March 2023 – February 2024
16 online sessions
Going beyond our human-built homes we find a greater home, that of all of nature and our ecological place within it.
- learn the core routines of deep nature connection which are the foundation of all of our teachings
- befriend your place and all of life around you, creating a deep living relationship with the natural world
- develop a strong felt sense of connection to all of nature, opening a pathway through which you can feel support, receive guidance and ultimately live a fulfilling life with deep trust in your place amongst all of life
- awaken the ‘ecological self’, the deep knowing that you belong and are utterly dependent on the Earth
all within a community of like-minded supportive people
I always felt a valued member of the community and it has been such a positive experience to connect with like-minded people.
“A doorway to open the natural world and cultivate a more intentional and living relationship with it ” – Muzammal
Ecological Homecoming will give you the tools to create a deep, living relationship with the natural world.
The 8 Shields maps out universal indigenous ways of being that emerged out of living in daily immersive relationship with nature over countless generations. It is a model of regenerative culture and as such is a living system with emergent properties. In order to embody this regenerative culture, and listen for what our bioregions are telling us, we must rekindle our living relationship with the natural world. Ecological Homecoming offers the 8 Shields path of doing this through exploring and embodying the core routines of deep nature connection.
Moving through 16 calls, two for each of the directions within the seasonal wheel of the year, we will explore the deep nature connection practices associated with that direction. Deep nature connection practices are different pathways within ourselves that when activated create experiences of not only physically connecting but also emotionally connecting to the world around us, simultaneously also creating a deeper connection to self.
Participants on the course are also eligible to book onto the in person Village Nature Gathering June weekend in Devon, UK.
In Ecological Homecoming you will learn and grow your core routines of deep nature connection through teachings from experienced practitioners, home activities and collective discovery through the sharing of stories and experiences. Mentoring from the teachers and your peers will support you to deepen your experiences and learnings. Some guiding questions are:
– What are the different bird languages and how can we learn what they are saying?
– What can tracking teach us about our outer landscapes and what does this reveal about our inner landscape?
– How can we attune our bodies to reveal what the felt sense of the present moment might be telling us?
– How might ancestral skills hone our awareness of what is around us and how this changes through the cycle of the year?
– How can you create a level of intimacy with the world around you that supports you in a way you may never have known was possible?
My favourite part was that the whole course was filled with wonder, appreciation and gratitude and an understanding that all of us, whatever our level of expertise/experience were worthy and fully able to connect with nature.
East – Befriending Place & Opening the Senses
March 30 & April 13
We will begin by establishing a ‘sitspot’ practice and learning the routines of continually returning to your senses as the gateway into your body and to connecting to your environment.
This is the practice that underpins the whole journey around the wheel, helping the sun of your curiosity rise and begin to reach out over your landscape and the year ahead.
SouthEast – Awakening your Animal Body
May 4 & May 18
How would it be to move through the landscape in the body of a different animal?
What would you learn about where they go, what they do and how they feel? What would this awaken in your human body as you integrate the experience?
South – Holistic Tracking
June 15 & 29
Tracking helps us to read the subtle signs in the landscape, becoming more aware of the species around us and what they’ve been up to. Delving into a tracking mystery can allow us to see the connections between ourselves, other mammals, birds, plants, weather and so much more. It also helps us develop a deeper sense of respect and kinship towards our wild neighbours.
SouthWest – Timeless Wandering
August 10 & 24
As the exponential growth of the Summer is waning, we will invite you on a ‘medicine walk’ exploring the practice of timeless wandering and listening for how nature all around you is speaking to you, waiting to be heard.
West – Ecological Storytelling
Sept 7 & 21
Many of our wild encounters become even richer when shared with others. Those around us learn from our experiences in nature, while with good mentoring and questioning our own curiosity and awareness really come alive! Sharing our story can be a true celebration of this incredible community of life that we are a part of.
NorthWest – Our Body as Compass
Oct 26 & Nov 9
As the energy of the life cycle returns to the Earth through decomposition, roots and burrows, we turn inwards. When given attention and listened for, what wisdom is there to be found in the felt sense of our inner worlds? How can attuning to this act as a guide to our movement through life? How can it strengthen our connection to other creatures? As we slow down what can we feel and tend to within ourselves?
North – Wild Hearth
Dec 7 & 28
Our ancestors knew many nature-based skills essential to survival. When we lived closer to the Earth, knowledge of our bioregions, and the plants and animals therein, was an integral part of accomplishing these life-giving practical skills.
Support from nature in this way was, and still is, the foundation of human existence. As we find ourselves deep in the Winter we will be exploring how to create a fire and hearth/shelter space with wild materials.
NorthEast – The Language of the Birds
Feb 1 & 15
Birds are incredibly aware of their surroundings. When we pay close attention to their calls and behaviour they have a huge amount to teach us about what’s going on in the wider ecosystem, such as where the tawny owl is roosting or when the sparrowhawk is about to arrive. Birds also give us direct feedback about our own presence in the landscape.
Centre – The Map of Life
Feb 22 & 29
These nature connection practices are part of a larger map that orients us to a life of connection with self, each-other and all of nature. These final two calls will give an overview of this map, the 8 Shields cultural life map, aswell as support you to integrate the experiences of this course into your life, in your unique way.
- Each core routine immersion spans over a two week period, with an invitation to keep exploring the core routines between the 2 week immersions, collecting more as you go around the wheel.
- Each immersion is ‘mapped’ onto a direction which is associated with a corresponding time of year following the yearly sun cycle. For example, the sun rises directly to the East during the Spring Equinox therefore this is the time of year we explore the core routine associated with the East direction.
- The first call is focused on introducing the core routine through story-telling, teaching, group sharing and setting an activity for the next two weeks.
- The second call then focuses on ‘story-catching’ the experiences participants had with the activity, and deepening into the connections and teachings found there.
- All calls take place 7pm – 8:30 pm UK time, with recordings being sent out shortly afterwards.
Your Core Guides
Ecological Homecoming is hosted by Peter Cow and Sky-Maria Buitenhuis, and they are joined by Amy Downing and Dan Puplett – both highly experienced naturalists and mentors
You all had really deep knowledge and grounding in your subjects and although you’ve clearly been doing this work for years you were still thrilled by what you were teaching us – you let your excitement and wonder shine through all the time – the ideas you were sharing you were fully living and everything you shared with us felt fresh and true and inspiring
Dan Puplett is a naturalist, conservationist and environmental educator and has had a passion for the natural world from an early age. He has been involved with a wide range of conservation and environmental education projects and worked for Trees for Life for over 11 years. His many roles at TFL included leading over 80 residential conservation weeks in the Highlands, training conservation leaders and co-ordinating rewilding research and monitoring.
Throughout his life Dan has studied a variety of naturalist skills, specialising in tracking and bird language. He has a Level 4 (100%) certificate in Track & Sign under the CyberTracker Conservation system (the international standard for evaluating trackers in the field). He also holds a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Studies and an MSc in Environmental Forestry.
Dan is the author of the FSC Guide to British Bird Tracks and Signs chart and is an Associate Tutor for the Field Studies Council, an instructor for the Kamana Naturalist Training Programme, and a guest instructor for the Aigas Ranger Training Scheme. He has also assisted with large carnivore research as Volunteer Team Leader for Slovak Wildlife Society’s wolf and lynx tracking surveys.
Dan has extensive experience of nature connection mentoring with people of all ages and is a qualified Forest School Leader and Branching Out Leader. Dan lives in Moray, Scotland. He loves funk bass, martial arts, and is currently learning to play the Irish bouzouki. You can find out more about Dan’s work at www.danpuplett.co.uk.
Amy is a mentor, counsellor and facilitator, community builder and activist, traditional craftswoman, herbalist and deep nature educator, song carrier and ritual holder. She works with little ones to elders and everyone in between, and has been involved with 8 Shields events since they first came to the UK and has had staffing roles at most of the UK Art of Mentoring camps ever since.
Amy grew up in an old watermill and pottery in North Wales that her parents turned into a trout farm. Her dad taught her about trees and woodland plants, her mum taught her about compost and vegetables, and her little brother taught her how much fun it is to hunt for eels in the mill race mud. The Afon Seiont, the river that runs through the mill, has taught her more than she ever read in any book. Cynefin is her favourite Welsh word – it roughly translates as the place where you feel most deeply at home, whole, connected, alive and with a sense of belonging.
She spends most of her time helping folk find their way home to their own Cynefin, be that inside themselves, in community or in nature. Nowadays that looks like holding regular sessions for individuals, and people in relationship. She practices under the name ‘Hearth in the Edgelands’.
Things that make her happy include; wood smoke from a sweet fire, swimming in any water that isn’t a swimming pool, heartfelt communication, joyfully muddy feet and satisfyingly messy hair, being baffled by a natural curiosity, treasure finding and spinning wool, a new song and a good story. She loves being outside with anyone, but especially the children in her life who help her both lose herself and find her way properly home.
Ecological Homecoming is available as a stand alone yearlong journey, or as the rich foundation to understanding the 8 Shields map you will experience and learn about during the Bringing it Home journey.
This yearlong course of 16 live online sessions and access to their recordings is available for £450.
You may also be eligible for our ‘Village Building’ discounted rate of £395 (see below)
Village Building Discount
We are keen to grow groups of people who can support each other in these connection practices, so we offer a special discount to enable friends to sign up together and get a lower price. If you book onto Ecological Homecoming alongisde a named friend who also books on, or if you book on and name a friend who has taken Ecological Homecoming or Bringing It Home before, you can use the special Village Building’ discounted rate of £395. Just name your friend in the form when you book on : )
It takes ongoing support to fully embed these practices in our lives…
Tawny owl photo by Dan Puplett – Copyright