Moving On

We have been so busy in the last months we never got round to updating the blog.

Summer has come with its full glory, and with it the heat. Luckily the place we have chosen to create our Italian Centre is situated in the mountains, so it never really gets too hot, topping up at around 34 degrees celsius, actually once you get used to it its the perfect temperature!.

Italian yurt campsite

Our Italian Campground Project

The area we chose for this special campground is below the hilltop village of Torricella Pelgina, in an area called San Venanzio. The whole area is somewhat abandoned, though it used to be populated by 35 families, we are only 12 people. It suits us because we have looked for a place to create a real  “free-from-distraction” centre, to allow people to reconnect with an inner core that seems to get neglected.

The nature is astounding: Italy seems to have gotten more than most in some respect, Abruzzo is a region which is somewhat left alone, it is beautiful and diverse, but for some reason it is becoming more and more unpopulated. Some of this is due to the Italian government and tax system, more and more people flee the mountain villages to seek work. The young people go elsewhere, leaving a thousand year culture of agricultural peasantry and rural life, the fields used to be harvested in the morning and the grain used to be milled that very same day, but those days are gone.

 

Torricella Peligna

The Abandoned houses of San Venanzio

Farmers can’t keep up with the cost of living, and farming in itself is becoming an impossibility, unlike the UK. It seems here in Italy, the national debt situation is not understood on a micro level, leaving the country on a move away from self sufficiency, and that reflects in rural life where the people can’t afford to live in the old way, and small businesses can’t flourish.

We hope to help the area as much as we can by introducing a new level of work and income, and a new approach, changing things on a micro level. It seems we have gotten this area of San Venanzio all to ourselves. The locals are welcoming and open to our project.

It is amazing how many old houses are left standing and we have so many ideas for this area.

But for now we are fully occupied with the creation of “Heartland” that yurt campground we always dreamt of making.

So between the amazing sun basking, abundance of fruit, and trips to the UK and back, we have been reclaiming our 12 hectares from nature, bit by bit as more tents go up, and more fruit and olive trees are found, and nurtured back to health.

Yurts in a reclaimed olive and apple grove

Our parcel of land in the not so distant history was the hiding place of the first Italian Partisans: The “Brigada Majella”, and with a strange twist, the old Italian stone house we have on the land is called ‘La Difesa’, (‘The Defence’), although the locals think it predates the Second World War. The name seems appropriate. There are stories of the Germans gathering locals inside a house and dropping a bomb through the roof. One of the locals has told me, (under an olive tree) how her grandmother lost her head (literally), and another how his grandfather’s been shot when the Germans came to take his cows.

Summer has been seeing us digging  the partisans house  up from the ground again, to install French (but Italian) drains. The local stone is called Majella stone (after the mountain) and the general structure is amazingly intact, with little if no, damage to the old lime, almost seems a shame to have dug it up, but alas there was one little spot where the water entered.

Italian partisan house

La Difesa

But I never miss an excuse to work up our digger, although I did find it funny, that with the abundance of machines we have, 4 trucks (and one digger) we still end up piling gravel with the shovel!

fiatallis fl4

Digger Love, can you tell?

 

The Tricky Tracks and Trucks

We have finally opened up the road to Heartland, after weeks on end of clearing the road, bulldozing, cutting the oaks’ branches down, we finally drove our truck through the tricky track to the heart.

mercedes 814 4x4 off road

Tricky Tracks Trucked

It was one of those rare times in life where everything aligns. I parked the truck in the centre. We have 12 hectares of wild Italian mountainside land, and a few of the plots that make it are old vineyards, and olive groves. The central one where we are planning to raise the Zodiac Tent one day, has been cleared, and we have found a circle of olive trees that magically conforms to the contour of the tent, yes its amazing! the old olives have been grown in a circle of 20 meter diameter, the exact dimensions of the Zodiac Tent.

814 4x4 in camper van

Parked at the centre

That first few days Living at Heartland, were amazing. I was a little sick and delirious from  fever, but that added a charm, laying in the hot bath last thing at night, in the light drizzle, and having the majestic Majella in front of me, exploring the lay of the land.

fire heated bath

Outside hot bath

It was like I was living inside this magical circle, I could feel a silent voice telling me not to leave it to be healed, the fever disappeared, and I started exploring the land boundaries. It’s amazing how big it actually is, I kept walking and thinking, is this still ours?

I found full size oaks, and flowers and vines, and old olive trees nestled in wilderness, places the wild boar walks, old stone walls, and little coves made for no apparent reason, and apple trees everywhere, some big some small, maybe over a hundred!

I went down to the smaller river (Heartland is nestled between two rivers) and walking the river border was like going into another land, it starts with a rock bigger than our House…

riverside rocks

Guardian and river

…in fact we have two rocks this size as our lowest borders, like two mastodon guardians.

I discovered pools and waterfalls, it was strange knowing we own those, it felt wrong somehow this notion. I guess the whole notion of owning the land is strange. I was immersed in the watery world bathed in the river pools, admired the waterfalls. It was a world of its own, the land around here can get quite hot so its nice to know the rivers run wild and cool all year round.

waterfall

Waterfall

I seem to have walked a whole day getting lost in those 12 hectares, it seemed endless, like receiving a gift, and unwrapping it, that gift was wrapped in my favourite wrapping of the wilderness, and slowly slowly we are finding its contours, and where things used to be grown, and where some of those things still grow!! The olive trees that survived have been abandoned for 50 years and the apples.

We discovered three wells on the land, deep and clear, all full of water.

pumping the wells

Pumping out the wells

But the deepest experience was connecting the group body to the land, it’s like we have been working with this entity, and it never had a place that could contain it. It reminded me of watching this movie about Moses, and how God got him to take the people out of Egypt. There was this feeling we have had for years, like we can’t be at home, we lived in houses, Trucks, Tipis and Yurts, but somehow we could never feel at home, that feeling of wanderlust, I even thought it is uncureable, but then I felt the group body arrive at Heartland.

It was like a space I forgot existed opened up again. There is the hum, a harmony of sort, the resonance of the place and the work coming together, and I could see this visual space open. In it I could see our little tribe already Living on the land, like there was an inner Tent, a transparent Zodiac Tent, one that exists on another realm, and in it our people are already here, the Group Body is at home. Our tribal god has come to rest.

Back to Nature

 

thor heyerdhal

Back to nature

Thor Heyerdhal is one of my favourite writer explorers. Fatu Hiva is his first adventure, when at age of 22 he decided to live his childhood dream, leave modern life and go back to nature. The line “Back to Nature” has become so embedded in our awareness, prevalent especially in our line of business. I like the fact that he was the one to coin it though, his journey taking place before Second World War.

I’m a great believer in holographic maps, so the first thing has the seed of the whole. I believe that there is an awareness that communicates with us, and I see Thor Heyerdhal as a pioneer on that level, someone that lifted the flag of going back to nature, as the remedy to the white man’s disease. That was his message, although along the line he discovered the great voyages and ancient man, the voyages of Kon Tiki, the Sun God, in ancient rafts across the sea. I love those too, but that’s another story.

The book takes him to Fatu Hiva, an island in the Marquesas Group in the South Pacific, where he and his young wife isolated as the only place they can truly go back to nature. On arrival they find that the interaction with society is killing the population and even there, halfway across the globe, civilisation has killed the natural way…….. But on the other side of the island they meet a link to a world gone, in the figure of the last cannibal on the island. They live with him, like a living manifestation of Thor’s Ideas, being healthy and living the old way, whilst the native population the other side of the island is dying off, from living like the white man and eating his food.

The visit to Fatu Hiva ignites Thor’s obsession with the idea that the Polynesian islands where populated from Peru and not from Asia like previously believed.

This great book comes across to me as a message, a personal one,  a guiding blueprint.

Yeah its all so clear, back to nature is the way onward, everybody has been saying it, we are saying it, but there is a force in being in contact with the original messenger, and his message.

How did it turn from going back to nature to totally change ourselves and reclaim our ancient self, to going back to nature for “glamping” (no offence to our campsite customers!) with a bottle of wine, and an iPhone?

abrruzzan wild hill land

Back to Nature

Having just got a place in the Wilds of Abruzzo, Italy had me thinking about all this, the sheer contrast of the times when I’m on that land, where we don’t even have electricity, to the the time I’m at the Gatehouse, a mile away, with wifi and power. It’s like civilisation stops a mile before the land.

Also in my work, there is such a contrast sometimes: I make tents for my customers using power tools and machinery, but make them for us using hand tools only. I make door posts out of tree trunks, knowing the scorpion that crawled by the tree. I know it will be the Scorpio yurt, because the tree spoke to me.

using adze for making yurt doors

Using Hand tools for making the door posts

The message is clear: we have found a place where the italian country side has been reclaimed by nature, it is only half a century ago that the fields were cultivated, and the olive trees amazingly have survived it all, the wells are still full of clear water, but the land has gone back to nature.

It’s an ancient place, but it has been abandoned and has gone back. I’m working to re-open it up, but the truth is that I don’t want to take it back away from a nature, I want to let it take us back to it.

Once upon a time when I was young, in another life it seems, I was a part of a family of quarry men. I used to live in a hidden lake in the north of Israel, a quarry that filled itself up with water. I remember seeing how it was that the grandfather was the one who dug the hole, the father the one that made the profit, but the son, the son he has gone back to nature. The quarry filled up with water, and I lived next to it. It was a secret, they called it the hidden lake, so I feel close in being to Thor Heyerdhal, renouncing modern life for that connection with the elements again.

digger in italy

My quarry

This comes back to me now. I have my own digger and I feel like one of those quarry men of Israel. It’s strange the line that runs inside of us, like a split inside our being, those ancestors that mined the land, and me, that lived on it. I use my power tools, so I can live without them, that to me is so funny.

So yes I have a digger, but I make the road with it. I feel strange sometimes as I push oak trees out of the way. Those power tools are too strong, but I guess this way, the oaks can grow by the road instead of being cut, and all those power tools are making that road back to nature: we call it Heartland, the place that nature re-took, the place where our wild nature will reclaim us at.

Evento Soffia and the Gate Of Magic

The "sacred mountain" view

In view of the “sacred mountain”

We have finally come to find that piece of land: a magical hill between two rivers, in front of one of Italy’s most amazing mountains..

The vision is to start running events from the onset, working with people in group process and bringing them into the reality of the group mind.

We aim to create a centre for transformational events allowing people to connect with that tribal heart, that notion of belonging to the mythical being, our magical self.

The first event will be held from 16th-22nd of March for the Equinox and the New Moon. As the Zodiac Tent is still being built, that event will be held as a ground level event, in collaboration with Wild Canvas.

The Gate Of Magic

The Gate Of Magic

The idea is to take a small group of people into that clean psychic space in the wilds, and using that quietness, help them into the reality of the inner self.

The first step is to use ancient secret techniques to quieten the internal noise, and help the practitioners to observe their quieter feelings. We will use special nature walks to help each person learn that their feelings are extensions, through which nature communicates with us when we manage to become totally immersed in it, so yes we can learn to “talk” to the trees and plants. We aim to help each person find a way to clean his own “root” system: that network each has to the people around, of feelings and thought forms we carry as luggage, just like trees in the forest. We are connected to many others through those roots.

But this is only the starting point, we aim to work people into the reality of the group mind. Like a tribal trance, letting people not only come together but experience a miracle, a secret only tribal people know, that we can connect on such a level we become a greater body, a bigger self, one able to perform feats of awareness we can hardly dream of.

We hope to bring the event into closure with a sweat lodge to cleanse ourselves and our spirit.

We will be living on the land, in amazing open fire tents, and we are going to leave the normal behind to enter into the realm of the magical self, sitting by big open fires, living with the wild boars, the wolves and the foxes. Deer roam freely on our land. We will wash in a mountain river.

image

Transformational cooking

Food will be cooked on the fire, but not only we aim to find a way to connect to eating naturally, we want to help people to learn how to cook consciously, how to make food which is aware. Yes we can make live food, by that same process of tuning to our inner selves and listening, not “pushing” our feelings out into the food we make, but using them for the alchemy of nourishment.

To book please go to the event page on Wild Canvas website. This will be the first in a series of events, called Evento Soffia (Italian for ‘The Wind Blows’).

We hope to see your through the gate of magic.

How Nomads Garden

In the previous post we spoke about the dichotomy between nomads and gardeners.

Today we decided its time to plough our field the nomadic way.

We found an old plough in the shed and, lacking horses, decided we will use the winch on the back of the truck to pull it along.

814 4x4 winch

Winching cable away from friendly oak

Winch work

Starting over again

Which ploughing

Plough fun

We would winch it one way and them drive it back with the Toyota to start over again.
That’s how nomads garden!