Primitive Skills


Since the dawn of humanity, primitive skills have been a daily exercise. These practices distinguished us from the animal world and allowed us to thrive while keeping us connected to our natural world. What is truly amazing is that these skills, which were once so necessary to physical survival, can now be practiced as a means for emotional and spiritual survival.

Primitive and ancestral Skills

Since the dawn of humanity, primitive skills have been a daily exercise. These practices distinguished us from the animal world and allowed us to thrive while keeping us connected to our natural world. What is truly amazing is that these skills, which were once so necessary to physical survival, can now be practiced as a means for emotional and spiritual survival. The world around us has blossomed into concrete and radio waves. Practicing ancestral skills is one way to restore balance for ourselves and our planet.

All primitive skills relate to a deep union between humans and Mother Nature. 200 years ago a fire wasn’t lit from matches but from the friction of two appropriate pieces of wood being rubbed together. The act itself is one of patience, hope, and gratitude for the coming warmth and security. Building a shelter is solving a puzzle using the surrounding materials to keep one warm at night. Tracking an animal is a meditative practice. Not only is patience required to follow the tracks, but as the hunter closes in on his pray he must radiate peace or the animal will sense his presence and intentions. We cultivate a sense of gratitude, far greater then selecting a steak in the deli section of the grocery store, when we witness the life that has been given so we may be nourished and continue to live. Through primitive skills we begin to sense our place in the circle of life.

I began to practice primitive skills after seeing an old cowboy light a fire using the bow-drill method in the canyons of Southern Utah. It was a sacred and spiritual event for me, and I was astounded that such a thing was even possible. On the recommendation of this wise old cowboy, I continued to pursue primitive skills through the Boulder (Utah) Outdoor Survival School. I expanded my knowledge through intensive training in this area for the following five years. I was fascinated by the skills I was learning but was even more affected by the healing power of practicing simplicity in the wilderness. Every new skill I learned and every old skill I revisited was an act of meditation and spirituality.

I have witnessed how such pursuits have helped troubled teens reconsider their harmful life choices. I have observed in myself how living off the land has helped me find calm even in the most tempestuous of life’s challenges.

Learning aboriginal skills is time well spent in nature and can help anyone find calm, healing, and connection. So take a course, read an ancestral skills book, and go for a walk in nature. Rediscover the healing power of the wilderness through developing skills that will create a union between yourself and the natural world around you.

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