An Open Letter to a Seeker
Updated: Oct 25
Circling the fire. Photo by Oliver Weber.
Many tongues may tell many things about life
What it is about
Who you are
When all is said
and all is done
it simmers and condenses into one
You must get your name
And then you must earn it
"How do I do that?" you ask
“You find the right kind of trouble" I reply
Poem by Jaime/Lark "Earning your name."
no longer a seeker, we are all Trackers you know….It begs the question, what are you tracking? As the embers cool and turn to ash what is alive in you now about your rite of passage? Perhaps a memory of something significant lingering, a taste of something not common in our everyday lives? Maybe you saw something in the older men, a glimpse of a human still connected to his wild and unruly aliveness. There is more to this work than meets the eye.
Martin Shaw is a wilderness rites of passage guide in England, I can imagine him saying; "congratulations on walking through the doorway of child to young adult... Now the work begins..."
This especially so in a culture that has forgotten what it means to be empowered, a culture that has either forgotten or it is blind to the possibility that each of us is carrying a gift, a unique gift only you have, something our world desperately needs. The small print says, to find it you have to prepare the ground, you have to do the work to prepare yourself to be able for it. I use the word “able" as an old Irish way, it means to big enough for the job and in these times it is a workork of heART.
The truth could be no one really knows what is happening out there in the world. It is easy to assume the grown ups know what they are doing, but maybe they dont? It could be we are a train racing away on a set of tracks someone else made, maybe there is no driver and maybe no one really is sure where the tracks will lead? What do you think Martin means when he says the Return is the hardest thing?
For a week sometime in early October 2023 we dared to circle in nature, as nature we gathered around the fire. Together leaning into the ancestors of the past and a longing for the future ones to have something like this, we created and amplified a field of love and honesty with the courage to be authentic. We got sautéed, cooked, basted and blasted with inspiration. Coming home thing change.
I think Adge Tucker is on to something when he said “it is entirely possible to live a shit life." Jim Horton, a father of the rites of passage experience here in Aotearoa would always say, “ This is how you get your life.“ I loved it when he would speak these words because I felt that it was coming from a place of someone who knew, someone who had been in dark places, someone who had been courageous enough to face the darkness and despite the darkness learn to see. What he saw he passed on to us.
I want to take this a little further….What he did not say is that there are voices inside and outside that do not want you to risk the adventure. The ones outside are easier to recognise, they tend to want you to conform and be good. Stay alert to these even if they say they love you and they have your best interests at heart.
The voices inside are more interesting, you will need the discernment of a wild animal to know these. An ability to sniff out and know the difference between instinct/intuition/inspiration (clues to your beautiful soul life becoming,) from self protection strategies that you needed as a child but now hold you back. Some call them fierce figures on the side of good, guardians we can meet at any threshold worth its salt. They may whisper or shout or even be silent but make no mistake they say "turn around, get out of here, just freeze...." when what you really need to do is walk through. Does that make sense? Do you understand that? Invisible self survival strategies are needed when we are vulnerable dependent infants, they protected us. But as adults they need to be seen and another step taken to know and perhaps walk on.
David Wagoner says it another way in his poem "Lost".
Stand still the trees and bushes beside your are not lost, wherever you are is called here and you must treat it like a powerful stranger…
The truth from the 50 years I have spent circling around this bright star we call brother sun is this….to really hear what is most alive in you, you have to cultivate stillness, you have to learn to stand still. You will not be able to track the wild scent, hear the intimations and intuitions of wholeness if you cannot settle your mind.
The last image of a seeker prior to his journey into manhood. Photo Oliver Weber
Whether you are a father, mother, a fresh tracker, a seasoned Tracker, onlooker, sceptic, ... the rite of passage is just one step. A very important step but it is only a step. What you need to now is familiarise yourself with the nature based developmental tasks or put another way, get a map and keep the adventure of growing into a whole human being alive.
In old times God made the map and you could buy a map from the church, the price was too high and too many got corrupted by the power. Other maps have come into being, personally I love the old stories the myths, they are reliable, talk to me later if you want some ideas. Rudolf Steiner was also on to something. Most recently I have been studying deeply with Bill Plotkin and the work of Animas Valley. They have made a map that I will attach here for you all. It is a wheel I think it is helpful because it gives you a clue to where you are at and what you need to do to get your life.
In summary, well done for completing the rites of passage, now you might want to ask yourself, what was it about those men, that fire, that place that spoke? Are you curious enough to live that way, to build your own soul fire? If you are then have a look at the tasks below. Whether you are in the body of an elder, an adult or fresh adolescent, there is work to be done. Rites of passages mark life stages, the actual work of becoming a True Adult is done by the achieving the developmental tasks that relate to the stage you are in or the stage you might of missed. If the tasks are complete you do not have to worry, you soul will guide you. I believe you will unfold and grow naturally, like a salmon knows exactly how to thread its way back to the home river stream it was born, there is a wisdom in us that is vast, powerful and when you align it will feed you well.
The one thing I wish I could give you more than anything else is the wild discernment to know the right kind of trouble. It is not an easy path, no matter what anyone tells you, we reap what we sow, and we will harvest what we grow. Personally I have learned to trust this inner wisdom more than anything and anyone I know. I want that for you and I also want that you have a good map. No map is perfect and Bill Plotkin uses lots of big words, my challenge for you is make your own and use your own words.
Below is a version I wrote with you in mind/heart.
There are four directions and each direction has skills and capacities, reflect on them and riff off them, build your own.
Know that the ReWild Retreat is open to you if you are over 18 and still breathing...
The door is wild and open and you will get an embodied sense of the map below as we travel in each direction.
Keep your wildness alive
Time in the forest, water ways, mountains
Learn to hunt, track
Turn off the tech
Remember the relationship circle
Make a vow to love, honesty and respect.
Celebrate your sexuality life force and honor it.
Loving another can help you fall in love with the world.
Sensing is the key way of knowing, using your senses to attune to the animate world.
Listen to your dreams
Learn poems by heart and watch them lead you
Know that what you dislike in another person and be open this could be part of yourself that you exiled?
Shadow work comes later in life, just know that we are human and we all have seeds of masculine and feminine inside of us.
For me to cultivate my inner feminine means to play music, to do art, to make time to be, to listen more, to be receptive and open to the unconscious forces within
Imagination is key way of knowing, the capacity to see with our inner eyes.
Learn by experience, learn from the mistakes
Learn how to communicate with kindness especially when your pissed off
Learn to listen and speak with your heart
Heart centred thinking is the way of knowing, not strategic.
An ability to not always get your own way and be at peace with that.
In the South we are wise and centred and in our hearts.
Learn to meditate, to rest the mind and body in naturalness
Surprise yourself by changing positions, be a shapeshifter
Cultivate and play with the idea of the sacred fool. This one can be spontaneous, courageous, does not need to plan things.
Can be light even when things are heavy.
Can speak truth to power, by goodness we need that.
The way of knowing is Innocence
If you have all four directions growing, I have confidence you will have what it takes to do the inner work, to grow yourself into wholeness. After 30 years apprentice to education, the foundations of True Adult live here and with that could come a flourishing world.
Below are the notes I have take from Bill Plotkin's work… it gets more in-depth, I think there is gold here because he speaks directly to the life stage you are in. He basically says, if you are young adult, or if you are an old adult who never did these things, do them and nature will take care of the rest.
Summary of nature based Developmental tasks (Adapted notes from the work of Bill Plotkin.)
Stage 2 Child - Adolescence
(1) Discovering the enchantment of the natural world. Four realms of nature
(a) Wild nature (the other-than-human-world) (b) The human body (including the five senses) (c) Imagination (especially dreams and spontaneous imaginings) (d) Emotions
(2) Learning cultural ways: the social practices, values, knowledge, history, mythology, and cosmology of one’s family and culture
Feelings honoured and used for creative expression
Stage 3: The Oasis (early adolescence) Development Tasks
Puberty (= when we begin to experience ourselves primarily as members of a peer group and community beyond our membership in family and nature)
Creating a secure and authentic social self (one that generates adequate amounts of both social acceptance and self-approval)
"Establishing and building a grounded, agile, capable, courageous ego Identity, knowing your worth, your gifts matched with a willingness to learn, listen and be kind." Jaime Howell
(1) Value exploration and learning the skills of social authenticity (2) Emotional skills: emotional access, insight, action, and
illumination (3) Art of conflict resolution (with both outer and inner conflicts) (4) Status-assigning skills (5) Skills with sex and sexual relationships (6) Sustenance skills (7) Studying human-nature reciprocity and ecological responsibility (8) Welcoming home the Loyal Soldier
Creating a secure & authentic social self
How do you do this in a conforming consuming world?
How do we know the extent of the conditioning in the structures of our being?
Did we make a trade as young people, an impossible choice between being authentic and being accepted by our families and culture.
"That task is to fashion a social presence that is authentic and at the same time accepted by one’s peer group. For an early adolescent (of any age), “purpose” is whatever might achieve that dual goal. But that goal, as simple as it might sound, is extraordinarily elusive in the egocentric and pathological environment of contemporary Western culture." Bill Plotkin
Written by Lark/ Jaime October 2023 at the Time of theGreat Turning. If you are interested to take this further join us in one or all four of our journeys into wholeness starting March 28th 2024 with an impeccable adventure to reclaim our Earth Indigenous One.