October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

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Dathi
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October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 01 Oct 2012, 09:11

Bushcraft & Druidry

“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, There is rapture on the lonely shore, There is society where none intrudes, By the deep sea and the music in its roar; I love not man the less, but Nature more.” Lord Byron

Any which way you look at it, Druidry is elemental. The powers and features of the elements are woven into everything that Druids do (and did). Getting down and dirty outdoors is a key part of being a Druid. But as they say, any fool can be uncomfortable outdoors. Furthermore, spending time outdoors can involve elements of risk.

This seminar takes a whimsical but practical look at spending time safely and comfortably in the great outdoors. There is plenty of advice here, and it comes with a health warning (and a total liability disclaimer). If caution is given against something, better believe that it is the voice of (sometimes quite painful) experience speaking.

Not all Bushcraft takes place outdoors. So, while being aware that not everyone can easily get to the wild places, there are also things to do inside. Bushcraft activities are seasonal. Undertaking appropriate projects at the right time of year is a good way of celebrating the festivals, and a range of indoor and outdoor seasonal activities are suggested. But, as always, be safe, be sensible!

I sometimes dub my brand of Druidry as being “The Order of Practical Druidry” (OPD), and this seminar, you might say, is the first gwersi of the OPD 101. Bushcraft is a vast topic, and we can only scratch the surface here. So, where possible and appropriate, I have heavily indexed this paper with links to those who know more than me. Much of what I address is touched on in various OBOD teachings (especially in the Ovate grade) and this seminar should be seen as complementary to “stuff” contained in the Gwersi. A listing of online reference books is also provided.

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy.” William Shakespeare

To start off, how do the elements tie into bushcraft? A simple position is this. Druidry is a spiritual practice. We are all seekers of some form of “Spirit”. Getting in touch with, befriending, and using the four basic elements of fire, air, water and earth, is our route to reaching a fifth element of “Spirit", the Quintessence.

Interacting with the elements takes place on physical and meta-physical planes. So whilst we might meditate on the characteristics of say, Earth, nothing beats getting grubby, stung, scratched, fed and a sore back by working with earth (and the fruits thereof). By a close and respectful interaction with Earth (sustainable land-use) we achieve a heightened affinity with this element. Likewise with getting soaked in a rain-shower, staring into a fire, or chasing after a blown away hat on a breezy mountain-top.

Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books. John Lubbock

A final word of this introduction. This seminar is not just to be read, it is meant to be done. If you do not get out there, sit in the woods in front of a small fire, make a brew, be protected from the elements by a simple shelter, and whittle a stick, you will be missing something. As time progresses I’ll add details of projects that you may wish to try for yourself.
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:owlhorn:
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 01 Oct 2012, 09:33

A Quick Word about “Bushcraft”
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"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference" - Robert Frost. The Road Not Taken

Not very many years ago, there was another name for what is now called “Bushcraft”, it was simply “Living”. The skills of working with the elements had nothing mystical or trendy about them, they were the day-to-day crafts, survival activities and the needful routines of sustenance.

With a move away from the land, increased urbanisation, modern technologies and vastly improved infrastructure people have had a lesser need (if any) to light a fire, build a shelter or wield an axe. For many people, these skills have been lost. Indeed, many of these skills have been outlawed (try walking down the high street with a Bowie knife on your belt and see what happens!).

A response to these changed circumstances has been a nostalgic revival of what is sometimes been called Primitive Living Skills. “Bushcraft” has been reinvented as a thriving industry with many sub-sets, training programmes, certification and an abundance of “Survival Experts” willing to share their knowledge for the appropriate fee.

The first step for modern Bushcrafters is often to invest in loads of expensive kit. It seems that to have any cred in the woods nowadays requires one to be adorned with (at the very least) a branded Swedish axe, bespoke antler-horned knife, the appropriately labelled garments, a nifty water carrier, several complicated cooking devices and a very expensive compass. A thousand quid later, and you are ready to walk in the woods.

A further essential bit of preparation is to watch one of many TV shows on how to “hack it in the bush”. There is nothing quite like the vicarious thrill of watching a celebrity adventurer fling himself from a helicopter deep into the Amazon jungle. It is especially useful when preparing to head off for a gentle stroll into the Shropshire (insert local place-name) woods.

Try here for starters:
http://www.youtube.com/user/beargryllsw ... relchannel
http://www.youtube.com/user/raymearsbus ... sults_main
The Grand-dad of these shows is Les Hiddens, the Bush Tucker Man : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1gVqNhoruQ

A more extreme form of Bushcraft is espoused by the “Survivalist” crowd. Holing up in the woods with enough weaponry to take on hoards of zombies, and with a lifetime’s supply of baked beans, is not particularly relevant to this seminar. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUxgDfWJ ... re=related

Wilderness “Survival” is another activity using Bushcraft. There are some members of DHP who are experts in this, and I’d be hoping to see them contribute to this thread. Coping with extreme situations is a bit beyond the scope of this seminar, but there are techniques used in military, disaster response, aviation / maritime safety that are extremely useful in day-to-day practical Druiding. “Equipped to Survive”, the US Military Field Manual (FM 3-05.70) is comprehensive, interesting and useful. http://www.equipped.org/fm3-0570.htm

A cheap-and-cheerful (but useful) little book is the Gem Pocket SAS Survival Guide by Lofty Wiseman: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Collins-Gem-Sur ... pd_sim_b_1

As with all hobbies and interests nowdays, there are several online communities. This discussion on Bushcraft and (Druid) spirituality is interesting: http://www.bushcraftuk.com/forum/archiv ... 10435.html

I like the ethos of Natural Bushcraft: http://www.naturalbushcraft.co.uk/
But there are several others:
http://www.bushcraftuk.com/forum/
http://bushcraftusa.com/forum/cmps_index.php
http://thebushcraftforum.co.uk/forum/
These tend to be friendly and interesting places, full of loads of interesting project ideas: http://thebushcraftforum.co.uk/forum/
Regular outings are organised, and it would be comforting to some to note that these gatherings are called “Moots”.

Sustainable Land-use

If I break faith, may the skies fall upon me, may the seas drown me, may the earth rise up and swallow me!

Druids espouse respect for all living things. I am not perfect in that way and have an exclusion list including slugs, mosquitos, horseflies and midgies. I’m not great with snakes either, luckily that is not an issue here thanks to St Patrick, that old arch enemy of snakes (and, for that matter, us Druids. Debate for another day!).

Respect for Mother Nature and “living lightly off (on) the land” are worthy intentions. This does NOT mean never touching or harming the land and the bounty of Earth. It DOES mean using natural features respectfully, intelligently, sustainably and with awareness. Woodfolk, hunters and farmers are often (albeit not always) the greatest custodians of the land, achieving far more for a healthy world than armies of environmentalists of the fluffy bunny / purple unicorn type.

As Druids, we interact with nature. Our magic involves three activities of questing, transforming and creating. Weaving this magic on the Earth may involve cutting, sawing, chopping, burning, digging, and sometimes even killing. It is the way that we do this that makes a difference.

The Irish triads state: Three unfortunate things of husbandry: a dirty field, leavings of the hurdle, a house full of sparks. And as always, much wisdom from ancient times is still appropriate.

The photo below is a good illustration of what I'm talking about. Hazel rods are very useful in bushcraft. They can be used for shelter-building, making a chair leg, bow, staff, or divining fork. Removing one or two from a clump like this makes negligible impact on the environment and allows regrowth.
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References

In addition to books referenced above, you may find this online library of interest. These are all vintage books and some are crackers.

Baden Powell, R. Scouting for Boys.
http://www.thedump.scoutscan.com/s4b.html

Graves, R. 10 Bushcraft Books. (aka Australian Bushcraft)
Full pdf download (8.2 meg) http://www.endif.com.ar/Books/Australia ... hcraft.pdf
More digestible versions here: http://chrismolloy.com/page.php?u=p131

Kephart, H. (1921) Camping and woodcraft; a handbook for vacation campers and for travelers in the wilderness. http://archive.org/details/campingwoodcraft00kephrich

Kreps, E, H. 1910. Woodcraft.
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/34773/34 ... 4773-h.htm

Beard, D.C. 1916. Shelters, Shacks and Shanties.
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/28255/28 ... 8255-h.htm

Sears, G. W. Woodcraft & Camping.
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/34607/34 ... 4607-h.htm
:owlhorn:
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 01 Oct 2012, 09:58

Survival

"Do not mess with the forces of Nature , for thou art small and biodegradable!"

As mentioned above, modern Bushcraft practiced as a hobby / interest / vocation derives much from the survival needs of those from an earlier age. This has been further refined by those to whom survival skills are a necessity e.g. military personnel, explorers, and those working in remote areas.

There are several key elements to surviving in hostile conditions, either natural or man-made. These include shelter and security, warmth, water, food, and the will to prevail. These, in turn, are based on the “pyramid of survival”. The foundation is the will to survive, supporting knowledge and situational awareness of the environment, followed by the skills of survival, with the tools of survival at the top.

All of these involve working with the elements. Using these skills in less dramatic circumstances can substantially enhance our Druidic practices. Sitting outdoors under shelter, warmed by a fire, with a full belly and a hot beverage is a very satisfying way to commune with nature. Being cold, wet, hungry and fearful might be character-building but leaves little head space to concentrate on spiritual musings.

There are risks associated with bushcraft. These obviously differ according to your environment but all can be managed with prudence, preparation and situational awareness. Some early advice I was given was to “move TO safety, never run AWAY from danger” and this is possibly the best advice I’ve ever had. Running away implies a panic reaction, whilst moving to, suggests clear thinking and a plan.

This picture is illustrative. Euphorbia sap is toxic and corrosive. Cooking with dried euphorbia will make you ill and possibly kill you. BUT, if you have knowledge, skills and tools, euphorbia can be very useful. Burnt euphorbia makes a primitive form of plastic which can be used as glue, water-proofing and tool-making. The sap can be used for survival fishing. http://www.theamateursdigest.com/epoisons.htm
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Primitive Living

Primitive living skills bring us closer to nature. They require an understanding of the properties of natural phenomena, wood, plants, stone, animals etc. By learning about how our forebears used nature we can develop our own deeper appreciation of the magic of wild things. Apart from the satisfaction to be gained from working with nature and crafting from nature, we can also establish a direct link with our ancestors. Ovates reading this will find how beneficial this is.

By knapping a stone, weaving cord from nettles, hewing wood with a crude axe, firing an arrow from a bow, stalking animals in the wild (even if only using a camera), or burning a block of wood to create a bowl we are engaging in activities that humans have been using for thousands of years. These timeless actions provide a thread back into the ancient past. Many of these tasks involve repetitive action, something that is conducive to meditation.

Primitive living skills have a contemporary relevance too, and you don’t have to be in the wilderness to experiment with these. Consider, for example, nettles. They grow everywhere, and look what you can do with them: http://www.nettlesoup.info/nettlecloth.htm

Hunting & Gathering

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. William Shakespeare. As you Like It.

These are two essential activities of Bushcraft, and both are ideal for connecting with the spirit of the land and the ancestors.

Hunting first. This may not sit easily amongst all modern Druids and is not a topic that is dealt with in technical detail here. There are many excellent debates on all aspects of hunting and Druidry elsewhere on DHP. Suffice to say that ancient Druids practiced a reverence for the land and living creatures but were not averse to eating meat (for food, for ritual and for divination). By definition, eating meat requires killing, and the skills of doing so (swiftly, as painlessly as possible, sustainably, and with respect) are part of bushcraft. Lessons may be learnt from both Native Americans and the San Bushmen of the Kalahari. Both peoples depended on hunting for food and clothing, but did their hunting with respect and thanksgiving.

Gathering of food, or foraging is fun, educational and an excellent Druidic practice. As I write this (Autumn) the trees and bushes outside are loaded with food. Hawthorn and rowan berries nestle alongside blackberries and rose hips. The last few apples and plums are still on the trees, and earlier (before the birds got most of them) there was a bumper crop of cherries. It is also nut and mushroom time.

Foraging is a topic worthy of a seminar all of it’s own, but we can touch on a few aspects. The first thing that becomes apparent when foraging for food, is a realisation of how hard the old hunter-gatherers must have worked to find a full belly! Further to this, they must have developed techniques to preserve Nature’ s Autumnal bounty in preparation for the dark Winter months.

Without the survival imperative, there is much fun to be had in making jams, preserves and other concoctions out of wild foods. A great little book to aid amateur foraging is “Food for Free” by Richard Mabey (I have the Pocket Gem version, very handy for my grab bag).
There is a useful forager’s calendar here: http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/L ... lendar.pdf

The Dark

“When you walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, you must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for you to stand upon or you will be taught to fly.” Patrick Overton, The leaning tree

Things are different in the dark. And being outdoors in the dark opens up a whole range of Druidy things to do. There are obvious dangers of being out and about in darkness and prudence is required according to the situation. Appropriate safety measures should be taken (communications, light, hi-viz garment if on public roads, warm clothing, a stout stick, letting somebody know where you are etc. The heft of a 3 cell metal torch can be reassuring).

Camping overnight in a self-made shelter is an obvious way to encounter the dark. This may not be possible for all, but several other activities are useful. One is simply to go for a walk in the dark. But even better is to recce a route and prepare a hidey-hole during the day, and then to head off there for an hour or so to meditate, listen to the night sounds and “make friends with the dark”. Spike Milligan has good advice “Things that go bump in the night, should not give one a fright. It is the hole in each ear, and the absence of light, that lets in the fear”.

"There are two kinds of light—the glow that illumines, and the glare that obscures." James Thurber
“You can't study the darkness by flooding it with light.” Edward Abbey
:owlhorn:
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 01 Oct 2012, 11:17

Bushcraft and Druid History

All here are well versed in the mantra that the “Druids left no written records”, and while this may be so, there are plenty of allusions to Druid lifestyle and practice in ancient literature. I’m kind of fond of the unfortunate Buile Suibhne (Mad Sweeney). http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/T302018/index.html

Different interpretations of the tale exist, and some would say that he represented the peregrinations of a wandering Druid. Following various battles and curses he was left wandering around Ireland, surviving off the land. Whilst his initial bushcraft skills were minimal, he obviously learnt a trick or two during his seven year bimbling around the place.

He was oft given to muttering about his sad circumstances:

Gloomy this life,
to be without a soft bed,
abode of cold frost,
roughness of wind-driven snow.
Cold, icy wind,
faint shadow of a feeble sun,
shelter of a single tree,
on the summit of a table-land.
Enduring the rain-storm,
stepping over deer-paths,(?)
faring through greensward
on a morn of grey frost.

Other bushcraft homilies come to mind; "any fool can be uncomfortable in the bush" and "there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. He should have built one of these:
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But Nature is a good teacher, and in time he learns the lie of the land and the nature of trees.

Thou oak, bushy, leafy,
thou art high beyond trees;
O hazlet, little branching one,
O fragrance of hazel-nuts.

O alder, thou art not hostile,
delightful is thy hue,
thou art not rending and prickling
in the gap wherein thou art.
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O little blackthorn, little thorny one;
O little black sloe-tree;
O watercress, little green-topped one,
from the brink of the ousel(?) spring.

O minen of the pathway,
thou art sweet beyond herbs,
O little green one, very green one,
O herb on which grows the strawberry.

O apple-tree, little apple-tree,
much art thou shaken;
O quicken, little berried one,
delightful is thy bloom.

O briar, little arched one,
thou grantest no fair terms,
thou ceasest not to tear me,
till thou hast thy fill of blood.

O yew-tree, little yew-tree,
in churchyards thou art conspicuous;
o ivy, little ivy,
thou art familiar in the dusky wood.

O holly, little sheltering one,
thou door against the wind;
o ash-tree, thou baleful one,
hand-weapon of a warrior.

O birch, smooth and blessed,
thou melodious, proud one,
delightful each entwining branch
in the top of thy crown.

The aspen a-trembling;
by turns I hear
its leaves a-racing—
meseems 'tis the foray!

My aversion in woods—
I conceal it not from anyone—
is the leafy stirk of an oak
swaying evermore.(?)

But things got better, and having got the measure of different trees and plants, he grudgingly concedes ‘tis not that I hated it.
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Water of bright Glen Bolcain,
listening to its many birds;
its melodious, rushing streams,
its islands and its rivers.

Its sheltering holly and its hazels,
its leaves, its brambles, its acorns,
its delicious, fresh berries,
its nuts, its refreshing sloes.

The number of its packs of hounds in woods,
the bellowing of its stags,
its pure water without prohibition;
'tis not I that hated it.
:owlhorn:
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 01 Oct 2012, 11:32

Tools & Skills

Three hands that are best in the world: the hand of a good carpenter, the hand of a skilled woman, the hand of a good smith.

Using and understanding tools is an important part of Bushcraft. Tools may have been seen as the human means to achieve dominance over nature. But, used properly, they are also a means to interact more effectively with nature.

The picture below depicts some of the kit that may be used in encounters with the elements. Some sensitive souls may blanch at this array of ironmongery. But each has its place and purpose in the woods. And each, used respectfully, can leave an improvement in nature.
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Whilst it can be tempting to invest in a range of gadgets and kit, most bushcraft needs little kit. A Swiss Army Knife is the modern-day Druids sickle, and not much more is needed. Find one with two blades (big and small) and a saw as a minimum. A good bushcraft fixed blade is also useful. Decent quality Frosts Mora knives are very good and do not cost the earth.

Better still…. Make your own. Making a knife is a very elemental task, satisfying, and brings you in touch with alchemy, wood craft, shades of Brigid and Gobnieu etc. (Basic instructions follow).

A key thing about tools is to look after them. Blades especially, should be kept sharp, and lightly oiled when not in use. A bit of cop-on is also required. I have seen people on camps chopping wood whilst barefoot or wearing light sandals. Not good. I have also seen skyclad people chopping wood at Druid camps. Toes are not the only appendage at risk there.

Four things are needed by every work of art; a place, a time, an author, and a cause. Martyrology of Oengus.
:owlhorn:
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 01 Oct 2012, 11:43

How To Make Your Own Bushcraft Knife

A good knife is the basic tool of bushcraft. Excellent knives can be bought quite cheaply (Mora or Hultafors Range) but nothing beats making and using your own knife.

The steps to making an effective knife are simple enough and only require patience and basic hand tools. Here is the basic procedure (Note that there is an abundance of advice on this topic available online – These are just the basics). Safety is important, but it is appropriate (and probable) that the metal would teach you some respect through the odd burn and bloodletting!

Step 1: Acquire an old metal file. The older the better (steel quality). I have found several of these at car boot sales and they have cost next to nothing.
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Step 2: Build a hot fire and place the file in it to heat it (annealing i.e. softening the steel). The metal should reach an angry orange colour. Let the file cool gradually.

Step 3: Draw the outline shape of your intended blade on the file and start work cutting, filing and shaping it. By tradition, your first blade should be done manually (file and hacksaw), but the task is much quicker with an angle-grinder or grinding wheel. Templates for this task can be readily found online. Try here for lots of details (Watch the video sequence) http://www.greenpete.co.uk/knife-making/
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Step 4: File the blade to a decent edge (30 degrees) and shape. Drill two holes in the handle to fit the wooden blanks later.

Step 5: Back to the fire for the tempering process. Get the blade orange hot again and rapidly cool it by immersion in oil. Old engine oil will do, some people use cooking or olive oil. Be careful! Outdoor job, using gloves and tongs! :warm:

Step 6: Clean and polish the blade (using decreasing grades of wet & dry sand paper). Hone on a whetstone until satisfactorily sharp.

Step 7: Wrap the sharp end with stiff card and tape (for safety reasons) and fit the handle. The wood of the handle should have some personal resonance with you (possibly Curley Birch for Bards, Yew for Ovates and Oak for Druids). I use a combination of steel pins and a strong epoxy glue to secure the handle.

Step 8: Includes the finishing off of the knife, polishing the blade and handle and adding any personal features or decorations (pyrography anyone?). It may not be pretty, but should be functional.
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Step 9: Is to find or make a decent sheath for your new tool.

Just a quick word about the law. This obviously differs across jurisdictions and you need to comply with local laws. As a general rule, blades longer than 3 inches should not be (openly) carried in public places without a justifiable reason. Anyone being reckless or silly with a blade deserves sanctions, but for most Druid purposes (as a ritual tool – Athame, on Druid Camps, or in obvious outdoor activities) the discreet carrying and use of a bushcraft knife should not pose a problem. Read this:
http://druidnetwork.org/civilliberties/knives
:owlhorn:
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Runjala
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Runjala » 01 Oct 2012, 12:22

I did not read all your posts. But I am still a bit shocked about the picture with the tools :huh:

Druidry and outdoor is in my opinion like "Leave no trace" or "minimal impact", but not bushcraft.
If I am outside/outdoors, I will be part of nature, feel it and all the spirits around me. I think that is unavailable with the tools on your picture und my/the sense of "bushcraft".

So far for it now, because its a bit difficult for me to describe all my feelings about that in english and not in german.

Runjala

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mark the compost elf
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby mark the compost elf » 01 Oct 2012, 13:20

Peasant-craft druidry - i like it :) I fully agree that we should work well with nature - we are a part of it and as such build our habitat out of it naturally - I'd personally slim down the tool list a little (a billhook can do most jobs I find :) )

A descriptive and enlightening Seminar - Well done, well written and well illustrated :)
From decay comes growth, fungal or otherwise. All stages of death are filled with life and life to be. Creation is made up of ugly beauty that is gorgeous to those who can feel as well as they can see.

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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Bracken » 01 Oct 2012, 13:51

Dathi, I'm thrilled to bits that you've kicked off the seminar series again in such style. Thank you for a dead interesting and informative seminar. I have found loads of stuff in there that I want to have a go at, definitely.

Also, I want to draw attention to the sentence right under the tools photo.
Whilst it can be tempting to invest in a range of gadgets and kit, most bushcraft needs little kit. A Swiss Army Knife is the modern-day Druids sickle, and not much more is needed.
edit: I love the roundhouse picture, by the way. I will never forget the night we spent in the woods in the dark. x
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 01 Oct 2012, 14:26

Thanks for comments and observations already Mark, Runjala & Bracken. I was hoping that this would be an interactive seminar and debate and different opinions are welcomed. Already some issues are raised that I intend to address more fully.

Uh, Bracken, just in case you have a mental image of me stomping off into the woods festooned with all that kit..... not so. Another bushcraft homily is "The more you know, the less you have to carry", and I'm still learning.

On a slightly more serious note, I do want to stay a bit on track. It would be easy to spiral off into other directions (even though they may be interesting). Bushcraft (or in this case woodcraft, or even, sustainable woodland use) does cause us to leave our comfort zones (like Sweeny Geilt above). Our presence on the land does leave an impact. For me, the balance of that overall impact must be beneficial to earth.

Take for example chainsaws. Your house has lots of timber in it. Where did that come from?

Chances are that it was extracted using one of these.....
cbnightmare.jpg
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Which left the land looking like this.....
machineharvest.jpg
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On Saturday, I was revisiting the site of a devastating fire. Without the use of chainsaws (including the one in that photo), the impact of that fire could have been much much worse. It was bad anyway, but could have spread uncontrolled through one of the most beautiful and wild glens in the country without the use of chainsaws to cut fire-breaks. It was great to see the regeneration happening.
firedamage.jpg
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So, a chainsaw may seem like a means of perpetrating violence on nature, but it is in fact, a minimal impact tool of sustainable land use. It's all about balance, respect and a proper perspective.
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Bracken » 01 Oct 2012, 14:34

Uh, Bracken, just in case you have a mental image of me stomping off into the woods festooned with all that kit..... not so. Another bushcraft homily is "The more you know, the less you have to carry", and I'm still learning.
:D No, not at all, Dathi.

When I posted the quote from your seminar my intention was to show Runjala that I don't think you go
stomping off into the woods festooned with all that kit
.

We're already planning our knifemaking session up here in Lancashire.
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby mark the compost elf » 02 Oct 2012, 13:21

Too right we are Bracken :)

Dathi, I'm still a good way begind you, but am an avid wood crafter and 'impact balancer' myself. I couldn't agree more - smaller, skillful and sustainable wood and landmanagement is a great way to balance impacts - it also allows dfor a greater species diversity and habitat range and the management of woodlands etc create a loty of vairied habitats at different points of regrowth.

Rummaging for old files now to see if i can cobble up a decent knif blade - also going to try making one out of an old circular (blunt and bent) saw blade too :)

So what with the relatively poor crops on a lot of the edible 0plants this year are you planning to do in terms of foraging? We have little that has cropped near us this year, so i'm leaving what there is for the wildlife to survive on over winter :)
From decay comes growth, fungal or otherwise. All stages of death are filled with life and life to be. Creation is made up of ugly beauty that is gorgeous to those who can feel as well as they can see.

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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 03 Oct 2012, 21:02

Mark, I'll get back to you on your question. It fits in with another part of this seminar that I have yet to upload. I'll be adding to this over the month. Nice to see another wood crafter here! There are plenty more on DHP, including some serious experts in this space.
Here follows another bit. Looking for all the medical professionals to comment on this and add to it.

Bush Medicine & First Aid.

Rudyard Kipling has some pithy observations on traditional cures. So, lets start with a health warning! The point is to be informed. Two personal examples. I don't know nearly enough about mushroom foraging - so I simply don't dabble there. Likewise I'm not great on all umbillifers. Some are benign (and can be used for straws / pea-shooters), others are (very) dangerous. So, I am very cautious :anx:

EXCELLENT herbs had our fathers of old -
Excellent herbs to ease their pain -
Alexanders and Marigold,
Eyebright, Orris, and Elecampane -
Basil, Rocket, Valerian, Rue,
(Almost singing themselves they run)
Vervain, Dittany, Call-me-to-you-
Cowslip, Melitot, Rose of the Sun,
Anything green that grew out of the mould
Was an excellent herb to our fathers of old.

Wonderful tales had our fathers of old -
Wonderful tales of the herbs and the stars -
The Sun was Lord of the Marigold,
Basil and Rocket belonged to Mars.
Pat as a sum in division it goes -
(Every herb had a planet bespoke) -
Who but Venus should govern the Rose ?
Who but Jupiter own the Oak ?
Simply and gravely the facts are told
In the wonderful books of our fathers of old.

Wonderful little when all is said,
Wonderful little our fathers knew.
Half their remedies cured you dead -
Most of their teaching was quite untrue -

"Look at the stars when a patient is ill
(Dirt has nothing to do with disease),
Bleed and blister as much as you will,
Blister and bleed him as oft as you please."
Whence enormous and manifold
Errors were made by our fathers of old.

Yet when the sickness was sore in the land,
And neither planets nor herbs assuaged
They took their lives in their lancet-hand
And, oh, what a wonderful war they waged !
Yes, when the crosses were chalked on the door -
(Yes when the terrible death-cart rolled!),
Excellent courage our fathers bore -
Excellent heart had our fathers of old.
None too learned but nobly bold
Into the fight went our fathers of old.

If it be certain, as Galen says -
And sage Hippocrates holds as much -
"That those afflicted by doubts and dismays
Are mightily helped by a dead man's touch,"
Then be good to us, stars above !
Then be good to us, herbs below !
We are afflicted by what we can prove,
We are distracted by what we know.
So - ah, so!
Down from your heaven or up from your mould,
Send us the hearts of our fathers of old !


Things can easily go wrong in the woods, especially when in remote places or when using tools. As with everything in this seminar, prevention is better than cure. Proper preparation for woodland activities goes a long way to preventing accidents, but on occasion they can happen. The best chance then is to respond appropriately and have the right equipment to hand. My working medical kit contains all the usual first aid paraphernalia but with two additional items. These are a roll of gaffer tape and a roll of cling film. Woodland first aid does not go in for the niceties of neat bandaging according to the manual. The combination of cling film and gaffer tape allows for the key tasks of stopping bleeding and preventing infection to be completed quickly and effectively.

Natural first aid measures are also to be found. Everyone has heard of dock weed as a cure for nettle slap. I think that’s a bit of a con job.
But something that IS particularly effective for all manner of bites, stings and grazes is the humble plantain plant. Application is simple, just chew up a couple of leaves and smear the macerated green stuff on the afflicted parts. Not pretty, but very effective. Yarrow is another part of your natural first aid kit. Great for stopping bleeding from minor wounds. Comfrey leaves make good blister plasters.
plantain.jpg
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Bush / Wilderness medicine is beyond the scope of this seminar but is a very interesting subject. Maybe one of our Medical herbalists could address this some day. Here are a few resources:
Australian Bush medicine:
http://www.bri.net.au/medicine.html
http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/ ... icines.htm
African Bush Medicine
Many linked via a previous seminar: http://www.druidry.org/board/dhp/viewto ... 26&t=36777
American Bush medicine
Fantastic resource here: http://www.wildernesscollege.com/plants ... icine.html
http://7song.com/files/Wilderness%20First%20Aid.pdf

Dathi’s All-purpose Gunk

Here follows my little special bushcraft concoction. I’ve made a big pot of this and carry a blob of it in my grab bag.

Ingredients
Bee’s Wax
Cooking Oil
A big pile of plantain leaves.
A big pile of meadowsweet flowers.
meadowsweet.jpg
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Preparation
Bring a quantity of cooking oil to the boil, and take it off the heat.
Stuff plantain and meadowsweet into the pot and mash it all in the hot oil. Give a good long stir.
Strain the infused oil.
Mix the infused oil into the bee’s wax in another container over a gentle heat source.
Stir vigorously until the infused oil has fully blended with the wax.
Pour into small pots (I use cupcake moulds).
Allow to set.

And what can I do with this? Well, it’s good for all sorts of things. All-purpose salve for bites, stings and scratches. Waterproofing wax. Fire-starting accelerant / candle making. Waxing cord for craft-work. Cooking oil. Smells nice too!

Hot & Cold

Just a quick word about hypo / hyperthermia. These are the biggest dangers in bushcrafting activities, especially with kids in wild places. Three things here are: awareness, hydration (hot or cold as appropriate) and layers. I continue to be amazed at encountering people up mountains who are woefully unprepared for rapid change in temperature. A space blanket, big rubbish bag or survival bag takes no space at all.

Other Resources

Great guide here: http://www.adventuremedicalkits.com/doc ... erness.pdf

This list is encouraging: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wi ... mergencies

I relate to the layout of military manuals (lots of pikkies, checklists and key points ;-) FM 4-25.11 http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/army/fm4_25x11.pdf
Even more here: http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/milmed/index.html

This is a beaut of a book. Medicine in Ancient Erin. http://www.electricscotland.com/history ... lluoft.pdf

Have a look at the adverts at the back. Now, THIS is what I call a serious bushcraft medical kit!!!!
seriousbushmed.JPG
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:owlhorn:
Seminar. September 2010: African Druids? Sangomas, Inyangas http://www.druidry.org/board/dhp/viewto ... =2&t=36777

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Seminar. October 2012: Druids & Bushcraft viewtopic.php?f=326&t=41256

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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Ade Sundog » 03 Oct 2012, 21:39

Thanx for this Dathi. Good on you :tiphat:
:sun:

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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby treegod » 03 Oct 2012, 22:32

Very interesting Dathi. Thanks for sharing. I didn't read it all (too busy thinking about my own seminar, lol), but what I saw looks very in-depth, informative.

As for impact, we experience the impact we make on nature because we are closer to it. With convnetional Western living we are more removed from the impact we make on nature, and so we experience the impact less (even though there is more impact). The "shock", perhaps, comes from realising we make an impact on nature, that our existence cannot be neutral in the sense of "leave no trace" (minimal impact is something else, which I think bushcraft can accomplish, compared to conventional living at least).

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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 04 Oct 2012, 09:18

Cheers Ade and treegod.

Yes, it is a challenging issue and one that I hoped we could debate.
"Leave no trace" is important and appropriate in many settings. It is particularly necessary in outdoor locations that face pressures from visitor numbers (e.g. 15.5 annual visits to the Lake District), or in particularly vulnerable habitats / wilderness areas.

The main context for this seminar is what I would term "Working Woodlands".

Working Woods are joyous places. They are "vital" in every sense, and I believe that "Mother Nature" revels in the woods being alive and used (by people who appreciate the bounty of woodland). They are so important in allowing people to learn about and connect with the natural world.

This programme is well worth a watch. BBC Master Crafts - Green Woodcraft: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4I45sDMxxo
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby DaRC » 04 Oct 2012, 13:05

Yep good work here Dathi - thanks for the details. It's kind of weird reading through it; my youth spent running around the woods of Sussex (and watching old country based TV programs like 'Out of Town') obviously taught me more than I knew :grin:

As a mountain biker who's been through the whole environmental impact debates many times there are several aspects to the 'leave no trace' argument. You're correct that areas that face pressure from visitor numbers do require more care and respect - it's been noticeable in the past decade that the numbers of people out in the countryside have increased. 22 years ago, or so, when I got my first MTB and headed out onto the South Downs it was rare to see anyone once you were over a mile from a car park; the occasional horse rider, the odd group of committed ramblers etc... That's not the case now but it's good to see more people enjoying the landscape and connecting with nature.
Various studies have indicated that it's all about balance - a mix of respectful walkers, equestrian and MTB'ers means that each group mitigates the damage that having a single group will do. Once again taking wood from the forest, when done with thought & care, help's to balance the woodland which benefits all the flore & fauna. It is good to see the National Trust & Nature Conservation organisation returning to natural methods of managing the landscape through the use of livestock and woodcraft.

I tend to apply the "leave no trace" philosophy to things like un-biodegradable rubbish, fire pits and things that harm the balance. Actions like coppicing that leave a trace actually benefit the landscape.

So it's worth remembering that it is a living landscape, not some moment in time to be pickled and preserved. A couple of hundred years ago large herds of livestock would have been driven along these very same paths. Indeed I would argue that there is no part of the North West European landscape that has not been created (to an extent) by man. The southern heathland was created during the Neolithic, my beloved Downland was created sometime between the Neolithic and the Iron Age. It's similar across this part of Europe. Part of the reason that Sussex has remained so wooded is partly due to it's central part in the late medieval Iron industry. So many times what we percieve as wild & untamed nature is actually a product of our ancestors efforts.

Which all takes me back to the philosophy I was brought up with - we (humans) are caretakers of the land. I would argue that the "leave no trace" philosophy when taken in extremis is an abdication of our (human) responsibility to the land.

Finally :oops: I've changed my ways with regards to banana skins, which I used to think were biodegradable, but was told recently that nothing in our (NW European temperate) landscape can process them....
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most sweet the sight of the sun;
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby skydove » 04 Oct 2012, 16:19

Hi Dathi,
What a great seminar, there is so much knowledge there, I particularly liked the inclusion of poems and sayings, it brought it all to life. Very well done!
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'much of what she heard from the trees was her own self echoed back'
http://www.suerodger.moonfruit.com/.
December 2013 Seminar - Mask Making with Plaster Bandages

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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 05 Oct 2012, 10:07

The Elements, Realms & Seasons

During the long winters they are prone to collect in little knots and talk much of camps, fishing, hunting, and roughing it ... I dislike the phrase. We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home ; in towns and cities" Nessmuk, Woodcraft 1884 (See the links section above).

Druids are well familiar with Elemental correspondences i.e. the characteristic meanings and linkages between elements and associated phenomena. Bushcraft allows us to become more intimate with the elements, and thus understand them better. Indeed (and importantly) it allows us to develop our own personal understandings and applications of the elements. This is but a taster session of activities that we can undertake to develop a closer relationship and understanding of the elements and cycles of the year. This section will be added to on an ad-hoc basis and I’d be particularly interested to hear what outdoor activities you engage in at different times of the year.

“To get the full impact of all the elements, within & without, one has to be alone.” Niel Gunn. Atom of Delight.

"DUNAIRE FIONN" (excerpts from THE BLACK BOOK OF CAR MARTHEN)

Along with seven created beings
I was placed in a fire of purification
I was myself gleaming fire,
When I was first given life.
I was dust on the earth,
And grief could not touch me;
I was a great wind;
less evil than good;
I was mist on a mountain,
A shelter for game;
I was a blossom on every tree
On the face of the earth.

"It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy." --Kephart

Spirit:

This is what it is all about. Achieving communion with the “spirit” is achieved by respectful interaction with all the other elements. As to what “spirit” is, well, that depends on your brand of Druidry. I like this framework by PCG on the OBOD page:

The Richness of Place
The Richness of Time
The Treasures of the Tribe
The Treasures of the Ancestors
The Joy of the Journey
http://www.druidry.org/library/members- ... y-identity

Bushcraft allows us to study, explore, connect with and appreciate all these dimensions. But we have to let this happen. I’m an action oriented person who likes to be busy all the time, but “Spirit” finds it hard to hit a moving target, and this is a two-way process. So listed below are active and stationary (not passive) bushcraft activities to consider. I find that certain rhythmic and repetitive tasks (filing metal, carving wood, digging etc.) can lead to higher attunement (although some might call it daydreaming!).

And (just for Skydove) here is a wee bit of poetry we all know. W. B. Yeats was a pretty Druidy soul, and his vision for Inishfree would make anyone want to become a bushcrafter! This is what I call “finding spirit”.
lakeisleinisfree.jpg
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I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

Druid Bushcraft – Auguries

In this “elemental” section I will touch on auguries. One of the best things about bushcraft is that it enables us to learn about, understand, and even possibly to develop skills in various forms of augury.

According to historical manuscripts, ancient Druids used all the elements in forms of divination. Consider the tale of my ancestral namesake. Ole King Dathi wanted to know what the future held and commissioned his Druid, Doghra, to get to work. His Druid climbed the “Hill of the Druids” (Cnoc na n Druadh) and spent the night under the stars, returning at sunrise. “I have consulted the clouds of the men of Erin” he said, going on to add that Dathi (last pagan King of Erin) would soon make a conquest of Britain, Alba and Gaul. This was to be so.

So, I figured I'd try a bit of Nealadoireacht myself. So absorbed was I in "spirit" that I missed the more obvious portents of the shower cruising in from the West. The only thing that happened was that I got wet!!!!
Neldoracht.jpg
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Nothing for it but to get philosophical.

“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” - John Ruskin
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Seminar. September 2010: African Druids? Sangomas, Inyangas http://www.druidry.org/board/dhp/viewto ... =2&t=36777

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Seminar. October 2012: Druids & Bushcraft viewtopic.php?f=326&t=41256

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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Ade Sundog » 05 Oct 2012, 12:34

There's a quote in the book i'm reading which seems apt -

"To be in the right place facing the right direction doing the right thing at the right time is, then,
a cross between being practically efficent and being ritually correct.
It is being in tune with the Universe."
:sun:

Og - Ha - Be

Make Tea Not War :greenpeace:


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