough to keep the body vital in our industrial agrarian age, without meat, or fish, no death to animals.

Now, I don’t think individual animals should be immortal, and eventually I want to sink my teeth into the heart of a wild stag or catch my own fish, and feed my family with the rest, panting and exhausted from the hunt, of a kill made with my own manual and bodily weapons,worthwhile, sustainable and honest. But I can never ever bring myself to buying this fake, processed, plasticized meat wrapped in more poisons and a barcode, denouncing the complete value of the life inside, and unrecognizable from the beauty of the real animal. Soon, the slaves will all be eating their 3-d printed meat anways. My advice would be for anyone buying meat, look at the name of the farm or the source of the meat, put the package down, buy your vegetables and beer and go back home. Then, research the farm, visit it if it’s local, see what is going on there and talk to the ‘farmers’ if they are actual farmers at all and not slaves working in a factory. Then if you like what is going on there, and you would happily, and morally be comfortable with doing it yourself, then you can buy from them directly. Even if it is ethical, don’t buy from the chains or corporations. Buy local, from the source, and healthy meat. We need to start making use of ALL the animal, when it is so common that our meat is dissected and discarded of over half the life, while the ‘choice cuts’ are put into packaging. If we are going to eat meat, we need to all start wearing the fur to stop exploiting further earth resources for plastic, we need to eat the marrow and drink the blood for our optimal health and get over the taboos that these are the ‘unclean substances’ of an animal, we need to make more products from the available bone. They make great knives for the kitchen, tools for the workshop, and instruments, and we need to honor the kill, like any real hunter will tell you. He will either speak to the animal as he is cutting it, telling it exactly what it will be used for and how much it means to him or her, and spend time with the warm carcass of the dead animal, breathing in the spirit of it’s life retreating from the body. I read a story once about a man who hunted rabbits with snares, and one day he went to bed, and had a terrible nightmare about this trapped hare, a bloody vision of red life dripping on snow and writhing limbs, and the lackadaisical way in which he hunted, rather unconsciously, and using snares that didn’t kill the animal immediately, instead letting it suffer or starve to death on the cord, maybe never to be found again, and in this case, it easily happens on a hunter’s trapline. He woke, alarmed, and the next morning went to check his line, he had not planned to check it for another week. In one of his snares he found a pregnant hare, dead with obvious signs of struggle, he had dreamt and felt the tremendous pain it felt as it died on the cord for hours, and effected his dream. He stopped hunting afterwards. Its a beautiful story, and the change of heart at the end has some deeper sympathetic value. I think snares are not as effect as real life hunting, because they can easily be forgotten, but the reason I use the story is to represent the consciousness of eating meat, that is, taking a life. I think first if you can not watch an animal die, which I can’t yet, or you can not do the deed yourself, you have no right to eat meat. The same for fish, because fish is meat is life too. Meat eaters should not have cowardice in their hearts, but that doesn’t warrant cruelty either. A rag tag of newly outfitted beer buddies out for a hunt with the automatic winchesters, sittings in tree stands, not even giving nature a fair game to test your mettle is brazenly cowardly, and there is no such thing as a ‘trophy head’. You’re not some fuckin’ cowboy in your 4×4. When we hunt, or kill, it is a ritual, an important one, one that directly enacts our karma, but when we buy factory line animals in plasticene, we are using our ‘god trusting’ dollar to vote for this degenerative cultural destruction of The Wild Hunt. So choose vege for a while, why not?

Being vegetarian while on the road, has certainly had its challenges and pitfalls, but there is no reason one can not remain vital, with or without meat, it is about the consciousness we bring to the life that we eat. My advice to others on the gypsy trail, who might not always have the close by amenities while on the road, or even in your camp or settlement. Bring your shotgun, learn to forage, fast, or grow your own!

To end, many alterations have occurred in the last millennium that has impacted what we eat, and thus what we are, inside. Modern, cultivated, monoculture food is far more accessible, bought from the supermarket, prepacked so we don’t have to butcher it ourselves, and full of added chemicals from the production. Did our ancestors have to worry about BSE epidemics, genetically modified foods, and whether it was certified organic or not? They knew their meat fed on grasses, fruits, and fungi. Even our wild chicken progenitor ate small mammalian creatures. Perhaps our elders got it right after all, in the forest with their bows, or on the sea with their harpoons, after all, their food was organic and free range! Like we are supposed to be.

Plan:Plant:Planet

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At some point in his journey, the hero must stand aloft in his eagle mind, sit with the all of what he or she is, reflect on the monolith of work he or she has reaped by hand and heart, and find a place in that towering mountain of being to plant down some serious roots. After he has wandered alone as a feral human, engaged to the road, living by his own vocation, and found what he or she loves, then they must surrender to this utmost monition of existence. He has lived through austerity, trial, deed, and duress, and reckoned their wiles with a lion hearted courage, and this has all gone to fuel the auric wolf inside him. He/she has gone alone, not because of choice, but because of necessity, to find the company of one’s own self, so he can be right when in the presence of others. But the hero or the nagual knows the ephemeral nature of all stages of life, and is ready to embrace change.

My personal :runa: wheel has near come full circle, and on the tail of a far traveled escapade, and the cusp of a homeland return, I ready myself for new beginnings. To be with the familiar, to restore, rest, and recycle the spirit through the tarotic soul of different cards. Lessons learned from deepest inner mull, for the retrieval of a meme to bring me into my personal place of power. A plan is grafted from an old stock, a charge towards stability in one’s own space, a strengthening of old nomadic routes, and revival of place from where I have been in times before. I need a home to belong to, where there is no compromise to the host, no loss of spirit, and the routine is determined by love not responsibility. This time, I see a companion, but more than an ally, a life shared. A finding of family, and a merging of oath, a physical alchemy of two becoming one in the most sacred of ways, a marriage and mantra of ONE LIFE lived together in happiness.

Continuing to follow the path of the medicine, drawing closer to the power plants of tradition, especially those of the nootropic, psycho-active types. Using this medium as the catalytic stronghold where I lay claim to my identity. Seeking their spirits and alchemy for guidance, decisions, balance with the natural world, healing, and spiritually transcendent experiences with all Life. & branding a bond further with the Runes of my memory. The ways of yore, passed down and passed down more. I see the plant and the stave as two heldfast totems firmly dug into this gypsy lifestyle.

Then, the embrace of planet and othal inheritance, seeking land, to build tribe, to start humbly with nothing, and use the collective skill of two enlightened beings, growing, raising, and making a true HOME, a place of one’s own, a base of activity for relationship bound to honor. Farming the energy of one single place, a cosmological investment . To then again leave and explore the world and distant power points of the planet. Coalescing culture with open hearts, learning what is to be taught there, and bringing back only what is needed, to the place that we know best.

So I am ending one phase and gracefully and gratefully moving into the next, allowing for instinct to set the pace, reinforcing relationships that may have been left by the wayside, localizing, and focalizing the song of a unity, while I ready for the organic transformation of this man coming of age.

If only more Hippies were like Me

Why must we live in nostalgia of the ‘good old days’, and continually reap dead harvest from the past when we can be procreating our own idyllic reality with what we have now. Here is a question unspoken that I have carried with me 2000 miles across Mexico, in what has become a sort of spiritual pilgrimage for me, through varying communities, hippy towns, eco villages, and traveler meccas. I have in the past 6 months come to identify myself in parcel with this old hippie paradigm, but can’t bring myself to see them in the light of this 21’st century, thc brazened, techno-dependent, socially awkward, naive outcast. Instead I want to preserve the industrious, beautifully kempt, nomadic gypsy type, who can smoke a pipe full of hash, but then build a cabin out of timbers, fix a bike, and make your own jacket on top of that. Unfortunately, the instance I am meeting with who long for the bright and happy flower children to come back, don’t have the ambition to do more than surf, listen to rave music, and sleep in on weekdays. We really need more of those young in heart with the true spirit of the 60’s now, who can manifest everything they need from within, and can take the leadership needed to guide us through a new war. We did good in those times, we stopped violence, educated ourselves on medicines, held communion with all life, and actually changed the social structure of humanity forever, but we are slipping. I urge those with the natural course of fire that flows within their blood, you Leos, and Aquarius’, you astrological powerhouses, use what is within and without you to create the Real Reality you want not later, but now. Be your own religion and watch your seeds reap a million fruits, let your drug trips be journeys into the 5th dimension where you will venture into a landscape of myth and bring back memes of the highest conscious sort. Ideas of the most pressing and controversial kind, and actions of the most heroic order. Let your colors show in your flag of honor, show me what you can do with yourself, and how that affects others. Open talking circles and speech circuits, and push people outside their hazy comfort zone of halluci-nation into planes of rev(o)lution. Know how hard that beautiful flower actually fights to reproduce itself all over the country, when the going seems near impossible, remember that the toughest plants fight the hardest. We are not in a place to escape this orientation of desire, let’s use it to our benefit. You can move into your personal power, the shamanic place of influence and instant manifestation as a warrior. If you need some words of wisdom, do not ask them from me, step beyond the only ‘you’ that you, step towards the hero and heroine, the destiny will tell the rest, and you will find not only words, but your entire mythos, being written out before you.

Votan Koyote,

Rewilding of the Inner Hebrides Chapter 1

IMG_0980  IMG_0968Alas, I have landed in the Inner Hebrides, where I now live in the shire of Dunoon, Argyll, or Dùn Omhain, in the shadow of castle ruins, Bonny Mary O’ Argyll, and pioneer cemeteries. I will be stationed here for six months, not tending to any small relocations in the isles during my treeplanting winter and spring season for Scotland. Argyll has been the home for the Cowal Highland Gathering, and Robbie Burns, Scotlands favorite son. The Vikings would have penetrated this inner coast by sea, after they couldn’t penetrate on land past Hexham, England. The region is a transition in landscape between the Highlands and the Lowlands where farmed knolls, grassy meadows, and flatlands meet peat bogs, golems, and mountains. It seems this year my territory will be quite expansive in comparison to my last season in Britain whilst staying in the Northumbrian Kingdom, which can be read here (https://aferalspirit.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/treeplanting-mythos-chapter-i/) This time ’round shall find me planting all over the highlands, potentially as far as the Northwest coast, Aberdeen, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, Argyll Forest, Oban, Cranolarch, and in the gazes of the Isle of Skye, Ben Nevis, and the Grampian Mountains with a gig here or there in the Edinburgh surroundings.

Arriving via the Atlantic channel, from the maritimes of Canada, to the Hebrides of Scotland makes another pilgrimage from this wild rover, one taken as well by the Norse Vikings, during their wayfarings between the UK, Iceland, Greenland, Vinland. And also the marked route of the Gaels, though in reverse, as they left their Highland homes to live in New Scotland (Nova Scotia), and Cape Breton some two centuries ago. The journey itself was monumental in my own consciousness, to cross air and sea spaces I have never drifted, and return to the land of my first tramping adventures. The narratives of these posts are meant to be ‘sagas’ in the simple sense of the word. This is now the third country I have planted in, and during my dwelling therein, I seek to emulate the mythology of the land, the people, and of course the treeplanting lifestyle. To me, I don’t go to work, I was called here for a mission. When I put on my planting bags, and creep out into the brash and hostile landscape, facing sideways blowing rain, and dredging through broken forests planting trees at 6 or 7 pence a seed, it’s not about the money, it’s not about the end of the day when I can feast, or the lowbrow humor that is passed around between other planters. It’s a spiritual penance, and a sacred project. Some days it does just feel like industrious labor, but I know deep in my core that rooting my trees back to earth will leave me in as much awe as it does to fill my pockets. To share a special place with such heroic figures and hardened clans that walked here is something to be taken aback from and held in high regards.

It has not even been a fortnight, and during one of the non-planting days, I took a hike in the Glen Morag fairy glen, IMG_1008a rainforest hardly farther than the sound of a braying sheep away from my hostel. The canopy trees wax their foliage and repel the salty coastal clouds, and northern isle showers down into swales and waterfalls. Along this trail, hardwood barks are hosts for woody growth forming a kind of fungal skin over them. I could see some wild edibles on the trail, a stone tor or lookout tower crested on one edge and upon the summit of the path, a scenic pasture of horses oversees the Frith of Clyde. In the Corlorach woods, a reservoir home to some Scottish swans holds its keep at the base of several trails, of one I have hiked thus far, the Balgaidh Burn. The Amanitas family still holds on to their place in the shades, and several small trilling waterfalls echo through the fen. The ascent climbs to some 200 meters and peers over Loch Long, and Dunoon.

IMG_1012The torrents, gales and monsoons have been an omnipresent force in these ancient scapes since I arrived. On this Freyr’s day as I write, my crew and I have almost finished our second land of planting, the first being in the Easan Dubha of Glen Orchy, A 12 hectare clearcut bordered only by a mountain named the Bhir-bhiocan and a waterfall, the Lanan Dubha. And the one currently being planted in the Brenchoillie Forest of Dail Mhàilidh, towered over by the Ra Chreag and Beinn Bhalgairean or what I dubbed Grimh Mountaine for its ruddy brown corpse color. These cuts have been planted previously with cedar, larch, oak, scotch pine and sitka spruce, and Scotland is currently trying to redeem their naitve pine stands, so I have been planting pine. Unlike Canada, the planting is slower and more methodical here, this is actual re:wilding, as almost all the pine will not be harvested as from what I know. The grounds are peat fields, bogs and fen, and quite rugged even for seasoned highlanders, whom tended to have flocked to the villages now. A few thousand trees planted a week seems to be the rate I will be keeping for awhile. IMG_1019The driving route from Dunoon follows north to the Highlands, and passes the Beinn Ruadh and Beinn Mhor, the highest of mountaines in Argyll. Then continuing further to half loop around Loch Eck, cutting west of the Arrochar Alps and through the historic town of Inverary, in the valley of the 1932 ft. Cruach Mhor. Finally heading NE along Loch Awe to its tributaries and into the surrounding hill faces, like sleeping trolls in a forgotten folk world. The drive is a long one, but in the forenoon, the panoramics of the sunset are something to be cherished. Recently I was taken aback by sites filled with dappled light, and dense fog over small villages surrounded by these giants, and peered miles in the distance at a place that seemed almost ‘not there’. It was mythic in its gaze, something preserved for demigods.

The prospects now are wavering and gray of where the next lands to plant will be, but I have heard it around that there are cut blocks in the Isle of Mull and near to the Isle of Skye. Surrounding these western inner hebrides islands and peninsulas are hundreds of cairns, standing stones, an old witches house, and natural earthen forts. I intend to explore some of these sites and take photos for inclusion in these posts.IMG_1023

 

Oakanagan/Cariboo Treeplanting

After I left Texas, I took the greyhound and hauled ass from Big Spring, through New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, into Cascadia, and across the border of Canada. Another 8 hours north and I was in Quesnel, or -Cariboo- as it is known. Quesnel is a historic treeplanting town, an old lady came up to me in a cafe and told of how she remembers treeplanters being in the town as long as she could remember. A wash of pride, and dignity for my role of work filled me instantly. The bushcamp I stayed in was farther back into the Nazko native region. The ride there was nothing short of dusty and depressing however. For nearly 300km we rode in one of our ‘crummies’ as they are so aptly named, because of their sheer grungy interior, down logging roads, while the dirt seeped through the windows. Slash burns, and weak, hardly standing forest surrounded the desolate backways like choking weeds. Our ‘campground’ was actually on a previous plantation block, so even when we would return from the day, the young saplings would still be there to enclose us. This was different for me, but I adapted and tried to make it cozy. I didn’t tramp with my tent, so I built a native style shelter with two crossing logs, and both ends of an opening, a ‘roof beam’ log, and some tarps, then lined the edges with stones, and built a great spirit canoe outside of it, where the ‘tent’ lay steadfast in the earth.

It took me some time to adapt to the B.C. planting style, and inevitably I had to replant some of my pieces. Every day when arriving in the clearcut, the ravyn would come and greet me every morning, and several times throughout the day. On days when my mood was murkier than the mud and gloom, the raven would come, and stealthily as if it did not even need to make any eratic gesture, it would fly over, with its swathe of black wings creating wind sound as it passed. Just revealing its presence, and slowing my thoughts. The ravens and the crows were the first animals I saw when re-entering Canada in almost a year. They spoke in a language I had never heard. I told my lover before I left that I would plant 10,000 trees for her, and that is exactly what I did. Unfortunately, the treeplanting company I planted for, Summit, took many ugly turns early in the season, and it was my time to leave. I listened to my instinct. On the last day of planting I found a dead moose, I did not see the raven this day, and this one alone, only death. Then I tried to take my gifts from the moose by prying out the teeth and cut my hand quite badly, so I would have been unable to plant anyways.

Currently I am in the Oakanagan Valley, and have been working on a farm run by an Indian man. The past week has been spent thinning peach, and nectarine trees, as well as tending to grape vines. I live at a campground called Loose Bay for 5 dollars a day.  I wake up at five am, brew an irish goat milk coffee on the fire and hitch into work. I usually get a ride, but if I don’t it is a 9km walk. I try to put in 6+ hours minimum, and I get paid under the table. A couple days ago, we ended early and drank cherry moonshine under the trees. I have two fires a day and camp and it is where I cook my meals. There seems to be less work these past days, so I may use the time to find another farm or ranch closer in line with ATWA.

I went to Osoyoos on the weekend, near to the US border. I saw mountain goats, scaling the hills, and walked on a sandbar nearly the entire way across the lake. It is a tried and true place for fishing. The indigenous people that used to walk these Oakanagan hills were called the Syilx, and they survived off of the salmon in the Oakanagan river and Wolf Creek. I have been told there are cave paintings in their county if you do a four hour hike. This is something I am bound to try and find before I leave.

Homeless

I am homeless. Out of place and hoofing it amongst a mongrel horde of other homeless beings. I am a creature of the land, yet my prints have not found their mark yet. The point where I stop retracing for awhile and set up camp. As I write this, it has been the longest time I have spent in a city since the past Spring. I am in the hands of a friend, currently calling the west midlands of Coventry my dwelling. But this is not my home, nor do I ‘live’ here. I feel completely destitute, and even though I have shelter, and food, there is no sense of connection, no magnetic belonging, no feelings that resonate with the primordial ancestral way. Surrounded by people that neither get me, nor attempt to. Their faces are faceless, their minds, a vacant lot. Their bodies on strings like flesh puppets. During a deep and aural meditation last night to the music of Sinyo͞o I pondered, and waxed over where it is I truly must go. I think most of are truly homeless in this way. If you live in the city, even be it, you may have an expensive condo, or a house by the pub where you spend waning your evening hours, but is this truly where you can be king? Is this where you thrive? Is it just a house or truly your home?

As it has been for the last 8 years, my desire to journey forth into the North, to the Scandinavian climes of Norway has led me to take gradual changes towards getting there. Becoming more involved in my gild and heathen tradition is now attracting me to the farmsteads, and volcanic, fjord ridden places of Iceland. I now think this may be my future home. I have lived in 5 different counties in the shire in just over 3 months, Watford, London, Isle of Wight, Somerset, and presently Coventry. But right now I am still homeLESS. There are no teachers of the land, I do not hear the animals call, and nary a bird sing unless after the rain when no one is around to hear them, the soil is rotten, the people supplicate their vices religiously and confine themselves to the walls of their safe place indoors. My body struggles to function as just existing here is an act of rebellion. I don’t want to have to rebel. My totem wolf is rummaging through the dim edges of society looking for reprieve before fleeing back to a quiet isolated spot in the forest. In wildlands there is not need to rebel, no sense of responsibility, or distance. But here, it is too oppressive. The aura around me is restricted to merely a room at most, How can one grow without the room to spread their branches.

Of home, is one of story. The home is where the heart dwells. So this is what has been on my mind as of late. My identity is animal, I am animist, and where I go I find my niche, my people, and portions of nature that speak to me. Each bio-region has it’s own language, from the badlands of western USA, the lush heath of the coastal English islands, and snow mountains of Northern Canada. All of these I have spent time trying to understand its riddles, and unfurling new parts of my spirit. Shape shifting to adapt and opening to awe. To be a full 5 weeks in a place where almost nothing can be gained, is harrowing to me, and I have been facing it with an acute degree of dysphoria. This is not the way it should feel. Thinking on how indigenous peoples would have gone about their daily routine, they rarely would spend time indoors, only in the winter, when time was spent with family, and on creative pastimes. But they knew still all year round, exactly the lay of the land, the fauna and flora, when the tide would come in, or the first days of the thaw after winter, and where to find their dinner from the woods. This direct intimacy with place, and not yet being able to attain it, makes me feel, simply, small. As I tramp along and visit new portions of the planet, I come ever closer to my HOME, but still like a stag that makes its foray off into the bushes when they sight the scope, it leaves me hungry.

How much can be said about your own home? I once read a ‘bioregionalism quiz’ if you will by a man most know as Condor. This was a series of open ended question testing ones awareness of their own environment. Those ecologic principles, natural phenomena, and biological array of natural data that surround you, what you know about them and how they impact you. It is of interest to animists, practitioners of shamanism, AND most of all, the average human being. I say this because this knowledge should not be specially reserved for few, and everyone should have these basic understandings of where they are if they will ever claim to be home. The condensed and lightly altered test as follows:

Describe the way your drinking water goes from its point of origin to your faucet.

How many days until fullmoon? (errors of up to two days allowed)

The place you are living – What type of natural ground is there?

The last precipitation in your region?

Where does your food come from?

What kind of food was usually consumed by the ancient cultures in your region?

Name five local herbs and the best time when they can be gathered.

From which direction the storms come during winter in your region?

Where is your recycling deposition?

How long is the tillage and the harvest period in your region?

On which day in the year the shadows are shortest in your region?

What are 10 species of mammal in your region?

Name ten kinds of trees in your region! Are they native to your region?

Name five birds which stay the whole year and five migrant birds of your region!

Do you know the history of utilization of your countryside?

Which ecologic processes were primarily influencing your region?

Which species of your region are already extinct?

Which types of plants are prevalent in your region?

You are sitting and reading this text now, point to the north!

Which springflower is among the first to bloom in your region?

Results

0-3: You are absolutely blind.

4-7: Its difficult to be at two places at once not knowing where you are belonging to in the first place.

8-12: You have a good perception.

13-16: You are aware of your surroundings.

17-19: You know where you belong to.

20: You not only know where you belong to, you are one with the land.

Garden build in Lake Elsinore

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While in Riverside County, I built a garden for Sam Zermeno and his wife Amanda. I leveled out the soil which was slanted upwards towards the fence, in order to let the water have a reservoir. It is an extremely hot climate where he lives, and most plants are either bone dry, or succulent plants that retain enough water to survive. Then I lined the garden with Eucalyptus logs, and wreathed them with soft green plants, some bearing herbaceous flowers. I added candles for illumination at night and a bobcat skull that had not seen the light of day for a while. The skull is like the animal spirit of the garden, watching it for pests. I built it under the influence of the music of Blood of the Black Owl with healing and spiritual intent. Soil magicians calling spirits for the rise and shine of Sundrojan! It is a mark of our comradeship, and I look forward to seeing it bear many fruits and food for them.

Bhaktivedanta farming

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare. This is mantra of the Vaishnavan monks of the Internation Society for Krishna Consciousness. I recently made a three way stay there for the WWOOFing scheme, tenting on the attached farmhold and learning many useful agrarian skills. My first impressions of the community was one of reverrence. The temple is an ashram and place of pilgrimage for most Hare Krishna folk. I would be allowed to stay right in the proximity however so the journey there did not have as much
sentimental value as for others coming from far in England. Under the very relaxed supervision of a man named Krishna Chatainya, who has been farming in the UK and India for 19 years and also a former Kushti wrestler, I began to adapt to the landscape and the new schedule. It is important for me to understand the place I am at, as well as adjust my daily routine and body cycle to fit the environment. The schedule itself was to be fairly passive, enough breaks for silent analysis of the work, and enjoyable hours of worthwhile labor in the gardens or farm for roughly 5-6 hours a day. My spiritual path pertaining to Hinduism is more closely akin to Shaivism, the worship of Lord Shiva in his archetypal forms and behaviours. More specifically, I am interested in the Tantric Sect of the Aghor. They are Sadhus who live on the Ganges river at the Ghats. This part could be written another time, but pertaining to my philosophy, there are some similarites to Krishna Consciousness, which attracted me to the temple/farm in the first place. Ideology aside, what ensued was a healthy tone of spiritual activity, old farming techniques, leisure and prasadam feasting.

The work
At least half my time was spent in the gardens. I sowed row upon row of coriander and fenugreek mostly in the polytunnels and prepared the soil. Other times were more of an industrious nature, using the oxen to plough a field. The Vaishnavas believe that is the bulls dharma (purpose) to work, thus they are castrated to reduce their testosterone levels and used as field oxen for any sort of ground tilling, disking, and moving organic material around the land. There is a powerful feeling of attaching the yoke to two massive oxen, a feeling came over me of empathy for how the ancient farmers of India would have experienced when the time for toil came after the long winter again. I picked up the plow technique fairly simply. Described how Shiva took to the bull when he mastered control over it. Although I think domestication can be exploited, the animals were treated well with only light whipping and verbal commands. I also spent time in their Goshala, the cow pens, milking them by hand, and grooming their skin. The milk is left with the cream in it and boiled, often with ghee and served at the dinners. It is also used to make a lot of the foods. Some of the cows yielded over 7 liters, when I did enough of them, I could obtain all the milk without problem. Back in the gardens, I learned how to use the scythe and sickle for cutting the cow fodder.
A careful hand was needed to avoid cutting the pumpkin plants, but even with the scythe, it was easy to slash around the brighter color leaves of the crop. Menial tasks such as weeding, and grating the soil had to be done as well, as late summer is mostly harvest and maintenance of the already thriving gardens.

Prasad
The food was served and prepared with Ayurvedic ingredients and cooking methods. Many different distinct flavors and qualities of food are essential in the Ayurvedic treatments. The Hare Krishna’s are vegetarian which also suited my own diet. Many of the meals were served with many dishes 5-6 in total, plus the maha-prasad, the food offered first to the deities which is considered a sacred act. Usually fruit, sweets, japati, and a lentil/potatoe dish was prepared for this purpose. Only the boiled cows milk, rosewater, water and tea, and fruit blends were drank during the meals. A lot of traditional Ayurvedic Indian food is served, so I have taken the time to find their proper names. Including the sacred cow milk mixed with ghee, there is halva, khichdi, kadhi, baati, laddu, mysore pak, roti, chapati, rosewater, Indian herbs and spices, chick peas, yogurt, chutney. It was real food like this that the Brahmans and Yogis of Tibet and India would maintain as a strict dietary routine. I felt in my healthiest state from it.

Leisure
In the down time, I continued with a daily yoga session, usually practiced in the upper field beside my tent, or the ornamental gardens near the temple. The lack of noise pollution and extra responsibilities allowed me to very deeply engage in the Hatha sequences and experiment with some more challenging asanas, or using bandhas and kriyas. I met another Shiva follower here, and we performed an Aghori ritual covered in ash and char, with a small fire. Music accompanied the rite and some relevant offerings and sutras read off in acknowledgement of the deities. Besides the yoga, I had continued to use the runes, performing a few self divinations with very profound results. The hours available for personal reflection allowed me to gain some further insight of the various spiritual activities I pertain to. I think this was a more accurate daily routine of perhaps the Bronze Age peoples, when art was starting to be deveoped because there was a less pronounced
division of labor and more time alloted for leisure an enjoyment. The freyr loaf fest past just after my arrival at the Manor house. I made a small offering of some English bread and cows milk in acknowledgement, and also worked the plow on this day. Jera had already cycled through the destructive aspect and was now being regenerated. With a few other of the WWOOFers, we tried a few bouts of Icelandic wrestling, Glima, in the fields. I also took to exploring the general area, foraging for blackberries, hiking nearby trails and walking at the Gypsy farm beside the temple grounds. On the opposite side of our fence, I also discovered a stone circle, in the form of a shamanic medicine wheel. The trees had adorned world flags of many European countries and a traditional conical tent was erected near some wood seats. It was very special to come across this by random. In addition, I am using the chakra system to probe deeper into tantric awareness of the self. Right now, I am working with the throat chakra Vishudda, and all its related qualities.

Spirituality
Although my own spiritual path is not identical to the Hare Krishna movement, there are some similarites. I did have some relevant conversations with a few of the monks on astral travel, the divine spirit energies within nature and returning our own atman to some form of Godhead. But on topics of evolution over creation, there was immediate clash. They believe that Krishna or Brahma put all the animals on earth, and continues to do so, whenever new animals are described. Trying to explain this in the manner that we sometime discover new species which should have been known before, but rationally speaking this is not always the case due to our living conditions. The Bhagavad Gita, their hoyl book if you will, is also full of paradoxes and commandments on how to live the ‘proper’ life by only performing certain habits, and dismissing anything that would be considered hedonistic, or material in the favor of blessings for Krishna relationships. I couldn’t agree with most of the sentiment they expressed, and my own spirituality was somewhat dampened in the process. I find there are too many parallels with the Kristjans, and even though they live quite austere lifestyles, it is not something I ever see myself to pursue.

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