After the Seekers finished their week-long trial on May 10, they made the 5-hour trek from Mashkodens (Ojibwe for Little Prairie), to Nishnajida (Ojibwe for Camp Where the Old Ways Return), which is located deep in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. They carried everything they will use while living immersed in the wilds on pack frames that were crafted from sturdy forked branches found in the nearby forest.
Gear includes a tent, sleeping bag, matches, tomahawk, knife, a bowl for eating, as well as three changes of clothing and personal care items. Matches will eventually be replaced by a wooden friction fire making kit, their bowls will be exchanged with those they learn to make by burning out a split section of a log, and they will abandon their tents for wigwams they build from the saplings, bark, and roots gathered from the surrounding woods.
To help the Seekers stay grounded in the present moment, common words for time, distance and direction have been replaced with terms that reflect their immediate environment. For example, time is now measured by how long it takes to cook an egg on the fire or paddle across the lake. A year is now a full turn of the seasons, a day is a sun, a yard could be an arm’s length, and the left side may be called the heart side. This blog will be using these terms as well. To prevent reader confusion, we created a handy page for your reference. You can visit the Glossary of Terms page here.
Before arriving, the Seekers are encouraged to come to this experience as an empty bowl, with curiosity, so they can embrace all the teachings and gifts the forest has to offer. To immerse oneself in the wild with new people and new experiences is a gift, one that offers them an opportunity to let go of the labels and assumptions they’ve been carrying. It is in this space that the Seekers will have an opportunity to see themselves differently, to uncover the gifts and talents that have always been part of them, waiting to be discovered.
To fully embrace this path of discovery, the Seekers drop their given names and receive another from their clan mates, a name that represents a new beginning and a fresh perspective regarding who they currently are within the clan. These names often include physical characteristics or personality traits and strengths. As they get to know themselves and one other better, these names will likely change to reflect their evolving role within their circle.
We would like to invite you to accompany Blooming Flower, Sky Lilly, Sunny Fox, Silent Wolf, and Woodpecker on their adventures in the wild as they grow in the ways of honor, respect, and Balance with the Elder Relations (furred, leafed, winged…) of the Northern Woodlands.