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Alex Douglas-Kane shares her experiences and understanding of Discover Nature Awareness

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Peripheral or Wide Angle Vision...

is an important part of Nature Awareness it helps us to raise our levels of awareness by allowing us to experience beyond tunnel vision which is what most of us use most of the time, tunnel vision is like having horse blinkers on. So how do you get someone into peripheral vision? Start by getting everyone to stand in a space where, when they have their arms stretched out (as in picture below), they are not knocking into the person next to them, now begin by asking everyone to look straight ahead and throughout the whole of the exercise ask them to keep looking straight ahead, at this stage individuals are in tunnel vision, which is represented by the small dotted lines in the picture below.

With their arms stretched directly out in front of them, ask them to slowly move their arms further and further apart while still looking straight ahead, get them to watch their hands as they move them further apart and to keep doing this until their hands disappear from view. If their hands go out of view, ask them to bring them back into view and getting them to wiggle their fingers this helps them to see their hands at the extreme end of their peripheral, throughout they must continue to look straight ahead. Once they are able to see their hands and fingers while looking ahead, they are effectively in peripheral vision.

Some will ask you ‘do I have to do this exercise every time I want to get out of tunnel vision and into peripheral vision?’ The answer is NO, to help them get in and out of tunnel/peripheral particularly when they are blindfolded I usually get them to imagine that they are switching on a light (or you can choose something else), when they have done this several times it will become second nature to them provided they practice at it.

Some may want to know how to get out of peripheral vision, I say to them, simply turn the light off, might I suggest tough that by practising peripheral vision individuals levels of awareness will increase and you may find that they prefer this over tunnel vision, as tunnel vision is exactly what it suggests, ‘your vision is limited’. It is worth noting that for the facilitator this also comes with practise and in order to explain effectively how it works to your group, you might find it useful to practise it several times yourself before asking your group to engage with it.

The picture below best illustrates both tunnel and peripheral vision. For example you may find that your attention is drawn to the fox in the middle of the picture, this represents tunnel vision. However, if you enter into peripheral vision you will now see the two Native Americans on horseback moving through the trees. I have found that when people truly get into peripheral vision they experience the games and nature in way that they never have before, there is much more to see and experience.

Woodland Encounter by Bev Doolittle

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Urban and Rural Tracking & Detecting movement that is no longer there.

As a young soldier on patrol in Belfast in the 70's we had to watch out for animals of a different nature. Once while on patrol we observed in one street that the door knockers were all horses' heads, except for one which was a dogs head...

Every day you pass by Mrs Smith's house you notice that she has two bottles of gold top milk on her door step, then one day as you pass you notice two gold and three red top...

Chances were these houses were being used as either a safe house, bomb factory or training house?

Then one day I am in the countryside as part of a cordon while a search team goes into a derelict building to look for a weapons cache, as I moved around the wooded area I spotted a small plastic doll nailed to a tree pointing in the direction of a large lone tree sitting on a hill top which was indicting in the direction of three trees.

Could this be were the weapons are really hidden? Having an awareness can inform you of concentric rings that are not necessarily moving in the moment but have left tracks for you to follow after the event.

Thursday, 24 June 2010


I came across this on Bushcraft UK forum and thought I would share it with you. It seems some people are just so completely unaware that they have no regard for nature what so ever.

I felt sad when I saw this and I am pleased I did not come across them at the time.

The tree on the right and several others it seems caught fire as a result of the fire spreading through the roots, the problem here is the fire can burn this way for a long time and ignite many other trees.

Click on logo to read more on this.

Monday, 21 June 2010

The Wild Boar & Red Deer as Teachers

I saw my first UK Wild Boar yesterday along with some Red Deer and I wanted to know what they represented in terms of a Spirit Animal, so here it is:

has been the symbol of warriors for centuries. The Celts believed that the Boar, which they called Torc or Bacrie, was their ally in war and there are many Celtic myths surrounding this noble animal. Native American Indians make war masks in the likeness of the Wild Boar to frighten and intimidate their enemies.

The Boar’s head was used by many cultures as symbols of their countries of coat of arms. In particular Richard III of England took the Wild Boar as his personal Totem and coat of arms. The Wild Boar is mostly seen as a masculine entity and Totem, enriching the male virtues of bravery, nobility and fierceness in battle. The Wild Boar spirit will balance out male energy and ground the more virtuous aspects of the masculine nature.

The powerful Wild Boar has large tusks that can be deadly. They are fierce animals and signify the warrior spirit. This animal needs close body contact and tends to live in groups of fifty or more. They are clannish in nature but are wary of outsiders. Wild Boars are mostly thought of as noble and brave animals that enjoy social interaction within their group.

The Wild Boar possesses many animal virtues that are powerful and valuable and which any person would be wise to emulate or divine. One who has the power of the Wild Boar will see enhanced courage, fearlessness, and nobility; an increased ability to strategically plan action aimed at obtaining success. Prosperity, re-birth and chivalry are also all part of this noble totem’s magic.

The Brave Wild Boar Totem possesses the following virtues: Warrior strength, warrior mind, fierceness in battle, chivalry, nobility, prosperity, strategic skills, deadly accuracy, personal power, re-birth, organization, successful confrontation, comrade, respected leadership and pure masculine energy.

Wild Boar Animal Pearls are said to impart their particular magical virtues to their owner. Wild Boar Pearls are characteristic of its host animal; they possess all the awesome characteristics that may be seen in the Wild Boar itself; the nobility and courage of this animal is contained within the pearl waiting for its proper owner to bestow its inner magic to that unique and fortunate individual.

For century’s warriors, kings, leaders, strategic planners, army generals, shamans, spiritualists and practitioners of the occult have used Wild Boar animal pearls to transfer the powerful magical energy of the Wild Boar to themselves and to others in need of this commanding animal magic.

Wild Boar pearls are highly sought after by any wishing to absorb Wild Boar virtues into their lives and develop stronger mental abilities such as those embodied by this powerful creature. The owner of a Wild Boar pearl will see their lives, spiritual energy and mental clarity imbued with all of the virtues attributed to the “Warrior” of the lands, the Wild Boar. The Wild Boar animal totem is a strong spirit and its magical properties are one of the most influential of all animal totems. Strength, leadership, courage, warrior strength, nobility, prosperity, and so much more can be integrated into the spirit of the possessor of this magical pearl and the Wild Boar.

Copyright © 2006: Zahir Karbani UK Registration Number 253932
See also some Boar-ing stories

Red Deer Stag

With his impressive rack of antlers, Red Deer makes an awesome sight. His power and agility makes Red Deer, a challenge to hunt. For that reason, the Europeans regarded Him the “Lord of the Forest.” For many chieftains and kings, to bring Him down was proof of their power. Because of his regal bearing and grandeur, Red Deer became a part of European religions.

Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) is the Eurasian twin of North America Elk (Cervus elaphus). The largest surviving member of the ancient British forests, He first appeared before the Ice Age. After surviving the Ice Age, Red Deer went to North America and developed a separate life as Elk (Wapiti). There, He became a part of people’s religious lives also.

During the fall mating season, Red Deer uses his rack of antlers as a weapon to prove his worth to the Hinds (Females), He challenges other Stags for kingship of the Herd. In the rutting season, about a hundred Deer join together into one herd until winter. Then Stags separate to form their Bachelor Herds, while Hinds stay together in their group.

Red Deer offers a glimpse into the sacredness of nature. His regal bearing inspires people with awe. Because of Red Deer’s connection with ancient lives, He brings the old religions alive. He teaches what is worthy of worship and what is not.
Red Deer’s Wisdom Includes:
Connecting to The Ancient Past, Having Pride, Being Independent, Being Royal.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Mum and Dad were not Happy

Whilst out on a bimble one day during my second tour of the Falkland Islands my friend and I stopped to take in the scenery which was quite breathe taking. Almost immediately we became aware that a Skua which was close by was not very happy.

Out of curiosity I approached the Skua to find out what was going, suddenly he flew straight at (my mate was filming all this at the time) causing me to back up, the next thing I knew, he landed on my back. He did this several times until he had forced me to move some distance away from the original spot, then he flew off to this spot.

As we moved around giving them a wide berth, then saw another Skua and then we glimpsed several chicks. In that moment we then completely understood why I had been attacked. They were of course protecting their young.

Nice one... I would of course have done the same.

Photo: Geoffrey McMullan as he was backing away from the attacking Skua.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Health and Safety Gone MAD

We tell our children that traditional forms of outdoor play are against the rules, for example in order to play conkers they must now wear goggles and gloves to protect their eyes and hands, we remove trees from play areas and replace them with plastic ones surrounded by rubber matting. Then we get on their backs when they sit in front of the telly, it's almost like we are criminalising natural play, what happen to the days when as children we were told by our parents to "Go out and Play" and we weren't seen until dark time.

We would run through fields, go scrumping or follow a river, even look into a bird nest to see if it had young in it. Now, our children seem to experience nature through video games or films like Avatar what happened to their curious minds? And the endless questions that would drive adults mad.

Nature Deficit Disorder is growing and research shows that when our children are exposed to Nature, symptoms like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are greatly reduced as well as improving their cognitive abilities, resistance to depression and other negative stresses. Could this be because we have an innate relationship with our natural world? I believe we do have this relationship with nature, even the most hardened person cannot fail to be in awe when they first encounter an Eagle for example.

If we take the time line, the modern world is but a tear drop in the ocean, and our relationship with nature goes back thousands of years. This relationship is known to the scientific world as Biophilia, which is the urge or need for humans to affiliate themselves with other forms of life. In the army I have known soldiers to adopt stray dogs that would normally be put down under so called normal circumstances, given the job a soldier is asked to do, I believe this demonstrates the power of our connection to the natural world.

Nature as a healer is now starting to be recognised as a true source of healing and rightly so in my opinion. However, I think it will be a very long time before we see pharmaceutical adverts being taken over by slick commercials for Nature Therapy, I guess there is no money in healthy people.


Did they not say years ago when it first emerged that conservation would be the ruin of us all, that we would lose jobs and the so called do gooder's would destroy our way of life? And yet now, conservation is creating jobs and wealth across the world. Maybe we are at the early stages of another revolution?

The Return to Nature.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Yet more amazing writings from Peter

Peter Brandis is passionate about nature and soul and believes that we are all able to reconnect deeply to the natural world, and fall in love with it, and develop a relationship with nature. Only then, he believes, can we recreate beauty at the heart of our existence.

"We often fail to participate in the world around us. We have become an orphan culture, lacking true elders, never truly feeling at home. Reweaving our culture with deeper stories and honoring our elders (ancestors) will help us come home."

"Wandering in nature is perhaps the most essential soul craft practice for contemporary Westerners who have wandered so far from nature."
Bill Plotkin, Soul craft.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

The Earth Tree and the Invisibles...

This is a combination of two exercises which proved on the last Natural Awareness course to be very powerful. I first saw the Earth Tree being done by my friend Thomas Schorr-kon from Trackways many years ago and I thought one day I would like to use that in some way, little knowing then how I would use it.

Then while in the states another friend Tom McGee who I met at the Wilderness Therapy Symposium in Colorado in September 2009 used an exercise called 'The Invisibles.'

Quite often I will respond to my intuition when teaching, I sense the energy of the group and allow myself to be guided by that. It was during a part of the programme were I had planned a therapeutic walk that I decided to introduce 'The Earth Tree and the Invisibles.'

We found a wonderful spot where time was spent with a pair of Great Tits and their young who were living in the cavity of an old branch in a tree, a pair of Herons were also nesting high up in the trees not too far from us and the ground told the story's of many the deer that lived in and around this beautiful spot. It was here that we agreed to stay for 'The Earth Tree and the Invisibles.'

The men started to dig their holes and once done I then had the honour of filling in the earth around their feet up to their ankles, after a short period of silence to let them settle into the woods I took them on a guided journey of the invisibles. This involved looking at the parts of the tree we do not see and relating it back to ourselves and our life past, present and future.

During this time I went through what I can only describe as a transformation, I really felt connected to these men, the trees, the birds and everything that was around us. When I entered into their space the place they had chosen to be planted it really felt like I had to enter and leave that area by a certain route, I was not allowed to cut across the wood even if it was the shortest way to go. I also found myself to be in a state of bliss while delivering this part of the workshop.

At the end, they were asked to leave their place in the woods and to return to camp in their own time, I really felt it was now my place to get to camp light the fire and put the water on for a brew, this felt really important, for them to arrive home to a raging fire and a hot drink.

We spend a long time in silence during all this time. Words were really not needed at all.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Tracking Awareness

Hi Geoffrey

Thanks very much for that tracking booklet it is a real gem of information that will help me get started on the road to tracking! Okay, last night I was thinking about the course, in fact have been thinking about it a lot since then!…

“I enjoyed the tracking course very much, and the name of Lifting the Veil for the course is an apt description as it certainly opened up my eyes to the amazing and ancient art of tracking. I found your teaching style laid back, easy to follow and very informative. The informal atmosphere of camping, cooking our own meals around a common camp fire was great as it gave everyone the opportunity to get to know each other.

The Forrest was a great place to test our tracking skills, but one of the most amazing experiences was the getting to know a tree experience. I could well relate to this on the “spiritual” side of tracking while it may seem alien to people from the West, however, it is a common aspect of life here in Africa, and it really sharpened my senses. I also think that this exercise was the perfect example of actually becoming whatever it is you are tracking – getting into their mind, which is probably the difference between an average tracker and excellent tracker. I look forward to applying these new found skills in the future, and attending your more advanced course.”

Shane Engelbrecht
South Africa

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

The Invisible Bird...

While out laying a trail for my tracking course to follow, As I entered into a small area of woodland I could hear a bird calling out, I tried to locate it and every time I stepped forward to locate it, its call came from behind me, when I stepped back a few paces its call was in front of me.

Where is it? I was having real trouble finding this mystery bird, I know from my years of birding that birds are very good at throwing their voices and yet I could not find this one, until.

I looked down and right beneath me there he was a young Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus) nestled into the undergrowth and within an inch of him was my track.

I was so thankful that I had not stepped on this little chap which was only 4-5 days old and its mother must have been relieved when I left the area, during this whole experience she was chatting quite anxiously in the background trying to draw my attention towards her, I guess in the hope of leading me away from her young.