Come in, grab a blanket and warm yourself by the fire as we gather in the North West. A place of darkness after the sun has set and the light has faded. A time of year when the leaves have all fallen and the forest seems still, dark and wet. The time before winter comes when we look back to the past on all that has happened. All the shields we have traveled through so far have been about creating and solidifying our connections to nature, community, and ourselves. Now is the time to tend to those connections.
In the natural world after all the leaves have fallen and the plants are dying the back the soil is still bubbling with life. Using this time to break things down and harvest the nutrients they have gathered through their life experience so that in the spring the seeds will have healthy vital soil to grow in. Often in our journey through nature connection, we are having such enlivening experiences that keep us in the present moment or were sharing our story of the day that we don’t tend to the grievances that may have come up. The North West is about attending to these grievances and culture in which we live in.
We do this at the The Immersion at Wilderness Awareness School and our Art of Mentoring, by gathering and holding space to express our feelings whatever they may be so that our communication is clear and free of past feelings we may be harboring. This can be done in an intentional ceremony or just around the fire at night. In Hawaiian culture, they have the practice of Hoʻoponopono – a daily practice of reconciliation and forgiveness around the time of sunset. We also host ceremonies and rites of passage for our students throughout the year.
In the North West we look to our past and ancestry to better move forward into the future. Holding the culture by tending to ceremony and ritual that are practiced in community. Thanksgiving here in the Western World is a good example. Gathering and Celebrating is in the West but the Tradition and Ritual in which your family gathers for this event brings it into the North West. Examples would be your aunt bringing her famous stuffing every year or the elders (grandparents) welcoming and bringing everyone’s minds together.
The North West responsibilities on a facilitation team are to cultivate honor, uphold, and regenerate lineage. Staff training and renewal; research and consult with cultural elders, resources, and other lineage keepers – recruit, orient, and train elders for program participation; help to mediate conflicts and offer personal coaching. We also think of these people as the fire tenders.
This feeling of being open, heard, and witnessed through clear communication of both the comfortable and uncomfortable conversations helps our students to develop Awe and Reverence for life and the world around us. Having moments of slowing down to be awestruck by something.
Things we associate with the North West Late Autumn/ Early Winter, Auntie/Uncle hood Late Adulthood, Reflection and Release, and Connection to Ancestry.
This shield, like other ordinals, is a transition phase in our journey. We are preparing ourselves for the journey into the North, the time of Winter and the great respect of Elderhood.