I have been blessed this summer with much time spent wandering the moor. Sometimes with treasured company, however, more often alone. I like walking solo. It is when the connection to everything around me feels the strongest and noisy thoughts in my mind take a snooze.
When I meet fellow walkers, or locals to the land, I feel connected to them. Whether we have a conversation or simply acknowledge each other, we share something that cannot be expressed with words. I generally feel like I am different to many people and feel socially awkward as a result. While walking I meet younger people, older people, families, people from different geographical backgrounds, locals and visitors, and yet I feel an affinity with many of the people I come upon. The emotion felt is love, through a sense of human kinship. An understanding of how we are all uniquely individual and yet intrinsically connected, whether we realise or not.
I encountered a variety of creatures. The famous ponies. Farm animals like sheep and cattle. Birds of various sizes, each with their own specific mannerisms and calls. Hearing the call of crows brought a smile of familiarity, as I am attracted to a family of leucistic crows that visit my garden. An array of insects, most of whom seemed to consider warm blood as an invitation to dine. Beautiful butterflies. A wasp that landed a sting, as I was considering impulsively changing my route, seemed to be giving a warning. I acknowledged its forced pause and continued as planned. Some creatures remained unseen but raised alarm with the sound of their movement close by in the undergrowth.
With many animals there is a moment when you lock eyes on each other, both consciously aware of the others existence. Which is rather intriguing. A bow of the head, being the first to look away, or gentle speech, seemed a universal way of reducing the sense of threat. A sheep stamped its feet on the granite seemingly in protest of my approach, yet soon returned to eating as I paused and softly verbalized my intention to walk past, lowering my head and maintaining peripheral sight of it as I did so. I walked among cows frequently. Encountered mating cattle was disconcerting yet fascinating. However, one encounter with a heard of cows, early into a walk, unnerved me to the extent that less than halfway through the heard, I gave up, returning to a previous point to consider my options. The foreboding feeling that they could stampede at any moment was overwhelming. Fortunately, I met a group of walkers heading in the same direction and passed the heard with them. There was common agreement that the tension was intense yet there seemed to be no apparent reason, calving time had passed. I was left questioning what it is we sense at these times? Thankfully I will never know if they would have threatened my safety had I continues alone.
The vastness of the land is magnificent. The heights you can observe and the abundance of space on the open moor provides an unusual perspective. Many thoughts and worries seem to get lost in all the space, some never to return in quite the same way. They effortlessly change or ease.
Many secrets hide in the nooks and crannies just visible in the landscape. They reward or challenge those who inquire. Distant specks are revealed to be towering tors, dramatic river valleys, lush forests. The vastness can feel intimidating, whilst also stirring a sense of insignificance that can comfort, and even allure. In clear weather views go on for several miles. I consider whether life could be viewed the same way. When seen from a far enough distance, the struggles, hardships and sacrifices appear hardly noticeable within the intricate masterpiece of life.
As I walk the land, I am prepared for what guidebooks and maps suggest I may encounter but none of these indicators can honestly capture the way the land changes as it interaction with other elements. The way channels of water weave through the landscape, cutting a path which displays the established relationship sustained over many years. The relationship between land and water can be problematic when walking. However, the various form of water provides many resources necessary for maintaining plants, trees and animals. The challenge of finding crossing point over brooks and rivers is balanced by the pleasure obtained from pausing for a paddle whilst absorbing the sights. Marshlands and bogs are rather common and potentially treacherous in parts. I am aware of the notorious areas and stay clear. However, I was able to cover many areas of the moor, thanks to the dry ground and low rivers.
Walking out here invokes a state of soft alertness as your senses feel the ground and space around you, without much effort, but continually updating your awareness with information. The Summer is the time when the land is most predictable, and conditions are more reliable. This is the season where I get to cover larger distances, without feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable. There are risks to walking alone on the moor, most guidebooks advise against it, but alone out here, is when I am most alive. I become my inner warrior, in union, with the land and other elements. They remind me to be humble and respectful whilst encouraging me to be strong and resilient. They teach the wisdom of being flexible and adapting to maintain the flow of time. I learn to recognise vulnerability, fear and at times have my deepest hidden emotions reflected back to me, perhaps for my attention, showing how I may develop or heal.
The natural world, to me, is not a mechanical one. It is alive. Evolving, manifesting and transforming, through a matrix of matter intertwined with energy and who knows what else. The mysteries seem beyond conception, and yet, time spent in nature seems to open my heart and increase a sense of belonging and from that comes trust. We are only alive on this incredible planet because of multitudes of miracles, which we had no hand in and no control over. I cannot explain why we came about or give any assurance of plan or purpose. However, much like the tree, or the bird, or the cow, we are here – alive – on a life-giving planet. We should be united in celebration with all other beings over this realisation.
I am not sure when humans stopped trusting and sort to carve out their own path of existence separate from nature, but it has left us cut off from Source, isolated and afraid. It is time for humans to reconnect, to recognise the beautiful home which we share with so many other amazing creature and lifeforms. We need to let go of control and seek to harmonize, appreciate and love.
The intention of this blog is to celebrate the magnificence of nature and our connection to it. To share the idea that everything in the universe is part of the same whole. In this way, our actions have the power to influence our surroundings. We are able to choose the seeds we wish to sow, not for our own self-interest. We do not own the seeds. We grow them to serve the whole because we want to give back and we want to be at peace. Reunited.
Fear has left us wanting to own or control everything. Thinking too much has taken over from feeling and being. This simply isn’t working. A growing number of people are becoming aware of this now. The land, nature and all the unnameable forces and elements are around us, all the time. We need to be able to slow down and take the time to notice them. To clear out unnecessary thoughts and make space to experience with our senses and through our hearts. This is the path of reconciliation. The way in which the true power of our human nature can be realised.
4 thoughts on “Dartmoor, My Mystical Teacher.”
Having just read your blog I feel like I have the most wonderful thought provoking walk with nature, which I will return to many times without even putting my walking boots on!
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Thank you. Xx
Love this. As I read your words I am there too ❤
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Thank you. X