The Benandati, a medieval class war.

Carlo Ginzburg who won the Balzan price for his work, was a young man in Napoli, who had an insight moment where he decided on two things concurrently, he will become an historian, and his subject would be witchcraft.

Eventually he found himself in Venice, where he started researching anything he could find on witchcraft, playing what he called “the Venice Roulette”, because he could only ask for 4 volumes a day. He found transcripts from the Witch trials of the 16th and 17th century, on which he based his amazing book The Night Battles, and in a sense he opened up to the world a forgotten layer of peasant farming beliefs, starting a small movement in similar works, by Eva Pocs, Julian Goodare and others.

His (re)discovery of a forgotten stream of shamanic threads in the northern Italian province of Friuli (across the border from Slovenia) focused on the peculiar case of the Benandati (good walkers), who came to light of the inquisition through the witch trials, the inquisitors he showed did not know what to make of the night visions, and journeys of the Benandatis, who claimed to be a counter force to witches.

To become a Benandati one had to be born with a caul (the birth membrane) which still in some parts of rural Italy is said to be a sign of good fortune, ‘nascere con la camicia’ meaning to be born clothed. The benandati themselves referred to it as being born under the sign, which the inquisitors found a little hard to understand at times being from a different class. Those born under the sign were called to go and fight the witches, they would leave their bodies and go to the meadow of jehoshaphat, where they would fight the witches, the Benandati would arm themselves with stalks of fennel and the witches with sorghum.

The trials are very interesting first because the existence of a whole strata of people within a region who were born to dream a certain dream, and that they all entered into that dream together, in fact their first entry into that dream would take place when another Benandati would come and take them to the night battle, on Thursdays of the Amber days, which are set for fasting and prayer in each of the four seasons of the year.

Both the witches and the benandati on trial reported the very same scene, and the same battle, although each had a very different story about how he came to get there, and what happened to him in that place, but the vision themselves were homogeneous.

Carlo Ginzburg noted that the upper class found it very hard to deal with the belief of the peasants, and in truth let some of the cases go amiss as they could not believe the tales and visions shared. He took a further step and described the whole saga and the trials as a sort of class war in which the beliefs and creativity of the peasants were banned by an upper class that could not make sense of them. Instances like an inquisitor asking one of the Benandati why did he go, and him replying that he was taken because he was born under the sign, to which the inquisitor replied, every man has a free will. The Benandati, being from the unreflective class as Carlo puts it, did not share that notion, for him he was the continuous link with an age old oral tradition in which those born under the sign, must go into the night battle dream.

The night dream battle of the Benandati versus the witches

The beauty of the idea that up to the 17th century peasants had a whole strata of folklore and night journeys, shared dreaming voyages and “games” as they called them where men and women would fight each other with the stakes being the next year harvest, calling in storms and enjoying themselves in ways that were increasingly deemed demonic (a lot of which involved the devil). Later on other Historians and researchers like Eva Pocs from Hungary found similar threads in the beliefs of Hungarian people, Serbian and Bulgarians. Weather Shamans, as the Hungarian Ta’ltos who had helpers in a so called Dragon woman, similarly sharing dream scapes and influencing the weather.

They reported dreams in which they had entered and fought over the weather front with another weather shaman, sometimes in the form of a dragon, in fact the dragon motif probably emerged through those practices rather than other mythology. The difference is that they entered a certain dream with only one other “shaman” in those weather dreams, and in the night battles, or for the witches the “Sabbath” they entered the dream en masse.

The witch trials and the inquisition were means Carlo Ginzburg argued by the upper class who no longer lived in nature to curb the notions of a people who still practiced a natural life, in fact any people living with nature to some degree still share those type of notions, from weather control, to shared dreaming. And it could be argued further that the fact no one practices those type of activities is simply because they were banned through religion of a people that no longer lived immersed in nature and could not understand the rural logic anymore.

Our current understanding of magic, and rural areas, is in fact lacking in a central myth. People spend a life time working to construct community, as I have done, finding that project after project, and more so in rural areas, lack something, a core. To me that core is magical creativity of a people, and their connection to the land, so imagine the peasants of Northern Italy going into dreaming together, and working their local weather systems, fighting each other for the next years harvest, by following oral traditions that possibly were not just localised but shared by everyone in Europe, even if they were not connected, meaning in a way that those belief systems and practices are a core practice for any rural people.

The interesting thing is that the rural landscape also have become abandoned as a continuation of the same logic, and our own view of, what in truth should be termed, ‘Rurality’ are still the very same notions of the inquisitors from an upper class, living in castles and cities, meeting the peasant folk who still lived on the land, with their tales of magical gusts of winds, witchcraft, magic, and even night battles. We treat farming and community in the same way.

If you really manage to grasp the scope of a traditional way of life in nature, in which people have practiced dreaming together, and games with which they played with the weather and next years harvest, the magical folk being divided into a male/female grouping, or good versus bad, teams as if they were playing bingo, even if the lines between witch and Benandati were not all too clear, and eventually through the guidance of the inquisition itself have come to be seen all together as witchcraft, all bundled together and forbidden, following later into a mental framework shift and eventually to the abandonment of the countryside, and its turning into estates, through the enclosure act in the UK, but through similar processes in other European countries.

If you understand the scope of an economic system being built away from the people, and their practices being forbidden, step by step, circular economy and even village life were abandoned, to feed a globalised system that we have today, one that was never needed by peasants, as in fact most of them grew all they ever needed.

Taking away the religious aspect, we have up to the 17th century in Europe a connection to an art that people living on the earth practiced in every indigenous society, meaning that any people who live a truly rural life, have come up with the very same notions, and “magical” abilities, and in a way we can simply argue that the fact we do not share those beliefs is simply because no one lives in rural areas in connection with true nature, because the few that do, live in some kind of agriculturally altered countryside, and so the connecting myths and the central pillar of the community is always lacking, but saying this is not taking it far enough, it is not lacking, it is banned from existing. That is why it is a class war, where the countryside is simply used as a resource to create bigger farms and estates, which have never been sustainable even with technological farming methods.

The funny thing is that our own notions are of the Italian (or an European) upper class, and we too no longer believe that shared dreams are possible, or that the Benandati and the witches can go and meet in a dream meadow and fight each other to decide next year’s crop. We do not believe in mystical gusts of wind, or that certain mountains stage wars with the hills next to them, that some people control the weather, and so much more, yet the magical is only actually, truly, a reflection of the rural, and in a sense was always the centre of the community, I will try to write another entry, about why the people “born under the sign” were always referred to as – Good neighbours, Good Patrons (another name for the famous “women of the outside” in Sicily), or the Good Walkers in the case of Benandati. People born this way, could in our time be called, Autistic, or suffering from ADHD, sometimes maybe diagnosed with schizophrenia because we have no other means to understand the things they see, yet once in the not very long ago, they had a central role in an rural area, the one of creating the central body of the myth, or in other words they made the tribe, or the village. Which is why possibly they were referred to as Good neighbours, taking into consideration that the population knew they could affect things around them for both good or bad.

I for once would say that with living real natural context, all of those notions and world view points arise by themselves, yes they are built in through society too, as the belief of being born with a caul and it being an un refutable sign that must have taken centuries if not millennia to from into a such a belief, coming like Carlo argues through millennia of shamanism and lore, and possibly resembles a pre civilisation core that still existed in European societies from times before farming, passed down through oral societies, and replaced by scripture of the upper class.

The Benandati were convinced of their errors just like the witches were, some were burned, some jailed and a lot have just petered away, even if those notions still exist in rural Italy, and I would say the difference is that in those areas people still to a degree live with nature, their land is not always agricultural, it is peasantry in the middle of pure nature, and so rurality is a meeting point, in which magic to some degree still takes place, a magic we can no longer conceive because we either live in agricultural land (managed nature) or cities where none exist, and so we too have forgotten that the magical world view is in truth just the natural one, we think that the weather just happens and we think that dreams, weird as they are just a private matter.

That border line between the upper class and peasants is actually a barrier in our own conceptuality, in order to see things different we must at one point in our lives experience life in totally wild nature, and I do not mean a trip to the mountains, even if that can help, but living in such a place where rurality is still practiced, and if possible by a people who lived in that way for a long time, allowing them to create a central myth, which I have come to understand the missing glue for modern society.

Living in Central Italy has brought me face to face with a lot of this, in truth at times I feel like some witches I know fight with me over my heritage wheats fields, as some of the natural disasters that happen can not be simply put to climate change, but yet again I feel we all take the point of view of the inquisitor, and the real spectrum and folklore of the peasantry is now lost in our minds, we stopped waking up at night like rural people would in Europe, and go into a power dream, we stopped playing night battles with each other.

Imagine whole groups of people who shared dreaming games 4 times a year, to such a degree that some have reported 5000 people meeting on that plain, and funny enough, those “Anti-Withces” all agreed on the Thursday night, even if they lived hundreds of kilometres away from each other, as Friuli and Sicily of Middle Ages, at least to me, should not have been socially connected. Compare that with watching Netflix. If anything I would recommend you read the Night Battles by Carlo Ginzburg, for getting a little glimpse of the real Italian imagination and folklore that has been lost now, and maybe to get a glimpse of why we restrict a lot of the magical, the imaginary and the natural in modern society. Why Globalisation has killed circular economies, why farming is a monoculture, and why society has lost most of its biodiversity to a degree that any other trait but being totally imagination-less is deemed a problem. Once you realise it is all part of the same parcel, and that the only way out of it is discovering our magical selves again, nothing will look the same.

A countryside revolution

I am becoming an expert on heritage wheats, almost a collector. People like owning things, I want to find the centre thread that holds the Holocene together. I think it is an old wheat variety. 

Farming and cultivation followed a path through the neolithic revolution, or conquest maybe we should call it, of Europe. 

We see the past as some golden age, but this is only because we are genetically designed to remember the last layers, the past is not golden, it is just the last steps, not very different from the present, and if we manage not to destroy the world, possibly not too different from the future. 

I believe there is a thread going through all of this, one central wheat variety, probably a Durum wheat, one that was taken out of Israel, like me, taken out of where it grew. I want to find this wheat. 

Heritage wheat is a new market, I predict it is going to be an explosion in the UK, once the public realises what heritage wheat actually is, in short it is any wheat grown before the green revolution, before we bred wheats, when we were still peasant farmers, and we selected and grown wheats in the same place for thousands of years. Again let us not get confused with the past being golden, it is just the past. Peasant farmers are just like us, they also grew wheats from other places if they could get them, they also lost some old varieties at times like we do.

Solina wheat of Abruzzo I say, could have been the modern wheat of roman times, now it is one of the most bio-diverse oldest bread wheats in the world. It is just a story of the new bread wheat of the romans, the white grain, taken by someone to the mountains, and it being locked there, turning into a special mountain landrace; simply because that is where it was grown. 

In a sense there is no past, there are just stories, of the present that happened to people before us, making the same mistakes, older wheats are their mistakes, and modern wheat is ours. 

In all of this there is a magical thread, which is a story line, I try to trace it to the first Durum wheat, after Emmer, but before bread wheat. A moment in time, a business plan. 

In my mind it could be a story of the tribe of Dan, argued by some historian theories to have been part of the mysterious sea people alliance, together with the Sherden of Sardinia, an alliance of sea pirates no one could defeat. I would try to trace that Durum wheat following their foot steps, possibly as some forgotten variety that is still grown in Sardinia. To isolate it I need to find some university that can compare the DNA of older varieties, some I am working to source from a friend in Israel, and others from small, amazing projects in Italy, People who have worked hard to find the older varieties. 

People like to own things and heritage wheats, especially now we all understood that those have a market, and are in fact a sort of a gold mine, are becoming like possessions. I have many issues with the way landraces are protected, making them possible to only grow in one location. Landraces have adapted to a land, that is true, but they also came to that land form another in most cases. I am not looking to own wheat, I am looking to find the original story, the golden thread, which possibly was never golden, it is just a story of the first wheat taken out of Israel to Italy. 

Life revolves around cogs, unseen fabric. Most of the time we do not think about what moves us, what makes us do things. There is one sack of wheat that has changed Europe, and seeing I have to now smuggle some of the wheats I work with, I sympathise with the sea pirates. Wheat for both of us is an after thought, we went away from where we lived, but we could not leave our wheat behind, I understand their logic. I am back in Wales, but there is no way I can eat plastic bread. 

Our Idea of the countryside, of farming, even the economy is all the same, it follows stories, it seems as if we make those stories up, I think that in truth, in most cases, those stories make us.

The countryside is a business plan, farmers have to be poor so we can all eat, wheat is the core of that business plan, but it is just a model, a link that ties us to the earth. 

What I want is to find the original wheat, the one that we wrote the business plan with, I want to own it and with it change the way we work the countryside, I want to start a revolution.

People who start revolutions, usually inflame people with an idea, a return to the past, sprinkle catchy slogans on the top, and you have a winning formula. I want to start a different revolution one that means we have to think about the countryside. This is why I need the original wheat, it is like the programming language, the HTML so to speak, I want to find it so we can write in code.

To start a revolution in which we take control of the countryside, we will need to understand cultivation as an economic plan, the problem with affecting change, is that we all live in an economic system, and whatever you do you can never escape it. I love the romance of people who try to drop off the rat race, who farm off grid, who travel without money. Whilst we will away in romance, the economic plan is tightening around us. 

You can no longer park your van in a lay-by and seeing that I lived like that for 10 years, I find that very offensive, I want the freedom to live in a lay-by, or better still park anywhere. Laws are tightening up. Countries are falling one by one into an order. No more free travel, no more romance, no off-grid farms. 

So if we want a revolution, if we want freedom, we need to make it an economic plan, and we need a sword, we need to be like the Sherden people, like some sea gypsies, pirates carrying a sack of Durum wheat, horns on our helmets, and bronze shields, and a sack of golden wheat.

I have tried to lead people into another way of life, for over 20 years, I taught them whether control, a simpler life, community,  nomadic love even. I have come to realise that all of our grass root revolution ideas, fall down to the ground, because we have to follow an economic plan. There is no way we can have a community in the modern world, we either become small scale poor farmers, or we have to be corporations.

The revolution I would like to see is a countryside revolution.

I have come back to Wales, to the UK. 

Everything was faster, it all works, but no one has a plan, they are just rushing to make money, a new world of healthier foods, of yoga and wellness, is just a symptom of a society that has lost its roots, looking for an ethos to follow, an American dream. 

The problem, is that we do not have a design plan, not for farming, not for the economy, we do not look at the whole story, we don’t understand what we eat, and why we eat it, we are stuck in a cycle of cultivation, and we remember the past, but only the last layers, we can not see the whole picture, and we do not know where we are going. 

The picture however is not very complicated, it is the same picture we have been looking at for 10,000 years. Wheat. Fields and farmers, making surplus. Surplus building larger society and supply chains, and making off-shore farms. Once you farm elsewhere, the countryside becomes an estate that you do not have to farm yourself. The goal of any business plan, or so my to-be, business coach was telling me, is to have the business operating without you. 

Fuck me!. A revolution is called for, first because we need to free the lay-bys, second because people who have left their businesses, now own all the land, and none of us are farmers because we get our food from off-shore farms, I know because I am growing heritage wheats for the UK, but in Italy. Italy is poor so we could live a richer life in the UK.

When European countries went to conquer their off shore farms, Italy did very poorly for itself, whilst Great Britain got India, whilst it developed North America, Italy got Somalia. Thus modern day economics is also just an echo of yesterday’s business plan. 

The divide between the the serf and the feudal lord though, is something that Italy has kept very small scale, and for that I love it. In a sense it is still feudal, especially in the mountains. We all have learnt to see feudalism as the root of all evil, but I do not agree, in a sense small scale administrations, small barons that love an area and its people, living in a small castle or a mountain hinting villa, are much closer to the land. Italy of the mountains is one of my love affairs. 

I have come to it with modern ideas, and it thought me some old ones, I asked my self – how come there is no design plan for rural areas, why are we left to invent it, whilst government is bearing hard, looking for some economic gold in the mountains, luckily Italy of the mountain has no gold, no industry. So it was no longer developed. Its last design plan, its last economic plan was the feudal system. 

It got me thinking of a way we can manage the country side again, because in truth the bigger the divide between the serf and the feudal lord, the harder it is to develop an area. 

Was small scale baronial lands such a bad idea? 

The castle of Roccascalegna overlooking the land

Hierarchy, it is argued, started with sedentary lifestyles, tribes needed a leader, society broke into specialists, fed by farmers, who by default had to always be the lowest strata. Values were designed that way, and they still are, so more of us can eat without working the land. 

The problem is that through this business plan, we lost the means to design areas, to tailor them to their own nature. Now every place needs to look the the same, some large wheat fields, smaller crops of pulses, a few orchards, and some farms with sheep, cows and pigs. 

This has worked well everywhere, except in the mountains.

As my business coach was going to tell me, if I would have hired her, the goal is to have your business running without you, that is a successful business. I am a small business owner so I can agree, if it can operate without me I can do so much more. The problem is that I love being part of my business, I said at the start, that if we are going to go into the system and make money, we have to make something real, something people can use.

My goal is not to leave my business, my goal is to start a revolution of rural design, I want to be me, and I want you to be you, and please do not try to be me. 

The issue currently is very simple, we followed the rule of making surplus, and turning the countryside into two large sections, estates and off-shore farms. This could have worked if we had endless earth to develop, it is a nomadic business plan, it came from hunter gatherers, who used to exploit an area in a maximum yield strategy, their genius was that they kept on moving, and there were only a few of them, so the impact was very little. The problem was that they were very successful, and they carried that plan into sedentary lifestyles. 

Because I see myself as a nomad, I always asked myself some of the same questions as they must have done. As a business owner, It would have been much better for me to stay in one place, to grow bigger. I find it hard to stay too long in one place, things become stale, relationships, ideas, feelings. 

I used to think I am strange, but I have come to understand, that we are all like that, that everything we aspire for, is in truth, nomadic; high yields, love, rich food, quick gains, travel, new sights. Business is a nomadic design plan, because only a hunter gatherer could see the land in that way, quick gains, and exploitation only work for someone who comes to a place, and reaps the cream from the top. Once you have to stay in a place you need to develop more sustainable mechanisms. 

So, land ownership, cultivation, farming, and business are all caught in this age long saga, the stories of the sea gypsies, coming to a new land to develop it, carrying their wheat with them. 

The world in the last 50 years has followed a strange pattern, it was all grabbed for quick returns, in a flurry that peaked two hundred years, and bit by bit, undeveloped countries as they are called, liberated themselves form the yoke of the so called “developers”. You would think they will go back to some earlier or traditional sense of life, but instead they too rush to grab the same business plan, to try and develop themselves as off shore farms, to get someone else to do the farming. Quick or large gains, or any country that is now “rich” is just a story of those last 200 years, an equation of how many places it exploited. No one is better, because in a sense we are all part of this system, of trying to exploit nature for quicker gains, we are all stuck somewhere on the ladder, be it top or bottom, trying to climb up. 

Nomads, who I always like to associate myself with, have given us notions that do not really work well in a sedentary lifestyle. True love is a high yield strategy. Hunting and eating all the animals around themselves is what got hunter gatherers to settle. Scientists still argue about the overkill theory. I think that from a natural point of view, it is obvious that fauna and flora, are parts and parcel of each other, there can be so many grazers as there is grass, so many predators as there are grazers. Upset this formula, even a little bit, and the balance breaks down. 

Obviously it is not sustainable for us to eat meat, yet I think high meat diet is what gave us all those aspirations, all the magic, the rituals we are obsessed with…… smoked brisket, we still haven’t changed. We want true love and high magic, and we all want it, together at the same time. around the same fire so to speak. 

In truth all we have right now, is the last remaining strands, a business plan made by nomads, that is collapsing because there is no place for quick gains left, there are no offshore farms, even though we can rely on Italian farmers for a while longer because they are poor. We can convince other countries that they too want to develop, but as they come late into the game, it is just a way we trick them to farm for us, now we can not simply go to their country and enslave them anymore, there are no winners, we are all on the conveyor belt rushing to try and go up the ladder, but it is going nowhere. 

The answer is a rural area design revolution, or maybe a devolution, a retraction into smaller units. 

Deeper relationships between man and the environment, a slower love, a deeper one. All we really need is to stop trying to escape our own business, we need to learn to love being in them. We need to make the countryside meaningful again, I laugh at the fact some of the largest estates in Europe were bought by millionaires, who made their money from a system that exploited everything, but are now rewilding their massive plots of land, because they want to go back to a natural sense, to give something back, or simply because they like to live in nature. 

Instead of spending a life time, trying to outwit the system, to build a million successful business without owners, why can we not simply make it a process that happens in every business, on every farm, part of all the land.

This revolution of mine, is economic, as I have come to understand that as small businesses we can shout forever, we can criticise, we can become idealists, we can dream of making it big or stepping out of our own bracket, climbing up the ladder of the classes, into a class we do not belong to, and where we would not be accepted anyway. The problem is that the system is built in a way that small scale business can never really grow. We have a problem right now, because the divide is so much larger, you are either a small business or you are a corporation. 

The revolution is simple, it starts with us small scale business owners coming together, without leaving our own, without stepping out and building another company. It starts with giving farmers the voice to decide how to farm, because they are the person on the ground, it starts by bringing back the feudal system as a first step, by connecting the lord to his serfs, in smaller areas, which are not nations, not even regions, they are a valley, or a mountain. 

We need to bring the business owner back into his business, don’t spend your life making money, escaping from one business to another, just to sit back and look at your large estate, while your offshore farms are ticking, weaving, harvesting. Stay local, stay together farm meanings.

It is hard for me too, hard to give up on the idea of true love, of high gains, of endless exploration, but in a sense I do not want to travel without a meaning, I discovered that I love being with the farmers, with land owners, I love being in my business, I want to help people like me thrive. I want us to stop competing as small companies, who are trying to step on each other, all thinking that they will make it big, because none of us will, we can not escape our own brackets, those were put there, as fences, we rush over each other as mice. 

I do not want to be more than myself, I want us to work together what we have, the land, the people, I want us to come back to the fires, and eat golden wheat, and brisket, to remember true love, which is deeper. I want us to stop toppling over each other. I want us to revive the feudal system first, then the tribal system, go back and reinvent ver sacrum, the sacred spring. 

A ritual in which we send our young, we vow them to the gods, “all that is born to us by next spring we will sacrifice”, I want us to send them off to find new lands, blind folded as they were to the edge of our own territory, I want them to follow a sacred bull, the Vitello, I want them to make a country, and call it Italy. 

I want us to tell a story to each other, in the land, in the forests by the fire, make love over beech leaves, in small huts made out of branches. I want us to go back to the boats, back to Israel, like gypsies, back to the first field. I want us to stand our ground at the start of the Holocene, to remember how we got there, the animals that we ate, the stories of the ancestors, I want us to build a temple, in which we tell the sky stories again, surround it in standing stones and call them the constellations. I want us to face the climate change like we did 13,000 years ago, with high magic and with a total lifestyle change. When nomads come to garden, I call it. 

When Nomads come to garden or the return of the Zombie Mink

The Holocene is a 10,000 year old old Social experiment.

Something happened at the end of the Younger Dryas the last Ice Age, something big.

Pre industrial humans, lived in a total different syntax, a connected world. Built on oral traditions and a body of knowledge, their mindset is so foreign to us, that we can no longer conceive the world like they did, or even imagine how they conceived the world themselves. Having travelled extensively, living and working in some of the most marginal areas of society, in raw landscapes, focusing on a unique brand of research into human mechanics, gave me some insights into what possibly happened at the starting days of the Holocene. The picture is so far from what traditional science paints, it could only be viewed as a sort of myth.

I ask myself, how can you tell a story if you do not start at the beginning, how can we understand where we are at right now, if we can not go back to the initial spark, the thing that ignited our civilisation?

We are standing at a strange point in time, our world is at peril, you can not isolate one subject in order to fix it, because everything is wrong, it is so wrong I can not even start talking about it coherently, not if we do not go right to the very start.

The world view of earlier people was very different to ours, in it everything was connected. A belonging to a place, to a people, to nature where all elements of the same thing.

Older mindsets existed in one body, a world with no separation. In that world nature was part of man, and he was part of nature. Earlier people used to have a world map for navigation in which they knew the smallest movement of earth, the changes on the bark of trees, the setting of the starts in the night sky and the rising of the sun.

Their histories were built as a never ending stretch of myths, in which a person would have known of all of his ancestors going back some 20,000 years. Polynesians navigators to give one example, even until recent times, were called wayfinders, navigating impossibly large stretches of empty ocean to the smallest of islands in the pacific, without any given instrument. To us this accomplishment seems an impossibility, that is until they explained how they do it; Following the setting of stars, reading the criss cross patterns of waves crushing on swells in the ocean, and doing so with the feeling of their body only. They did not even need to look at the ocean!

The most amazing thing is that they held a moving map inside their head and body, in which a far away island lying some 2500 miles, was not fixed in place. To arrive to it they needed to navigate a moving world, the rotating sky and the movement of sea, the birds told them where they were, that is if they got off their route by mistake. That is only because we have met this knowledge at its very last days. Imagine that a navigator like that could cross the open ocean without even having to look at the sea, or the sky. Having a moving Island as an image in his mind, one he can constantly relate to, knowing where he was, in those days they did not make mistakes.

This is why it is so hard to take one element in our current world, and to try and fix it, that is because everything is wrong. To the ancients the world was not made of separate phenomena, everything related to everything else.

There is a whole forgotten world of nature law, and weather magic, where humans used to create and “farm” their own weather, so much is lost, and everything is wrong, so wrong that whole cultures disappeared before they could even tell us one thing. We who “conquered” them, think we have always been better, otherwise why did they not say anything. They did not say anything because all of it is wrong, they were caught time and time again in our headlamps, not understanding how we can do the things we do, while they contemplated, we took over. They did not say a word, and that is because it was all so wrong, so wrong they could even start one sentence to explain how extorted it all is to us, so we thought they are simple minded. I think that in truth it is possible whole cultures disappeared like that, not understanding how to event start talking to us about the problem, incredulous of the way we carried ourselves, poof. We took them out.

Those were our own ancestors. Now after 10,000 years of working their inventions, we are talking about climate change as a separate phenomena, thinking that if we can cut carbon emissions, we can still save the world. You must be joking me.

The whole world has come to a stop now, with coronavirus. We who have enjoyed a 10,000 year long march through the ages, an almost totally stable world, with a 1 degree of change in average temperature, have no clue what our ancestors had to go through, this is why we can no longer grasp what they did for us, which makes talking about the initial steps of the Holocene hard.

Everything is wrong, because we forgot how to view the world in a non separate terms. Coronavirus is just a symptom of a world trying to regain balance, it is trying to bring us back into a relational world view. Genetics of epidemics, or genetics in general, are a constant body of adaptation, in which the mutant is very rare. Viruses are but a marker of when we fail to engineer change into a system, seeing that our DNA and our genetics are actually slow to change, viruses in this light can be seen as the outside writers, coming to give us a hand. So everything is wrong but we no longer know how to fix it.

Recently there was massive cull of all the mink in Denmark, because the caged animals, raised for their fur, have got infected by us with a strain of Coronavirus, it mutated and we got scared. So they were all gassed, their bodies were buried, but inside the earth they swelled, and they floated back to the surface, as a return of the zombie mink, coming to hunt us. I saw a dark sort of humour in that. There are so many problems right now, almost no one even noticed the fact Denmark culled over 15 million mink!. Are you joking me?

Burying the Zombie Mink

So everything is wrong, and we know it, but we do not know what to do about it, or maybe our genetics are too slow to adapt.

Let me tell you how it all started. Over 12,000 years ago, we stood on an icy world, a world that was devastated over and over again, we were nomads, or maybe it is better to say our ancestors were nomads. They were as far from us cognitively as night is of day, we forgot what they knew, we lost their power. Their world was going through constant devastation, it was a process of ten thousands of years, because we think like we do, we can not grasp that they thought differently.

In oral societies, nothing was lost, there was no break between generations, that is because you can not rely on a book to find knowledge again, once you lost something, it was gone forever, there was no fake news, because if anything was altered, everything was altered. Give someone a wrong piece of knowledge and a whole people will become lost, tell them the position of the Island is 5km to the west or where it actually is and all the tribe is gone, nothing could be discarded either, because you let go of the myth, you forget one story, and with it you lose all of your ancestors in one go, this is how we were before we wrote anything down. One collective body of knowledge, held in tribal libraries.

We find it hard to know for certain what happened 200 years ago. They, in contrast, held a total record of the earth stretching for tens of thousand years, but they like us have had enough. They too faced a constant climate change, and like us they viewed themselves as the problem.

What they did, is very different though, very different to what we do and it did not happen over night. No, it took them eons to try and figure it out, what we do know, is that when they figured it, everything changed. They turned a totally volatile earth, into an unprecedented harmonious world, the world of the Holocene, the world we lived in since, the world that is now falling apart because we forgot how to work it.

So it is all wrong, we can focus on any given aspect, like farming, or economics, or even go deeper into the mechanics of consciousness, but we will get nowhere, because you can not view any of it in separation, you can not fix the whole thing using one element. This is why I do not talk either, people tell me things, but how can I explain, not if I do not explain it all, I laugh inside myself, wondering if whole societies were culled like that, in silence. The Silence of the mink, this could be a good movie title.

I walk in the street these days, as I find myself spending a lot of time in the city, and it makes me laugh. ‘How did we get here?’ I ask. We have masks on our faces, we fear to come near anyone, our whole economies are falling apart, and no one has any design plan, any idea how to fix it. Maybe if we kill some mink, and carb some emissions it would all fall into place, are you joking me?

At the start of the Holocene something happened, and my story of how it did, is like no other version. I say that we made the Holocene, we created the balance, the stable weather patterns, all of it. I say that every time we stepped out of that initial business plan (so to speak) things went out of synch. My version of it is like no other, but that is because we do not listen to the older versions of the story, told by orally based societies, because they all say the same thing, that when man loses his connection to the whole, the weather changes, people start thinking bad thoughts and then the world is destroyed, they tell us of time after time when it happened, we call those versions myths, because we can not believe they held their oral traditions over such stretches of time, not when we hardly remember the stories of our grandparents.

After ten of thousands of years, watching our world being destroyed over and over again, living in constant winters, they had enough. They came together in a special council site, as a group of nomads. That place was called the heart of the world, It was the place nomads came to garden, when they changed in order to change everything around them. No one understands why nomads ever stopped moving, and with the way we go about it they never will, I will tell you this, no nomad will ever give up his lifestyle for a sedentary home, not if he had a choice. Houses are tombs is what they say.

Our long forgotten ancestors, lived under a connected sky, they knew the patterns of nature to perfection, they were magical hunters, who would go and catch the rain like a wild animal, they could command the winds, I know because I have experienced their world view, I do not have a command of it, but I have seen enough to know how they did it, I even teach people from time to time how to control the weather, most of these people turn into impossible new age shamans, instead of falling in love with our ancestors, with the forever changing world like I do.

At the start of the Holocene our ancestors made a bargain with nature, with the night sky, they held this motif, the heavenly mill, the mill that ground the ages. They knew there is a constant change and progression through the procession of the equinoxes, they mapped the constellations, they gave them powers, and they stood under them. The built an amazing machine, made out of standing stones, each representing a star constellation on the ecliptic. Why? you may ask. The answer is that they had enough.

They were like us, faced with a world at its end, they are like us, or how we would be after everything falls apart, they made a bargain with the elements, standing in a small group inside their magical machines; the heavenly mills brought down to earth, placed at a power spot they called the heart of the world. Inside that stone circle, they formed a group, made out of their medicine men and women, their shamans, each standing for a constellation. Why? you ask again. The answer is that they decided to make the biggest magic ever, they wanted to stop the sky from rotating, to stop their world from being devastated, to stop meteors falling on the earth, to stop the endless winter.

The strange thing is that they did, somehow at the start of the Holocene everything stopped, the weather became totally harmonious. It became warmer, after they seem to have changed their lifestyle all together.

Nomads would never stop roaming if they had a choice. I say our ancestors did it as a part of a magical bargain, they stopped in order to keep the sky from falling, they were millers, working the heavenly mill, coming to it every night to grind the new age. This is how it all started.

It took a consummate knowledge of nature, a control over their feelings and thoughts, it was the highest magic we humans ever performed on this earth. It was a pact we made to look after it, to grind the magical eon-flour out of stars. Inside their magical machine we were the stars, standing in a circle representing the sky, it was a symbolic method of sympathetic magic taken to its highest form, Shamans came together to form the group mind, inside the heavenly mill, their understanding was that the sky was out of balance, and they worked it as if they were it.

The so called first stone circle in Turkey, seems at times to be the most complex, before standing stones were just stones, they had hands carved on to them, they represented people. The ritual they performed was one in which a group of people needed to be selected to represent the constellations, in their middle a couple would stand, a man and a woman, representing the sun and the moon. This is how they made the garden of eden, Adam and eve.

This ritual was not just an new age meeting, this is how we an imagine it, for them it was the culmination of living in another type of consciousnesses, being connected, that is the element that is so hard for indigenous cultures to explain to us, how can a person affect the weather? Living in an oral based society for so many centuries, created this group mind phenomenon, through which, rain shamans, and oracles, have come together to start the Holocene. We find it easy to grasp symbolic meanings, where a symbol stands for a function, it is so ingrained in our awareness we do not even think about it, but each letter we use for writing, was an incantation once upon a time, but before all of this, every symbol was not a thing on its own, it was the power to affect the element it stood for.

Their ritual was to build the celestial sphere in stone, at a special place, in the same sense they also chose a group of people to represent the stars and control them. So much has mutated in our understanding even though we still use the same principals, writing, farming, symbols, language, art, they all started as a sympathetic magic through we controlled the elements. These days we are obsessed with the sense of power, and maybe they were too, but their coming together was an act to balance the weather, they chose to stop living nomadically, in order to be custodians of the weather, and of this earth. The truth is that it was not only the Natufian culture, in truth whole cities of south and north American Indians were later built under the same logic. Same with the Egyptians, they built the sky on earth, and each of their actions was meant as a means to “farm” the weather.

The Holocene was a magical pact of Man and nature, how come we do not know about it? You keep asking. Well…. we lost the logic.

Agriculture was born under the same principles, the idea was that if we mimicked what the earth did after it destroyed us, it would not need to do it itself. Growing wheat was a magical act. How come we, who were the most daring of nomads, living on this earth for hundred of thousands of years, travelling through oral traditions that saw us as one whole race, discovering magical continents, and killing whole races of fauna in traps we built out of the landscape, how come we gave up this life style, just so we can grow wheat? We did it as a part of a bargain, a trade deal. It took the earth 20,000 years to convince us to change. In the end, we gave way, not to grow wheat though, not to grind flour. We gave way because we ground the ages in the heavenly mill every night, the magic of working the weather, the trance of holding the sky, is what ignited civilisation, not the cultivation of cereals and domestication of animals.

We farmed wheat in a way that emulated destruction, we kept clearing fields as if it was the day after the flood, we gave them fertility they did not have, exactly as if the flood and the melting ice just passed through, we did so over 10,000 years. We do it today. We wake up and we have to get on our tractors and plow the earth, but why? Why destroy the earth like that, why did we have to eat grass in the first place?

It all does not make sense, all except the Holocene itself, I call it when nomads come to garden.

So now we come to now, our earth was given to us by our ancestors, they made a pact with it, they gave away their freedom in order to work it, night after night through magic, and day after day through farming.

Farming was day magic, they built agricultural machines, made of stone and ditches, water flow and terraces. They chose and domesticated plant after plant, things that grew in their fields, they even domesticated the animals, the difference is that they had a mission in mind, they needed to keep the balance, they needed to go back to the heavenly mill every night. The tower, the thing that stood in the middle of our earliest sedentary settlements, what function did it have? You may ask. Maybe we should go and talk to the Zombie Mink instead, because we really lost our origins, no one can even give us the answers.

At some point, we forgot. It was a protracted process, that took over 10,000 years, we forgot why we do what we do, why was it we go to our fields every day. We forgot because we lived in a word of so much peace, we did not need to operate the heavily mill anymore, not until our age has started to come to and end, when it started to fall apart because we stopped working the magic.

We need to come back into a non separate world view, it starts with our feelings and thoughts, extensions that were developed in us genetically in order to function as a tight group, moving telepathically through a changing landscape, a landscape we could navigate in as a larger body, that was the consciousness of hunter gatherers, they held a fixed point in a seemingly moving world, one unit, the knowledge of the ancestors, built into a group mind, shared by all, a super intelligence where the group affected the environment through magic.

I teach people how to control the weather, and they are amazed, but what amazes me is that our “feeling bodies” have become so small, that we can only feel the self through them. Where once we felt everything around us, the secret of controlling the weather is very simple, all you need is to grow your “feeling body” into its original size, when it is bigger, you have to feel the feeling of everything which is in it, and by becoming a larger zone you can also command the weather patterns in it, because there is no separation, modern Man does not control the weather because it is painful to feel everyone around him. Yet the ability to do so is included into us, like everything else on this earth, the problem, is that there are so many “painful” people around, but when the ability evolved, there simply was not so many people, there was only a small group and the rest of the living world.

My favourite book of lost knowledge would be that one, the book of hunting the weather, like the San bushman tell it, as if they go after the sky cow, and bring it back with a noose, when they hunt the rain. We forgot everything.

The world view of separation is a byproduct of living in small sedentary communities, in houses, in boxes, in tombs. I park our car some days in some small Italian street, and I shrink inside, how did we turn like this, where we have to always push our feelings down, and why is there no parking, who makes us pay, and why do we always have to squeeze ourselves. Why does Italian streets have to be so small, and my 4×4 so big?

I do not know how you manage, does it not bother you? I find having to shrink myself all the time very painful. Maybe I was exposed to too much freedom, I find it hard. Everything is wrong, or maybe I needed to buy a small Italian car instead.

So is that it? You may ask. No, I do not think that is it, just that in order to talk about it I needed to explain how we got here. How did we get to a point we have to park our cars in impossible spots, and we kill mink without thinking, because we infected them, how we got to a place where our whole planet is on the verge of collapse, the planet we inherited….. A whole planet can you imagine?

There is a design plan, and it starts at the top, because I have become tired of doing it from the bottom. It is a business plan, of the cutting edge in experiential tourism and farming, it is a new world view. A system of turning the countryside into harmonic machines again, where we need less tractors, where we have towers and standing stones again, gatherings into the night where we make flour out of the stars. It is a return to the relational.

For me it starts with working with estates, and large farms, and off course abandoned areas, anywhere that has large tracts of land that could be freed for a purpose, places that aren’t totally involved in keeping up supply chains.

Taking them through an integration between farming and social innovation, the solution is a design plan, it is a programme for the countryside, where we build it again like our ancestors, into farming machines, with which we hold the balance, it is a performance made from the land, like it always was before, why estates? You ask again. Because they are the largest land owners.

After spending 6 years in marginal rural areas in Central Italy we have found our dream, we have found that all of our dreams come into one plan, a regeneration design plan. It is a progressive programme, a sort of script writing for rural design, imbued with the most daring business plans. Building landscapes into machines that work in unison, where man is only a part, where there is no zones of interference, viruses no longer have to develop in the leftover marginal lands, because there is no more room for nature. We design marginal belts again, that is better than vaccines every other year, or tracing bats for the next virus, give them space, and help nature with bio diversity, there is less need for mutation in existing species because they live in a void.

In any given field of work, one is asked to take oneself into perfection, into the ultimate mastery of a subject. Our field is creating sustainable tourism, like nomads infiltrating the sedentary.

There comes a time when you have to give your mark to an art, I would have liked my art or work to have been different, but after 15 years I have come to terms with it, I feel it is time to take it to its outmost expression, the consummate art of sustainable tourism and farming, of rural development, which is pure magic.

Growing heritage wheat as a symbol for the moment when nomads came to garden, knowing that as long as we grew landrace wheat (and not modern wheat) the Holocene can not completely end, it is a design plan for the countryside, where we turn it again into a living situation. My love for it was born on a small Italian bulldozer, and you may laugh, but I got the design plan for the whole of our countrysides on it, on one wintery day, under the majestic mountain. I understood why nomads came to garden, and how the only way to do it again, is by creating the most daring business plan, script writing of innovation, growing heritage wheats to save the Holocene, magical experiential events where people come to work the magic, to understand sustainability, conscious cooking and where our feelings end and others start, a world of no separation, all done in large tents under the celestial sphere itself, the Zodiac tent. We have been writing this script for years, it is only that now it all came together.

This is my design plan, its either that or we can all wait for the return of the Zombie mink.

And as a side note, just that we can see how wrong is everything, the mink were all culled because we have discovered a new strain of Coronavirus after they got infected, yesterday a new mutant strain was announced in the south of England. When it was the mink, it was a possible threat that may contribute to another wave of pandemic, but when another strain was discovered at the south of England and in humans it was deemed of no threat what so ever. So maybe in truth the Zombie Mink have a reason to come back and work their revenge on us. (Since writing this it obviously came out that the new mutation was actually very harmful).

So this long post is about how we come back to the original plan, the Holocene is our only book, we lost the oral “writings” of earlier times, indigenous societies sometimes held knowledge of up to 40,000 years, but the idea is the same, tourism can not longer be the sale of a territory when people can not live in it anymore, the trade off of making surplus for people in the city, running back to take some fresh air before they have to dive in for another crazy year in the polluted water.

Tourism as I see it is the reworking of an ancient magic, it is script writing, it teaches people how to be custodians of the earth, but not as organic gardeners, even though that is nice, I mean we teach people the art of magic again, how to become wether magicians, we no longer sell them empty holidays in yurts, because it is nice for them to live in a tribal structure, but much deeper if they actually find out what the tribal coming together felt like. Tourism at is best is a participatory theatre, where one discovers other ways of being, different feelings. I know we all need peace and nature, because we have none of it in modern life, but I would like to script write it as a whole different experience, of discovering the lost magic of being humans on a magical earth, coming together around the fire, and working the stars into trance. Food, experience, magic, land, and wild animals, nomadic tours, and clean water. Tourism is the only place where people can step out of society for a moment, and so it should be the first step in creating a new world. It is just that tourism like everything else has had no design plan or message.



Nature and men, the return of the agricultural machines

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.

La Difesa the an ancient forest farm

The Old vineyard which we cleared but left semi forested

Job and investment opportunities

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.

The girl with the crow from a tribal dinner event in Abruzzo

Feature |

The Benandati, a medieval class war.

Carlo Ginzburg who won the Balzan price for his work, was a young man in Napoli, who had an insight moment where he decided on two things concurrently, he will become an historian, and his subject would be witchcraft.

Eventually he found himself in Venice, where he started researching anything he could find on witchcraft, playing what he called “the Venice Roulette”, because he could only ask for 4 volumes a day. He found transcripts from the Witch trials of the 16th and 17th century, on which he based his amazing book The Night Battles, and in a sense he opened up to the world a forgotten layer of peasant farming beliefs, starting a small movement in similar works, by Eva Pocs, Julian Goodare and others.

His (re)discovery of a forgotten stream of shamanic threads in the northern Italian province of Friuli (across the border from Slovenia) focused on the peculiar case of the Benandati (good walkers), who came to light of the inquisition through the witch trials, the inquisitors he showed did not know what to make of the night visions, and journeys of the Benandatis, who claimed to be a counter force to witches.

To become a Benandati one had to be born with a caul (the birth membrane) which still in some parts of rural Italy is said to be a sign of good fortune, ‘nascere con la camicia’ meaning to be born clothed. The benandati themselves referred to it as being born under the sign, which the inquisitors found a little hard to understand at times being from a different class. Those born under the sign were called to go and fight the witches, they would leave their bodies and go to the meadow of jehoshaphat, where they would fight the witches, the Benandati would arm themselves with stalks of fennel and the witches with sorghum.

The trials are very interesting first because the existence of a whole strata of people within a region who were born to dream a certain dream, and that they all entered into that dream together, in fact their first entry into that dream would take place when another Benandati would come and take them to the night battle, on Thursdays of the Amber days, which are set for fasting and prayer in each of the four seasons of the year.

Both the witches and the benandati on trial reported the very same scene, and the same battle, although each had a very different story about how he came to get there, and what happened to him in that place, but the vision themselves were homogeneous.

Carlo Ginzburg noted that the upper class found it very hard to deal with the belief of the peasants, and in truth let some of the cases go amiss as they could not believe the tales and visions shared. He took a further step and described the whole saga and the trials as a sort of class war in which the beliefs and creativity of the peasants were banned by an upper class that could not make sense of them. Instances like an inquisitor asking one of the Benandati why did he go, and him replying that he was taken because he was born under the sign, to which the inquisitor replied, every man has a free will. The Benandati, being from the unreflective class as Carlo puts it, did not share that notion, for him he was the continuous link with an age old oral tradition in which those born under the sign, must go into the night battle dream.

The night dream battle of the Benandati versus the witches

The beauty of the idea that up to the 17th century peasants had a whole strata of folklore and night journeys, shared dreaming voyages and “games” as they called them where men and women would fight each other with the stakes being the next year harvest, calling in storms and enjoying themselves in ways that were increasingly deemed demonic (a lot of which involved the devil). Later on other Historians and researchers like Eva Pocs from Hungary found similar threads in the beliefs of Hungarian people, Serbian and Bulgarians. Weather Shamans, as the Hungarian Ta’ltos who had helpers in a so called Dragon woman, similarly sharing dream scapes and influencing the weather.

They reported dreams in which they had entered and fought over the weather front with another weather shaman, sometimes in the form of a dragon, in fact the dragon motif probably emerged through those practices rather than other mythology. The difference is that they entered a certain dream with only one other “shaman” in those weather dreams, and in the night battles, or for the witches the “Sabbath” they entered the dream en masse.

The witch trials and the inquisition were means Carlo Ginzburg argued by the upper class who no longer lived in nature to curb the notions of a people who still practiced a natural life, in fact any people living with nature to some degree still share those type of notions, from weather control, to shared dreaming. And it could be argued further that the fact no one practices those type of activities is simply because they were banned through religion of a people that no longer lived immersed in nature and could not understand the rural logic anymore.

Our current understanding of magic, and rural areas, is in fact lacking in a central myth. People spend a life time working to construct community, as I have done, finding that project after project, and more so in rural areas, lack something, a core. To me that core is magical creativity of a people, and their connection to the land, so imagine the peasants of Northern Italy going into dreaming together, and working their local weather systems, fighting each other for the next years harvest, by following oral traditions that possibly were not just localised but shared by everyone in Europe, even if they were not connected, meaning in a way that those belief systems and practices are a core practice for any rural people.

The interesting thing is that the rural landscape also have become abandoned as a continuation of the same logic, and our own view of, what in truth should be termed, ‘Rurality’ are still the very same notions of the inquisitors from an upper class, living in castles and cities, meeting the peasant folk who still lived on the land, with their tales of magical gusts of winds, witchcraft, magic, and even night battles. We treat farming and community in the same way.

If you really manage to grasp the scope of a traditional way of life in nature, in which people have practiced dreaming together, and games with which they played with the weather and next years harvest, the magical folk being divided into a male/female grouping, or good versus bad, teams as if they were playing bingo, even if the lines between witch and Benandati were not all too clear, and eventually through the guidance of the inquisition itself have come to be seen all together as witchcraft, all bundled together and forbidden, following later into a mental framework shift and eventually to the abandonment of the countryside, and its turning into estates, through the enclosure act in the UK, but through similar processes in other European countries.

If you understand the scope of an economic system being built away from the people, and their practices being forbidden, step by step, circular economy and even village life were abandoned, to feed a globalised system that we have today, one that was never needed by peasants, as in fact most of them grew all they ever needed.

Taking away the religious aspect, we have up to the 17th century in Europe a connection to an art that people living on the earth practiced in every indigenous society, meaning that any people who live a truly rural life, have come up with the very same notions, and “magical” abilities, and in a way we can simply argue that the fact we do not share those beliefs is simply because no one lives in rural areas in connection with true nature, because the few that do, live in some kind of agriculturally altered countryside, and so the connecting myths and the central pillar of the community is always lacking, but saying this is not taking it far enough, it is not lacking, it is banned from existing. That is why it is a class war, where the countryside is simply used as a resource to create bigger farms and estates, which have never been sustainable even with technological farming methods.

The funny thing is that our own notions are of the Italian (or an European) upper class, and we too no longer believe that shared dreams are possible, or that the Benandati and the witches can go and meet in a dream meadow and fight each other to decide next year’s crop. We do not believe in mystical gusts of wind, or that certain mountains stage wars with the hills next to them, that some people control the weather, and so much more, yet the magical is only actually, truly, a reflection of the rural, and in a sense was always the centre of the community, I will try to write another entry, about why the people “born under the sign” were always referred to as – Good neighbours, Good Patrons (another name for the famous “women of the outside” in Sicily), or the Good Walkers in the case of Benandati. People born this way, could in our time be called, Autistic, or suffering from ADHD, sometimes maybe diagnosed with schizophrenia because we have no other means to understand the things they see, yet once in the not very long ago, they had a central role in an rural area, the one of creating the central body of the myth, or in other words they made the tribe, or the village. Which is why possibly they were referred to as Good neighbours, taking into consideration that the population knew they could affect things around them for both good or bad.

I for once would say that with living real natural context, all of those notions and world view points arise by themselves, yes they are built in through society too, as the belief of being born with a caul and it being an un refutable sign that must have taken centuries if not millennia to from into a such a belief, coming like Carlo argues through millennia of shamanism and lore, and possibly resembles a pre civilisation core that still existed in European societies from times before farming, passed down through oral societies, and replaced by scripture of the upper class.

The Benandati were convinced of their errors just like the witches were, some were burned, some jailed and a lot have just petered away, even if those notions still exist in rural Italy, and I would say the difference is that in those areas people still to a degree live with nature, their land is not always agricultural, it is peasantry in the middle of pure nature, and so rurality is a meeting point, in which magic to some degree still takes place, a magic we can no longer conceive because we either live in agricultural land (managed nature) or cities where none exist, and so we too have forgotten that the magical world view is in truth just the natural one, we think that the weather just happens and we think that dreams, weird as they are just a private matter.

That border line between the upper class and peasants is actually a barrier in our own conceptuality, in order to see things different we must at one point in our lives experience life in totally wild nature, and I do not mean a trip to the mountains, even if that can help, but living in such a place where rurality is still practiced, and if possible by a people who lived in that way for a long time, allowing them to create a central myth, which I have come to understand the missing glue for modern society.

Living in Central Italy has brought me face to face with a lot of this, in truth at times I feel like some witches I know fight with me over my heritage wheats fields, as some of the natural disasters that happen can not be simply put to climate change, but yet again I feel we all take the point of view of the inquisitor, and the real spectrum and folklore of the peasantry is now lost in our minds, we stopped waking up at night like rural people would in Europe, and go into a power dream, we stopped playing night battles with each other.

Imagine whole groups of people who shared dreaming games 4 times a year, to such a degree that some have reported 5000 people meeting on that plain, and funny enough, those “Anti-Withces” all agreed on the Thursday night, even if they lived hundreds of kilometres away from each other, as Friuli and Sicily of Middle Ages, at least to me, should not have been socially connected. Compare that with watching Netflix. If anything I would recommend you read the Night Battles by Carlo Ginzburg, for getting a little glimpse of the real Italian imagination and folklore that has been lost now, and maybe to get a glimpse of why we restrict a lot of the magical, the imaginary and the natural in modern society. Why Globalisation has killed circular economies, why farming is a monoculture, and why society has lost most of its biodiversity to a degree that any other trait but being totally imagination-less is deemed a problem. Once you realise it is all part of the same parcel, and that the only way out of it is discovering our magical selves again, nothing will look the same.

A countryside revolution

I am becoming an expert on heritage wheats, almost a collector. People like owning things, I want to find the centre thread that holds the Holocene together. I think it is an old wheat variety. 

Farming and cultivation followed a path through the neolithic revolution, or conquest maybe we should call it, of Europe. 

We see the past as some golden age, but this is only because we are genetically designed to remember the last layers, the past is not golden, it is just the last steps, not very different from the present, and if we manage not to destroy the world, possibly not too different from the future. 

I believe there is a thread going through all of this, one central wheat variety, probably a Durum wheat, one that was taken out of Israel, like me, taken out of where it grew. I want to find this wheat. 

Heritage wheat is a new market, I predict it is going to be an explosion in the UK, once the public realises what heritage wheat actually is, in short it is any wheat grown before the green revolution, before we bred wheats, when we were still peasant farmers, and we selected and grown wheats in the same place for thousands of years. Again let us not get confused with the past being golden, it is just the past. Peasant farmers are just like us, they also grew wheats from other places if they could get them, they also lost some old varieties at times like we do.

Solina wheat of Abruzzo I say, could have been the modern wheat of roman times, now it is one of the most bio-diverse oldest bread wheats in the world. It is just a story of the new bread wheat of the romans, the white grain, taken by someone to the mountains, and it being locked there, turning into a special mountain landrace; simply because that is where it was grown. 

In a sense there is no past, there are just stories, of the present that happened to people before us, making the same mistakes, older wheats are their mistakes, and modern wheat is ours. 

In all of this there is a magical thread, which is a story line, I try to trace it to the first Durum wheat, after Emmer, but before bread wheat. A moment in time, a business plan. 

In my mind it could be a story of the tribe of Dan, argued by some historian theories to have been part of the mysterious sea people alliance, together with the Sherden of Sardinia, an alliance of sea pirates no one could defeat. I would try to trace that Durum wheat following their foot steps, possibly as some forgotten variety that is still grown in Sardinia. To isolate it I need to find some university that can compare the DNA of older varieties, some I am working to source from a friend in Israel, and others from small, amazing projects in Italy, People who have worked hard to find the older varieties. 

People like to own things and heritage wheats, especially now we all understood that those have a market, and are in fact a sort of a gold mine, are becoming like possessions. I have many issues with the way landraces are protected, making them possible to only grow in one location. Landraces have adapted to a land, that is true, but they also came to that land form another in most cases. I am not looking to own wheat, I am looking to find the original story, the golden thread, which possibly was never golden, it is just a story of the first wheat taken out of Israel to Italy. 

Life revolves around cogs, unseen fabric. Most of the time we do not think about what moves us, what makes us do things. There is one sack of wheat that has changed Europe, and seeing I have to now smuggle some of the wheats I work with, I sympathise with the sea pirates. Wheat for both of us is an after thought, we went away from where we lived, but we could not leave our wheat behind, I understand their logic. I am back in Wales, but there is no way I can eat plastic bread. 

Our Idea of the countryside, of farming, even the economy is all the same, it follows stories, it seems as if we make those stories up, I think that in truth, in most cases, those stories make us.

The countryside is a business plan, farmers have to be poor so we can all eat, wheat is the core of that business plan, but it is just a model, a link that ties us to the earth. 

What I want is to find the original wheat, the one that we wrote the business plan with, I want to own it and with it change the way we work the countryside, I want to start a revolution.

People who start revolutions, usually inflame people with an idea, a return to the past, sprinkle catchy slogans on the top, and you have a winning formula. I want to start a different revolution one that means we have to think about the countryside. This is why I need the original wheat, it is like the programming language, the HTML so to speak, I want to find it so we can write in code.

To start a revolution in which we take control of the countryside, we will need to understand cultivation as an economic plan, the problem with affecting change, is that we all live in an economic system, and whatever you do you can never escape it. I love the romance of people who try to drop off the rat race, who farm off grid, who travel without money. Whilst we will away in romance, the economic plan is tightening around us. 

You can no longer park your van in a lay-by and seeing that I lived like that for 10 years, I find that very offensive, I want the freedom to live in a lay-by, or better still park anywhere. Laws are tightening up. Countries are falling one by one into an order. No more free travel, no more romance, no off-grid farms. 

So if we want a revolution, if we want freedom, we need to make it an economic plan, and we need a sword, we need to be like the Sherden people, like some sea gypsies, pirates carrying a sack of Durum wheat, horns on our helmets, and bronze shields, and a sack of golden wheat.

I have tried to lead people into another way of life, for over 20 years, I taught them whether control, a simpler life, community,  nomadic love even. I have come to realise that all of our grass root revolution ideas, fall down to the ground, because we have to follow an economic plan. There is no way we can have a community in the modern world, we either become small scale poor farmers, or we have to be corporations.

The revolution I would like to see is a countryside revolution.

I have come back to Wales, to the UK. 

Everything was faster, it all works, but no one has a plan, they are just rushing to make money, a new world of healthier foods, of yoga and wellness, is just a symptom of a society that has lost its roots, looking for an ethos to follow, an American dream. 

The problem, is that we do not have a design plan, not for farming, not for the economy, we do not look at the whole story, we don’t understand what we eat, and why we eat it, we are stuck in a cycle of cultivation, and we remember the past, but only the last layers, we can not see the whole picture, and we do not know where we are going. 

The picture however is not very complicated, it is the same picture we have been looking at for 10,000 years. Wheat. Fields and farmers, making surplus. Surplus building larger society and supply chains, and making off-shore farms. Once you farm elsewhere, the countryside becomes an estate that you do not have to farm yourself. The goal of any business plan, or so my to-be, business coach was telling me, is to have the business operating without you. 

Fuck me!. A revolution is called for, first because we need to free the lay-bys, second because people who have left their businesses, now own all the land, and none of us are farmers because we get our food from off-shore farms, I know because I am growing heritage wheats for the UK, but in Italy. Italy is poor so we could live a richer life in the UK.

When European countries went to conquer their off shore farms, Italy did very poorly for itself, whilst Great Britain got India, whilst it developed North America, Italy got Somalia. Thus modern day economics is also just an echo of yesterday’s business plan. 

The divide between the the serf and the feudal lord though, is something that Italy has kept very small scale, and for that I love it. In a sense it is still feudal, especially in the mountains. We all have learnt to see feudalism as the root of all evil, but I do not agree, in a sense small scale administrations, small barons that love an area and its people, living in a small castle or a mountain hinting villa, are much closer to the land. Italy of the mountains is one of my love affairs. 

I have come to it with modern ideas, and it thought me some old ones, I asked my self – how come there is no design plan for rural areas, why are we left to invent it, whilst government is bearing hard, looking for some economic gold in the mountains, luckily Italy of the mountain has no gold, no industry. So it was no longer developed. Its last design plan, its last economic plan was the feudal system. 

It got me thinking of a way we can manage the country side again, because in truth the bigger the divide between the serf and the feudal lord, the harder it is to develop an area. 

Was small scale baronial lands such a bad idea? 

The castle of Roccascalegna overlooking the land

Hierarchy, it is argued, started with sedentary lifestyles, tribes needed a leader, society broke into specialists, fed by farmers, who by default had to always be the lowest strata. Values were designed that way, and they still are, so more of us can eat without working the land. 

The problem is that through this business plan, we lost the means to design areas, to tailor them to their own nature. Now every place needs to look the the same, some large wheat fields, smaller crops of pulses, a few orchards, and some farms with sheep, cows and pigs. 

This has worked well everywhere, except in the mountains.

As my business coach was going to tell me, if I would have hired her, the goal is to have your business running without you, that is a successful business. I am a small business owner so I can agree, if it can operate without me I can do so much more. The problem is that I love being part of my business, I said at the start, that if we are going to go into the system and make money, we have to make something real, something people can use.

My goal is not to leave my business, my goal is to start a revolution of rural design, I want to be me, and I want you to be you, and please do not try to be me. 

The issue currently is very simple, we followed the rule of making surplus, and turning the countryside into two large sections, estates and off-shore farms. This could have worked if we had endless earth to develop, it is a nomadic business plan, it came from hunter gatherers, who used to exploit an area in a maximum yield strategy, their genius was that they kept on moving, and there were only a few of them, so the impact was very little. The problem was that they were very successful, and they carried that plan into sedentary lifestyles. 

Because I see myself as a nomad, I always asked myself some of the same questions as they must have done. As a business owner, It would have been much better for me to stay in one place, to grow bigger. I find it hard to stay too long in one place, things become stale, relationships, ideas, feelings. 

I used to think I am strange, but I have come to understand, that we are all like that, that everything we aspire for, is in truth, nomadic; high yields, love, rich food, quick gains, travel, new sights. Business is a nomadic design plan, because only a hunter gatherer could see the land in that way, quick gains, and exploitation only work for someone who comes to a place, and reaps the cream from the top. Once you have to stay in a place you need to develop more sustainable mechanisms. 

So, land ownership, cultivation, farming, and business are all caught in this age long saga, the stories of the sea gypsies, coming to a new land to develop it, carrying their wheat with them. 

The world in the last 50 years has followed a strange pattern, it was all grabbed for quick returns, in a flurry that peaked two hundred years, and bit by bit, undeveloped countries as they are called, liberated themselves form the yoke of the so called “developers”. You would think they will go back to some earlier or traditional sense of life, but instead they too rush to grab the same business plan, to try and develop themselves as off shore farms, to get someone else to do the farming. Quick or large gains, or any country that is now “rich” is just a story of those last 200 years, an equation of how many places it exploited. No one is better, because in a sense we are all part of this system, of trying to exploit nature for quicker gains, we are all stuck somewhere on the ladder, be it top or bottom, trying to climb up. 

Nomads, who I always like to associate myself with, have given us notions that do not really work well in a sedentary lifestyle. True love is a high yield strategy. Hunting and eating all the animals around themselves is what got hunter gatherers to settle. Scientists still argue about the overkill theory. I think that from a natural point of view, it is obvious that fauna and flora, are parts and parcel of each other, there can be so many grazers as there is grass, so many predators as there are grazers. Upset this formula, even a little bit, and the balance breaks down. 

Obviously it is not sustainable for us to eat meat, yet I think high meat diet is what gave us all those aspirations, all the magic, the rituals we are obsessed with…… smoked brisket, we still haven’t changed. We want true love and high magic, and we all want it, together at the same time. around the same fire so to speak. 

In truth all we have right now, is the last remaining strands, a business plan made by nomads, that is collapsing because there is no place for quick gains left, there are no offshore farms, even though we can rely on Italian farmers for a while longer because they are poor. We can convince other countries that they too want to develop, but as they come late into the game, it is just a way we trick them to farm for us, now we can not simply go to their country and enslave them anymore, there are no winners, we are all on the conveyor belt rushing to try and go up the ladder, but it is going nowhere. 

The answer is a rural area design revolution, or maybe a devolution, a retraction into smaller units. 

Deeper relationships between man and the environment, a slower love, a deeper one. All we really need is to stop trying to escape our own business, we need to learn to love being in them. We need to make the countryside meaningful again, I laugh at the fact some of the largest estates in Europe were bought by millionaires, who made their money from a system that exploited everything, but are now rewilding their massive plots of land, because they want to go back to a natural sense, to give something back, or simply because they like to live in nature. 

Instead of spending a life time, trying to outwit the system, to build a million successful business without owners, why can we not simply make it a process that happens in every business, on every farm, part of all the land.

This revolution of mine, is economic, as I have come to understand that as small businesses we can shout forever, we can criticise, we can become idealists, we can dream of making it big or stepping out of our own bracket, climbing up the ladder of the classes, into a class we do not belong to, and where we would not be accepted anyway. The problem is that the system is built in a way that small scale business can never really grow. We have a problem right now, because the divide is so much larger, you are either a small business or you are a corporation. 

The revolution is simple, it starts with us small scale business owners coming together, without leaving our own, without stepping out and building another company. It starts with giving farmers the voice to decide how to farm, because they are the person on the ground, it starts by bringing back the feudal system as a first step, by connecting the lord to his serfs, in smaller areas, which are not nations, not even regions, they are a valley, or a mountain. 

We need to bring the business owner back into his business, don’t spend your life making money, escaping from one business to another, just to sit back and look at your large estate, while your offshore farms are ticking, weaving, harvesting. Stay local, stay together farm meanings.

It is hard for me too, hard to give up on the idea of true love, of high gains, of endless exploration, but in a sense I do not want to travel without a meaning, I discovered that I love being with the farmers, with land owners, I love being in my business, I want to help people like me thrive. I want us to stop competing as small companies, who are trying to step on each other, all thinking that they will make it big, because none of us will, we can not escape our own brackets, those were put there, as fences, we rush over each other as mice. 

I do not want to be more than myself, I want us to work together what we have, the land, the people, I want us to come back to the fires, and eat golden wheat, and brisket, to remember true love, which is deeper. I want us to stop toppling over each other. I want us to revive the feudal system first, then the tribal system, go back and reinvent ver sacrum, the sacred spring. 

A ritual in which we send our young, we vow them to the gods, “all that is born to us by next spring we will sacrifice”, I want us to send them off to find new lands, blind folded as they were to the edge of our own territory, I want them to follow a sacred bull, the Vitello, I want them to make a country, and call it Italy. 

I want us to tell a story to each other, in the land, in the forests by the fire, make love over beech leaves, in small huts made out of branches. I want us to go back to the boats, back to Israel, like gypsies, back to the first field. I want us to stand our ground at the start of the Holocene, to remember how we got there, the animals that we ate, the stories of the ancestors, I want us to build a temple, in which we tell the sky stories again, surround it in standing stones and call them the constellations. I want us to face the climate change like we did 13,000 years ago, with high magic and with a total lifestyle change. When nomads come to garden, I call it. 

When Nomads come to garden or the return of the Zombie Mink

The Holocene is a 10,000 year old old Social experiment.

Something happened at the end of the Younger Dryas the last Ice Age, something big.

Pre industrial humans, lived in a total different syntax, a connected world. Built on oral traditions and a body of knowledge, their mindset is so foreign to us, that we can no longer conceive the world like they did, or even imagine how they conceived the world themselves. Having travelled extensively, living and working in some of the most marginal areas of society, in raw landscapes, focusing on a unique brand of research into human mechanics, gave me some insights into what possibly happened at the starting days of the Holocene. The picture is so far from what traditional science paints, it could only be viewed as a sort of myth.

I ask myself, how can you tell a story if you do not start at the beginning, how can we understand where we are at right now, if we can not go back to the initial spark, the thing that ignited our civilisation?

We are standing at a strange point in time, our world is at peril, you can not isolate one subject in order to fix it, because everything is wrong, it is so wrong I can not even start talking about it coherently, not if we do not go right to the very start.

The world view of earlier people was very different to ours, in it everything was connected. A belonging to a place, to a people, to nature where all elements of the same thing.

Older mindsets existed in one body, a world with no separation. In that world nature was part of man, and he was part of nature. Earlier people used to have a world map for navigation in which they knew the smallest movement of earth, the changes on the bark of trees, the setting of the starts in the night sky and the rising of the sun.

Their histories were built as a never ending stretch of myths, in which a person would have known of all of his ancestors going back some 20,000 years. Polynesians navigators to give one example, even until recent times, were called wayfinders, navigating impossibly large stretches of empty ocean to the smallest of islands in the pacific, without any given instrument. To us this accomplishment seems an impossibility, that is until they explained how they do it; Following the setting of stars, reading the criss cross patterns of waves crushing on swells in the ocean, and doing so with the feeling of their body only. They did not even need to look at the ocean!

The most amazing thing is that they held a moving map inside their head and body, in which a far away island lying some 2500 miles, was not fixed in place. To arrive to it they needed to navigate a moving world, the rotating sky and the movement of sea, the birds told them where they were, that is if they got off their route by mistake. That is only because we have met this knowledge at its very last days. Imagine that a navigator like that could cross the open ocean without even having to look at the sea, or the sky. Having a moving Island as an image in his mind, one he can constantly relate to, knowing where he was, in those days they did not make mistakes.

This is why it is so hard to take one element in our current world, and to try and fix it, that is because everything is wrong. To the ancients the world was not made of separate phenomena, everything related to everything else.

There is a whole forgotten world of nature law, and weather magic, where humans used to create and “farm” their own weather, so much is lost, and everything is wrong, so wrong that whole cultures disappeared before they could even tell us one thing. We who “conquered” them, think we have always been better, otherwise why did they not say anything. They did not say anything because all of it is wrong, they were caught time and time again in our headlamps, not understanding how we can do the things we do, while they contemplated, we took over. They did not say a word, and that is because it was all so wrong, so wrong they could even start one sentence to explain how extorted it all is to us, so we thought they are simple minded. I think that in truth it is possible whole cultures disappeared like that, not understanding how to event start talking to us about the problem, incredulous of the way we carried ourselves, poof. We took them out.

Those were our own ancestors. Now after 10,000 years of working their inventions, we are talking about climate change as a separate phenomena, thinking that if we can cut carbon emissions, we can still save the world. You must be joking me.

The whole world has come to a stop now, with coronavirus. We who have enjoyed a 10,000 year long march through the ages, an almost totally stable world, with a 1 degree of change in average temperature, have no clue what our ancestors had to go through, this is why we can no longer grasp what they did for us, which makes talking about the initial steps of the Holocene hard.

Everything is wrong, because we forgot how to view the world in a non separate terms. Coronavirus is just a symptom of a world trying to regain balance, it is trying to bring us back into a relational world view. Genetics of epidemics, or genetics in general, are a constant body of adaptation, in which the mutant is very rare. Viruses are but a marker of when we fail to engineer change into a system, seeing that our DNA and our genetics are actually slow to change, viruses in this light can be seen as the outside writers, coming to give us a hand. So everything is wrong but we no longer know how to fix it.

Recently there was massive cull of all the mink in Denmark, because the caged animals, raised for their fur, have got infected by us with a strain of Coronavirus, it mutated and we got scared. So they were all gassed, their bodies were buried, but inside the earth they swelled, and they floated back to the surface, as a return of the zombie mink, coming to hunt us. I saw a dark sort of humour in that. There are so many problems right now, almost no one even noticed the fact Denmark culled over 15 million mink!. Are you joking me?

Burying the Zombie Mink

So everything is wrong, and we know it, but we do not know what to do about it, or maybe our genetics are too slow to adapt.

Let me tell you how it all started. Over 12,000 years ago, we stood on an icy world, a world that was devastated over and over again, we were nomads, or maybe it is better to say our ancestors were nomads. They were as far from us cognitively as night is of day, we forgot what they knew, we lost their power. Their world was going through constant devastation, it was a process of ten thousands of years, because we think like we do, we can not grasp that they thought differently.

In oral societies, nothing was lost, there was no break between generations, that is because you can not rely on a book to find knowledge again, once you lost something, it was gone forever, there was no fake news, because if anything was altered, everything was altered. Give someone a wrong piece of knowledge and a whole people will become lost, tell them the position of the Island is 5km to the west or where it actually is and all the tribe is gone, nothing could be discarded either, because you let go of the myth, you forget one story, and with it you lose all of your ancestors in one go, this is how we were before we wrote anything down. One collective body of knowledge, held in tribal libraries.

We find it hard to know for certain what happened 200 years ago. They, in contrast, held a total record of the earth stretching for tens of thousand years, but they like us have had enough. They too faced a constant climate change, and like us they viewed themselves as the problem.

What they did, is very different though, very different to what we do and it did not happen over night. No, it took them eons to try and figure it out, what we do know, is that when they figured it, everything changed. They turned a totally volatile earth, into an unprecedented harmonious world, the world of the Holocene, the world we lived in since, the world that is now falling apart because we forgot how to work it.

So it is all wrong, we can focus on any given aspect, like farming, or economics, or even go deeper into the mechanics of consciousness, but we will get nowhere, because you can not view any of it in separation, you can not fix the whole thing using one element. This is why I do not talk either, people tell me things, but how can I explain, not if I do not explain it all, I laugh inside myself, wondering if whole societies were culled like that, in silence. The Silence of the mink, this could be a good movie title.

I walk in the street these days, as I find myself spending a lot of time in the city, and it makes me laugh. ‘How did we get here?’ I ask. We have masks on our faces, we fear to come near anyone, our whole economies are falling apart, and no one has any design plan, any idea how to fix it. Maybe if we kill some mink, and carb some emissions it would all fall into place, are you joking me?

At the start of the Holocene something happened, and my story of how it did, is like no other version. I say that we made the Holocene, we created the balance, the stable weather patterns, all of it. I say that every time we stepped out of that initial business plan (so to speak) things went out of synch. My version of it is like no other, but that is because we do not listen to the older versions of the story, told by orally based societies, because they all say the same thing, that when man loses his connection to the whole, the weather changes, people start thinking bad thoughts and then the world is destroyed, they tell us of time after time when it happened, we call those versions myths, because we can not believe they held their oral traditions over such stretches of time, not when we hardly remember the stories of our grandparents.

After ten of thousands of years, watching our world being destroyed over and over again, living in constant winters, they had enough. They came together in a special council site, as a group of nomads. That place was called the heart of the world, It was the place nomads came to garden, when they changed in order to change everything around them. No one understands why nomads ever stopped moving, and with the way we go about it they never will, I will tell you this, no nomad will ever give up his lifestyle for a sedentary home, not if he had a choice. Houses are tombs is what they say.

Our long forgotten ancestors, lived under a connected sky, they knew the patterns of nature to perfection, they were magical hunters, who would go and catch the rain like a wild animal, they could command the winds, I know because I have experienced their world view, I do not have a command of it, but I have seen enough to know how they did it, I even teach people from time to time how to control the weather, most of these people turn into impossible new age shamans, instead of falling in love with our ancestors, with the forever changing world like I do.

At the start of the Holocene our ancestors made a bargain with nature, with the night sky, they held this motif, the heavenly mill, the mill that ground the ages. They knew there is a constant change and progression through the procession of the equinoxes, they mapped the constellations, they gave them powers, and they stood under them. The built an amazing machine, made out of standing stones, each representing a star constellation on the ecliptic. Why? you may ask. The answer is that they had enough.

They were like us, faced with a world at its end, they are like us, or how we would be after everything falls apart, they made a bargain with the elements, standing in a small group inside their magical machines; the heavenly mills brought down to earth, placed at a power spot they called the heart of the world. Inside that stone circle, they formed a group, made out of their medicine men and women, their shamans, each standing for a constellation. Why? you ask again. The answer is that they decided to make the biggest magic ever, they wanted to stop the sky from rotating, to stop their world from being devastated, to stop meteors falling on the earth, to stop the endless winter.

The strange thing is that they did, somehow at the start of the Holocene everything stopped, the weather became totally harmonious. It became warmer, after they seem to have changed their lifestyle all together.

Nomads would never stop roaming if they had a choice. I say our ancestors did it as a part of a magical bargain, they stopped in order to keep the sky from falling, they were millers, working the heavenly mill, coming to it every night to grind the new age. This is how it all started.

It took a consummate knowledge of nature, a control over their feelings and thoughts, it was the highest magic we humans ever performed on this earth. It was a pact we made to look after it, to grind the magical eon-flour out of stars. Inside their magical machine we were the stars, standing in a circle representing the sky, it was a symbolic method of sympathetic magic taken to its highest form, Shamans came together to form the group mind, inside the heavenly mill, their understanding was that the sky was out of balance, and they worked it as if they were it.

The so called first stone circle in Turkey, seems at times to be the most complex, before standing stones were just stones, they had hands carved on to them, they represented people. The ritual they performed was one in which a group of people needed to be selected to represent the constellations, in their middle a couple would stand, a man and a woman, representing the sun and the moon. This is how they made the garden of eden, Adam and eve.

This ritual was not just an new age meeting, this is how we an imagine it, for them it was the culmination of living in another type of consciousnesses, being connected, that is the element that is so hard for indigenous cultures to explain to us, how can a person affect the weather? Living in an oral based society for so many centuries, created this group mind phenomenon, through which, rain shamans, and oracles, have come together to start the Holocene. We find it easy to grasp symbolic meanings, where a symbol stands for a function, it is so ingrained in our awareness we do not even think about it, but each letter we use for writing, was an incantation once upon a time, but before all of this, every symbol was not a thing on its own, it was the power to affect the element it stood for.

Their ritual was to build the celestial sphere in stone, at a special place, in the same sense they also chose a group of people to represent the stars and control them. So much has mutated in our understanding even though we still use the same principals, writing, farming, symbols, language, art, they all started as a sympathetic magic through we controlled the elements. These days we are obsessed with the sense of power, and maybe they were too, but their coming together was an act to balance the weather, they chose to stop living nomadically, in order to be custodians of the weather, and of this earth. The truth is that it was not only the Natufian culture, in truth whole cities of south and north American Indians were later built under the same logic. Same with the Egyptians, they built the sky on earth, and each of their actions was meant as a means to “farm” the weather.

The Holocene was a magical pact of Man and nature, how come we do not know about it? You keep asking. Well…. we lost the logic.

Agriculture was born under the same principles, the idea was that if we mimicked what the earth did after it destroyed us, it would not need to do it itself. Growing wheat was a magical act. How come we, who were the most daring of nomads, living on this earth for hundred of thousands of years, travelling through oral traditions that saw us as one whole race, discovering magical continents, and killing whole races of fauna in traps we built out of the landscape, how come we gave up this life style, just so we can grow wheat? We did it as a part of a bargain, a trade deal. It took the earth 20,000 years to convince us to change. In the end, we gave way, not to grow wheat though, not to grind flour. We gave way because we ground the ages in the heavenly mill every night, the magic of working the weather, the trance of holding the sky, is what ignited civilisation, not the cultivation of cereals and domestication of animals.

We farmed wheat in a way that emulated destruction, we kept clearing fields as if it was the day after the flood, we gave them fertility they did not have, exactly as if the flood and the melting ice just passed through, we did so over 10,000 years. We do it today. We wake up and we have to get on our tractors and plow the earth, but why? Why destroy the earth like that, why did we have to eat grass in the first place?

It all does not make sense, all except the Holocene itself, I call it when nomads come to garden.

So now we come to now, our earth was given to us by our ancestors, they made a pact with it, they gave away their freedom in order to work it, night after night through magic, and day after day through farming.

Farming was day magic, they built agricultural machines, made of stone and ditches, water flow and terraces. They chose and domesticated plant after plant, things that grew in their fields, they even domesticated the animals, the difference is that they had a mission in mind, they needed to keep the balance, they needed to go back to the heavenly mill every night. The tower, the thing that stood in the middle of our earliest sedentary settlements, what function did it have? You may ask. Maybe we should go and talk to the Zombie Mink instead, because we really lost our origins, no one can even give us the answers.

At some point, we forgot. It was a protracted process, that took over 10,000 years, we forgot why we do what we do, why was it we go to our fields every day. We forgot because we lived in a word of so much peace, we did not need to operate the heavily mill anymore, not until our age has started to come to and end, when it started to fall apart because we stopped working the magic.

We need to come back into a non separate world view, it starts with our feelings and thoughts, extensions that were developed in us genetically in order to function as a tight group, moving telepathically through a changing landscape, a landscape we could navigate in as a larger body, that was the consciousness of hunter gatherers, they held a fixed point in a seemingly moving world, one unit, the knowledge of the ancestors, built into a group mind, shared by all, a super intelligence where the group affected the environment through magic.

I teach people how to control the weather, and they are amazed, but what amazes me is that our “feeling bodies” have become so small, that we can only feel the self through them. Where once we felt everything around us, the secret of controlling the weather is very simple, all you need is to grow your “feeling body” into its original size, when it is bigger, you have to feel the feeling of everything which is in it, and by becoming a larger zone you can also command the weather patterns in it, because there is no separation, modern Man does not control the weather because it is painful to feel everyone around him. Yet the ability to do so is included into us, like everything else on this earth, the problem, is that there are so many “painful” people around, but when the ability evolved, there simply was not so many people, there was only a small group and the rest of the living world.

My favourite book of lost knowledge would be that one, the book of hunting the weather, like the San bushman tell it, as if they go after the sky cow, and bring it back with a noose, when they hunt the rain. We forgot everything.

The world view of separation is a byproduct of living in small sedentary communities, in houses, in boxes, in tombs. I park our car some days in some small Italian street, and I shrink inside, how did we turn like this, where we have to always push our feelings down, and why is there no parking, who makes us pay, and why do we always have to squeeze ourselves. Why does Italian streets have to be so small, and my 4×4 so big?

I do not know how you manage, does it not bother you? I find having to shrink myself all the time very painful. Maybe I was exposed to too much freedom, I find it hard. Everything is wrong, or maybe I needed to buy a small Italian car instead.

So is that it? You may ask. No, I do not think that is it, just that in order to talk about it I needed to explain how we got here. How did we get to a point we have to park our cars in impossible spots, and we kill mink without thinking, because we infected them, how we got to a place where our whole planet is on the verge of collapse, the planet we inherited….. A whole planet can you imagine?

There is a design plan, and it starts at the top, because I have become tired of doing it from the bottom. It is a business plan, of the cutting edge in experiential tourism and farming, it is a new world view. A system of turning the countryside into harmonic machines again, where we need less tractors, where we have towers and standing stones again, gatherings into the night where we make flour out of the stars. It is a return to the relational.

For me it starts with working with estates, and large farms, and off course abandoned areas, anywhere that has large tracts of land that could be freed for a purpose, places that aren’t totally involved in keeping up supply chains.

Taking them through an integration between farming and social innovation, the solution is a design plan, it is a programme for the countryside, where we build it again like our ancestors, into farming machines, with which we hold the balance, it is a performance made from the land, like it always was before, why estates? You ask again. Because they are the largest land owners.

After spending 6 years in marginal rural areas in Central Italy we have found our dream, we have found that all of our dreams come into one plan, a regeneration design plan. It is a progressive programme, a sort of script writing for rural design, imbued with the most daring business plans. Building landscapes into machines that work in unison, where man is only a part, where there is no zones of interference, viruses no longer have to develop in the leftover marginal lands, because there is no more room for nature. We design marginal belts again, that is better than vaccines every other year, or tracing bats for the next virus, give them space, and help nature with bio diversity, there is less need for mutation in existing species because they live in a void.

In any given field of work, one is asked to take oneself into perfection, into the ultimate mastery of a subject. Our field is creating sustainable tourism, like nomads infiltrating the sedentary.

There comes a time when you have to give your mark to an art, I would have liked my art or work to have been different, but after 15 years I have come to terms with it, I feel it is time to take it to its outmost expression, the consummate art of sustainable tourism and farming, of rural development, which is pure magic.

Growing heritage wheat as a symbol for the moment when nomads came to garden, knowing that as long as we grew landrace wheat (and not modern wheat) the Holocene can not completely end, it is a design plan for the countryside, where we turn it again into a living situation. My love for it was born on a small Italian bulldozer, and you may laugh, but I got the design plan for the whole of our countrysides on it, on one wintery day, under the majestic mountain. I understood why nomads came to garden, and how the only way to do it again, is by creating the most daring business plan, script writing of innovation, growing heritage wheats to save the Holocene, magical experiential events where people come to work the magic, to understand sustainability, conscious cooking and where our feelings end and others start, a world of no separation, all done in large tents under the celestial sphere itself, the Zodiac tent. We have been writing this script for years, it is only that now it all came together.

This is my design plan, its either that or we can all wait for the return of the Zombie mink.

And as a side note, just that we can see how wrong is everything, the mink were all culled because we have discovered a new strain of Coronavirus after they got infected, yesterday a new mutant strain was announced in the south of England. When it was the mink, it was a possible threat that may contribute to another wave of pandemic, but when another strain was discovered at the south of England and in humans it was deemed of no threat what so ever. So maybe in truth the Zombie Mink have a reason to come back and work their revenge on us. (Since writing this it obviously came out that the new mutation was actually very harmful).

So this long post is about how we come back to the original plan, the Holocene is our only book, we lost the oral “writings” of earlier times, indigenous societies sometimes held knowledge of up to 40,000 years, but the idea is the same, tourism can not longer be the sale of a territory when people can not live in it anymore, the trade off of making surplus for people in the city, running back to take some fresh air before they have to dive in for another crazy year in the polluted water.

Tourism as I see it is the reworking of an ancient magic, it is script writing, it teaches people how to be custodians of the earth, but not as organic gardeners, even though that is nice, I mean we teach people the art of magic again, how to become wether magicians, we no longer sell them empty holidays in yurts, because it is nice for them to live in a tribal structure, but much deeper if they actually find out what the tribal coming together felt like. Tourism at is best is a participatory theatre, where one discovers other ways of being, different feelings. I know we all need peace and nature, because we have none of it in modern life, but I would like to script write it as a whole different experience, of discovering the lost magic of being humans on a magical earth, coming together around the fire, and working the stars into trance. Food, experience, magic, land, and wild animals, nomadic tours, and clean water. Tourism is the only place where people can step out of society for a moment, and so it should be the first step in creating a new world. It is just that tourism like everything else has had no design plan or message.



Nature and men, the return of the agricultural machines

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.

La Difesa the an ancient forest farm

The Old vineyard which we cleared but left semi forested

Job and investment opportunities

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.

The girl with the crow from a tribal dinner event in Abruzzo