One moon* ago, the Seekers walked the path to Nishnajida (Ojibwe for Camp Where the Old Ways Return), located deep in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. They brought only the bare essentials for what would be needed to begin their 11-month wilderness immersion experience: a tent, matches, tomahawk, craft/wood knife, a bowl for eating as well as changes of clothing and personal care items. Eventually, the matches will be replaced by the bow drill once they learn to make a bow drill fire, their bowls will be exchanged for those they learn to make from the wood in the forest, and their tents will be traded for wigwams that they will be constructing from wood, bark, and cordage gathered from the surrounding forest.
The Seekers are three women and two men. In addition to learning about wilderness survival skills, the Seekers are also choosing to leave behind their old identities during the time they are out in the wilds. This process allows them to learn more about who they truly are apart from the labels they learned to carry back home. It also challenges limiting beliefs they may hold about their potential. To assist with this, the Seekers’ names will change over time, depending on how their fellow Seekers see them, either by their physical characteristics, or their personality traits. When they first began, their names were Braided Woman, Young One, Nut Cracker, Tall One, and Medicine Woman. Medicine Woman is the overseer of the first aid kit. Braided Woman has since become Brave Woman. Young One is now Squirrel, Nut Cracker became Caretaker, and Tall One is now Knowledge Keeper.
The five Seekers are learning about the Three Thresholds to Wilderness Attunement. Oftentimes people associate being in nature as relaxing, as a place to get away and unwind. And it can be. But relaxing and relating to nature can be difficult when we are used to modern day distractions such as email, social media, streaming videos and music, and even background noise. Without these distractions, people encounter the first threshold, the Psychological Threshold. Here, they learn to relate to themselves and others without the buffer of distractions and fast pace of modern living. The second is the Tolerance Threshold, which looms when the discomforts of life in the wilds begin to eat away at their dispositions. Here the rain can seem to go on forever, the ground may be too hard, and the mosquitoes outrank the Seeker’s patience. Once they work through the first two thresholds, they are greeted by the Gifting Threshold. Here they begin to realize the ebb and flow of living in the natural realm: that rain, mosquitoes, and biting flies come and go, that hunger is eventually sated. Tired muscles get rested, low spirits are lifted, and at some point, someone successfully builds a fire.
Every sun* brings new opportunities for the Seekers to learn how to live comfortably and effectively in the wilds. They are learning how to tell time by the placement of the sun and moon, primitive cooking, wilderness first aid, lostproofing (learning to tell direction without a compass or GPS), edible plants, solo canoeing, just to name a few. One of the biggest lessons is learning to foster a relationship with the land, the trees, plants, water, animals, and insects. Like many of us, the Seekers grew up in a culture where water comes from the tap, heat from a furnace, and food from the grocery store. Getting their drinking water from the lakes, warmth from a wood fire, and food from plants and wild animals puts them in direct relationship with the sources of what sustains them.
Stay tuned for updates on their adventures.
*one moon is one month
*one sun is one day