Going beyond our human-built homes we find a greater home, that of all of nature and our ecological place within it.
This yearlong course will support you to befriend your place and all of life around you, creating a deep living relationship with the natural world. You will learn, and be supported to integrate into your life, the core routines of deep nature connection which are the foundation of all of our teachings.
We use the word ‘deep’ to describe creating a strong felt sense of connection to all of nature, one from which you can feel support, receive guidance and ultimately live a fulfilling life with deep trust in your place amongst all of life.
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.
Ecological Homecoming is both a standalone course and is included as part of the Bringing It Home journey.
Moving through 16 evening 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.
Ultimately when we come home in this way we awaken the ‘ecological self’, becoming a person who lives their life from the deep knowing that they belong and are utterly dependent on the Earth community, and from this awareness make the choice to be an Earth steward.
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?
Ecological Homecoming will give you the tools to create a deep, living relationship with the natural world.
East – Befriending Place & Opening the Senses
March 30 & 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, 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. Exploring the connection between the core routine and the direction it is found in is part of the curriculum.
Your Core Guides
Ecological Homecoming is hosted by Peter Cow and Sky Buitenhuis, and they are joined by Amy Downing and Dan Puplett – both highly experienced naturalists and mentors:
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.
The yearlong course of 16 sessions is available for £450.
It takes a community to fully embed these practices in our lives. We have a special ‘bring a friend’ offer where if a friend also joins they receive the reduced price of £395. This also applies to friends of Bringing it Home participants.
All calls take place 7pm – 8:30 pm UK time, with recordings being sent out shortly afterwards.
Tawny owl photo by Dan Puplett – Copyright