|This series is made up of clips/excerpts from a collection of online articles and videos. I Strongly suggest you visit each of them and get the full benefit of what they reveal. Just click on the title and/or the word ‘Source’ and you will be linked to the original.|
The idea of U.S. schoolkids being allowed to run around in the rain or snow, use knives, or get near an open fire (much less help build one) is so far removed from standard operating procedure that it can seem almost laughable. Yet outdoor classrooms are sprouting up nationwide, several based on the waldkindergarten model. So far, they’re mainly private, early-childhood programs, but their experience can inform public and charter school outdoor-education efforts, too. Source
Forest school originated in Scandinavia in the 1950s and is based on the philosophy that children’s interaction with nature and the natural world is a very important factor in their development. Forest schools are now fully integrated in the Danish education system and have been in use for three generations.
The development of forest schools in Britain began around 1993 when tutors and students from Bridgwater College in Somerset visited Denmark to look at the pre-school system. They were so inspired by the emphasis placed on child-led outdoor learning that they set up their own forest school in the grounds of their college on their return to England.
The Forest School Association (FSA) defines forest school as an inspirational process that offers all learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees. It is a specialized learning approach that sits within and compliments the wider context of outdoor and woodland education.
There is an increasing number of forest schools throughout Britain today despite local authority cuts to these services and they can take on many different forms depending on the needs and the location of the early year’s provision.
Edutopia By Andrea Mills
(Marga) Keller argues that the forest classroom naturally encourages young children to gain the wide range of skills they’ll need in the coming years. Forest kindergartners hone the motor skills the Fribourg study extolled by rolling, climbing, building fires, and making tools, such as stone and stick hammers. (Well, those may be skills they need in the country life in Sweden, but I surely would not say those are the wide range of skill they will need in the coming years here in the USA) The more senses involved in a child’s experience, says Keller, the deeper the learning process. And students actively engage all their senses in the forest.
Keller also ascribes psychological benefits to confronting nature, including heightened self-confidence and social competence. Overcoming natural obstacles — scaling trees, say, or arranging stones to cross streams — teaches children to trust their abilities. Observing forest life develops their sensitivity, and the wild classroom makes them fundamentally dependent on cooperation. Out of necessity, whether through helping carry a heavy branch or lending a hand to a friend on a slippery hill, students develop trust, interdependence, and respect. Keep reading and you will see that these activities are all designed to encourage and initiate interaction with spirit beings.
Well, ok. So far it sounds pretty good. Kids get a chance to get outside again and enjoy the beauty of nature. Seems harmless enough as presented. However, I know that things are not always presented honestly, so let’s dig a little deeper. Wait, what? What was that about building fires? Preschoolers?
A History of Forest Schools
A study done in Sweden over a 13 month period found that children located in urban environments were much less happy than those attending forest school kindergarten in a countryside environment. It appeared the main reason was due to the larger range of choices present for play in nature, children played for longer amounts of time, with less annoyance of each other compared to the children of the city kindergarten. The study observed children in the city becoming irritable when they were interrupted, their stress levels rose significantly and their ability to concentrate fell. When they could not pay attention there was a clear tendency to be selfish and inconsiderate and show aggression. The forest school children seemed much more respectful to each other.
Well that isn’t rocket science. It is pretty logical that kids do much better when they have a chance to play outdoors. That is why recess you to be two or three times a day. Kids need to let off steam and breath some fresh air. No brainer. So, wasn’t it the educational system that took away recess?
The study also showed that the forest school children had 25% fewer sick days than the city children. Outside air is almost always better than indoors, therefore a child is less likely to be exposed to a virus and bacteria and not as likely to be infected by other children. It has been shown that stress has a negative effect on the immune system, high levels of stress may be having a weakening effect on the ability for the city children to resist infection.
The children who had the forest school opportunity were in a pleasant, fun, natural and relaxing environment. These children were arriving at school with stronger social skills, high capacity to work in groups and seemed to have high self-esteem and confidence in their own abilities.
Seems to me that children would thrive best if they were at home, learning from life experience and their parents.
These attributes have proved over time to be an effective foundation to raise academic achievements. Since the introduction of Forest Schools, it has developed opportunities in outdoor settings for children and adults of all ages to develop a range of life skills: independence, self-awareness, altruism and social communication skills, all of which assist individuals to grow in confidence and self-esteem. Participants gain confidence in their own ability. Kinesthetic learners are particularly suited to learning in this woodland outdoor environment.
Principles of forest school
The forest school ethos has six guiding principles which were agreed by the UK Forest School community in 2011. Forest school:
- is a long-term process of regular sessions, rather than one-off or infrequent visits; the cycle of planning, observation, adaptation and review links each session
- takes place in a woodland or natural environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world
- uses a range of learner-centered processes to create a community for being, development and learning
- aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners
- offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves – this is a pagan practice of challenge whereby the novice moves forward by facing difficult and/or dangerous obstacles
- is run by qualified forest school practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.
A critique of Forest School: Something lost in translation –Abstract, by Mark Leather
However, whilst many practitioners are trained to deliver these activities, it is my argument that there is a lack of understanding of the underpinning philosophy. This philosophical understanding is crucial as it supports awareness of other curricular opportunities, retention of some cultural sensitivity to the place,1 and comprehension of the tensions that arise through implementation in different contexts (in the UK this may especially concern the concept of play) — all of which helps to maximise children’s learning and development from these Forest School experiences. A brief account of the theoretical and philosophical foundations of Forest School is provided by Knight (2009, p. 1) in the first chapter of her book Forest Schools and Outdoor Learning in the Early Years. These theoretical considerations are helpful but not explored in great detail. This brevity is repeated in training course syllabi such as that of the National Open College Network (NOCN, 2012). The growth of the Forest School approach to outdoor education has interesting influences and sees origins that differ to the more traditional Hahnian roots of outdoor adventure education. Forest School is significantly informed by ideas emergent from the Scandinavian philosophy of friluftsliv. The basic idea of friluftsliv can be discerned in the practices of outdoor people around the world, but as a specific philosophy, it is unique to Scandinavia, especially Norway and Sweden. The word translates to “free air life” meaning a lifestyle philosophy based on experiences of freedom in nature and spiritual connectedness with the landscape (Gelter, 2000). When applied in education, friluftsliv supports experiential learning where the “sensual intimacy” between land and people has strong links with indigenous traditions and the notion of authentic experience (Loynes, 2002, p. 120). Henderson (2001) argued that friluftsliv may be understood as outdoor recreation with its heart in the land and linked to a tradition of being and learning with the land. The reward for this connectedness with the landscape is a strong sensation of a new level of consciousness and a spiritual wholeness. This philosophy has obvious connections with outdoor education as practiced around the world, and yet friluftsliv is also different to outdoor education (Andkjær, 2012), suggesting a complexity that belies direct translation of the ideas. This complexity is culturally rooted (Gurholt, 2014) and aspects of the original philosophy may become lost when implemented in other countries.
His paper is rather long, this was just a small excerpt, but you get the idea. He is saying that there is much more to THE FOREST WAY than meets the eye. That there are spiritual aspects of the whole thing that you are not quite grasping. The Lord told me some time ago, that the only thing that matters about anything, is the root. Find the root of a thing before you decide whether you should be a part of it. This “Forest Way School” phenomenon began in Scandinavia (Denmark).
You really need to look at life in Scandinavia, their history and their spiritual life and development, before you decide to come into agreement with them and TEACH YOUR CHILDREN THEIR WAYS!)
For all of human existence the humans and the trees have had a special and even spiritual relationship. It is said that the first place man went upon leaving the oceans was up into the trees. Trees offered shelter, food, and warmth. Trees became our allies in nature and the Native Americans Indians call them, “Our standing brothers and sisters”. Trees, therefore, became the center for gatherings to worship and to exchange knowledge. One of the most well-known creation myths had at its heart a Tree of Knowledge. In the Book of Genesis, the tree of knowledge was in the Garden of Eden. God forbade man to eat the fruit of this tree which would awaken him to his ability to think and reason for himself. (see: Earth Mother)
Every tribal people had its tales of local and guardian spirits of the tree. These spirits were guardians of the forest, often guarding a treasure or secret within the forest and each of the trees themselves had a connection to a spiritual connection of its own. Trees formed an important part of religious worship and many Sacred Groves served as religious centers throughout the world. It may be of interest to note that with the coming of the patriarchal Church religious gatherings moved from these sacred groves into grottos within the Earth and away from the spirits of the trees once so important to those early peoples reverence for Mother Earth. NOW DO YOU SEE WHY THEY WANT OUR KIDS IN THE FOREST TO LEARN???
To those who practice animistic religions each plant, each animal and even each rock has a spirit and these spirits, joining together as a body of water or a tract of land, become the elemental energies of the ecology. Nature Spirits are incorporeal beings from non-material dimensions that employ these elemental energies of the Earth in order to bring themselves into manifestation in the material world. Mother Earth abounds with these beings, each type having its own special function to perform, and the Nature Spirits are involved in every aspect of life.
Throughout the world, there are folktales and fairytales regarding these creatures and the divine forests and sacred waters that they protect and sanctify and their interactions with the humans who enter into these realms. Different people have different names for the Nature Spirits such as the Irish Sidhe and the German Kobold and some of the English language names you may be familiar with include: boggarts, brownies, elves, goblins, fairies, fauns, gnomes, leprechauns, nymphs, pixies and trolls amongst many others.* Nature Spirits are also called Devas or Shining Ones because of the light they radiate when they manifest into our world.
Sometimes in these folktales, the Nature Spirits appear in the stories as a sort of Spirit Guide, helping the hero who enters their realm upon some sacred quest. Where they differ from Spirit Guides is that their main concern is not for the seeker on his journey, but for preserving the spiritual essence of an area through which he travels and the Nature Spirit may try to obstruct the hero in his quest if he is seen as a threat to the sanctity of the area.
From a scientific viewpoint, these spirits seem to behave in a similar manner to the way we understand atomic particles to behave, moving backward and forwards in time and space, fluctuating between energy and matter. The theories of quantum physics suggest the possibility of alternative universes and multiple dimensions from which these spirits could be originating and these spirits may embody a “quantum mind” wherein what we would describe as forms of energy may have a conscious awareness and be able to interact with those of different dimensions or even different universes. These spirits cannot be directly observed any more than atomic particles can be observed, but can only be discerned by the energy footprints they leave, like the glow of fairies in the garden.
*(Although “gremlins” might also be included within the group of “nature spirits” we have chosen to include them under “The Paranormal“, as their manifestations more resemble hauntings rather than spirit apparitions.)
Shamanism in the Celtic World by Corby Ingold
“Magic and magicians are to be found more or less all over the world, whereas shamanism exhibits a particular magical specialty, on which we shall later dwell at length: “mastery over fire”, “magical flight”, and so on. By virtue of this fact, though the shaman is, among other things, a magician, not every magician can properly be termed a shaman. . . . . the shaman specializes in a trance in which his soul is believed to leave his body and ascend to the sky or descend to the underworld.”(1.)
Michael Harner describes a shaman this way: “A shaman is a man or woman who enters an altered state of consciousness – at will- to contact or utilize an ordinarily hidden reality in order to acquire knowledge, power, and to help other persons.
EUROPEAN SHAMANISM from the Shaman Portal
Shamanism had a strong tradition in the European continent before the rise of monotheism. Shamanism remains a traditional, organized religion with Uralic, Altaic people and Huns; and also in Mari-El and Udmurtia, two semi-autonomous provinces of Russia with large Finno-Ugric minority populations. The word ‘Shaman,’ is actually a Tungus (Siberian) word that means a Keeper of the Fire for a spiritual practice that is as old as mankind, and is still practiced by indigenous people, as well as modern practitioners worldwide. Shamanism is not rooted in any organized religious tradition, but is instead a system of controlled visionary journeys into alternate realities (and back,) in order to contact spirit guides and gain their assistance in divination and healing. When one thinks of traditional shamans and shamanism, it’s easy to envision a Native (American or perhaps Aboriginal) medicine man performing rituals that are deeply rooted in cultural tribal traditions. In shamanic traditions, all people are guarded and watched over by a totem beast, which joins them at the time of their birth. In addition to this totem animal, which can remain with a person throughout their life, the shamanic practitioner acquires additional power animals at different times. These animal spirits serve as guides and spirit helpers. They may come of their own bidding, or may be called specifically because of their innate skills. In some cases the shaman draws upon the strength, the sharpness of the animals senses, the speed, or the intuition of a particular animal. In other situations the animal may tell the shaman things which the shaman cannot see for him or herself.
Shamanic rituals in Scandinavia are represented in shamanic rock art dating to the Neolithic era and were practiced throughout the Iron Age by the various Teutonic tribes and the Fino-Baltic peoples. Noaydde was a shaman of the Sami people in the Nordic countries who led many shamanic gatherings and shamanic retreats.
Finnish Shamanism: Sami Shamanism
Several Sami shamanistic beliefs and practices were similar to those of some Siberian cultures. They had a strong emphasis on ancestor worship and animal spirits, such as the bear cult. Some Sami people had a thunder god called Tiermes, sometimes called Horagalles. Another sky-ruling god was called Radien or Vearalden. The symbol of the world tree or pillar similar in Finnish mythology that reached up to the North Star was marked by a stytto.
The forest-god of the Sami, Laib olmai ruled over all forest animals, which were regarded as his herds, and luck in hunting, or the reverse, depended on his good will. His favor was so important that they made prayers and offerings to him every morning and evening.
Irish Shamanism: Celtic Shamanism
Ancient Celts were also believed to have practiced shamanism, and have left many clues to their rituals and spiritual journeys in the stories of Taliesin, Fionn mac Cumhail, and Amergin. Many Celtic shamans still practice ancient rituals today with shamanic retreats and shamanic trip of place of power.
The Celtic Shaman’s cosmos, like that of other Shamanic universal views, consists of three ‘worlds;’ the Lower world, the Upper world, and the Middle world (where we live in ordinary reality.)
What differentiates the Celtic Shaman’s universal view from that of other Shamanic traditions, is that these worlds are all connected by the great tree of life. Rooted in the Lower realm, its trunk extends upwards, through the middle world and into the Upper world, where its branches hold the stars, the sun and the moon. THIS IS THE REASON FOR TREE WORSHIP
The Celtic Shaman traverses the realms by climbing the tree (also seen as a great ladder or pole) into the Upper world. This is the realm of stars, celestial beings, and the dwelling place of many gods and spirits of the air, and of the great Mother Goddess herself SO, this is why they want our little children, who are very open to spiritual influence, climbing trees everyday.
The lower world can be reached by descending the roots of the massive tree into the realm of the spirits of the earth and fire, where sits the stag-headed Lord of the Underworld, the horned one, protector of the animals. Here the Celtic Shaman can meet with helper power animals and spirit guides.
Thus all three worlds are linked by the great tree, and yet the tree itself and all of the universe are believed to be contained within the shell of a single hazelnut, lying next to the Well of Segais (the source of all wisdom.)
The ability to simultaneously be a part of many realities and existences is at the heart of the shamanic experience. (This is what CERN is all about, they are shamans seeking other dimenstions) The Celtic shaman deliberately seeks to take on the shape of another animal (werewolves or vampires) or being in order to call upon the power within the entity for healing or instruction. The ability of the shaman to send his or her own consciousness into the consciousness of another being and then return to one’s own self is integral to the shaman’s journey.
Taliesin was known to have transformed himself (shapshift) into many other forms and guises in his attempt to escape the Goddess Ceridwen after imbibing of the brew of inspiration and wisdom.
A druid was a member of the priestly and learned class in the ancient Celtic societies of Western Europe, Britain and Ireland. They were suppressed by the Roman government and disappeared from the written record by the second century AD. Druids combined the duties of priest, judge, healer, scholar, and teacher. Little contemporary evidence for them exists, and thus little can be said of them with assurance, but they continued to feature prominently in later Irish myth, literature and law.
The earliest record of the name druidae (???????) is reported from a lost work of the Greek doxographer Sotion of Alexandria (early second century BC), who was cited by Diogenes Laertius in the third century AD.
The Celtic communities that Druids served were polytheistic. They also show signs of animism, in their reverence for various aspects of the natural world, such as the land, sea and sky, and their veneration of other aspects of nature, such as sacred trees and groves (the oak and hazel were particularly revered), tops of hills, streams, lakes and plants such as the mistletoe. Fire was regarded as a symbol of several divinities and was associated with cleansing. Purported ritual killing and human sacrifice were aspects of druidic culture that shocked classical writers.
Modern attempts at reconstructing, reinventing or re-imagining the practices of the druids are called Neo-druidism
Celtic Shamanism and Faerie Magic
– Ted Andrews, Enchantment of the Faerie Realm
Fairies and Faerie Magic
First let’s clear up some spelling confusion. Fairies and Faeries are two diffent spellings of the same word. One spelling (faerie) is more often used in Great Britian. The other spelling (fairy or fairies) is more an American spelling – which naturally the British claim is incorrect (and Americans say that the British should learn to speak English). In this article, we will use both spellings … just to make Google wonder how to index this page. Now, the spiritual beings known as faeries (or fairies) played a crucial role in Celtic shamanism. Fairies, or Faerie spirits, were believed to exist on the boundary between the natural world and the spirit world, or otherworld. Though the otherworld was their home, faeries could be encountered in our world in the sacred natural places where the two worlds overlapped. Like Forests
Celtic Shamans relied heavily on faerie magic. Much like how Native American shaman would call on a spirit animal before taking their ecstatic journeys, it was only with the aid, protection of companion faeries that the Celtic shaman could venture into the otherworld. The magical powers of the faeries were also behind the abilities of the shaman. It took great spiritual powers to communicate with the spirits, but it was the magic of the faeries rather than of the shaman themselves which allowed a shaman to perform what seemed to be miracles.
Today we think of all faeries as diminutive creatures with bug-like wings (largely thanks to Disney’s Tinkerbelle). To the Celts, however, faeries could range from being as tiny as an insect to as large as a mountain. In his book Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry, William Butler Yeats explains it best when he writes: “Do not think of faeries as always little. Everything is capricious about them, even their size. They seem to take what size or shape pleases them.” Much like Fallen Angels
The faeries of the Celtic shamans were a diverse group of spiritual creatures that were divided into different types of fairy people such as gnomes, goblins, pixies, leprechauns, pookas, and elves. It is difficult to tell if all of these creatures constituted different races of faerie people, or, if the tricky faeries merely changed their appearance depending on the situation.
Faeries, Shamanism, and Druidism
The druids were a professional class of Celtic people who performed just about every societal role which needed education and training. They were the doctors, lawyers, writers, poets, teachers, and religious leaders of their societies. There is no reason to suppose that Celtic shamanism and belief in faeries wasn’t practiced alongside Druidism, or that it would cause some sort of conflict. In fact, Druidism and Celtic shamanism likely are inherently complementary – two parts within a larger whole.
The Druidic class expanded on folk shamanistic belief regarding the soul and the nature of the world. They believed in the doctrine of reincarnation and in the existence of a spiritual world. The druids were, essentially, educated shamans. They practiced divination and performed rituals and sacrifices for the community. Their training was often undertaken close to nature, in caves and forests.
The druids didn’t have much to say about fairies, and so one can suppose that a belief in faeries was mostly carried on in Celtic folk tradition. There is, however, nothing to indicate that the druids had a problem with faerie belief or that they made any attempts to suppress it among the other classes of society.
Celtic Shamanism and Faerie Belief Today
Belief in faeries (and druidism) largely went underground following the Roman conquest of much of Europe. In fact, Romans wanted all the druids and their ‘religion’ destroyed. The spread of Christianity further repressed Celtic shamanism. Yet, by the passing down of stories and teachings, Celtic shamanism refused to disappear. Here and there during the last two thousand years, the faeries have popped up to make their presence known and reawaken folk memory, such as in the 19th century case of famed Irish herbalist Biddy Early. Biddy reported that, as a child, she befriended faeries who taught her about the healing properties of certain plants.
Just when Celtic and fairies and magick were being often written off as superstition, along comes a true story and mystical event that began in the northeast Scotland in 1962. In a village named Findhorn along the Findhorn Bay, a small but dedicated group of people formed a spiritual community which succeeded in creating a bountiful garden in the harsh and unsuitable environment. The Findhorn Foundation, as they later named themselves, believed that they received help from the nature spirits that their Celtic shamanic ancestors had enjoyed a close relationship with in the distant past.
Celtic shamans today are putting great effort into piecing together ancient Celtic beliefs from folklore and myth. At the same time, however, they are creating a new and unique traditions. Modern Celtic shamanism isn’t interested in taking people back to the past, but in offering them a new way to live in the modern world … a way that involves re-connecting to the nature world. Today’s natural world seems to be in great peril. Who knows? Maybe those ancient spiritual beings, known by many names in many places, are reaching out to us to save the natural world (so that we may save ourselves). (People don’t understand that the spirits they are “learning from” are DEMONIC Entities. Fallen Angels.) Today, more and more people of European decent have attempted to reconnect with their spiritual roots. Modern Celtic shamanism makes use of the same folk tradition that no doubt inspired Biddy Early and Findhorn. Unfortunately, the Celts left behind very few written works and seem to have been particularly averse to writing down their spiritual beliefs (much the same as the Druids). Any written Celtic works on spirituality which may have existed at one time were likely destroyed by the Romans and later the Christian Church. One thing about those spiritual beings at the border of this world and the spiritual world, they just refuse to go away.
Morganna is a spirit medium and a student of world religions, but especially finds herself drawn to her Celtic roots.
By Bee Rowlatt
4:02PM BST 03 Oct 2013
‘Forest School’ is a Scandinavian import that might just be the salvation of our cosseted, tech-addled children.
Take a close look at your precious children. Are they glaze-eyed dumplings, umbilically attached to a phone or other electronic device? Don’t worry, children are all like that these days. Luckily there are people out there who can help. People whose mission it is to convert our jaded youth into fearless tree-climbers with rosy cheeks. The people of the Forest School.
This is a series of woodland learning sessions, for any age from preschool to further education, alongside “normal” education. John Blaney is the Forest School programme manager at Bridgwater College in Somerset, the home of the Forest School concept in the UK, and it all began on a research trip to Denmark back in 1993.
“Denmark changed everything,” says Blaney, “We observed their five to seven-year-olds, and saw they were outside all day in woodland, exploring freely. What a breath of fresh air, coming from the UK where we wrap our children in cotton wool.” Two decades later, Forest Schools have come a long way. The first course was set up in 1996, and by 2000 Bridgwater College won the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for innovation in education.
Last year an estimated 11,000 Forest School sessions took place in UK schools. Blaney and his team have also trained as far afield as Amsterdam, Chile and Mexico, and have plans for Ascension Island, and a desert Forest School in Dubai.
I’m meeting Bridgwater College’s smallest foresters: a group of three-year-olds from the Children’s Centre who are playing in the woods. They have pulled a log from some undergrowth and are peeling off layers of dead bark, looking for bugs. Brogan picks up a woodlouse, slowly turning his hand as it crawls off his palm, and laughs out loud as it tickles his skin. Several minutes later, he is still absorbed in carefully tracking the creature’s progress up his raincoat sleeve. While some of the kids rush up a tree and bounce on a low branch, others play hide and seek in the bushes. They come together to make leaf patterns and leaf-hats, then scatter again.
It’s picturesque, and surprisingly purposeful. The staff hover nearby, supporting rather than controlling the children’s play. “It’s child-led, so they don’t get bored,” says Forest School trainer Des Singleton. “But without knowing it they’re learning all the time, developing fine and gross motor skills.”
Singleton used to work in a school for excluded kids, and describes Forest School as a “powerful tool” for children with special needs. She took a gang of boys aged 14 to 16 into the woods. “They were quite a challenging bunch, who’d been really let down by previous schools. In the bus on the way they were hanging out the windows swearing and gesturing at people.”
Over time, their woodland sessions calmed the boys down, and according to Singleton it transformed their self-esteem. “We used to light fires, and they’d bring food and cook their own meals on it – they all felt so pleased with themselves. As a teacher it was a hugely rewarding process.”
It’s an insight echoed by Alex Hart, who teaches Forest School sessions in and around nearby Frome: “I used to be a secondary school teacher and it felt as though the kids were incarcerated in the classroom. I wanted to open the windows and set them free! But I noticed that whenever I took them to learn outdoors, discipline just stopped being an issue.”
Such is the enthusiasm of the practitioners, it’s obviously not only the kids who benefit from a wild classroom. “The teachers we train do love it,” agrees Singleton, “you get impressive results with just a small amount of open space, and the right training. You can link it all to the curriculum and make progress with no extra resources or lesson planning.”
But how exactly does outdoor learning work? Blaney explains, while waving a stick with feathers tied on, that “tactile learning, especially involving movement, helps with memory. It’s multi-sensory stimuli that embed the memories – for example, the smell of a smoky log fire or the sound of splashing mud, these things help to reinforce whatever it is that they are learning. You only have to ask people about their own childhood memories. What they remember is almost always outdoor-based.”
The idea that children thrive outdoors is nothing new. Who could forget Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, in which health and good manners are restored to a sickly, tantrum-prone child via a garden, some sparrows and a trowel. But if we’ve known this all along, why have children become distanced from the natural world?
British childcare expert and author of No Fear, Tim Gill, blames what he calls the shrinking horizons of childhood. “Children’s lives are becoming ever more scheduled, controlled and directed,” he says. Added to which there’s parental risk aversion, and fear of litigation, “when in reality children are safer than they ever have been. But our key job in children’s lives is not to remove all risk,” he emphasises. “It’s to help children manage risk.”
Gill argues that children need the chance to face difficulties and learn from their own mistakes. And as a patron of the Forest Schools Association, he has had plenty of opportunities to witness this in action. He cites an encounter between some four-year-olds and a fallen tree lying across a ditch.
“They were working out how to clear the branches and get over the tree. They tried so hard, it really motivated them. Two of the kids made it, and one chose not to. This was a really critical life lesson. You can only learn your boundaries by getting close to your boundaries – there’s no way around it! Children have a huge appetite for experience and adventure, and we are not responding to that as a society.”
In all these conversations a sense emerges that today’s children are losing something hard to quantify: an affinity with nature, once so ordinary as to pass unnoticed. Jean Hegland, author of Into the Forest, fears this subtle loss. “Like it or not, and despite all our increasingly cyborg ways,” she says, “we are still animals – dependent on the natural world not only for all of our toys and tools but also for our very survival.”
Hegland brought her own kids up deep in Californian woodland, in the belief that “no matter where children end up as adults, their adventures in woods and meadows will teach them lessons about patience, courage, self-reliance – and even delight and awe – that will continue to serve them very well.”
Delight and awe were evident on the faces of the children at Bridgwater College Children’s Centre, in their free-range encounters with trees, feathers, beetles, leaves, branches, wind and mud. As I leave, they are sitting in a circle on the grass enjoying biscuits and hot chocolate; blissfully unaware of the screen-bound, moderated, pixelated years to come.
So there you have it. As a nation, let us unplug our children from their glowing screens, and send them up a tree. Let them get muddy, let them mess around with other kids, let them hit things with sticks, and let them find their own way home. After all, it was good enough for us, remember?
They make no mention here of how much of the time they are building houses for fairies, or participating in spiritual visualizations of fairies and nature creatures.
Friluftsliv: The Scandinavian Philosophy of Outdoor Life
The Science – Science Agrees: Nature is Good for You
A curated collection of journalism and research on the health benefits of nature therapy, forest bathing, and forest therapy.
Red Ice Radio – Dan Rayner – Hour 1 – Asatru Mindset & Reinvigorating the European Spirit CLICK HERE TO VIEW
Finding Friluftsliv // a documentary Click here to View
Shamanism In The Celtic World by Corby Ingold
“Shamanism” is a living dynamic that involves all of the senses. A sensuous experience that must be known in a primary and primal way. The mental wheel-spinning of academics or the shallow genuflecting of New Age entrepreneurs will never truly comprehend it until they stop interpreting and start experiencing it, internally and externally, with mind, emotion, body, and spirit.”(6)
This idea of reciprocity between the worlds, that a price must be paid for Otherworldly knowledge and gifts, runs through world shamanic tradition. Shamans typically undergo exceptional ordeals in their quest for healing power, magical knowledge, etc. The very nature of the shaman’s suffering and trials place him outside of ordinary society,
Others have claimed that the phenomenon of the awenyddion does not resemble shamanism, but rather the trance possession of Vodun and other Afro-Carribean religions. This distinction between being “possessed” and possessing a guardian spirit helper is cited by Harner.(4.) Based upon this idea, and in reaction against the popularity of Mathews, et.al., some modern Celtic reconstructionists have gone so far as to claim that ancient Celtic spiritual practice, far from being in any way “shamanic”, was actually more akin to the practices of Vodun, Santeria, and other African-derived religions,
…my own experiences in the Connemara Gaeltacht (Gaelic speaking area) and in the Outer Hebrides in the early 1970’s made it very clear to me that the traditional belief in and interaction with fairies and other Otherworldly denizens was a fact of daily life for the farmers I lived amongst. This interaction took the form of frequent stories told about them, prayers, offerings, and other humble practices. A number of elements of the Gaelic fairie faith as I experienced it then were remarkably similar to traditional teachings and stories I encountered a decade later when learning from Pacific Northwest Coast elders and shamans on reservations in northern Washington, half a world away.
In the fairie doctor tradition, we have something surviving into our own time that we can draw upon since much has been written down and recorded about it. Much else, of course, remains locked within oral tradition, being jealously guarded by those few families who may carry the traditions today. Still, there is much food for fruitful research here, and probably much more to be brought to light by the skilled and sensitive student. The ideal student here, as in any of the multitude of surviving indigenous and folk-magical traditions around the world, will be one who, while perhaps academically trained, has yet that awareness of and sensitivity to the Otherworld that will make her the ideal bridge between cultures and ways of knowing.
It is clear, of course, that one element of classical shamanism is missing from the Celtic tradition: the drum. Though Sean o’Riada began the modern revival of the bodhran as a band instrument, subsequently to be popularized by The Chieftains and other Celtic bands, it seems fairly clear from historical evidence that its prior use was limited to the annual Wren Boys ceremony in County Kerry. But even within indigenous cultures commonly identified by anthropologists as containing the shamanic complex, not all shamans used the drum for traveling in the way popularized by Michael Harner in The Way of The Shaman. Some South American shamans shake dry leaves on a branch to induce trance, and shamans elsewhere work with bells, gongs, stringed instruments, or simply with the human voice, traditionally a very powerful opener of Otherworld gateways. Celtic peoples have never wanted for forms of musical expression, whether instrumental or vocal and surely would have evolved their own means of using sound to travel into realms beyond the physical. (hmm..Binaural Beats?)
People better look ahead and determine where they are going, before they jump on the bandwagon. You can’t just look at the surface. Sure, it is about getting your kids out of the stuffy classroom, which I totally support. But, look deeper and realize that this program is instilling in our children pagan practices, beliefs, and philosophies. That is fine if you are a pagan. If you are a believer in the True and Living Creator GOD, this program is a disaster. “Train your child up in the way they should go, and when they are old, they will not depart from it.” Prov 22:6 Your children are only young once. This is the time they are most receptive. What they learn as truth now is what they will hold fast. TRUTH is not relative. There is only one TRUTH. Be sure of what you are teaching them.
Heilung | LIFA – Krigsgaldr LIVE
Our drugged up, spaced, burning man, Raving, Ecstasy, yoga generation is raising their kids to be pagans! Worshiping the creation instead of the creator and communing with spirits!! YIKES!
CONTINUE TO The Forest Way – PART 2