What is 8 Shields?

During this course, we use the 8 Shields map, developed by Jon Young and the 8 Shields Institute over the last 40 years. In this map, 8 Shields refers to an eight direction cultural life map with each direction called a shield for how it holds many different aspects of the energy of that direction.

Cultural mapping systems which have the cycles of the day, the seasons and life as their foundation have been used by earth-based cultures all around the world since time immemorial, but have largely been forgotten in the modern era. These maps can be used to guide us in understanding the patterns, cycles and energies of the natural world, how they are expressed through us as human beings, and how they teach us to be in right relationship with all of life. 

Just as a geographical map will help you orient to a physical landscape, these cultural maps are there to support people to understand life and to navigate their pathways within it, personally and societally. However, ‘the map is not the territory’ and there is a mystery to life that maps can never capture, they can only show us the way to discover.

It is important to note that the honouring of lineages, both verbally and financially, is a cultural healing tool within these teachings – with the clear intention for the healing of all, human and non-human. The core teachings of the 8 Shields model come from nature as the foundation, distillations from earth-based cultures and specific lineages. The usual way is to share principles rather than practices, and support people to develop their own appropriate practices for themselves, attuned to their own unique culture, landscape, and time, rather than importing another tradition’s practices.

The facilitators of this course are committed to the journey of being in right relationship with earth based cultures around the world. As facilitators, we acknowledge and treasure these lineages and, within the global context of decolonisation, we are actively listening for paths of reconciliation. 

8 Shields Introductory Resources

We recommend watching these resource videos or reading these articles – though warning, you may not quite feel the same way again –

Jon Young Speaks About The Role of Deep Nature Connection in Culture Repair (about an hour long)

Nature and Genius another great video by Jon Young exploring his work with the Kalahari Bushmen, and how their cultural focus on connection enables them to do incredible things. An hour long.

512 Project: A collection of short videos that explore 64 different cultural elements, like Tending the wild, Gratitude, Grieving customs, Inner tracking, Timeless wandering etc. You can see a couple of the videos for free, and sign up for a deeper dive.

Our free video mini series also gives you a sense of the 8 Shields map, so do sign up if you’re intrigued!

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