“Awake, awake sweet England, sweet England now awake
And to the land obediently, let us all partake.
For our future now, is calling, all in the skies so clear,
So resound, resound sweet England, for our history’s always near.
Let us sing,
And to this living story,
Let us sing.”
As long as there have been people on this land there has been song, and as long as we dwell upon this land a timeless, uniquely human melody will sound from the confluence of culture and contour.
But what is that sound? From where did those lines of song and story emerge? In what language, to what tune, under what belief and through what gesture? What if there was an ancient indigenous Albion ‘dreamtime’ and what hope have we now in reclaiming any fragments of those tune-trails? Why should we even bother?
In old Ireland they say that we get ‘wise by asking questions’. So to access and activate ‘what lies beneath’, which might be our own deeper wisdom, a trail humming with questions may be just the place to start.
Questions such as these:
Impossible questions demand implausible action and this invitation is to step beyond the rational, evidential and quantifiable into a place of soft meditation with our homeland and forge new paths into the earth and into ourselves.
Chris Salisbury and Sam Lee met one another while both in pursuit of old Devon folk song. Their winding paths even unexpectedly converged in the Kalahari desert last year where they were humbled by some of the oldest (human) songs on planet Earth, sung by the indigenous Ju/‘Hoansi San Bushman people.
Their fascination in these timeless gems passed down through the Oral Tradition came from a similar dedication to nature connection practice and a curiosity in how our ancestors expressed their love of the land through song and story. Over the years these questions have tickled at both their chins of how folk songs and composed, even improvised songs, devotional in their appreciation of our natural world, can work to connect us deeper into the land and our senses. Likewise if nature connection skills and practices can be enhanced through songful expression and open up new patterns in our awareness and help orientate our inner compass.
This 5 days of playful, embodied experimentation and enquiry will afford us the sacred space to recalibrate how we engage with the land and converse with our brother/sister nations of plants, trees and beings. Going beyond mere naming and species identification we will surf the wood-wide-web, ‘truffle hunting’ for ‘songlines’ that may still pulse below us in the organic and cultural substrate of Dartmoor National Park.
You don’t need to be a ‘singer’, but we welcome those with big ears and big hearts for the deep listening and feeling engendered in our interactions with the land. If you have an artistic practice that’s a bonus, but if you harbour aspirations to write, sing, dance or just deepen your intimacy with the natural world, then you will be greeted with joy, by us and all the ‘Others’ who are hungry to hear your true name….
We will be camping in a beautiful private woodland site on Dartmoor. See Essential Information section below for more details.
Sam Lee, Chris Salisbury and Charlotte Pulver
Sam is a Mercury Prize nominated folk singer, conservationist, song collector, award winning promoter, broadcaster and activist. Read more about Sam here.
Chris: Chris Salisbury founded WildWise in 1999 after many years working as an education officer for Devon Wildlife Trust. With a background in the theatre, training in therapy, and a career in environmental education, he uses every creative means at his disposal to encourage people to enjoy and value the natural world. Chris directs the acclaimed Call of the Wild Foundation program for educators-in-training as well as Where the Wild Things Are, a rewilding adventure based at Embercombe in Devon. He is also a professional storyteller (aka ‘Spindle Wayfarer’) and is the co-founder and artistic director for the Westcountry and Oxford Storytelling Festivals.
Charlotte is a modern day alchemist and lover of the waters; being born into the Pulver lineage of apothecarians. She has a background in natural healthcare, studying and practising various medical systems of healing for 20+ years. Read more about Charlotte here.