Its been quite a journey ...
This project leading up to the National Walk In The Woods Day through the Irish Republic today, Sunday 9th June has been very revealing.
The surprise, though it should not be, is the variations of why people will, and will not, be Walking in the Forests Of Ireland this afternoon.
There will be some people in the forests to protest against the Irish government and will urge others to protest with them through flyers, chants, passionate speakers and so there will probably be quite a bit of exuberance in those woods..
Then there are people who will be in the forest for a family afternoon as community to strengthen community and have fun, so no picketing and protesting from them. These are the people that want to be in the forests to be part of re-building passion for the forests.
I am also hearing from people who seem to have grown to become islands, isolated from community and other people. Now they fear any sharing with others. Some have messaged and phoned me to ask for meet up times so they can plan to be in and out of the forest before the people arrive.
More extreme are the people who tell me they will be in the forests with us today .... in spirit. They really want to stay at home and be online within the imaginary world of social media ... to be "universal" .
There seems to be two main agendas
being expressed through this Sunday.
There is a national agenda. to urge the Irish government to be decisive about future forest policy to include not selling off Public Forests wholesale or harvesting rights. Some of this action in some forests will include picketing placards, hanging posters, distribution of flyers, assertive speakers and some poets and songsters. Some forest gatherings will do all of this projected from stages, with sound systems and microphones to amplify the cause.
On a quieter level there is also the community agenda that will be shared in some forests. I must admit my passion is for this. Woodland League people have already told me that they are combining both agendas of national protest with community harmony. They do have some wonderful plotted out documents to support this.
Woodland League have reminded us that this day is about being a step towards Ireland regaining its forest culture like when it was once named, Inis na bhfeodhadha, 'island of the sacred trees'.
I'm not sure of the 'bhfeo' part of that word myself as I understand it as meaning a fee or debt, but I suppose it could mean a huge responsibility and management with integrity too. For example, under Bretha Comaithchesa, the Brehon law of neighbourhood, it lists the rights of every Tuath, community, to the produce from the forest for every person in equal right.
To me that's what bhfeodhadha or bféo diagra is about.
Forest culture has somehow been
forgotten and neglected in Ireland today.
Forest culture seems to be sadly avoided. I see this through Ireland's tourism industry which seems to be fixed and addicted to focusing visitors towards the relics and ruins of human creations through the ages. Why are we not introducing, with pride, what is growing and flowing here on Erin from its time origined traditions of goddess and fae spirits?
A true co-operative community forest could supply just about all human needs and comforts in an extremely sustainable way. This will eventually be done through ways not invented yet as I believe everything mined and piped from the earth to make products and services could be replaced from sustainable forest crops and management. Lets destroy no more of the earth. However, I feel that is years away and not really worth talking much about through Sunday, our day of fun
On Forest Event Pages there had been chat on Agenda 21 and other agendas. I think 'agendas' are all premature thinking for this national event. More important , feel, is getting out there and knowing what an oak is, what a alder is, what an ash is, why sitka trees are different and why they may not be a good idea. Its a time and place to look for flowers, fungi, small creatures and understand why they are there, their benefits and what may be food too.
With forestry I can see no way for any agenda to work unless we know what's in a forest and how it grows and relates to us. A lot of children will be at these walks. How do you speak to them about Agenda 21 while they are enchanted by a caterpillar crawling along a twig?
For me now, I feel this day is a perfect time for encouraging 'boladh na síoga' being within the breath of the fae, or simply forest bathing, and slowly and comfortably bringing people together and coaching each other towards the return of 'bféo diagra' or 'bhfeodara' or maybe 'aire na crainn diaga' - care of our sacred trees.
Let the fun and community begin .....
Here are some extra things to read ....
click here for the full Woodland League forestry policy report
click here for my short article on the benefits of being in the forests