I have recently returned from a week on Scotland’s Knoydart peninsula. I was there to take part in a Natural Change facilitation workshop. Natural Change, as led by David Key and Margaret Kerr, is a process of getting people to sense nature, rather than comprehend it with facts and figures and names. To do this, it provides facilitated nature experiences where you are totally immersed in nature and where your sense of identity begins to expand out to include the living and non-living elements of a given land or seascape. When this new way of relating happens, so the theory says, people begin to care more about the environment and will make decisions that support a wild ethic.
A wild ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land and sea, Aldo Leopold.
At its heart, Wildfjords aims to get you experiencing nature in an inspiring and enjoyable way, one which excites your senses and helps you realise a universal ‘natural’ identity. This is a process of animal-like relating (to the environment), where rational thought is suspended and experience is allowed to take front stage. Carl Jung’s take on it:
“I stood on the peak in the strange thin air, looking into the real world, the secret, where there are no teachers, no schools, no unanswerable questions, where one can be without having to ask anything”
In my experience, this practice of just being and experiencing without using human constructs to interpret the world creates allows an inner alignment with the external environment, a kind of tapping into an inherent architecture of the mind, where seamlessness between everything exists. A stunning portrayal of this seamlessness is found throughout Sjón’s novel, ‘From the Mouth of the Whale’. Set in the Westfjords, 1635, the protagonist, Jónas the Learned, is banished to an island for heretical conduct, where he recounts with horrendous darkness and real delight the interwoven fabric of existence and of how some people respond unknowingly with fear and some with clarified empathy and fascination.
“Now it seems to us natural philosophers that not only is a connection possible between living things – but the lord has placed in the haversack of every creature a book containing the recipes for all the rest....the same versatile sap of life flows through them all as that which flows deep down in the earth.....a cat sits not on hind legs but on a tail, which swells from the hip and curls like a lobster tail, while the cat’s nose is formed from a bunch of berries and about its neck is a collar studded with precious gems” Excerpt adapted, ‘From the Mouth of the Whale’, Sjón
It’s an honour to walk in the Westfjords, to sense its history, its deep summer vibrancy and to feel our own in the process.