Encounters in nature, part 3: Story Time

Drew by the fire

Drew tells of his experiences at a hunter-gatherer camp.

photo by B. T. Newberg

Encounters in Nature: An Open-air Dialogue in the North Woods

with Celtic polytheist Drew Jacob, Vodou priest Urban Haas, and Humanistic Pagan B. T. Newberg

Part 3: Story Time

Recorded with a Blue Yeti microphone on a Macbook

In today’s segment, part 3 in a 5-part series, we share stories of spiritual experiences in nature.

Urban finds nature in the cityscape, B. T. tells of a nameless presence, and Drew shares what it’s like to eat a turtle foot.

All this and a crackling fire today on Encounters in Nature.

And now a question for you:

What’s your story of an experience in nature?

Note: Should you experience troubles with the Flash player, you can also get the show free on iTunes Store.
Ubran by the fire

Urban shares the simple joy of taking his dogs to the dog park.

photo by B. T. Newberg
B. T. Newberg by fire

B. T. Newberg tells a story of the natural wonder of seeds falling from an ivy.

photo by B. T. Newberg (taken by Drew Jacob)

8 Comments on “Encounters in nature, part 3: Story Time

  1. Here’s a description of my own “urban” nature practice originally posted on Facebook that B.T. asked for me to describe:

    Urban or suburban nature has less potency for me, but I work with what I can find. Luckily, I live in a suburb that’s fairly old around here, so they maintain a lot of large old trees (oaks, maples, etc.). I focus on them along my path and focus on each of my senses along the way to a small park near where I live. I start out with focusing each of my senses as I walk (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch) on my way to the park. This helps me avoid getting distracted by car noises without being oblivious to them. Mindful walking techniques as well as chanting as I walk. I describe my practice as Earth-based Jewish or Hebrew polytheism depending on the day..

    • Thanks, Aron! I find mindfulness practices extremely versatile. They’re usefulness crops up in so many different places!

      So, one thing I notice in your description here is that you focus on the more “natural” aspects like trees and tune out “distractions” like car noises (though without becoming oblivious). I totally identify with this. At the same time, I can’t help but think there must be an attitude from which both can be embraced as part of a larger experience of “nature.”

      Then again, perhaps Drew is right that the response to nature, i.e. wild nature, is hard-wired into us, and asphalt and engine sounds are just not going to evoke the same experience.

  2. I agree with Drew pretty much on this. Even if I recognize the nature in asphalt and engine sounds it doesn’t posses the potency that wild nature does. It’s not an either/or for me, so much as a continuum. The trees outside my window still possess that, as do the stones in my driveway, yet I find wild nature allows me to let go of civilization and lets me admit my limits to shape the world as a human being and discover a spirituality in that, a sense of humility.

    E.O WIlson calls what Drew identifies as biophilia, a love for the natural world that’s been part of every as far back as we can remember, and at times, I think civlization at times can stifle this connection that we evolved with. It’s the integrity you get when you realize the limits of civilization.

    • >lets me admit my limits to shape the world as a human being and discover a spirituality in that, a sense of humility.

      Well said.

  3. Pingback: Episode 3 – Story time « Encounters in Nature

  4. Drew’s story was good fun to listen to. It reminded me of how I often use smell when out and about and how people regard that as really weird. It came to the point where I stopped acknowledging reactions to that, and forgotten how it is considered abnormal until listening in on this conversation. You definitely notice a lot more when you make yourself aware of scents.

    Having been on two separate two week long canoe trips I can attest to the human odor being not ill regarded among others in that kind of environment. We all had noticed though, that when we went on the train to get back home, that all the other cars were packed in full and we had ours completely to ourselves. It took a while for it to don on us that our odor was the reason even though we didn’t really notice it between ourselves. Sure it was there, but not repulsive. I suppose it mostly takes being around it long enough that you stop caring. Like that of farmers and the smell of animal manure, new comers notice big time, yet the farmer, still able to smell and recognize it, doesn’t bother them at all.

    • The manure comment reminds me of what a sibling had told me. See, we grew up on a farm and manure was a very familiar scent, to the point that it reminded us of home and its comforts. So much so, that when my sibling was working as a sign holder for road construction, they were thrilled when a transport truck came by with cattle, because the smell was comforting due to the associations.

    • LOL! Personally, I was apparently born with a poor olfactory sense, which is usually a blessing. But I can see missing out now when considering the wonders of the wilderness and scruffy backpacker buddies. 🙂

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