Guest blog: Nick Sangster, participant on a Rewilding Spirituality retreat, shares his reflections on the experience
My interest in the Rewilding Spirituality retreat, offered by Kara Moses, came from an interest in ‘rewilding’ and my curiosity was further piqued when I heard it included meditation, ritual and time spent out in nature.
My six-hour journey from Sussex to deepest Wales gave me a chance to think about what ‘deep connection’ to nature might mean, and wonder about the people I was going to meet – and how I’d sleep! I arrived to find a stunning location; the landscape was quite different to what I’m used to, and the hills were quite a challenge for my ageing van.
Our opening activity gave us the chance to explore the outside space around us as something other than ourselves; I can still remember how good it felt to stumble as a toddler might, and then just drop to the ground, knowing the soft spring grass provided a safe landing. As I sat and peered at an insect, a tightly bound human ball rolled past me, temporarily being a stone.
By mid-evening our group had all safely arrived and I had a good feeling about the people around me as we sat down to share our first (organic, locally grown) meal. After we shared our intentions for the weekend, we talked about what the word ‘sacred’ means for us – something that is still emerging for me. I fell asleep with a smile on my face, and the clear sound outside my window of the stream that never has the chance to sleep.
In the morning we gathered to meditate before eating breakfast together. Perhaps the amount of toast and organic peanut butter eaten was an indicator of how much energy we thought we might need! We met on a grassy plateau on rewilding land, overlooking our cottage with beautiful land and sky around us. Our first thoughtful activity was to consider our sphere of awareness and the impact this has on the animals and environment around us. This is way easier to understand when you are guided to wet your nose, cup your ears and twist your head to enhance your senses. Who knew that being silent like a wolf when you are stalking a deer could be so difficult!
After considering the natural world around us, we were carefully guided through a journey to the centre of our world. A discussion about Gaia theory followed, and how the idea of a separate self creates disconnection. Our connection to the earth informs what and how we take from her – which is why we need reconnecting.
After lunch outside in the sun this idea was explored further as we walked and breathed together as the earth. This was a powerful realisation for me, and we spent some time alone afterwards wandering to find a place that felt special or sacred to sit, and then share how we felt afterwards.
After dinner that evening, we made our way to a high space glimpsing and smelling smoke as we climbed. We were welcomed with burning sage and paid respect to some of the banished species from our land. I found this shared ritual so moving, and understand a little more now since reading George Monbiot’s Feral, about the importance of some of these keystone species that have left us. Later we sat around a fire and shared stories, songs and voices into the night.
Sunday began in silence. After meditation and breakfast we made our way to our now-familiar grassy spot. I found myself flirting with the green Welsh hill in the distance and then writing a love letter to her. The act of considering why I love our planet earth has stayed with me, and the reasons that I love her are growing deeper.
We were then taken on an imaginary journey to our distant, shared past, a journey I’ve since shared with others around a fire some of whom were, like me, moved to tears.
The final activity asked us to go and seek some guidance from the earth about what it might need from each of us. For me the answer is still forming, but I know I’m going in the right direction.
Our closing circle was full of enthusiasm, ideas and intentions to take out into the world. I was struck by how this group of strangers became a close tribe in just three days. A tribe that knew it was part of the earth, and just needed reminding.
It was a significant weekend in my life, one that feels like it’s forming a memory as it’s happening. Kara is brimming with knowledge and care, and I think I’ve finally learnt what inter-being may really mean.