A new tradition of ancient wisdom and spiritual practices
Wildcraft is a descriptor and invocation of a journey I have travelled, indeed continue to travel. Seeking wisdom, inspiration and scared relationship with the wilderness around me and within me. I have been a student of Druidry, Witchcraft (Traditional & Wicca), Spiritualism and Shamanism for over 25 years now and I combine all of this knowledge in a simple, natural path - in some ways it is a nameless path, spirit lead and inspired by the forces of Nature, but I call it Wildcraft!
Wildcraft is an animistic path that puts me in direct contact with the spirit of land, tree, sky, rain, ancestors and gods, finding my feet within a native, British spiritual path. Not because of some romantic notion of the past, but to find the inspiration of pre-Christian way of live upon this land. When we explore the indigenous spiritual web of this island, we find a path that is led by the teachings of nature and her changing tides. The inherent spirit within the land, the songs of our ancestors that are felt in the ancient stones. The whispers of the gods in the hum of life and death; the labels of our traditions are those of our making, to help us understand a little of the language and style of working, when in reality it was as simple and yet profound as Wild Nature; evolving from the very land itself. To root it firmly in a landscape where my path is experienced.Wildcraft is a path of being within and surrendering to nature, the spontaneity of experience, trance states and knowing, reaching out to and working with the spirits, a magical path of personal connection to land, deity and the ancestors.
As an animist, this reaching out to touch and be touched by the consciousness of Nature should feed, fuel and challenge our connection to the world, the gods, the ancestors, to the chainsaw biting into the woody flesh of a tree. This is no easy path! We have 2000 years of Christian orthodoxy, the calamity of climate change and rampaging brutal world that feeds our connection, reaction and conscious dreaming. I’m often quoted as saying that we need ‘un-learning’ we need ‘en-darken-ment’ to find our true connection, that moment when we are held in darkened wings of true spiritual freedom, our soul sings in tandem with the consciousness of Nature; of gods, ancestors and yew tree roots. We have somehow lost a simplicity to our spiritual roots.
“I am an Animist, Wildcrafter, Folk Herbalist and Bone Singer!”
What does that mean?
I’m an Animist – Here we find me communicating, sensing and know the spirit of Tree, bird, plant, bones, roots, sea, rain, sunshine, hunger, rage, lust; Sensing and knowing the spirit in all things, and finding relationship, or even communication with that spirit. Not for the fun of it, but for a deeper experience, and understanding of the fast, harsh, modern world, that I have always struggled to be a part of. I feel the sound of the Buzzard spiralling over my allotment; I smell the heat of the sun and touch the vision beyond mortal eyes. The sacred is touched and is touching, I work to build my relationship with Nature, both nature within and within out my soul, not because Nature wants me too, because I choose too! I choose to put myself into the path of the beauty and brutality of Nature, for she cares not for me, but in those moments of spirit to spirit connection an exchange takes place that is changing, evolving, and inspiring as well as fearful, challenging and painful. The familiar spirits demand attention if I am to have a spiritual relationship with them.
I’m a Folk Herbalist – I’m not a medicinal herbalist! While I know how some herbs can heal, soothe and easy pain, bring rest, I also know those that can poison, kill and bring the madness. As a folk Herbalist, I work with the magical, spiritual and herbal properties of a plant to bring about change, to heal, to inspire, to bind and to dream. I do not diagnose or prescribe herbs, but I will craft you a herbal pouch for protection, to help you grieve, to help you sleep and to find your purpose. I will create a plant spirit bundle or incense, an herbal charm to be carried or worn. I will blend a brew to wash, bathe, cleanse and empower. I will share the historical and magical use of herbs and forage plants from woods and fields. I will prepare and weave traditional preparations of ointments, teas and essences for our journeys through life and indeed into death.
I’m a Bone singer – Traditionally the Bone singers are the edge folk, living in both this world and the next. Chanting over the last breath of life at the side of a tribal member’s deathbed, preparing the body for the mortuary platforms for the crows and ravens to peck the bones clean and finally, with ritual, placing and arranging the bones in the chambered womb-tombs. They cared for the dead and sang the stories of the bones of the ancestors, their chants echoing deep in bellied womb-tombs. They were both feared and revered, and so lived on the edge of their society and this physical existence.
Today the Bone Singers teach us of the inspiration of loneliness, of being different from the ‘norm’, of facing our mortality and dealing with death and dying. Here we find our true vocation and dedication, for the Bone Singer spends many hours with the bones of the dead, the stories of the Ancestors to ensure that their song lives on and echoes from deep within this sacred land, deep within the belly of mother earth. They also teach us of the realities of the otherworld beyond our physical realm of here and now.
This journey of the Bone Singer, carrying us to the realm of the Ancestors, is not about trying to recreate the past, but to be inspired by it. The spirit of the otherworld comes dancing and singing into our world and we need to listen for the beat and the tales they offer us in our dreaming. I journey to the sacred places of our ancestors, the temple tombs, and circle of stones, but also the burial grounds, and battlefields, the old spirit roads and sacred trees, the sacred springs and wishing wells, the forts and castles. Here I hear and honour the mighty dead, and sing their stories alive, here my offerings are made and I take counsel of the mighty dead.
Overall, my entire path is a blend of my experience and my studies, but ultimately from the inspiration gained from Nature, Ancestors, Gods and the Spirits themselves. The techniques I use to get me there are from my exploration of Druidry, Traditional Witchcraft, Spiritualism and Shamanism, and the cup of freshly picked nettle and yarrow tea, the mountains, the tarns and the hidden wooded valleys.
For those of you who want to work as part of a group within the ethos of Wildcraft, look at our Wildcraft Hearth page here.
Rob Wilson ~ Woodspirit