October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

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Dathi
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 30 Oct 2012, 17:41

Thanks for the comments above.

The "formal" stage of this seminar might be done, but in some ways I have not really even scratched the surface of this vast topic. But in preparing for this seminar, and through the various discussions this prompted, I've reached some tentative conclusions.

1. The practical and the esoteric aspects of Druidry need to be fully integrated for meaningful practice.
2. Bushcraft / woodcraft are important (if not essential) aspects of Druidry.
3. "Skills" need to be learnt by doing, rather than just by reading about them.
4. Disconnection from the land is a major threat to the wellbeing of community and society. Active efforts need to be made to re-establish this connection.
5. There are easy connections to be made between formal Druid studies ("Druid" encompassing all grades etc.) and "bushcraft".
6. Druidry integrates seamlessly with so many other interests - I mean, who ever thought that mountain-biking, flint-knapping, rattlesnake dodging druid spirituality could become a speciality in it's own right! :snake:
7. Every day is a school-day in the woods.

Given that there are yet so many other aspects to be discussed, we might just keep this thread alive. A series of seasonal postings may be interesting.

To finish off, a couple of other matters / insights.

On Saturday I was walking in the woods when I came across the berries below. I've never consciously noticed them before, and their pearly sheen was very attractive. Naturally my thoughts turned to foraging. But they needed checking. Which led to this fantastic web site: http://practicalplants.org/wiki/Symphor ... laevigatus And I discovered that they are not great for eating but make a good soap. Today I was chatting to an aul fellow, a Woodsman with vast knowledge, and he told me that the berries are traditionally used for protection - specifically to stop the fairies milking cattle at this time of year (Samhain). Thus in these white berries is the essence of woodcraft for Druids: mythology, learning, practical applications and the surprising beauty in nature.
snowberry.JPG
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The second point in closing this seminar, relates to the news today. The "superstorm" Sandy is awesome, and has surely affected some DHP'ers. I was reading that some 350 000 people have had to evacuate NYC. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-575 ... out-power/ So 100's of thousands of people in arguably the most sophisticated city in the world, have been reduced to primal survival circumstances. The bushcraft priorities discussed above (security, shelter, food, warmth, water) will be very real concerns for many people. Some will have been prepared, but others will have been caught short. Bushcraft skills are life skills!

Also, with (distant) relatives in Upstate NY, I will be mindful of all the wooded areas affected by these extreme conditions. People with woodland, outdoor, and chainsaw skills will be providing life saving services under highly dangerous conditions to remove trees from roads and electrical installations, and to provide access to homes and public services.

Blessings of protection to all so affected!
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Bracken » 30 Oct 2012, 20:39

Given that there are yet so many other aspects to be discussed, we might just keep this thread alive. A series of seasonal postings may be interesting.
Please, please do. I invite everybody to post at will here for as long as it runs. Fantastic. x
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Sciethe » 31 Oct 2012, 11:30

Thank you! I for one want to keep referring back to this Seminar, and I look forward to further thoughts and ideas. Good one.
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 01 Nov 2012, 13:00

Woodlands classified as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC’s) are important places and subject to all sorts of protection and management protocols. There are a range of specifically described types of habitats, and the one of possibly the most interest to EU based Druids are listed as 91A0 Old sessile oak woods with Ilex and Blechnum in the British Isles.

Here is a list of some of these magical places in the UK: http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/protectedsites ... Code=H91A0

Merlin, Macbeth, St Colmcille and Robin Hood were all at home in these woods. Several are listed here: The 10 best woods and forests for myths and legends

http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2011/a ... hs-legends

Anyone interested in knowing more about the different “kinds” (Classifications) of forests may find the full Forest Biota manual of interest: http://www.forestbiota.org/docs/Habitat ... tBIOTA.pdf
US Habitat Classifications are here: http://oregonexplorer.info/wildlife/Wil ... sification

So with the science out the way, I was wandering around one such oak woodland today, having a Hedge Druid Samhuinn jaunt, and taking photos for an upcoming talk (Risk Management for Public Woodlands). It’s not really bushcraft, but I figured some might find this interesting (Bushcraft, woodcraft, woodland management, and Druidry all blend together for me).

Given the “thinness” of the season, a triad seems fitting.

“There are three people accursed: they who work against the Laws of Nature without concern, they who know nothing of the Mighty Ones and do not seek to learn, and they who know much and do not share their knowledge with any other.” (With my emphasis on “seeking to learn” rather than “knowing much”).

Just comments and observations on some of the stuff I saw.

Pikkies follow....
Last edited by Dathi on 01 Nov 2012, 18:50, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 01 Nov 2012, 14:29

These woods are not "working" woods in the traditional sense (coppicing and woodcraft etc.) but they still "work" very hard as a sanctuary for nature, a genetic seed source for old Irish sessile oaks, a research project, and as a community leisure / health / education resource. It is only recently that these woods have been actively managed and the legacy of neglect is to be seen.

A key part of the process has been coppicing and felling of exotic trees. This lets in the light which is essential for tree growth. The first pikkie shows the profusion of hazel shoots from felled stumps.
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Below you can see the effect of dark and unmanaged woods. This poor old holly has spent it's life trying to find a bit of sunlight under the boughs of big birch and oaks.
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And the cycle of death and rebirth continues through the woods.
ddeathrebirth.JPG
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 01 Nov 2012, 14:42

You gotto be careful in the woods, never know whaat lurks there. If the public spend time in the woods it is incumbent on the owner to take "reasonably practicable" measures to address any dangers that can be reasonably forseen. But equally, us Druids and other folk who spend time in the woods must develop awareness and responsibility for our own safety. This is all about opening eyes and also looking UP!

Some basics... Beeech are notorious for dropping branches. Never a good idea to pitch a tent or build a shelter under a big old beech. Woodsfolk are aware of "widow-makers" i.e. loose and hung-up branches.
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Old split trees are dangerous for all sorts of reasons. And are at their most lethal when they are being made safe. The "barber-chair" has surprised many a wood worker.
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This rotten old tree had to be taken down, especially with it's proximity to a path. But the remainder of the tree serves as a habitat for many a wee beastie. And the logs would be treasured for craft-work.
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 01 Nov 2012, 14:46

But even when making a wood safe, there must be place for nature. Here is a great wee hidey hole:
dhome.JPG
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 11 Nov 2012, 18:59

A key part of our Druidry is ancestry, the reverence for, understanding of, and ability to learn from the (sometimes very distant) past. My dad grew up in Egypt and thus I've always had a fascination with the ancient Egyptians. "King Tut" was my boyhood hero! So when I stumbled across this wonderful book for a couple of quid at a car-boot sale, I could not pass it up: Pharaoh's Flowers: The Botanical Treasures of Tutankhamun. http://www.kwspub.com/Pharaoh's%20Flowers.html
It's a cracker, and gave much food for thought (and a couple of "projects).

Based on the botanical studies arising from what was found in King Tut's Tomb, this book is full of plant lore. Let's face it, the ancient Egyptions were an incredibly handy bunch. http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Technologies ... 1591431026 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Eg ... technology and so this book has given rise to all sorts of experiments.

Apart from all sorts of magical / spiritual applications of various plants (mandrake, lotus flower etc.) there is plenty of bushcraft lore. Some bits of rope (as thick as an arm) were found in the tomb. This got me to thinking. Plenty of very effective rope was used in the construction of the pyramids (about as old as Newgrange - but the Sphinx was an antiquity even then!) and how was it made?

Cordage making is an important bushcraft skill and used in constructing shelters, making tools & weapons, hauling stuff and making clothing / things e.g. baskets. So, it was off into the woods to experiment with willow, rosebay willowherb, bracken and nettles. I must confess that none of our efforts were of pyramid building standard!!! But a lot of fun was had, and maybe when we get it right, I'll have a few pikkies.

Here are a few more potential projects inspired by King Tut.

All about Indigo: http://www.scienceinschool.org/2012/issue24/indigo
Papyrus making: http://www.lib.umich.edu/papyrus_making/index.html#

It's all amazing stuff.... we know so little! http://www.ancient-wisdom.co.uk/egyptxtremasonry.htm
Last edited by Dathi on 11 Nov 2012, 19:32, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 11 Nov 2012, 19:13

Oh, and yes, this fellow came back with us.
woody.JPG
Woody, the wood spirit.
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Lots of advice gleaned from here: http://www.bushcraftliving.com/forums/s ... hp?t=10583 i.e. how to do this properly.
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 14 Nov 2012, 13:42

Meet some handy wood-crafters.

These are a couple of forest guardians. They are part of an experiment using Connemara ponies in a native woodland and work very hard at controlling undergrowth, mulching and fertilising the soil and generally keeping an eye on things. They are not as effective as pigs at ground clearance, but maintain a gentle control of ground cover.

A great feature of these woods. Natural woodland management.
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The Piebald was having a good old chest scratch whilst I was chatting to these two about the goings on in their woods.
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 14 Nov 2012, 13:56

Back to bushcraft, Egyptians, ancient skills and cordage etc.

Rosebay Willowherb is one of my favorites. Also known as Fireweed, it is seemingly the county floral emblem of London on account of providing the first splash of colour in a drab and bombed out WW2 London.
Rosebaay Willowherb Summer.jpg
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It's not only attractive in full bloom, but also a very useful bushcrafty / primitive skills plant.
Rosebay Willowherb.JPG
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There is much that can be done with this plant. The fluffy seeds are great to collect for tinder and firelighting, the skin of the stems makes a strong cord (see vid clip below), the pith can be added to meals for thickening / starch, and there are plenty of medicinal uses. http://practicalplants.org/wiki/Epilobium_angustifolium I read somewhere that the plant was also used as a mild tranquiliser.

To follow.
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby greygreen » 16 Nov 2012, 18:04

this is an incredible thread!

i found it through a link from the discussion i began here:

http://www.druidry.org/board/dhp/viewto ... 71#p435471

but wow! yes! to me, this sort of "borrowing from nature" what we need and leaving more than we take is exactly what we should be as human beings and druids. others will disagree, those of the "leave no trace" philosophy but I would point them to the butterfly effect! better to be a mindful participant. with a little training and the right mindset, we can add to nature and really learn to be a part of it - not just an observer of it!

hear, hear!
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 16 Nov 2012, 22:06

Hi Greygreen,

Welcome to the home of bushcrafting Druids. I missed your parallel thread, but the very fact that there are two active threads on this topic suggests that bushcraft / woodcraft / primitive skills are very much a core element of practical Druidry. Rather than diffuse my evolving thought processses on this topic between two threads I'll (if it does not seem too rude) continue here. For most of my "real" bushcrafting years, I never thought of outdoor living as either "bushcraft" or anything particularly spiritual. It was a simple matter of "doing the needful". But in hindsight, there are few experiences quite as powerful as a wilderness sunset or dawn, especially when "living on the edge".

Any bushcraft chat I have seems to eventually get round to discussing snakes. I've taken the liberty of sharing a short ditty from an army mate of mine. There is food for thought here that relates to Explorer's comments as well.
During Ops XXXXX, after the first attack on XXXXXX, we withdrew helter-skelter and spent the night in a shell-scrape defensive position. We were very nervous - army euphemism for sxxt scared - because of the T54's trawling for us in the night. Light and noise discipline were of the highest quality. Until Rifleman XXXXX XXXXXX felt something slithering across his throat while he was hunkering down in his trench.

"Snake! Snake!" he bellowed. WIthin seconds torches and cigarette lighters flickered on around him. The culprit was found to be a sizeable Schlegel's giant blind snake - a completely harmless crittur that nonetheless could have precipitated a massive calamity.
It's a tale a bit like the historical Cpt Clive Dixon cartoon from the Leaguer of Ladysmith.
Ladysmith. Choice of Evils.jpg
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Bushcraft (for most people in a modern urban context) takes us away from the familiar and brings us closer to nature, with all the attendant risks and rewards. And an exposure to natural (or "man-made" - tools, weapons, fire, folk with evil intent ) phenomena, especially those that can harm you, heightens our senses and attunement. By learning "primitive skills" and developing natural knowledge, we build confidence and reduce fear. This, in turn, enhances our Druid practice.

Both the story and cartoon above illustrate the point. A lack of knowledge and skills in nature (the unknown quantity), can be far more frightening than the "known quantity" which may be far more dangerous. A big Russian tank became less fear inducing than a harmless snake! Most of us are exposed to grave danger on a daily basis (e.g. walking or driving on roads, some of the food and stimulants we consume etc.) and this does not bother us one whit. But by getting out into the wild (even a relatively mild wild) can be very intimidating for some. We are witnessing a generation of younger folk who (wedded to electronic devices) may never have this exposure.

How scary is that!

And it is for these reasons that bushcraft (and any related activities) should be an essential part of Druid training and practice. This is a bit of a garbled post, but I guess it's a way of strongly concurring with all points made in Greygreen's other thread.
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby ShadowCat » 17 Nov 2012, 09:04

What a treasurechest of information you're providing here, Dathi. I'll be taking my time in the coming weeks reading (and practicing). For now: thank you for the time and effort you're putting in to this. :hug:
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Catkin » 19 Nov 2012, 20:23


Rosebay Willowherb is one of my favorites. Also known as Fireweed, it is seemingly the county floral emblem of London on account of providing the first splash of colour in a drab and bombed out WW2 London.
Thanks for this! I found a hillside full of this flower a while back, and no-one could tell me what it was (I obviously didn't try very hard to find out!) But that was on the Fire Hills, which makes a lot of sense!
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby greygreen » 20 Nov 2012, 17:02

Most of us are exposed to grave danger on a daily basis (e.g. walking or driving on roads, some of the food and stimulants we consume etc.) and this does not bother us one whit. But by getting out into the wild (even a relatively mild wild) can be very intimidating for some. We are witnessing a generation of younger folk who (wedded to electronic devices) may never have this exposure.
I volunteered as a camp councilor one summer for needy children - essentially a week or two week-long free camping experience for inner-city children. I was overjoyed to show them how to do archery, how to make fire and take them on long hikes. but the strangest thing was the horses.

I took my group of 8-10, 10 year olds into the area where the horses were milling around. this big brown mare came up and i was showing them how to lift up her leg to clean her hooves and how to pet her neck so she'd be friendly and I realized that a couple of the boys were crying. when i got them calmed down and showed them that everything was alright i realized that growing up in a city without access to nature, zoos, wildlife preserves or anything of the sort,they had never seen an animal larger than a dog. to them, people were the biggest living things.

what a humbling experience, and one that I must not take for granted. "bushcraft" or "primitive skills" or whatever we want to call it, above all teaches me how very humble i need to be. i am not toughest thing (the rocks are), the oldest thing (the stars are), the strongest (water is), or the biggest (bears, elk, moose, trees?!). But, and i risk being prideful here, humans are the wisest. we can learn to make claws from rocks and fire from sticks. we can make caves from fallen trees and look, smell and move like any animal we wish. in this way, we are capable of magic. what a burden we have, but what a great joy to be reminded of our place in things.
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby Dathi » 25 Nov 2012, 17:38

Great post greygreen!

Thanks for comments too Catkin and Shadowcat.

After some searching I managed to get a copy of Richard Louv's book "Last Child in the Woods" http://richardlouv.com/books/last-child/ this week and have been devouring it. So much common sense, and deserving of "essential reading" status for everyone.

Practicing what is preached, I dragged my lads off into the woods in the freezing fog today and amongst other things we made hot choccy drinks in my Granny's old pot. This pot has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, she used it to make a range of herbal potions, lotions and remedies. I wish I knew what went into these brews, but some of them could well have been quite dodgy. I can remember that she used red cobolt and alum in bee's wax to make a "drawing" cream for persistant infected wounds, bites and extracting embedded thorns / splinters.
bcpotjie.JPG
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Later, the pot became an essential part of my Boy Scout kit and has been in continuous use for a very long time. Countless stews and brews have been made in it, and it has also seen service that would make the "elf & safety" and food hygiene people have a fit (melting lead for fishing sinkers & creating unspeakable "potionology" concoctions during my lads earlier Harry Potter enthusiasm). Anyway, it is now scoured and cleaned and reserved for herbal preparations and camp cooking.

Here's an ever popular recipe (which can also be made conventionally in the kitchen).

Ingredients

Pack of bacon.
Large onion.
Pack of (washed) chicken livers.
Jar of chunky apricot jam.
A couple of chillies.

Preparation

Finely dice and slice onion, bacon & chillies.
Sling into an already hot pot and saute.
Add livers & jam.
Stir the whole mix well (looks pretty disgusting at this stage!).
Leave on gentle heat at the side of the fire, stirring occasionally through the evening.
Once fully mushed, leave to cool overnight.

Spread on chunks of bread as a breakfast pate.
It does not keep (generally not a problem as it disappears very quickly).

These 3 legged cooking pots are a ubiquitous feature all over Africa. They come in all sorts of sizes from the small (size 1/4) to the "missionary" sized 25. Available in the US at http://potjiepotusa.com/ and the UK here http://www.southafricanshop.co.uk/store ... egory/2189 and even in Sweden here: http://www.taste-africa.com/product_potjie.php
bcpot.jpg
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Pikkie from Wikipedia (Creative Commons) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_oven

I have a well used collection of 4 different ones, and collectively they can tell tales of many adventures. Any number of recipies can be found online: http://funkymunky.co.za/potjierecipes.html and http://www.potjiekosworld.com/ My understanding of the history of these comes from the Dutch collective cooking "Huts Pot" hence the name in the US of "Dutch Oven".

But whatever the contents, purpose or recipe, the three legged cauldron is surely the archetypal Druid method of cooking, "Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble". :cauldron:
bchobo1.JPG
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Also shown above is a budget quick cooking system, ideal for a "leave no trace" setting. The "hobo stove" consists of a £1.50 stainless steel cutlery drying container and a tin can. Enough of a small fire can be made in this to rapidly boil a billy can of water. Dry twigs are fed in from beneath. It is a bit unstable so caution must be exercised.
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Re: October 2012 Seminar. Druids & Bushcraft

Postby jenrobzik » 03 Dec 2012, 13:14

ahmmm..!!!! yeahh i think..
it should be.. so that we
aware.. it..


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