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Season 3, Episode 20:
Earth’s Whispers: Embracing Winter's Wisdom


Marina Robb

Hosted by: Marina Robb

In this episode, Marina discusses: 

I’m not feeling so well here today, full of cold, but before I take my own advice and slow down, I wanted to reflect on this season and how our lives can be supported and understood by noticing the living world around us.

What are the other animals and plants up to? In the northern hemisphere, Winter gives us an opportunity to go within, to spend some time with ourselves and our loved ones during the holiday times, and take some time off responding to the external demands.

Historically as we approach the Winter Solstice, it was a time to dream and build a hopeful vision of the year ahead as well as restore ourselves enough to maintain health over the scarcer months still ahead.

  • How nature reminds us to listen and slow down
  • The wisdom of trees
  • What this time of year provokes and invites
  • Remembering the importance of welcoming in the new and the strange

Music by Geoff Robb: www.geoffrobb.com 

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(transcribed by AI so there maybe some small errors!)

Hello, and welcome to The Wild Minds Podcast for people interested in health, nature-based therapy and learning. We explore cutting edge approaches that help us improve our relationship with ourselves, others and the natural world. My name is Marina Robb, I'm an author, entrepreneur, for a school outdoor learning and nature-based trainer and consultant, and pioneer in developing green programs for the health service in the UK.

You're listening to Episode 20. Earth's Whispers, Embracing Winter's Wisdom. So, I'm not feeling so well today, I'm full of cold. But before I take my own advice and slow down, I want to reflect on this season, and how our lives can be supported and understood by noticing the living world around us. What are the other animals and plants up to winter in the Northern Hemisphere, no doubt gives us an opportunity to go within to spend some time with ourselves loved ones and holiday time and take some time off responding to those external demands. Historically, as we approach the winter solstice, it was a time to dream and build a hopeful vision of the year ahead, as well as restore ourselves enough to maintain health over the scarce and months that are still ahead.

Today, I want to share my sayings, my gratitude to all of the non-human species out there. And I'm thinking particularly about the trees and the plants and all the animals that live in the world like we do. And as some of you can hear, I've got a cold, so I'm going to do my best to, to communicate clearly. And it made me really think about the importance of slowing down and how so many people so many of us can get ill when we don't slow down and we don't listen, and we don't rest. And nature really, really reminds us to follow our own seasons to notice times when we need to be like the summer be like the sun be bright and full of energy and times when we need to be much quieter, and go within and tend to ourselves and rest and listen to ourselves.

And I've also been really noticing how it's just so easy to fall into that idea of talking about nature, like it's out there, like I just did, about the trees that are out there, or the animals are out there. And really, really just forgetting that as a human, that I'm not nature as well. And I think we've spent 1000s and 1000s of years doing this so that we're at this point in time, where we forget that we are part of nature. And I hear so many times in the kind of world that I'm within about remember that we're part of nature. But to do that it's not a thinking thing, because our heads are always trying to kind of categorize and separate things and put that object there. But actually when we get out of our heads and into our feelings and into our senses, it's there that we can start to feel that we are the same that we share so much with this natural living world, and that the senses that we have our responses to light our responses to being touched our responses to chemicals that exist outside and inside hide of us really, really affects the way we feel. And, and that we can actually help ourselves by being much, much more sensitive to these things that are going on.

So, nature really is a challenging word, because it is I said it, others, it others everything that's out there. And I've been thinking about that as well this other ring that goes on that we other nature has been kind of separate from us and we other people that are different from us. And that really kind of when we other things, we kind of somehow end up in this kind of potential at least to have this kind of hierarchy going on, that something is better than when we other something instead of really this sense of there's deep equality, there's deep living equality, where we are all alive, and all have a place if you're like, in a circle of life, you know.

And there's this part of me that even when I say the circle of life, you know, everyone always laughs that because my other organization is called Circle of Life Rediscovery, and you know, how Elton John song Circle of Life is kind of so kind of twee, you know, and actually, in a way by making it twee, if that's the right word, it kind of makes it all very kind of nice, and not grounded in what we mean when we say the circle of life. And actually, traditions on this land here in the UK, and in Europe, and other traditions all over the world, followed this circle.

These circles that existed around, let's say, the Wheel of the Year, that really, really helped us to connect and appreciate and value this relationship that we have with life with everything that is living. And at this time of year, which at the moment is December here. It's that time of year in the northern hemisphere where the light is becoming less and less, and we're entering right into the middle of winter, which we call the winter solstice on the 21st of December, which I know is celebrated by multiple cultures around the world as well. But it's time of year whereas the darkness grows, and in that darkness, it feels like there is that potential for new life. And I think that kind of metaphor is so important as well, that in the darkness, there is potential for new life and that can feel important also for the emotions or even when you're not well like when I've been lying in bed, coughing my guts out and feeling very sorry for myself and kind of fighting it that when I allow myself to go into that place and to be alongside it rather than kind of fighting it or defending myself.

There's some kind of relaxed, peace relaxing this, the kind of that comes I suppose that sort of surrender of being in a place that's really uncomfortable. And being alongside that and trusting that from that something else will come. And the earth and the land show us that. So, if you've been walking in the woods lately, you'll see that at this point of the year, all the trees that lose their leaves, have now lost their leaves and they've carpeted the ground with leaves. And it's like a carpet over the earth that somehow keeps the warmth, enough warmth in the soil, this soil that's teeming with life. And this carpet this blanket has covered all those seeds that have grown through the year all those seeds that came from those flowers, those beautiful flowers of the summer that were fertilized and produce these fruits or the seeds have landed. Either dropped or eaten, landed on the soil and have been covered by this blanket of, of leaves.

So just imagine for a moment, that whilst we see the Earth as this quiet, potentially restful place, all the potential for life is in the earth. All those seeds have the potential for life and they're not objects. They're not what I mean by objects, they're not lifeless, they're not. What's that word in a, you know, they have life in them. That acorn that has the oak tree in them that Hawthorn berry that has the hawthorn tree in them, all those seeds, and the potential for growth. So, I've been really thinking about an observing that happened this year. And I've been observing that this time of year is kind of linked as it is to the winter, it's linked to the old age, to the kind of wintering of your life or the season of elderhood. And in some ways, here, I've been seeing the trees and the leaves curling in and the kind of layers of wrinkles of those older trees and the pulling in and I don't know, if any one of you have been spending any time with older people recently, and, and especially older people that are at the end of their life, you can see this really kind of, in a way, a very, very, very gentle kind of pulling in and curling in towards the end of their life as they, as that kind of nourishment comes within and is finding a place to rest.

And, and in that time in, in that time, in that time of life in that time of that season, in that winter time, it becomes clear that you can dream, the potential of that seed or that life, that possible life is the possibility of dreaming the possibility of imagining what might be what could be what might be coming. And, yeah, it feels so important at this time. If you can out there, wherever you are in the world, to give some time to your dream, to the seeds that you've loud to fall that have fallen from you in different ways that are often covered, those little seeds are often covered in those fruit, but they need to rest and they need to have time, to compose to be blanketed, to go into that darkness, to go into that darkness like little stars, to dream and to see what is possible. And it feels that this time as we approach the winter solstice that we can think about that, that possibility of what we want to call into the next period of time, and what we need in order to nurture those dreams and those hopes.

And at the same time to really feel this relationship with our fellow natural world, that we are part of our fellow species and to remember that, that if we can treat something that we don't know, as a kind of powerful stranger and that we know that those things that we don't know they may have a different way of communicating they may look different to us. But how exciting that they are different to us that they hold a piece of life that is different to us that we can learn from that seems so important. So, we need community everything that lives that lives needs other things to live. And it feels to me that this is a time to really celebrate community and to find ways of giving to community, to giving to somebody else to listening deeply Eat, and to really being kind, and finding ways to, to be helpful and, and to know deeply that there is this constant relationship between everything, and that we can trust, when we give that there, we will also receive, because it there is no way of that not happening in some way.

And I'm thinking out there, if you're listening that to remember to consider somebody or something that that you've received something for and to have that gratitude for that. Again, at this time of year, I wanted to kind of name about the importance of hospitality and welcoming and feels like in the world out there that we've in a way been conditioned to fight to learn, survive, and to think about our own individual needs. And that is important. But in doing that, we ended up kind of being quite isolated, that we have to look after our immediate things, and we, and then we don't have a community so easily this is particularly in the West, where we're very much brought up with this kind of individual lens.

And not actually there's comfort of having a community that we can support, and they can support us. And I know that there are so many other cultures that, that aren't brought up like that, that are brought up to really value the community. And, and I don't even mean to say just in the West, because that's just so not true. You know, it could also be a very class thing, that that, you know, that kind of more wealthier that people become, the more individualistic they become, perhaps because we fear we're going to lose it. Whereas, actually, when we work as a community, we're more likely to be able to lean into each other and trust each other. And know that when we're not okay, that we can actually be supported.

And that's mirrored, also in the way that the plants work with each other that they're off, always feeding each other in different ways. As we know, the recent research around the way the older trees will make sure that younger trees have what they need to grow, and so on. So, let's remember about the importance of hospitality and welcoming and thinking about how we can do that. And how we can take that risk of changing something about ourselves changing something about the way we think that is different, you know, all this idea of wildness and domestication, this domesticated is really about that conditioning of being enclosed in thing. Kind of this idea that when we domesticate, we create these kinds of fences around us in a way and we become we lose our kind of wild ourselves, this ability to kind of go right out and explore different places explore different ways of thinking. And, and when we do that, we can have some really wonderful experiences and learn from other people.

So, with that, I'm going to leave you with a thought of the holly tree. holly trees feel really important at this time of year it's an evergreen tree, and it kind of symbolizes the life thought the life force in the depths of winter. And if you can imagine that, Holly, that deep green, Holly, that stays that deep green, perhaps with its red berries, despite many, many of the other trees losing their leaves at this time of year and this tree is regarded of as a tree of great strength. It represents the potency of this life force in the mists of darkness. And it helps us to think about and bring this idea of balance power. This idea of shared power, it's a word that burns brightly at strongly and just like so many of the plants It's got the leaves that surprisingly you can make a cup of tea with. You can actually put a couple of leaves into a tree into a tree. You could actually put a couple of leaves into a mug and make an infusion. And as you can see, as my nose fills up, and I need to blow my nose is a tea for colds, catarrh, influenza, and it really helps with coughs. So, folks, that's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna go find myself a holly leaf, and make myself a cup of tea. See you soon. Bye.

Join me on Christmas Day for Episode 21 When you'll meet and Angharad Wynne, who will take us on an ancient journey through time of myth, folklore and spirituality of pre–Christian Britain. We explore animistic philosophy and we have a deep and wholehearted conversation that I am sure you will enjoy. But those of you feeling unwell, I wish your health, rest and healing.

Thank you for listening to this episode of The Wild Minds Podcast. If you enjoyed it and want to help support this podcast, please subscribe, share and leave a rating and review wherever you get your podcasts. Your review will help others find the show.

To stay updated with The Wild Minds Podcast and get all the behind-the-scenes content. You can visit the www.theoutdoorteacher.com or follow me on Facebook at theoutdoorteacherUK and LinkedIn, Marina Robb.
The music was written and performed by Geoff Robb. See you next week. Same time, same place.