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Guardian Way Blog

The only constant is change

The saying “The only constant is change” is not only a Guardian motto, but applicable for all of us. We might long for stability, safety, security, and/or predictability, especially when it comes to the economy, states, and relationships. But if we live long enough, we learn that we can’t really rely on anything.

Changes can be triggered by seemingly random events, or as a very intentional act. But they happen if we want them or not. Often, the only three things we think we can do is:

  • Bury our heads in the sand and try to ignore it as long as we possibly can,
  • Externalize by blaming someone or something else, or
  • Accept it how it is, and adapt our lives and actions accordingly.

Different forms of acceptance

Acceptance might sound to some people as if we have to sit still and put up with whatever bad thing might happen. But that’s not the only way. Healthy acceptance means to take a situation as it is, but instead of stopping here, evaluate if it crosses any of our boundaries, goes against any of our values, or simply doesn’t feel right. Then we can think about actions to take in order to change this current situation.

How to embrace whatever is

To accept a situation, we need to stop judging something as good or bad. Things simply are. If we judge something as bad, we feel that something shouldn’t have happened or shouldn’t be happening. This feeling is a form of resistance that keeps us locked in an unsolvable situation. We might even look for someone to blame or shame. Just so that we don’t have to feel the feelings coming up for us. It sounds simple to truly embrace what is, but it takes a lot of practice, dedication, and inner strength.

Vision or Mission can help

If we have a strong overall vision for our life or project, or a very clearly defined Mission, they can help us stay focused on what’s important, instead of getting tangled up in the web of frustration, sadness, anger, or self-pity.

We can remind ourselves of what’s important, why we started to walk this path, and what we aim to accomplish. That way, if some parameters change, if some approach doesn’t work (any more), we can find alternatives that may not seem as perfect as the original plan, but might just as well turn out to be so much better in the long run.

The infinite game

Ultimately, we’re all in a game. Trying out what works and what doesn’t. Experimenting with existing hypotheses and applying them to new situations. The question, however, is if we’re playing a finite or an infinite game.

In a finite game there are winners and losers. There is a defined start and end. An infinite game, on the other hand, is geared towards staying in the game as long as we can. Basketball is a finite game. Life is an infinite game. And as long as we know which game we’re playing, and don’t try to play an infinite game with a finite mind set, we will always find new ways, new approaches and new perspectives to a situation.

Adapting to change in the Guardian Way

For a Guardian, being present, flexible, and ready to adapt to any change is simply a way of being. We thrive on adversity, since it always brings us an opportunity to train, learn and grow. Even when nothing seems to change, Guardians train to stay flexible; to be ready to change direction, if something unexpected happens.

Being a Guardian and being of service is an infinite game. We know, there are no winners or losers. Our aim is to keep playing. To stay in the game as long and as effectively as possible.

How the Guardian Way team implemented this motto

We offer regular trainings to dive into being a Guardian since 2020. But in the white season of 2023/24 difficult circumstances meant that we had to make the hard decision to cancel the training as we had planned it. Instead of getting upset and giving up, we adapted to the circumstances. We didn’t judge the situation as good or bad. Instead, we assessed what was possible and what wasn’t. Then we looked for ways to still follow the main vision, while adapting to the circumstances.

The original training had the focus of Becoming Wolf, both with the intention to learn from them by tracking and living like them and to raise awareness for their dire situation, especially in Scandinavia. Since this wasn’t possible, we decided on a smaller, more specific Mission instead of the training, still with the Mission of tracking and learning from Wolves and raising awareness. But with only people from the team and other experienced individuals. That way we were still able to step up and serve the Wolves – just in a slightly different way. And it turned out that this whole Mission was following that same motto…


Guardian Mission Jan 2024

31. December 2023 @ 08:00 9. January 2024 @ 15:00

Since the Guardian Training Becoming Wolf 2024 will not happen as planned, but will be postponed to jan/feb 2025. Instead we want to announce, that some of our team will be going on their own Guardian Mission.

This will already happen after Christmas and until mid of January 2024, and we are inviting people who already have some experience in Wilderness Living in Winter, as well as some knowledge about the Guardian Way to join us.

The Mission

As with how it would have been for the Training, we will be having Wolves as our big focus for this Mission. They are massively threatened by people who don’t understand the Wolve’s role in the ecosystem, or simply don’t care about the impact it has to not have those predators in our woods.

So we will go to an area where there is a known Wolf pair, and try to learn more about them, their behaviour, territory, needs, etc. and communicate our findings.

We will also video-document this Mission, so that more awareness can come to the issue, as well as showing how training as a Guardian can help us step up and stand with what we believe in. To become our fully actualized Self.

The mission will also include a personal challenge for everyone who joins. Since we will not have an established base camp to store food, and we will be nomadic, we will have only very little food to sustain us for the approximately 10 days we will be out there.

So, if you feel called to join us, you need to consider some things:

  • you can only join us if you have some Wilderness Living experience in Winter, as well as some knowledge about the Guardian or Scout
  • this will not be a regular training, but a mission. We will all challenge ourselves, so this is even more of an experience where you need to take full responsibility for your own actions.
  • this has the potential to be a lot harder than a regular Guardian Training where anyone regardless of their prior experience can join and where there is a clear frame we follow
  • we will be filming and publishing our experience, so if you don’t want to share about your journey on the internet, this is not the right experience for you.

If everything mentioned before is fine with you, and you still want to join, contact us at connect@guardianway.eu

Guardian Way Blog Wolf

Becoming Wolf 2023 – Letting go of Expectations

Every training, every experience is different. Especially immersive trainings like the Guardian Training, that is aimed to adapt to the needs of each unique set of people being a part of it. And for each person, it is a very different experience.

It was our third training like this in total, and the second time we focused specifically on wolves and our connection to them and what we can learn from them. Two turns of the seasons ago, we were lucky enough to follow a wolfpack through their territory for basically the whole time of the immersion. Being on a mission and having a very clear focus. This time was very different. And it had a lot to do with letting go of expectations.

Becoming Wolf without wolves?

Before the immersion started, it looked like we might not be able to find any sign of wolves. The area that had been home to at least four individuals only a few moon-cycles before the immersion seemed to have emptied out. It could be, that there was simply nobody out there at the right time to find the tracks, or they moved on. Another reason might be that they got poached, which is sadly something that happens more often than you think. So when we found some sign of wolf activity in a more distant area, we jumped on the opportunity. One of the Guardian traits is to always be prepared to act or react at a moment’s notice. So that’s what we did.

And we were generously rewarded. Only a few moments after we had left the road where we had been dropped off, we stumbled upon rather fresh tracks. They couldn’t have been older than one and a half sun-cycles. The tracks allowed us a great puzzle. Was it lynx or was it wolf? How could you distinguish between feline and canine?

Following the tracks for the rest of the sun allowed us even more insight. We could observe moving patterns, count individuals, and they led us to some more tracks. Showcasing really nicely how the lynx we had been following differed from the wolf tracks we encountered on the second sun.

“We will just find tracks everywhere”

The first few suns had gifted us with so many tracks, that it was hard not to believe, we could abandon them and find new ones anyway. So after three suns the pack decided to abandon the tracks to find a good camp spot. And… we never found tracks again for the rest of the training. Reminding us, not to take anything for granted.
But that didn’t mean we couldn’t become wolf. After all it wasn’t a tracking or trailing workshop, but a Guardian Training. And one of the Guardian mottos are “life is training, and training is life”. So whenever there is no mission. we use the time for training. To grow stronger and more resilient as individuals and as a group.

“There is firewood everywhere in the forest”

Yet another bubble that was burst, was the pretty common idea, that we would just find firewood everywhere in the forest. It’s full of trees after all, right? Well, not really. Not every type of tree is a good source of firewood, and not every stage of a tree’s life (and death) is really suited either. also, being in someone else’s forest doesn’t allow us to cut down standing dead trees or bigger trunks either. So finding a good spot for decent firewood, especially wood that we’re also allowed to take, and enough of it, is an important skill to learn.

Super stealthy all the time

A training like this will be a high-level scout training where we would be in mission mode all the time. Right? well, … ‘plop’. Sorry to burst another bubble. While this is something we are definitely aiming for, we were a very mixed group with different levels of experience, awareness, and – yes – expectation. Just as much as this was not a tracking workshop, it also was not set up to be an elite scout training, but an entry level Guardian Training. Being on such an alertness level for such a long time is like asking someone to run a marathon without any training.

And for Guardians – as much as they aim to be unseen, unheard and in the shadows – there is another skill, that needs to be mastered in combination with stealth training: to work together seamlessly in a group. And for that, we need to find our combined mission and focus.

The clear mission

Letting go of expectations and coming with an empty bowl doesn’t mean that we lower our standards and let go of our values. To create a strong mission statement is key to not fall into the trap of lowest common denominator. So when the pack formed their mission statement, and decided to give away the cooking pot to face their next group challenge, new, powerful energy was released.
This is the mission statement that our pack came up with together: “Providing protection for the wolves by our presence, learning outdoor skills and having wolves as our inspiration to learn about group dynamics and grow”.

Over-excitement and reality-check

In our modern society, we take a lot more for granted than we realize. Something as simple as a pot can reduce the cooking effort by a lot more than you might realize. And not having one may lead to a lot of frustrated, hangry and freezing pack members… And going through this experience, the pack learned, how setting the right priorities is one of the most essential skills when being out in nature for a longer period of time.

Self care vs. false comfort

Being out in nature and wanting to function at the top of our capabilities not only asks us to be trained in a specific skill, but to know and be able to take care of our most basic needs, while being aware of the false comfort trap. Sometimes we ignore our real needs of keeping our feet and hands warm, having enough food to produce heat, sleeping enough, drinking enough, or washing ourselves, while getting caught up in thinking that we need to rest, eat comfort foods, chat about this and that, or rely too much on the rest of the group taking care of common tasks.
Those seemingly “dumb” or mundane things have one of the biggest impacts during an immersion like this. And even though they might not be big issues in our civilized lives, they show us a clear path to some of the more dysfunctional patterns we bring along.

Waiting

Some of the pack members might say that our training was a lot about waiting. There usually are some that are faster, and others that are slower within every group. And depending on the task, those people can change – which also was the case this time. But waiting is a product of our civilized compartmentalization. When we’re faster, it might not mean that the others are too slow and need to train more so that we don’t have to wait. It might also not mean that we simply need to adapt to the others and become slower.
Situations like those are rather an invitation for our creativity to fill it up with helpful, productive or useful things to do, while at the same time raising an awareness for the group, and finding ways to support the others, if the slowness is a sign of not functioning.
We might have the expectation, that it’s the other’s responsibility to deliver, while it might actually be the perfect opportunity for us to take responsibility for ourselves as well as finding ways to raise the level of functioning of the whole pack.

Expectations and the Guardian

All of those topics came up during our last training of Becoming Wolf. Most of them might not seem to have a lot to do with what we would expect a Guardian Training to be about. Yet those are some of the most basic things to learn and be aware of. “If we have a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. Even if we’re not aware of the hammer we’re holding. So, to sum it all up: Guardian Training has so many different aspects of training, that if you are open to it, there is always a possibility to go deeper, and let go of ideas, patterns, and expectations – while raising the overall congruency and level of whatever it is you’re doing.

Impressions


Fotocredit: unsplash.com/Yannick Menard
Guardian Way Blog Wolf

Who is afraid of the big bad wolf?

German version of this blogpost to be found on wildewurzeln.at

The topic of the wolves slowly coming back to certain areas of Europe seems to create more and more of a rift between people. There are those who are afraid. Afraid for themselves, their children, or their pets. Afraid for their livestock or livelihood as hunters. And then there are those who see this majestic animal that has been so connected with our development as a species. Or those that are simply longing for more balance and more rewilding in our ecosystems. Those, who want to conserve or rebuild areas of nature left alone by humans, given back to all the other beings also living on our shared planet.

And it seems that this is a divide that cannot be overcome.  One side doesn’t seem to understand (or want to understand) the other. But it won’t keep me (and hopefully others) from going for it anyway. And this article should serve as a step towards both understanding the real issue, and finding ways to come together.

So what is the problem really about?

And can it even be traced to only one reason?

Indoctrination from a young age

In so many cultures there are stories and fairy tales of the big bad wolf: Little red riding hood, The wolf and the seven young goats, and who knows how many more. They send a message, that wolves are dangerous and that humans should fear them. And who would question that subconscious message? – We learned it so early, so it must be true…

Just the idea of reading stories like those to little children sends shivers down my spine, how this negative narrative towards those animals is so deeply engrained in our culture. And when talking to people about being out in the wild, a lot of them ask “Aren’t you afraid of the wolves?”, showing the unquestioned fear that can still be found in a lot of people, even those that are not particularly against the wolves coming back.

But there is of course a lot more to the fear or aversion of wolves. And it goes deep into all kinds of aspects of our culture and civilized lifestyle.

Wolves kill

The main reasoning that is used to justify official and sanctioned killings of wolves is, that they are killing the sheep or other livestock of farmers. Also pet owners living close to forest areas are getting scared for their beloved dogs and cats. And those fears are not unjustified, as a specific case only recently in the area around Järna (Sweden) showed, where a wolf was killing house cats, as well as being seen around the village a lot.

And I get it. If someone killed my favourite pet, I would be sad and probably angry, too. But is the wolf really the only one to “blame” for that problem? Isn’t it similar to beggars stealing a loaf of bread, after being driven out of a job by a company just wanting to make more profit?

The unnatural ways of our civilized lives

This topic of the unnatural ways of our civilized lives is a Pandora’s box, big enough to fill at least one if not many books. So I won’t cover all of it here. However, I will share some observations.

In Sweden, as well as Germany and a lot of other countries, sheep – domesticated, docile, defenseless sheep that is – are kept in fenced in areas. They are a small shadow of their wild moufflon counterparts, that have horns to defend themselves, as well as the memory and knowledge that comes with living and surviving in the wild.

Those fences keep them from running away from the farmers. They also keep them from running away from the wolves, and hiding somewhere safe. We humans have created an environment that makes it easy for us to kill and eat them. And wolves are simply seeing and seizing that same opportunity. Why would they choose the alternative of chasing a deer or moose for kilometers with no guarantee for success?

The Industry

As with so many things in civilized life, there is a whole industry involved, which means, that there is a lot of money at stake. Every animal that is killed by a wolf, cannot be utilized by humans. No matter if it’s livestock or game. Sometimes it’s not even about big money, but about livelihoods. And it’s very understandable, that people see the wolf as a threat because of that.

The current situation in Scandinavia vs. central Europe

When living in central Europe, a lot of people have a very romanticized view not only of Canada and North America, but also of Scandinavia. It’s the land where big predators – or any wild animals for that matter – have the space to roam free for kilometers, without really coming into contact with humans much. Where they can live undisturbed and don’t threaten us.

But the reality looks very different. In Scandinavia, there are around 55 packs/families and 28 couples of wolves living in the wild, most of them located in Sweden. This is about a third of the numbers found in Germany, which counted 157 packs/families and 27 couples, as well as 19 lone individuals.

Additionally, the Scandinavian wolves are challenged for another reason: They are all descendants of only about 5 animals, which also weakens their genetic stance. This is mostly due to the north being reindeer country, and any wolves being shot on site. So no animals from Finland or Russia can reach the southern packs to strengthen the gene pool.

Why is the wolf important for us?

Why is it so important to allow the wolf to come back? What was their place and role in the ecosystem, and is it still valid today?

Naturally balanced ecosystem

In their natural, wild environment, they hunt mostly deer, moose and elk. All those animals, if not kept in check, would eat the small buds of young trees, leading to the forest slowly giving way to open bush or grass land. As the results from the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park shows, they do play a very important role in the natural balance of an ecosystem.

But you might ask: “Aren’t hunters taking care of this task in a lot of countries?” Well, yes, to some degree. But simply reducing their number isn’t all that wolves do in a healthy ecosystem.

It’s not like they are just killing all the animals, and also not all of them at once. They pick the weak, the old or the wounded. They only kill when they need food. And they have to constantly come up with new and improved ways of hunting, since the surviving deer learn from the “mistakes” of their fellow mates. They are chased and tested by the wolves. That way, both the deer and wolf are kept on their toes. Kept healthy, fit and strong.

So when humans hunt the deer nowadays, instead of the wolves, this healthy back and forth, this growth on all those levels is not happening. We simply use sophisticated technology, sit somewhere, and shoot. Of course, this is a very simplistic view of hunting, and there is a lot more to it, but how much are we human hunters allowing ourselves to learn from deer? And how much could we learn about balanced, healthy hunting from observing the wolves? – Not just mentally, but physically and in a lot of other ways? And how much are deer learning and growing when hunted by humans? How are they kept fit and healthy?

Our longstanding relationship with wolves

There are a lot of people very fond of those fascinating animals. They have so much in common with us, especially when it comes to social behaviour in small bands. And we as humans have a long history of being in relationship, first with wolves, and then more and more with their domesticated brother, the dog. It seems to be deeply embedded in our epigenetic memory.

Possible solutions?

So how can we create an environment, that isn’t such a juicy invitation for wolves? How can we make it so that instead of dangling a carrot in front of them and then blaming them for eating it, we can find a good balance?

Learning from others

This year I went to Romania to visit a friend, and check out an area for a wilderness immersion. A region with bears, wolves, wild dogs… and also a lot of sheep farmers!

Those sheep in Romania however, are not fenced in. So how are they protected from the wolves? – Well, they have specifically trained shepherd dogs, that are not only taking care that the sheep are kept together, but also protect them from wolf attacks!

Remove the temptation

Another way would be to put up specific fences that are designed to keep out wolves. If they can’t get in to kill the sheep, we don’t have to blame them for it. They will simply go back to their original prey of roe deer, deer and moose. This doesn’t mean that there would never be another encounter, but the boundaries would be a lot clearer, and there wouldn’t need to be so much killing.

Embrace a give and take

In combination with the above mentioned ways to keep the killings in check, we might also want to adapt our mindset about the whole situation. There are ways to live more in balance with all living beings. Natural balance is about giving and receiving. So maybe we can accept some animals to be taken by the wolf as a form of giving back to nature. As a thank you for being allowed to be here and be nourished by the land. And that way we can learn to also make peace with the situation, and find a way to live in a balanced relationship with these important animals.

And one way to do this is during our Guardian Trainings “Becoming Wolf“.


Guardian Way Blog

Becoming Protector 2022 – Going deeper

This season’s training was focused around truly stepping into our rule as protector for the earth and our people. What is needed for us to serve? How can we train, learn and grow to be able to face whatever might be coming?

The area

This time, we consciously chose an area that is not so remote. Closer to civilization. Partly because of the personal connection of one of the guide’s – Andris- to the land and the animals (especially wolves) living there, and partly because it was important to experience more directly how we humans influence the wild beings all around us.
Do they hide even more? Do they get more used to and closer to humans? – Is that benefiting or hindering them in the long run? – All important questions with no easy answer.

The bumpy start

We are living in quite challenging and precarious times, and this also showed in the start of the training. If we constantly live on our edge, there is no wiggle-room for when additional challenges come up. And we soon learn, that the most important thing is always our health and the health of our loved ones. If that is not available, it’s out of our hands to do anything else other than that.
So when two of our trainees had to switch their focus on healing, it meant that we would only be 6 people out in the forest, immersing ourselves into the quest and question of what it takes to be a guardian.

Civilization’s Impact on the wild

Being out there, walking through the territory of the local wolf pack, we were faced with the conflict of illegal game/wolf surveillance, having found a high tech camera in a nature reserve that most likely was placed there to catch footage of the wolves. We can only guess as to why it was really there and what might have been the final goal or intention of it all. But it shows, that not even the forest is safe for the animals to be left alone at.
We walked across clear-cut areas, reminding us that even though it’s forest and it might feel like wilderness to us, it’s actually mostly just monoculture farming of wood. Again, not making it a safe place for animals to be left alone.
We found trash randomly dumped at least every other day, seeing a very important future mission to clean up the forest from things like old tires, car seats, cables and random other items.
Coming across an old dumping ground for a specific kind of duck being raised solely for sports hunting, killed by the hundreds, and then simply dumped
wild in a field, for animals like boar and fox to then be eaten (and poisoned by the led in the bullets), as definitely a specifically gruesome part of our discovery.
Being out in mid february and having the temperature, as well as the reaction of the plant and animal life be that it would seem to be beginning of april was yet another more long-term sign of our civilized influence on the climate and therefore on the wilderness we seem to cherish so much.

What to protect?

If we truly want to step into our role as guardian and protector, we first need to deeply understand and learn about what it is that we want to protect. otherwise we might do more harm than good.
We need to live as they live, move as they move, and learn as they learn. Completely immersing ourselves. When we realize, that we are constantly at the risk of being seen, heard and therefore either hunted by other wild animals or by humans, we get a small glimpse into the natural world of needing to be ever alert and present.

Sticking together is important

Humans are social animals. We function best, when we stick together. When we all take over certain roles and tasks, we don’t have to do it all alone. Especially just starting out with wilderness skills, our “pack” learned that no matter if it’s navigation, firemaking, cooking, collecting firewood, or sharing the story of the wake- or sleep time: it, works a lot better, takes less energy, yields more/better results, or makes it even only possible, if we all work together.

The discomfort

With each experience, different aspects of discomfort come up. They can be related to the cold, or the weather in general (usually, wet is even harder to handle than cold), but also, they can be found in more invisible parts of the experience.
But knowing, why you do the thing you do is a core necessity of going through any kind of discomfort. If we don’t know, why we do what we do, or if we realize, that our ideas or expectations might have been different, this makes it a lot harder to accept and live through the discomfort, in order to experience the gift we get when we stick with the path anyway.

Living a life of a guardian or protector is not for everyone. It’s not about an adventure, but about growth, learning, being of service and fully immersing yourself.
But when you learn to feel comfortable with discomfort, there is no stopping you!


here are some impressions of the immersion:


Guardian Way Blog personal story

finding your place

Do you know the feeling like you don’t belong? Well, I do. I know it like an chronic rash that just wouldn’t completely go away…

Of course, it’s not exactly like that, but I’m happy to have found a similarly frustrating analogy… Because this is the life of a Guardian. I once talked with a group of fellow guardians, and we figured out, we’re a pack full of black sheep of our communities and families. And the closest to finding a place where we belong might be in a group of other misfits…

So here is my story.

I’ve been in the world of computers for a really long time, and there is the feeling of home there. It’s known. Or at least I know what I know and what I don’t know, and I feel confident enough in my expertise and experience to openly say what I don’t know and that I’m fine with it. But there’s something missing.

And on my search to find what was missing, I have found the wilderness and my own wild side. The part of me that feels truly alive when jumping into icy cold water, almost burning my hands when roasting my food on the fire, standing my ground when the wind seems to want to sweep me off my feet, or digging in the dirt to build an earth lodge. There I can be fully present, in the moment, connected.

But there always comes a time, where I remember the civilized world. Where I feel the need to go back. To build a bridge between those two worlds that I know so well, but can’t stay in completely. The only thought that keeps me grounded, reminds me, that I am right where I need to be, and that this is my place. The knowing that my role in life is to be a Guardian. A Guardian of the Earth, of the people, of the natural balance of our ecosystem. And to bring those different worlds together in order to bring balance, I need to know all the different players in the game.

I still feel a lot like I don’t belong. At the same time I find comfort in that realization. I will not be a specialist or someone “successful” in either of those worlds. I will probably never be so fully immersed in the wilderness like some of the people I know. And I will just as likely not become super successful in the world of IT. The only place for me is to feel fully present with myself. To be an expert of being a generalist, of being myself. To be a full-fledged Guardian. This also means being comfortable not in finding my place, but creating it. Not to compare myself to others but only to my past self.

To let go of all the ideas. Even the idea of letting go of all ideas. I need to embrace the fact that I will never truly feel comfortable. I can seek comfort and have my muscles become weak. But I won’t really feel comfortable in my skin. And I can seek discomfort, and feel the most alive. And I need to train my muscles for that. I can’t go out with nothing and simply build my own place, my own space. A place where I can find a balance between comfort and comfortable. I need to start slowly to build my muscles. Like with the process of rewilding an animal, I need to slowly get used to it, slowly build my own wildlife habitat, before I can release myself in it.

This is my exploration. This is my mission. What I have set out to do. I started almost 8 years ago, and it might be a lifelong mission. But I know that that’s the only path I can take.

This is of course just one of many stories of Guardians. Every Guardian is different. Not everyone feels to only have the role of the Guardian, or the Voice, or the Nurturer for that matter. And we all interpret it very differently. And that’s the beauty of the Guardian Way.

To find out more about your archetype, check out