Wild Medicine, Rewilding & other Sacred Matters…

So I have been a bit quiet recently, but I have been productive! The result is that a new full colour edition of my 2009 title The Medicine Garden is now available! I am really pleased with it. There are some really wonderful photos of the plants featured taken by Stephen Studd. The cover art and internal illustrations created by Wendy Milner are also very beautiful.

Buy your copy now! A full description of the book can be found by following this link.

The Medicine Garden book

copies of The Medicine Garden full colour edition now in stock!

So that has all been rather exciting and somewhat time consuming, but well worth it, and it is good to see the book already selling well on Amazon.

What else have I been doing? Well, last week saw the final instalment of the Sacred Plant Teachers series that I had been running throughout April. It was also the third time within 6 months that I ran the series. It was fun to do and I know the people who came along both enjoyed it and got many teachings from it, so I will definitely be running that again in the future.

Two weekends ago saw the start of this years Sacred Ecology: A Rewilding Apprenticeship. I have a really special group of women whom I am honoured to share this work with. I look forward to the wild depths that will unfold before us in the coming months.

dandelion page - The Medicine Garden

The wild medicine of dandelion pages in the new full colour edition of The Medicine Garden

This summer I will be presenting six wild medicine walks at Wilderness Festival. I have been leading walks at the festival for several years now and each year have had more and more people join me for my daily walks. It seems interest in foraging for wild medicines and taking responsibility for at least some minor aspects of ones health care with natural organic solutions in on the rise – yay!! What this means is that instead of just one walk a day, I will now be presenting two. Last year it was crazy, I think on each walk we began with over 100 people, and although I can speak pretty loudly I think the people at the back were missing detail when I held up a tiny delicate leaf or flower!! The festival is held at Cornbury Park in Oxfordshire, a lovely private estate with some absolutely incredible ancient oaks overlooking the scene. It runs from 3rd until 6th August, read more about it here.

Throughout this summer I will be working with this years new batch of rewilding apprentices. I am also continuing work with last years apprentices, who encouraged me to guide them for a second year while they weave their wildness with more confidence into everything that they do. So, it is not until September that I have another workshop with spaces available. It will be a 5-6 day retreat ~ Sacred Plant Medicine Immersion. This will be a residential retreat, camping in a beautiful orchard that is part of a permaculture smallholding. Each day we will work with just one plant. Really taking time to get a feel for what that plant is all about, communicating directly with it. We will use direct perception and our hearts as our primary organ of perception. We will journey shamanically to the spirit of each plant. We will build our relationship with each plant, and finally when we truly know deep in our souls the medicine each plant has to offer, we will make sacred medicinal elixirs to take home. Places are available.

I am available for 1-2-1 sessions if you can’t wait until September! As a taster it is still timely to sign up to my month long Spring Renewal Journey.

stinging nettle harvest

stinging nettle harvest

As we are still in the depths of spring it is prime wild medicine making and wild food foraging time. Gather well and responsibly 🙂 ❤

Stay in touch…

Twitter & Instagram: @mugwortdreamer

Facebook: Gateways To Eden

 

How Fresh Air Can Cure The Blues…

beautiful ocean sunset

There has been many a time I have stood in a place of nature and been awestruck by the beauty of my surroundings. In such moments nature has a way of instilling humility. Time and again my problems and concerns have faded to nothing as I feel the vibrant energy of the place sweeping through me. The experience, having delivered temporary reprieve from my internal dilemmas, allows me to return to my day refreshed, invigorated, and clear headed, with everything back in perspective.

It is hard not to have feelings of awe in nature when surveying a beautiful scene. Taking a walk outside, even just to the local park, helps lift ones spirits when one is feeling down, especially when you stop and just sit, paying special attention to a trail of ants, or an attractive flower. Nature draws you in, and gives you a moment of pause, of peace. In that moment, when you are drawn to start looking at, and feeling, something else, your focus on what has been bothering you drops away.

The same is true with anger. There are many times I have stormed off in a huff, walking away from an argument, retreating to my allotment. When I arrive after an altercation my urge is to yank out weeds muttering under my breath, and yet straight away I see the violence in this and my temper begins to abate. Within ten minutes I have calmed right down, and within thirty I can clearly see both sides of the story. A space opens up in my mind and becomes filled with understanding, ways to moderate my behaviour, change my approach, or even a potential resolution.

allotment scene

Why does this peace and calmness descend? What is it that touches us so deeply and transforms our mental state so rapidly and radically? It is the touch of the wild. We were born wild and inside of us, at our core, we will always remain wild. Nature is a part of us, and we a part of it. In our busy modern lives, where we barely take a breath of fresh air from Monday through Friday, we lose our essential connection; pressure and anxiety start to build. Without food your body goes hungry, without daily connection to the wilds of nature your spirit goes hungry – it’s as simple as that… 

My solution is to Rewild Yourself! To make a conscious physical connection to all that is wild and natural on a daily basis – standing outside with your morning cuppa breathing in fresh air and watching the clouds, walking barefoot in the park on your lunch break – you don’t have to live in the wilds to connect with them.

It is also essential to acknowledge the wild spirit in the wider than human world. We, humankind, are not alone we are part of a huge all encompassing energy matrix – don’t isolate yourself from this – acknowledge it. Talking to the birds and the trees, the wind and the sea, will draw you back in and deep down inside you will rebalance as your wild self will know it is surrounded by kin, that it is home…

Just some thoughts – a few days late for Blue Monday perhaps, but useful to remember whenever the blues hit!

If you would like to read more about my approach I recommend my book Rewild Yourself: Becoming Nature ~ or if you feel ready for a natural life changing process filled with easy steps to transform your life then maybe you should consider registering for Sacred Ecology: A Rewilding Apprenticeship which begins April 20th 2017. Either way ensure that you make time to feel the wind in your hair and the cold fresh rain on your face every day 🙂

Forget not the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair” Kahlil Gibran 

New Year, New You!!

So here we are, another new year, with plenty of good intentions, resolutions even. What are you planning for the coming year? What would you like to change in your life right now? After a fortnight of family time, parties with friends, meals out, treats and drinks I for one intend to eat a bit less, avoid alcohol and exercise a bit more – sound familiar?

But does it go deeper than that for you? Do you want to take it further than a few healthy weeks before slowly but surely slipping back into old patterns?

Rewild Yourself

Rewild Yourself

The most effective way I know to make profound and lasting changes in your life is to welcome in the wild. To recognise the wildness inside of oneself and nurture and feed that part. We all need connection with the wildness in the world, we were all born wild animals yet our lifestyles from birth have tamed us, domesticated us to the point of disconnection with the wider-than-human world, to the point where many people are stressed and anxious, trapped within the walls of our everyday, a circumstance of our own creation.

Humankind, through our high levels of consumerism, through treating the world as an inert object ripe for exploitation (with no come back), has broken off the deep levels of connection we once shared with all life. Instead we replace it with objects, we fill our homes with things to entertain us and in so doing continue on the path of destruction, mining , harvesting, damaging and destroying. We have become insulated from the destruction by hiding away in our homes, avoiding statistics about habitat loss, species extinctions, and pollution events. But it is still all there in the background and we know it.

Most people despite avoidance tactics still feel it, deeply in their hearts. You may not make the direct connection instead perhaps just feeling lethargic, depressed, anxious or empty – but that is a message from your wild heart telling you there is something more, something that you are missing.

My response over the years has been search to for a lifestyle that is more fulfilling. That search has taken me back to my beginnings as a wild animal, dependent upon the world around me for nourishment, for energy, for a healthy state of mind and a feeling of purpose. That journey to wholeness has been one of rewilding and was the subject of my 2015 book Rewild Yourself: Becoming Nature.

Rachel Corby Rewild Yourself Becoming Nature book Gateways to Eden

Last year (2016) I ran Sacred Ecology: A Rewilding Apprenticeship for the first time, to pass on what I had learned to others that feel a similar call. Teaching and sharing what I know has been a great deepening and widening experience as I learned so much from my first year of apprentices, as they all learned not just from me and each other, but most of all from the wild lands which we inhabit, and their own wild hearts.

Booking for this years apprenticeship, which begins at the end of April, is now open. If you would like to remember what it feels like to be wild and free, to feel cold dewy grass on your toes, to listen to the whispers in the wind, to communicate with the Sacred Earth, to make natural medicines and ferments, to forage for wild edibles, to sleep under the stars, to develop your intuitive awareness, to know and move your body consciously, to be aware on every level – then you may just want to join me and see where rewilding yourself could take you. Full details of this years apprenticeship can be found here…

I would love to share this energising, life changing, empowering, rewilding, co-creative journey of reconnection with the wildness of the world and with your wild self, with you. Let this year take you beyond a few weeks of January clean up, let it infuse into every cell of you, make the change, rewild yourself!

Sacred Ecology: A Rewilding Apprenticeship

This Years Learnings, Mulching & Feeding Me Like Fallen Leaves…

So the temperature outside is crispy cold and the sky is bright blue, the leaves are in the midst of changing from green through yellow, red and russet. I love this time of year. As the leaves begin to drop and create their crispy brown litter all around I too find myself shedding much of what the year so far has been to me. Just as the fallen leaves mulch down around the base of the trees providing nutrition as a slow release to be reabsorbed through the winter roots I will use the lessons I have learned this year, the joys and the sorrows, to help inform my path and feed me with insights for what is to come.

fallen autumn leaves

fallen autumn leaves

I have only 2 evening sessions of teaching remaining before this year ends, my energy is turning inwards, so that the darker months can be spent brewing, gestating new ideas to birth when the days begin to lengthen once more and the fresh new growth begins once again. Already I have quite a lot in place for next year with regards to teaching but I do feel a change coming and a need to deepen, to take it further.

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My first offering of 2017 begins at the time of Imbolc midway between the lunar and calendar dates for this seasonal acknowledgement of the cycle of life; the return of fresh growing leaves from the dark underground depths. Amazingly this series of evenings is already full ~ mass consciousness of plant consciousness is growing ~ what a wonderful thing! How wonderful to witness this growing hunger for listening to the call of the wild, to our green relations.

In response I have added a new set of dates for the evening series “Sacred Plant Teachers ~ the art of the invisible” that will run through April. In May I will be running an “Introduction to Communicating with Plant Spirits” day, and later in the year a week long “Sacred Plant Medicine Immersion”. If you are interested in any of the workshops I have mentioned please go to my workshops page for more details.

Also beginning in April will be “Sacred Ecology: A Rewilding Apprenticeship“, this will be the second year that I am running the apprenticeship. This years apprenticeship was an amazing journey into rewilding and I was truly delighted that even during the first weekend my apprentices were suggesting that they would like a year two, to continue deepening and exploring their own wildness and wild connections. So I am also working on “Weaving Wildness” which will be the follow up for previous apprentices. To read feedback from some of this years apprentices click here…

Hawthorn

Hawthorn

As I sit in my office it is cold, and I am thinking a lovely hawthorn decoction would warm up my chilly little fingers. The hedgerows are still full with many gifts, so if you have not yet stored up for winter it would be good to do so soon. I am going to drain off my last tinctures of the year and pot up some little cuttings salvaged from a dying house plant -not really the right season for this, but hoping the newly emerged roots will take the slow winter months to grow strong – time will tell. While I wait to find out I think I’ll go and put a pan on and simmer up some of those beautiful deep red haws…

 

“Bee”sotted with Bees

This post is the third and final guest post from one of the guest tutors on the rewilding apprenticeship I am running this summer. This entry is from the lovely Brigit Strawbridge. I first met Brigit a short while after she wrote a fabulous review for my first book The Medicine Garden back in early 2010. Brigit invited me to give a series of talks on the top deck of her Big Green Bus at the Malvern Spring Gardening show. Despite the rainy windy weather outside it was cosy and fun on the bus. We have been friends ever since and I am really delighted that she will be coming to share her great knowledge with us on the apprenticeship.

Brigit Strawbridge

Brigit Strawbridge, Bee Ambassador

I have to admit to being just a little obsessed with bees. In fact it’s probably fair to say I’m quite ‘bee’sotted. Bees have fascinated and enchanted me since my childhood, but it is only since the media started reporting on bee decline some years back that I fully appreciated the magnitude of their importance as pollinators – and how much I had always taken these amazing little creatures for granted.

Since then, I have been campaigning, talking and writing to raise awareness of the importance of bee diversity, the ways different species access and pollinate different flowering plants and the myriad reasons for the declines in bee diversity, range and population. I firmly believe that if we get it right for bees we will, in turn, get it right for all life on earth.

 

My approach when I first started looking into this issue was to focus on the

A Nitidia Male Bee

A Nitidia Male Bee

 

importance of bees to the human food chain and the pesticides that were contributing, in part, to their decline. I read, watched and digested everything I could get my hands on, learning more and more each year till both my head and my home were full to bursting with information: facts and figures; names of bees; types of pesticides; scientific reports; lists of this and that; and goodness knows what else.

This was all well and good, but in my rush to assimilate the kind of information I thought I needed to help me understand and pass on what exactly was going wrong, I almost missed out on understanding the most important thing of all – i.e. the bees themselves, their beauty, their behaviour and their intrinsic worth.

Once this dawned upon me everything began to change as a whole new and incredible world began to unfold…..

B lapidaries bee in harebell

B lapidaries bee in harebell

 

Instead of reading books and spending time researching on the computer I now started to spend more and more time outside watching and listening to bees. I learned to recognise certain species and individuals by the sounds of their different buzzes; came to know what time of day I might be likely to find certain bees on certain plants; worked out how to tell male bumblebees from female bumblebees; could hear with my eyes closed when bumblebees were collecting pollen from the welsh poppies in my garden rather than aquilegia growing next to them; and began to guess from the shape, colour and size of certain flowers which bee (or other pollinator) I might to expect to collect pollen from that flower. It soon became obvious that I was learning things from the bees that I could never have learned from books.

I became more and more interested in the interaction between bees and flowering plants, which in turn led me to be more curious about the way the two must have co-evolved and adapted, physiologically and behaviourally, over the millennia. This, in its turn, reminded me of the awe and wonder I had felt as a child each and every time I made a connection between one aspect of the natural world and another. I was essentially, through the bees, beginning the process of reconnecting and rewildling.

I still campaign, talk and write about bees and their decline, but my focus has now shifted. I still want to share my newfound knowledge about bees and other pollinators with anyone and everyone who will listen, but more importantly I want to share my love and awe of these fascinating and delightful beings, together with the insights and understandings they have gifted me. My hope is that in doing this I might inspire others to fall in love, as I have, with the bees who visit their gardens… in which case they will start doing whatever they can to help ensure their continued survival for it is in our nature to want to protect that which we love.

I am delighted that Rachel has invited me to be a guest tutor on her wonderful Rewilding Apprenticeship later this year and cannot wait to share my love, knowledge and insights with you.

As you can tell from her writing Brigit has a great passion and I can’t wait to learn more from her on the day she will spend sharing her knowledge with us on the rewilding apprenticeship.

Brigit has her own blog and can be found on twitter @B_Strawbridge

Non-stylised Movement in the Land…

What follows is a guest post by Poh Eng San who will be a guest tutor on the apprenticeship I am running later this year. On the apprenticeship she will be helping us with conscious movement, visceral wakefulness and opening to body wisdom. I met Poh Eng many years ago when I was training in Plant Spirit Medicine with Eliot Cowan; she had been a student in the previous year to me and so our original connection was through the love of communicating with plant spirits and how that opens the world right up. Below she talks about what inspires her to do the work that she does…

Poh Eng San, healer and movement teacher

Poh Eng San, healer and movement teacher

I have two main streams of work/ play/ life: Energy healing, and personal movement practice for self-awakening with the land & the teachings that come through my dance. My teachers have included Dr Shen Hongxun (Lame Fore), Eliot Cowan and Helen Poynor. I have been a movement practitioner and dancer for over 25 years. I cannot separate how the streams inspire as there is a confluenece of experience where one practice informs the other and vice versa.

Helen’s work has been hugely inspirational in deepening my “body body” connection to the ever changing landscape. I am nourished on all levels body, soul, spirit. A spin off from the non-stylised movement in the land is the art and creative writings that emerge. I love the recalling of the ancient memories, where the animal, limbic brain comes forward! For example, I encountered my ancient hag of the sea. She was like an archetypal Kali of Misrule and beyond, with a cackle louder than the crashing waves. Pulling on a part of my feeling, “sensating” body as I moved in wild dark cliff caves. And more recently: “Tons of rock above me. And I, curled up in a space like the gap beneath her crooked toe joint, puts things in perspective. A deep privilege…”

I love the presence demanded when I am with trees and the layers trees, plants, earth reveal to me as I sink into a deeper receptivity. It is a complete creative communion and dialogue – the chi of body and the chi of Nature. It was a relief to realise that as long as I am true to my stream of movement, as well as responding to the environment I do not have to dance with any agendas of what I think a dancer should be like.

“My bones, my sinews, my muscle substance, fluid, cells all moving, flowing like a flock of2016-01-19 16.00.33 birds. A vast body of movement in a cohesive and random leadership group. Shapes shifting in multidimensional aerodynamics. Me, on the ground, my internal landscape moving like this. One part pouring into another, my head pushes my feet away from the South to the sky. My bottom spirals around creating whirlwinds down below.”

I love the intelligence of all my bodies; energetic, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. The Taijiwuxigong has taught me how to clear blockages in my 5 main energetic pathways.

The fact that it is a lifelong practice with no end goal.

Rather that you journey up your own “mountain exploring every nook and cranny and allowing your wisdom to take centre stage.” This is my invitation. I love the fact that Taijiwuxigong is not separate from spiritual practice, but teaches acceptance of self and love in each moment.

So yes, I love the privilege and honour of the way people take responsibility for their own body care and ultimately their life. I can offer tools and often that key tool can tip the balance to self awakening.

Buqi healing has the extraordinary ability to work with unseen phenomena in a seemingly ordinary and grounded way. I am excited by constantly discovering the magical energetic nuances of the human body.

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I am so excited to have Poh Eng on the apprenticeship team so that we can all learn from her unique perspective and deep practice.

Poh Eng is running a selection of workshops this year: The first two 9-10/04/16 and 28/05/16 are both Taijiwuxigong and being run in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire. Then 7-11/09/16 is a body chi, land chi reconnection retreat being run in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. If you would like further details on any of them please contact Poh Eng directly: pohengsoundbuqi@yahoo.co.uk

 

Rewilding; Why An Apprenticeship Not A Course…

Eight years ago, back in February 2008 I headed stateside to apprentice in Sacred Plant Medicine with  Stephen Harrod Buhner. If you have not heard of him he is a great thinker and prolific nature writer. Julie McIntyre and Trishuwa, Stephens two partners, also took part in teaching us, leading us and holding space for us. Ever since that time I knew that I eventually wanted to evolve my workshops, courses and retreats into a full blown apprenticeship.

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Why, what is the difference? You may well ask. The thing is with a course, even a long one of two weeks or more, is that it works like a retreat in that you retreat from your daily life, go learn something new, then do your best to bring those teachings back into your day to day. That kind of thing works very well when learning a certified set of skills, massage maybe. You have a series of intensive classes for several days in a row until you have covered all the material, then you go home and put those learnings into practice through your work.

An apprenticeship works better for more ethereal subjects, for work that is more about making big changes in your life rather than just learning a new set of skills. By returning again and again over a number of months or seasons, in some circumstances even years, and working between times with the next level, slotting it into your way of being through repetitive practice over a period of time, the subject of the apprenticeship becomes you. You do not learn it, you learn to live it.

The apprenticeship I undertook in 2008 was hugely important to my life and work, it shaped me. Those three, Stephen, Trishuwa and Julie became threaded into me, they, with their teachings, became an inseparable part of the weave of my being. Of course this happens to a degree with all that you meet, all that is, but especially so with those that leave the taste of themselves, of their beauty, within your being and in turn become part of your beauty.

trees in winter

The rewilding apprenticeship I will be leading this summer is something that will trickle through, imbuing every cell of your being with magic, sacredness, with wild. I cannot recreate what I experienced with Stephen, I am not trying to. My teachings are uniquely mine, a product of all my teachers; which includes my upbringing and adult life in this country, the UK. I have a different seed to sow, albeit deeply infused with what I learned on apprenticeship myself. What I am presenting Sacred Ecology: A Rewilding Apprenticeship is Earth magic and immersion, UK style 🙂

 

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