Indigenous peoples from across the world have relied on the More-than-Human-World for messages and omens. The founding of Tenochtitlan, the ancient Aztec name for what is now Mexico City, is said to have occurred when the prophecy of witnessing an eagle attacking a snake. The birth of a white buffalo calf is heralded as a highly important spiritual event by many plains Native American tribes in the United States. Throughout time, animals and birds have represented archetypal human experiences, and their symbolic powers were revered and respected. In this week's blog post, ANFT Guide in Training and Staff Member Jenny Harrow shares with us her experience of this potent healing symbolism, and invites us to notice what creatures of the More-than-Human-World appear to us in our daily lives. Perhaps they are trying to send us a message, and it is up to us to simply notice them.
Our gardens are like little sections of 'wild' in suburbia. They provide us with opportunity to tend the land, nurture plants, observe the seasons, and interact with the More Than Human World. They offer us solace from our busy lives and drop us into a way of interacting with Time that is more akin to the way of our ancestors did than modern day living. They are, in essence, sanctuaries. In this week's blog post, guest writer Sylvie Young shares with us her story of planting and tending a garden in New Jersey in the aftermath of 9/11, and how this plot of land helped her move the grief afterwards. May this piece inspire you to spend a little more time in your own garden, or to plant one of your own.
The More Than Human world offers us a glimpse into untamed living. We are able to witness with our very eyes the processes of life and death, and experience Life without boundaries. This is what draws us to the forest; to experience this rawness. Within the bare-bones of wild-Earth, we are able to glean insights and understandings about our own life, and come away feeling like we have just had a conversation with a Wise Elder. Guest writer Jennifer Obbard takes us on a journey of opening ourselves up in order to receive these messages. In a powerful yet gentle way, Obbard lures us into slowing down enough to hear the small voice and feel the welcoming embrace of Mother Nature.
Hello dear readers, the is Denell Nawrocki- ANFT's Blog Editor.
I wanted to drop in to say hello and express my gratitude for all you who are reading this. This blog has been a wonderful project which I have nurtured for over a year now, and the slow development of a readership warms my heart. I receive messages from all over the world from people who have found ANFT through the blog, and I am honored to be doing my part to share the message of the Medicine of Nature and the Forest.
This week I have something extra for you that I cannot wait to share. Blogs are generally published on Thursdays and we have the had the opportunity to feature guest authors from over seven countries, providing many voices to the conversation of nature and forest therapy. However, it is not too often a story is shared by our founder, Amos Clifford, on this platform.
I have the pleasure of working alongside Amos and receive many of his stories as to how ANFT came about and the insight he has derived through the development of this practice. Yet, I realize that so many of you do not have this opportunity- to hear stories of deep nature connection from Amos.
And so, as a little something extra, I offer you a story as told by Amos- a story of how nature presents to you exactly what you need in order to receive necessary insights, no matter what they be.
Sometimes synchronicity occurs, yet in the moment, we don't quite know that it was a synchronous moment. Sometimes you have an experience that appears to just be another event in the flow of your life, yet you look back years later and realize that you had unknowingly crossed a bridge that would ultimately transform your life for the better. Sometimes these experiences are whispered into your life, not by friends or family, but by members of the more-than-human-world. In this week's blog, Certified Forest Therapy Guide Christy Thomson shares with us the story of her deepening relationship with plants- helpers who seemed to magically appear when she needed them the most. May this story inspire you to remember your own 'first-encounter' with plant medicines, and to remember it fondly.
New York, New York: The Big Apple. What comes to mind when you think of this location? Concrete? Sky scrapers so tall you can't even see the top? People? Cars? I'm sure you don't think of nature or trees or flowers. When I first think of nature and New York City, the two sound like antonyms to me. But I am so wrong. New York City resident Jill Lanier is here to set the story straight- that one CAN connect to nature in downtown Manhattan; you just have to look for it. In this week's blog, Lanier takes us on a walking tour of the tiny pockets of natural goodness that can be found dead smack in the middle of the concrete jungle. We hope this piece inspires all you urban dwellers to expand your notion of nature, and to connect with the more than human world that can be found alongside and among the grandeur of the city.
To the surprise of many, Medical Doctors are listening to the call of the Forests. Park Prescription Programs are popping up around the globe, and slowly but surely the Western Medical establishment is recognizing the benefits of nature and forest therapies on the mental health and physical wellness of their patients. This, is a beautiful thing. This week's blog post is the story of one medical doctor's journey to the healing forests of Japan- the birthplace of Shinrin Yoku and Forest Bathing. It is a beautiful story of remembrance, admiration, and recognition of the simplicity of 'just being'.
The forest holds nuggets of wisdom that show us ways to live in balance and harmony in our lives. The most observed of these teachers- besides those of the plant kingdom- are the birds. Living high in the tree tops, soaring from tree to tree, and spending little time on the ground, bird are our winged allies while in nature. In forest bathing experiences, bird language brings us into the intelligence of our bodies in order to translate, and very often provide spectacles and display which sometimes mirror what we are experiencing in our own lives. Guest writer Amanda Foxcroft helps us translate some of their wisdom. She guides us into noticing how our feathered friends' lives support our own and invites us to incorporate the way of the bird into our daily experience.
a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration,
caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.
In Forest Therapy, we wonder a lot. We wonder what will happen if we plop a stone into a stream. We wonder what the dirt may taste like on our fingers. We wonder where in the forest is that creaking tree we hear. That is what Forest Therapy is; wondering and acting (or not acting) and then noticing. As children, we are filled with wonder- curiosity supporting our every decision- yet somewhere along the way on the journey to adulthood, we lose it. We lose that lustful sense of wonderment. However, this doesn't have to be so. In this week's blog, guest writer Rebecca Lexa provides us with five ways to incorporate more wonder into our lives with the intention of expanding our awareness to incorporate the beauty and nature surrounding us at all times. We hope this piece sparks wonder within you and guides you on a curious journey.
Credibility of nature therapies is increasing around the world. More and more health care and medical systems are coming to recognize and validate the healing potentials found in nature exposure, and are moving towards implementing these 'alternative' therapies into practice. This is especially exciting for us here at the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, whose mission is to mobilize health care networks to connect people with nature. The following article was sent to the ANFT headquarters by the Nursing @ Georgetown University Online FNP Program Team, and is an incredible resource of cited scientific articles, educational materials, and an infographic which is free to use by the public. The article describes the ways in which nurse practitioners are incorporating nature prescriptions into their practice, and offers tools for other nurse practitioners to bring more nature to their patients. This high-caliber article is testament to the growing trend of nature therapies in Western medical system, and we are honored to share it with you here.
Blog pieces are written by ANFT Writers, guest contributors, and introduced by Blog Editor Denell Nawrocki. Submissions may be emailed to Denell at ANFTsubmissions@gmail.com for consideration.