Earth Path Education is an organization committed to supporting a regenerative culture in connective relationship with the natural world.
Earth Path Education practices Place Based-Education and Deep Nature Connection Mentoring: encouraging students to connect with the forest ecology, inner ecology and community ecology. We host most of our programs at Sacred Mountain Sanctuary a nature reserve and earth-based village.
Sacred Mountain Sanctuary is 333 acres of pristine Appalachian Mountain diversity surrounded by Pisgah National Forest. The property encompasses 2 mountain coves and neighbors a 3600ft elevated mountain bald with breathtaking views of Mount Pisgah and the surrounding areas. The coves are abundant with pristine water and important native plant species. Much of the property is blessed with a century-old mixed deciduous forest, making it an important species repository of the Southern Appalachian biome. It is our hope that each individual who experiences Sacred Mountain Sanctuary will take with them an abiding sense of wonder that will permeate everyday life and preserve an awareness of our profound interdependency.
In Earth Path Education Programs we tune into what's going on under our feet, above our heads, inside our hearts and minds, and in building relationship with the earth, ourselves, and our community, we can be exactly who we are and feel connected to our relations, plant, animal, fungal, elemental and spiritual.
We learn to use our hands to create fire, listen to the bird song, run like coyotes, make baskets, pick berries, cook over the fire, harvest and process wild seeds, foods and medicines, build shelters, and learn to use all of our senses to connect with the earth, to refine our senses and expand them to hear far off songs, and relish in the smells of flowering trees.
Using the Eight Shields Model, and Deep Nature Connection Mentoring, we work with the energies of each day, of the seasons, and of the times in a human life to support our most natural state and to connect us with the bigger flows of earth energy we experience.
With Cultural Regeneration tools like storytelling, song, wild tending, and peace making we learn to be carriers of a culture that honors and celebrates all living beings, and participates in a way that maintains and contributes to healthy habitats, and life feeding culture.
What is Nature Connection Mentoring?
Nature Connection Mentoring is teaching through doing and experiencing, it is sharing through curiosity and awareness. Nature Connection Mentoring is the opposite of the "know it all" teacher, the expert. Nature Connection Mentoring is about forming and ever deepening relationships with the Natural World. It is what allows us to learn a great deal from a Chickadee and plantain, as opposed to saying"Oh, I know that name of that, so now I am going to barely notice it."
Through Nature Connection Mentoring students are encouraged to come fully alive, to thrive on their innate curiosity and to ignite their passions to guide their learning journey. We as mentors support participants to grow in their awareness of the patterns and energy flows of the natural world through asking questions. What we call in the Nature Connection Mentoring Movement, The art of questioning. "How big was it show me with your hands?" "What colors did you see?" "Did it have an odor?" We use questions to see where we can support the students in a journey of awareness, and of sensory aliveness. We also use the art of questioning to help the inner ecology thrive. "How did you feel when you saw that?" "Where in your body do you feel a sensation when you hear that bird alarming?"
We will often begin the day with an opening circle where we seep in our gratitudes and sing songs, we connect our hearts and minds through this circle to each other and the forest ecology.
Nature/Sensory Awareness Games: We become animals, we learn how they move, and what it's like to be a predator, to be prey, to hide and hunt, to listen, and to look like the eyes of an eagle, or to become a protective mother squirrel. Through games, we learn effortlessly, in the what Coyote Mentoring calls the 'invisible school.'
Earth Songs: We sing to celebrate, to grieve, to connect, to share our gratitudes, to be joyful, to harmonize and to make beauty on this planet. Song is the number one survival skill I know, for the individual and for the community. Singing is medicine for the the heart, the family and the village. Every voice is welcome!
We also facilitate through storytelling. There is something so natural about sharing and listening to stories, what is it that makes kids so excited to hear a story? We have been learning through stories for as long as we have been humans. We teach through story, we integrate through story, we pull out stories from the epic and the mundane. We invite the storyteller forth in each of the children, and we hydrate some of the bigger stories, the myth, like that of the hero and heroine journey, the big stories, that act as baskets, holding our strands of stories, that weave together to create a beautiful blanket of living stories, that wraps us up.
Our closing circles or Welcome Home Ceremonies for our Rites of Passage programs supports the students in sharing their story of their day/week or year, and encourages students to go home from Earth Path Programing feeling well wrapped and integrated.
Core routines are the common practices we utilize to bring deepening connection to ourselves, each other and the natural world.
Core Routines in Earth Path Programs:
- Sit Spot
- Story Telling/Story of the Day
- Animal Forms
- Animal Names
- Mind's Eye imagery
- Sensory Awareness practices
- Nature Awareness Games
Core Curriculum in Earth Path Programs:
- The way of Council, all are respected and listened to, safe sharing space.
- Edible and Medicinal Local Plants
- Tree Wisdom
- Plants For Food, Medicine, Fiber
- Herbal Medicine Making
- Flower Essences
- Biodynamic Gardening, Natural Building, and Seed Saving
- Bird Language and Bird Identification
- Animal Tracking and Animal Gaits
- Cordage (Primitive Rope-Making)
- Ancient Fire Making: Bow Drill and Hand Drill Friction Fire, Flint and Steel
- Leather Work: Medicine Pouches, Knife Sheaths, nature journals, etc.
- Drumming, dancing and Rhythm
- Shelter Building
- Earth Based Rituals and Ceremony
- Fiber Arts: Felting, Natural Dye
- Herbal First Aid
- Wilderness Safety
- Self, Community and Earth Awareness
- Community Service