Buckeye Gathering

Dirt is of the earth. Dirt is not dirty; rather, dirt is the reminder of life’s open invitation to grow. By planting seeds, by collecting food, and by using earthbound skills to acquire the objects we need to survive, we commune with the earth and all earth dwellers.

The Buckeye Gathering answers Nature’s call with gratitude.

The crew moved the location of their annual gathering to Lake Concow this year. I’m personally grateful for the new location, being closer to home. Attracting folks from far and wide and high and low, the Buckeye Gathering shared the knowledge and skills of being a steward of the land. Instructors brought natural materials for their workshops, and goods for the trade blanket. The Barter Faire was rich in homemade tonics and buckskins, knives and textiles, amongst a host of other crafts and foodstuffs. Everything was imbued with wild airs, the promise of durability, and the encouragement to be resourceful.

Classes and workshops included varied styles of weaving branches into baskets, rope, and macramé. Tracking and Foraging encouraged deep listening and exploration of the site, identifying local plants and animals, and learning to understand and remember communications with nature. The workshops offered covered an incredible range of skills. The Awareness courses included bird language, wildlife tracking, orienteering games and primal posture clinics. The Hunting and Gathering courses were at the center of it all, and included instruction and open practice at the archery range, survival bowmaking, hunting education and certificates, and advanced osage bows. There were the Fire courses; learning to use and make a bow drill or hand drill to make fire by friction; forged flint and steel kits, kid’s fire making, and finding wild tinder.

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The set of goals in survival are shelter, water, fire, and food, in that order. Foremost, however, is the connection to surrounding events. One must gather their wits and develop a dynamic meditation: they must
do things in a meditative state. Awareness is tracking, knowing the animals in the area, and sensing the presence of water. Fear is loss of awareness. Hypothermia is the number one cause of death in the wilderness because, rather than scout for water and a safe site to build a debris hut, those stranded in fear sit on a stump and think about things. Doing things to stay warm and building a fire by friction will ease the mind and activate the brain’s alpha waves, increasing the determined rate of survival.

Doing things with our hands deepens respect for the product. Weaving and tanning and pottery all take time and patience. The process is a beautiful transformation of nature’s gifts. People worked together and shared songs. Strangers felt like family, and no question went unanswered. Help was given readily to struggling students, from either the instructor or able and willing students. Skills were honed throughout the week, and many people made bows or moccasins, or tanned a hide.

Many attendees had multiple interests, and there were a variety of tracks to follow; testimony to how fully our environment provides. Everyone was working to create harmonious relationships.

Doug Simons was the foraging instructor; he brought messages of how to interact with “plant people” specifically; how to interact with nature, and all peoples generally. How often plants are treated as a substance, yet they are living! How often plants pass through our hands, yet we rarely do the collecting. Simons said we must work through our resistance and fears, and relearn the concept that everything is alive. For so long we’ve been non-responsive to these “plant people,” and a relationship must be engaged. He stated multiple times that “relationship with the unseen world facilitates movement in the seen (world.)”

Move in a deliberate way; give offerings and thanks to everything. An offering acknowledges an exchange of energy. The unseen world gives us strength and powerful guidance, and at Buckeye we learned to relate to these “plant people.” So speak back to the flower when she calls you, and say “Thank you!”

Written by Piper Josephine

Photos by Jahnia Mitchell

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