We are all seeking sanctuary
Touching on the idea of intelligence, responsibility and the cosmic forest
We are lured to ideas where euphoria and bliss can be found within the unseen which is why we romanticize about both heaven and space travel. Yet in the natural wild spaces that surround us, there are undiscovered worlds that are set in reality and very visible…but we don’t seem to take the time to explore these obvious wonders. Oscar Wilde noticed this as well when he said; “The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.”
You and I have separated ourselves from the mainstream because our view of the world has become so very different. Each of us on our journey is seeking a better story as the protagonist – but at the same time we are feeling the aloneness found within stormy seas.
Know that there is a safe harbour; there is a port of like-spirits eager to help make the tangible changes that will regenerate Mother Earth and her wild and remote places.
We are in the process of re-discovering our ancient selves. We have lived through a great period of decay, and now we are beginning to walk on a new path towards something organic, something…wild. We are in the midst of changing the direction of humanity and re-creating the wild and natural Earth. We have re-discovered our meaning and purpose that is connected to all of this. We are now seeking to live in a home designed by wild intention; revitalized by love; and has architecture made of touch.
As wildcrafters some of us will be tasked with restoring and strengthening ancestral memory within species impacted by generations of influence from the anthropocene – or human civilization. Many of our birds and animals and even insects have become dependent on human behavior and our urban encroachment into wildlands. Our ancient forests, and in particular, our great continuous forests and the stories that they carry, have become depleted because of this human encroachment. This condition has caused wild species to remove themselves from their ancient role as stewards of the forest.
Wildcrafters have a responsibility to guide wild species back to their original roles and to regenerate wild populations and spaces. This is a form of ‘rewilding’.
Each of us, and our wild kin, is seeking sanctuary – the forest. The richness of presence, colour and life-force found within a healthy mixed forest, even during drought conditions, becomes self-evident when compared to an industrialized tree farm. Our forests require plant guardians within natural guilds in order to maintain balanced communities which can then navigate obstacles presented by humans, climate change and other threats that might do harm to what I like to call ‘orderly chaos’. ‘Old growth’ environments soothe the restless soul because they provide us with the natural chemical and energetic compounds which offer strength in both body and spirit.
In simple terms, the community of other species that co-exist within an old growth ecosystem have to be regenerated everywhere. These living guilds hold the ancestral memory that allows a forest to problem-solve and remain healthy - without this ‘whole’ system the forest and the genetics found within each species will weaken, not just locally, but globally. We must think as a forest, which is more like a 300-year view. A tree simply being healthy in human terms, suggests a ‘sustainable’ system of sorts, but not necessarily a naturally ‘regenerative’ one. A regenerative system is linked to the ‘whole’ and natural life system that the Earth depends on.
Eighty percent of the earth’s original forests have been cleared and destroyed. The same forests that dominated the land only 8,000 years ago are all but gone. Approximately, four-fifths of the forests are gone - just think of how many plant species may have been lost in that process, not to mention entire systems of life. Sixty-eight percent of plants are in danger of going extinct. Plant species can be very much localized which means they have a very difficult time migrating to a different location to protect themselves from changing conditions – particularly if humans prevent that migration.
Extinction will be inevitable unless they are either helped to relocate or they are protected. Humans are not helping when they are needed within this stewardship process; in fact, plant species are going extinct—about 5,000 times faster than they should – because of us. This represents one of the reasons I started the Wildcraft Forest School to actually recruit people to do this critical stewardship work.
Each of us breathes 6 litres of air per minute. In one year an average tree in its mid-life will provide enough oxygen for four people to breathe for an entire year. Currently, there is no economic measurement for this contribution – even though many companies are presently selling oxygen.
To science, an “activity of intelligence” represents intellectual capacity, which is characterized by perception, consciousness, self-awareness, and volition. Through their intelligence, humans possess the cognitive abilities to learn, form concepts, understand, apply logic and reason, including the capacities to recognize patterns, comprehend ideas, plan, problem-solve, make decisions, retain information; and use language to communicate.
Intelligence enables humans to experience and think. “Mental process” is thinking; it is something that individuals can do with their minds. Mental processes include perception, memory, thinking, volition, and emotion. Sometimes the term “cognitive function” is used instead.
How science and civilization describe both “intelligence” and “thinking” remains largely human-centric; however, for wildcrafters this subject becomes rich with possibilities as we consider how the natural world thinks and processes intelligence, feelings and intentions.
One of the most prominent exercises in Yasei Shinrin Yoku is the process of ‘dwell time’, or coming to the forest with no agenda, just to be. Sometimes this might mean you bring a blanket and stare at the clouds or simply have a nap under a tree. This art of “being” allows one to relax and absorb energies and phytoncides that are incredibly healing. This provides a means of slowing down and smelling the forest and the natural world.
Mainstream medicine has rediscovered that medicines in small peptide amounts can be effectively delivered through the nasal route, thus plant-based vapors are capable of entering the brain and then into body-wide blood circulation. When absorbing thousands of these different organic compounds they collectively are made up of individual aromatic components called phytoncides.
This dynamic of “living air”, and the high degree of wellness it provides for us, is one of the greatest potentials in modern natural medicine.
Everyday, we as human beings shed dead cells; we become renewed with fresh organic life force every minute. Some of those dead cells make their way to become hair and fingernails, but most become washed away or they become air borne and float into a breeze as we lose them. But what if we retained them? What if dead cells formed our exterior as a shell? Like a tree.
A tree retains its dead cells. Trees are made up of 98% dead cells. The living parts of a tree are contained in its leaves, root tips and the phloem which delivers the life-force, communication and food between all of the tree’s living parts. The dead cells are contained in layers of wood and bark which thickens and adds rings to the tree’s trunk every year. What if these dead cells are not actually dead? What if they hold memories for the tree?
What if they are actually part of a vast living database?
Trees give us oxygen but they also hold the memories of the forest, the land; and of the time that passes through all of this life and energy. There’s much that a tree can teach us about the cycles that move through this planet as we seek to interpret both space and time.