I first met Glennie at a Big Green Gathering over a decade ago. I was a permaculturist who had come from a healing background, and Glennie was running the Healing Field at the festival. We both wanted to discover how we could bring a greater awareness of seasonal celebrations, art and healing to permaculture. Since then we have met regularly in wild places to explore the inner and outer landscapes.
So often we yearn for true connection with the land and its turning seasons. Our culture has taught us that we need to control and hold dominion over Nature and in doing so we have severed our intimate bond with her. No longer children of the soil, our lives demand that too much of our time is spent indoors. We have become conditional. We only want to be out in Nature at certain times of year when it is sunny and warm. We are afraid of her extremes.
Glennie sweeps all of this away. She urges us to fully, deeply allow ourselves to re-embrace the feral within ourselves. This is no intellectual premise but a journey in both the inner and outer worlds. She encourages us to get out on the land in all weathers and all seasons to forage, collect edible plants and medicinal herbs that ease acute conditions, to learn about our local landscapes, to meditate, or just be in the wild. We are encouraged to walk at the times of the ‘edge’; at dawn and dusk, at the transition of the seasons, in groups, in silence, in wonder and alone.
Then she brings us home and teaches us how to grow a wild garden full of our native edibles and medicinals so that we do not have to rely on diminishing natural resources. Instead we invite the wild to our doorstep. We are taught to make tinctures, herbal honeys and elixirs, to craft from natural materials, to share food, and to anchor our appreciation for Nature in ceremony, both silent and personal, and with our friends, in groups. This is a joyful journey in the steps of our ancestors but with a strong sense of the contemporary. Glennie’s seasonal practices, both pragmatic and energetic, lay a pathway towards a more permanent, lower impact culture.
One of my favourite aspects of permaculture is the appreciation of using and valuing the edge and the marginal. It has taught me that the edges of different ecosystems are the places of greatest fertility and biodiversity, such as the banks of rivers, woodland glades and estuaries. This is also where Nature’s beauty is often at its height. There are also edges within our psyches. These are places where the imagination is most creative, where fear or joy arises unbidden, and times of transition between sleep and awakening when we are able to form impressions that dissolve in the full light of the day. These creative edges can also be found when we are absorbed in Nature, connected to seasonal cycles, transported by the intimacy of a special gathering or drawn deep by a symbolic aspect of ceremony.
As we explore the wild edges of our landscapes, the margins of the day, the shifting energies of the seasons in all weathers, and the turning of the year through its cycles, we heal a dissonance within ourselves. Too long have we yearned to truly reconnect with Nature, rather than being an observer. Here we learn how to let the wild edges in again and to open to our own ever-deepening connection. We are able to reach deep within our psyches and find our natural joy and power. We fall in love with the wild and the wildness in ourselves. Once we experience this wild love, we can no longer live in a disconnected way; re-acquainted with our heritage, we are freed from the spell of materialism for its own sake. This richness makes us want to preserve our beautiful natural world forever.
Letting in the Wild Edges is the story of this journey. It is a joyful, creative synthesis of both the spiritual and the practical, season by season. It is not only to be read and enjoyed for its artistry, or as a journal of activities and celebrations, we can live it too. This is Glennie’s gift – her ability to navigate an ancient healing pathway – and to open a portal that we can all enter. In doing so we not only bring harmony to our inner lives, we reflect it in our outer actions. We deepen our ability to live more gentle, low impact and creative lives.
I have lived this book whilst it has been in the making and it has changed me. I invite you to walk through that portal and out into the wild edges and be changed too.
Maddy Harland is a writer, publisher and co-founder of Permaculture Magazine. www.permaculture.co.uk