On our one day off during our 10-day Wilderness First Responder course last week, Katie and I drove to the coast to walk along the rugged beach of Bodega Bay. We got talking about our wilderness rite-of-passage program in June and the lack of initiation rites in our culture. I kinda put her on the spot by asking how she would describe an initiated adult to someone who’s never heard that phrase.
Here was her answer, and I think it is brilliant, and as good a definition as any I’ve heard:
Being an initiated adult has two pieces—One is knowing who you are, trusting your internal compass. Second, it is finding the willingness, courage, and strength to become an offering for the world in pain, an agent of change for good.
Yesterday I was called to do a spontaneous letting go ritual on the land with a friend.
It came to me suddenly at dawn when I was taking some questions out for a walk and I found myself drawn to a particular eucalyptus tree.
It reminded me of an experience a had last year w/ another eucalyptus. It was on the first weekend of our ecotherapy certification with Ariana Candell of the Earthbody Institute (where Katie & I met and started dreaming Wild Nature Heart), and we were doing a somatic exercise (what we consider associated with the south shield of the 4 shields, or nature-based map of the human psyche).
At that time, I had particular hang-ups around body and movement; it was one reason I chose to study with her. I had particular stories and beliefs around, such as “I’m not a mover or a dancer” or “my body is ____” “my sexuality is ____”.
As a result, I was having difficulty dropping into the experience—then I saw all these strips of eucalyptus bark at my feet, then looked up & saw them falling off the trunk, while the upper branches danced in the wind and the new flowers were emerging.
I was just moved viscerally and it was one of my first real conscious experiences of nature as mirror, nature and psyche as co-partners in expression.
Everything alive sheds the old to make room for growth and the new.
I knew I had to strip away beliefs and attitudes that I’d carried for too long and were no longer serving. It resulted in me being much more comfortable in my body, and in the poem Peel Away the Bark Of Yesterday.
But back to the present: I knew I wanted to do an intentional ceremony and my friend was up for it, so we created a circle with bark and limbs, then wrote out limiting beliefs on madrone leaves, read them one by one aloud to each other, crumbled them, and then threw them behind us.
This time the limiting ideas I stripped away had to with my relationship to money, family, & love.
We both felt energized by the experience by making room for expansion. This is a type of activity we use in Wild Nature Heart programs. But you can do them yourself—I highly recommend these sort of spontaneous self-ceremonies done with intention. Listen to your intuition, get out of your own way, and honor your soul by trusting it knows what it needs.
Belonging. Shedding and Letting go. Exploring roots. Community. Gratitude. Coming home to ourselves. Lightness. Pollination. Transition. Poison into medicine. Flow.
These are just some of the themes that emerged in yesterday’s nourishing, grounding, and connecting Deep Belonging to the World gathering in the redwoods. Through sense walking, council circle, & nature art, we re-connecting with the wisdom of our bodies, each other, and wild nature.
Here’s a haiku that Diane, a participant wrote after the Sense Walk:
With ear to the tree
my fingers scratching lightly
making tree music
Big Thanks to all the participants and to my co-guide for the day, Wellness Coach and nature artist, Christine Broz (@savornourishwellness).
This is a shimmering Wild Nature Heart. We met yesterday on a walk at the holy feet of Mount Tuyshtak (So-called Diablo in the language of colonizers). But the Ohlone Chochenyo called it Tuyshtak, meaning at the dawn of time.
This wild nature heart is for Paradise burning. This is for the I-can’t-take-these-damn-shootings-and-lies-and-upheaval-and-callousness anymore. This is for the river of humanity walking towards a better life and their wounded feet, their sore hearts, their wild thriving hearts.
This is for the wounds of a culture that breeds wounded people who morph into distorted Selves who find the only way out is through violence, towards others and themselves.
This is for our deep grief—you know the one, the one we don’t talk about, that tidal wave just behind our smiles, threatening to overtake our shores, for knowing we can’t live like this anymore, yet not seeing the future shore where we live in abundance, reciprocity, vibrancy, care, wholeness—but that we feel.
Yes, we feel it in our ancient bones, our reddest blood, our wettest well, our deepest breath, our original pulsating love at the dawn of time.
This is for taking our first breath after coma.
This is for the crack that lets the light in, for trusting our wild heart bigness, for saying YES, we will feel the grief, we will mourn, because our wild nature hearts are in love with the world, and they are big enough to hold it all.
November is National Novel Writing Month and we really believe what the organization says: the world needs your story!
Everyone has a story to tell—each unlike anyone else’s story. Our stories have shaped the people we are, who we are becoming, and helped shape the values we stand for. One of the values we believe in most firmly at Wild Nature Heart is that the world needs more authentic adults with the courage to tell their own origin stories–their own wild nature heart story!–in service to the greater conversation.
And so, in the spirit of council circle, and for the love of the juicy particularities of individual stories and the universal mythos they are held in, we are stepping forward with a writing challenge for each other and for you this month. We asked each other: do you dare to show up on the page with the truth of your own story?
And we answered, “Yes!”.
So here’s what’s happening: We each (@ryanreturntotheearth & @katie.baptist.1) signed up for @nanowrimo, with the aim to complete rough drafts of the memoirs we’ve been meaning to write for a long time. In many ways these are the back stories for the work we do at Wild Nature Heart, and why we care about it so much.
Throughout November we will do our best to each post on our Instagram and Facebook feeds our word counts, plus a juicy phrase or two capturing our latest writing session. You won’t see the stories in their entirety until they’re ready, but we will be offering these little glimpses as a way to include you in our process, so you know more about who we are, and we hope that by December 1st you will be begging to read more!
If you are also writing something, we’d love to hear about it! Tell us about what you’re writing in the comment sections of our posts, or share your own daily word count, Using the hashtag #mywildnatureheartstory. The more of us who have the courage to stand up & tell our wild nature heart stories, the more truth and courage there will be in the world!
Stay tuned! We’ll each post individually about the memoirs we are setting out to write. We are looking forward to sharing this journey into vulnerability & self-discovery with you!
Ryan and Katie