The beautiful abundance of the wild .

I will let you into a secret. I have zero experience of gardening or any form of horticulture. I know plants grow , bud , flower , fruit and seed and that various birds , insects and creatures including humans eat them and depend on them to live.

I know the names of some trees and how to identify them through the seasons. I know lots of so called weeds are in fact medicine and have health and healing benefits. I know a little bit about this and a bit more about that , not just from research and reading but from talking to people who know more than me . From being curious and observing . From spending time with the plants and asking and then taking the answers and checking it against info available in various resources.

The small plot of land that is slowly becoming a Secret Garden has several different habitat areas. The boundary is mature trees and shrubs , sycamore, maple , ash, elder , hawthorn. Ivy.

Theres a shady coppice of goat willow and Maple in the middle where the ground gets boggy in winter, with a Bog iris Crop growing not far away.

An open south facing wild flower meadow with buttercup, daisy, dandelion and forgetmenot in spring. And as the year progresses, common hogweed, ragwort, bluebells, daffodils, crocosmia, Fetch, plantain, wild orchid, white and red clover , thistle, red knapp weed and several species of grasses .

There is a large bramble patch, strawberry and raspberry plants creeping through the meadow. Several red, black and white current bushes dotted randomly round the site that yielded a large harvest this year though the birds scoffed most of them. And a couple of gooseberry bushes .

The North of the site houses a mini shady woodland with ivy , fern , bluebells , ash , elder, maple , beech and hawthorn trees.

And everywhere you look is nettle, hogweed & himalayan balsam which is invasive but fairly easy to remove. The bees love the late summer flowers full of pollen !

To know that without doing anything much the land is already quite diverse , already has several habitats and already has fruits and edibles growing means rather than look at establishing a wild life habitat from scratch , the need of this space feels more about thinning things out , creating space and knowing which areas would benefit from the reduction of some plants and the introduction of some others . To keep the soil fertile and the health of the plantlife maintained.

My plans are still swimming round my head . Nothing has changed about them . But I am finding waiting for this shift from summer to autumn and the wait for colder , damper weather to bring about the natural period of decay and the stopping of growth before the next stages of clearing and cutting can be done , is causing a sense of impatience and inner pressure. I feel i need to hurry up and get it done now, after leaving the land to its own devices over summer it’s suddenly feels overwhelmed. There is too much of everything .

I’m half kicking myself for not implementing things in spring like membrane to prevent growth in some areas, not pruning the trees , not keeping the plants down in size to a foot or two . Some are nearly 7 foot tall !

But I also remember I was spending the first season doing the minimum to watch what the space does . I feel like I have done “nothing” and bitten off more than I can chew.

I catch myself and take note of the plans I have for different areas and am reassured my instincts weren’t wrong about what would be helpful. Listening to the land has a habit of making me question myself. Doubt myself. I am often stuck or hanging on because I’m not quite sure where to take things next.

Opting for a natural organic unfolding of the whole project has meant not doing the usual human thing of rushing to get things done as soon as possible. Its meant not rushing to form a structure ( CIC ? Charity ? Constituted group ? ) or decide how the space will work or be used – community forest garden ? Wildlife education area ? Outdoor Workshop space ? Alternative venue for community groups ? Forest school ? And not rushing out to fill in funding bids and tell the world all about it . Though that no doubt comes next .

I have an idea now of what will need doing to keep the space ticking over through the seasons, roughly what plants are around that foraging days can be organised around , which areas can be developed for wildflower beds and where the indoor space will be best placed .

I know I need more people to help me and to preferably come along on the journey but they will need to have more experience than I have in looking after the land . Or maybe we could muddle along learning as we go ?

Being patient and waiting to see who turns up ,has its drawbacks. But also brings unexpected surprises. If its an experiment in letting go of control and allowing things to come to me at the right time , I think everything is going exactly to plan .

Flower power : Healing with the land

The beauty of nature for me comes in the medicine, food and materials it offers us , selflessly, so we can survive, thrive, grow and know our place as guardians and custodians of the earth.

Its in the healing trees, flowers and plants we term “weeds” that until fairly recently in our social history, were known for their medicinal and healing properties. Not in a far off exotic land , but here in these blessed isles of what we now call Britain.

In the not so distant past , as recently as the 1940’s and 50’s we still had local wise men and women who held the knowledge of herb craft and plant wisdom. They knew what preparations could support the communities health and well being long before we created the NHS .

Whilst there may have been con artists and quacks selling ineffective concoctions for profit ( there still is ) most communities had at least one person, often one with knowledge passed down generation to generation, whose purpose was to tend the wellbeing of the community. We might call that person the wise woman, the cunning man , a witch, a healer , a shaman , one who knows.

They were the midwives, GP’s, nurses , social workers , care workers , counsellors and advisors others turned to in times of need. They lived and worked with local plants and herbs to alleviate and stave off dis-ease and sickness amongst their local population.

As industrialisation increased, as more towns and cities developed as more and more people were sent to work endless shifts in dirty , dangerous conditions that were frequently deleterious to their health and increasingly removed them from their previously close contact with the natural world around them.

Resources that were once common- belonging to all – the commoners – became owned and only available if sold in exchange for money.

As everything increased in price and cost nature became devalued. It became not our abundant store of food and materials but a commodity and as this spread more and more our capacity to care for the land and support it to grow and thrive diminished.

We orphaned ourselves from that which nurtured and sustained us and we set off down the path of careless destruction and disconnection from our true place in the world.

I believe plants and flowers have never stopped trying to call us back home. To mend the severed ties, to ground us back in belonging to the earth. I have the pleasure of many wild weeds , flowers , medicine on the land I am now custodian and guardian.

As a flower essence and shamanic practitioner and wild therapist who has travelled the healing path all my life , been attuned to the nature kingdom since early childhood , who has never forgotten the presence of the other world or the ways in which it speaks to us I find the most profound healing has come through the use of flower essences.

Flowers are one of natures most gentle and potent , powerful healers .

Their capacity to energetically support our soul healing and bring our mental physical and emotional bodies back into balance should not be underestimated.

When people think of plant medicine they often think of Mother teacher plants like , Peyote , San Pedro , Psilocybin mushrooms and other psychotropic plants that often shift consciousness and awareness rapidly and often quite forcefully needing lots of time for us to integrate their medicine and healing.

People don’t often consider that every plant and flower possesses healing medicine , that is just as profound and brings just as much insight , awareness and healing. Albeit at a much gentler pace and speed . Enabling integration to take place more easily and with less of a shock to our system and psychic senses.

Having had the psychic shock and trauma of psychoactive substances taken too young – the very gentle flower essences have been the most effective remedy for re-balancing , repairing and mending the after effects of opening up too much , too soon , when unknowingly too traumatised to properly integrate the experience.

Flower essences have supported me to repair my energy field, clear ancestral and familial patterning , unblock stuck and repressed emotions, ground and centre my energy back into my physical body , clear my chakra system , stabilise the mental and emotional bodies and lots more besides.

If you find yourself drawn again and again to a particular plant or flower it’s probably trying to get your attention. It has medicine for you . It has energy it wishes to share with you . On some level your being needs it .

Sit with it a while . Notice its colour. Its scent . What comes to mind when you spend time with it. What feelings/ memories arise ? How does your body feel in its presence ?

What is it trying to tell you ?

(All words and photos copyright © Alexa Sargeant /Space for Nature 2021)

The Land is Alive !

The land is alive and bustling with life ! Fit to burst with huge doc and nettle!

The meadow has new wild flowers emerging which is very exciting and I am being shown how to manage the hog weed without causing too much harm .

We have red clover , white clover and a red thing I don’t know the name of but i was very excited to discover! And orchids 😃😃😃.

Purple Orchid

This year is about watching the space , seeing how it grows , what is here , how much , and working out with it what needs to go where .

This space will be and is a beautiful calming , gentle space to be around wildness and nature without needing to go too far away .

Plantain

Making it ideal for people who might be socially anxious and prefer spaces with fewer people and less distractions.

We do have a road next to the site but after a while , it tends to blend into the background and sound like the ocean 😃

The bird song drowns a lot of the background noise out as well and listening to birdsong has been reported to provide therapeutic benefits helping relax the mind and the body .

Red clover

I am getting very excited about the plans and having people supported in their recovery here .

We have had a tough 18 months and sometimes we just need a space to just hang out and be . In nature . With a brew . And nothing more .

Lessons from the land: A Pathway through the woods

The first task I had when taking on this space was to clear the dead wood and brambles left to over grow for years .

Not an easy task but after a few weeks of steady perseverance, the majority of the thorns had been tamed . I’d pitched a little tea making spot beneath the elder and began to observe as spring brought a surge of growth to the land. What had been bare and barren and quite frankly looked a huge mess , began to transform before me into a beautiful woodland paradise.

A thicket of brambles between the willows.
Brambles and bracken cleared from the meadow

It became clear early on we would need pathways to make getting round the site easier for people but also so wildlife habitat wasn’t being trampled on. It took a while to sit with the space and work out where best to place them. Some , like the path from the entrance to the compost to the meadow were straight forward and self evident. It was the how of it that started the first conversation with the land .

Laying the path to the compost using the dead sticks and moss cleared from the land.

I wondered back and forth for days trying to work out what to use . Weed membrane? Wood bark ? Stone gravel ? Do i buy stuff in ? Card board ?

The answer came from the land itself as piles of dead sticks from last years flowers mounted up and as the dead grass and moss was raked to make space for shoots and new growth . “use whats here already”

And so the winding path beneath the willows was made of soft green moss and stalks . I continued it past the compost heap and towards the meadow. And then after a sudden spell of snow the sun warmed the land and the site exploded into its spring growth . The paths were overwhelmed and it has become evident that my initial reluctance to put down the weed membrane was not such a bad idea.

Plants growing over the initial pathways.

By not putting it down immediately I learnt 2 lessons- one that it was in fact a good idea and two that the site needs much wider pathways than I anticipated especially during summer ! I also got to learn why they need more room and the kinds of plants that the land is home too.

Nettle , thistle and common hog weed grow incredibly tall during summer if left unchecked. As do the grasses . They are all vital food and habitat for wildlife and sources of nutritious forage for people. And the site is abundant with them ! Its wonderful but also means it needs to be managed if people are going to access the site on a regular basis . And without weed membrane down the paths need clearing every two or three days . Leave it more than a week and they disappear beneath the green .

Snowed under
Widening the paths
Path through the glade being taken over by nettles

There’s something deeply satisfying in taking time to work with and negotiate with the land about what is done and when and why.

By allowing myself to go step by step guided by the space and the wisdom of the garden , by not rushing to impose a solution but giving the place time to show me how it grows I have been able to figure out not just what i need but what the place needs. What the wildlife needs. What the plants need. Where they grow , how they grow and how that effects how the space is used and becomes shaped.

It has allowed me to consider what kinds of workshops and activities might be best suited to here and what can be foraged and utilised for them . And what needs to be left alone . To grow . To keep the balance.

It also reminded me of how we build new neural pathways in our brain by learning new things and doing things new ways . The physical act of laying new paths in the outside mirrors the creating of new pathways within. And so it goes with permaculture. Undoing my human learning to do to , rather than with all beings not just the human .

As I continue to deepen the relationship to place and land it begins to open up and speak more. Nudging me here to do this and there to do that. Advising when to leave alone , stay away or come closer and help out. There are times I notice i am stuck internally and in danger of forcing things to happen and the wisdom of the land supports and offers its advice . To stop. Go home . Rest. Come back in a few days . Do something else for a while . And I do and it works. Things shift and move.

Nature can be harsh and unforgiving in its wildness at times but it is also very giving and patient and welcoming. It shares its abundance and its wisdom willingly . When we are able to listen and hear what it has to say and let go of our human need to control everything. Thinking we know best .

View from the meadow

Sit . Listen. Ponder.Potter.

Since taking the site on in April my self and the land have been getting to know each other . It felt important not to rush in with my own ideas of what to do with the space . It felt important to settle in with the place and let it speak to me .

I check and ask its permission before doing anything. I have noticed that often after any cutting or clearing or when i have made a new area I leave the site alone for a while . It seems to “ enough” let me get used to it .

Compost heap

What is unfolding is a beautiful relationship between myself and space . Where boundaries are not just for people. Where vision and potential are part of a reciprocal relationship between self and other . Human and other than human.

There is a lot of negotiation and compromise and the land often has a much better idea of what will work where than I do . So I listen to it . I only work on what feels right to be worked on .. some days I just turn up , drink tea and listen to the bird song . And some times thats all I need to do . Sit. Listen. Ponder. Potter.

Dream into being

I have had a dream for a long , long time . A dream many others have of having access to land . Land I can get to know and work with . Land that I can practice my Wild Therapy , flower essences and shamanic work from .

Since setting up 3 years ago I have had various trials tribulations set backs and difficulties that often brought me to the “ should i just give up and let go of this” stage – was I just chasing a pipe dream ?

Was Space for nature ever going to find a place ? A home ? A base ? I have dreamed for years of a woodland space of my own – a little yurt , wildflower and herb beds – a place the tired and world weary can come to reset , recharge and relax with no expectations and no pressure. The place I needed all those years of struggling.

Not inside , not around too many people, in touch with the ground , plants , birds and animals. Somewhere i could offer my time to others in a healing capacity, a listening ear , a cup of tea .

It appears the world was listening and answered my call . I took a gamble on my dreams at the end of last year. I followed my heart with only a rough plan and some wild ideas to carry me and this week I got the keys to this beautiful space.

Sunset view of the pennines
Wild woodland

An unusable old allotment, disused for 19 years , over grown with Ivy and brambles and who knows what else!!

Its huge ! Its wild , its going to take a lot of work but I am determined to create a Space for nature – a community space on land that has been essentially abandoned and uncared for the past 19 years .

I feel a new beginning arising . A bloody big challenge but I can’t say I ever shied away from the improbable or the difficult.

I will need many generous , earth loving souls to support me . Many who will allow me through their support to realise an ambitious vision. People who have my back and wish to see me succeed .

Bluebells in the glade

I have land, I have a dream and I intend to gift it back to my local community so they will always have a beautiful place not far away they can feel they belong to. Where their dreams can have space to evolve and grow. In their own time . Where they can receive healing from connection to nature , to the wild , to each other .

I feel fairly grounded and certain I can do this . One tiny step at a time . In no rush. first is to go meet the land and get to know it . Work WITH it .

Strangely I don’t feel overwhelmed by it.

I’m going to start in one corner and take it a day at a time .

Earth Medicine

I’ve just returned from a beautifully nurturing, nourishing and wonderfully held Wild Therapy taster weekend .

It was lovely to connect in the flesh with real people during what has been an often difficult and isolating period.

My main role was fire tending and water keeping – keeping people warm and with brews and holding the observer position, part of the group,yet just outside of it. Noticing.

I often take sometime to commune with the land and the space and often receive poems to share during these times. This one was the one that came during this weekend. These experiences often rekindle a deep connection to the wilderness and the other than human that many people find deeply connecting and sustaining. They remember something. They make time for stillness, pause and reflection. And the wild works its medicine through all of them.

Medicine.

Listen to the voices of the wind..
Its medicine,
You need that

Listen to the voices of the water
Its medicine
You need that

Listen to the voices of the fire
Its medicine
You need that

Listen to the voices of the land
Its medicine
You need that !

Go to the forrest and speak to them
They are longing for your company

That tree you love so much ?
Its medicine

That plant you are being drawn to
That rock , that stone, that feather , its medicine,
You need that !

The beetle longs to tell you the secret of its shell ,
The butterfly, the squirrel, the hazel tree, the crow
All are waiting for you …

Your medicine,
They need that .

Seeking comfort

I often wander the woods near my home. Its a helpful place to go when I have a dilemma. The woods has lots of useful information to share if you know how to find it, if you listen , if you learn how to look for it , if you ask and it feels like sharing with you.

Its part of how I work with people in the wild wisdom I offer. Its a way of reconnecting to our selves as part of nature and a way of remembering how we used to know.

Its often a case of paying attention and letting your self be guided by the other than human. Sometimes its a case of wandering with a question in mind and seeing what arises as you go. What you encounter as you walk, what you see that might have meaning for you. Sometimes its about sitting still and not thinking at all.

As we have time now in lockdown, as 2020 takes a turn in an unanticipated direction, amidst the chaos and crisis its really important to allow yourself to stop . To slow down . To ground.

For those who can get out into nature in a garden , for a walk – now is a great time to bring in awareness of the other around you . For those who can not go out it is still possible to pay attention and notice what is occurring around and within you at this time .

To hear what your inner-self may be asking or needing from you .

To listen and hear what the land may be saying . The birds . The insects. The rocks. What wisdom do these others have for us if we stop to pay a little more attention?

When our connection to each other is being reduced physically- what does this offer us in extending our connection to other aspects of nature ?

How can a more tactile relationship with leaves and moss and stone alleviate our lack of physical closeness?

What tiny wonders can we appreciate in our living spaces ? the warm sun through the window ; how does that feel if we let it in ?

The breeze from an open door ?

The soft touch of a favourite blanket or jumper ?

How can we invite our senses and our tactile natures to be comforted and stimulated where physical contact may not be possible for some of us ?

Can we extend our contact to the other than human and through this enter a richer , deeper sense of connectedness and wellbeing ?

What ways do we have to meet our need for comfort when the usual ways are no longer available?

I am used to not having physical contact , for numerous reasons- that doesn’t mean I don’t miss it.

I have always gone to the land for comfort from being a child – it has always been my go to place.

It is always there . It is always waiting . It is always listening.

And I wonder how many will take the opportunity in these difficult times to turn back to the earth ? How many will remember earth as kin ? How many will seek out natures comfort?

How can we remain in touch with ourselves and our connections between ourselves and other at a time of separation and social isolation?

It feels like an invitation to recognise our non human connections- to remember that we are never truly alone. That we are always held in an interconnected web of life by numerous beings .

If we can allow ourselves not to limit the notion of togetherness to only people , we can find our way through loneliness and see and feel our interconnectedness to all of life’s sentient nature.

Your home is a being – spend time with it – ask it what it needs.

Your house plants are beings – get to know them – sing to them – spend time with them.

Listen to the birds – let yourself hear their conversations- what are they saying to one another ? This can be a fun conversation to have with children . A little bit of imagination and creative play .

Allow these little bits of time connecting to the other than human to flow into inspiration for stories , poems , pictures , projects .

In such an anxious time for many its the little pockets of whimsy and curiosity, the tiny moments of fun , the little ways of letting go of the usual “rules” that open up little doors to nourishing spaces. To new energies of hope and comfort.

We may not be able to go far . But the world is always here with you .

Find small ways of letting its beauty in.

Allow its presence to be with you , to hold you , to nourish you .

You are never truly alone. Nature is with you, always.

Coming home to nature

Spending time in nature is not only good for our mental and physical wellbeing , its good for our soul. We were created to live in harmony with the natural world not to be seperated from it.

When you reconnect to this earth you belong too , you reconnect to a lost part of your own being.

Regular time spent engaging with the wildness of nature , observing its cycles , noting the effects of the weather , learning the cycles of growth and decay – puts you in touch with a much wider circle of life – it brings a greater understanding of our own innate being.

It allows you to become aquatinted with other. That which is other than human and to see how we are deeply interconnected to a wider web of living and life .

You begin to notice the similarities and differences in being and realise how diverse this marvellous creation called Earth, really is.

Thats why I trained as a Wild Therapist.

For me there is something that happens when we take healing connection outside and allow nature to become part of the process. Something profound takes place. Sometimes obvious , sometimes much more subtle – but things always move and shift.

Perspectives change. However temporarily. Room gets made for new connections. Space is created for exploration and enquiry , curiosity and playfulness.

We allow ourselves to drop deeper , tensions abate , breathing deepens , even in our raw edges and painful places we feel held by an invisible love.

A love we may not know yet. A love we may find hard to bare. But it is there.

The love from nature. Silently waiting for us to reach out to it .

Patiently waiting for us all to come home.

If you would like to explore this healing connection with nature in a therapeutic capacity contact Alexa at spacefornature@outlook.com or look at the Wild Wisdom page for more information.

Garden Magic

You don’t have to go far to look for the medicine you need, its often right on your door step ,or in your garden. Its in those flowers that keep catching your eye and those trees you keep being drawn to sit beneath .

It’s in those plants in fields you dismiss as weeds and in the energy of the woodland or moorland you are drawn to visit .

I have always had a connection with trees and plants long before I trained as an essence practitioner , learning to tune into the needs of others to discern the essences that can best support them come back to balance .

I’m often suddenly drawn on a whim ( though not by accident ! ) to create an essence that helps address a particular state I happen to be experiencing. I’ll have got stuck usually and be lost as to how I can move forward so I turn to the nature kingdom and my guides and ask if there is an essence I can take to help . Sometimes the reply will be to make one as the one I need doesn’t exist .

Last Autumn Equinox I was guided to make an essence from the energy of this time of transition, in my own garden. The process actually started two days before the equinox itself but it was part of the alchemy of the essence .

It was a windy tempestuous day full of sun then rain and wind and hail and cloud then blue skies . I was given a process to follow and I did . I wasn’t even sure at first what it was for or if it would “work”, but those intentions became clear as the making unfolded.

The next day was so still even the clouds didn’t move . No leaves moved . No breeze blew.No sounds in the space at all . All the chaos of the day before had dropped into absolute calm. And I sat hearing the traffic around me ,the turbulence of the world out side my garden and marvelled at the stillness , presence and calm within it .

As time passed and I noted the subtle signs of the environment around me , the messages of the energy of the space and it became clear the essence is to support us find calm in chaos , balance in turbulent times , our center when we are scattered.

It’s medicine from the Earth. She has all you need to heal .

I have used this essence numerous times when things seem to be moving too fast or become too hectic. It helps to settle and bring inner calm and a centred space , clearing confusion and helping bring clarity. Its supportive during seasonal transitions or when there is a shift into rapid movement that can overwhelm or disorient us.

We can learn so much from our world if we take time to listen and follow our inner prompts .

Entering the Void – Winter Solstice Rebirth – Initiation Embodied Part 2 .

This is part 2 of my Poem Initiation Embodied.

Where the first part of this journey took place after Samhain – this second part followed naturally from it , aligned with the theme of the winter solstice – that of returning from the dissolution of death to conception – to the first spark of light and life after experiencing the transformation of ‘death’ – as I journeyed through the layers that keep me from deeply embodied presence, until I reached the ‘void’ – a timeless place where all is , and all is yet to be . In the ‘before’ state of becoming.

Becoming – Initiation part 2

Entering the void ,

The darkness of becoming.

The stillness of being

All.

The void of all potential.

The potential of everything.

The potential of nothingness.

Oneness- unity.

Polarity- separation.

Duality- all are both paradox.

The threshold takes me

into the realm of the dark-mother.

The realm of initiation by death,

The death of becoming,

The death of being ,

The death of separation

and through into

The initiation of unity.

Oneness.

The all that is before it becomes.

I approach the threshold of re-birth,

the light of conception.

All that is forming before we become,

Forming into matter but not yet matter.

I am not … yet,

But I am beginning…

In this space , this vastness

In the womb of the mother,

I know nothing

but infinity.

Stars and atoms ,

Forces,

Pulses,

Impulses….

The stillness of being

All-one….

Conception.

I am about to become…….

The me that is ‘I’ has no consciousness,

and yet ,

I am aware.

Distilling essential wisdom

From universal truths.

I am creation , creator and created.

I must fathom a form

from infinite possibilities

Or ….

choose never to exist at all.

(All words copyright The Well of Belonging 2018)