Saga of Othala ch. VIII: Forager of the Good Life, Walker of Wild Spaces

This excerpt of the greater saga begins with a similar atmosphere to the previous post, with the Husky a little stouter, and still napping by the fire, and the peaceability of the longhall swollen with zen. I’m raised up to a live edge bar table by a wooden stool I won at the sunset auction, true story. This modern homo sapiens adaptation has allowed me to enjoy several hot meals already without the tasty morcels being stolen off my plate by a hungry wolfdog. As I had not prior had a way to sit down without my dinners on my lap at optimal picking height for a K9. This is also where I am enthroned for my writing process as I can survey the room from a high corner and have easy access to the water filter and woven baskets of snacks like imported avocadoes, papaya, and cacao. I savor the scent of alder smoke when I walk to my outhouse on a gray, grimly veiled day, and the maples have all left my woodbox. Now an hour tipping old alders branches off their witching trunks yields me enough quick burning high btu, sustainably coppiced kitchen wood for roasting a fine brew of Tobique First Nations coffee beans, or cooking some pierogies in a copper bowl of oil. Rain drops fall from thunder clouds with the paradoxical gentleness of ladybugs hitting the fine mesh of your tent then transform into pelting fury. A warm amber light inside matches the hue of my hearts glow for a day done well and a full belly. Life is fine is you know what to look for.

The raw meat of this post taps a whole different vein from the former, as my reporting service to the sugar industry had well… dried its tap, and I steer into other projects and prospects under the banner of a rewilded, and more feral life. At the Praxis land, we are working with fruit tree guilds, as we thin wild day lilies from one neglected roadside watershed, and rehome them in rings around zone hardy arboreal species that will bear storage tolerant reapings in the form of fruit, with the proper preservation methods of course. The Lilies themselves are edible, and to me taste like cucumbers only more flavorable than the flaccid stock provided in the produce section of the grocery store. What’s more is that they are abundant, free, and more beautiful. I planted some of these into reworked and mulched soil alongside lupines, strawberries, and a few volunteer plants, like alfalfa and carrots. The former of which bore impressive nitrogen fixing root nodules all over their striated subterranean parts, the latter being fat, richly colored taproots easily imaginable to be quartered up with some of the local fiddleheads and some amaranth for an awesome veg fry, new brunswick style. More day lilies found new homes in a south facing swale on the land trust field, for my Sister Kaia, a.k.a. earth mother Kaia. My only appointments are now with the trees, berries, herbs and mushrooms, as I continue my loving apprenticeship and rooted partnership with a fantastic woman and her plant allies. Our involvement and integrity has grown new tendrils, and shoots for the furthering of our love life, which also happens to be heavily involved with the spring burst of plant life this time of year, and the greening up of what remained virulent after the winter culls of the botanical world. The Radicle Root apothecary starts to pick up the market train again, and the artisinal crafters come through the woodwork to offer there purveyances. I had the good privelage to assist in making some loose leaf wildcrafted and gardened teas for just one such market. Though I was denied the permission by the staff to stay and vend with the herbwitch herself for inadequate masking, more on that later… or something else entirely.

Dandelion flowers are rearing their manes, as the coltsfoot resides from its spotlight in the sun beams. I’ve been beckoned by a local foraging company in need of these perennial flowers’ leaves and roots to bring them in by the pound for a small cashflow, which will handsomely supplement my other side hustles with the apothecary and permaculture blitzes. I think I’ll do it, and keep an eye on the calendar for the other wild and upcoming species on their inventory checklist that may be able to be harvested ethically, enjoyably and lucratively, in that order. Nettles are next, wild ginger and ramsons, as the Scottish call them. I’ve seen the poisons growing side by side with crisp forest vegetables, the false Hellebore next to the tasty and virile Fiddleheads, and around them the Bloodroot, Cedar fronds and Marsh Horsetail, deep medicines in the right hands, of whom I can name a few. My own garden has remnants of what and who came before, though neglected for so many years, the first intruders have already staked out some prime real estate, the bedstraw and the various grasses. Luckily, they are in a manageable state, and it is not my prerogative for growing a massive garden this year, but rather designing for another. Those specimens that do remain are a joy to watch as they eke out a living on a small footprint of converted hardwood forest into cleared herbal grove; a tall tansy that greets the walker from the west, a line of blackcurrants along the blackened cedar shake wall which gather much reflected heat in their tier 2 state, a wild mint that taste somewhat akin to dish soap (not my favorite for obvious reasons but curious nonetheless), a clump of stinging nettles, and a small army of raspberry canes, an Elderberry shrub (the color of which escapes my mind), numerous uprisings of chives, heal-all (not an FDA approved claim, but very much a real medicinal herb), and soon some haskaps and rhubarb!

Trips beyond the homestead have been marginal yet rich, as the Alaskan and I have wended our into New Brunswicks regrowth forest, and it’s sad clearcut acreage to seek out paths and places for new tramping grounds. One such foray led us on a wild goose chase trying to find Ayers lake. A wrong turn down a logging read stole an afternoon and most of a morning away as my poor PT cruiser maneuvered around splintered deadfall over the roads, puddles that could have swallowed my tires in muck, and pot-holed roads not unlike those in the Western Ghats of India. The undercarriage took quite a rubbing, until I simply could not bear it and went on foot, finding only new evergreen plantations for miles, and more unlikely side roads going where I did not dare. Eventually we met with a bear hunter that had a lot to say, he was out checking his baits, and having a backroad bumble, though he was quite jovial and helpful to my conundrum. “Follow the rubble road down until you see the beaver dam, and steer clear. Then don’t take any sides and you will crest a hill. There’s a skull on a tree and a pair of cross country skis mounted on a trunk, from there you just keep on your direction and you’ll hit the pavement”. Sure enough there was a skull and a pair of skis that I had not noticed before, along with several beer cans on saplings which seemed pretty obvious to be some kind of carlton county technique for following directions. I do remember a neat app he told me about called HuntStand for finding your way on all the atv roads and hunting trails, which I figure would be experiment with next time. The pup and I did eventually find Ayers lake down another lookalike logging trail a few more rolls down the 104, after seeing a young moose with scraggly fur. By this time we were already lost in non-scenic territory for several hours, so my excitement threshold had dwindled pretty low bar, and the lookout for Ayers lake was actually nothing special. Maybe I am spoiled for choice coming from Northern Ontario, where one can climb fire towers and survey hundreds of lakes at once, or the diminutive size and monoculture spruce surrounding this beachless lake left me in the opposite state of awe. A ramble in Howard Brook with friends Spirit, and Seven, and their baby son Ziggy was accompanied by my Husky, their Border Collie and a Chihuahua who understands himself to be at least five times bigger than he actually is. We set on the path least traveled, sometimes you just need to go past the ‘No Trespassing’ signs to find them. This afforded some great sweeping views of the brook itself, which may or may not have been named after a man named Howard, and some findings of wild hairy plant friends, Mullein and Pussy Willow. Later in the same day, hungry for more intrepid local travel, I dissapeared into the alder thickets, and cedar bogs behind my land and walked until I had surpassed the point where I saw a Black Bear last year. A small wild raspberry glade arched through a heath, and in hindsight would have made a great foraging ground for that autumn bear of yesteryear. Fortunately, that berry fattened bear did not appear in his scrawny and gorging state post stupor, because I doubt a 3 month old puppy would have done much harm or served as protection, he doesn’t even bark yet. What I did find was a fen of sphagnum moss, a few forested alleys, and some ravines previously unknown to me.

Training a wild Alaskan husky with sled dog lineage has been a very overloaded can of worms to unpack. Some days I have felt levels of bliss with no bar, at witnessing this talented animal grow, range, and run through middle earth as he explores his new territory and learns not only from me but from the constant feedback of the language of this land. Other days I simply can not shake the feeling of dread, feeling like I have brought home the bastard Fenris wolf, helbent on destroying the world. I must literally stick my arm in his mouth like the god
Tyr, to keep his attention while doing performing the most simple and domestic acts like setting him in his halter, tying up my motorcycle boots, or chopping a piece of kindling. There was a chicken scare recently when he snatched up my partners hen, and ripped out her neck feathers, while his sharp predator teeth clamped shut on the sensitive skin. We managed to pry his jaws open and take him off the bird, but not without some damage to the poor poultry. With these occurrences he can be the bane of my life, though he does subsume an amiable behavior soon after, and I can see in his off colored eyes the reason I willed for him to enter my life, and his important place in it.

From the roots to the flowers, my hands have been worked with planting and caring for some new vegetative allies on the land, and the backs of my palms show the stories in wrinkles and scars of the work with these flora. One of my permaculture mentors and a Sister and I tramped on the edge of the Woolastook riverbank to harvest and thin day lilies, which are an edible flower. Such a practive of eating flowers reminds of me the lizards that guard the Mayan pyramids of Mexico, happily nibbing these succulent delights from the trees or the fallen canopy. The phalanges of my knuckles grip the mandrake like roots of the asparagus to plant in hilled trenches, for their spears to rise sunwards, as the dry tendriled bundles are amended with compost and allayed in a solar pattern. The domestic rituals of raising a few vegetables and making the homestead a little more aesthetically pleasing is enjoyable, especially when there are others around you under the same spell. Pictured is the designer of said garden and loving other, while the curious Alaskan seeks shade and time out of the lens of the reporter.

I remember once in India, sitting back in a three level treehouse in Spice Valley and a posse of Royal Enfield motorbikers came up through the forest to our dwelling as they had booked the camp for the night. I was staying with some European friends here, and they saw us in varying degrees of work and rest, and prompted the question “What is your time pass?” My friend Aum, from France told them, “This is our time pass”, by that he meant, we are just enjoying the creation while passsing them, just chilling out work. I never forgot that sentiment because the bikers seemed a bit baffled that we didn’t answer with something that was consumer based like going to a movie, or some live sports, we were just building rustic bamboo temples in fig trees to live in. I have tried to keep that sentiment alive in my domestic activity, to prevent and stave off being, well… overly domestic. Letting the chore work be a sound way to just pass the time. The time will pass without you watching it, so you may as well reap more contentment from the hustle that you have, whatever that looks like, and let your leisure be free, not bought or sold. It is also one of the reasons I have never worn a watch, and don’t have any clocks in my cabin. To be really free is to stop ‘doing’ things on time, and live in a ‘timeless’ state of BEing. In this season when the work haul swells to gigantic proportions and require Herculean efforts by some, leisure, ritual, exploration, self care, culture and community can diminish. Fortunately I live in a village where I see most members of which everyday, and commonly visit the majority of them throughout the waxing and waning of a week, not only only their ends. We meet for work moots to plaster strawbale walls with clay, plant perrenial vegetables in swale and berm permitecture, visit each others animals, have open air cookouts and bonfires, forage and gather, swim in cool groves or stand in awe of gushing waterfalls. There is a talking circle in a couple weeks, and it has been quite some time since I last sat in the round, at least since the Rainbow gathering in southern Oaxaca, so I reckon this will be a fine time with my new family.

Tonight after a dinner of wild salmon, brown rice and fresh spinach I took a bumble on my motorhorse up one of the Skedaddle trails, seeking nothing, finding not much more, but did so bathe in the gold and amber lights of slanted sun, and snooped in an old cabin with many sentimental relics, country kitschy stuff and hardwares, all guarded over by an anxious pigeon. A few old calendars hung on the way, the most antiquated from 1984, along with faded pictures of the woman who acted as Zelda in the movies, a couple funny metal signs with low brow slogans on them, multi-colored glow sticks, the obligatory playing cards, mugs with bears and penguins on them, a vintage wool jacket with all the padding sloughed and sagging down into the waist by mice, and a postcard with a fox in it with beautiful cursive writing. I think the postcard was my favorite because it seemed to carry the most story. The black flies becoming quite fierce so I put it down and regret not trying to read it all. I suppose it would be a reason to return. I turned the tires back at the lodge, and took the slow plodding trail back downhill on loose gravel with my brakes half depressed. The nighthawk has always been good to me on country roads, but untamped shale and loose rock is not my cup of jo’, and I have been quietly trying to manifest a new beast to saddle up with.

At Othala, everything remains pretty much the same as before, though greener and more inviting. Balmy days have allowed some permittable weather for nude gardening and homesteading, while I use my outdoor kitchen more often for cooking. An addition of a dc freezer has made life a little easier and a ton more satisfying to be able to put away meats, fish, berries, herbs and vegetables, with room to spare for when your lover’s freezer cops out on the same day of my hookup, true story. Some of the more abstract looking mushrooms have cropped up in the duff layer of the forest, Aurelias and false Morels, I never understood what was false about them, but I would not care to eat them. I’ve poured feed sacks of woodchips to make a golden pathway to the outhouse and workshop from my north and south doors, connecting the outbuildings together in a sense. Meanwhile I have enjoyed many mornings and afternoons on my porch, albeit splintered, cracked and somewhat punky, it brings me great satisfaction to wile there over a black brew with a copy of Druthers in hand.

The title of this post is inspired by the late great Euell Gibbons, considered by many to be the godfather of the modern foraging movement, and a rather fun chap to read. I own many of his works, including ‘Stalking the Wild Asparagus’, ‘Stalking the Blue -Eyed Scallop’, and ‘Stalking the Good Life’, so I rapped on the latter title for an apt preview of what my own life ethos has been about as of late. Though I have found no wild asparagus, I do have ten fine specimens that will soon be trenched down my woodland driveway. The short story being some garden work in the last twenty four hours, digging holes into shaly soil for homing a couple new haskaps, a goji bush, rhubarb stalks, a young brussel sprout, and a beach plum. The weather has been fair for nude gardening, at least until the evening when the black flies start to bite the sensitive parts. My lone oak tree has started to bud out, the apples are starting to bloom, woodpeckers are racketing on my chimney flues and making a natural alarm system, and the cool waters of the Beceguimec, Shiktehawk and Coldstreams have cleansed the dirt and sweat from my skin, at least for a few hours, at least until I apply a new layer. Renovations are moving ahead with the yurt to become more habitable for the traveler, and the love life is redeeming. So I guess you could say my foraging of the good life has gleaned a good harvest, and my pack basket is full,,, I hope you can say that for yourself too!

Saga of Othala: ch. III, Making a Nest a Home

Karma. It all comes around, in and through the body and out into the territory of the soul stuff. It’s like a realm that one builds subconsciously through reputation and repetition of a patterned existence wherein we move from the mundane and instantaneous action and response into mythical time. The space where intentions and services sown now are then repercussed, meted, and dished out in a time of unknown forthcoming. What the Norse called ‘that which should be’, a sort of implicated future woven by one of the Norns, Skuld, but never explicit in detail.

A good deal of this karma has been served to me in the form handouts and budding opportunities for making my name worth something. As I have put a few new growth rings on this body over my adult life, I am partaking in a personalized process of maturation, and entering a new clave of self-conviction. What I believe today is more refined, particular, and invested than what I believed in last year, pre-homestead, and this continues to flux. Becoming the steward of a land base, a home owner, and an active member of an intricate community, while maintaining a sustainable relationship with myself has unpacked a whole new can of worms, and there is no ‘easy from now on’ sentiment adoptions, but instead its like playing a game where the rules are changed a quarter of the way through. Here I am, walking quietly, tracking my own footprints and marking my impact on the surfaces of others, while a new territory of community and communal life is explored.

October in the countryside of the maritimes is a period of hustling to tie up loose knots, finish projects and preparing to cocoon and turn inward. The constrictions of weather faring productive times, and the very real need to stock up your winter pantry is not without a strained inhale, and stiffening of muscles. The nor’easter winds and souther’ storms blow through your land, and remind you that you live in a rustic homestead with kinks and fickle problems, just like any real relationship has. This translates into sometimes serious issues like leaky roofs, chimneys blowing off, a rush to skirt the edges of your abode with new straw bales to cut the draft, and stockpiling enough dry kindling to cut the cold in the mornings of heavy frost. I’ve put the first maple logs through the hearth that have allowed me to be sufficiently comfortable enough to bask by its radiant heat while my eyes are open. Overnighting is a different story, and it is a sign that I may almost certainly need to bulk up the insulating and warming qualities of my cabin, whether that looks like gaining more thermal mass in the empty spaces, recaulking my double paned storm windows and draping them in heavy cloth, or simply wearing more layers indoors.

On a walk at Tomlinson Lake, I was greeted by four Palomino horses in a farmer’s field, who took a great liking to me and tracked me for nearly a kilometer through tall grasses. Their manes matted with the burdock thistles, but seemingly unperturbed. In the forest, a man from the Indian reserve was pounding black ash to make basket lashings for weaving, while a local carpenter, the same who brought the tamarack beams to my land was shingling a pioneer style cabin and filling the seams with moss. This was a day of memories with high resolution for the details, the sights of fallow swampland, historic forests, and the mantle of the earth, coupled with the cool scent of vegetation and the rarified air of moisture laden breezes. With a neighbor, we followed the path the American slaves walked for Freedom into Canada, not long ago.

A new porcupine has been dwelling under my floor, and one night on my front porch I caught him squeezing his way out of the hole under the cabin without ever seeing me standing there. An almost constant trilling sound can be faintly heard when he is around, like a wooden wheel with a squeeky axle. The sound blends with the ambience of the cabin, with the wooshing of the draught from the open woodstove, the rustling of the straw in my bed as I change position while falling asleep, a murmur of the wind and the tightening and loosening of the wood all around me as the cabin groans, swells and constricts with temperature. Not all my animal encounters were with live ones however. I buried a small gray bird in my garden and gave spontaneous roadside funerals to several less fortunate creatures, always placing the Jera runes on top of the body to reform and return to earth. On passing through Coldstream in Bubartown, to have my winter tires put on, a man wearing hunters camo and his female partner donning the hunters orange wheeled up in a country pickup with a doe in the back, fresh out of the bush, they had just killed it. Venison anyone?

The old piano that use to hold space on my eastern wall is now gutted and being used as a pantry with modified shelving. I pried the teak keys out from the featherboard, and saved them for winter kindling, I am curious which will burn hotter, the black or the white. No one will ever hear the songs from that piano again, but at least it has found new life in holding preserves, and my larder is starting to fill up. A wooden potato barrels holds a collection of winter squash, and burlap sacks filled with potatoes, beets, carrots and hardy kales. On the floor next to the piano pedals are sacks of pancake flour, brown rice and turtle beans, spelt and more potatoes. I won’t be famished here, no siree. The shelves are lodged with enough mason jars of nuts to make a winter squirrel jealous, along with indian curry pastes, porridge fillings, loose leaf herbs and teas gleaned from my herbalist neighbor, popcorn, apple rings that I dried on a piece of copper wire over my woodstove, and 44lbs of peanut butter… don’t ask. On another shelf in an old woven picnic basket is chickpea flour, sunflower seeds and black walnuts. I would say gesture it be the scent of the juglones in the nuts to keep the mice away, or my non-violent interaction with them in the past, but I have not seen one for the better part of a month while all my neighbors are at war with them.

As a community, we have been entertaining the idea of an emergency food larder in case of another lockdown. As a collective of twenty, rice and beans and chickpeas were ordered from the Speerville mill, and will be stored in a basement for safe keeping until January, when we may open the containers and weigh out portions if needed. I think the idea is brilliant and further evolves the sustainability side of a community. Grocery stores are a post war invention, and traditional communities including hunter gatherer peoples had stockpiles of food rations for unexpected times, you never know what you might get.

Though I do not own a freezer, the nights are consistently below freezing now, and the snow giants have shaken the snows of their skis already upon us. The uninsulated workshop will be a prime walk in freezer for any meats I may acquire, though at this point I have only stocked various wild fats for leaner times; wild boar fat, bison tallow and camel hump fat, raw butter, coconut oil and hemp seed oil. None of it need be refrigerated, the beauty of most preserved fats. Now, I’m bringing in raw milk once a week and fresh goat cheese made by a couple who also keep alpacas, and a good bond has been kindled with them.

The big episode on the land since my last transmission has been the raising of this great Mongolian yurt. What was two years dreaming up, sourcing, visiting, scraping for, and finally purchasing lead organically into hauling it all the way from Groovy Yurts in Ontario, to my hallowed hamlet in Knowlesville. The Tamaracks that I so love to see lining the country roads, as they hold on dearly to their golden needles form the structure of the platform, while straw bales insulate the spaces in between parallel runners. Silver birch plywood elevates the yurt off the ground, which is stocked together with fireplace flashing. In two afternoons, the ger was raised, insulated, and given its skirting and clear vinyl roof. The first of said working bees was all woman power, as two lady friends came to help set the wall lattices, which are hand split, carved and tied together with camel rawhide. As a trio, we inserted the heavy wooden painted door into the round, and raised the bhagans (pillars) and the toono (central wheel), from earth to sky. This represents the male aspect binding with the female within the yurt circle. The hun (spokes) were set into the toono afterwards which are a base color of sky blue, and painted with symbols and Mongoloid motifs of the Altai mountains, the steppe, tundra winds, and the sea. In this modern age I can watch videos of the actual family that painted my yurt by accessing the internet and searching the right words. This culminated day one and the ger stood naked overnight, but there was no rain, or by the Gods, snow forecasted. The second day, Liam and J.L. opted to play, and we clothed the yurt with the cotton liner, yak wool felt, house wrap, and canvas, then I flew solo for the evening and attached the roof flap with its decorative ‘eternal knot’ design, the braided horsehair ropes around the yurt to tie it together, the clear vinyl urgh (skylight) andthe hiafsch, which is a kind of geometric patterned skirt that prevents goats and sheep from pissing on the yurt. Dirt can be piled up against it for more insulation and cutting draughts from entering the yurt from below. A few days later I added a small curved awning over the door, the stove pipe, and spruce boughs below the edge of the platform and carved a moat surrounding the yurt to channel water away from seeping into the strawbales and swale it towards the apple orchard. A bay window is fitted into one of the wall sections on the south cardinal point for added light and an alternate passage in and out of the yurt. Now I have taken to sourcing woolen rugs for the floor, and hope to make a night in the round before yule time.

This hall has held more company in the last fortnight as well, as neighbors have come to see the progress, and have a snoop around, now there is another dwelling to show on the tour. On Woden’s nights, I meet with a dear friend for dinner and storytelling. We are reading the saga of Gudrid the far-traveler, an epic about an Icelandic woman that sailed to Canada in the year 1000, and Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a brilliant book about the life of a seagull with some spiritual undertones and rich black and white photography. The vintage cast iron pots are getting much use, and I favor the cook once, eat thrice kind of meals; heavy root veg stews, pig roasts, and I make a mean seafood chowder. I ponder at how many generational meals were cooked in those vessels before I started using them. My favorite so far has been the moose liver and onions roasted with walnuts and cranberries, though my neighbor takes the credit for this feast.

I finally did the reasonable thing and inclined the solar panels on an angle more in facing of the sun. All for want of three feet of cable to extend the reach of the panels. Anchored to the metal roof in four places, and installed with a fair bit of gusto if I might add. The 24v system reads 25v on a gray day and I have seen it peak at over 28v, so the juices are flowing in good order on this one. I should have no problem with it for the winter even during a whiteout, and my long telescopic shovel should reach the panels just fine to cleave off the snow.

One final joy ride on my motorhorse took me off into the farmlands of skedaddle ridge, where I saw a red fox in broad daylight stalking a horse, she didn’t stand a chance, and took off running upfield when she saw me. I find myself arrested by these animal encounters that take me off guard, catch my breath and out of profane time. Today is Midvinterblot, or Samhain in our pagan community, and a shrine in the common field is laid out with pictures of those who could go no further, and talismans of the ancestors. The fires must be lit now, to stave off the dark and the cold, winter is coming and the ISA runes have already carved into the land with piercing force. I look forward to these sub polar nights with the booming of ice on frozen lakes, and the crunch of snowshoes over crusty snow. The heart beats slower and is more insulated. We take a deep inhalation in as the Wolf chases down the sun.

The nights have been warmed by a woman next to me, but she didn’t stay around long enough to even see the plants wither or the frost runes form on the windowpanes… then again, not many would choose this life, and I continue to wait patiently for the bonny lass that will stand by me until it’s all over. Hopefully by that time, a small clan carrying our genetics will inherit the place, and there will be several other heartbeats living in and outside of the homestead. At least that is the dream, but to be honest, the reality is pretty damn fine too.


Saga of Othala: ch. 2, The Runestone

The home that shelters me feels more alive than when I moved in. Not only because my neighbors inform me so, but because there is a different sensitivity, capacity, and essence about the place inside these protective walls. My own Walden cabin of spartan humbleness and experimentation. I am starting to work out some of the kinks that hindered a comfortable settlement like the leaky roof, gray water system, fuel and battery security, and nighttime lighting. What this looks like may be a tad less pre-meditated and robust than you think, but running a smooth operation at home relies on your systems and how they work and serve for you. The kindred of Knowlesville expands to absolve me in its bubble, and I have intentionally mingled with the same twenty or so folks on a staggered basis as we passed the equinox on a neighbors porch, doing sun salutations for the fireball in the sky to rise and bring us into balance.

On a visit to the Faroe Islands and Iceland in 2016, I fell in love with the colors of the homesteads of the countryside. Matte black walls accented by deep red doors, white sills and live grass roofs. The blackened wood created a striking depth and vividness to the simplicity of the structure, the blood red color of the doors symbolized the life inside, the white frames were fresh highlights of the ice and snow that fell in the high lattitude lands, and the lushness of the green sod roof meant insulation in the harshest winter and coolness in the summer. A house that also grows grass, herbs and flowers on its roof is a living house, and I have even seen other graise their goats on them. I knew I wanted to live in a house like this, and have helped build one in Norwegian farm on another occasion. The staining job on my cabin is now finished, and I have been able to bring some of that Scandinavia spirit to my land. The Vinland flag also flies proudly from a birch pole and rock horgh.

We held a permaculture blitz and intimate music gathering hosted by one of my neighbors on his land trust plot. Interesting installments like a regenerative dance floor catered towards sustainability in an otherwise highly consumerist and destructive approach to transformational festivals. Folks were asked to brings their own bowls and spoons, and all the camp water was pumped by a solar panel to fill jugs. As bodies danced on the live earth, the lasagna type layering of alder coppiced poles over marsh, decked in straw, and broadcasted with seeds of herbs and wildflowers contributed to a pad of soil building organic materials that gradually broke down and decayed into finer and finer pieces. Over the course of a festival, people were literally creating a grass roots movement, and transforming an ecology in a permaculture way that involved specifically the culture aspect. I volunteered some of my time to build a robust earthen wood bridge that forded a small brook, which replaced one that was all but rotting through and perhaps a hazard for the festival attendants who could be walking back to camp in an altered state of consciousness. A man name Ben became a quickened friend who was an intern at another permaculture farm in Ontario. We drove the countryside down Ketchum ridge road, and stopped to watch uniquely patterned cattle chew their cud, and watch us with interest. It felt good to be there, doing nothing, just staring into all those sensitive eyes of the cows, thinking of how they are revered and omnipotent in India. Alex and I held court in his kitchen for many fond hours of story trading, downloading mindful information, and making vision plans for next years shindig. Mandala took the party through her sound tunnels of dark beats and electro waves to commence the night set. And despite the mist and rain of the weekend, everyone seemed rather satisfied to be gathered together, as relationships kindled from source around the fire barrels.

In the homestead, there is no longer any rainy days indoors when father sky pours down his liquid clear medicine on mother earth. During the first moon of being here, if it rained outside for one day, it rained inside for two. My walk for water affair is usually on a three day circuit, but with two extra car-buoys donated from Jem and Aeron, my cup is full for nine before I need to tap the well again. The water from the well on this one acre runs slightly mushroom color, and has a rocky, steely taste from the dust that fell in the casing during the drilling process. My hand pump came from Ontario, a black cast iron treasure that adds more beauty and function to the land. Sadly it cracked on first use, and after several calls to the manufacturer and the hardware store, it was resolved that I had a bad cast on one part and a new piece would be ordered in soon which I could replace at my own leisure. I now have that essential part and fitted it with a piece rubber, used to open rusted and wet mason jars, which is now providing a gasket for the pump cylinder. It still didn’t cut the ire and annoyance of having a piece of technology that is supposed to perform one action fail on its first use, but it does lend to the ingenuity one can develop with little resources on a leaner budget outside of cities that have everything. The pump has a long draw, but the water has traces of iron, and it may be several uses before the clarity of its healing medicine is fully transparent and tasteless, though I am cooking with it. Beside this new permanent fixture are two more cords of maple, which I spent a morning and afternoon piling and laying with evergreen boughs to shed rain. The straw bale yurt floor is also nearing satisfactory completion. Problem solving a natural daily part of homesteading, learning how to mend, fix, and fare with less, and simply being patient with all the processes. There is value in the fundamentals that are hard won, and robustly rewarding. Wood and water under ten steps from my south porch makes me feel like a rich man.

Animal medicine comes to us when we need to receive a potent teaching or derive a lesson from its presence. Bear has come six times in the last two weeks days. The first time when my motorcycle copped out half a km from home, the second on a mushroom foraging walk in the pine barrens that flank the south forests of the cabin, the third in the land trust, where my neighbors dog treed an adolescent cub in the woods while we cut alder poles for her goat fence, the fourth on a ride in north Knowlesville and a fifth time at the end of my driveway at night. Bear comes with messages to take courage for hard times, for lean times, for winter times. Bear is brother and walks like man on all fours. Bear is elusive and makes himself known when it is important to be seen. She-Bear reminds us to protect what is soft and fragile. The She Bear protects her cubs for six months in a cold dark place without eating, staving off boars, frost and hunger and lowering it’s heart rate to two beats per minute. I must condition myself for winter, fatten up both literally and spiritually become resilient enough for the mental challenges of the survival season. To stock potent medicines as does Bear, which root from Earth so that may winter pantry is loaded with health fortifying herbs, spices and concoctions. Potent elixirs, tinctures and a larder of healthy preserved foods and fats. I also must protect what is mine and slow down, be like bruin, do less and be more in the present moment. Feel everything, and wait. Timing is tantamount. Bearing solitude in long stretches of night. This is where my heart’s conditioning is at. To be more conspicuous, quiet, subtle in my presence.

My humble abode now has solar electricity flowing through its walls, and amber light cast on its walls, as my final pieces of the system have come into the picture. The wiring still remains to connect the workshop to the solar, and angle the panels to the best sunwise position for the autumn and winter low light months. A feeling of liberation accompanies the installment of a solar system that means you will never have to pay an electricity bill again, though I have been careful to avoid any kind of bills through my life, so I have been savvy with those protocols. I am running a 120v AC and 12v AC system simultaneously, one for higher draw amber edison bulbs which add a glow to the tamarack boards in the cabin, and one for the wall power to run a small assortment of gear. I don’t yet own any power kitchen appliances, and would prefer to limit this to a chest freezer, and blender. In the future, I would like to raise a great water tower that is filled once a month by a solar pump and use gravity to funnel it to different systems like a hot water off grid shower, and a cold water sauna submersion pool in the forest. One can daydream when the resources are free, the labor and materials are another thing, but I can easily compensate for the former.

At the time of collecting the 6v batteries for the bank, I was able to snag some high quality hardwood pallets to build a king size bed. Johan, one of our local cattle farmer, and the same man we buy sausage and bacon from, brought a dozen more bales to the land. I wasted no time shifting them into a makeshift frame of stressed barnwood boards atop the pallets, then fitting them with bamboo sheets. For the first time since slumbering in the cabin, I can lie in Shavasana with lots of extra. Halfway between the King’s sleeping quarters, and the Peasant’s tucket, I call it the settler’s bed. With the straw bales holding my bones aloft, there is no disconnection with the element of earth, no springs or metal besides those that hold the pallets together, and no floating space between the bed and the ground. My sleep temple is organic, made of sustainable, fast growing, and renewal plants and does not really on modern conventionally farmed cotton, or industrial materials to produce. It also carries a subtle grassy scent, which is relaxing to fall asleep to. The entire bed only cost me the price of the bales and the bamboo sheets, and the pallets were free. And a King size bed implies a Queen in the picture.

The frost giants have come to our plot of middle earth, and there is a rush to harvest what can be gleaned before old man winter sets his rimy foot onto the land. I’m finding the medial line between the investment of energy toward my own projects and duties, and to my service of others. An afternoon in a greenhouse with my neighbor meant we could harvest all his tomatoes, ground cherries and leftover cucumbers and squash, as they succumbed to the -3 degree overnight temperatures. While some were the sad victims of powdery mildew. We staked out a contour line in a feral hay field for the future siting of a blueberry swale with several members of the community who came out to offer a hand. And I’ve enjoyed an extended morning sadhana with Kaia, practicing yoga on her new deck to the soundtrack of psychedelic kirtan music from the 70’s.

As the subzero nights creep on us, I start to think more about sauna culture, and the detoxifying sweat rituals that accompany my winter stasis. In the Fallsbrook centre is a sauna, that I hope to have access to as the snow flies. One of my favorite ceremonies is the sauna, with equal immersions into the cold that follow the intensity of the heat and humidity. Cleansing the body through hardcore perspiration, then rolling in the snow, or jumping in a cold lake or pond, before return to the cedar steamhouse and letting one’s body thaw. But right now, the hibernal colors are still in transition, pumpkins are almost fully ripened on the vine, egg nog will soon be on the dairy shelves, and the brisk autumn winds will bring the sweaters and turtlenecks out from the wardrobe. When I start to wear long johns and toques to sleep, I know the season has changed. I’ve always wanted a husky as a companion, and I’m on the hunt for the perfect dog to live with me in this wooden temple of mine.

The ripening purples of elderberries have tinged the season with a beautiful harvest of medicinal fruit reaping, and I’ve collected a full basket of ripened apples that have fallen from just two of the trees on my land, while the crab apples bring in the presence of more wild fauna. The Balsam poplar holds aloft its snub and sticky buds of tangy terpenes, and the mosses reach an ultimate hue of neon green, as if they were lit up from the inside out. Lucid glows of sugar maple orange, and red, and mountain ash purple turn the landscape into an lsd kaleidoscope of postcard perfect brilliance. My breath is caught as I ride past them so full of chi and its last encore of beauty.


With the new moon and equinox energy I feel a nostalgia and pining for what is dying and leaving, but also a need to set intentions and parameters for the onset of a new season. I’m buffing up on the local fungal terroir, and have already found some fine specimens of reishi and gem studded puffball, while an entourage of Amanita Muscaria have taken up habitation on my land and have sporulated to the four corners of the mossy treeline. Large elf rings popped up literally overnight, and I had a small ceremony for the little people that no doubt came riding on the saucer-like spores. There is definitely a squirrely-ness in the forest as well, as I’ve noticed more activity from these long in tooth and nail.

On the village front, the city of Woodstock is gradually steeping in more and more paranoia of the corona virus, despite New Brunswick being a safe province with only one single active case as of writing. Masks are mandatory in some of the superstores, but a tension is building for those small town folk who know their freedoms are being compromised or chipped away at. A local counter-corruption activist from the ridge dropped a leaflet in my mailbox with some meaty expose, and it certainly feels like there is some solidarity for the common law of the folk. I have not been to the city in almost a month, and have learned to steer clear of the urban den and instead seek my provisions in some of the smaller towns like Glassville, Bath, Florenceville, Bristol or Coldstream where I can find everything I need to live a simple life; from unleaded gasoline to chimney pipes, to raw butter, hardware, tools, coffee, and fresh bread milled right here in Knowlesville. There is an Amish lady who hooks rugs, her husband sells buffalo sausage, a canteen with fish and chips, and a co-operative grocery store. I know of three roadside farm stalls, and three covered bridges, a hunter’s style brewhouse and an Irish pub, two automotive shops and a repair garage, two mills and a distillery. All accessible from the pleasures of backroad travel.

With the boys from the land settlement field, we took an outing in Juniper for a night at the Village Pour House, sadly we were the only folks in the pub, not even the locals were around, we chalked it up to be a cause of a Sunday night slump. There was actually a tumbleweed bumbling across the road. My sister from the straw bale home took me there the next weekend on a Friday, and the joint was thriving, with a full parking lot, most of them moose hunters who all had bull stories to tell, and hunter’s orange toques and caps atop their heads. We shot several rounds of pool with the locals on broken tables, drank overpriced Quebecois maple whiskey, and ate bad seafood, and had a blast.

Since my last admission I’ve put four wheels and more horsepower under me after lining up a deal on a pt cruiser near the historic pioneer village of Kingsclear. It will drive all year, and will heat up like a furnace for those blustery cold days before the maritime fimbulwinter. If I could ride my motorbike all year I would and even considered a skidoo instead, but the practicality of carrying heavier loads, animals, or people made it a surefire choice of manifestation, and I rest at night knowing I am proud of the pivotal choices I have made in my life as of late. We tend to make places of refuge in our cars and homes, and that is how I have been perceiving the integral extensions of this off grid lifestyle. Dissolving further into the momentous simple practices that are happening right now, building temples within the boundaries of our collective commune, and finding truths through the non-conventional means of wise living.

There is the scent of wild pheromones in the air, and the trees are full of prana. Blue Jay, Spruce Grouse migrate into the domain, while Canada Geese are headed south of the border. While to be a bird would be a great boon for winter travel, travel restrictions are still bottlenecked and stifled to completely remove any lucky draw for a chance visit for my Polish lover, whom I crossed paths with in India before my tumulutous return home. The confrontation with the necessities and the raw strenuous and unperiled lifestyle of the bush, put me closer in contact with the Iron John and Wild man mythos and paradigm of frontier living.


As the world primes itself for a “second wave” of corona virus, I’m boosting my immunity with bone broth, ginseng, rhodiola, chaga and maral root, and banking on jarred preserves to enable longer stays at home if things so south. I have no desire to visit the hysteria of the cities for supples and provisions, and frankly I’m not buying into a movement of culture that I was voluntold to be a part of. Folks are going back to the land, why did we ever leave it?

NEED/This is My Home/OTHAL

a bed of flowers,

a ring of stones,

fronds of fern,

across the hallow,

creeping runes,

under a shelter of fir,

billows of moss,

and buried brambles,

hills of green,

and the mugwort waters,

the smell of rain,

and rotting flesh of wood,

the :N:EED, the Need for H:O:ME

the :N:EED, the Need for H:O:ME

the :N:EED, the Need for H:O:ME

the :N:EED, the Need for H:O:ME.

Sangre de Muerdago - Unha Ofrenta de Ósos - YouTube

Here in the forest, amongst the trees,

I feel Alive,

I feel I’m Home,

Here in the forest,

my kind means den,

my kind means destruction,

this isn’t our home,

I want to learn,

I Need to :G:row,

I must be a kindly steward,

and if one day I sense something wrong,

something unnatural,

upsetting the calm,

that’s when I see him,

forcing his will,

slaying an elder,

slaying my brother,

I pledge the oath,

the man must fall,

the villain must fall,

by my hand,

this is my gift,

I’ve made my offering,

I’ve learned my place,

here in the forest,

this is my HOME

with careful steps I carve my path,

it’s riddled with thorns and sharp stones,

I can barely see an arm right in front of me,

full of fear, and uncertainty,

all I am shall not give in,

I will walk on, with honorable intent,

I need a space to share amongst kin,

far from the reach of modernity,

hearken to an honest and natural time,

with deep respect,

we bow to the earth,

I trust you know,

that we can leave some beauty to our children,

Othala… Othala… Othala… Othala…

Othala… Othala… Othala… Othala… Othala…

The Longhouse Ontology

“How is the longhouse a part of the longue durée? – in this context begs the question: Is living with plants and animals a part of the longue durée? How are these other beings so deeply embedded in the farmscape and lifespace that they are fundamental to being? Partly, the answer surely lies in their immutability, the cyclical nature of farming life, in which life is centered around animals and plants, individuals die, but the life force of the flock, the plants and the family remains. The farmhouse as an anchoring point brings all of these farming practices together. The farmhouse can thus be seen as an ontology unto itself, the basic framework upon which every aspect of life depended. The framework of the longhouse appears to have been a physical, spatial as well as embodied, structuring principle upon which social relationships were given meaning and were played out.”

-Kristin Armstrong Oma, excerpt from The Agrarian Life of the North 2000 BC to AD 1000, Studies in Rural Settlement and Farming in Norway, from the article Long Time – Long House

Culturing Perspectives

Time is a testament to where we have been, and who we have grown to be. It is a running perspective of Life in the moment experienced throughout eternity, and it’s ephemeral nature of constant change is something worth convicting in. Four years of semi-nomadic travel purveys a significant wellspring of cultural exposure, and things to think about. You also become very keen on world issues, human relationships, and the overarching mechanics of society. I use the word from the proto Germanic, and runic root *kenaz meaning to know, or to ken something, as in digging to the root of understanding the thing in itself. Each time I return to the Canadian North, the state of the peoples awareness always strikes me, as if it were alien and gray. The immediate exchange of a foreign country, for the familiarity of home never ceases to bring me into a kind of ‘stranger in a strange land’ scenario, often because I have become enmeshed in an altered routine, a European lifeway, a Central American sense of time, a Scandinavian sense of being, that I feel I am bringing back part of those places in an almost Faustian way. A Faustian man in a multicultural age.


I have learned a hell of a lot about relationships, how they break apart right before your eyes, and how planning for the future is just about as fickle and inefficient as investing all your money into a personal business before you have any customers. The levels of maturity and mutual growth within a relationship at any time can be moved out of balance, because of each individuals personal endeavors and private lives. I have seen the miscommunication fosters bad seeds that will grow to destroy and poison perfectly harmonious bonds, and spoil any good intentions between you and your lover by creating a culture of suspicion, doubt, and mistrust. Sex turns into lust rather than a beautifully primal experience of altered consciousness and bonding, and becomes a vice very quickly, that breaks out of its own containing shell and reverberates in your personal life, you become addicting to pleasure seeking in all forms. For a relationship to be tangible in the sense that is has a lasting flame, it must be your number one priority, and the truth must be realized that it’s inevitable summit is domestic living, although in extremely rare cases it may be able to survive through the tumults of travel and vagabonding, it does not thrive, and you are forced to rise to a whole set of factors that effect the binding of that relationship, like geographical distance, the question of monogamy vs. polyamory, or having an open sexual life, and the always present need for money. Man needs his woman, as the woman needs her man, and the role of polarity needs to be strong in order for the love to thrive. In the words of Jack Donovan on the Way of Men, “He is not only called upon to be a good man, but to be good at being a Man”. In this way, the Man must cultivate the archetypes of primal masculinity if he wants a real woman, whereas being a good Man or Woman, entails a kind of contract to society and cultural norms, which is good and fine and useful, but not always in tune with what it means to be a Man at heart, only a man through a judgement system (lots of friends at work, two children, has own car, clean cut, etc.) A man good at being a man may not necessarily be a good man by some eyes, but this is all relative of course. Mutual differences are an integral and healthy identification that whom you love is complementing your own unique individuality, while you are supporting the things that are special brands of her name. The cross-hairs of shared interests of course must intersect enough for common goals, and direction in life. I would recommend the best partner is one who shares your beliefs or religion of the world, an exacting mythology of the way life is, and similar desires to the prospects of whether or not you have kids, where you will live, and what you will have, but you do not need to both have a passion for dancing, hunting or belong to the same social clubs, or share the same friends. When you travel, and your lover needs to go home to work, then you must be prepared to follow or allow yourself to be cut off for awhile, otherwise one person becomes dependent on the other and a tension arises that will cause ruin to the sense of interdependent love between you.

“Man rarely places a proper valuation upon his womankind, at least not until deprived of them. He has no conception of the subtle atmosphere exhaled by the sex feminine, so long as he bathes in it; but let it be withdrawn, and an ever-growing void begins to manifest itself in his existence, and he becomes hungry, in a vague sort of way, for a something so indefinite that he cannot characterize it. If his comrades have no more experience than himself, they will shake their heads dubiously and dose him with strong physic. But the hunger will continue and become stronger; he will lose interest in the things of his everyday life and wax morbid; and one day, when the emptiness has become unbearable, a revelation will dawn upon him.” -Jack London, Son of the Wolf


In the old days, and still in some cultures, we had cows and sheep, and they were essentially a unity of currency. It is also the first rune of the Viking language because it seems to proceed all other needs in life, money equaled wealth, and wealth equaled freedom of ability and privilege, but it can easily be abused, and some people even do without much of it at all, like myself. The adage of ‘the things you own, end up owning you’ is a kind of two way mirror. In the beginning of my wandering days I had very few possessions, in a metaphorical way, I was un-possessed by materials, as in the sense that something bears a negative influence on you and you become possessed by its energy. I felt extremely free to be carrying little, even in the way of money, and I came to view money as solely a trap, when I ran out of it, I was forced to be dependent on someone else, for survival. I am guilty of this from past relationships, and made it an oath to never let it happen again by setting new boundaries, and ‘zero points’. This was a term shared with me by a lover who describes it as the time when your stock of personal money comes to a point where you must switch to survival mode, and change your financial priorities. For the longest time, I had wandered with extremely little, and found myself stuck on more than one occasion. Even living in cheap hostels, sharing food with other travelers, and transitioning from one volunteer situation to the next takes a hit on your budget, and the truth is you need money, or :fe:, in this world to thrive. You don’t need exorbitant amounts which usually foster a sense of foolish materialism, vice, and excess, but you need enough, that you are cautious with your money yet free to spend when you need to, frugal yet abundant. Now, we are in a generation that is exploding technologically, and people are waking up to the problems with the modern money system, crypto-currencies are being developed to ensure that we are not getting ripped off, and our money is secure. This is a future I look forward to, with a radical embrace of traditional trading systems and gift exchange blending with a modern contemporary use of money, saving what I rightfully earn, and using it effectively as a tool.

The Illusion of Community:

It seems that community is only talked about where the very essence of community is lacking, and those who are outside of community are always prospecting for it in the wrong places or failing to see it thriving in their locality. This is because community is not a point of reference but an intact and reliable system of relationships. A facebook page is not a community, nor is the i.d. generation of collective staff in your workplace, it is not found in coffeehouses, and meet-up groups. Community hearkens to a more tribal oriented lifeway, the obvious differences being the owning of land, the hunting and gathering of food, and the autonomy of culture and belief held within it. A farmers market is community, it fosters the interest in living of the land, I don’t really like the word self-sustainable because nothing is ever done alone in a community, the others are needed just as much as you, and the lone wolf will always die away from his pack. In order for the community to exist there must be a shared work load, and division of relevant skills throughout those members who choose to be responsible for it. A set of meta-beliefs that transcend the generic fandom of a social media phenomenon is a highly distinctive feature of the community, and those who belong to it find their own way into it, they are not sought after, or hired. The people will come of their own accord because they know with the primality of instinct in their heart that they belong there with no coercion needed. Having worked and lived in the Central American continent, I have observed authentic community thriving through the everyday rote existence, whence people band together and link their energies to sustain a lifeway. Different from tribalism, there is often no hierarchy, but an egalitarian sense of rites and responsibilities. I have also observed this in the maritimes of Canada, the sub-arctic regions of Scandinavia, and Saharan Africa. Community arises out of the need for a prolonged survival and transforms the patterns of tradition into a thriving mode of existence. In my own country I see a lot of community masquerading as commercialsm, “support your local community and buy local”, this is in essence what community can be about, but it is advertising for international businesses simply stationed within city limits, because truly local businesses do not have their name all over the country, they may have one or two or three outlets within a vicinity, and are not making much profit, just enough for the community, and that goes into the bands of families who truly live their mien, and walk the talk, not a blind consumer who doesn’t really care whose lives they impact, including their own by their conduction in the society. Voting with your dollar counts, but making the dollar secondary serve relationships equals community.

Work Ethic:

My engagement with work may seem to some as a fickle one, largely international skill trade in volunteer experiences for the basic commodities and necessities of life, without earning much more than that, but in a deeper context, and wide ranging view, my work ethic has become highly evolved to serve a purpose much bigger than myself. As someone who follows a largely derived Germanic tradition, that of the journeyman, and the freeman, travel has been the lynchpin of my work experiments and has lead me to seek relative skill building in Scandinavia, Europe, Central and North America and Britain. When I come home to Canada, and take a ‘normal’ job, which I have had fewer than I can count on one hand in my life, an entirely different work ethic tries to supplant itself. I clock in, I have a number, a schedule, and co-workers, I am persuaded to work as a team, I have a set wage, and tax taken off my pay, it is outside of my normal set of working conditions, and it is not my natural habitat. I have chosen this type of work though for very specific reasons, with big-picture thinking in mind. I am a farmer, and forestman, I belong to Thor’s people and engage my primal masculine in the world and all the work I get involved in. Reforestry, woodwork, demolition, planting and harvesting, building, permaculture, preservation of species, these are my comfort zones, these are the lay of my hands and heart, and to act outside of them is foreign to me. I am free to choose as is every sovereign individual his own course of work, and thus one does not build their own working jails where they feel trapped. Currently I am a meatcutter in a factory style setting, working with beef and pork. By today’s standards this is highly productive, and repetitive, and I have certainly worked small scale with processing meat in country farm settings or wilderness, so there is overlap involved, but thinking in big-picture, it is a skill that relates to almost all my other aspirations. The work ethic core remains strong, because despite which company may hire me, I am working for myself, not here simply to exist, pay my bills, and get wasted on the weekend. Making money must be matched in aspiration to learning and growing. I talk to people who are entirely negative, and speak of their years in service to a company that cares nothing for them, who have nothing positive to say during the lunch break, have not regard for their personal health, and live a life stuck in vice, and regret. There is an eerie comparison to olden day slavery, and in my eyes I still see it practiced, only with alterations in its style. A slave owner has full control over his workers, but he does not mingle with them personally, they keep heavy handed records of your activity, and their profits, yet is provided for handsomely for less work, does this sound like your boss or manager of today? One must always question the authority, and ask yourself what you are getting in return for your efforts, is there a balance? Why not forge a thriving life-way that serves your highest being? By your self induced masochism and suffering through the condemning need to work at places you hate, you become the inferior, the minority, and the coward. Gradually you become weakened and have no conviction towards your own personal power, the work ethic mode becomes the work ethic myth, there is no standard left. You are not providing for yourself in reality, because you are still buying everything you need, instead of growing it, building it, killing it, harvesting it, collecting it, raising it, loving it, such is the real work ethic, work for yourself or your community at all times, then let your work outlive that.


Is a boon to every man, and a realization that life is a profound struggle. Four years ago I left the domestic trappings of life, swore myself to the Old Gods, and went in search of love and life out in the wider world. Now I am spearheading a new lifeway by preservation; of money, of resources, of tools physical and spiritual, of allies and friends, and ultimately of place. All the experiences of the last four years are being compounded and grown upon as I turn towards a slightly more sedent way of being, and staying in my own country for some time. Travel takes a hard toll on the body, but it also strengthens it to be fit for a new world. I have come to the often brutal realization of how difficult it actually is to travel with limited money, but through ingenuity and adaptation have been able to thrive even when my pockets were empty. There is a paradox in the travel world, but nonetheless true, that real freedom comes from sacrifice. This entails that one must live to decondition themselves from the constituted dregs of normal society, to think and act for oneself, and reconcile your abilities with your purpose. Travel, that isn’t holiday, is stoic and austere, a wanderering man gets to know the many faces of Odin, and it is struggle and success both. It is like if I watch any nature documentary, and see these wolves or caribou, who migrate long distances, and then settle into a place, the hardships they must face, the extreme weather, the physical toil, the chase, the hunt and the hunger. The need for the pack or herd community. I see myself mirrored in these beasts intimately. I have worked almost exclusively out of doors, have slept in hundreds of varied settings, from the cathedral garden of a medieval Norse cathedral, to a leather tipi stoking with fire, a metal trailer, to the forests of Newfoundland island. The real traveler must be prepared for anything, this means you are going to have installments with the law, as I have, you will need to represent yourself, you may be repelled in one place and attracted by another, you have to carry everything you own, and know that your story is more important than anything in your pack. Sometimes I was desperate, sometimes I had a luxurious life and money to spare, a woman in my bed, and the world in front of me. Travel is a way of being, just like some animals are highly localized who may occupy one specific tract of forest or river system, while others have their territory spanning thousands of miles. I have always thought that as long as I am a human animal, I want to explore my own territory which is the earth, and find the place where I can feel king. After four years of living in communities, traveling to foreign countries, crossing borders in the physical world and within, having everything lost, being ripped off, and then rewarded, and come to know part of this planet in a more humble way, I feel awe and hungry for more, but also I am tired, and my priorities are changing. The acquisition of land is important for me, the collection of resources, tools and useful possessions, the startup of my own operation that provides for me, whether that be a farm, a small cultural business, an ecological company, or all of these. Eventually I think, and most of my allies, all dream of the idealistic cabin in the woods, with a fire burning in the hearth, game to hunt, fish to catch, food to gather, and a place where we belong. It was never intended that I would tramp around forever, and this will still take some time to resemble the change I am enacting. I like to think it took me traveling to far fetched countries and cultures to come back and find my own, and where that will be, until then I keep moving forward and upward, with light in my eyes, love in my heart, and peace of mind, knowing I am doing the right thing for me, it is up to you to make up your own way. If you do not have a plan, you end up being part of someone else’s plan. If the system does not work for you, use the system to get out of it, and create your own.

Witnessing the Similarities between the Popul Vuh, and the Icelandic Sagas

The Keq’chi Maya are an indigenous people that live throughout Guatemala and primarily in the states of Alta Verapaz and Peten in the cloud forests of the North. The prominence of their mythological tradition stems from  a book entitled the Popul Vuh, an ancient text that tells the stories of the early Keq’chi or Quiche, the creation of the world and different phenomena, familial geneologies, and folk legends. Through the language of exaggerated narration, memory, and representation, the Mayan Keq’chi beliefs and cosmology comes to be known. The translation I am reading is from Latin to English, and contains deep anthropological, theological, historical, and traditionalist fields in which to understand it from.

As a student of old Teutonic culture, Norse Mythology, and the Icelandic Edda and Saga literature, my usual bent is towards the branches of text that stem from the North Germanic regions, and pan-Scandinavian customs. I have read probably a few hundred works, folk stories, and legends that originate in the Icelandic tomes, yet I remain culturally sensitive in my travels and heavily influenced by the local languages and societies, so on a recent trip to Guatemala, I have been reading said book, the Popul Vuh, and without intervention on my own part have been noticing the similarities in these two vastly different branches of ancient civilization.

Kennings: Something any well read reader of the Icelandic Sagas and indeed the Edda or Amma, will indeed know and understand the use of kennings. Cheiftain Snorri Sturluson was the infamous Icelander who helped devise many of these kennings, and in my own opinion they are the lynchpin of all Icelandic mythology. They represent the advancement of language and poetry which the literate Northmen had even before the Christian Era, when almost all literature was instead composed by monks. To be simple, a kenning is a set of words or references to a single thing, idea, or phenomena. The kenning can be another way of speaking about something that is mentioned far too often, thus making it redundant, and in the Icelandic sagas, this happens a lot. For instance a Viking ship may easily be called by its name, but using kennings and compounded kennings allows the writer to implore their imagination into the subject, and the reader to create more verbally textual memories of the passage by thinking of it from a different angle. An example would be to call the ship as the ‘brine stallion’, ‘the wave horse’, ‘the vessel on the fish’s bath’, and so forth. In the Popul Vuh, I also observed this custom of using kennings in a similar fashion for instance in Ch. 7 of Part II, when a hawk is referred to as ‘he who devours snakes in the corn fields’, or when the Earth was created it was formed by ‘the Heart of Heaven, and the Heart of Earth’. The names of animals and trees are also referenced by many different words for instance the gum as ‘noh’ and ‘pericon’, and a different tree that exudes red resin is known as the ‘dragons blood’, or the ‘heart of man’. The kennings used in the Popul Vuh are indeed of a different calibre than those used in Icelandic literature, and of course for the purists they may say there is no comparison at all and each one is exclusively unique of itself, and that may be true as well, but for now I am only drawing certain arrangements of patterns between the two kinds of literature, what we might called an indigenous literacy, or ancient language style, that perhaps is lost to us now in our dialects and poetical minds.

Geneologies: The Sagas of the Norse Kings or ‘the Resultado de imagen de heimskringlaHeimskringla’ is but one major work of the Scandinavia northlands that deserves attention here, for it is literally all about geneology from the last Kings of Norway all the way back to the descendant lines of Yngvi-Frey or the Ynglings and that of Odin. Geneology and heritage in these works are sometimes daunting and monumental and it was only after several years of reading the Sagas and stories that I began to pick through them with any clarity rather than skipping through them. It is not uncommon in the first few paragraphs of a heroic saga to mention the familial ties ranging back as far as three, four, or five generations, naming each mother and father, grandmother and grandfather, each son and daughter and cousin. This can go one to the point of seeming mundanity and confusion as the Icelandic naming tradition, as in any culture had a specific set of names for males and females and names are often repeated within family lines. This kind of chaotic order of tracing geneology is fascinating for scholars but to the average reader can be offputting. A typical passage might enumarate the relatives of “Leif, who is son of Bestla and Bjorn, who also bore daughters Ingrid, Hildagard, and Solveig, and sons Ragnar, Svart, and Svein. Solveig also had two sons, one named Bjorn and the other Ivar. Leif’s grandfather was a wealthy chieftain in Iceland and had many wives ‘Astrid, Helga, and Bjork’, who in turn gave him many sons, Bjorn, Leif’s father being one of them.” I am just making this passage up but this is respectively how the opening passages of a true Icelandic saga can be expected. In the Popul Vuh, I came across this same kind of nomenclature of the men and women, and their familial ties. The opening of part II reads “Here is the story. Here are the names of Hun-Hunahpu and Vucub-Hunahpu, as they are called. Their parents were Xpiyacoc and Xmucane. During the night Hun-Hunahpu and Vucub-Hunahpu were born of Xpiyacoc and Xmucane. Well now, Hun-Hunahpu had begotten two sons, the first was called Hunbatz, and the second Hunchouen. The mother of the two sons was called Xbaquiyalo. Thus was the wife of Hun-hunahpu called. As for the other son, Vucub-Hunahpu, he had no wife, he was single.” And so it goes on like this naming off several members until all are accounted for, and then sometime later in the story they will make their appearance to some imporant degree, or be named specifically because they are to be known for some reference point of meaning.

Resultado de imagen de popul vuhDrama/Violence: Any good saga has some violence in it, and sometimes it is extremely amusing to read of the antics that a band of stoutly countrymen inflict upon each other. Iceland was a lawless country for a long time, and several parts of the glacier country was known as the utangard because of the many horse trails that crossed it, lingering with thieves, murderers and outlaws. If I remember correctly, there is a passage in one of the Sagas involving a breeched whale, wherein a conflict between two Vikings arises, and they are fighting on the back of the whale while it is being cut by others for the blubber. Here are the men in a holmgang or duel, and one of them is struck with the sword to his death. Just about every saga, even the romance genres are filled with duels, wrestling, revenge, killing, and domestic violence. In the Popul Vuh, there is also a high focus on violence and warfare.
The place of Xibalba for instance is a house of torture. When Hunahpu and Xbalanque are tricked by the Lords of Xibalba, they go through several chambers and places in which different types of discomfort, pain and violence are treated to them. They enter the house of Jaguars, where they must throw bones to the animals so that they not bite them. They go into the House of Fire, which inside ‘was only fire’, or the House of Bats, which sheletered a creature that killed using its stingers. The bizzare and strange ways of torture are also complemented with human violence, in the way the head of Hunahpu is used for play in the ball game, a kind of primitive Mayan soccer that is itself incredibly aggresive that might make the British football teams seem tame. The violence in both this Mayan/Central American literature and the far sub-arctic North are worlds apart, yet add a kind of comic relief, and may intrigue readers of general novels to reading both of these works.

The last that I wish to mention, although there may be more ties I can draw out, is the evident nature of the oral tradition. The Popul Vuh IS the word, and thus the Saga is too the story of someone or several people retelling actual events but through a lens that is subjective and often exxagerate or phantasized. Regardless, these books are dictums of the oral tradition and passing on stories from one generation to the next, and the fact that we still have them here with us, even if they be translated from heiroglyphs, runes, latin, or proto-Norse is besides the point. They have simply survived because of their remarkable nature and remain classics because they are so interesting and compelling to read. I certainly could not read nothing but Icelandic sagas for all my days sitting in a rocking chair and imagining Viking warbands conquering the land, but it is fun to indulge in that sometimes, and the same to read the very primal sources of ancient cultures through a different lense, and being able to draw from it, the sources of its humanness and roots of our language.

Aldous Huxleys Island: review

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I just finished reading, and experiencing Huxley’s utopian novel Island, the third of his works I have bitten off now after the Doors of Perception, and Brave New World, and this is another work of genius, foresight, ingenuity, and pioneer literatureship, is that a word? Now it is.

Where in Brave New World, a strange society, and strange is the world for it was quite removed from it’s political and social setting of the time, is set as the status quo, a population of genetically engineered beings, who are perfect in every way, with manicured behaviors, and conformist attitudes, and if anything happens there is always Soma. This narrative is one of futuristic outlook on a rapidly evolving world and the authors own subjective fantastic analysis of one of it’s possible outcomes. The upheaval of a hyper-modern and industrial age, set betwixt an aristocratic backdrop of representative England, and the savage and brutal worlds of American and Iceland, for those that missed those references. While in The Doors of Perception, there is a personal account of a self-induced experience with the alkaloid mescaline, and a kind of social commentary of drugs, medicine, social politics, and a slew of interesting academic brain scratchers, it really gets you thinking in a transcendental way. But I think Island is the most approachable so far I have read, for someone who is looking for a lighter work with a higher spiritual inclination. It is a book that was relevant then, and I would say is even more so important to read today, and its subject matters are something growing in concern for us all. The revolving themes of colonization, industrialization, modernism, teaching, drug use (in an atavistic religious way), community forming, human behavior, consciousness and a few other metaphysical concepts that are intersticed through the grain of this work.
The subjects are part of the everyday life of the people of Pala, a small island in the tropics, with a stable population of essentially Indo-Europeans, tuned onto Mahayana Buddhism, self-sustainability, and radical schooling. This is a dart on the bulls-eye for all those out there who are interested in seeing the precepts in potentia, or theorizing and observing how they can function in a small population, so I would recommend it not only to people like permaculturalists, environmentalist country folk, psychedelic thinkers and activists, but also vastly different personalities like city planners, politicians, and government officials, though for that sake, I don’t really have the latter in my friend circle.

Will Farnaby is washed ashore this island, and gradually starts to meet the ‘indigenous’ people there, and it is through him and his questions, juxtaposed through a ‘your way and our way’ perspective, that is of Pala vs. the West/America. The main character comes with his problems, nervosas, and issues, and gradually learns, through the brilliant mind of Huxley’s fictional residents, what a healthy population looks like, how it works, and what to be aware of. That is a key thing throughout the book, awareness, and is quite humoristic in the way it is passed across. The people of Pala came from abroad, but chose to settle here, until they were reformed, and started to practice a kind of spiritually enlightened branch of Buddhism. There are these religious tenets stuck in through the daily life and text of this book that even I found highly intriguing from a heathen perspective because it is not overbearing or dogmatic in any way. The island has something they call mutual adoption clubs, which is a practice that most indigenous tribes of the Amazon, Africa and the rest of South America instilled in the upbringing of their offspring. Image result for huxley islandBasically these were larger tribal families, and one child had several mothers, several fathers, and many siblings, so there  was a preservation of diversity of care, intelligence, teaching, and discipline. This was one of the main teaching points I thought, and represents how far modern families have diverged from this healthy paradigm, where now the nuclear family, usually 2 parents, 2 children of opposite sex, all living in the same house until the children reach full maturity, which ironically takes about 18-20 years in these conditions, and sometimes embarrassingly longer. The youth are stifled from lack of attention, integration with society, and a diminished form of love when being raised, and family socialism becomes a kind of limitation for interaction with the world, the neighbors and even stagnates by itself in the household, because of having no outlet for problem venting. So the nuclear family vs. the mutual adoption society is a keen thing that is addressed, but in a novel sentimental way. Huxley has a way of conveyance that opens empathy, sympathy, and mutual understanding.

Another rather taboo confluence of thoughts that runs through the book is the use of indigenous drugs for conscious altering experiences. Not for the sake of pure hedonism and leisure, but as medicine. This is the distinguished difference here. Today we smoke weed for leisure, at least the majority, for thrills, for sexual stamina, and sometimes there is nothing wrong with this, but the medicinal value is often disregarded or forgotten and instead the commercialism of product reigns in its place. The people of Pala use something they call the moksha-medicine, which early in the book they refer to the biology of, in what I took to be the Amanita, even describing it as red, but then later talking about the effects, and considering the climate and ecology they exist in, I am rather convinced it may be Psilocybin but it is hard to say, as also Asian shamans have traditionally used the Muscaria, and not the latter. I would have to consult Huxley’s ghost for that, but it’s Image result for mynah birdbeside the important point, and would be missing the meal offered here. The Palanese use this medicine, and encourage to youth to take it as a rite of passage, after they have undergone an ordeal. So it is shamanic in nature. Their reasoning is, the moksha can take one to vistas of the luminous bliss and light, to realms that are beyond the mundane, the ordinary, and profane, while their spiritual practices, like anger management, and all the Yogas of being they persuade are ways to maintain the perpetual course taken to preserve the closeness of that state. In the end, Will Farnaby himself takes the moksha medicine, and is elaborated through a psychedelic experience that would make McKenna blush, and Lovecraft grin. The advocacy of this drug, and their philosophical stance of control over consumption should be a model for this bizarre paradigm most of the developed world, especially first world, still tries to impart with the war on drugs. They are only drugs, because their healing and evolutionary properties are undermined, and used improperly.

Their use of Yogas I highly admire, as well from Aldous’ view essentially, exudes a more subtle truth of the real Yoga. Something I was turned off of for a couple years, after heavy intensive practice in my early-twenties because of the sheer commercialization, profit mongering, and pseudo-spirituality that surrounded that scene. I just didn’t want to be part of it. But the Palanese practice a form of personalized and subjective yoga that I think is way more important, one that goes to the roots. Of ‘yoking’ with the intentional actions of their body, and will, thus building soul. It really just has a lot to do with awareness of everyday passing ons, and proper behavior. There are no deep secrets in this yoga, which I also practice every day in my own lifestyle, even this very minute. So there are things like the yoga of love making, the yoga of not doing, the yoga of remembering, the yoga of speaking, and every other niche sympathetic, and mechanical function we have as humans. This is part of the Palanese teaching, as well as a unique kind of stress management. Using energy arising from possibly violent tendencies and turning them towards productive means. They have a whole group who just chop wood, or scale cliffs, or stamp their feet in a bizarre dance form. They cultivate skepticism in their youth, and teaching them all the practical sciences when they are young, the hard stuff first, which I think is really radical. The children grow up to actually appreciate the relative simplicity of surviving, and thriving through responsibility and change. They have an interesting experiment that involves checking their sons/daughters for hypnotic tendencies, because they can then be taught to defend themselves against future commanders, authority, outsiders, religious fanatics and militants, into exploiting them.
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Pala is a picture of an organic community that has not been developed, they have no wars, no plantations or factories, no harbor for possible invasion, no self-defeatist and dogmatic religions, or surplus, no need to import or export. They are their own microcosm, where the individual is as sovereign as the whole. I would be interested to know if the general plot of the Western man who visits a native population, still in touch with their spiritual heritage and animistic lifestyle, using entheogens and cut off from the world mimics Ernst Junger’s work A visit to Godenholm? If anyone has read it in German or the English translation, I would love to hear about it. Also if anyone might recommend another gem in Huxley’s line up, because he has quite the stack of literature he was written, I am really getting to be absorbed by his mind. Their are many take-aways from this one, insights into our certain cultural crisis’, personal sentiments, empathy of characters in sometimes dark ways, and an intriguing eye into thinking you are actually reading a real anthropological account of a lost people, which I love.

The Problem of Power Tools

*This is rather a special post here on aferalspirit, because it marks the first of a new genre that I will be writing on, in the permaculture section. These theories, ideas, plans, and praxis are usually hard earned knowledge from observable failures leading to victories, or perhaps fleeting thoughts I have while farming, or the reaped information from my studies on permanent agrarian culture.

Sometimes I question the real superiority or benefits of using power tools in the construction or on the farm. I have a problem with power tools because they negate the mechanical skill necessive for using them, they minimize the range of muscular ability needed for proper form, reducing all movements predominately to pushing, pulling, and clicking with the right or left index finger. I have always been a believe in genetic memory and ancestral skill, in using hand tools in a wide range of ways, with an instinctive or intuitive ability to make them effective to your work. I have picked up many a tool that I have not used before, and just seemed to ‘remember’ how, as if accesing an old store of learned skill from the past. Sure, power tools get the work done much quicker, but they are also a lot more dangerous, leave less room for natural error, are heavy, reliant on weather and temperature to function, are expensive to replace, and diminish the sense of integrity, and understanding of how a job is done with one’s own physical ability. Don’t get me wrong here, some small tools operating on electricity open up a world of new prospects for working with modifiable materials, but the work should be involving as much as it is efficient, and beautiful. Sometimes the best ways, are the ways of yore!

shaving the pines, for tipi building

Haskaps and Seabuckthorn

This is a feature for a couple ‘superfoods’ that I have been working with and learning more about in the past 4 months or so, and it’s been awhile since I had a write up for any of the ethno-botanical foods in my habitat, that I frequented more in my domestic years, so this one is about two different berries that I have come to use in my diet, and for my hygeine and health, that I will share some inside information about.

Haskaps a.k.a. blue honeysuckle, or honeyberry is are genetically native to Russia and Japan, and grow in a pretty varied basket of cultivars. The Ainu persons of Japan have used this berry for a long time, and gave it the name. It’s relatively new on North American shelves but some health food distros may have some. It is amped with more potassium, calcium, vitamin E, vitamin C, iron and phosphorous than apples, oranges, grapes and blueberries, and the energy kcal is more potent, so I like to have them with a thick porridge in the morning, or neat as a juice. They are extremely high in anti-oxidants and other flavonoids like Ferulic acid, Caffeic Acid, Ellagitannins, and Quercetin. They mash into some pretty sweet jams and chutneys, and distill to make strong gin or vodka, they can be sundried or frozen, and they survive harsh winters, while blooming in -10. They can also be grown from culture. If you can find a Japanese grocery store, you could find some Haskaps, and they are even more creative with their products.

Seabuckthorn a.k.a. Seaberries are a shrub grown mostly throughout Scandinavia, Siberia, Germany, Tibet and coastal Maritimes. They can only be harvested every two years. This one is making ground in the U.S. as a permaculture crop. They can tolerate salt in the air or soil! and grow well in sandy areas like beaches. They used to be a remedy for horses by their soliders for weight gain, and for coat health. It is one of the only berry plants that have protein in the leaves, and also stocks a fair amount of fiber, carotenids, amino acids, and vitamins. It has natural sugar alcohols, so there is potential for wine or moonshine stilling. The oils are skin medicine, and the berry is high in plant sterols. It is also a nitrogen fixer, and has strong roots for soil strength. It can survive arctic temperatures, and harvest comes right before the winter freeze. They can repair blood and metabolism problems, as well as caridiac and pulmonary issues. The pressed berries when put in a jar separates in three layers, each layer serves a different purpose. The top layer of orange cream for skin treatment, the middle layer for edibles because it is high in unsaturated fats, and the bottom for juice. The berries are quite sour when raw, but there is a process called ‘bletting’ which is frosting them to reduce their astringent flavor. They can be malolactically fermented to sweeten them which changes the alchemy of the acid. The cream from the berry even protects astronauts from radiation, so why not use it here down on earth, where in our toxic world, we need any natural medicines we can use. I live near an abandoned sea buckthorn farm, one of few in the west, but unfortunately it is still too early for me to reap the fruits.