ANCIENT ARTS APPLICATIONS & POSSIBILITIES
Have you experienced nature as a living library of endless knowledge?
Could you survive an unexpected period of time in the wild?
Have you ever made fire from sticks?
Have you experienced the sense of satisfaction that comes from making an instrument, tool, pouch or clothing with your own hands and raw materials?
These programs introduce participants to a hands-on experience of how our ancestors sustained themselves in relationship with nature, directly accessing everything they needed to not only survive, but thrive. The wild was their pharmacy, grocery store, hardware store and clothing shop. Jon believes that we modern humans still carry genetic codes of this ancestral knowledge and by reactivating this cellular memory; we can develop deeper connections to nature, ourselves and one another.
These instructional classes provide everyone the opportunity to create something of their own whether it is fire, cordage, leather bags, baskets, musical instruments, tools, vessels, utensils, or decorative pieces. The variety of projects to choose from is extensive. Natural materials used for these programs include gourds of various sizes and shapes, bamboo, kudzu vine, deer or elk hide and plant fibers.
More importantly there is no need of former knowledge, experience or artistic skills. Participants quickly discover the excitement and satisfaction that comes from their efforts, as creations manifest before their eyes with some instruction and patience.
Under Jon’s guidance and supervision participants also learn about some of the historical and cultural uses of the items they create. If musical instruments are the focus, participants will be given group and individual instruction on how to play them.
Additionally, artistic decorations can be added to certain projects as a way to enhance the beauty of the piece created. We draw from artistic techniques developed by traditional people using mediums such as fire, charcoal, stone and plant-based pigments as another way to connect to the indigenous wisdom within each of us.
Ancient Arts Earth Skills Offered:
- Cordage making (bracelets, necklaces, etc.)
- Fire by friction/flint and steel (fire-making 101)
- Leather Craft (pouches/medicine bags/moccasins)
- Bamboo Craft (flutes, cups, utensils, didgeridoos, digging tools, atlatls, slit drums, wind chimes, etc.)
- Gourd Craft (rattles, bowls, drums, maracas, shakarees, etc)
- Kudzu Kraft (baskets, dream catchers)
- Bark baskets
- Face painting with ochre (iron oxide)
- Survival Skills (Debris shelters, Navigation skills, Water collection)
- Plant Identification and Gathering
- Primitive Weapon Technology
- Primitive Pottery
- Net Bags
- Wooden spoons
Do you feel stuck, depressed or find yourself living a life that lacks meaning and purpose?
Did you know life is a series of “thresholds” that calls for both a shedding of the old and the rebirth of something new within us so that positive change can occur in person’s life?
Were you aware that our ancestors were acutely aware of such life passages and created ceremonial processes to assist individuals through these periods of transition?
Our vision is to provide young people with the resources and opportunities to co-create genuine community while exploring their particular gifts in a supportive and stimulating environment. Our programs are aimed at celebrating young people as valuable contributors to the making of culture. We feel compelled to reintroduce meaningful rites of passage to young people of the modern world, so that they may better understand and embrace important life transitions with courage, grace and wisdom. Our underlying belief is that everyone comes here to grow into a vessel of greater being.
In a culture that has forgotten how to assist its members through difficult life transitions, it is the youth that tend to suffer the most. Rites and initiatory symbols are intended to reveal and lead out the inner resources and gifts already residing inside the person. To authentically express one’s self while being witnessed, heard and supported can lead to radical change within an individual. Genuine community provides the “practice ground” for such experience.
The sustainability of our culture depends in large part on our capacity to provide a “growth context” in which our youth can develop maturity and discover meaning and purpose. Young men and women need help in opening themselves to the next station in life and to what is truly authentic. The raw emotions and ideals need attention and expression if they are to develop into the skills and wisdom of elders. Our young people need to be prepared for the coming crises of the spirit. Rites of passage prepare the inner person for such crises.
Our curriculum incorporates various threads of indigenous traditions, cosmologies and perspectives that assist in finding one’s way in the world. The intention here is to use ancient, time-tested practices for the purpose of awakening the authentic within each person. We seek to follow a code of living that allows room for the entire person to exist.
CONTACT ANCIENT ARTS TO SEE WITH NATIVE EYES
Do you feel stuck, depressed or find yourself living a life that lacks meaning and purpose?
When was the last time you actually took time to play?
Did you know you can play and learn new skills simultaneously?
Did you realize that your awareness of nature corresponds to your perception of it?
“The Art of Seeing with Native Eyes”
Jon also brings a large repertoire of nature awareness games and activities. Teaching new skills through play is another skill passed down from our predecessors. Participants are exposed to a variety of techniques for connecting more intimately with their natural surroundings while having loads of fun doing it. Whether it’s learning how to become “invisible” in the woods, speaking the language of the birds, finding your tree or staying found in the woods, the wilderness is an endless living library of knowledge waiting to be explored.
Blindfold Trust Walk
Find the Objects
Find Your Tree
Do you know the power of storytelling to heal or transform a person?
Were you aware that an absence of story and myth leads to a draining away of the meaning in life and one’s ability to make meaning out of disorienting circumstances?
Are you aware there is a unique story within you that is trying to make its way into the world?
The Navaho word used for storytelling means “making it holy.” Stories are the oldest school for humankind. Stories are timeless vehicles through which knowledge has been passed down generation to generation through the millennia. They carry dormant seeds of insight and wisdom seeking fertile ground inside the minds and hearts of listeners.
Stories are tied to the timeless. They are storehouses of knowledge and wisdom that carry perennial truths still relevant to us today. Stories can be used as a means for pulling out the inner genius of those listening because the old stories are connected to the soul and deep imagination of humans. The minds of humans are naturally narrative and the soul is nourished when listening to a story
Genuine stories offer a living school where the only entry requirements are an active imagination, some capacity to feel one’s own feelings and a willingness to approach the world as a place of mystery and revelation. People feel more whole when listening to a story and feel most lost when out of touch with their own story.
Stories are full of symbols and codes meant for assisting us in revealing ourselves to ourselves. The human psyche is reading symbols arising in our lives every day, but much of this remains unconscious. Stories can activate latent capabilities already residing within a person. Learning to “read” the encoded symbols in old stories helps us to see beyond the world of appearances in our own life story. In essence, we teach ourselves how to see into the symbolic qualities of our experiences and extract the meaning aimed at the heart of who we are.
Jon draws on traditional stories from cultures all over the world as a way to invite intriguing dialogue around a particular theme. The themes often involve “old ideas” such as rites of passage, everyone is gifted, or a hero’s or heroine’s journey. Used in the right way, these stories can be psycho-diagnostic tools.
In approaching the story, students are encouraged to stay aware of the particular place in it where they get drawn in deeper, leave it, or become stuck. These are “departure points” within the psyche for going further into the “medicine” of the story. It is from this threshold that the story can become a teacher and internal guide for personal insight and deeper understanding into one’s life at that moment in time.
Each story is prefaced with some basic ideas meant to set up the territory of the upcoming story. Every story is accompanied by a drum which carries the story deeper into the imaginations of the listeners. The story is told and then the floor is opened up for discussion. Participants are encouraged to speak of their own interpretations of the symbols and meaning hidden within the story. Once the discussion has ended, Jon will make closing comments on any broader lessons that connect the many ideas previously expressed.
As participants begin to develop an appreciation for the power of stories and the meaning hidden within their personal life story, they can write their own stories (real or fiction) and present them in front of the group. This part of the program could provide a meaningful avenue for self-expression while providing an opportunity to be witnessed by one’s peers.
Did you know that drumming has verified positive effects on the nervous system and brain function?
Have you experienced the naturally induced altered state that can come from prolonged periods of drumming?
Do you know how much fun it can be to play in rhythm with other musicians?
As the old people say, “A day without a song is day not fully lived.”
Jon uses drums and other percussive instruments to teach basic rhythms to participants and invites groups to make music together as a way to have fun and to practice the art of communication through rhythm. In fact, drumming has been used for thousands of years to create and maintain physical, mental and spiritual health. More recent studies have shown that student comprehension levels increase with the use of rhythm in the classroom.
In the workshops, enough drums and other percussive instruments are made available so that everyone is able to play something. After a basic introduction on the history of the drum and techniques for effectively playing, there is a brief warm-up to help everyone relax and feel more comfortable with their instrument. Next, a specific rhythm with multiple parts (beats) is introduced. The group is then divided up into smaller groups who are taught a specific beat. The goal is to blend all of the separate beats into a synchronistic melody of sound.
The drum is an effective way to channel emotions without the use of words. Participants can drum out their feelings without saying a word. It is a means by which to stay in the present moment. This is good for stress levels, because stress is usually connected to thoughts about the past or the future, which are beyond our control.
Drums are relatively easy to play. Given their accessibility, the learning curve is very low leading to feelings of positive well-being and self-confidence. Each person is expressing themselves through his or her instrument while listening to the others at the same time. Everyone is speaking and everyone is heard, while collectively creating a synchronized sound that is larger than the individuals participating in its creation. However, every person’s sound is an essential part of the whole.
Other research studies have been published which attest to the effectiveness of drumming as a serious therapeutic tool. The applications have included using it to reduce stress, tension and anxiety; lower blood pressure; boost the immune system; release trauma, including PTSD; accelerate physical healing; enhance substance abuse recovery; integrate right and left brain functioning; and create a sense of connectedness with self and others.
Drum rhythms permeate the entire brain. Unlike vision or speech which are relegated to only one part of the brain, drumming access all of it. It stimulates the creation of new neural pathways which bypass old, damaged pathways, even where there has been significant damage or other neurological impairment. Research has shown that the physical transmission of rhythmic energy to the brain synchronizes the two cerebral hemispheres as well. According to Dr. Michael Winkelman in his book, Shamanism: the Neural Ecology of Consciousness and Healing, “Drumming synchronizes the frontal and lower areas of the brain, integrating nonverbal information from lower brain structures into the frontal cortex, producing feelings of insight, understanding, integration, certainty and conviction…” This neural process assists in one’s ability to access unconscious information through symbols and imagery making their way from the lower brain into the frontal area of the brain, ultimately facilitating deeper psychological integration.
A recent study by Barry Quinn, Ph.D. shows that “even brief drumming sessions can double alpha brain wave activity, dramatically reducing stress. The brain changes from Beta waves (focused concentration and activity) to Alpha waves (calm and relaxed), producing feelings of euphoria and well-being.”