Where the Wild Things Are: An adventure in re-wilding ourselves
A year long adventure to some of the last wild places in Britain with WildWise and Embercombe.
With Chris Salisbury from WildWise, Max Hope, Alan Watson Featherstone, Derek Gow, Shaun Ellis, Mac Macartney
With sessions from special guests including Bill Plotkin and Jay Griffiths
|5th February - 7th November||Where the wild things are||Book Now|
Come with us on an adventure that follows an old trail once made by species like the wolf, the lynx, the beaver and Auroch from the southern tip of South West England to the ancient Caledonian forest of Scotland.
It’s a trail into deep trouble, but we reckon it’s the kind you’ve been hoping for but didn’t know how to ask. This journey is an apprenticeship of sorts, to the wisdom of the wild and as such, will inevitably ask troubling questions of us. We are inviting you to take an intuitive and courageous leap to address the complex and mysterious invitations endlessly issuing forth from the few wild places left in Britain.
In five weekend modules we will be visiting those places where nature has consciously been unleashed, places where we can each bear witness to the real, unfolding, emergent possibility of restoring wildness in our lifetimes.
An adventure into outer and inner wildness
Imagine a ‘lost world’ – a place where the generative, creative force and flow of nature knows no bounds, where ancient, wild animals roam freely in a sound-bath of birdsong and the orchestrations of myriad invertebrates. This is a place in which you don’t know what to expect, the place on the maps of old, characterised by the words … ‘uncharted territory’.
This is a place suspended in time and space – it is a place ‘where the wild things are’.
Does such a place exist? … we invite you to find out.
The soundtrack to our year of rewilding ourselves will be a cacophony of grunts, growls and howls, and accompanying the squeaks and squawks will be your own grief-cry and shouts of joy. Expect therefore to emerge from the other end with a skip in your step and a fierce resolve glinting in your wild eye.
Those at home, may not recognise your scent anymore. That could be a good thing.
Our call to adventure begins with a lament from an old wolf, a music long gone from these lands. Or, maybe, just maybe it isn’t.
We believe this ancient summons might be calling to us to re-member ourselves, and our birthright connective tissue.
Can we repair that old, broken accord between people and nature?
Can we embed ourselves with humility and reverence into the ‘wild land dreaming’, as Martin Shaw presents it, and dream something new, and collaborative?
Who is it for?
For any explorer who feels a deep pull, however subtle, toward the wild, and wishes to align with the creative force of nature, inside and out of themselves, in our times and together with others.
Bearing witness to these places, we will be learning from the pioneering individuals who took the decision to restore liberty to nature – hearing directly from them what their inspiration, their dreams, their practices and their challenges have been. We will learn from them how we might each bring wildness back to our own places, to our families and our communities. We will look in a very practical way what it takes to restore wildness to place.
At the same time we will explore what this means to us as individuals, how we recognise and unleash our own wild souls, how we channel the creative force of nature into our own endeavors We will be practicing nature connection activities that attune us to our place in nature, and how this changes with different places and different levels of wildness – we will even come face to face with a wolf, encounter a wolf pack and consider how this animal wisdom can help our enquiry.
We will be asking such questions as:
- As humans, how do we fit into the rewilding agenda of our times?
- What form does our apprenticeship to the Earth now take?
- Can we live more elegantly with wild nature around us and within us?
- How can we prepare ourselves both inwardly and outwardly to make this transition?
Together we will become a village of people who have visited, in a deep way, the places where the wild things are, and perhaps even become one of them. We will become a community of people dedicated to restoring the wild, from a soul-centric, rooted and authentic place.
What you can expect
This is an invitation to make a connection between the human journey, that of our species in general and particularly that of your own, and real rewilding projects and pioneers.
The experience will consist of mosaic puzzle pieces that fit together to make a wholesome village experience, including mentoring outside the modules for ongoing support. Individual components of the programme include indigenous skills and deep ecology, fieldcraft and campcraft, council and ceremonial practice which in combination provoke a deep and soulful enquiry into the nature of your own rewilding.
Rewilding is a relative thing – it is what we want to make it. It is a slow experiment as we as a species become courageous enough to let nature take control, it looks different everywhere we look. Some people have been rewilding for many years, in many ways, in gardens, in patches of wasteland, in corners of the world. Some people have big patches of land that they have handed over to natural creative forces. Wherever we find ourselves in this debate, rewilding is something that is happening, so it is time for us to respond and explore for ourselves what our role might be within this emergent unfolding story.
February to November 2022 – module dates listed below
Modules run from 1 pm Friday to 1 pm Monday
Online Symposium: 5 – 6 February (Imbolc) – included in price
Module 1: 18 – 21 March 2022 – at Embercombe
Module 2: 20 – 23 May 2022 – location TBC
Module 3: 15 – 18 July 2022 – location TBC
Module 4: 9 – 13 September 2022 – location TBC
Module 5: 4 – 7 November 2022 – at Embercombe
Includes a visit to Derek Gow’s farm with beavers
Please note that the fees for this programme do not include travel to and from our wild locations.
This is a residential programme. In the event of further lock-down, each participant can choose to have all course fees refunded in full or transferred to later dates minus a pro-rata rate for modules completed.
Chris founded and currently directs WildWise, an outdoor education and training organisation in 1999, after many years working as an education officer for Devon Wildlife Trust. With a professional background in the theatre, a qualification in drama-therapy and a career in environmental education he uses every creative means at his disposal to encourage people to enjoy and value the natural world on courses he facilitates in the UK and abroad. He has worked with and been profoundly influenced by Ray Mears, Bill Plotkin, Joanna Macy, David Whyte amongst very many others. He is a course facilitator at Schumacher College, Devon, where he also directs the Call of the Wild Foundation year-programme. He is also known as a professional storyteller (aka ‘Spindle Wayfarer’), and is the co-founder and Artistic Director for both the Westcountry and Oxford Storytelling Festivals. He is also a theatre ensemble teacher for the International Schools Theatre Association.
Chris is married with 4 children and lives in enchantment on the edge of the Dartington’s forest with his astonishing dog ‘Dexter’…..
Max Hope (she/her) was a youth worker for 15 years before becoming a university academic at the University of Hull, where her hunger for changing the system led her to specialise in teaching and research about inclusive education, equalities, freedom, democracy and social justice. She co-founded the Freedom to Learn Project, an international research project which explored whether innovative, radical and alternative ways of educating could improve mainstream schools and reduce social inequality. Through this, she started to encounter wild education, wild pedagogy, rewilding and deep nature connection. Her own personal rewilding adventure began at this point. Like Max, the main character from the children’s book ‘Where the Wild Things Are’, Max has been on an epic personal adventure into the wild and through this, has become passionate about the concept of rewilding people and places. She is a director of Rewilding Education, a new project that grapples with some of the complex questions about how to make education better for people and planet. She lives in Devon, and in her wild time, Max loves to walk, climb mountains, sit still, listen to the birds and tell stories. For more information, see www.maxhope.co.uk
(More facilitators TBC)
Alan Watson Featherstone
In 1986 Alan founded the award-winning conservation charity, Trees for Life, which works to restore the Caledonian Forest in the Scottish Highlands. It has become the leading organisation working to restore the Caledonian Forest in Scotland and took on ownership of the 10,000 acre Dundreggan Estate in Glenmoriston as its flagship project for native woodland recovery. Through his work with Trees for Life, he has helped to provide the inspiration for other ecological restoration projects in the Scottish Borders, on Dartmoor in England and for the creation of the Yendegaia National Park in Tierra del Fuego, Chile. He also founded the Restoring the Earth project, to promote the restoration of the planet’s degraded ecosystems as the most important task for humanity in the 21st century. He is one of our country’s most inspiring rewilding pioneers.
Shaun Ellis is an English animal researcher who is notable for living among wolves, and for adopting a pack of abandoned North American timber wolf pups. He is the founder of Wolf Pack Management and is involved in a number of research projects in Poland and at Yellowstone National Park in the United States.
His life irrevocably changed the first time he set eyes on a wolf. He has placed himself in what people see as constant danger by living with wolves as a member of the family; eating, hunting and sleeping with them and learning their language so that his howl is indistinguishable from theirs. Anybody who has been fortunate enough to see Shaun with the wolves could see the amazing bond that he has as well as the in depth knowledge of their world which is second to none. Shaun was raised in the Norfolk countryside, then trained by the British army. He spent several years with the Nez Perce tribe in Idaho and owes a lot of his education to the tribal people and the animals that he spent time with.
In 1999 Mac founded Embercombe. At which time he was also the founder and CEO of a leadership consultancy for corporate executives operating internationally between 1989-2005. Over a period of twenty years Mac was mentored and coached by a group of Native American teachers. During this training and ever since he has attempted to bring two worlds together – an ancient world view that emphasises relationship, interdependence, and reverence for life with the huge challenges and equally huge opportunities of the 21st Century. You can find out more about Mac’s work here.
Derek Gow is an ecologist, author of the wonderful book ‘Bringing Back the Beaver’ and a keen advocate of species reintroductions, particularly that of the Eurasian Beaver. His farm in West Devon is home to the first licensed beavers in the UK and he works with Wildlife Trusts and other landowners to bring back this species to the British Isles.
Bill Plotkin, PhD, is the author The Journey of Soul Initiation. As a depth psychologist, wilderness guide, and founder of Colorado’s Animas Valley Institute, he has led thousands of women and men through nature-based initiatory passages. His previous books include Soulcraft, Nature and the Human Soul, and Wild Mind. He lives in Durango, Colorado and you can visit him online at http://www.animas.org.