Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Large Presence Of A Small Blue Tit

On my nature awareness and tracking courses I teach how you can reorient your mind to stop you from pumping out a threatening presence that scares away all the animals in your environment. Animals are very good at sensing presence. You can compare it with throwing a stone in a pond. The rings create a disturbance on the surface of the pond. Likewise, If we are not tuned in to the local environment, we emit disturbances all the time and they will be picked up by all the animals in the vicinity. I use a number of exercises to help students to reduce their (negative) presence but also to become more sensitive to picking up the presence of others (both animals and humans). Obviously such techniques are valuable in tracking and observing wildlife but they are also important in a tactical sense and even in SAR (Search and Resque) tracking.

Today, I realized that the opposite can be equally important. With the opposite I mean to actually make your presence felt. Creating the ripples on purpose so to speak. I have been using it myself more or less subconsciously in certain situations but never really realized its importance. I do that during courses so the students can pick up on them and sometimes I have used it to make sure an animal notices me so I do not surprise it and cause a dangerous situation.

This morning, I was at my kennel finishing up feeding my 23 huskies. I picked up the container with what was left of the dog food and put it back in the shed. I closed and locked the shed doors and started to walk home. Almost immediately I had a very uneasy feeling. The same feeling I have that signifies "NO" in a body dowsing sense. I call it intuition, energy tracking or inner vision. I had no idea what was causing this and I started to look about me to see if something was wrong like an injured animal or something like that. I could not see anything so I continued. At the entrance to the kennel, about 70 meters from the shed, I still felt it and it was actually even stronger. Something was definitely wrong. All of a sudden I thought I heard the flutter of wings above my head so I quickly looked up to see what kind of bird was flying over. There was no bird. I realized the fluttering was part of the inner vision and without fully knowing why I turned and walked back towards the shed. I was suddenly certain that some bird was trapped in the shed. Before I opened the doors I listened if I could hear something inside but there was no sound at all. I unlocked the doors and opened them. Right in front of me, sitting on the handle bar of a dog sled, was a blue tit. It stared at me for a short while and then took off and flew away to perch in a nearby tree.

On the one hand I somehow knew there was a bird in there (for no easily explained reason). Yet, I was very surprised that such a small bird could put out such an enormous presence!

Every time things like this happen I wonder about all the important messages from nature I may have missed. I am glad I did not miss this one!

Peter Friebel

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Answer

Everything pointed in the direction of this day becoming a really bad one. I wasn't feeling great when I woke up and when I saw some posts on Facebook on the new proposed policy for "managing" predators here in Sweden, I was in an absolutely foul mood. Now, this situation was the whole reason that this day became a grand one instead!

I posted a rant on Facebook on the subject and a separate version of it in the VaraVild Scout Project group. When I read back the post in the group I was utterly gobsmacked. There, right in front of me, was the answer to a question that I have been tracking for years! Mostly subconsciously but since this spring actually consciously as the question came up during an awareness/tracking course I gave. The question is more sort of a conundrum and as this is the first blog post I probably need to explain some things about my courses.

VaraVild Bushcraft School teaches tracking, nature awareness and primitive living skills. We take the rather unique view that all primitive skills, including survival, can not be truly mastered without mastering tracking and raising ones natural awareness. There are only a hand full of schools in the world who adopt these aboriginal ways of thinking and teaching. One of them, btw, is my good friend Geoffrey McMullan's school Pathfinder-UK. It is quite amazing to see the difference between people who learned, for instance, the techniques of making fire with a bow drill and those who first have been taught tracking and awareness.

The conundrum is related to awareness. It is not uncommon to see people develop slightly animistic tendencies after they have raised their awareness. They start to really perceive the uniqueness of individual plants, trees animals etc. Which is great and entirely in keeping with our goals. Bushcraft (I call the entire set of primitive living skills bushcraft) is of course based on using natural resources in a responsible and sustainable way to create a living in the wilderness. Here lies the problem. I have noticed in myself and in students a growing resentment to destroy or kill living things and even inanimate natural objects. Obviously this is very unnatural if those resources are required for our own survival and living! Because these actions are so natural we do get over those feelings by applying reason but in our style of survival, being in the heart is of vital importance and if you feel something is wrong that naturally is not, you have a real and potentially dangerous problem.

Like I mentioned earlier, this problem has been nagging me for many years and most of the time I dismissed it as me becoming an old softy. But recently, as I started to teach tracking and awareness in all my courses, it became an issue I needed to resolve once and for all. As I will discuss in future posts, I solve such problems by 'tracking' the solutions. This basically means becoming mindful of something that enters your awareness. In this case I became mindful of the answer staring me right in the face from my own Facebook post. The sentence that contained the answer was:

 "There is no democracy in the beating of a creatures heart! On that level there is only good and evil."

These words were written in the context of the question if politics, democracy and we humans in general have the right to decide on the existence of another species but it magically contained the answer I was looking for so long! This little sentence simply told me that indeed politics and logic have no place in such decisions. Only what you feel in your heart can guide you and we all instinctively know if we do something that is good or evil! Cutting down a tree to make a shelter or hunting an animal to eat is not evil. It is life and all life is good and your heart will tell you so. Your empathy and feeling of connectedness will make you treat the natural world with respect and care.

No predator is evil, it just needs to live! This does not mean that there is no empathy in nature. Far from it! I have seen animals show genuine empathy. This further proves to me that the truth of this answer is very universal.

Once you become aware of the unconditional interconnectedness of all life and indeed all things, you just need to follow your heart and with it the flow of life. The danger lies in not feeling connected with or, even worse, feeling you are above nature. That surely is a road leading to evil! 

Cosmically, good and evil are just labels. What ever we do is universally natural. We can not be unnatural in anything we do. Still, just as this question was nagging me because reason was convoluting what I new to be true in my heart, I am sure those who do 'evil' are nagged because what they know to be wrong in their heart is convoluting their reasoning.

Peter Friebel