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Explorers Free Course—Nature—5 of 5

Nature Medicine:  It Takes a Village . . . to do almost ANYthing

N Intro


Elements | Nature | Introduction

We'll not get out of this alive. In the mean time, there are trouble and blessings. Living things need a serving of Guile to go with the Grit and Grace, and that comes from Nature.

Trickster and the Sacred

In one of the old myths, a youth is assisted by an Elder, but finds that the powers that be use an unfair ruling against the success that was fairly earned. In the ensuing confusion, the Elder tells another tale of trickery and betrayal as a salve to the injury and delivers some guile that reveals the true accomplishment.


We are faced with that same kind of unfair ruling in the day to day destruction of nature. The armies are well funded while children go hungry. And it is all justified by "the rules." In this situation, the marginalized must strike a militant creativity that includes a streetwise quality of guile to respond or suffer starvation in reaction.

Nature Themes




Personal Benefits

Finding yourself involved with spirit and energies calls for an initiated understanding of trouble and blessing with a dose of humour.

Facilitator Skills

Principles of good ritual work fall into liminal zones that are agile to the actual complexity of people and can be applied to client sessions and event design to augment your current practice.


Elements | Nature | Wisdom
In this section:
  • Discomfort in the mandorla
  • Element affiliation and clan membership
  • Truth, authenticity, and humour
  • Respond or react—the ringmaster presence
  • Ritual leadership with a foot in each world
  • Undeniable tensions
  • This week's video
  • This week's blessing

Just a note before we start

There is a guide to this course that you should review before beginning. If you missed it, read it (link) at: 



Discomfort in the mandorla

As seen through the viewpoint of the Dagara cosmology, the Nature energy could be the most exiled energy in modernity. Earth retains a grudging respect perverted through the idea of property "rights." Even water is seen a a necessity. But as mentioned earlier, Fire power is seen as something of a fix-all. Mineral is of course well known as the source of silicon, so revered as the base of computer memory.


This leaves us to consider the element of Nature. Elder and Diviner Malidoma Somé suggests that this is considered the "clan of the shamans and healers." We know from the legacy of fundamentalism in major religions about the persecution of folk healers throughout Europe and other places. This happened from the dual impact of a monotheistic view coupled with the institutional mistrust of ecstatic communion. Instead, the priesthood (in varying forms) were designated as the sole interpreters of spiritual life.

Previous to this, ecstatic traditions were based in direct experience within nature and mythos, mediated by the deep intelligence of initiatory rituals. The devastation of these traditions continues to the present day, and in many places in the world it is dangerous to announce, or be known as, an animist. The animist viewpoint is a direct critique of the institutional religious power structures. Note that there is a phenomenon, now recognized academically, called syncretism,  where ecstatic traditions hide in secret alongside a pretence of going along with the social structures dictated by dominant religious institutions.

Element affiliation and clan membership

A detail which has not been emphasized is the Dagara understanding that a person is born into one of the five elemental "clans," depending on their birth date. Of course, people end up exhibiting characteristics in some mixture of all the elements, especially in a modern setting where one is taught to be completely self sufficient irrespective of the gifts around them. But an affinity with one particular element can also be noted in people's tendencies. In any event, the goal is to have an honest self assessment of skills, talents and affinities of each element.

Nature people are often recognizable for their dogged interest in complete truth along with an ability to cause chaos in any situation. Indeed, the truth often goes along with the perception of chaos-causing, because it is not loyal to the status quo. It doesn't mind shaking things up. In a positive expression, Nature people are self aware about this and give the truth out in a measured and compassionate way. They stay involved in the trouble that is stirred up, as they recognize that the issues are community issues that need everyone involved in to solve. 

Truth, authenticity, and humour

This interest in the truth can express itself as in the negative as resentment that can never be salved in the ongoing situation where most people are hiding many degrees of truth, and indeed society itself has power structures all too happy to ignore actual truth in favour of manipulation. But the truth-interest can also express as a great candid sense of relaxation and "telling-it-like-it-is" that puts everyone at ease.

In the body of creative work known as Adult Clown, the ability to perceive simultaneously from both ends of spectrums, and inhabit the liminal space in between paradoxical oppositions is coupled with a self revealing authenticity to create humour. Humour itself is a source of healing when it does not pick out victims, but rather is the leadership of the self revealing one to reaffirm everyone's humanity and beautiful complexity.

It is a great benefit to have someone carrying some degree of initiated Nature energy in a ritual context. They bring with them a bravery to consider new perspectives, and a compassion about the challenge and jeopardies that we face in daily life. 

Respond or react—the ringmaster presence

The clowning nature of the Nature energy means that they will happily work on the edge of both taboo and primal areas of life. The four F's have been stated as the "Flight Fight Feeding or Fucking" primal biological skills and motivations. (The four F's can also refer to "Fight, Flight, Freeze or Fawn in trauma work, and indeed have been adopted by many domains as a convenient mnemonic device). Nature people will want to be aware of, and in relationship to, Four F energies in any situation, and that can create tension at times.


The benefit of enduring the Nature energy is that the opportunities for agility between responding and reacting can open up for everyone. We learn as primates through modelling behaviour and have a natural ability to pick up the vibes of social situations. When Nature people act in accordance with the simplicity of biological urges or desires, this functions to stretch the boundaries of arenas. In a positive aspect, it helps to make inclusion for the wide range of human experience, and give it a voice and validity. In negative, it can function as a form of meaninglessness.

Ritual leadership with a foot in each world

The facts of Eldership mean that your personal work will continue unfolding like layers of an onion being peeled. That's fine. Understand that this is normal. It is difficult to carry both the space holding of leadership and find the trust to be vulnerable in one's own healing work. That is the way it is. 

On the other hand, you might be feeling, "This is what I am drawn toward, but I'm not planning to be a leader—I need these things myself!" Again, you are on a journey, and you will find that facing your own healing responsibly is a foundation of leadership that can change culture. Facing trouble, and surviving it, really living through it, is a thing that makes what could be called becoming "street-wise" about that exact kind of trouble. So your wounds end up being the very thing that holds the secret formula to your gifts. This is the kind of knowledge that can be called one of the examples of "Trickster Wisdom."

Undeniable tensions

  • A short overview of the Trickster Traditions in healing

  • How humour works with the humours

  • Opportunity and Jeopardy in mythic context

  • The animal powers and the animist wisdoms

  • Rewilding the soul of activism

It is possible that you arrived here feeling the pain of challenges, and on the other hand, you might be a leader, or an emerging one, that is growing and interested in the kinds of things discussed here. Either way, those two impulses are connected.

Leaders face the task of continuing with their own development and healing and deepening their practice. Ultimately, that leadership is headed toward Eldership, which has standards of breadth and depth not called for by the modern world, yet absolutely necessary for the health of both culture and nature.

tension, that uncomfortable brotherhood and sisterhood of differences is implicit in the work of the Nature element energies..

  • Feeling at home in any particular place only comes with feeling at home in the wide cosmos.

  • Voicing the true voice practically seems to necessitate listening to the unseen Other World.

  • Grief is a navigational guidance toward life founded on the knowledge of death.

  • Wild abandonment in trance is built from an ordered foundation and dedicated diligence.

  • Ritual is a "technology of community" with a surprising necessity for letting the marginal be at times marginal.

  • Tradition is meant to be disrupted and revitalized by innovation.

  • Going down into diversity and confusion is the only way to ensure true unity and clarity.

Both battle and love require the masculine powers of penetration or standing firm as well as the feminine powers of reception or enclosure. Either can be active, either can be in repose—doing and accepting are both necessary. The different flavours of energy in gender are inherent in nature, they are frequencies, not boxes or labels. Notice that the sun and the moon work together just fine. And remember there are many different forms that leadership can take in life. Parenting has a leadership component to it, for example.

Anyone who is in the many categories of "queer" is also welcome in this work. In fact, in some traditions, it is understood that the Other World doesn't even have a doorway of access without those weird people in the village. Etymologically, "weird" comes from the Celtic "wyrd," meaning "connected to the Other World. Queer is weird, goodly, and rightly so, and a reminder to celebrate the unusual in the everyday, and in the extraordinary.

The Dagara consider the Nature clan people to be those associated with a particular knowledge of healing rituals. Nature clan people are particularly interested in knowing the truth of the situation—they work with clowning and joking around, but with the presence of a strong ringmaster  who is very aware of the different kinds of masks that are being worn, and that people wear. Consequently, it is a specialized kind of training and knowledge that is not for everyone, it is for those who find themselves at home in it.

This week's video

Daniel Deardorff speaks on his book The Other Within part one of three.


This week's blessing

It is said that the medicine people claim that the only real protection comes from a wild animal. This can be interpreted as what some nowadays refer to as a person's "power animal." Well, the indigenous mind would say that the person is owned by the power animal, not the other way around! And in some traditions, it would be understood that each person has one, or four, "totem allies." of this nature.  Claim your kinship. It might just as likely be that animal you had an intense experience with as a child, rather than something looked up in a Tarot deck.  Claim your kinship. As Danny Deardorff said, "The Living World is interested in you . . . Yes, You."


“The greatest and most important problems of life are in a certain sense insoluble….

They can never be solved, only outgrown…

Some higher or wider interest arose on the person’s horizon, and through this widening of view, the insoluble problem lost its urgency. It was not solved logically in its own terms, but faded when confronted with a new and stronger life urge.”

Carl Jung

“Eagle is the messenger of Great Spirit; and surely Eagle knows his saying 'you can't go to the land of the Buffalo' will compel Coyote to go straight there . . . The crucial point to be taken from this result is that when the creative abundance of the wild, unbridled, instinctual and forgotten is accepted and integrated, one will perforce relinquish a full portion of political, domestic, and civilized comfort; approval, safety, and wealth.”

Daniel Deardorff
The Other Within

"The mythological trickster figure is the God of reversals, treachery, and unexpected betrayals . . . 


this “never—get—too—far—behind—or—ahead” energy is the source of the ecological principle of sustainability."

Medicine Without an Expiry Date

"My sense is that there is great need today for more personal and interpersonal transmythic avenues for present event perception and communication among ourselves; for increased ways for people to more directly experience themselves and each other across boundaries of age, race, sex, and culture etc."

David MacMurray Smith
Fantastic Space Enterprizes
N Wisdom
N Assignment


Elements | Nature | Assignment
In this section:
  • Nature shrine
  • Art
  • Extension: the daily sketchbook
  • Nature prayer
  • Declaration, support, completion, next

Nature shrine

Bring some nature items into your house, and make a small shrine on a piece of beautiful cloth. Keep an awareness of it everyday for a week and keep it refreshed. Notice the questions that emerge. Is it allowable to also have some water in a bowl since it is a shrine for nature things? Can I also put some beautiful rocks there? Is some Earth okay because I have a potted plant? Can I light a candle there when I speak to the Nature spirits? 

The true indigenous has a balance of training and the reawakening of a natively human sensibility and intelligence about how to relate with spirit and the Other World. The sense of the shrine is a uniquely human sense of beauty making, or perhaps, beauty-arranging. So the answer to the questions is, as you already suspected, Yes!


Procure some paper and some markers or paint. The process is not a production process. The aim is not to have "something made" that then will be subject to an evaluation procedure. This is simply to exercise the imagination, the hands that create, the sense of play.

If you are already comfortable with this, work in your own way to choose a theme, and follow your usual creative process. However, if you are one of the people that is not used to free creativity and creating, choose something in your imagination or in reality to be a muse for the process.

Protect your time and space in the way that feels supportive for you. Maybe you need to be at home, when it is quiet late at night. Maybe you are the kind of person who likes to go to a park to do this. Try it out, explore, have fun. 

The "illogical" nature of not trying to produce anything in particular is actually a source of great rejuvenating power available by working with Nature clan energies. The unexpected can bring a new perspective. Draw on the authorization from the "unproductive" activity and see if it can nourish you in some way.

Extension: the daily sketch book

Get a sketch book and work up a sketch from between ten minutes and one hour every day for 30 days. Follow your imagination and enjoy.

Nature Prayer

You Nature cousins, lend me your ears to give some care to your younger relations. If there is any way some of your powers can be shared, I don't mind being able to reach while keeping a strong foundation like you tree-people. I don't mind having my senses awake so I can know what is going on in the night time as well as the day time. I don't mind being able to blend in or stand out when the time is right. Help me feel the agility of response-ability and the clarity of my gut instincts.  Ashé.

Radical ritual of Nature medicine

Nature rituals can be some of the most dynamic and transformative, yet also the most challenging due to the "nature" of the territory. It is highly recommended to work in a setting where there is some considerable degree of experience in the nature medicine realm that is holding, guiding, and leading the group.

Declaration, support, completion, next

You have come this far, close to the "end," and that needs a mention of it's own. The "end" is actually the "thing that is left over at the end." It is not a "nothing" or a "no-thing;" the "end" is a something, a bit, from which the new starting happens from, like a seed. 


So within the circumstance of the "end," the task might be to see if anything now travels forward out of the experience. These explorations, remember, are supposed to yield in practical results. Maybe not immediately, but yes, practical. My teacher Linda Galloway had the following trick to make decisions about the risks of going forward, especially at moments when the "end" seemed like the only thing going on. She would ask, "to do such-and-such . . . well . . . would it make your life larger or smaller?" 


"It is hard to see from the modern perspective that admitting to being in trouble or grief is a kind of leadership that shows the community where to go next. 


Complaints are not a sign of weakness or failure, but rather, if delineated more clearly, an accurate diagnosis of the prescription for healing."

"Ritual is the indigenous language to deal with the problem created by the tension between a necessary demand for wild genius and healing powers and in opposition to that, the caution of experience and healthy respect for trouble."

Medicine Without an Expiry Date

Do not try to save

the whole world

or do anything grandiose.

Instead, create

a clearing

in the dense forest

of your life

and wait there


until the song

that is your life

falls into your own cupped hands

and you recognize and greet it.

Only then will you know

how to give yourself

to this world

so worthy of rescue.

Martha Postlethwaite
N More


Elements | Nature | More
In this section:
  • Help for the Injured
  • The Other Within

Episode 10: Help for the Injured

Excerpt from "Medicine Without an Expiry Date: Indigenous Remedy for Modern Trouble" by Randy Jones.

Read for free in pdf through this link:


"The Other Within: 

The Genius of Deformity in

Myth, Culture & Psyche"

by Daniel Deardorff

A ground breaking work by teacher Daniel Deardorff, who Robert Bly called "the true inheritor of Joseph Campbell," claiming legitimacy for the outsider as a renewing force.

Buy through the Mythsinger Legacy  Foundation by using this link:

OtherWithin DD.jpeg
N Invitations


Elements | Nature | Invitations
In this section:
  • Congratulations
  • Other programs
  • Hosting or requesting an event near you


If you have come through this full course, you have been on a worthy journey. Well done. 

Keep going. Your work is needed in the world.

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