LandTime is a modern version of an ancient practice. An opportunity for deep reflection and to practice and learn a variety of land living skills, whilst fed from the rich wells of myth, indigenous wisdom, Quest work & rites of passage, time-honoured guides to support us in our unfolding lives.
We all need time to land, time closer to the earth, to learn who we are in relation to it, how it not only feeds but can inform and support, indeed is in us, and this particular landtime, with at its centre a quest for vision and self-healing, three to four days fasting alone yet supported in the wilds, will to an extent be an Initiatory experience – initiation (meaning beginning), and initiation always has to be into something – for example it could be into learning to read or to write.
Our culture already does those things pretty well – but at this time, with mankind standing so clearly out of synch in relationship to the life support systems of the planet, it is clear that there is something we are not doing so well…and that is supporting each other into a healthier relationship with the planet and all its myriad of forms – Nature.
Part of this is as Anthony de Mello said, “we have learned the art of reading printed books,” but in doing so “we have forgotten the art of reading unprinted ones!”
So this is something we want to play a part in opening further for you to explore, ways that support us in relation to reading the unprinted books of Nature – both inner and outer, and to explore the relationship between the two, “clear up the inner pollution and the outer pollution will take care of itself” one elder suggested!
So to this end, woven in with some sharing of practical skills and experience of living with the land, are other, at least in the long term, equally important practical skills for humankind, ways of relating to the Land. Fresh and ancient ways that we have tried and tested and offer for you to experience and explore. Ways gleaned from inspiration of a number of indigenous elders both of this land and elsewhere, and many years of study and experience as well as the land itself. Ways which can support us into a deeper relationship with Nature, to support us in Life, for Life.
Like other rural skills, be they hedge laying, green woodwork, or fire making, these may well be new to you or things you already have some familiarity and experience, and in the same way as learning to play the piano, tennis, or a new language, even if you are a natural, these things still take practice, and sometimes humbleness before we can become accomplished in them, yet alone gain mastery.
“The first people had questions and were free. The second people had answers and were slaves!” WindEagle
There is a Creation story from Central America in which all is going well…
….that is till the Earth gives birth to humans.
This is a step too far as far as their Father the Sun is concerned. He threatens to scorch them back to dust.
The Earth turns to protect her new children, pleading for them. The Sun is softened by her words, relenting, but offers a condition. “People may stay on this Earth” he says, “but only if they Listen.”
Whether people have been listening enough is certainly open to question at this time, be it with holes in the ozone layer, species extinction or climate change.
Nature has been having to shout pretty loud for many to hear that we are out of step with it, and some of what we offer in Landtime is based on the deceptively simple practice of Listening. Listening and observation. Listening to stories, ancient stories and the ones we tell ourselves, listening to each other, and the World around us.
It is heartening at this time, that more and more people are now taking heed of what is occurring around us. Looking up from Mouse ways – a perspective which though precious and valuable, tends to focus only on that which is right in front of one’s whiskers, to the more visionary and equally important perspective of a Hawk or Eagle. This offers a wider vision of how the parts fit together and actions affect each other.
It is the balance of the two that has spawned movements such as the Transition Town one, offering a guiding framework enabling people to come together in this case to face the twin perils of global warming and peak oil, which for an individual alone understandably can seem disheartening and overwhelming.
Clearly there are transitions and changes that we can make on our own if we feel empowered and are determined visionary individuals, yet there are others which are more difficult without the wider support of community, family and friends.
Here is the Book of thy Descent,
Here begins the Book of the Sangreal (the Grail),
Here begin the terrors,
Here begin the marvels.
So begins a version of a quest for that symbol of grace the Holy Grail. Quest stories such as this follow an archetypal pattern underpinning mythology and rites of passage around the world. In many cultures deliberate rites of this nature were offered to accompany individuals of each generation through the natural transition phases of life with the support of a wider community.
One of the consequences of this support, which offers both challenge as well as welcome, is that those who face themselves and pass through, are more likely to feel connected to community, have a sense of empowerment, of their own gifts and vision, gained from and to bring to the Greater Whole. To be more conscious self-determining individuals, contributing their gifts to wider community rather than otherwise potentially having less impetus to move out of and beyond a more prolonged childhood/adolescent phase.
“if we’re unable to notice our passages, the old ways cling to us, and leave us less able to grow into the next season…” Jeffrey Duvall
The reason the support is there is that these transitions, though natural are not necessarily easy, for they can involve as the quote above introducing a Grail story implies, not just gifts but also a degree of crisis and descent, and no doubt we have all met a degree of that already. Such consciously entered experiences can help us in integrating those we have already faced and often offer insight and help in preparing us to meet future ones.
In one of the very first recorded stories ever, Inanna, Sumerian Queen of the Upper World, chooses to descend and visit her sister Ereshkigal, Queen of the Lower (a place it is said from which no one has ever returned) in order to assist her in the funeral rites of her husband, who has been seen dying in the night sky.
In so doing she enacts the archetypal hero/heroine’s journey. She undertakes a descent, in her case by choice (though it is worth recognising that if not by choice such a descent is often thrust upon us) and in the descent her whole upper world identity, her Queenship and outer things she relies on are stripped from her like Autumn Leaves.
All around the world stories similar to that of the descent of Inanna were company, guidance for people passing through change and life crisis, often enacted as actual physical journeys, rites of passage as they are commonly known, supporting people into Greater Consciousness as they grow into their next life stage. Greater consciousness particularly of the relationship to and between things – and the evolving Nature of this – to oneself, to one’s family, to the community, and to the wider Field of which we are a part. Evolving, in that we are not a fixed thing, and such rites support us and our families and community to recognise that, supporting us all in moving on from fixed labels, and ways of being that no longer Serve.
Crucially, although most of the cultures enacting such rites already live very close to the Land, the central phase of such rites deliberately takes place in the Wilds – for Wild Nature is the context within which we all must learn to Live.
LandTime is deeply informed by experience and study of health in such practices and has the potential for those interested to be expanded into one, “the ancient cultures knew how essential these gateways were, and the mythologies of world people are filled with stories of these passages, what they mean, why we must go through them as consciously as possible.” J.Duvall
As a student and guide of rites such as these for now twenty years, I have worked with a number of people even in their forties and fifties who recognise that not formally marking their transition to adulthood at the appropriate time, not being welcomed as the man or woman unique as they are/were, playing a part in helping them recognise their gifts and moving to more healthily relate to their parents from this New Life Station, can still in some ways be holding them back, even if their parents have died!
For that reason we want to offer any participants coming to Landtime (of whatever age) who have not truly had their coming of Age/adulthood truly marked and honoured to have that opportunity, with the whole experience and particularly the solo, being the passage to mark the Transition.
We will explain more about this but those who come will all be offered the opportunity to do this if you choose to, you are welcome to let us know if this is something that particularly calls to you, in a letter/note of intent – it maybe that you already know you have not only passed, but marked this phase (the two are different) or are perhaps aware or not of a different transition, in which case don’t worry, we will talk further and you will be able to engage in what we offer in a different way, so it too may serve you in Life.
“Thankyou once more. It has been a truly empowering year and I am now filled with the courage to stand on my own two feet.” Student participant in a previous programme
LandTime may not be suitable for everyone, people definitely need to be coming by choice and wanting to camp on the Land in potentially quite varied weather conditions, and have an enthusiasm and interest in learning from and with the Land – which carries through to a basic willingness to engage in the practical activities that support a community living close to the land to flow, shelter building, chop wood, carry water etcetera.
Though many specific activities are voluntary it is good to know that those who are joining us, do so with at least the intent and ability to potentially participate in all that is offered, even if when it comes a specific activity they realise it is not at that moment appropriate for them, and so are supportive in some other way, rather than directly involved.
Examples of likely ingredients which if you were likely to find very difficult we would like to know, include: some activities involving sharp tools, others involving quiet time and space for introspection, whilst still others a willingness to muck in, explore questions and listen to each other.
Sometimes such things are not possible for us all and it is good for us to have an idea who is coming and why they are drawn to LandTime at this time.
To that end we would appreciate everyone coming writes or talk to us directly, to give a sense of why you are interested in LandTime at this time, telling us a bit about yourself – be it things you have enthusiasm for, have done that may relate, or perhaps other things have achieved in life you feel proud or not proud of. It could include questions you currently hold and are exploring which you feel LandTime may offer you some window on, challenges or areas you are hoping for learning, or flagging things you are concerned about and may find more difficult within the experience.
Some may have concern around whether LandTime is suitable for you yourself (we work with more fully fledged adults of all ages as well as those becoming adult), or if a parent/godparent, for your son or god-daughter. Do be in touch and let’s talk. Though it is not our desire to turn people away, if it is unlikely to be suitable, it is better to have a sense of that before engaging in it, and it maybe we can co-create or point you towards some other programme which may be more suitable at this time.
Please send your letter/card of intent to Jeremy Thres, Regenco, at Epona, Week Down, Chagford, Devon TQ13 8ER, email@example.com or if you would prefer to phone, call myself 01647 432638.
What participants in previous work of this nature have said: “I loved it, really loved it, and had a brilliant time. I felt as if I’d had a month’s holiday!” – “Never have I felt so close to my inner peace and so deeply interconnected to all that surrounded me.” – “I am continually amazed at the depth of this work” – “WalkAbout (a nomadic form of Landtime) was definitely the highlight of my summer.” “Thanks again for such a great few days. It was really really good and gave me just what I needed. Ten out of ten!” Student, “Thankyou for providing and facilitating such a wonderful experience! I have returned to Schumacher feeling more alive, more peaceful and much more enthused! It was most certainly the kind of healing retreat that I desperately needed.” Msc student Schumacher College
“my son had a wonderful experience with you on Dartmoor, truly visionary, and I am immensely grateful to you for helping it happen,” & later “inspirational work with my sons, so important, and I’m so happy they did this & that you were there to guide them” father of two boys who on graduation independently undertook a Landtime quest with us.
©Jeremy Thres 2010