About Me

February 22, 2010

Greetings.

On February 3rd, 2007, I embarked on a journey around the world. I have been to the Big Island of Hawaii, the North and South islands of New Zealand and Tui Community, Crystal Waters north of Brisbane Australia, and the Findhorn Foundation in northern Scotland near Forres. Each destination has been a unique experience and I have gained something different from each of them.

In Hawaii I found that I could create the situation I wanted for myself to grow by being very clear in my heart about what I wanted to learn. In New Zealand I learned that community is an excellent place to get immediate feedback about my behavior and how it effects others so that I can make necessary adaptations. In Australia I remembered that I am but a part of all of nature and that living apart from it takes me out of harmony with it. I uncovered my natural desire to be one with my environment. In Scotland I learned that 15 people spending a week together under the right circumstances can become friends for life.

These lessons have been amazing gifts!!! I can only imagine what the next ones might be.

On June 10th I head off to a Mayan community south of Guatemala City, San Juan de Comalapa (longwayhomeinc.org).

On July 7th I go to the Caribiean Island of the Republic of Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic).

As I review my original goals for this journey:

  • I envision being able to free myself from the cultural conditioning of the US that limits my ideas about what I can and cannot do with my life.
  • I envision giving people of these cultures a three dimensional experience of a citizen of the United States that believes in equanimity and peace.
  • I hope to learn about a diversity of approaches to social and practical applications to sustainability and to share these approaches with others.

I am pleased. I have found that there is another reality from the work-a-day-plan-for-retirement-prove-your-worth reality that I have been socialized to believe. I know that no matter what I do, I am a being worthy of love and beauty. Any effort to prove this to myself or others is a mistaken use of energy. (Hopefully in sharing this I am not triing to demonstrate my worth but to share my reality.) I know that happiness is really the meaning of life and I am not going to find it outside of myself… but only by embracing the fact that it already exists within me.

I have seen that the U.S. has a profound and pervasive influence throughout the world. It is a powerful nation. Right now it’s influence is primarily destructive, but with love and nurturing, the U.S. can be swung to become a positive force on this planet.

I have found that, for me, the only way to create sustainability with personal integrity is to reduce my impact on the earth through; making my own food, using my purchase power to by local and organic food, buy products that are made with a conscious effort that when they are no longer being used they feed the earth rather than pollute it. I will endeavor to; reduce my use of cars, flights, environmental control technologies and love myself and others when I don’t do it as well as I would like.

I envision deepening my relationship with my environment and living more harmouniously with my ecology as I continue on my journey.

I wake each morning and rest each evening with a heart full of love and gratitude for what lessons I bring myself each day.  Hope all of your days are filled with the same.

Peace, Joanna

The Space of Love (The Ringing Cedars, Book 3)

I first encountered the books by Vlademir Megre while I was in New Zealand. I was traveling with my friend Steve and his beloved Jenny. Steve and I had gardened together in Pennsylvania. I was inspired by his relationship with wild foods and learned a lot from him.
I had inspired Steve to learn about Reiki and to read the Tom Brown Jr. series. Steve was very keen on the Tom Brown Jr. series and we engaged in a lot of play that helped us tune in our awareness and connection to nature.
While we were traveling, he and Jenny were reading these books each night. They talked about them excitedly with one another. Steve offered to let me read the first book if I was interested.
Well if Steve was excited about this book, it must be pretty amazing. So I read it. Then I read the second one and started on the third all in the space of our two weeks together.
In some ways, the books were like the ones written by Tom Brown Jr. They were about someone that had an amazing and inspiring relationship with nature. The stories were so outstanding that I doubted weather they were true stories or fantasy.
I thought of the stories occasionally, but when I looked for them in libraries or used book sales, I did not find any.
I found the books again while I was at Pangaia. There were three of us that were enthusiastic about reading them and we had to take turns and pass them back and forth. I read four of the 9 books during my time at Pangaia. Once again, I felt inspired and happy as I read them.
Then, in September, while we were in Ashland, we found a community that was starting following the vision put forth through the books. We ordered all 9 of the books the following day.
Paul and I read through the books in about two weeks. We felt happy, joyful, hopeful and grounded. We had found our vision.

The Search Continues

December 9, 2008

In August, Paul and I both took some work in California. I went to Northern California in quartz valley near the Marble Mountain Wilderness. It was beautiful land and I was working for a wonderful woman and her children. I enjoyed my relationship with them and the time and space I had to myself. I spent a lot of time in the garden and up at the top of the hillside doing Yoga to the rising sun. I found an area where a bear nested and tracked many dear through the landscape. It was a good chance to be by myself and explore what i wanted to create for myself.

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In the meantime, Paul went to Balinas California and stayed with a mutual friend to do some work. We had met our friend in Pangaia. He is the person who taught Paul about the Primal Diet. This was a great opportunity for Paul to delve into the diet, make some funds for himself and explore what he wanted to create for himself. Paul gained 8 pounds while he was there. He loved putting on the weight.

After three weeks apart, we decided that what we wanted to do was be together and create a new vision for ourselves. Paul came and joined me in Northern California.

I finished up my work with the family and we moved to Ashland Oregon to explore the opportunities there. We made friends with a group of folks who had created a raw milk cooperative. They were a great bunch of folks. We moved in with one of them, Roy, while we explored our options.

Roy is a raw foodist as well. While he does not follow a particular diet, we found that our diets were quite similar in important ways. We enjoyed the opportunity to have meals together, play games and go to the warm ponds on occasion.

I applied for a job that I thought might be interesting while we were in Ashland. We thought we might benefit from settling down for the winter and looked for a place of our own to rent. We found that much of Ashland has the noise pollution of I 5 and felt very modern for our tastes. We envisioned what it would be like for us to follow through with these plans and found them lacking.

During our search, I stumbled upon information that a community was forming around the vision put forth in the books The Ringing Cedars of Russia. I was so excited!! This gave me hope!!!

A Worthy Search

December 5, 2008

After our months out East, we felt the call to head West again. We were not so much keen on traveling more, but felt our hearts call.

We headed for my brothers in SD on September 26th. We arrived the evening of the 27th while my brother was at work. Deana welcomed us and made us feel at home. She shared with me that my Dad had not been well lately and was supposed to go to the hospital the following day for an operation. I was concerned that my Dad’s heart would make it difficult for him to withstand taking anastesa. Deana suggested i talk to Tim in the morning about my concern.

The next morning, Deana stayed home from work and Tim was up earlier than he would normally be. My Dad’s operation weighed heavy on my mind as I had a dream about it that night. I asked Tim if we could talk about it. He asked what I would like to say. I told him that I thought it might be dangerous for Dad to go under anasteisa. Tim agreed that it might have been dangerous but that at this point it was moot because Dad had died in the night. I felt shocked, sad, and relief. I was relieved because I knew that Dad could leave this life with a little more peace after our having worked through to a positive relationship with one another. I was sad because I finally made amends with my dad and now we were out of time to enjoy and enrich our experience of each other. I felt sad for his wife Madia who loved him so dearly and built her life around being with him.

My Dad understood my love for the most natural and healthy life-style possible. He grew up in the San Fran Bay area in the hub of the US commerce, fashion, fad and wealth. When I was three years old, he and Mom moved us to the middle of Oregon, 7 miles from the nearest town in order for us to create and thrive on a 80% self-sustaining farm. He understood my and Paul’s dream to live in the wilderness as the next step toward communing with nature. He saw it as a step he would like to have taken. Paul and I fantasized about creating a space for him in our wilderness abode.  Dad was supportive, understanding, and believed in our vision.

My Dad’s sisters, all four of them, attended the funeral. My brother’s helped to take care of financial and practical matters for my Step-mom. Maida was heart broken and angry. She had trusted dad to take care of himself and of their lives so that they could be happy and together until she passed away. His dying first was not in the best made plans.

My four aunts, my two brothers and I spoke at my Dad’s funeral. It was an amazing experience for me. I had worried, a year or so ago, that my dad and I would remain astranged throughout this life-time. Yet here I was, less that three months after we had finally found a loving connection. I expressed my gratitude to Dad’s church congregation for the prayers they had shared for my Dad’s healing. I expressed appreciation for my Dad’s contiuous search for a better relationship with God and therefore, with himself. It was this search that had created the courage and inginuity it took to move his family to a high desert farm. His search along with my Mom’s, created the childhood that my brother’s and I had the opportunity to experience. My Dad’s commitment and search to a better relationship with himself and God is what led to his being able and willing to make amends with me before he died.

While I was grateful for the way that our relationship ended, I felt somehow devastated. It seemed that my dream to live in the wilderness was no longer possible. It was not my Dad’s death alone, but the fact that Paul and I had traveled and explored the land for a possibly for quite some time. What we continued to encounter i   the level of development that all of the land of  America has experienced. All “wilderness” areas are effected by this development. Animals habitat is destroyed daily. Animals are pushed out of their territory and in to less desirable spaces by human, or are killed on their way to finding that safe place as they cross a road. I was concerned that if we were to make our way into and live in the wilderness, we would be just another human pushing around the animals and killing them for survival. A desire to bring health and well-being to the earth and all her inhabitants is what drives my desire to live as one with nature. So here I was in the paradox, feeling stuck and lost without a dream to pursue and without the guidance to find the answers

As a result of my Dad’s search, I am one in search. I will carry on the journey from where he left off.

Me and My Dad

December 5, 2008

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After our three classes in California, we made our way East to follow up with three more classes. Our first stop on our travels was to my Dad and step-mom’s home in Raton New Mexico.

My dad and I have had an estranged relationship for at least 17 years. We saw each other on different occasions when family celebrations were happening. Sometimes I really worked at getting along with him, and sometimes I felt really threatened by his presence.

Before I had left for Hawaii, I spent three days with dad. I wanted to work through what ever issue we had with each other so that we both may enjoy internal peace with the relationship. While a relationship with me was really important to my dad, he did not know how to relate to me. There were some events in childhood that left a lasting painful impression upon my sense of self and I struggled to rebuild a love for myself. We spent these three days getting to know each other as adults. Not so much as father/daughter, but adult/adult. I enjoyed the process and the discovery that my dad is a bright, caring, ingenious, resourceful man in search of meaning in his life. My dad is also pushy and controlling at times.

Now, as Paul and I arrived, Dad had the opportunity to meet my new life partner. Dad had written a letter to Paul while we were in Hawaii to welcome him to the family. It was a beautiful and touching letter, so their meeting was well prepared. Paul and dad got along great. This was a great help to me working through my process of making a better relationship with Dad.

Dad and I spent more time getting to know each other. At one point, it came the time to talk as adult daughter to adult father. i was scared and nervous about how it would effect my dad. I knew that he had a heart problem, and I believed that his heart problem was related to emotional injuries to his heart. i decided that in the end, it was the best thing we could do for each other to work through our past and be free of it.

Dad was as receptive as he could be. While part of himself needed to protect himself from hearing how his actions had effected my development, he listened as best as he could and took in the information. After doing so, he meditated with the bible and asked for a passage that would help him heal himself and his relationship with me. Dad read a passage to me about one of the disciples asking Jesus who of all the beings was most important. Jesus answered that children were the most important and that to injure one of his children was to injure God. He read that those who hurt children will go through life as though they have a grinding stone strung around their neck. Dad shared that he felt he had carried that grinding stone for the pain he had caused me.

Dad and I talked about being able to forgive. While we think that it may be something we do for someone else, it is really something we do for ourselves. When we spend our emotional energy in shame, guilt, or remorse, we are not able to be the true self that is the gift of living. Dad asked me to forgive him. I told him that I certainly forgave him so that I could carry on with life unburdened, but that my forgiving him did not leave him unburdened. What he would most need for his freedom to be himself is to forgive himself. Dad and I talked more about this and his search for a better relationship with himself through his relationship with God.

Dad had to travel pick up his wife and Paul and I carried on our way. I got word from my brothers that dad spent the next night in the hospital. I called to find out what had happened. While traveling to pick up his wife, he started having some pains in his chest. He was taken to the hospital and his pains investigated. The doctors conducted test and concluded that he did not have a heart attach, and would continue to try to find the cause of his pains. A week later my dad reported that he had gotten word from his doctor that the amount of blockage in his heart had been reduced by more than 20%. Dad and I wondered together if our working through our relationship had helped him to release some of the pain that had taken up residence in his heart.




Advanced Tracker Classes

December 5, 2008

In the middle of May, Paul and I carried on making our way across the US. We stopped by to introduce Paul to my brother Tim and my sister-in-law Deana. Paul and Deana had a false start, but are now the best of buddies. Deana is one of the friendliest people I know. I am grateful to my brother for bringing her into the family.

While we were there we helped my nephew Craig move into his own new apartment. It was a sweet space, I hope it brings him many good feelings of home. We also were taken on a tour by my younger nephew, Nicolas, of the caves where he gives guided tours. The caves are an amazing formation. Paul and I fantasize about finding one we could live in during summer months.

We finally made it to New Jersey in early June. That first week there, both Paul and I volunteered for the Standard class. Like the first time of volunteering for that class, it was a pleasure to be part of the behing-the-scenes support crew.

Our next classes were the advanced standard class and the advanced tracking/awareness class.

Advanced Standard

In advanced standard, we learned to purify clay from a dig, how to make pots and bowls, and how to use and open fire kiln. We also learned how to make grass mats for both comfort and insulation. We made our own debris huts and turned in our “tent and sleeping bag”. We made baskets out of willow and green briar, tried our hand at flint knapping and learned various different kinds of bows and traps for hunting.

It was great to learn all these skills. Some of them were hard to participate in due to the level of modernization and commercialization of the approach to teaching it. In making a bow, for example, they used a ban saw and a steel plainer. Stalking wolf never used these tools. In fact, Stalking wolf taught that any skill that resulted in a tool made using modern technology was a dead tool. That is, the tool had no spirit and would therefore not enable the person using it to connect with the earth, plants or animals.

Advanced tracking and awareness

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During the next class we learned different approaches to tracking. I heard some new concepts but felt the class was far too large in order for me to actually learn them.

What I really enjoyed about the advanced tracking/awareness class was the awareness games we played each night.

One night I was amongst the half of students who were sitting around looking into the fire. The other half of the class was in camo attempting to sneak up on us. We were allowed to call out a sneak attach if it was happening within 180% behind us. At first this seemed impossible. How was I supposed to hear someone over my fellow classmates chatting, or the snap and crackle of the fire. Then I notice a dull point of pain in my back. “what was that?” I wondered. “Could that be the energy of a sneaker?” “If so, how am I supposed to know where they are exactly?” As I asked myself that question, I visual map appeared in my mind of the territory behind me. My pant line was the garden bed about 150 feet behind me. Trees, the knapping pit, the tracking box, all lined themselves out on my back in this virtual map.

I raised my hand to call out the location of a sneaker. I instructed the volunteer behind me to stand at the far right edge of the tracking box, take two large steps forward and one large step to his left, reach out his arms and turn 180%. As he followed my instructions, he called out “busted”. I was amazed to say the least!!! Another dull pain showed up on my back. I raised my hand and gave precise instructions. “Busted” once again. I did this two more times. It was the most amazing experience causing me to expand my understanding our my own sensory system.

Living what we learned

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After that class, there were three weeks before our Scout class would start. Paul and I spread the word that we would be spending that time living in the woods practicing the skills we had just learned and preparing ourselves to get the most out of Scout class. Folks that were interested could come and talk with us about coming along. Three guys expressed a keen interest. After the second day, one of the guys decided it was not for him. I took him about to a main road and he hitched to his next destination.

The four of us scouted for the perfect location. After two days of scouting, we found it. It was a small mesa that ran parallel above a river. There were all sorts of hut material with all the hard woods around. We were protect from the direct sun and rain by a tall canopy of mature oaks, walnuts, maple, locus, northern white pine and many others. The understory was formed by mountain laurel and huckleberry. Another small mesa further up the hill was full of ripe huckleberries. We feasted on them daily.

The Bear

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We were visited three times by a bear that was also keen on the huckleberries. The first time we were gathered around our friction started camp fire when I heard a whistling sound I had not heard before. I look up from my clay pot making to find the source but didn’t see it. I went back to making my food cheese container. I heard the sound again. This time, as I looked up and around, I saw a large black bear up in the mesa above us. It was moving along quite slow, in a parallel direction to us, looking our way the entire time. Both the bear and us were sizing each other up, feeling into weather we could be neighbors for the next couple of weeks. We all decided on the affirmative as the bear made two more appearances.

One of the times I encountered the bear, I was collecting huckleberries by myself. I heard the bear pad up on the other side of some bushes. He was evidently not aware of my presence, or perhaps Ok with it. I felt a bet threatened with the proximity. I leaned over and grabbed a large branch that had small branching bits coming off of it. I stood the branch up right and thumped it on the ground while grunting. The sound of the bear snuffling amongst the berries stopped and I could sense her lifting her head to look around. There was no sound for a few seconds. I thumped the branch on the ground again. I heard the bear turn and slowly lumber up over the hill in the other direction. What a relief.

The third visit from the bear was while both Paul and I were picking berries. We heard her picking herself not too far away. We decide to carry on picking just slowing moving in the opposite direction she seemed to be moving. She had been nice enough to put up with our invasion, we wanted to be able to share the space a little better.

Daily living

During that three weeks there was two thunder storms and various rainy periods. Our shelter kept us safe and dry and our fires warmed our spirits. We added more leaf debris from time to time to improve the insulation factor.

We used three fallen logs to outline a living space. We used rocks to make a fire ring and gathered dead wood from the surrounding area daily. We all had bow drill kits to make the fire. Paul used his crafting skills to create a very effective kit, even for wet conditions. He was very reliable at getting a fire started for us. Ori, our friend from Israel and I worked on getting our kits going. By the second week, we were both able to get a fire. It was the first time I had been able to get one after taking my standard class in 2004. It was a very exciting time.

We also practiced honing our senses by walking fallen logs while blind folded, and trying to sense the presence of others while blind folded. We jogged the dirt road that was a couple miles from our camp. There we practiced our skills of disappearing when a car would come by. We didn’t know about “Sink and Fade” yet and got caught a couple of times.

I worked on skills of walking in earth time, shaping and firing clay, and weaving baskets.

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Each day was a gift and a blessing to be surrounded by pure and healthy nature. Clearly the woods had been clear-cut at one time, but the trees were at least 80 years old in this section of the woods. The stream was clear and clean with fish and various insect life. We bathed in it, drank from it, stored our food in it and listened to it at night harmonizing with the wind through the trees.

Scout Class

Our final Tracker school class was the Scout class. This is an amazingly challenging and exhilerating class. This class was well designed as an experiential one with much less lecture and a design that lent itself well to having a lot of students. The students created 8 groups of 10. These groups became your scout team. We did everything with our scout team. We ate together, slept together, went on missions together, debriefed missions together, raided other scout camps together etc.

Staffs

One of the quirky and fun parts of the class was these 8′ poles each person had to care and take care of. My pole was probably only 7′ tall since I am shorter. I carried the pole with me when I went to the outhouse, when I went to make my meal, when I went to sleep (which there was not much of over these 6 days). Eventually, I grew rather fond of my staff. When we went out on raids, I used it to guard my body and to keep a good boundary around me. One of the games we played was to be sneaky when someone else was not being aware and take their staff. If someone lost their staff, they had to carry a log. If an entire group lost their staffs, the group had to carry a lodge pole. Paul and one of our fellow scouts, Andrew stayed up all night and raided other camps. The next morning, two scout groups could be seen carrying a lodge pole as they went to get their breakfast.

Group Dynamics

Getting a group of ten virtual strangers to be able to function as a group and maybe even create some synergy is quite the accomplishment. Each person has different experiences of success and perceived failure that they bring to the dynamic. Each one has their own aspirations for an outcome of the experience. In the end, this was an amazing learning opportunity for all of us.

One night, while out on a mission, we were “ambushed” by the “shadow scouts”. About half of our members were frazzled by the experience. One of our members became overwhelmed and stopped performing as a group member. He began making decision as if he were on his own. I was concerned for his safety, as he did not know the area and might not be able to make it back to camp. While most folks became frustrated and intolerant with him, I felt touched by the situation. I asked if he would be willing to be in the scout line behind me and look out for me. This gave him a role and he felt safe and purposeful having such a role. As the next couple of hours went by while making our way back to camp (between 12:00 midnight and 3:00 am) I continued to communicate with him as a group member who I respected and valued. We all made it home safely. During the next few mission, my new friend and I stayed in proximity of each other on the line. After one of the missions, my friend expressed that he felt safe with me because I respected him and took my role on the scout line seriously. This led to some great discussion amongst the group. We were able to talk about the reality of helping each other be safe and what actions helped the team feel safe. This led to a much more effective team.

I had the opportunity to guide my team to safety after a particularly harry mission. We had split the team in to two groups of five and from there into threes and two as we got closer to the target and the need for silence increased. We ended up loosing two of our members due to one of them becoming overly frustrated and breaking off into his own direction, not knowing where he was going (the second member followed so he would not be alone and therefore more vulnerable). In the end we had to call out loud and repeatedly to get our members all back together. Once they were back together, a bickering about what had happened ensued. We were not yet in a safe zone. I spoke loud and clear and stated “We need to have this discussion when we are at camp. Right now each of you need to take your place in the scout line, watch your side, check on the guys in front and back of you, and follow your point person (the leader which in this case was me). After making that announcement, I took off running. The team had to focus on keeping up and all the feeling of frustration was used up in running.

When we made it back to camp, Paul asked who had been on point. He had been on rear guard and in the darkness had thought the speech was given by a shadow scout. He didn’t know who was on point making us run so fast for the three miles back to camp.

The Log

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One of the activities of the scout class took place in the heat of the day on “the Log’ that was suspended over a pool of water formed by a small stream running through camp.

The log was used to help us increase our senses independent of our sight. First we walked the log with eyes open. About 50% of the class made it across without falling in the water. Then we put on blind folds and walked across the log. About 5% of the class made it across. (Having been a gymnast, log walking with and without sight came pretty easy for me). Then we had moch battles with a partner on the log. I was not very aggressive and got knocked off right away. I realized that in order to give my partner and I the best practice, I would need to match her aggression. the next time we had on the log together, I upped my defensive and offensive tactics. I remained study on the log while she fell off.

Next they opened up the partnerships and whoever won the match could be taken on by any challenger who wished to give it a try. I watched a lot of folks hold the log and then loose it until Ryan got on. Ryan ins 6’3” and solid built. He was not being moved by the assaults. I decided it was the job a the meek to change the situation and mounted the log to face Ryan. Ryan was so sure that he could take me down that after landing a solid blow on my thigh, he follow through with his bodies movement that assumed I would fall. As a result he fell while I stood solid without having taken a swing.

The next challenge was with a large ball suspended from a rope strun above the log. We approached the fall, put on our blind fold, hit the ball and feel where the ball would go. Paul got up, put on his blind fold and hit the ball. As the ball came back toward his body off to the right, Paul turned his head to the right as if he was seeing the ball and hit it. The ball circled around him to the left, he followed it with his blindfolded eyes, anticipated it coming close to his body and hit it again. All of the other students cheered and were astounded that this was possible. Two women came and told me that our performance on the log gave them hope that humans could retrieve some of their senses.

When it was my turn with the ball, I had an equally amazing experience. I hit the ball and felt it going around the back of me. As it did, I felt it would hit my back and put me off balance so I shifted my spine out of the way. As I did this, the other students awed and cheered. I continued to follow by body’s sense of where the ball was for several minutes making suttle shifts in my stature to avoid being hit by the ball. I hit the ball in order to keep it moving and remained stable and aware of the location of the ball. I eventually thanked the ball for the lesson and jumped off the log.

One of my fellow class mates approached me to tell me that she was moved to tears as she watched me dance with the ball. This was another amazing experience letting me know that the potential of the human sensory system is so much more powerful than we know or experience in our every day lif.

Tracker School Lessons

I am so grateful for my experiences with the Tracker School. I learned about myself things I had not had the opportunity to know. The classes created an environment to bring those aspects of myself out. I feel empowered by that knowledge of self. I feel confident that I can perform many of the skills I learned with skill and pass them on to others.

I feel disappointed in the dietary practices, inner staff relationships, commercialism of the school, and the loss of sacredness in the recreation of the ancient skills. The “Prophesies” were also a part of the teaching that we felt, in the end, may do more harm that good. It seems that spending time studying, feeling and imaging a negative future outcome is not the best use of energy. If we used the same amount of energy to create a better future image and act on the images we create, we could bring a whole lot of good to the earth and her people.

I feel we got out of the classes what we put into them, and that is a lot

A snow inspired shelter

December 4, 2008

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After visiting my dad in early May, Paul and I headed up to visit a friend in Colorado. My friend Tyler caretakes a Boys and Girls camp up at 9000 feet. It is a beautiful space with coyotes, Elk, bear, even a fresh water lake and all the wildlife we longed to connect with. It was great to hang out with Tyler for a while. Tyler is very energetic, enthusiastic, positive and adventurous. Tyler even joined in on eating the Primal Diet while we were there, raw meat and all.

While we were there we were informed that a snow storm was coming. Paul looked at me and said, I need to sleep outside, want to build a shelter? So we did. We put the Standard Class lesson to the test. Paul and I labored in the high altitude pine forest for about five hours. We found a ridge pole, all sizes of rib branches, lattice and heaps of pine needle debris. In the end, we spent three nights in this cozy weather worthy shelter. We spent our days working at making friction fire, following tracts in the snow and perfecting our bow drill kit. We felt thrilled and free.

TRACKER Books:

While in Hawaii, we felt the call of the wild. We missed the fresh water rivers and lakes, the deer, bear, raccoons, snakes and the like. Paul and I have a mutual love for the wild. We read Tom Brown Jr.’s books, The Tracker, The Vision, The Quest, Grandfather, and many other together. We fantasized about being able to support ourselves and maybe even thrive in a totally natural setting. We signed up for classes with the Tracker School to build these skills learning from The Tracker himself.

We made it to California in early April for our first class. The classes are held in CA outside of Boulder Creek. What a beautiful setting. We made a summer style debris hut that allowed the sunlight to filter in and us to lay upon our back and gaze into the heart of the redwoods.

We spent three week there outside of Boulder Creek. I volunteered for the three classes while Paul participated as a new student. I had taken the classes years earlier. The classes were “The Standard”, “Philosophy 1” and “Philosophy II”. The staff of the Tracker School takes the Standard class very seriously as they know if may be the only time they have to touch a student’s life. As a volunteer I got to be part of the behind the scenes operations and really enjoyed the level of spirit that the instructors put into their presentations on different subjects. Paul was taken through the process of making shelter, making fire, purifying water, and gathering food. He loved the skills and cherishes them as sacred. He struggled with the school’s ‘modern” approach to such an ancient and sacred skill set.pe Overall, we did feel sad to experience the commercialization of the sacred skills of the Apache elder Stalking Wolf.

The Philosophy classes are about learning to live with the Earth rather than “on” the Earth. The students spend a lot of time learning a meditation approach that Tom believes allows them to connect with the spiritual realm of the self and the world. Paul had some amazing and outstanding results with the courses. One exercise that the group does with a partner is to have one partner close his eyes while the other goes away, finds something in nature to gaze upon and sends the image of it to his partner back in the lecture hall. Paul found a 5 petaled purple flower and sent that image to his partner. His partner came and reported exactly that image. :Paul and I have played with this since that time and found that we can send images back and forth when we focus on it. What a gift!!!

As a volunteer, these classes were not as exciting. There was not as much to contribute to the group and the instructors were not as involved as they had been in the Standard Class.

The primary gift that we take with us from these two classes is the importance of developing our internal imaging ability. We have become so dependent on our technological gadgets that we have allowed our ability to image to atrophy. It is an important skill that allows access to others senses we have also allowed to atrophy.

Pangaia is a raw food community/retreat and active farm. We have opportunities for folks world wide to come and learn about community living, permaculture, gardening and other ways to create fruit from the land. Paul and I have been here since the beginning of October as the land manager and community coordinator. During December we had an intern from Denmark who made a documentary on our space. Click below and here Daniel’s  version of what I have been up to.

Paul and I plan to leave Pangaia and go to the TrackerSchool for several months. Pangaia has been a great step toward freeing ourselves of the traditional lifestyle and has helped us to purify and clarify our vision.

May father sky, mother earth, brother wind, and sister water coalesce to bring you the best of the physical experience here on earth. Much love and light your way.

Aloha, Joanna and Paul

Hawaiian Wedding

October 29, 2007

After leaving Colorado, I came to join Paul on the big island of Hawaii at a community called Pangaia.

There is a lot of what we have searched for here at Pangaia. It is a great opportunity to delve into honing our health of body, mind, spirit and ecology. Paul and I have agreed to stay on to help facilitate  achieving the highest possible energy and health of the land and the people who live or visit Pangaia for the next six months.

Pangaia uses rain water catchment and gravity for all water sources. Solar electricity is the primary source or power with a generator back up. There are acres and acres of fruit trees which provide abundance to share with the neighboring communities. We are a grounded group who eat organic and raw, and are free of chemical addictions. Creating music together happens at least weekly. There is much to be done each day to care for the dwellings, shared spaces, trees, and people. We have a beautiful opportunity to grow and facilitate growth in our selves and others while we are here.

Pangaia has helped Paul and I to deepen into our vision of a healthy and natural lifestyle. We are keen to continue our journey together.

On October 24th, Paul Blake and Joanna Castro were married.

Paul and I wrote our own vows and designed the ceremony. Following are the words we spoke to each other.

Words spoken by the Priestest; We gather in nature surrounded by wilderness, beauty and in the presence of all the animal spirits upon the earth to unite Joanna and Paul in legal matrimony. We invite the loving presence of each person to witness and to add love to the great union and ceremony.

Words we spoke in unison, Paul and I freely and lovingly aspire

to Speak from our hearts and a place of love

to Honor the sacred space between us

to Inspire and entice each other to grow and evolve

to Create a natural and sustaining life and to walk lightly and lovingly upon the earth

to Create abundance and richness to enjoy and share with all around us.

Benediction;

May you dance gracefully and powerfully with all the elements of life.

May your journey take you into the depths and richness of yourselves, each other, and the world around you.

Go now confidently, freely and lovingly as a united couple to shine upon the earth.

Benediction from Priestess

Now Paul and Joanna,

I extend my personal blessings as you enter into the days of your togetherness. Now you are two persons but there is only one life before you. May beauty surround you in the journey and all through the years may happiness be your companion and your days together be good and long upon the earth.