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Going to Ground

I have been quiet since my Mum died at the beginning of the year. I have needed to retreat from the world, go to ground to process her death and remake our relationship from one on the physical plane to one in the ancestral world.

For me, going to the ground means going to Southern Africa, where I was born and grew up. As a child, I lived with virgin bush surrounding our garden, and this wild, untamed land was my playground. I have very few memories of being inside the house. Most of my time was spent exploring the bush around our house or with friends on their farms.

As a natural being, I felt entirely at home amongst my fellow creatures. I remember having no fear of the wild animals around us. Our area had no elephants or lions but plenty of leopards, hippo, crocodiles, baboons, snakes, giant lizards, and large buck, to name just a few. I thought of them as friends and fellow inhabitants. I treated them with healthy respect and knew how to stay safe around them.

When Mum died, I felt such a longing to go home to the land I grew up in, where I lived my early life with her. I took the plunge and bought a Toyota Hilux with camping gear, including a rooftop tent. I went to South Africa at the end of March and, after getting the vehicle serviced and looked over, headed for Marakele, a game reserve in the north.

When I arrived at the reserve, I found a camping spot right on the edge of the campsite, only separated from the wild bush by a small row of bollards. I spent my first night on the ground by a fire, slowly cooking, looking at the stars, and listening to the night animals. It felt to me that the hyena, lion, and jackal I could hear all night were calling to me, welcoming me home.

I slowly settled in, exploring the park during the day, musing and ruminating at night. I spent time with Mum, loving her and bringing us close. After a week, I picked up my wife Debbie at Johannesburg airport, and we went to explore Kruger for ten days. After she left, I slowly headed south, staying at game reserves as I went.

I learned, or maybe remembered, a lot on this trip. The main thing I learned is that spending simple time in raw nature is extremely important to me. I am a natural being, and if I cannot spend time in nature, I seize up and grow cold and dislocated. It is my nature to be close to the plants and the animals. I love to interact with my fellow creatures. My heart is full when deep in the wilds, and my love flows.

I am particularly fascinated by smaller animals. A gang of birds would visit me numerous times a day to see if I had any treats for them. For hours I could watch how ants co-operated to haul a bit of food to their underground home. I search for the beetles and bugs, as well as the chameleons and lizards that eat them.

I remembered that it is important to me to stay adventurous. In the last few years, I have spent much time at home, particularly during and since lockdown. I love my home, have a beautiful garden and am surrounded by fields. I am deeply at home here, but I also love travelling and adventure. I have become settled at home and, until this trip, have been content with this. Now I remember that it is still essential to flex my adventuring muscles, which I built up so well in my early life.

I noticed how I love to be generous. One pound equals twenty-two Rand. In South Africa, if you are not earning, that is it, no food or prospects. People make a plan and do what it takes to get some money in. Many people are doing small jobs to earn a bit, like parking cars or selling fruit by the side of the road. If I gave someone a twenty Rand tip, that would be a big deal for them when they are used to getting one or two Rand. They were grateful. I loved the giving.

It hasn’t been easy settling back home, but I love England with all my heart. It took me so long to love this country when I first came here. For many years I loved Africa so much that I could only see the best in her and dismissed this tame, cultured, cultivated country.

I went for a five-hour walk with Debbie at the weekend, and my heart soared as we wandered with the dogs down an ancient lane. With spring in full flow, I adore the fresh, pulsing, energetic greenery, all bursting into life. I am so grateful to have a home here.

All my workshops will be embedded in nature. On my retreats, I support men to know their inner character so they can mature into wholeness. I also support them in renewing and celebrating their natural source, our earthly mother, who gives us all life. For me, this is happiness; to be linked with and a part of all that is alive.

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