New beginnings

It has been a long time since I have written a blog post because so much has been ongoingly changing in the last year. I wanted to wait until the dust and ash had settled and I knew where I would be before I wrote.

As I write it is almost a year since the fires raged here on October 15th 2017 which turned so many lives – including mine – upside down, often in surprising and unexpected ways. For me, it is a time of reflection, remembrance and closure. As I write, two days from when, in 2017, the vestiges of Hurricane Ophelia hit us from across the Atlantic and relit all the fires that had been started the week before, we are experiencing crazy winds from another hurricane – Leslie – apparently the first tropical hurricane to ever hit Portugal. I think all of us in the region are feeling viscerally reminded of those fateful winds one year ago.

I am writing to let you know what is happening with Awakened Forest Project after a year of unexpected change. Marko and I separated just months after the fire as he realised he wanted a different life to the one we had been creating and in June he decided to move back to Austria. It took until August for me to raise the money to buy our land from him. It has been a month since I have been back here in this wild and dignified mountain hermitage that always calls me home. Soon my name will be on the papers that legally describe this land as ‘mine’. I have never related to ownership of land, how can we own that which belongs to all, that owns us? I just know this place is home and I feel honoured to find myself in its protection and guardianship.

I have decided to continue the Awakened Forest Project alone. I am still committed to the Vision of the Project as it was given to us by these mountains years ago but naturally, the details will evolve and change as I take the reigns alone. After a busy summer of inspiration and input, I have now re-landed at Esmegada – the original name of Quinta da Floresta - and I am reconnecting with the spirits of the land, water, bees and other animals and plants.  Visions and plans for next steps are bubbling through. I will write more about these very soon. 

Sometimes it can feel very overwhelming to even get started. I am not skilled with tools and wood like Marko and there was always too much for two people to do here let alone one! But it took a lot of soul searching and listening to deeper inner guidance to come to the decision to buy the place and continue alone, so when the doubts arise I remember that. Plus, I am surrounded by so many amazing people, animals and beings who help and support me in myriad ways. So there is no reason to feel like I will need to struggle alone. As hard as it is sometimes to do so, I have plenty of people to ask for help.

First on the practical to-do list is winter-proofing the amazing new hall we were building that will allow the Project to host many more people. When finished and insulated this stunning and dramatic 55 m2space will be a multi-functional, multi-season space for meditation, ceremony, workshop, sleeping, dancing. It will mean I can run courses, retreats and host work teams all year round, which is particularly useful as forest work happens in the winter when it is too cold to camp. I can see it becoming the physical heart of the project. My next project is to raise the money to complete the work needed. I have enough to get started and pay my friend Tom to do the work but to give the space it’s maximum potential I will need to raise more. 

My other priorities have been water and wood to make sure I am set for the winter alone. With the help of my amazing brother and neighbour David, I have been getting familiar with the workings of the ram-pump – not always so straightforward!! - and the other day I cleaned out the sluice gate alone in anticipation of the rains. It was filled with so much silt and ash washed down from the naked mountains it brought tears to my eyes.

The next job is making myself firewood for the coming winter. I bought my first pair of chainsaw trousers and my good friend Ricardo Gonçalves (Vida em Transiçao) gave me back a decent, small chainsaw that years ago we gave him when we bought a new one. Now he has a newer one so he returned the favour - the gift economy in action. It’s nice and small for me to handle and now I’m all set for my lessons next week!

So thank you for reading this far. I appreciate your interest and support of the Project. 

The last 12 months have been so turbulent in every way - personally, emotionally, climatically, collectively - but now I feel a time of celebration and collective work for a positive vision of unity and regeneration coming through us in many ways. More on this coming soon.

Article: 
Blog

Events

Quinta da Floresta, Benfeita Saturday November 24th 10.30 - 5pm

I am very happy to announce another opportunity to begin to learn the art and science of foraging in our beautiful valley in the Serra do Açor.

Quinta da Floresta, Benfeita - Date TBC 2018

People have retreated to wild places for millennia to find inner peace and a greater perspective on life. Nature, in it’s simplicity and beauty, supports a profound relaxation in body, mind and soul.

LATEST BLOG POSTS

It has been a long time since I have written a blog post because so much has been ongoingly changing in the last year. I wanted to wait until the dust and ash had settled and I knew where I would be before I wrote.

Many of the plants and trees the bees and other insects thrive on have burnt in the October fires and will not be flowering this year and some not next year either if they recover at all. Here are my suggestions on how to help the pollinators through these lean times.

God these are heartbreaking times. Rain that was so longed for in the summer is now pouring off these hills taking soil and stone and track with it onto the terraces and into rivers.

Many people have asked us how they can help in the wake of the fires and all we have lost. We are very touched and grateful for these offers of support. Here are some ways you can help:

 
We have started building the second floor of the workshop!! This will be our last major build here and will provide a dormitory and meditation/workshop room which will increase our capacities for events and hosting people, especially outside of the summer months.