Here’s a healing story of inspiration and transformation from Céline, a wonderful young woman who participated to Lynx’s course in Apulia, “Rewild Education!”…
I come from the countryside of Belgium; I am 22 years old and currently studying biology in the Netherlands- but that is more about societal me, which does not define the whole. I hope you get more insight by reading these words. I decided to write my experience of the “Rewild Education” training in Italy that took place from the 21st still 29th of April 2014. Why? Because this experience had a vital impact on me, inspired me in the path I wish to create and dynamited the view I have on life as whole. Writing from personal experience is one very genuine way of communication.. So here I am.
You ask me why I am here, staying in the mountains?
I don’t answer, I smile. My heart is free of care.
Sense the world around you,
for where there’s a Will,
there’s a Way.
Why did I go there? I craved to go to the course to learn about “life” in a pure brut and holistic manner. Learning as a character building is an end in itself. I did go there for my own sake, not for fame or profit, social utility or parental approval. So I went to the course as a personal task, but to the core for the realization of communal well-being of future project rather than private self-interest. Living in the wild is I believe now, the purest way of interacting with life as a whole. Not only I want be human among humans. I mean by that the centric-self-individualist Enlightenment ideology that human are at the center of everything above nature rather than part of it. Well science ‘rational way of thoughts implanted into the minds of many (through educational ways and societal behaviors) is not my personal believe. I want to challenge it by challenging myself, widening my consciousness through adventurous doors. On the way to what I define as being closer form of truth, my truth. By the words I write I want by no means to be imposing to others’ way of thinking. I wish to be inspiring by sharing my sentiment but not imposing. I write from my experiences, observations, imagination and dreams, I write from my feelings.
I left Maastricht behind. I feel ready to go, impatient to discover other ways of doing, of “being”. I am looking for more meaningful ways of life, where I can be aware of my own possibilities and limitations, where I can feel connected, to myself as well as my social and natural surroundings. Simply put, I am looking for what makes me feel alive. I feel a hole, fed by alienation of what’s around me, of being born in a world I did not choose, and being confronted with the obligation of dealing with its complexities. We shall not forget our potential to go our own way, to build our own roads and paths. Not accepting everything, but going for what you believe “is”. This course is meaningful to me, to my life, to my being and how I see myself interacting with life in and around me. My determination for love, realization of visions, connection and meaningful project is a strength that drives me, moves me in the choices of the “next”. It is why I am here, now, finally on my way the “Rewild Education” course. I have a strong feeling to achieve things I value. I waited for this door to open for a long time and now it is here, on my way. Some events do not really happen by hazard.
I finally arrived in “Giardino della Gioia”, the eco-village could not carry its name better, one wonderful place. Ranched in between old olive trees the tents, yourtes and various hand-made shelters are spread out in the natural park. I feel here like a sheep in the wild, running through the high grass while looking at the blue horizon, sun waves beating on my head, heart pulse. Life is movement and I want give back to it. From the sunrise still life will take me away, I will leave- as far as I came from. I am now sitting on the top of this wonderful olive tree, facing the turquoise Adriatic Sea. I felt like a little monkey climbing it! No one sees me but I can see the world happenings under my foot, such a quiet and peaceful feeling. The course takes places here in this paradise like world. It is an eco-village; the ways of living, organizing oneself with a community is very inspiring to me. It feels like we are melted within the landscape, not destroying it but rather part of it. Il Giardino della Gioia. Wonderful people live here, run this place. The place started as a permanent Rainbow Gathering but not surprisingly, 100 people staring up such a project did not work properly, so that now around 8 people live here. [Recall of this inspiring book: “Small is beautiful”]. They make their own olive oil (delicious and pure), bread, vegetables. It seems like they are quasi self-sufficient, it is simply beautiful. The vibes are amazing, the environment too. We eat and live such a healthy life in Giardino, embodiment of values, far away from stress of the city and the implication of living in such a world centered around consumption thinking. You know that kind of life where one’s world is just an overwhelming amount of complexities? A life that involve stress and weirdly enough make us feel important depending on the amount of complexity involved.. But how important really? -Myths of American dream-. Well, here I feel connection, to myself and different forms of life around me.
On the road to inspiration
Lynx is our trainer, sort to say. She is fascinating. She makes me think of liberation and spontaneity. Liberation in the sense of “breaking your chains from mainstream and sneakily oppressing society” and spontaneity in the sense of being true to herself, simple, humble. Through her teachings, she embodies to me the process of unlearning (forgetting) societal norms, much more than the constant pursuit/craving of knowledge, which requires mental intentness that only the most dedicated can endure. She is one of those inspiring characters. Is she one of many, or one of a kind? She does not quarrel over right or wrong, neither mingles with conventional society. Above, she roams with spirits and below she walks barefoot to re-appropriate connection to the earth and oneself. Well, primitive skill trainer that is how I envisioned her before meeting her in real life. But only defining her within that concept would not be honest with the whole personality. Not only skills she transmits, but of all a community builder, music, rituals, spirituality experiences teacher. A wonderful being.
The practical course started yesterday, after the arrival of all participants. After an individual introduction, the group members went up to the cave in silence and harmony. Going up to the cave was a feeling of deeper consciousness of our surroundings, fuller development of senses. As Lynx said: “Words are just a human creation after all (one of these…), there is no absolute need for it”, she’s right, and if you start listening to silence sometimes and complex sounds of nature- an awe feeling will invade you- just go along with it- embrace it. It truly felt like a teaching to climb up in silence. That is what I mean with Lynx being much more than a practical skills trainer, she introduce us to the language of nature, one that does not lie but just is and is much more than what you believe it is. Once arrived at the cave, feeling sweaty, heart beats running high and slightly big amount of satisfaction the group gathered in a circle. We let noises (not words) out of our mouths, it felt harmonious and connective. This was our first group mystic experience not the last. Lynx thought us how to hit a rock. Why hitting a rock at the first place? Because rocks as she said are “the Bones of the Earth”, they are essential. You use them for tools, and learning to make a tool out of them is a practice which requires patience, determination and focus. Considering these last requirements in combination with hitting the rock at the right angle, with the right pressure and force one can accomplish incredible tools. These stone tools will be later use for wood carving, animal cutting among many other uses.
In this prehistoric cave for the first time, my eyes experienced an “amber” created out of natural materials. Really fascinating, it was a collective effort to make this amber which emphasizes the value of human as social and community beings. Lynx told us a story, our story, she put us in the context of our ancestors, who first discovered fire and through her words I dived into the past, imagining in my head our ancestors interacting for the first time with fire. I felt goose bumps all over my body; I felt the magic of life and elements. Out of this small amber, a fire was made in the cave. It kept us warm but it smoked us all so we decided eventually to move it outside so we could breathe more pure air. After the fire was made Lynx showed us what was in the handbag of a so-called “cave girl”. I am amazed; lots of utensils, tools made out of bones, wood, rocks, and plants materials with various uses and purposes. Having this handbag is by no means comparable to the handbag of a city girl. Ahah no way, there’s no bullshit in a cave girl handbag just numerous useful utensils, handmade, that are creation of many years and focused work. Impressive.
The sun is shining in Giardino, such a bliss. Slowly gently waking up with the sounds of the birds, the awakening process is later confirmed by the sound of the “gong” call for early breakfast group gathering. Few days of rain is a recall to remember the beauty of the sun, its warm gift to us. Nature is not purely romantic in itself, it has its moods, stormy, windy, rainy, sunny- sometimes mixture of surprising combination. Often nature imposes its laws on us, and we as humans create facts, shelter and protection in attempt to adapt to its moody personality. Faces are filled with smiles and enthusiasm this morning, flow of positive energy floats in the air. We gathered around the cold fire circle before starting the “practical” day. As almost daily routine we shared an individual story about a matter that Lynx hinted to us. This was done through the talking stick. The talking stick is to me a magical stick, beautifully shaped through which personal emotions could be voiced out lout/shared in the group. Today, the talking stick invited us to share a story about quiet a societal taboo- life and death. It seemed like an intense topic for an early sunny morning, but it had its purpose (that the group did not know of yet). After the emotional round, Lynx told us about the opportunity to kill a sheep later in the day. I admit I felt really weird about this unexpected news. From which right are we taking away the life of this animal? I thought we did not need it at all as we eat from the land here. Moreover, it’s a vegan community and a death is not a necessary thing to do in the global state of things. That is what I first crossed my mind when I got conscious of the later kill that the group was going to go through. In the early afternoon, we went for an extended walk or more discovery walk towards the wild beach. I could not wait to swim. The hot sun was making me feel dizzy. Before that walk we went to see the sheep, a beautiful creature young and pure. Upon the visit, it was clear that the sheep felt stressed. Diego and Valentina relayed the whole day to keep company to the sheep; I found this act really humble and touching. Accompanying the sheep was a way to be grateful, and help it in its stress. We had the luck to have amongst the group member an expert in wild comestible plants, Guy. He shared with us his passions about plants. From his heart and knowledge he introduced the group to the yet unknown and vast worlds of plants. We collected lots of them to use it for cooking later in the week. It felt like starting a relationship with the plants by getting to know their personality, family and uses. I discovered as well, that there is no time dimension involved while walking with a plant expert, everything around you becomes a potential subject of interest..
Eventually we made it to the sea. Intuitively I jumped into its inviting waves! It was so damn refreshing; I felt an awake feeling for the second time in the day. We returned to the camp after our bodies dried in the hot sun and discussed the happening of the ceremony with the sheep tonight. I reflected a lot during the walk, I was busy in my head. I proposed myself to do the killing act, not because no one else wanted to do it but because I felt a strong instinctive voice pushing me to do it. My heart truly pinched when I heard I was the one who was gonna do it. Mixed feelings of relieve, fear and confidence. The reason why I proposed myself is because I want to be confronted with the cycle of life. I’ve eaten meat in my life, as my education did not question it one second and that makes me an animal eater from my young age although I did not choose for it independently. I want be conscious about what eating meat really implies, what it takes away. So this come back to the essential of life and death; the cycle of life. If I do eat meat, I find it elementary to experience the fact of “taking away a life”. I have been busy with that thought for a long while already, but never got the opportunity to do it. It is too freaking easy to buy meat already packed -shop and go- of course it is alienating. Of course people consume it like crazy because they do not have respect neither consideration for what they chew so insanely. I personally want to feel the suffering it implies, I wish to understand what killing means. All my acts have consequences and I want to be conscious of these consequences. I wish to experience them with default of not being able to understand them. Lynx told us the way I we were going to kill the sheep, for it to leave this world peacefully- I felt goose bumps from the top to the deepest bones of my body.
If we do not know yet about life, how can we know about death? I believe I cannot know death before understanding the meaning of life. While a full appreciation of life entails the need for probing the meaning of death. Life only holds to a thin fragile rope. Life is a cycle and is interlinked to death. Life can only be understood along the meaning of death. It is the first time that I felt directly the precious line that life embodies. I took away the life of this sheep; my hands were paralyzed, covered with warm blood. I have this strong image memory of my bloody hand and the knife being captured into it, imprisoned by it. I wanted to understand, to know what it meant to kill. I killed in my life, indirectly a lot but for the first time I felt death on the end of my fingernails, to the full control of my body and mind. I always believed that suffering is one essential root of personal growth, I feel pain so I understand what is. This experience is carved into me, as a scar in my body. It is more than an experience; it is one life changing teaching which will follow me on the way. I gained consciousness thanks to this sheep. I truly thank the sheep for its life, I realize it was not its choice but I value its enormous present to the whole group. The sheep was so calm before the killing, as if it knew, as if it felt and accepted its destiny. We gathered right before going to the place where the sheep stayed for the day. Lynx briefed the group about individual tasks and position so that we would arrive in a peaceful manner and not in total chaos not knowing what to do, how an who? An energy I never felt when walking towards the fences, sort of a conscious quietness. We all walked in silence with a sort of weight on our hearts, because all knew what we were going to do as-a group. This death was not individual, it was not only me holding the sharp knife, but it felt like a communal responsibility- the feeling of the “burden” of death to come. One of the group members asked me after the kill; so did you feel the power in your hands? I was quiet shocked by the question, I felt everything but a power feeling. To me it was not a feeling of force and power to have the control on someone else’s life; it was not linked to that at all. It is a true humble feeling. Of realization and pain that one of ours was scarified for our human interest, the gesture of feeding ourselves by taking away animal’s life. If only people would take care of their own meat, it is certain no such wasting and abusive killing would be made. It leaves a mark to kill a spirit for feeding; it leaves a conscious wave filling your being of gratefulness for this life taken away.
We spent the rest of the week “processing” the sheep, so making use of every single part of the animal for various purposes. The first one was feeding ourselves by cooking the eatable part of the animal on the open fire after cautiously cutting it. I still have an awe feeling thinking about it, the processing. I study biology, but for the first time, I had a real “hands on” biology thanks to Lynx. For once I was not busy with details in the laboratory, with ridiculous outfit, security glasses but with real matter. I admit it was hard for me to see the sheep the same way as I would in a biology class because I still was in the digestion process of the killing the day before. Of course I’ve chosen to do it but it was not an easy task for me and influenced me much more than I expected it would be, I felt everything was vibrating inside and I was busy in my head, felt guilty. I couldn’t distance myself from the fact I took away a spirit out of the earth. I had very disturbed night too. I need time to intake, digest and relax so I ask Lynx to go a bit on my own the first day we processed the animal as I felt very vulnerable and sensitive. The several following days we made lots of things with the different part of animal’s, such blood pancake, I didn’t even know such thing existed! We tanned the skin and did many more… beautiful skin tanning!
The all processing took place in the mystic cave, a 30 minute walk from the eco-village. This cave had something truly magical, we were lucky to spend our days in it! I guess its magical power had to do with the energy of the cave itself mixed with the energy created by us being there and doing these weird things that civilized people would think “what the hell?!”. We could see the line of the coast from up there. Truly it was an amazing environment, to work with rocks, carve wood, eat, dance, sing, sleep, tan skin,.. Most importantly we were hidden from society, it felt like a precious bubble, a world we created and that could not be destroyed by materialistic behaviors. I loved that feeling! The evening fires in the cave were always inviting. The contrast of the cave, the darkness were an opportunity for the group to gather; feel the tribe feeling, be proud of the working day, the teaching learned, be grateful for the constant mind inspiration present or simply share warmth, songs, cuddle with each other (even massage muscles pain!). In that cave we experienced a really beautifully intense cave ritual – opening heart and minds..
It is firstly with our thoughts that we are able to change ourselves, to change primarily our own inside world to be able to have a meaningful impact in the outside world. Life beauty depends on the look one has on it. Our mind, thoughts, souls are tools to lead life as it ought to be lived. From our thoughts comes action, its physical manifestation. I believe the power lies in being determined and convinced of the essentials, of what single individual define as being their essentials. What type of vision do I have? How deeply am I able to bring my consciousness in the outside world? In what ways will this vision develop? Who truly to myself will I achieve these goals? How much do I value freedom, of mind and body? What type of emotion do I want feel? The beauty is the realization that I AM and I choose, that we all are and have the power to choose. Before this course I had quite a negative view of the world, which had a big impact on me, leaving me with hopeless feeling and depressive thoughts seeing the scope of shit I simply was unable to transform. I felt little and tiny in a big world that I could not change anyways. As Lynx said, yes it is very easy to fall into depressive thoughts about the world. But following this path would allow the dark side of the system to kill us slowly, to kill our hopes and powers to grow as individuals. To manifest the emotions one feels about the world in the same wrong pattern, creating repetitive history of part of human misery. Now I feel hopeful, I truly feel hopeful. I feel in peace with myself, just because I’ve been inspired and I’ve seen that we all can achieve our talents and dreams, if we really want it. I feel so empowered and grateful for this genuine awakening in my mind. My instinct is now leading me even more determined to my light instead of falling miserably into my darkness. LIGHT! I know from my experiences that life goes as the sea; by waves of ups and downs, but even if I’m sure and secure never I want this crazily powerful energy will leave my heart. I write down now, to be reminded of my feelings, in this precise moment in time. To be reminded that I already knew the way. Simplicity. To feel the energy, to feel an alive spirit in me. The ceremony we all experienced in the cave yesterday was the most helpful spiritual experience I’ve ever lived. Community of wonderful people gathered in the tiniest corner of the dark and silent cave. Where “civilization” do not exist; neither matter. We all felt very strong energy of connection to the Earth, one another.
Too many words kill the meaning of words- to sum up the feelings:
LIGHTS, BREATHS, MYSTIC, RITUAL, CELEBRATION, REMEMBERANCE OF ANCESTORS, MAGNIFICIENCE OF LIFE, TO LIVE ,TO INTERCONNECTIVITY OF SPIRITS, DRUMS, HEARTS BEATS, NOISE, VIBRATION, REALIZATION, CONNECTION, TRIBE, GRATEFULNESS, no FEAR, FREE OPEN HEARTED, INTENSITY, BEAUTY, TRANCE, GIVING UP CONTROL; TEACHING.
What did I get out if this experience?
Definitely this course was transformative for me, a seed of life has been planted in me that gives me confidence about my path. What I experienced with this course is a drop of the process of human self-renewal both individually and communally. The understanding of oneself by the assertion that the concrete living person here and now together with our environment is the basis for our own self-reflexivity. Seeing human in dynamic evolution, rather than a static one and deliberately transforming oneself over time. Not to forget the capabilities of our heart and mind to understand our nature. Every human being is endowed with feelings that are necessary and sufficient for self-realization. The unforgettable feeling of tribe and family in my heart is something very precious that this experience brought me.
Once upon passing the talking stick:
Course and CAVE RITUAL: Intense, surprising, heart pulsing, open, curious, build up, privilege, opportunity; I found was I was looking for; I hope to pass this feeling of tribe to my community; keep the spirit awake. Each moment, interaction gave me the possibility to grow up. It was a part of life I didn’t know, I already knew it but did not have the courage to take. I discovered simplicity and generosity of hearts. It gives me wings. I’ve been in the moment here. Things have been opening up very gently, this experience is material to explore further. A path opening here and there giving feeling of hope. We share so many experiences together, the natural world is phenomenon. I felt so many indescribable things that I felt totally moved from inside. Feeling the spirits, earth and grounded. Back to the roots, becoming animals. Doing rituals in group gave me a feeling of truth. Watch things dissolve and see the humanity in all of us, starting to flow and making sense. We live in two worlds colliding (inside world-minds and outside world- society), it is good to experience the inter-phase of these two worlds. Somehow we have the responsibility to deal with them. It is what it is.