One of my favourite themes is agricultural machines.
No, not as you imagine them, although I do have a sort of love affair with old Italian machinery too, especially tracked tractors.
What I am talking about is machines that were made out of the earth, of stone, areas sculpted to turn nature into a machine that farmed on its own.
I live and work in Central Italy currently, in an area that is still seeing the last days of peasant farming, our own farm is called La Difesa, an area that was set aside for the large communal animals, where they used to feed on acorns in the forest at the last days before real winter. Owning that place made think a lot about the nature of farming, about the place Man has in nature.
We are currently seeing a wholesale abandonment of an earlier way of life, their strategy of farming was different to ours, and La Difesa is a symbol of that, where men made areas out of the forest, where he built stone collection areas, channeling water into vineyards, mix of olives and oaks.
I see some of my neighbours pick boulders out of their fields, in order to grow wheat, but those boulders were cogs in an earlier machine, one made to enhance nature, to catch water, to farm on its own, now the water runs down their clay soil and washes the road, which we have to fix every year, but I do not blame them, I admire them. In La difesa, there is a whole other world, the old vineyard, which I used as a campsite for my volunteers, it has been dug up, lime stone floor has been laid as a catchment area, and a meter of soil piled on top of it, the sheer amount of work!, Stone walls work together with old channels to irrigate the land without any interference.
I have found out the hard way, because I love to landscape with a bulldozer, and sometimes Ill dig one of those old machines out, my machine against theirs, I do archaeology and permaculture from the back of a bulldoser, and as you can imagine sometimes it spells destruction.
The marginal areas and the open lands are really where the new war is being fought, Man has got some kind of maintained balance in farmlands, it is not necessarily healthy farming, or good for the soil, but in criticising it, I think many do not take into account that, the issue is not farming practices, it is a global supply chain, small scale farmers have almost no say in how they farm, they barely make ends meet, they should get a medal for the fact they still farm.
War happens in the marginal, and I see it in the sickness of the olive trees, the elms dying before they can mature, nature in the marginal is trying to repair itself, ash trees in Italy are mainly still healthy but who knows how long until ash die back will arrive here too? Ash is the first attempt of nature to reforest, and wild boars are magicians when it comes to making forests too.
Yet all is not well, new sickness comes out of the marginal areas these days, and the wild boars themselves are often sick. The problem is that Man has lost its place in countryside. Where once the old stone cogs would work to enhance the forest, farm with it, without the need to do heavy lifting, now the old machines are buried, stone walls that have fallen down, and nature itself is struggling, you can read it in the trees, or you can read it in the expressions of the old people that live in small villages in the mountains.
War is where nature and Man meet, when the identity we enforce over it falls away, Nature comes back, but it does not favour us, and who could blame it. After all we stopped favouring it, we no longer have time to build our complexes, to naturally breed landraces, to plant our trees in a certain way.
Peasent farming was not agriculture, it was a way of life, when you finished collecting you tomatoes, you will wander around to your apples and trim them, little manure for the olives, and secrets whispered to your wheat. Sure it is easy for us to romanticise it, because in truth it was a hard life, I can still imagine the family who sold me the farm, sleeping all in one room, 2 adults and 5 kids.
The marginal areas are the front line between Man and nature. The settling fathers, those “pioneers” who went over to turn America into an offshore farm, noted that when clearing the forest to plant wheat for the first time, a weird process would start, sickness would come out of the forest for at least 10 years, whole communities would die. Then as if nature gave way to domestication, everything would come down.
That is what is hard for all of us to see, because we only view countryside as farmlands, and although if you were a soil engineer or a specialist the problems would be screaming at you, most of us see it as healthy nature, but what is healthy in a way is that nature gives way to us, it says ‘ok, you can write over this area, you died for it, Ill let you’. It backs off and we farm quietly, maybe too quietly.
It took 3 years for the birds to come back to our oak tree, and now at times there is a party in the two oaks in our garden, where have they been before? Design plan for rural areas (in my mind at least) starts as a conversation with the group identity of small communities and nature, and for those of you that think that a life in nature is pure joy, I would say you have never really lived in a marginal rural area, where nature and man wash on each other like waves, where non can win over the other.
One day the mountain is stronger and the next man is. It drives people crazy, although there is a beauty in it.
It is a question we all face now, of how we would design the large open natural spaces, how we could develop the marginal as a protection belt. If I had a say in it, I would make it like La Difesa, a small belt of forest farming, which is not really farming anything, but keeping nature at bay. My favourite thing is landscape design, and I love doing it on my Old Italian Bulldoser, building up and digging the cogs of the contadino way of life. I clear and plant, yet I laugh at how the wild boars pull all my trees out. ‘Do not plant hazel’, who knew they had such a preference, but after they pulled out the hundred trees I planted for the third time, I gave up.
This is the land of the wild boar king I let him rule, when I let him be, he and his family seem to farm with me, they dig up my gardens but only around the plants, how considerate of them.
It is easy to be an idealist, to farm without farming, the hard thing is to see my neighbours struggling to farm the land, I try too help them, yesterday my neighbour borrowed my digger to go and cut a load of wood, I told him it is crazy to do so in the mud, but a pandemic and lockdown meant the little money they had coming in is gone a long while ago, I drove it home in the dark, the tracks all covered in mud. I love seeing how they cope, they should have been starving by now, as many of them did not really have an income even before, but life goes back to what it used to be before modern laws, it is cold and people go and cut wood and create a circular economy, somehow they survive.
There is this notion, of which I too used to participate, that the abandonment of this peasant farming way of life, can be fought off with a wave of new young people, coming from the cities, people wanting to try to take try their hand in real country living, they tell you, ‘I have come to live my dream’, I laugh, ‘You really have no idea, it is not living your dream, it is fighting to make a living in the face of abandonment’. I tell them ‘if you have the guts to fight for that dream and make a life to sustain it, maybe you will come through’.
I have come to side with the locals, tired of empty projects, a hard mountain people, maybe the mountain made me hard too.
Things will change because this is how it always was. I have changed things simply by repeating the same thing over and over, by creating a new identity in front of the mountain. But I do not love the dreams of people, as much as I love the whispers of the land, the rustling of the quiet, walking over broken down bones of the agricultural complexes of the ancients, there is a war in which I take no sides, my farm is a no war zone, La difesa is made of forest and of Man, it has no plan in modern life, and I would like to keep it that way.
Its 2021, who would believe it, seeing the inside of our homes so often. So many things have gone wrong for so many people, and we had our own share if not more.
We feel it is high time we collectively start looking at rural areas, our efforts remain on two fronts Abruzzo where we focus most of our work on a real slow development, where marginal areas can be developed slowly into experiential, maybe even transformational locations, but focusing on keeping local community and villages intact as much as possible. In the UK we would like to help take the whole Glamping industry forward into a new type of experience, themed campsites, and small scale venues of experiential tourism, something that has never really been done before, its the cutting edge of script writing for the tourism industry, and something we have been playing with for years, whenever we and our clients sit and talk about how we really would like to see things done.
What we are looking for is a large land based project, probably an estate, or a conservation project with large land. We would need to find accommodation as part of the project to allow us to be hands on, we will be bringing some of our larger event yurts so our own investment can be from 25k to 50k depending if we can build a campsite as part of the project. We would need a two bedroom house and a small workshop as we aim to keep our cover making work alongside the project.
What we are looking to create is theatre, taking Glamping into a new platform, where clients are no longer just holiday makers, they get to become involved, through heritage foods, and a special eating experience, with a sort of show that takes the client from a spectator into a participant. We look to run events of a new kind, focusing on a return to heritage foods, and historical reference, where man belonged in nature. The themes we aim to play with are tribalism, peasant farming, and traditional issues. The idea is to develop a new kind of an event, a gathering which is like a small scale festival at times, or a high end eating experience, with flavours and foods that have become almost extinct, heritage wheats, and old varieties of food, with participatory theatre, that takes people into the fabric on older ways of life.
We believe that with Covid 19, festivals will have to start becoming smaller type of events, and in a way this ties into it perfectly, it focuses on smaller events of up to 100 people in very special settings, and would be a perfect income for a large estate or farm even. We need someone who is really open to take a new approach to sustainable tourism, and not afraid to venture into a new direction, the fact we are bringing our own tents into the deal means initial investment is low.
We are open to explore an option to run this project from afar, but believe that it would make things much harder, as we would like to guide the whole style of the events. We are also looking for a special type of chef who is open to cooking with and over open fire, and is passionate about the tastes of real foods, and the unique flavours of landraces and heirloom veg and cereal. We focus a lot on heritage wheats, which we help grow in Central Italy, and most passionate about Durum wheats, of which we are collecting some of the oldest in the world. Most of our events focus on handmade pasta as an art form that ties wheat to the land through tradition of peasant farming, but we also play a lot with archeo-foods, old recipes that have been almost lost, and leave one with a question for why.
Because we are starting to venture in some new directions, and to keep our cover work going, we are also looking for someone to train as a seamstress, but the focus here would be for someone to work with us on making covers from distance, and mainly yurt covers, we would prefer a woman, but are open to a man just the same. We need someone passionate about the art of cover making, and can withstand the stress of making seams, we would look to give pass them gradually more and more work, and for them to eventually work independently possibly, but with a clear vision, that we are no longer looking to teach someone to sew yurt covers, so they take our work and compete with us later, so that would need to be clear from the start. We not only are probably one of the longest cover making in the Glamping industry we are almost the only one doing so at a distance, it is not an easy job, and one that can leave you crying. We not only actually wrote the full yurt cover sewing book, we have also taught many in the business, most of which make their own yurts. This time we would like to teach someone that can keep the work in house, even if they operate separately in the end. So it is a chance to work with us, and take on some off our clients, for a larger percentage of the work, we have many regular clients. We have a love for sewing canvas like no one else, born out of endless nights and days where we worked the machine to the bone, and we would like to find someone who loves this art like we do, and work alongside, learn pattern ,makings, and all of our secrets.
We hope 2021 will see us all in a better place, and hope we can start focusing more time on rural development as a whole, take the tourism industry into a more integrated place with small scale farming, and natural conservation, we believe that waiting for politicians to sort it out for us is meaningless, because in truth they do not really have an idea about rural areas, and so we feel the work should be done by all of us regardless, and that if we want to really defeat globalisation taking over, the loss of the countryside and possibly all of freedoms this is the only way. We wish you all a happy new year.
‘Bombs’ Marziale said, ‘first they throw bombs and then close everything up’, it was his conspiracy theory.
The gate for his charming ramshackle row of houses was closed behind him, I think it was more of a reflex because the dogs used to come out, but I don’t think he realised that the only dog that posed any danger has been tied for two years now. With a few of his dogs killed by the hunters and a few others gone missing.
The paint on the gate was old, but the tricolours of the Italian flag could still be seen clearly.
He has been our neighbour for over 6 years. His Italian is a dialect special to him only. He made me laugh, i’ll stop every time on the way back home, and even though our conversation would always be the same, as if we are rehearsing, I’ve come to appreciate it.
The fields were all ploughed, and though we usually spoke of our strategy for sowing wheat, it was as if time itself stood still, things did not make sense anymore. The Holocene has come to an end.
Winter was approaching, but the last few years it came late, climate change was everywhere. By ‘bombs’ he meant to say that the pandemic was back, that it was man made, it was dropped on us all.
There is a craziness in rural Italy, one that is hard to make sense of, especially for us that have grown up in the western mindsets. Families are the rule, and there is an ancient law that rules the land, and it all comes together in my neighbour in a strange way. We were leaving, or at least I think we were, something snapped inside me, we were leading a revolution by ourselves, a revolution I did no longer believe in.
So standing there with him outside his gate, the fading tricolours and 10,000 years of sowing wheat, the climate change itself even, and our plans to bring back the heritage wheats of old into production, where all on standby, as if waiting for some heavenly decision, ‘bombs’ he said, ‘they drop bombs on us and than they make new rules’.
This plan that I have convinced him will see him back into farming, more as a way to convince him not to give up. Somehow all of it came together for me, it is this imposing mountain we live under, it makes everything dramatic, everything seems big. I was sitting in the car, talking to the last peasant farmer of Torricella Peligna, about sewing wheat.
The revolution was none other but an effort to save the Holocene from collapsing on itself.
Wheat is what made the weather stable for over ten thousand years, no one really knows about it, because it’s not a scientific fact. It is a pact some long lost ancestor of us made.
One of his dogs set on the ledge of the second floor window, even the dogs here do not follow normal rules, the row of 4 houses were a progression from liveable, to quite broken, to beyond repair, with the last being the house were the dog lives on a window ledge, that dog used to have a brother, one was white and the other was black, the black one used to live on the roof of his house, but he disappeared one day. Then after the roof was somewhat fixed, the remaining puppy, I took to call Yang, because they looked like Yin and Yang, the white has a black head and the black had a white.
The remaining puppy used to sit on the upstairs window, as if he was mourning his brother.
Things were different under the mountain, and it made some dogs behave differently, Yang found a compromise, he only ventured as far as the second floor, his brother went all the way to heaven and disappeared. One needs to find a balance with how far it allowed the mountain to drive him into other planes of existence, the dogs knew it.
It was the time of the second wave and sure no one dropped bombs to infect us all, or so we we think, but it is also true that things stopped making sense.
It was a picture frame, his dog. Framed by choice over sensibility, the mountain pulls us into higher planes. Sometimes it seems crazy, the old laws of conduct in small Italian villages, so difficult to the outsider at times, that they almost broke me. I felt like I am being asked to make a ruling, here in this strange land of the past, medieval villages are suspended in mid air, dogs are pulled into window ledges, and wheat stands in question, the stability of the Holocene.
I drove back home, I have given all my wheat to local farmers to plant, I give them one seed and they give me two in return, that’s the core of the project. I could not really focus on wheat anymore, In fact I never could. I was running late for work, we have endless yurt covers to make. I wonder how we got to that point, we used to be free, on the road, with no work and no hassle, how come nomads can not travel freely, because they make yurt covers for a thousand campsites.
It is a strange occupation being a yurt maker, and a yurt cover maker (which is the majority of our work) even more so, it’s such an art. We make all of our yurt covers from afar, and believe me it is maybe one of the hardest lines of work. To know how much to add, how much to trust the client’s measurements, where to cut more, where to add less. The fact I was running up and down the mountain, did not help, the measurements of three different covers were turning inside my head to a point that I could not see the math anymore, Pythagoras was taking over but who knows what he was calculating. There are pictures in my mind, snaps, stories and they tend to come out when I sew.
The problem is that it is hard to bring them out to make sense, not so much to me, but to others.
I know what was going on, I know it was not bombs, but I also know my neighbour is not crazy, even though the locals sometimes say he is, he is the last link of a chain of a people, a way of life – the sedentary. I am his neighbour, yet I never belonged anywhere, and though I find it hard to deal with the issues of central Italy, I have found a belonging here. I am though more of a nomad and he, the last peasant farmer. The mountain frames everything in this dramatic sense, a romanticisation of daily lives.
If we did not buy our land with the last houses of the commune, he would have sold already. So I live in the contradiction, it’s the end of time, not because the world is ending, because it is not, what is ending is our pact with the creator.
Currently here, under the mountain where dogs live in their own abandoned houses, perched on window sills, me and my neighbour are facing this question together, can we save the climate?.
What is hard to explain, is that the climate we are used to is an agreement.
It is an agreement made by nomads at the end of the younger dryas (the last ice age) when in order to stop the sky from rotating, which they failed, they chose to live in one place. What they succeeded in, is making the chain of ice ages stop. They did it with wheat, they did it by stopping their roaming.
It is only in the contradictions, on the edge of abandon, or when everything seems to fall apart, something magical opens, like a door. In it you can see the making of ages. Italy of the mountains is ruled by something older, something that seems so foreign to the outsider, it is community.
What makes it hard to see, is that we have a sense of community that we gained from instagram, novels of a paradise lost, of other ways of life.
So it is hard for us to see it, because now, at the end of the Holocene, when all the agreements are falling down, we do not understand that the last guardians of a ten thousand year agreement, are small Italian farmers.
Nomads, it has been said always plunder the sedentary. We, in our own personal journey, have come to place after place like that, the rule of 5 (which also means something else to us) meant that we were used to pack our things and move within 5 minutes, if we deemed a place to be unhealthy. That still drives me crazy, the idea of living in a park-up, in a lay-by for 6 years. The Huns see houses as tombs, and I can not fault the judgement, houses are tombs for nomads.
I sit on a pile of yurt covers, there are only a few people who knows this art, the cover makers, most of which have been taught by us. We have our own language, seam allowances, and shrinkage. Sometime at the end of long day of chasing the illusive line between reality and craziness, trying to find the right place to end the canvas above the yurt door, not sure if to trust the client, or the figures they have sent us, it boils down to intuition, at the end of the day sometimes we have a small victory, a new way to pattern the roof pieces or
another way to stitch the cap. Sometimes we design another tent, but most of all it is impeccability of the trade, throwing yourself into the unknown of
someone else’s frame. Learning a to know from experience what can go wrong, and assume the worst, I laugh how my clients get amazed when I tell them how they took a measurement and why its wrong. To give them their dues, they work hard to measure their frames for us, and we send them back and back again to them to make sure they haven’t got anything wrong.
How did we get here, can nomads make the law for the countryside?, I remember when we lived in tents, and everything seemed sane, even if new age community is a monstrosity, with no real roots in existence, but we were the only people living in tents. The rest of the population lived in houses, we were poor, and once every few years we would sell our tent cover, or poles, it was our way to pay for a new home. which was again a tent, it was like a snake shedding its skin, and in order to afford the new one, he had to sell the old to someone else, this is how it all started.
How did we end up with a thousand campsites, and people in massive estates calling us to make them new yurt covers. Now they ask us how to run the countryside, but we alongside them have ruined it. We turned it into a chain of holiday homes and campsites, we sold them our community and they use it to repackage their massive estates, so we can never buy, or even rent in the countryside, and none of us is really happy, even though for a time they pretend it’s so much better solution to farming, its called diversification, I can call it diversify your attention from what’s really going on.
So you see, it is hard to strike a balance between the real and the made up, the lines are diffused, only a few yurt cover-makers know that art, only they understand. We live in a lie, because as long as we make yurts for sedentary people we can not travel, it is their way to keep us in place, they sell our art, and the country side with it to an endless stream of people who would never live in it. Together we have repackaged the land and made it less accessible to all.
We have no time to make up our mind, to lead the sedentary into another epoch, because there is always the next yurt cover to make, I am lucky because I have trained others to make covers with me, and it gave me some time to focus on something else. We dreamed together, but the pressure of making a cover after cover, yurt after yurt, broke their dreams. They feel like we will never find freedom, all that we have found is an endless pile of patterning, we got holed in small homes and workshops. Once the only campsites were where we lived, around the fire.
We all knew how to make our tents. Sure, none of us were very good at it because we only did it every few years. Now we sold our freedom, and we make the best tents in the world, I know things about pattern making that few do, Its an art, when you get good at it you can do it in mid air, its a space a few can hold, the patterns float, and you must hold them all inside you, balancing all the factors, holding all the measurements, the canvas shrink, the stitching. We sold our way of life and the community, and as long as we keep doing so, to people who re-market it as an experiential tourism, nor we or them can ever find it again.
The people who I’ve trained blame me, and maybe they are right. I feel like something is looming over us all. It is decision time. Underneath all this industry of selling the landscape as a package, there is a small family of tent makers, and most of us are related.
In central Italy the mountain rules all, I know that modern society is incapable of true community, it does not even know what it should look like. We have become accustomed to making belief, we convince each other community still exists. I have lived in the marginal, in the borderlands of society all my life, I have seen enough alternative communities to know nothing is different. Maybe I am the only one that will say it, but there is no such thing as sustainable tourism either. We sell abandoned lands as a dream, as a resource, when we aren’t willing to live sustainably in them.
I have been up since 5 in the morning, and I am on the verge of giving up on my (now) one man revolution, I know something else. It is just hard to speak about it, my “crazy” neighbour seems the only sane person around, ‘bombs’ of coronavirus, are the mark of the end of an epoch. Most of us are so distracted by Covid-19, that we do not see that the countryside itself is sick, the apple trees, the olives. This last year has seen a whole olive field next to our place in Italy, develop a new sickness. We are all so homocentric that we miss out, currently (it seems to me at least) all of the non local varieties of fruit trees are dying. Sure they always had less tolerance to sickness, but they managed, you do not expect them all to die within one year. After all the olive grove next to our houses have been there for 30 years.
I say I am a nomad, but there have been no true nomads for over ten thousand years. Nomadism as we know it is an offshoot of the neolithic revolution, the people of the steppe domesticated horses, and it gave them a trading power. They lived in yurts, and now I feel like their last descendant, I know things that only exist in contradictions. We have ran out of a design plan, our rent is due. I led a one man’s revolution, I have to make up my mind, but my mind does not function like other people’s.
In the long long ago, all mammals have been infected by a virus, not unlike we are now. ‘Bombs’ he said it, and it makes me laugh.
Some think he is crazy, but there is a sanity in how he sees things, in his dialect, it is a language of his own, made from being the last frontier man for so many years, farming the last farm of the village. The real edge of abandonment makes one sane in ways others can not comprehend, it is where nature writes Man.
All of our minds have been infected by a virus, and this is how we think. Activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein or ARC as it is known, plays a critical role in synaptic plasticity in our brains. With an important function in our memory. It has been suggested that it acts in a very similar way to a virus, self assembling into virion-like capsids that encapsulate RNA as it does.
It is thus theorised to be repurposed from a viral event somewhere in earlier evolution in order to mediate intercellular communication in neurones.
What?!! you may ask.
We have ALWAYS been thinking like a virus!!!, in fact thinking is a viral function, and that is what I am trying to say, what we deem crazy, is that some of us do not encapsulate in the same manner, our thoughts are not regular, and mine never seem to have been. We are humans, now scared of a new virus, always scared of the virus, yet it is the virus itself that taught us to be scared. We above all other animals, we are not the smartest, we just got more virused. That is why community is hard for us, we make separation inside our heads, the capsids we wrap around our thoughts and memories.
Yet that was then (million of years ago) and now is now, and now is the time for someone to make a decision, the trees are dying, and the Holocene is at an end, not because of climate change, but because we stopped honouring our agreement with the creator, when nomads come to farm.
Living in the marginal makes you see things that others do not, and it teaches you to not put stock in thoughts, or agreements, those work very well for people in the city, they live in a system, for me houses are tombs, and thoughts are a take over from another ancient pandemic, one that has changed mammals into new evolutionary strategy. So we think, and we think a lot, we remember also, but it is just the function of a virus from long ago, and even though it gave us brilliance, we still need to make our choices for ourselves, the trade off for that so called brilliance is community, what made us “better” than the animals, is not that we are, is that we think is separation, we can break the biome, we can encapsulate the idea of the individual, and they can not, they have been infected like us, but never got as sick.
My problem is that I need to decide for others.
Writing for me is a way to bridge all of that, where I live there are no rules. Simply because no one wants to live there. I was pushed all of my life to this place, the borderland, even as a kid. So now my mind works in a different way, and it takes a lot to balance it all, I have to wake up at 4am to think clearly. The hard truth about the virus that made us able to think, is that it gave us one mind only, and made us all share it. None of us think alone. I took me years to accept that fact. I was taught by others, the simple first steps into telepathy, and it almost ruined me. What was hard was not being able to hear other people’s thoughts, it was understanding that none of mine were ever my own.
So I guess since then the only place that makes sense is the marginal, the abandoned lands without design, where nature and Man hit on each other as waves. It is a contradiction – where nomads come to farm, to hold the last days of an epoch at bay, and because I do not like to decide for others, I find myself sitting on a mountain of yurt covers, that we make for a string of campsites, places that have “diversified”, or in other words, stopped farming. We are nomads and we never cared about farming. I mean we are all nomads, we only farm because there are too many of us to live freely, we killed too many animals. That is the story of the last epoch, that is why we spent ice age after ice age in isolation. The world was devastated in ways we could no longer fathom. Now we freak out because one degree celsius of change, at the end of the last ice age, our ancestors stood a much more nomadic earth. Their stories of the flood, and comets, of endless winters of starvation is what drove them to a new agreement, but even then it was not all of them who decided, it was a small group of people who came together to hold the sky from rotating. They tried to stop the heavenly mill from grinding the ages, and they failed, but they did manage something else, they managed to appease the creator, and they gave us the Holocene, they were as wild as we are tame, we fear a change of 2 degrees, which comes to show how stable our climate is.
I have to make up my mind, but I no longer trust the mind, I say this, if we are to make a new decision if we are called to turn the heavenly mill around again, our rent is due, and we can no longer find a house to live in, because houses are tombs, yet nomads are just horse breeders without an idea, that do not even grow their own food.
Nomads have been a threat to the climate, because the climate is an agreement they made, I write because I feel you too must have a say. In order to find sanity.
I always ran away, my mind maybe does not work like yours, I need a lot of quiet to hear my own thoughts, so much so, I usually do not trust mine, only at 4 am while the world is asleep. I know the thoughts are mine.
I have learned to trust something else, which is more akin to feelings.
I see truths in contradictions, where dogs sit on window ledges, where the crazy are actually the sane ones. Yang lives on the window of a broken house, mourning because Yin has gone to heaven.
We are looking for a buyer for our Italian site and project, this is a very rare opportunity to plug and play into an existing project. we are hoping to find a young couple with enough resources and finance to pick up the project from where we got it to. We would like to not only sell the property but also pass some of the association work to whoever takes over, which means that with enough dedication you can also have an income, and get involved directly in one of the most important issues currently, which is rural development in marginal areas, possibly you can work with us and take over our existing projects in area, so there is a lot of scope there too.
The property consists of some of the wildest, most magical land in Abruzzo, it is in the heart of the valley of the Aventino river, looking to the Majella massif, arguably central Italy’s most spectacular mountain range. This is a slow valley, where a traditional way of life is still practiced.
The property itself of 12 hectares of land (almost 30 acres) and an abandoned farmstead we have brought back to life, a lot of work has been put into the old farmhouse to renovate it to a special type of unique old style accommodation. The land itself is made of some open fields, surrounding by oaks, and old forest. The property has two small streams runing on opposite sides, one of which borders the property itself for some 200m, the other is maybe 50m from the property border.
This is not any abandoned farm tough, it is built on its own in one of the Old Difese, areas that were dedicated to forest farming, and rearing large animals on acorns. Hence the oaks were never cut. The project we have in mind for this amazing farm, is to create a new type of forest farming model of agriculture, in order to address some of the issues that central Italian mountains are currently facing, where small scale farming is at a crisis. The focus is to bring old varieties of fruit, and veg, nut trees, and maybe even the old vineyard (the area has some very special varieties which are unique to it) back. Its really a once in a lifetime chance to live and work in a world that has disappeared. With wild nature, wolves, bears and deer, boars and eagles. Slow Italian way of life, a magical valley shroud in old magic, religious beliefs, and mystery one of which is the secret hot spring that used to run until 50 years ago in the land below our property.
We have brought back to life some 80 olive trees, most are of the intosso variety, it now enjoys the presidio slow food recognition and is considered one of Italy’s best olive oil makers, with bottles going up to 20 euro for hald a litre, there are various apple trees dotting the forest, plums, figs, cherries and more, so it is already an edible food forest by itself, yet with a scope for another 500 fruit trees easily.
The aim of the project is to also create a unique accommodation on site, we have 5 yurts of various sizes, and one Shepard hut that can be sold with the property, we have been toying with the idea to turn all the houses nearby into a scattered hotel, as so many of those are semi abandoned, yet we have so much time on our hands, and it is usually full with other projects.
A little way away from the site itself we also have a 2/3 bedroom house and another small plot for garden, this is closer to the tarmac road, it is also totally on its own and private, close to that house we also have the possibility of another 30 hectares at a really good price with two old houses which we were looking to turn into an albergho diffuso as part of the project, so currently as part of the same sale there is the option of owning a whole hamlet, and this can in that case turn into a community project.
The idea is to find a young couple of a small group of friends that is willing to take forward the work and the project, there is a possibility for us to transfer some of our work with local farmers in regards to heritage wheat, which can be developed further into a point it can be a full time employment. As Abruzzo has seen a tremendous boom in tourism and demand from buyers, this is probably the best time in our lifetime to invest in this region. It is one of the last gems of an older way of life, and for which we would like to protect it.
We feel that with everything else we have on, work commitments and the fact that we spend so much time away from the UK we can no longer give this project what it needs, and it would be best to pass it on completely to someone who can invest all their time and focus, and can enjoy it better, we would prefer not to sell it as glamping site as such, because we have a completely different vision for it, where we hoped to use this site as regenerative model for farming communities in the central italian mountains. It is also because of our work in rural areas we are also progressively against holiday homes, and part time rural living, which is deciding us against simply keeping it as a part time project.
If you are looking to a new breath of life, if you feel like you are missing out, that you need to live closer to the earth, that you need to farm, if you want to help some of the wildest, most hospitable of regions, a place made of endless natural parks and wildlife, this project is your dream come true. Seeing that we have endless pictures and 6 years of association work there is really so much we can say here. It would be best to contact us directly, and have a chat over the phone. We can talk prices and options.
Finally they are back!, you can now own your own T-shirt with our branding, our logo has been so popular and so many people ask us about it that we decided to bring our T-shirts back. We even had someone ask us if they tattoo it on their body!
Now you can own one too.
We are offering you a free T-shirt with any new cover, you can also have an apron or an enamel mug or even an hoodie, but we have to get those made specially, so there will be an added cost. Just remember to ask for one when you order your new cover, or if you want one so badly and can’t order a yurt just because you want it, we can also sell you one.
The last 20 years have brought about a new advance in thinking, in the way we view ourselves, in almost every field of science, new theories that stand against the mainstream approach, individuals that at points risked their whole careers to venture a theory. So little by little our story emerges from the clutches of convenience, I would not go as far and call it the truth, because a lot is missing in it, a whole other perspective, a prior way of seeing things we as humans lost, yet it is a step.
Books the like of, Against the Grain, Deciphering Ancient Minds, After Eden, have come out, at times it seems to me that we are at the end of an epoch, The Holocene, and we are writing our conclusions. There is on part of this story that has never been written, although it lurks in the pages of all those books, it is our non domesticated self, who we were.
The story of our consciousness and our civilisation, the way we conquered and dominated every inch of this planet has been written piece by piece, but the real hero of the story remains hidden between the lines of those books, that hero is the Nomad. Seeing that our way of life is being questioned now we are facing a worldwide pandemic, where we are caged in our stone tombs, we retreated into the distrust we have in our own minds, of the stranger the other, to a point we can no longer meet them, we can no longer touch, I think in this time of reflection would be a good moment to remember our real selves.
Before we go there, I would like to point out that some of the latest editions in the study of viruses has brought us some strange ideas, one of those is that our own memory is constructed from a repurposing of viral characteristics, meaning we create virus like capsid like units which we infect our own brain cells, or in other words we wrap information (mRNA) with which we infect our own minds, Freud spoke of the layering of memory as a structure of our identity, and so in a way we can also view the self as a sort of virus, and the story line which it tells us is one we construct continuously to hold an idea. There is of course a question if this idea is actually true, have we erased the memory of who we really are?
So the idea that some individuals are now working hard to rewrite our story, hatched from DNA research, from archeology, and anthropology is interesting, and I would add that the fact we are currently facing a world wide viral attack, on which we all have to question ourselves is an osmosis, it means to me that our collective memory is being rewritten.
There is this series currently on netflix which takes us back to Freud, in which the young Zigmund Frued, works out his hypnosis therapy, he is being ridiculed by everyone, yet he find this mysterious Hungarian girl, with whom he works, she is a táltos, an Hungarian shaman figure, even though that in reality, a táltos is normally a man, usually born with some defects or unusual features, like excess body hair, different strands of colour in the hair, extra bones, teeth etc. A person who is called at some point to a shamanic path, his power is very related to horses, but the same story applies to the táltos horse, he too is a mutant, with three legs, or strange features, he too must go a transformation in order to arrive it his secret power and potential, usually by eating ash from a fire.
Like we said our minds are structured so that prior strata is erased from memory, and so even though that here in Europe in the not so long ago man of a secret power lived, we no longer understand their function, the táltos is interesting to us because of something else though, because unlike other type of shamans, his power relates to horses. So in this mystical figure we find three elements that were lost to our memory, the Nomad shaman, the mutant, and the horse.
It is hard for us to understand the meaning of that person, yet I would say he is an important link, it has been argued that the development of our consciousness has allowed us to hunt bigger prey, collaboration and shared mythologies have allowed us to work together like no other species, yet those myths and stories are somewhat lost to us because they lay in an earlier strata, before the Holocene, when we were magical nomads, before we domesticated the largest of animals, in After Eden, Kirkpatrick Sale, puts forth the theory that art, and painting came about when the power of collaboration and society came to such extent, that we stood to exterminate all the larger animals we lived with.
Cave art would portray Bison and Aurochs and horses, and I would venture to add something to that detail, I would say that we had an understanding in the epoch preceding our own, we understood that those races are the keepers of the ecology, we knew that killing them would bring life to some extermination, those were the animal races born to unite all the micro climates, they grazed the grasses in between the forests, they kept our world from desertification, so before we forgot what we knew, and because we lived with those animals so closely, we drew them on our walls, as magical ritualistic keepers of our world, we learnt their magic, which the táltos still performed only a few hundred years ago, he would stomp the earth, to indicate hidden treasure, he would go into altered states and call the rain, just the like first people tell us they always did, and we find a lot of that story in the San bushmen.
So the nomad mutant was the keeper of the magical properties of those races, it symbolises a sort of balance between man and the envioerment, nomads were the keepers of ecology, they lived with the races that ate grass, keeping the big steppe and swathes of land that allowed our forests and smaller ecology zones to prosper. My addition to those ground breaking theories trying to rewrite our history, is that we knew the importance of those animal races, it is obvious to a point we learnt their magical practices, we knew how to stomp like a horse in a certain situation, in order to find treasure, so we too must have known everything else, we knew that our grass lands, where nature could not evolve further, and grass being the first cycle, were kept and fertilised by horses and bison, and the magic of living with those animals, and possibly the idea of lising them as was suggested, was a big chapter in our evolution.
I would say that now that we face constant new strains of viruses, because our forests no longer stand, and ecology has been taken out of balance, the loss of the mutant, the shaman and the horse with the bison brings it all up, nomads even in our own epoch were the keepers of the grasslands, when those were lost, when their mythical keepers were brought to the edge of extinction they came into the last surviving ecology system, the pockets of forest, so in a way climate change, is a process of losing man’s relationship with the animals, and I would say that our attempt to domesticate some of those races, could have come about as a way to save that balance, rather then trying to create a new food source.
Now we are in the concluding chapters of our Epoch, and we wonder if we will be allowed to go on, and the answer to me lies first in the shaman and the horse, the nomad and the mutant, they are the fringes of our society, yet they groom it, like horses groom the steppe, it is no wonder that shamans took the form of bulls or horses, the ancients knew something the virus in us has forgotten, the lost chapter, yet we lost it so little ago, so táltos is the answer, the nomad-mutant-shaman and the way for us to save our place in this world is to bring the nomad back, and allow him to cultivate the empty spaces, to fight desertification, which would allow our forests to flourish again, and possibly we would not have to die or forget even more because of viral episodes, its an earlier strata in our memory we have vacated in order to hold on to the little ecology we have left.
We have launched the Heartland programme a few years ago with this idea in mind, to try and direct the glamping industry into another paradigm, the issue is that what started as eco tourism has turned into a money machine, this amazing industry have grown on the backs of small companies, small farms, and campsites, and more than all on the backs of nomads, in our view it should have created a more natural integration. and so although we have had an amazing response which comes to show that a lot of people feel the same, with over 200 projects contacting us to see how they too can become more naturally integrated, people we worked with to find different platforms and integration between peasant framing and the campsite, a lot is still lacking.
I thought it is time to write down a few guidelines seeing the whole world is put into lockdown, and hope you have time to read through.
The story is that for the last 13,000 we have been cultivating nature through domestication, we championed wheat (in other words grass), which allowed us to create surplus, we built cities with millions of people over that surplus, and we have cleared big parts of Europe in order to farm the way we do, even still we were still periodically hit by famine, because the earth could not supply our demands, in order to mitigate famine, we went and conquered new lands, to create offshore farms, and as last resort we have modified our crops in the green revolution, now the situation has become unsustainable.
It means that from the point of view of agriculture as we know it we have possibly 5 more years to keep going, in fact famine is already everywhere, it is just that we dont see it because it is mainly in third world countries.
So business as usual is our set of mind, but as we constantly clear nature we also take away the balance that keeps viruses from ourselves, in fact without wild animals and forests, without natural habitats around us we will see more and more pandemics, what is remarkable is not that it happened, the remarkable thing was that it did not happen already at such a level, yet it does so every two or three years now.
So now the whole of Europe is on lockdown, we see a lot of our clients standing to loose a years work, people can not go on holiday, and it brings up a lot of what we are trying to help people establish, the only way out of the situation in the long run, is to rewild nature, to farm in a different way, we can no longer afford agriculture, and I am afraid to say that the glamping industry must play its role.
There is a simple and natural balance, between man, animal and nature, forest and field, so now we all have to sit back, and rethink, and although I know most are just counting the days, thinking that their season will eventually start, and manufacturers are thinkin “soon we can go on again”, yet we can’t. We need to rethink, just as much as farmers need to rethink, so as we make your tents during lockdown, I hope you too can re-think.
There needs to be light in the end of this tunnel, and a clear strategy of rewilding, and sustainable tourism, with mini farming of heritage varieties is the only way forward, and maybe now that there is no longer spare time to loose, people can apply it, it can happen in each campsite, see it as a replacement for the mask you will have to wear.
One example is European bison, because every landmass had its grazers, animals that used to migrate and create ecological balance, there are amazing projects like Rewiling Europe, who are trying to implement this exact strategy, by recreating the Aurochs and bringing back non domesticated species to manage big reserves of natural land, together hand in hand with sustainable tourism, this is where we need to aim.
Our idea is to try and influence the leisure industry to do the same, by creating circles of natural belts, in which if you are a farm, you focus on heirloom foods, and the campsite part goes hand in hand, with farm to fork, with artisan bread etc. The idea is to crate more natural habitat again, and to pull back a little from the crazy rush after income, in which more and more sites in the country side, no longer invest in nature, and instead of taking people into nature, they take away from nature for people.
Most people these days live in the cities, and so our countryside (being taken over by the leisure industry in the UK in the last 5 years) should focus on rewilding, and organic farming, creating natural defence belts, cleaning the air, and protecting us all from viral mutations and infections.
We developed some amazing strategies, like natural restaurants in yurts, we work a lot with ancient wheat varieties, and although there is a big waking up, the UK as a whole finds it hard to divorce from the rush for progress and economy, and a big driver in that is the glamping industry, it feels it is better because it operates in nature, yet it has harmed farming, more than any other industry, because it allows people to make an easier living instead of working the land, farms are bought to become holiday cottages, and even yurt campsites prefer to run events on manicured lawns than to focus on farming.
You who are a campsite owner, need to do your bit, it is hard to be telling you this, but you work in nature, and you need to stop regarding it as a hotel, I know no one likes to be told, but the earth is not ours, we are guests here, if you have a farm, which you inherited or maybe bought as you moved out of the city it is your responsibility to cultivate nature, we make nomadic structures, and in truth we see that the missing person in all of this is the nomad.
It was always the nomad who lived amongst the breeds who cultivated nature, maintaining bison herds at a level, going around the dry lands that will support no one else with goats, and I am afraid that losing nomads, meant we also lost those breeds, and as such have seen the desertification of some massive parts of this earth, in fact this is more of a cause to climate change then all the carbon emissions put together.
So from now on, this needs to be a clear direction, if you want to run weddings in nature, do not just trim the grass, plant some trees, and bushes, if you want to buy farms that used to farm locally, you also must find a way to work them, and having a successful business is not enough, and more than all if you have the luck to own big parts of wild land, you must rewild it. And so Glamping can not be an excuse anymore, now we are sick, we wear masks because we cut too many trees.
In the 1800’s settlers spoke about clearing land that they settled on, one of my favourite qoutes is from a book called the backwoodsman – “But nature will not allow laws to be prescribed to her without taking vengeance, or have changes made in her domestic arrangements forcibly by human hands. With the felling of forests and the turning up of the soil she sends diseases which check her insulter in the work he has begun, and punish him for his audacious inroads. It usually takes half a century ere nature is appeased and ceases to contend in this way with the mortals who trouble her; at least in Continental North America the diseases produced in this way usually increase for thirty years, and decrease for so long a period, until they entirely cease. This is the case with the interior, but not in the cities, where other relations occur in proportion with their expansion. At my settlement there had been for many years no malady, save those caused by external injuries; but now one or the other frequently complained of ague, bilious fever, flux, &c., and we often cursed the time when we saw the first white face settle amid our solitudes. At Lasar’s matters were proportionately worse, for a hundred negroes would be down at the same time. For my part I had as yet been spared, while all my companions had been ill.”
This is why we would like as a company to focus more and more on that side of our work, we have been making tents for you all for over 15 years, and maybe it doesn’t really count, yet we feel that there needs to be a new way of life, and the glamping industry can become its arrowhead, because currently it is just another system that deprives nature of itself. I know we have been saying it over and over, and maybe it is tiring, yet it still not enough.
We are working on taking 12 hectares on the edge of abandon in the mountains of Italy and develop them in a natural symbiosis, whilst at times we lose money from pushing people into a more natural way of operating, we feel that as nomads that is the core, We lived for 16 years on the road, and now there is no more nature one can simply live in, and so this is our payback, so if you do not want to be sick, rewild, and grow a forest, and help us bring the bison back, and heritage wheat, and maybe you would not need to wear a mask next year. Glamping can not be manicured as it is anymore, and it can not be the escape from small scale farming.
So with that the lecture is over, I hope you all hold through the next months, and that they help you reflect and stop thinking about how to make as much money as possible, and think about sustainability.
Contact us if you are a small farm, if you own wild land, if you want to find ways to cultivate the natural and nomadism again, and we can look at it together. We can not wait for green policies to take place, or the government, especially now the economy has taken such a hit. So it’s up to us.
Most nomadic tents are circular, the circle being the simplest, stable structure and also arguably the most beautiful, no corners to break up the continuity of curve, and for the energy to get stuck. The Native Americans have a saying that ‘the devil lives in corners’, probably originating when they were forcibly moved out of their tipis, into square stone houses on reservations.
Every time someone enters a yurt for the first time, and I still have this even after 14 years of making them, there is what I call the ‘cathedral moment’, when entering the circular space and the eyes rising to the central roof wheel with the sky opening above.
And as the late Bill Coperthwaite, the first person to make a yurt in the West, said, “there is something indescribably beautiful about the view from a round window”.
Obviously in yurt-making we work with circle geometry a lot. At the simplest level, we calculate the circumference from the radius or diameter (2πR or πD), and floor surface area (πr2). We work out the spacing of gaps in the wheel based on the number of rafters, size of yurt based on the gaps between the trellis tops and the number of rafters, window placing with numbers on a clock etc (There is a lot of backwards and forwards between metric and imperial measurements as we talk about a 20 ft yurt but work in metric so to get from feet to metres divide by 3.28 and from metres to feet x3.28).
Why do we find circles so inuitively beautiful? In a 1921 study conducted by the Swedish psychologist Helge Lundholm, subjects were asked to draw lines representing a set of emotional adjectives. While angular lines were used to depict adjectives like hard, harsh and cruel, curved lines were the popular choice for adjectives like gentle, quiet and mild.
And what about the deeper beauty? Once upon a long ago there live Euclid, of Ancient Greece (c. 300BC), who was known as the ‘father of geometry’. His treatise ‘Elements’ is one of the greatest works in the history of mathematics, and is a collection of mathematical definitions, theorems, geometrical constructions, and mathematical proofs. In it he defines a circle as:
Definition 15 (abbreviated): ‘A circle is a figure contained by one line (the circumference) such that the length of all the straight lines (the ‘radii’) falling on it from one point (the ‘centre’) equal one another.
This is a definition as beautifully smile (that should have been ‘simple’ but spellcheck gave me ‘smile’ !) as could be, but mathematicians are extremely subtle and rigorous creatures so it should be noted that a definition such that as this describes what circles ARE, but definitions do not guarantee the existence of the things they define. We won’t however be wandering down that pre-existential corridor here.
From this basic definition, using just Euclid’s ruler and compass one can create endless geometrical beauty. The most basic is the equilateral triangle:
And (once you have constructed a square, also using only ruler and compass – not a trivial thing), we have Square in a Circle. (The lighter lines are construction lines).
And then Square around a Circle
A familiar construction, and ancient symbol, associated with sacred geometry is the seed of life, constructed from overlapping circles, which can be extended infinitely to the flower of life. This symbol has been of particular interest of us as the central structure of our Zodiac Tent, the helix zome, as when looked at from above, you will see the intersecting struts form the flower of life. Here is a blog post from the archives with some references to this.
Then, of course we come to the magical number pi, π, originally defined as the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, it now has various equivalent definitions and appears in many formulas in all areas of mathematics and physics.
Most people know:
C=πD or C=2πR
Less well known is the formula for surface area of a sphere:
And Volume of a sphere is given by
The digits of pi are like gazing into the infinite as it is an infinite series, with no apparent pattern. Infinite series have fascinated mathematicians for centuries.
In 2004 an autistic savant by the name of Daniel Tammet set the record for pi memorization, memorizing 22,514 digits in just over 5 hours. A savant is someone with significant mental abilities, far in excess of average. These people are often defined as having a mental ‘disorder’ such as autism, but I think this definition lacks a magical element, that these people are tapping into a much greater psychic field than is usually accessible. He says he sees the numbers as complex, 3-dimensional landscapes, complete with color, texture, emotion and sound and journeying through this inner landscape, unfolding like a beautiful poem is how he memorises the numbers. I am fascinated by these incredible powers but Tammet explains that the differences between savant and non-savant minds have been exaggerated; autistic thought, he argues, is an extreme variation of a kind of highly rich and complex associative form of thinking and imagination, a kind that we we all use, from daydreaming to the use of puns and metaphors …… maybe if the consensual reality wasn’t as it is, and the education system wasn’t such a sausage factory, and the world was oh so different, more of these magical abilities would emerge, and would become a normal occurence. ‘(If anyone is interested in reading books by Daniel Tammet, who is quite a rare savant with extremely advanced abilities, who is able to describe his inner processes, I can recommend ‘Born on a Blue Day’, ‘Thinking in Numbers: On Life, Love, Meaning and Math’, and ‘Embracing the Wide Sky: A Tour Across the Horizons of the Mind’).
About 10,000 years ago a farming revolution took over the world, in the last decades a lot of amazing work has been done on the subject and the emerging story is that farming did not evolve as a result of need of possibly climate change as was believed before, but in fact it was a revolution of belief, a magical new start.
Behind this new paradigm shift was shamanic voyaging, people that used to gather annually or at intervals, but lived as nomads, and their magical and tribal trance into other realms of awareness is very possibly the very thing that made them come together for longer periods, eventually ending up in sedentary settlements. This is when they gave us farming, they were magicians and they took their magic and invested it in their immediate surrounding, changing the grass seeds that grew in the hills around them to the wheat we eat now, they turned wild animals into domestic cows, sheep and goats.
Now 10,000 year after, we are living on the earth we inherited from them, but we are at a cross road, because in a way we lost the magical world views they had, and the ceremonial, yet we still farm like they did, in fact we did not really change much since, we clear our fields in the way they did, and having no flood plains to count on, we usually artificially or in some better cases, organically fertilise our fields.
Yet 10,000 years of farming, and amassing wealth, and making the land itself more expensive is seeing us at a cross road now, farming is no as sustainable as it was before, and instead of addressing the issue we find technological ways around it. The UK is on the brink of a new countryside policy, which may end up as farmers growing nature instead of food, harvesting carbon emission sinks for people in the cities, and although this is an interesting idea, it leaves little room for the magical farming past of which our life is based in this last epoch.
We have spent years researching a model for sustainable integration between farming, tourism, and country living. I talk to small projects that confront the various issues, to understand how we should farm now, how should we take people into holidays in the countryside, what is the role of the countryside in society, things have changed so much, and yet there is this apathy, the people writing the policies are out of touch, and so those little projects, each working for years in his own sector, like small scale forestry, anthropologists working in abandoned villages in central Europe, farm to table etc etc, those are my idea of the real policy makers.
To help confront this issue in the UK, we are looking to come up with a new integration of our work with farming, that is now our main focus, this means we run a programme that is dedicated to farms, in which we try and design a new type of farming paradigm, where organic food and social innovation come together. We look for farms mainly in rural areas. A lot is changing in the subsidies system, meaning that places that rely heavily on animal stock, may lose all their livelihood, places like mid Wales and the North.
It is no longer an idea but a necessity, farming is becoming more and more so extinct, it has been abused by the ruling class for 10,000 years, so farmers were always poorer, but we never got to a point that they were not needed.
We look for old farms, and small and traditional situations places that may have been sold at auction, with an investor that finds it hard to see how to make money from the farm, hill farms. The idea is to turn those into the new farming revolution, where organic heritage wheat, and forest gardening take place, where sustainble forestry programmes can make the owners a living, and where glamping has a role in integration with it all.
We have spoke with over 200 projects now, so it is obvious that there is a new trend, and that although people are a little confused, there is more and more people interested in turning farming on its head, to come back to peasant farming. If you have this type of farm, or situation and are looking for a new solution please contact us to talk about it.
We can help you set up the glamping part, in some cases we may even be able to take the farm on and develop some of it with you, we work with a list of small companies that make yurts, huts, cabins and more, so where we can not meet demand we can engage others who have similar outlook.
I hope we can take the year 2020 and stop waiting for someone else to make up the policies for us, I hope the farming sector can turn itself on its head, and that we can see a more local economy approach and the return to the magical roots of farming.
This is another chapter from a book I am working on, trying to look at sustainability and Human evolution, over the axis of the nomad and the sedentary. Hope some of you will find it interesting too.
“Some indigenous cultures have divided the human races into this scheme, the black, the red, the yellow and the white, following their respective skin colours.
The agricultural epidemics, as we can call them because they rose from domestication of animals and living with them in close quarters, alongside storage of grain and little sanitation, were in truth the way the European continent placed itself ahead of the other three races, in a conquest of the lands of other peoples, to give itself an economic advantage like no other, it was very convenient thus that the sickness the Europeans were now immune to simply cleared the way, so they can come with little struggle and take the fertile lands from the Australian Aborigines and Native Americans, making them economically more successful then all the other races.
That “white” race, living mainly in Europe, the result of the neolithic revolution. Eventually took over all other races, in the biggest land grab in history, with him he brought the sickness he, was now immune to, arising from living in such close quarters with himself and his animals, his arrival and that sickness alone decimated whole populations, Virgin soil epidemic – it has been coined.
History has been written by Europeans in most cases, but the bitter truth of the conquest of the America, is that biological “warfare” did most of the dirty work, with up to 90% of the population dead from sickness in places in south America.
I feel that the connection to the psychic state that arose in man with his continual move away from the natural is not studied enough, and the link between his state of consciousness and the epidemics that arose around him is not really understood either. There are some really good and interesting works though about the connection of those epidemics and their influence on the social and political lives of neolithic Europeans, and from there all the way to our modern times.
There is a clear direction in the need for expansion by the European race, yet with it we also see a sort of counter force – from the so called neolithic decline, to the conquest of the mongols and the black death, the attempt to expand into Asia in the crusades and further through the conquest of the Americas and the indigenous devastation by epidemics, through those cycles we can try to understand the connection between man, grain, and his psychic states, and possibly gain a little understanding to how nature felt about our actions.
In Ecological Imperialism Alfred W. Crosby takes us step by step through the journey of man and his maladies, starting with the neolithic he later lays some of the the ground work to the conquest of the Americas, in the attempts of the vikings to land in North America, and points to the crusades as the first attempt by Europeans to spread into another continent.
He points out what an important role sickness played in conquest, and how in those earlier stages the European expansion was halted. In the crusades the biological warfare played against the Europeans, because they tried to move into lands that in a sense had immunity to the sickness, as is the case with the middle east, and in the first attempts on North America their supply chains failed, and they simply did not establish themselves long enough for the pathogens they carried to have effect.
But they did not stop there, the goal he puts forth was always for any given civilisation (or race) to establish new colonies of “offshore farms”, so to speak, to further their cause, creating a surplus that can be harvested to their benefit yet outside their own lands, that is the name of the game – surplus, more than is needed.
He explains how they took over both the Americas and Australia, the people of those two land masses were not immune, further still with the first Europeans came their domestic animals, something those land masses did not have, and even their European Flora, resulting in a total Europeanisation of those lands, were domestic cattle and horses now ran wild, among plantain and clover, with dandelion to boot. It was the last step in the Homo sapiens strategy of taking over, resulting in our economical and social systems, and it also drove the nail in the coffin for Man as a wild species.
With the physical ailment aside, there is another sickness that the white man carries, a mental one, maybe even a psychic one.
The spirit of the white man has suffered, to a point that nothing makes sense anymore, he is not tribal, he is not a great family man, he has no beliefs and values, and he does not really know what it is that he is following, constantly in a hurry, but where is he rushing to? Our one way process of domestication of nature, and the take over of the natural, has also left us with its marks, the world around us did not simply give way and accept where we were going, but more than all our spirit has suffered.
Western Society has no guidance, or even an overview, it treats all other aspects of life as lesser than it, possibly as a carry over from domesticating other species, and breaking the value systems and natural cycles in which it lives, I call it the white man’s sickness, but as we can see, the case here is not really of the White race versus other races, because in a sense all of humanity has been at this game at least since the neolithic but if I am correct, much before too, if the Clovis civilisation have brought down the big mammals in north America, and the Australian Aborigines did the same some 30,000 years ago in Australia, all the races of Homo Sapiens were always engaged similarly from the start, and of course let us not forget the way other human forms have gone extinct around us, like Homo Erectus, the Neanderthals, the Denisovans.
So we can see that Man has always been on this journey, or at least that it is what they ended up with.
Yet the Europeans were the best, or most ruthless at their game.
All those changes, the advent of farming, and living in one place, called for a new belief systems, and religious aspects that governed those respectfully, this tells us that Man had started with a belief in a higher power, and kept trying to bring that power along with him through his experimentation, the sense of power that came from modifying nature to suit him, turned soon to social systems and religious constructs, which were but a justification for another step away from the natural connection, almost a justification for being allowed to carry on in that way, like a new political power.
It seems to me that in this voyage of progress, we have broken every natural law, but through this journey we can see this white race, looking around almost in fear of retribution, trying to gauge if this systematic take over will be allowed, or will he be struck down in any given moment for breaking down everything that stands true and natural, we can see it in the religious beliefs of tribal godhead, or we can see it in Ver Sacrum, a tribal ritual practiced by Italian tribes when they suffered defeat or sickness offering their young to the gods. Trying to appease some larger force, and cleansing their own tribe from calamity as if they knew they took a wrong turn and they needed to appease the gods, in that we can see that the European white race, did not always felt like it can simply do whatever it wished, it felt a sense of wrong in his actions, as we changed our beliefs we kept looking up, wondering if someone will notice what we were doing, a sense of wrong maybe haunted us.
Yet through this constant breaking down of belief and value systems, the only real constant was the move on, to taking more control, by caring less, not so long in the past, before waging war, the oracles will be consulted, the oracle itself was still a living link to the belief in natural powers, the trance emitting gasses that came from lower strata was seen as the voice of the goddess of the underworld, Mefitis – an Italian Goddess of the foul smelling waters, giving the Sybil messages in a sulphuric induced trance, so we can see man did not just stop to care, and he did not divorce his connection to nature and “higher powers” all in one go, it was a process.
Obviously it was not just a clear line, because as humans we lack an overview over our march through the ages, we can not see man moving away from the natural system systematically, yet raising his head to ask the gods above and below if they approve, from time to time humanity will be almost struck down from the earth, the black plague carried to Europe by rat fleas, the second pandemic as its called, because an earlier one struck the Roman empire.
It was said to have originated in a mongol attack on the city of Caffa in 1345, in what we can consider the first ever biological warfare, the mongols who became afflicted with the black death threw the infected bodies of their soldiers over the city walls, the Italians have fled, but unknowingly brought the plague with them to Europe.
The Italian novelist Giovanni Boccaccio, whose father and stepmother died of plague, wrote that “its victims ate lunch with their friends and dinner with their ancestors in paradise.”
As a psycho mythological narrative we see the pastoral nomads throwing back the epidemic that has risen with the neolithic revolution, back at the furthest outpost of what is now sedentary Europe, as if the pastoral nomads are raising a question of it being a valid way of life, and in the process of answering that question, half of the Europeans had to die.
We see that our pathogens and parasites have played a more important part than we did in the take over that resulted in the Europeanisation of the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand, so in a sense we used the same trick employed by the mongols to conquer on. But what was our story with the sickness before we just learned to use it on others, what is our sickness?
If we can view the physical body as a hologram for human awareness, and so the affected part standing symbolically for the function that they perform, in this narrative of the plague, we can also view the larger body of man and its progress through civilisation as a hologram too, in which our choices gave rise to symptoms that attack our plural being, it is the story of the way we live.
I would like to take this a step further, and argue that everything in nature is connected, just as we feel things ourselves, everything around us does, in fact some organisms around are possibly more affected, so I am putting forward this notion, that the unnatural move of man away from the connected state with everything else in nature, and bending it to his will, affected the smallest organisms around us, simply because they mutated when a sort of equilibrium that was broken, to a point that they became deadly to us, so saying that our epidemics were not just symbolical to our hologram they were directly affected by us, in order to directly affect us.
We have to raise this question, of the relation of sickness and the consciousness of man, just as we saw with the conquest of the new world by the Spanish through disease, we see the mongol horde taking over the European world in a blatant act of biological warfare, as if they are throwing the mutated state of life back into the European court, no one wants to deal with the issue it seems, being sedentary gave rise to some strange plagues, we never suffered from before, and being pastoral nomads was not the answer either. It seems we chose not to deal with the question but just use the problem on other races, specifically because they did not have the same issues.
So maybe the pastoral nomad invasions of the Mongols did not carry the answer for the European continent, stopping as it did on the shores of the Danube, it seems that the long unconscious debate of Man and his way of life, the hunter gatherers and the sedentary, raised its head again, this time it was the pastoral nomads, a strange mix of domestication and nomadism, as if taking from both worlds was a carrier of the sickness, a people still not immune.
although as we will see it was not the root of it.
I would say that with the neolithic we entered a new phase of our evolution, and its magic was the cultivation of the immediate ecology around us through farming. There were places and times when this approach of being sedentary custodians of the earth seemed to have worked, and even enhance the natural world around us, the Amazon forest is arguably a man made forest, we changed ecological systems not always in ways that degraded them, because at times we enhanced them, and so could possibly have been the case in the Epoch preceding, before we were magical farmers, or at least before we learned how we can be magical farm and chose to ignore it. In that time before we could have been magical hunters, and so we see that through the ages, those two modes of living play with us, in a sort of recurring myth that comes to haunt us, and ask us, how we should live?
Yersinia pestis, the plague-causing bacterium displays many irregularities due to genetic exchange with other microorganisms, and many of its genes appear to have been acquired from other bacteria and viruses, it is as if someone tried to genetically engineer the most proficient biological weapon, it plagued Europe for years, going dormant with the fleas in winter, and coming back in spring killing an estimate of 75-200 million people in the whole of Eurasia, so it is clear that the neolithic did not leave us without mark, it was not just a quiet revolution in which we changed our own nature and the animals around us, it almost wiped us out over and over.
In a paper called – Genome sequence of Yersinia pestis, the causative agent of plague we read – “Many genes seem to have been acquired from other bacteria and viruses (including adhesins, secretion systems and insecticidal toxins). The genome contains around 150 pseudogenes, many of which are remnants of a redundant enteropathogenic lifestyle. The evidence of ongoing genome fluidity, expansion and decay suggests Y. pestis is a pathogen that has undergone large-scale genetic flux and provides a unique insight into the ways in which new and highly virulent pathogens evolve.”
So if we argue that genetic mutation has always played a role over the affairs of man, what is rarely looked at is the possibility of human consciousness affecting it directly, maybe genetically mutated bacteria is a sort of psychic footprint of the psyche of man mutating, when it broke away from the natural, the natural broke apart around him.
In Ecological imperialism Crosby says, that pathogens went from domestic animals to infect the humans that lived with them and back again as an explanation, but like always science seems to just outline the symptoms.
What could have given rise to those strange mutations in Yersinia Pestis, is it simply an opportunistic pathogen? for it to suddenly become the political and social game changer? We can come up with more questions, because here again like we saw in wheat, genetic mutation seems to play a strange role, this time it is harder for us to argue that it has happened simply because of us selecting grain in the field, the mutation seems to have risen by itself, yet had very devastating consequences over our lives, I feel that we constantly miss that the way our awareness is held modulates reality around us, we explain the symptoms rationally, and seem to ignore the whole story line, the question is what did this sickness come to tell us, what was it trying to stop us from doing?
Yersinia pestis, was not a new bacteria, the closest strain we have to the genetic origin of Y. pestis, was found in the remains of a 20-year-old woman who died approximately 5,000 years ago in Sweden, Simon Rasmussen
and a team of researchers have argued that it possibly arose in the “mega settlements” of neolithic Europe, so here again, we see it as a mutation that arose from farming, and becoming sedentary – the black death was the sickness we got when we stopped moving, a sickness that tried to kill us and that way of living. The mongols did not give it to us, they were just passing it back to us over the wall, throwing it back into our courts, because it was us who developed it first.
“These mega-settlements were the largest settlements in Europe at that time, ten times bigger than anything else. They had people, animals, and stored food close together, and, likely, very poor sanitation. That’s the textbook example of what you need to evolve new pathogens,” .
He also says, “We think our data fit. If plague evolved in the mega-settlements, then when people started dying from it, the settlements would have been abandoned and destroyed. This is exactly what was observed in these settlements after 5,500 years ago. Plague would also have started migrating along all the trade routes made possible by wheeled transport, which had rapidly expanded throughout Europe in this period,”.
Nature was simply not having it. Rasmussen further says – “We often think that these super pathogens have always been around, but that’s not the case,” he says. “Plague evolved from an organism that was relatively harmless. More recently, the same thing happened with smallpox, malaria, Ebola, and Zika. This process is very dynamic — and it keeps happening. I think it’s really interesting to try to understand how we go from something harmless to something extremely virulent.”.
I feel like we were ignoring the elephant in the room, maybe we are missing the point that we are being killed by the first degree of separation, a way of being is becoming deadly to us over and over again, and over the same issue. Does that not tell us something? Like I said it is a little hard to explain that it is in fact much simpler story, and sickness does not mutate symbolically around our way of living to tell us something, it mutates around our own mutations, the way we live and think, when we step out of a certain state of living, we affect the organisms around us, sometimes we get mutations as “benefits” like being able to domesticate wheat to wait for us in the field, and have docile animals we can raise inside fenced areas, and at other times, we get retribution, telling us that we have stepped out of the natural and that the natural is coming to force and stop us.
Because we do not listen, we have became orphaned from the system of values and beliefs that governed the natural world, from our own feelings and thoughts, and all the calamity in the world seems to have no affect over us, because with hundred years of mini ice age, and up to 200 million dead, I would thought someone should have asked the question? was this farming revolution really going the right way? its effects have haunted and enslaved us, creating killer epidemics, but instead of stopping to take stock, we became immune, to the sickness itself, and with it to the issue it raised with us about our life choices.
With becoming immune physically we also seem to have become immune to our emotional and mental sickness, our psychic malady.
In one brilliant swoop (that said, tongue in cheek) we turned all of our issues on the remaining races around us, turning the most severe biological and psychological warfare on them, to gain their fertile lands, to create more surplus, and eventually to effect the same psychic immunity to being connected, which they still were.
So this is the white mans sickness.
Man used to be telepathic, he knew that the voices he shared inside his head were simply the voices of the people around him, or further still the voice of the creator himself, nature used to talk to him whenever he quietened down his own thoughts, the rise of thoughts and feelings in us, must have been at some point a simple connection to everything else, we can hear voices in our heads, and feel things from outside us, the two biggest traits we have, seem to devoid of a function currently, what was the pragmatic value of their emergence in us? Early man thought differently to us, he was obsessed with sorcery, and the weather control, he could see the energetic lines of the world, and reach to grab them, through them he can affect reality around him, but that in a mutable way that was simply part of his envioerment, that is possibly the distinction, being mutable, he allowed him self to be formed and changed by all of creation around, he was part of the eco-system.
I have portrayed all of this journey simply to point our connection to nature, to showcase that some meta-consciousness seem to have a say about our actions, in a simple and often very loud narrative in which , feelings and the weather, and sickness and our destiny all have a simple storyline. It points to our origins as a sentient part of the envioerment, we have had the tools to shape nature around us, and we still do.
We have the inner workings of a magician, but we seem to prefer to ignore them, questions arise about the way we live, but not wanting to try and answer them, we simply push them to the courts of people living more sustainably, and thus killing their connection to nature, so now no one can point a finger at us and say something has gone wrong, yet because we are genetically designed as part of nature, we also suffer.
Tracing the connection we have with nature, is a little harder, because the belief we affect the elements like that is very forgotten in us, so I tried to follow through elements which are more tangible to us, our crops, and our epidemics,
but there is a story in the way the weather changes globally and how it affected us, and in a way that if we could have traced it instead would have been the best marker. Unfornotely it feels like I would be no too much of a limb trying to portray it, but I will get back to it with regards to how earlier man viewed things.
I argue that it is possible we do not understand our place in the natural envioerment, I believe that a primal state of being, was one in which we affected the weather through our feelings, and our way of life was carried in a sort of inner state of meditation, in which we communicated with every aspect of creation, we could speak to the trees, and we could talk to the animals, not in words, because no words were needed, and thoughts if they arose were directly connected to the reality around us, It points out to me that man had a very different place in creation, one more akin to a warden, a caretaker. And somehow through the last Epoch starting at the younger dryas we lost that place, and with it the ability, or maybe as I suggested we started losing it much before then, when we chose to cull the mythical mammals around us.
With all this ability, we could have and still can create a paradise for us and every other being, we can cultivate nature through harmony, and meditation, in many times in out past as humans we did, but that immunity we gained to feeling every part around us, to the pain that we cause, have wiped all those attempts globally.
We have spoken about mutants, and I called them that, because it seems easier for the main body of society to accept that Human divergency is a mutation, rather than a mutation is having a constant dopamine levels and the way our brain chemistry seems to have adjusted to a “stable” sense of identity, giving rise to a crazy status quo, in which we do not get affected or move with any natural flow, our hard gained immunity, because that is also a mutation, meaning that being unaffected as we are, is actually a modern state of awareness one that has mutated from being connected.
leaving some strange features in us, like thoughts and feelings without a clear function, we can see the simple steps and journey we took there, and we see in the symbolic rise or the holographic information that our epidemics tried to convey to us, yet we ignored, until we reach psychic immunity, which we turned on the rest of Humanity, taking out those that were not immune, those who still felt the pain, and having killed 90% of them as we did in the Americas we ended up with this state of affairs, in which we cant even remember that we are connected to everting.
Once upon a time we were magicians, and we made decisions, we decided one day to control nature, and bend it to our will, it did not just happen because we started farming, plants did not simply obey us, because we continuously selected them in our fields, we had power as part of nature, and we directed it our way. So starting 11,000 years ago, choosing most of the foods we still eat, and made them available to us in a domesticated form, that was possibly the largest decision we made as humans. And it must have been a magical decision, back then when we still had power, was it the correct decision? it seemed that the natural cycles that revolve around us were affected in such terrible ways as if they tried to point to us it was deadly, but we seemed to have lost the capacity to understand sickness as a message, and chose to ignore the weather patterns, we thought we can choose for ourselves.
There is a divide in historical science which is called the Neolithic, as if one day when we chose to live in one place, or developed the technology to farm, we became advanced, that move is seemingly so monumental that it has been suggested by some, that an older civilisation that survived the climax of the younger dryas, came over and taught us, the hunter gatherers, its magic, and his claim is substantiated by many of our earlier mythologies.
What I find hard with all of those theories is that we treat the hunter gatherers as some kind of primitive man with no clue, the Natufians were genetically identical to us, meaning they had exactly the same capacity that we have.
Yet they lived in a much slower world, and as such had much more time and connection with nature, and maybe actually man was just the same when he was a hunter, a magical hunter willing to take on the mythical giants that still roam the earth just before he became a magical farmer, and though the Jury is out on the overkill theory, it seems very clear that wherever man went death followed.
We have forgotten what happened before the younger dryas, as if in every epoch humanity goes through a reset, and the world is destroyed, the Hopi Indians say that the world was destroyed a few times before, and that every time Man’s connection with the creator became lesser, and that is possibly the case with us now, we lost our connection.
I have dedicated my life to working with those I called mutants because for one reason or another they are still open, they are not as painful or false, and they still affect reality around them, so in other words they are still connected, they still have the ability to work with their feelings and inner processes, because they have not opted out, or for some reason they couldn’t.
I believe its our natural state, but obviously like any other species there are divergent strands in humans, and so some of those are born with new capabilities that are meant to help us onwards, adaptations, yet a big part of them are simply not as sick as the rest of us, they are still open, it is us that forgot how to perform magic, that got stuck. Try to explain why 11,000 years ago we made all the political choices that still rule all of our lives, and why we cant make any new ones, because the power of decisions is also a power we lost.
It took guts to wake up one day and say, “enough! we are taking over nature. What is striking to me is that we don’t make any new decisions anymore, we simply plough on, or we simply plough our fields on, we argue about climate change, as if we are disturbed that we seem to be affecting nature, with the technological manipulations that are at the end of our fingerprints I am astounded we still live the same life style, in our man made caves, we can engineer the weather now, why do we even need central heating? We can directly choose the genes to manipulate to achieve any result we choose, why don’t we have the guts to change nature further? and why not simply sort the ecological issues around us through the same means?
So our ancestors have made the last real decision about our lives, they chose to bend nature to their convenience, and from then on we just plough on. We can produce our food much more efficiently now, but instead of just eating and focusing on other things, which would be the rational conclusion, we got trapped in a game of storing wealth, or units of efficiency away, billions are stored in banks, for what end? a big part of our society is in still the same basic shape they were for the last 10,000 years. Where is the progress?
The truth is that through domestication we have become a feeble race, it is not that the Natufians were better, they were just a wilder, earlier version of us, and they chose to magically bind nature in a spell. We lack the guts and now also, the magic.
I study secret human mechanics, I call it secret because no one else really talks about it, so my life has had endless stream of the unexplainable and the magical in it, miracles are the stuff of the everyday, yet I don’t think that its because anything out of the ordinary takes place, its totally natural. I work with normal people, who seem to discover telepathy with very little effort, they can feel others from half across the globe, they can make things happen around them, yet they suffer with those abilities. I would like us to wake up and find a way to live in a non-wealth-accumulating society, where everyone can simply be provided for collectively, and I would like to stop paying tax, but the biggest questions that face us as a race, are not really my main concern. My concern is our magical abilities, but maybe after all that is the only real issue.”