Nature and our Ancestral Needs

Jason // December 5 // 4 Comments

'When you're out there the stories will jump on you and become a cloak upon you.'

So said my guide a year or so ago. So I roam and wander moor and coast and everything in between keeping open to the opportunities from nature.

This is not some 'new knowledge', a deep wisdom that has been secretly passed on to me from the other realms. A quick look at the memoirs and writings of artists, writers and poets down the centuries will confirm that inspiration mostly strikes when we free ourselves from the confines of the normal life, and the four walls. Thoughts mulled over during a roam, musings chewed on whilst sitting by a tree for a couple of hours and ideas that pop into the head from seemingly nowhere when wandering a woodland all demonstrate the beauty of alone time in natural surroundings.

Catching the Stories

As I mentioned a while back, my stammer drove me to collect my experiences via my camera so that I could finally be heard by friends and family, so I had a good reason early in life to pursue the tales from nature. And this stood me in good stead for my life as a professional nature photographer and writer.

And now, after more than half a century of catching stories in the wild, it's all beginning to make sense. In his book The Primal Connection, Mark Sissons explains the science behind the multitude of benefits that come from time outdoors. It's got lots to do with our hunter gatherer ancestors who lived the entirety of their lives on the land paired with the slow slog of evolution. Apparently our brains and our DNA are still living in that  primal world and are most at home when surrounded by the colours, sounds and scents of an outdoor life. Anything else causes stress and a disconnection that has become our normal state in this modern day society.

This low level anxiety may be difficult to sense, however it can, and probably will, lead to pervasive ailments ranging from low moods and motivation right through to serious depressions and other mental maladies. We can see the impact that disconnection from the land has on indigenous cultures when they are wooed by the promises of education, financial success and material possessions. It results in a massive increase in addictions, suicides, mental illness and violence. All due to a removal from homeland.

Primal Connections

As I mentioned in my last article, it's well within our grasp to take back some control and to plug ourselves back into the environment we are built for. All we need to do is to be out there, ideally alone and without distraction or expectation. By being in this place of an empty mind we leave ourselves open to the magic of connections that need to be experienced to have a grasp of.

In The Primal Connection Sissons outlines ways we can reconnect with nature even when we can't spend much (or any) time outdoors. He explains how gazing at large detailed images or watching quality films of nature can have a similar effect on our wellbeing. One study he quotes suggests that such practices are more than 90% as effective as actually being out there! This is great news for the times when we cannot dive deep into nature time and is one of the reasons why I began to create my Earthlight films. And I'm pleased to say that I've had hundreds of folk get in touch to tell me that the films do indeed replenish, revive and restore them.

Although magical inspirations and stories will find their way to us more easily when we are roaming or communing with the outdoors, exposing ourselves to the inherent sounds, colours and visual textures of nature most definitely will have a measurable positive impact on our mental wellbeing. And this is the whole reason for my Earthlight project. The strap-line of Earthlight may well be 'for the love of the land' however the mission is to bring the health giving benefits of nature home to anyone who chooses to engage.

For the Love of the Land

During our 'For the Love of the Land' free online event on the full moon evening of the 8th of December I'll be sharing nature inspired films, slideshows of beautiful images and tales from the land and properly launching Earthlight. So many from our communities have asked me to make some of my pieces available as prints and printed items so they can have nature in their homes and finally I've found an economical way to offer this. So I'll be outlining my future plans for Earthlight and sharing an initial bespoke collection themed around Raven for reasons that will become clear on the night.

I'd love you to join us for the free launch event, Thursday 8th December at 7pm, and if you're drawn to come along, or indeed watch the replay let me know using the button below and I'll add you to the guest list.

And in the meantime, here's my latest Earthlight film - Ebb, Flow, Rest, Restore, created to catch the solace held in the solitude of the moon driven tides.

If you'd like to read the full story of this trilogy of articles here are links to the two previous pieces.

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    About the Author Jason

    Jason follows his lifelong vocation as a countryside photographer who tries to catch the spirit of the places he visits. After decades working as a professional editorial photographer he now focuses much of his time on conceptual fine art photography, visual storytelling and in aiding others to follow their creative calling.