Nature pulls us deeper into life. Connecting with her connects us with ourselves too. My work is about nature connection, and I make use of my background as a professional actor, dancer, facilitator for personal development and my daily practice of living wild. There is a growing wave all over the world to live a more simple, sustainable and deeply connected life. Let’s surf that wave together!
We are what we eat.
That is my experience.
I don’t get my food from a store, I find it in the bush, in wild open areas and in the sea. Every day. My food is gathered, hunted and fished.
This was not always the case. I had definitely been on a healthy diet before I started eating wild food, but I just couldn’t get rid of my chronic stomach pain and dandruff that I both had for about 20 years, no matter what I tried. Chronic health problems are widespread and on the rise. Prevalence in diabetes, for example, has doubled in New Zealand in the last ten years, we also have one of the highest obesity rates in the world, which has more than doubled in the last 30 years.
When I stopped eating refined food and started eating wild plants, animals and fungi instead, my health increased rapidly. After only a few days I was rid of my stomach ache, 2 weeks later the dandruff was gone, and my joint pain is reduced to only an echo of what it has been. But these advantages and more are not only my experience.
Our biology was formed while being hunter-gatherers over hundreds of thousands of years. Only 10.000 years ago we started changing our diet and relying mostly on grain, cultured vegetables and fruits, and domesticated animals. Now only very few indigenous tribes remain that are still living as we were before the agricultural revolution. The comparatively brief period of agriculture has been too short to substantially change what our bodies need and rely on every day. There are scientific studies and real-world observations proving this. One of the best examples is Weston Price, an Ohio dentist who traveled the world to study people who did not suffer from dental illnesses. He found people on each continent (also here in NZ) with extremely low rates of dental cavities and palates that were wide enough to fit all their teeth, i.e. also their wisdom teeth. These people all had one thing in common, they were living isolated from modern foods, still relying on their traditional diets. His findings were that the causes of cavities, smaller jaws, even smaller skulls and hips was malnutrition caused by non-traditional diets.
Another health professional, Dr. Eugene Payne spent 25 years in Brazil and Ecuador examining approximately 60.000 people native to that region, and reported finding no (!) evidence of cancer among the natives isolated from western lifestyle. Modern research backs these observations, that hunter-gatherers have been extremely healthy compared to modern humans.
Why then was their life expectancy so low? This is easily explained. Not enjoying the blessings of modern trauma medicine and by living a life exposed to environmental risks one out of three children died before the age of fifteen, dropping the average life expectancy substantially. Once beyond the age of fifteen people regularly lived into their sixties and seventies, some even into their nineties without the help of modern life prolonging measures.
It took me a while to digest this knowledge.
So what does this mean for us as modern humans? If we mimic the traditional diet of hunter-gatherers, suitable to our climate and individual genetic setup, we too can live healthily and feel
Wild edibles can make up an important and diverse part of a healthy, and even healing diet. They are nutritional powerhouses, providing fibre, complex carbohydrates, niacin, B vitamins, copper, potassium, selenium, and other vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Wild growing purslane for example contains more of the important omega-3 fatty acids (underrepresented in our modern diets) than any other leafy vegetable plant. And it is an excellent source of Vitamin A, one of the highest among green leafy vegetables. Wild edibles grow abundantly in a lot of places, need no watering or fertiliser and are not sprayed with chemicals (don’t pick them right next to the road where they could be sprayed). They contain phytonutrients that have medicinal properties too, so your daily food can be your medicine.
Livestock is raised under conditions that are not suitable for their true biological needs. The industries goal is generally to produce as much meat (or milk etc.) as possible in the shortest time. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently called on farmers to stop using antibiotics to promote growth and prevent disease in healthy animals, because the practice fuels dangerous drug-resistant superbug infections in people. And residues of antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals in meat and milk can cause health issues for consumers. Wild animals, however, grow up in a diverse natural habitat and eat the food they are designed for. Their meat is free of pharmaceuticals. You can also choose to eat much more of the animal than just the lean muscle meat. Have you ever looked at the nutritional properties of liver for example? The amount of minerals and vitamins contained in this organ is quite amazing.
Creating fire “the old way” is a magic process. Friction fire is generally generated by the friction between two pieces of wood, one moving and one stationary. The bow drill is a method to get the spindle up to speed quite easily and can well be learned in a day.
The Maori have used Mahoe (Whitey-wood) for their friction fires (but used a fire plow instead of a bow drill). In the course of this one day workshop, you will build your own bow drill from scratch and learn to use it. This includes collecting appropriate tinder.
The magic doesn’t lie in the act itself, lighting a “primitive” fire triggers our ability to remember the old ways. I have experienced this myself, and many others have too.
Almost all of our ancestors have been tribal people. For hundreds of thousands of years, we were
Of course this is neither inherently good nor bad, but it has consequences. One of them being our seeming indifference to the rapid and ongoing degradation of our habitat. In just a few hundred years we have triggered the sixth mass extinction which could well mean our own demise.
This freedom to choose our culture in a way which was not possible in the olden days, is a big chance. We can create a culture that is deeply meaningful for us and leads to the results we want to see you in our lives.
We can choose a culture of connection. Our current culture of separation is only a thin veil covering what is biologically and evolutionary appropriate for us. Indigenous simply means “born into”. What connects us to nature, our family, extended family, ancestors, etc. is not lost, it is still present in all of us and can be reclaimed. How? This will unravel itself in the course of this 6 weeks training and be our challenge and journey together.
Did you ever feed a child or an elderly person? Can you remember being fed as a kid? What an act of intimacy, the strongest impression of which may be a mother nursing her child. Nursing is what mother earth does for us. Every day. We just don’t recognise it anymore, because we get food from the supermarket.
Hunting and gathering for me is a journey building intimacy with nature. Killing animals with all four feelings present is connecting me with the archetype of death, my own and the death of the people around me. And hunting with a bow means I am very close to what is happening.
(A side note: I had a vegetarian and vegan phase in my life, so killing doesn’t come easy. In my environment though it allows me to live off the land to 95%, so I hardly have to buy any food, there is no transportation involved, no packaging, etc. and hunting is actually a necessary act of balance, preserving the native bush from introduced species that don’t have any other predators than humans.)
This journey is not about conquering nature or survival, it is about “being with” nature.
Gaia, mother earth, holds us unconditionally, without any expectations. Raw and beautiful, she simply IS. “Being” in nature in a simple setting is the most profound way I know to strip us from cultural conditioning. The less we need to carry with us in nature, the
Challenges, like heading out into the wild without any food and living there for some time, are deep archetypal experiences and can initiate us into a deep and grounded self
Before patriarchy and colonialism, the culture of our ancestors was a culture of connection, connection with the tribe, their ancestors, traditions and with nature. Connection was a requirement for survival, which was only possible in bands of reliable mutual support and being utterly in tune with nature, where all sustenance came from in the olden days, without the padding of civilisation. Only in the last few hundreds or few thousands of years, depending on where we come from, our ancestors have diverged from their traditional path. Our culture has increasingly become a culture of separation. Our tribal cohesion has degraded to neighborhoods and our cultural and spiritual traditions weakened to a degree, where they have become easily interchangeable or are thrown over board altogether. We are highly mobile and not connected to our place of birth anymore nor the place where our ancestors lie.
This is neither inherently good nor bad, but it has consequences. One of them being our seeming indifference to the rapid and ongoing degradation of our habitat. In just a few hundred years we have triggered the sixth mass extinction which could well mean our own demise.
This freedom to choose our culture in a way which was not possible in the olden days, is a big chance. We can create a culture that is deeply meaningful for us and leads to the results we want to see in our lives. We can choose a culture of connection. Connection with ourselves, the people around us and all beings on this planet.
In my work in the context of nature connection, I use maps and distinctions created in the context of possibility management. These maps and distinctions form the foundation of my work: 4 feelings, feelings versus emotions and conscious/unconscious creation of stories. They are powerful tools to create the results in your life you really want to see. More about possibility management: http://possibilitymanagement.org. I am not a possibility management trainer but I have attended several possibility management
First and foremost I want to give gratitude to this planet. Without her sustenance and beauty, I would not be doing this.
I walk the talk. Almost everything I eat I have gathered, hunted or fished. I live in a tipi in the bush and sleep on a bed I made from materials sourced within 20 metres. I get around by walking, and for longer distances I generally use my bike. But this hasn’t always been the case. In the past I lived in a city, in a flat with central heating. So I am able to bridge the worlds between the “primitive” and modern, and meet everybody where they are at on their own journey of nature connection.
Nature connection is transformative. Since many years now I have been supporting people in actively creating their lives.
What I am showing folk: being in nature is high-level fun and surprisingly easy. Sure there are things that we need to know and practice to look after ourselves, but if we know the basics we can get out there and connect with nature in a deep and joyful way, also with ourselves and anyone who might be with us.
I deeply care for this planet and believe that if we live more simply, we can live healthier, happier and above all, preserve our beautiful habitat.
What motivates you to connect with nature?