Each year, over 200 people gather on a naturalised farm in central Ontario, Canada with the intention of creating space for like minded people to come together to share skills, knowledge and inspiration with each other. The focus of the gathering is around learning and passing on ancient skill sets of living with the earth as hunters, gatherers, sustainable farmers and stewards ; cultivating a deep relationship with the land and knowledge of the natural environment that supports all life. With this knowledge we can empower our ecological and cultural footprints in the modern world and become more resilient in the face of change, as individuals and as a community.
Each morning the gathering starts with an opening circle, which is led by a song, and those in attendance (who were not up late the previous evening around the campfire) are given a briefing about the days workshops and activities.
After the conclusion of the opening circle, everyone is free to do what they wish for the duration of the day. Many people participate in organised and impromptu educational sessions which cover everything from creating compost piles, proper use of axes and knives, carving wooden cups, making salves, to archery and splitting wood properly.
Throughout the weekend, there is a great emphasis on connecting with the past, and creating a sense of belonging to a community. Everyone who is able is encouraged to sign up for a work crew which is responsible for ensuring everything is running smoothly. This includes crews which split firewood, ensure water jugs are full, washroom maintenance, and overall fitness of the site. The event functions as a community in the truest sense of the world, completely self-sufficient from the rest of the world for four days.
One of the highlights of the four day event is the “Saturday Feast” where everyone brings a pot-luck dish. These range from bear stew, lamb stew, banoc bread, to more mundane things like potato chips. The feast is served in tribal style whereas the elderly eat first, then children and parents, then adults without children. This is an age-old tradition.
Attending events such as Headwaters brings a sense of passion, community and stewardship to your life that is so often missing in the western world. Many people arrive knowing few others, and leave with literally a hundred friends. Connections are made, romances kindled, business is conducted, and a passion for a primitive lifestyle where humans work together is instilled in each and every person.
During the closing ceremony, a beautiful song called “The Elderberry Song” was sung. This song blends the masculine and feminine energies into a synergistic song. It was an experience that is difficult to describe in words.
Below is also a slideshow from the event, which features many of the great workshops and people who attended.
Created with flickr slideshow.