Created by Chloe Lund
Check out this video full of memories from our journey in Sweden, created, filmed, and edited by Chloe as part of her learning intentions for the walk.
Collated and Illustrated by Lauren Goodey, Joana Esteves and Chloe Lund
During our last days we created a map on the beach of our journey as a part of our reflection, it ended up being about 500m long, and it was such an amazing process to go back through the two months we spent together, local walkers were passing and pointing and asking questions about what we had been up to. I took notes and drawings from the beach, and since then Joana and Chloe have been helping me map out the journey and turn it into a crazy drawn journey, so here it is!
Written by Tom Morgan
Nov 24 2017
I was a curious going into this two month walk about the culture that we might create together or should I say the culture that may evolve between us with such a long time living out in the woods. How would our natural surroundings shape the way we spent our time? And what we held sacred?
Before setting out on the trip I had set myself all sorts of intentions and personal practices and goals to deepen my connection with nature as well as ideas of ceremonies and processes and games we could do as a group. The intention to explore creating a culture with nature connection at its heart.
I don't think I am only speaking for myself when I say that I wildly overestimated the amount of free time and space I would have once all the practical business of living outside and in community was seen to.Its amazing how much time it takes to collect wood and prepare fires and food and make camp and to have time to be together as a group and share practical matters. I want to reflect on all the things we did do to honour the spaces we lived in. I should say as a disclaimer that we were a group of 13 (a number prone to fluctuation) and I can only speak from my own perspective. Never the less....
Having now rejoined the fast paced whizz and whirligig of cities and smart phones and emails and flushing toilets and kettles. I feel I am in a good position to reflect a little on the "culture" we created living close to the land.I have come to see that those practical tasks I speak of, eating up all our time, actually offered such a wonderful and immersive opportunity to connect to nature. If we wanted a cup of tea we needed to find a river or a spring, suitable dry wood, a safe place to have a fire and some herbs or chaga to brew. If we wanted to have a poo, we needed to find a suitable spot which might be in need of some fertilising, dig a hole with our hands like a badger (some of us may have used the trowel but I usually didn't have the foresight or time to locate the toilet bag) and find a soft patch of moss to wipe our chilly bums. If we wanted to wash we needed to pluck up enough courage to plunge ourselves into the nearest icy cold stream, lake or ocean and endure the burn long enough to for the water to wash away some of the stink from our pits. And then bask in the sun or create our own in the hearth to warm and dry ourselves. If we wanted to wash clothes we were dependent on the sun and enough time to dry (which is why most of us explored the limits of how many days/weeks it's appropriate to keep wearing the same pair of pants). If we wanted to have something other than rice and lentils for dinner we would have to go hunting for tasty mushrooms, wild salads and yummy berries, remembering little by little the long lost art of gathering wild foods.
Each of these tasks offered an opportunity to immerse ourselves in our surroundings, to accept her gifts, an opportunity also for gratitude.There were other ways in which we honored the land, ways that might be considered more "cultural". We often had gratitude circles where we shared things we were grateful for. Singing became such a beautiful part of our group time, one of us would volunteer each morning to do the morning wake up song, of the songs that became favorites, most of them contained prayer and praise for the natural world or the elements. Most mornings before setting off on our walk we would make space to each spend some time In silence and solitude to thank our camp and other than human hosts. On several occasions we made mandalas and spoke out our intentions and gratitude to do with our relationships to the land.
Most of all, the way I see it, we praised the land by living upon it in such simplicity, by accepting it's gifts; it's delicious berries, ice cold water, the stunning light shows in the tapered ends of each day, contrasts of colours, bright red lingon berry upon ashen green lichen, it's songs and it's silence and its delicious array of fungi to feast upon.
By living this way I can say for myself I have continued to rekindle an age old connection, It is the simple things in life where there is the most beauty to be found and in sharing this with others comes the kind of culture I hope to live in. If there is something I have gained from this experience it is a deepening of that very simple understanding.
Here's a praise to all the beings over the 2 months that have fed me, body and spirit and to all the human beings who's companionship kept my heart warm in the frost.
Nov 20 2017
I love to draw, and i also love stories, and I couldn't find a better way delve into the mythical adventures of our journey than by doing these two things. Doing these drawings helps me to reflect on what I have been a part of, to see the myth and magic in it all, to alter and shift my perspective from the factual 'this is what happened' to 'Wow, was that happening too?!?' to reinspect my life, looking at how i relate to others and the world around me.
So here is a culmination of some of the many magical stories, adventures and images that came to me, inspired by the land, people, birds and animals and the magical mystery in between us all.
These are all based on true stories.
Håkan and the huskies
Håkan was sat on the toilet when the alarm went off. He had spent a long evening in the sauna and was feeling rather blissful. He decided it was probably him who set the alarm off so he decided to run away. He ran down the gravely track in the dark. That's when the huskies started to howl, and the swirls in the sky went from black and red to blue and grey. He turned around to see a large pack of dogs with bright blue eyes chasing him. Their teeth were snarling and they had blood dripping from their jaws. Håkan's eyes grew wider and wider and his steps became faster.
The alarm stopped and the huskies turned around and headed back to bed. Håkan was safe once again.
One morning I opened my eyes and peeked over the edge of my hammock to see the almond eyed mandolin player stood on a carpet of berries. "zzzzzzzzzzzziiiippppp. zzzzzzzzzzzziiiipppppppppppp." He pulled tight his shoe laces. He pulled them so tight they stretched to the top of his head. He held his laces in his hands as he continued his walk across the carpet of berries.
Me and tom also turned this one into folk song, i'll try and find a recording!
The Three Trees
Loz and Chewy were hungry. They had been delivered a pot full of delicious food earlier that evening, by an old man with long grey hair. They looked everywhere for the pot, but it was nowhere to be found. "Maybe he tricked us?" "Maybe he took the food away?" "Maybe he wasn't real!" they confusingly proclaimed. They decided to find the missing food. They walked through the forests, it was dark and the moon shone faintly. They crossed the great river, large fallen trees and made their way through spiky bushes, but they couldn't find the food anywhere. They headed back along the gravely track and heard a quiet noise deep in the pine forests. They walked towards the noise and saw a tall tall tree they knew very well. They gently threw their arms around the tree and held it silently, and the tree wrapped it's branches around them. When their arms fell, they found themselves still and tall and rooted. They could feel the moonlight on their bark. The forest was black and still and silent, apart from a faint noise in the leaves, a gentle rustling and snuffling. A large boar slowly appeared in a patch of moonlight, it snuffled around what was once their feet, and noticed nothing of the three trees that stood silently tall.
Hours and hours had passed and the moon had moved across the sky, when one of the trees moved it's arms and shoulders and stepped onto the forest floor, continuing on the quest for the missing food. The other two trees gently wrapped their branches around each other and stared up at the moon. They leant against each other, breathing, their roots holding them tall.
By the lake in Mora
The rain was pouring in the park by the lake in Mora. Seven bodies were huddled under a tarp holding each other close, sheltering from the pouring rain and the cold. The man in the middle of the huddle was weeping, his heart so opened with grief. His sounds flew to the furthest sides of the lake announcing to the world his pain. Around him, sat brothers, lovers and friends, who held him and wept and breathed. They breathed the deepest breaths they could find.
When the sun rose that morning the man was gone, just a slither of moon could be seen as hundreds of jackdaws took to the skies.
Written by Hana Vacková
Nov 17 2017
Walking around Copenhagen the day after we disbanded as a group, I felt immense gratitude and longed for someone to share it with. I wonder if the Danes noticed my grateful attitude which manifested itself through complimenting strangers in the street. Gratitude circles and appreciations were something we would usually do as part of our morning circle routine, core team meetings or right before sharing dinners in the evening. But those days are gone, so I thought I might share my imperfectly incomplete list of gratitudes with the online world instead. Who knows, maybe it will reach some of those who were such an integral part of our journey.
Thank you to nature for being so plentiful and giving during our entire trip. For all the colorful and juicy berries, the foraged mushrooms, the edible flowers and salad greens, the plenty of wood, dry kindling and birchbark, the soft moss carpets to sleep on, all the springs, streams, rivers, lakes for providing us with water to drink from and wash in, the songs of birds, the wind, and the sea. What an incredibly generous host!
Thank you to our (most of the time) healthy bodies for carrying us through 2 months of sunshine, rain, wind, and snow. Mine impressively carried a 60-liter backpack with very few bruises or blisters. And it did not even get sick from the massive temperature shocks of the Swedish saunas and icy seawater. Bodies are incredible.
Thank you to all the libraries (and librarians!) during our trip - from Mora to Malmö - providing us with quiet spaces for planning, group meetings, journaling, creating blackout poetry, charging our electronics, drying our wet tents (don't tell anyone!), having bathrooms to fill our bottles with tap water and so much more. I am so grateful!
P.S. I am finishing up this post in the public library in Helsingborg and love how full of life it is even on a quiet Friday afternoon.
Thank you to everyone who picked us up when hitching. To the young woman with a month-year old baby and not much space in her car. To Bilal from Pakistan for giving us a free ride from Malmö in his luxury taxi. To Bonnie in Höör who kindly offered us a ride from the supermarket when we were struggling to fit 6 days worth of food into our 2 backpacks. To the 2 Syrian men who taught us the Swedish and Arabic words for cold and friends. To the young Syrian man driving from Simrishamn who lost his entire family in the war. Each LiC participant could add many similar stories to the list. With each successful ride, I became more and more hopeful and trusting of people, so willing to help once you reach out to them.
PEOPLE IN GENERAL
Thank you to all the people who showed us their curiosity, care, and kindness and wished us well on our journey. To Ingrid, a teacher from Bergetskolan in Orsa, for such a warm welcome and sharing her passion for teaching and embodying the values of respect, freedom, and love in her everyday work with the students. Peter from VaraVild for kindly offering his workshop on intuition tracking. To Andy from Change of Nature for holding our group together in a difficult time and sharing his love for nature. To the man who stopped to chat with us when he saw us sitting by the road - just because. To the young boy who did not bat an eyelid to fill up our water bottles from his tap. To the waitress in a bakery in Kåseberga who gave us delicious bread and pastries that would otherwise be fed to the pigs. To the couple who stopped on the beach to admire the story of our journey drawn in sand. The list could go on and on. I seriously believe walking might be one of the best ways how to restore one's faith in humanity.
And most importantly, thank you to Chloe, Chris, Håkan, Joana, Jonny, Karl, Kit, Lauren, Marie, Tom, Sam, Sarah - the 12 (+1) brave souls who chose to dedicate their time and share their cheeky smiles, germs, and love for the outdoors. Sharing the past two months with you has been both a pleasure and a privilege. Thank you!
Written by Karl Griffiths
Nov 10 2017
During our stay in Skattungbyn, thee core team which consisted of Joana, Lauren, Tom and I began the process of handing over decision making responsibilities to the group. We had held decision making for the first two weeks. The idea behind the core team holding the decision making initially was to allow people to settle and for us to support the group by role modelling the decision making process.
We divided the responsibilities into teams. A route team, a food team and a group and learning facilitator. This was to allow people the opportunity to step up into a role they felt called to and so energy in the group was spread between different tasks. There were up to three people in each team which allowed decisions to be make quicker than having input from the whole group.
The route team decide which direction we are heading in, where we will camp. They take on this responsibility for two weeks. A key consideration for camp will be if there is a water source nearby and consider when there will be an opportunity to shop for food (or is there a bus stop\ hitch hiking spot near by, or will be pass through a town?).
The food team would have a budget of £6 per person per day and have full autonomy over what we eat. The only consideration is that we have three vegans and a vegetarian diet was decided as the group diet from the outset.
For the coming weeks a big unknown was where would be going next? In the first two weeks Skattungbyn was the destination we had in mind. Joana ha family friends there (Jorgje and Birgitta) and Marie had a local connection. Jorge and Bigitta had given us a warm welcome and a summer house which was known as the Portugese corner in which we could cook, eat, recharge and relax.
After arriving at the portuguese corner the core team decided to stay there for a week. This was becuase we had recieved lots of learning offerings from the group and the Skattungbyn community. We had also had group discussions that we hadn´t finished whilst walking. The Skattungbyn community had offered a visit to an eco house project, a sustainable living course, an opportunity to share our travels with a school in the neighboring town of Orsa, and community music events and saunas. For some the offerings from Skattungbyn were a great opportunity, for others there was a longing for time further from society. We were all learning how to be a part of the LiC project, dealing with differing needs and to navigate and find our place within it. Bearing all this in mind the route team comprised of Chris, Håkan and Hana were trying to balance the needs of the group.
In the Week I spent in Skattungbyn the changes in the seasons were becoming more apparent. The leaves were falling more freely and it did seem colder. I heard others in the group speak that they were struggling with the cold at night. Questions arose around the quality and quantity of individual group members kit. Did people have adequate waterproofs? Would they be warm enough with sleeping bags and enough clothing? Was the Vasaloppsleden trail we had been following for the past two weeks wild enough? Different expectations for the project were highlighted to juxtapose our cultural immersion in Skattungbyn.
I was not envious of Hana, Håkan and Chris. There efforts to take into account all the considerations of the group left them feeling rushed to make a decision. They Had done lots of research and considered lots of different factors including night temperatures, wind speed and elk hunting where the risk of being shot became a possibility. Locals in Skattungbyn were wearing hi-viz jackets which made it all the more apparent in our minds.
Eventually on the penultimate day a decision was made. We gathered around after dinner in the Portugese corner and I believe it was Håkan who delivered the final verdict. He said we were heading north to Idre, which is 150-200km North, where it is colder and more wild. A silence spread over the room. Håkan looked happy after delivering the sermon. Sam was said to capture the reactions of people faces around the room as follows:
Joana did a little nod of surprise and acceptance.
Kit was screaming silently with joy in the corner.
Karl was dead pan with one eye twitching.
Marie lifted one eyebrow in surprise and confusion.
Sarah´s eyebrows were in her hairline with a face that read many obscenities.
For some it was said to be the biggest decision the group had made to date, for others it was not. There was a sense of relief that we had a clear destination and the decision would now be realised. The following days would be spent heading to Mora by foot and hitchhiking in preparation for the coming colder weeks.
Andy Raingold from Change in Nature
Nov 7 2017
"It felt that I had been welcomed into a merry band of modern day outlaws who were fleeing from cosseted creature comforts to live without walls and surviving on £6 a day in one of the most expensive countries in Europe."
“Why would you want to do that?” This was often the response I received when I explained to people what I would be getting up to in Sweden in the last two weeks of October.
A group of ten of us would be in one solitary spot in the wilds for 48 hours. There would be no distractions, no books, no journals and very little, if any, food. The intention would be to just sit still and see what emerged.
So why would you do that? Why sit alone in nature for 48 hours? My answer to this question would normally be to explain that it was a modern day vision quest, a long tradition from indigenous peoples from around the world of spending extended solitary time in the wilderness.
Traditionally, this has helped to provide guidance and openness to spirit. Plants and animals would be seen as great teachers and life would be felt as whole, interconnected and sacred. Yet what would our experience be?
I had been invited to Sweden to run a one week retreat by Land in Curiosity. This inspiring and intrepid group have come together from all over Europe for a 2 month wild immersion with the common purpose of deepening their relationship with the natural world. It is a new and revolutionary model for learning which is peer lead (through workshops, group inquiry, journaling, mentoring and mutual support) combined with a focus on rooting awareness in direct experience. They roam the land as a nomadic classroom and community, splitting their time between walking, learning and living.
Sweden is the perfect place to be wanderers. By law, it gives all people the right to roam free in nature and sleep out on mountaintops or quiet forests. Yet my first introduction to this wild adventure was a 9 hour bus journey from Stockholm to Malmo and rogue camping in the central city park. By the next night, after resting, drying and warming all morning in the library, we only made it as far as a golf course on the city outskirts. This was stretching Sweden's generous freedom to roam laws to their limit!
This sense of camaraderie helped to forge deep bonds within the group. We were a vagabond community, supporting each other, and putting the needs of the tribe above our own. The main focus of living was about providing our most basic needs; shelter, food, water, warmth and companionship. Rather than a struggle, I found there was immense joy in this simplicity.
Despite longing for less greys and more greens, I found that these urban beginnings were just as “wild” as the remote pine forests we were heading towards. It felt that I had been welcomed into a merry band of modern day outlaws who were fleeing from cosseted creature comforts to live without walls and surviving on £6 a day in one of the most expensive countries in Europe. In many ways, we were earth pilgrims, exchanging our stories, inspirations and learnings for hitching rides and the material gifts of locals.
When we finally made it into the golden autumnal realms of the native forests, it was not long before we found the perfect place to settle for a week. There was an open wooden hut by an ancient spring in close proximity to a number of diverse habitats, from mossy spruce forests to open clearings by rivers and lakes. We then started to open our selves and our senses through ancient energy cultivation and awareness practices. Intentions were spoken, fears were expressed and fires were sparked before the tribe disbanded and our solo journeys began.
In many ways, the 48 hours is the ultimate exercise in being not just with nature but yourself. I found that my exhausted mind was racing from the off and then slowly started to settle and resonate with the natural rhythms all around. Colours became more vibrant, different shapes emerged, curiosities surfaced, the winds made different whispers in the swaying trees and the elements theatrically shifted. The sun was a hopelessly inaccurate time dial but time itself was irrelevant. Some times it crawled, other times it sprinted. Nothing was ever the same. Everything was in constant flux.
After two still nights and with the sun at its highest point on the third day, we were ready to return and feast. And I found that the coming back together as a group, in reverence and ceremony, to honour our earth and what it is to be human, was just as profound as the solitary experience. In the same breadth, we felt both insignificant and powerful. We felt free. And we felt united by our songs, stories and prayers.
So why sit on your own in nature for 48 hours? This is not something to be reasoned or worked out in the mind. The only answer that truly matters comes from the experience itself. As one of the tribe shared; “I have never felt so much awe and gratitude and connectedness to the earth beneath my feet (or hands or back!)” It really is that simple.
You can check out the original post on the change in nature website.
Oct 17 2017
"There is a real beauty about learning a craft - to me, it is not so much about making a beautiful object than to create this connection and this understanding of what it takes to make something."
Hans holding a basket made by his grandfather - baskets that last
I joined this two months educational journey with a focus on traditional craft, and last week I had the chance to be invited by the students of Skattungbyn Folkhogskola to join on a Vamhus basketry workshop, with Hans Eklund.
This type of basketry, made from strips of pine wood, is so specific to the village of Vamhus that it is refered as by the same name. It is believed the technic first came from Finland, sometimes in the 19th century and has been, since then, passed on from fathers to sons. Hans learned from his grandfather and is still using the same tools. He would like to see the craft stay alive and is running courses once a year at the local school, to introduce it to the young generation - we had the privilege to be the first people from outside the village to be teached by him. Hans is also hoping to see a woman taking on the craft and becoming a Vamhus basketmaker for the first time.
To me, a basket is never just a basket anymore - and Hans baskets are beautiful.
Collated by Lauren Goodey
Oct 10 2017
So here we are, 13 education adventurers on a journey together...
Written by Lauren Goodey
Oct 9 2017
"Is it the longing in my heart that is wild, or is it the standing alone in the forest listening to the moss grow?"
Sometimes I long to be in the wild. I feel the distance, and the longing for uninterrupted connection, I feel a gap between what I want and where I am.
What even is the wild anyway? I find myself asking this question again and again. Is it a place free from humans and their meddling? Is it the billowing wind rushing through my hair and shaking my skin? Was it that moment when I looked upon a woman playing a magical instrument and sat with wonder and awe for the wild creature that sat before me? Is it the longing in my heart that is wild, or is it the standing alone in the forest listening to the moss grow?
For me the wild is often over there... It is often a place i´ll eventually get to when the conditions are right - the time, the place, the right emotions etc. But that is not what I want. I want the wild now. I want it in my fingers and toes as I walk through the concreted city streets. I want to learn to connect more than I want to be on top of a windy mountain. I want to perceive in a way that allows me to experience the wild where I stand, wherever that may be.
Some of my most profound experiences and connections of ´wildness´ have been in the garden at Gaia house - a meditation retreat center in Devon. It´s a beautiful place, but not particularly wild. I spent days and days there following flocks of mistlethrush around the garden, relentlessly trying to learn who they were and what they did. I spent hours sat by a Holly bush listening to their soft electronic internet connection sounds as they munched on berries. I remember the wildness I felt branches brush across my face and my cheek and my eye. What was happening there in that garden that wasn´t happening when I was high up in the Spanish Pyrenees where the boar and deer and fox roamed free? In that garden I was training my perception. Training to be able to see and perceive the world around me in the way I chose to see.
Perhaps wildness is in the looking.