Archaeology – so far – can find good evidence for humans back to 2.8 million years ago, it’s quite possibly they’ll be able to go further back in the future. For us, 2.8 million years seems a long time but for Mother Earth it’s a mere drop in the ocean as her own lifespan goes back 4.5 billion years! So we really are new-boy-on-the-block despite thinking we’re the Supreme Species 😊.
Although there’s very little archaeological evidence to help us it’s not unreasonable to imagine we began learning to follow the deer trods as soon as we noticed them … which is likely all of those 2.8 million years. It’s always a mistake to think our ancestors were much more primitive and ignorant, savages even, than ourselves and to think that way is a product of arrogance. It’s good to remember the archaeologist’s adage – absence of evidence is not evidence of absence! Just because we ain’t yet found it don’t mean it didn’t happen.
So, having excellent survival instincts and quite enough nous, we learned to follow the deer trods. We watched how the animals lived, watched how the deer went up the mountains in summer for the good pasture and the lack of midges, then came down again for the winter shelter of the forests where it’s much easier to scrape off the surface snow to get at the nourishing lichen. And we followed …
As we know from the Neolithic monuments, our ancestors were very capable of watching and understanding the movements of the stars and their connections with the seasons. We knew how to count so we could watch the days of the Moon-month – moon is where the word month comes from. And we could relate that to the seasons of the year. We watched the sun (our home-star) and saw how between what we now call Midwinter to Midsummer he rises higher and higher each day, then from Midsummer to Midwinter he rises lower each day. We observed when the hours of daylight and darkness become equal twice a year and saw that these occur at the midpoint of the rising arc and then of the falling arc of the sun each year.
Think about all that. Are you able to observe and know these things? Or do you pull out your phone and look at Google?
It’s likely every child of our ancestors 2.8 million years ago could do all this, was taught by their Dad and Mum. Certainly all plants and the other animals we share the Earth with can and do all this, and they do it all the time, it’s in their bones.
But modern humans mostly can’t, especially if they live in cities and towns, live what we call civilised lives. For me, that’s an absolutely tragic loss.
People talk about being disconnected from the natural world nowadays and that’s certainly true, most people are. We no longer follow in the footsteps (deer trods) of our animal brethren, in fact most people look down on animals, consider them stupid … dumb animals! But we modern humans are quite helpless and clueless when the chips are down, most people wouldn’t survive a week if they had to rely on themselves, no stores full of ready-food, no packets of washing stuff, no toothpaste, no transport … etc.
· Sit for a moment and ponder what would happen in your own life if you lost all of that and there was no-one to help you.
How did we follow the deer trods?
By literally following the deer.
If you’re hunting an animal you need to know its habits very thoroughly … in your bones, as we say. You can “become” that animal. You know from observation, noticing and practice what it eats, how and when it mates, how long it’s gestation period is, when the females come into season, when and how long the rut is, how long they live, what age the meat is best, how thick/thin the skin is so what it can be used for, what the bones are useful for, how to use the sinews … oh there’s so much to learn and know. When you know all this you’re a skilful hunter. I know a few people now who do and are, if I was stuck I’d do my best to get to them and ask them to help me. Did you know a deer carcass can provide all – yes all – your needs? It will give you food, clothing, shelter, tools, water bottles, fuel (dried deer droppings), leather cooking pots. Our ancestors knew all this, it was their way of life and they were very good at it. Not that I’m suggesting we must go back to being hunter-gatherers … but I am saying we still need all that knowledge of the natural world because it’s the natural world that actually supports us, body, mind and spirit, not Nestle or MacDonald’s or Tesco’s!
Animals talk with each other but usually not in words or even sounds. Yes, they can and do make sounds but not usually unless they need some form of Big Shout to all their companions. Let’s think about wolves howling … they don’t speak in sound when they’re hunting, they’re not that stupid, they know their prey will hear them. They talk by telepathy, from mind to mind. They use howling rather like we use singing, and they also communicate with other packs this way. Having watched them doing this it seems to me it’s more like a party than anything else.
If you live with an animal-friend you probably know this already, your cat or dog will use sound to talk to you because we – like all monkeys – chatter our heads off! They know we’ll take notice of sound, and also that most of us are completely useless at telepathy. Plants talk that way too as modern research shows us, so those of us who talk with trees are not completely nuts but a lot more connected than most.
When we realise that our ancestors were normally and naturally telepathic, that they could, and would, talk with all their kinfolk of the animal and plant kingdoms that opens up much more of what following the deer trods is about. We’re relearning how to do that.
As you learn how to communicate with nature so you find you have friends in the other kingdoms who are only to happy to help you learn to communicate with all the beings of Otherworld.
The lessons in Deer Trod Tribe take you slowly through the process our ancestors would have learned in the womb – telepathy again – as well as from their moment of birth. That’s why to begin with they may seem very simple and rudimentary exercises like, Earth/Sun and Asking. The more you do them the deeper you discover and understand just what it is you’re doing … and so you reconnect with all the worlds, learning to know them in your bones.
Because most of us have been living for a good few years when we first come to follow the deer trods we’ve got into lots of inappropriate habits, like making assumptions, not listening properly, having expectations, and jumping to conclusions. We very likely have a strong feeling of hierarchy, like someone with a university degree is better than someone who hasn’t got one. We may well think posh people who can trace their ancestry back to the Normans or some such are real “authority figures”, and the same for people with more money than us. And we want to “climb the ladder” and “get ahead”, we’re competitive!
Our ancestors, like all the animal and plant kingdoms, knew that cooperation and working together is what works, not the me-first culture the civilised world lives in. So not only do we need to relearn the Old Ways but we likely have unlearn these inappropriate habits as well. Again, the lessons in Deer Trods Tribe help you do this – and old habits don’t dissolve in a day, nor yet in just one-doing of the lesson, you have to persist. In all the old ways of every tradition persistence is one of the star qualities you learn to develop, and our old ways of following the deer trods are no different. You just don’t lose old habits quickly, it can take ages depending on how much effort you put in so the lessons take you slowly to allow you time to get the new habits into your bones, so they become as instinctual as the old ones were.
So be content to walk slowly, noticing and being present in each step along the path – enjoy every moment as you experience it. It’s really worth it 😊.
From Between the Two Lights,