Getting Claimed by the Belly of the Earth
Getting Claimed by the Belly of the Earth
For just a little while, we ask you to consider trading comfort for shelter. To ask; what does it mean to be dreamt rather than dream, or to be claimed by a place? For some of us, these are yearnings almost painful to contemplate.
The wilderness vigil is something immeasurably ancient, and the way our ancestors tuned their ear to the furry emanations of the living earth.
Here, under the emerald bough of Dartmoor forest, we invite you to seek what they sought. In this place they called Dumnonia, or Defanscir, on the island they used to call Albion, we invite you to walk out of this century altogether.
What does that look like?
Four days and nights alone in the forest.
Just like the fairy tales.
Everywhere people are talking about the desperate need for a new story. We suggest that the stories worth attending to arise from the earth itself. We don’t need commentary about the earth, we need disclosures FROM the earth.
The wilderness vigil is a moment when the grinding of your ambitions and your griefs settle into the ground of something far deeper. This is always the place we have gone to mark transition – from one stage of life to another. It can be difficult, wonderful, resolutely un-ecstatic, and absolutely life-changing. Tribal folk have always known it was where you go to die and get born. A place where big questions get asked, things bend their heads to die and green shoots spring up.
Four days to maybe, just for a moment, behold Wild Land Dreaming.
This is not a teaching from a human realm. This is the old bones of the mountain as teacher, the swift raven overhead as guide. This is ancestor time. They can be tough instructors, but hold slow-gold-blessings in their beaks.
These vigils involve a re-calibration of what some of us understand by the words wilder-ness rites-of-passage. There has, we believe, sometimes been a little to much emphasis on the possible psychological transformation of the participant, and the wilderness itself as simply an encouraging backdrop as they work on their issues.
We join the voices of many before us and say we believe it’s really about the move from the psyche that lives in your chest, to you dwelling within a wider psyche of lapwing, oak root and lightning storm. That’s the big move.
We are out there to hear more than the whirring cogs of our own drama.
That is the journey from dreaming to getting dreamt, getting claimed by a place. It’s usually a slow, sometimes difficult and often mysterious process. Without a long term commitment to stewarding the experience afterwards, it can be hard to grasp quite what transpired. Friends, that’s where the work begins. Don’t come looking for honey if you don’t want to become a bee.
These vigils are the beginning of a long standing engagement from the School of Myth to offer deeply experiential work with the living world. We are really interested in a deepening conversation with a specific stretch of land over a long period of time.
Having long been in love with oral culture we are paying specific attention to the local, rather than an emphasis on the pan-global relevance of the ceremony. This will grow straight out of the dark soil of Dartmoor.
The West Country School has a particular way of approaching the wilderness fast; to develop what has been called “a community of wild ethics.” (Abram) The school places an emphasis on mythological literacy as a profound medium with which to deepen under-standing of what actually transpired out there out the hill.
It sees these forages into the bush as a dialogue with a kind of dreamtime, and such an experience needs subtle handling. What makes this experience so nourishing is in part the holding – the professional support, the telling of your story to trained guides who have both fasted themselves and can assist you in the locating of the deeper story within your experience.
Wildland Dreaming spans 8 days, and includes 4 days and nights fasting alone on private land on Dartmoor. For more information and practical details, please contact
Please note that currently, Martin Shaw is not personally guiding Wildland Dreaming. These vigils are led by Tina Burchill, David Stevenson and Tim Russell.
What does it mean to be dreamt rather than dream, or to be claimed by a place?