This week was our first women's gathering in nature. It felt like the perfect time to come together, as restrictions start to lift and our lives start to resemble the life we had over a year ago.
We were overjoyed to be able to gather once again outside and have the opportunity to connect with other women in our community and beyond. It feels more important than ever to remember these moments and how sacred they are, especially meeting in nature and having these regular pauses to ensure we nurture our connections to our environment, to our community and most importantly to ourselves.
We often know what's best for us, but when life gets going we can often just put these things to the sidelines. We don't make these times and spaces necessary and sadly our society still continues to think of these types of spaces as luxury, not necessary or even indulgent. We feel that this is completely the opposite to the way we should be looking at life. We believe that spending time in nature doing nothing more than "being" is important, we believe that connecting with people from all walks of life is important and we don't see quiet time, reflective time and time with our feet in the sea or our hands in the soil as indulgent. In fact we see it as very necessary to the health of ourselves, the health of our families, our communities and our environment. Without these concious connections we get taken up in the everyday "to do" list and can easily forget the importance of taking care of these elements of life, which when nurtured helps everything to thrive.
Allowing space and giving priority to time to do nothing allows us to listen, to ourselves, to others and to nature. The Wise Woman Tradition of healing points out there are no rules. The wise women is curious, she experiements and listens to her body, she trusts herself and asks for help. Instead of trying to control a situation, which only leads to anxiety, the Wise Women Healing Tradition would look for connection, and seek a nourishing path of peace. "Give up on forcing Nature to do your bidding and dance with her variability." Susun Weed
This weekend when we spent time with Chef Verity from Eòlach, we discovered a whole world of edible plants and seaweeds were around us. We'd been walking these trails for years and never knew of the feasts we could be having!
This highlighted to us the idea that in todays society we like to have everything in a line, or to look perfect. That is definitely a subject we know women can relate to, but maybe that's the next blog...
If we think about gardening, we always want to control the environment and have forgotten the benefit of weeds or how different plants work together to overcome different insects. They create their own balance, when we come along and try and control that we can sometimes throw things off balance. Joseph Cocannouer, author of Weeds, Guardians of the Soil, championed wild plants. Reminding us that wild plants are much higher in nurtients than cultivated ones. When you remeber this and learn what surrounds us it starts to make you realise how disconnected we've become and it ignited our desire to make being and foraging in nature a more normal thing to do. We think nothing of going to get bramble's, why don't we have the same feeling about getting woodsorrel for our salads or pepper dulse as our seasoning.
These connections relate directly back to ourselves, we have often become so disconnected from who we are, what we want and how to go about that, that we don't even know where to start. Especially over the past year in these unprecedented times we think people have had the opportunity to reflect and see much more clearly that disconnect. A way of thinking that resonates with us at The Selkie Collective is something called Cultural Emergence. It's been written as a toolkit for expanding our positive impact on the world, it's designed to support us to bring about fertile emergence in our own lives, in our groups and communities and then taking this into the wider world.
There are three phases of Cultural Emergance; Challenge & Awaken, Move & Invigorate, Nourish & Empower. The first is about slowing and taking the time to look at things from different perspectives, this feeds in to the next stage which is the physical practices of thinking differently. Our minds and bodies get used to the patterns we have been conditioned to our whole lives, when we don't change things up or look at life from a different perspective we can get stiff, stressed or unresiliant. This not only should be thought of for ourselves, but also for our community.
"It is through attending to the health of the systems and communities we are part of, that we bring most resilience and health to ourselves; personal resilience comes through community resilience. And global resilience comes through local resilience." Looby Macnamara
The last stage is connection, when we meet up with people and listen, we are nourishing ourselves and each other. When we come together after the past year we can listen to people's experiences and ask questions. As Looby Macnamara says "We can then offer reflections to them, share with them their strengths, skills and qualities that we heard. Don't assume someone knows their own gifts, as it may seem very obvious to us that someone has a special talent and that we don't need to point it out to them, while in fact they may still be living under their own critical gaze, limiting their beliefs or stifled by their wounding."
When reading this and experiencing our Women's Walk with Nature we realised that it's all part of the same thing. That women in particular have so many societal pressures, expectations and roles to juggle, and then add to that the extra roles they had to take on throughout lockdown, is why it's so important to us to create spaces for women to come together. Particularly in nature so that we can relearn how to trust ourselves, to trust each other and trust in the natural rythms of life and the undulations that are inevitable.
We're looking forward to the future and learning from our past.