The word bushcraft is a fairly modern one, but the craft has been with us since we were still apes climbing the canopy. Bushcraft is not the art of surviving in the wilderness, but rather how to thrive in it, with it and for it. It is the art of becoming one with your surroundings, knowing every plant, its qualities and uses, knowing every animal and living creature and knowing their places in the great whole. Knowing where and when to hunt and gather food, knowing how to make nifty tools with simple ones and what materials to use for every task needed. Bushcraft is using your senses to the fullest. Smelling when fruit and berries are ripe for the picking or whether you have found the right mushroom. Seeing those tiny clues that reveals the path a deer has walked. Listening and knowing the song of birds, knowing if their song is a warning or if they are calling for a mate. Feeling with your hands in murky water to find clams or to even catch a fish. Tasting plants to learn their qualities as for or medicine. Do you now see a connection between bushcraft and shamanism? Most of the knowledge, both bushcraft and shamanism comes from tribal peoples, living that very life. For them there are no differences between shamanism and bushcraft, they are both parts of the same set of knowledge. In our modern society you can happily learn bushcraft while ignoring shamanism, but you can not study shamanism without learning some bushcraft. Continue reading
The general answer you’ll get if you ask people is that it was probably through trial and error or just sheer luck. But this is a very unlikely theory. It would probably take millions of years to find all those plants that cured every kind of illness. Most likely humanity would have given up as soon as they saw that this experimentation killed more people than it healed. Our ancestors had a very different view of the natural world, their relationship with nature was as intimate as a child to her mother. Their senses were sharper and their knowledge and memory vast, compared to those who now rely on money for food and google instead of memory. They would have the knowledge of every smell and taste of each plant and the effect they have on the human mind and body. They would recognise the qualities of a newly discovered plant by comparing its qualities with what they already knew of other plants. But this does not explain how they found specific medical properties of plants in the first place. One simple answer may be that they gained this knowledge through shamanistic techniques, by journeying and communicating with the spirits of the plants the shaman can discover the properties of plants. As they most probably had a much stronger connection to the spiritworld, the world where all organisms and all things can communicate.
Yes, the ravens are speaking to me as of late, a lot. It feels like I have one raven sitting on each shoulder at all times. So, what are the qualities of the raven as a spirit animal? Every culture and tradition has its own views on what a spirit animal means, does and what powers it possesses. Some cultures view the raven as a bad omen, an omen of death, while others as wisdom, cunning and intelligence. What is real then? Let us take a quick look into some qualities of the raven.