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.

Day Dreaming

I am sat in my garden admiring the stillness and the warm glow of the rising sun as it peers over my fence and illuminates the lemon balm.

The sky is azure blue and cloudless and I sit in my hammock as the East is ablaze with a full round sun , blinding to gaze upon.

I am sitting with polarities. The polarity between grace and rage in these turbulent times . I am aware that I am aching to connect.

What I miss is connection. Connection with depth. The rich soul depth of true contact with another being.

I swim in rich internal pools of wonder and longing , naive and guileless, full of childlike wonder and innocence. I marvel at newly spun webs on the ash , the filaments of rainbow light that appear through cracks as I squint my eyes.

I am flighty and skittish – easily spooked. A foal finding her legs. I am often clumsy in the way I take to this body and its place on the earth. I often stumble about until something clicks and I can prance and throw my head as I skip and frolick , jerkily moving more life into my body and my limbs .Free yet contained and constrained by the physical limitations, a part of me confused as to why I can only expand to fill up so much space.

I can not be everywhere as I wish to be. I cannot fully touch the all that is . I can only anchor in a small part of this universe and it feels a little … uncomfortable …uncertain.

I am not sure if I like it or care for it much . It is alien to a part of me that has been to the sun and knows the cosmos as a brother. I feel estranged and forgotten and abandoned down here – where are they ?

They have left me with friends they say;

“With the trees and with mountain, with forrest and with hill

They will look after you.

With flowers and river and ocean, they will comfort you

With wind and with rain and with fire, they will welcome you, nourish you, revive you” they say , but still i am lost and my heart aches for the stars that are my home.

In the stillness of morning before the raucus caw of gul and crow and the quiet song of the morning birds, I hear the static of the atmoshpere warming as the Sun ascends on the horizon. I hear the fizz of atoms heating up. I feel the energetic shift from cool still night to dawning day .

I hear it crackle imperceptibly all around me . It’s this invisible sound that stirs and wakes my sleeping body each new day. Its magnetic pull that lulls me from the dream of sleep to the lucidity of wakefullness.

It leaves a heaviness , a sadness , of a soul returned to its box . I try not to let this realisation dampen my day but it feels like dead weight i can not bear to carry.

I look up and remember the sun , lazily surfacing over the rooftops and feel it lighten my being . I feel the joy and energy of life in my heart. Excitement and possibilities come to my window and invite me to play.

And I sit between the ache of longing for what cannot be and the joy of what can be created.

I sit between the darkness and the dawn wishing to be lifted back into the sun

Back into the earth

Back into the world

Back into life

And i carry with me both joy and sorrow

Belonging and loss

Fire and water

Strength and tenderness

Fear and courage

Hope and hopelessness

Grace and rage

And i take each day as it comes.

Touching into painful places ;I nourish them with warmth and light, courage and conviction, acceptance of what is.

I breathe.

Inhaling possibility, exhaling all that is done and gone.

One day at a time.

One step at a time.

One breath at a time.

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 .

Beginning at the end

Sometimes in the process of change we hit the floor.

That’s not a euphemism, I mean sometimes we actually end up lying in a shaking , quivering heap on the floor unable to stop crying, unable to catch our breath , all alone and wondering how the fuck we get back up again .

How many more times do we have to fall to bits? How long till the next wave hits and wrecks our ship?

In recent times , I expect many have had this happen in seemingly endless waves , as more and more is being confronted . As more and more is being addressed personally and collectively.

We thought we’d seen the end of it – but one last bastard thing tried to kill us ,we thought we had had enough of this shit already , but apparently not .

Life had other plans for us .

And before the stuff we knew we needed could be let in – everything that we knew we didn’t need had to go .

Whether we liked it or not we either jumped in or we were pushed to face what we had been putting off.

Letting go.

What kept us so scared and frightened of doing it? what kept us clinging in fear? Our own fear of change .

But let go we did and….

Once we made it to the other side we saw it was actually not the awful, terrible thing we thought it was going to be.

What did we wait so long for ? Why did we struggle so much ? Why did we keep resisting what we knew needed to happen?

We waited because we needed to feel aligned with-in with what we were bringing out. We needed time to check in, make sure, double check , cover old ground , weed out the last bits and properly clear the ground.

We needed to grieve our losses and take comfort in our gains and in what remains.

Its been tough for lots of us one way or another.

Turns out this year has been a massive clear out of old baggage for the last time . A clean sweep. The loss of all that we really do not need anymore . Friendships , jobs , relationships . If it wasn’t helping it was hindering and won’t be coming back.

Big Karma has been clearing if you like. Its been a chance to say ‘nope, not doing that anymore , I want something different” and the cosmic back drop has been assisting us collectively to do this.

Dare we dream a new life into being collectively? Dare we rewrite the narrative , tear up the old and try something radically different ?

Dare we create a future where we survive and thrive in a more co-operative and mutually respectful society ?

Something better is coming our way – something new. Something needed. Something necessary for our future survival . Something new for Earth.

It is possible – the end of the old is coming – there will be a shift – a paradigm shift – it will take place . It is already happening.

What comes after that though is up to us – its dependant on the foundations we choose to lay . Do we take the opportunity to learn from the past and do it differently this time ?

I believe we will. We will sow the seeds in the ashes of whats left and something new will come . A new time of redressing the balance.

As the old celtic year threshold has been crossed and we walk through the veil between the old and the new year to come – we are in a place of either letting go and dying to the old or in a process of transforming and potentising whatever it is we wish to bring forth.

Can you feel it ?

Potent is definitely the energy of this time of year for me. Its a cauldron of energies mingling , mixing under the heat of the fire – distilling , condensing , brewing , alchemising .

I can feel the power of it as it bubbles away – waiting. Waiting for the perfect moment for it to be done. For the elixir to be ready to bring forth new beginnings, new life , new projects , new ventures.

Its been brewing for aeons. We have had to be patient. To wait. To stir and sit and test and taste the potion we have been concocting.

Tapping into a primordial , timeless space of creation – we begin at what appears to be the end . In a void . In darkness.

In the deep womb like cauldron of potential the sparks of atoms combining into form , take shape.

What are you alchemising? Transforming? Watching and waiting patiently to bring into being ?

What will you choose to create in the New Year to come ? what spark of light will you bring forth from the darkness to light up the world at the time of Winter Solstice – to carry through the next cycle of the seasonal year?

Its a time of deep resting , going within , travelling inward to receive and retrieve your dreams and visions.

Enjoy some stillness, slow down a little and allow yourself the opportunity to just be .

Enjoy the dark. Enjoy the quiet. Enjoy the pause. Enjoy the deep exhale as life breathes out and lets go before the next breath in.

In the darkness , life is dreaming with you.

Dream big. Bring forth a dream worthy of your power. Worthy of your best efforts. Worthy of the transformational shifts from what was to what will be.

For the benefit of all.

A new story for the earth is waiting to be dreamed into being . What thread will you bring to this Great Reweaving ?

What will you choose to be ? To do? To become ?

Take your time. Go gently.

Take care x

Alexa 💗

Wildness

They asked me how I knew , if no one taught me ?

Simple , I said.

I listened

to the whispers of the wind.

I watched

the flight of birds.

I observed

the patterns of the weather

And the seasons.

I followed the rivers flow.

I noticed how the animals moved.

I paid attention to the trees.

I felt the changes

in the air

and the earth

Beneath my feet.

I remembered my dreams

And took notice of my visions .

I spoke to the landscape, to the old ones of the forests and wild spaces.

I heard the world

speaking to me

in a thousand different voices

and

I listened.

Copyright The Well of Belonging

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)