Something that draws me to permaculture is the way it evokes a very similar feeling to when I’m studying Druidry and nature based practices, some of the ideas and beliefs have striking parallels. I guess it’s not really too surprising, many permaculture designs and concepts are actually thousands of years old and were adopted from indigenous practices around the world.
I see the downright amazing things people are doing today (I’ll share a few in a moment), the way they are so connected with the land and the reverence they show for mother nature and I wonder what it must have been like before our “so-called modern world” took over with all its distractions.
Imagine the things the ancients must have observed!
It’s pretty safe to say the Druids and ancient Celts were a lot closer to nature than we are today. Because so many of their traditions were passed down orally, we don’t know all that much about them. What little we do know, is that they had a strong reverence for observation and wisdom.
It’s been said that a person would have to spend 20 years in training to become a druid. Each year they would have to devote to a single tree, observing it over the course of the seasons. Druids were said to have incredible command over the elements. I have my suspicions that a Druids power came not from commanding nature, it came from understanding her.
(Druid means “Oak-Wise” by the way)
I see in permaculture this same reverence for observation, and similar downright amazing abilities.
They say you should find a “sit spot” a place you visit every day and observe the world around you. Be still and take in all the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations that come to you and observe, relax and sorta melt into your environment.
After about 15 minutes the birds and animals you disturbed while getting to your sit spot will come back out and do their thing. Some people can get wild birds to eat directly from their hands by returning to the same place every day and showing the animals they are not a threat.
You can learn basic bird language which will tell you a great deal about what is happening in your environment. With patience and observation, you’ll be able to detect people and creatures who might be approaching just out of eye and earshot, by discerning the different calls from the birds.
You’ll find that they might have a specific call for the cat, and another for the dog. You’ll be able to tell when a predator is approaching like a hawk, one of the best thing to listen for is silence. You can also follow bird movement. Is something stirring up large groups of birds?
Perhaps there is a disturbance in the force.
It doesn’t work as well with birds of prey like hawks and eagles, it’s also best to avoid using Corvids like crows and ravens. The crow is known as a trickster in many indigenous cultures around the world for good reason; it is a great mimic and will often give you “false data”.
I can only imagine the wild and wonderful kind of things Druids must have learned from the birds and trees ages ago, before we drowned out their voices with machines and cars and electronics…
I prefer to end this blog on a positive note. I think the birds and the trees are still talking to us. There are people around today who are helping to restore that connection with the natural world. I want to share something beautiful I found last year, it’s a perfect example of modern-day Druidry.
A professional photographer, Mark Hirsch visited an ancient Burr Oak in Wisconsin every day over the course of an entire year and photographed his journey with the tree over the seasons. The pictures are absolutely breathtaking, I’m a sucker for Oaks. Check it out!