The first year of the Buckeye Gathering I heard about the upcoming event from a friend. I didn’t know what to think about it, I didn’t have a category in my head for “primitive skills.” “What would that even be like?” I also was a student at Santa Rosa Junior College and had classes during the week that I couldn’t miss. Even after the event when my friend told me how amazing it was it did not click in my brain. I didn’t “get it.”
The second year that Buckeye was coming up however, I had some ideas why I wanted to go and had a more flexible schedule. I was just getting into archery and I was also interested in hunting and survival skills. And I must admit, it was 2011 and I wasn’t the only one who had survival and living primitively without industrial society on the mind. Even though I was highly skeptical about the end of the Mayan calendar it was easy to get swept up in all the apocalyptic outlook especially for one who already leans that way.
Regardless of how I got there my life was changed by the experience. Buckeye opened up an entirely new world for me.
I thought I had a well-grounded, practical, relatively sustainable and resilient lifestyle and a broadly informed and well-rounded perspective on nature, culture, and the human experience. I had studied cultural anthropology, organic farming, and permaculture, I had traveled and worked extensively in less developed countries, I had lived in simple off-the-grid ways, and I thought I had a relatively deep connection with the natural world.
I was wrong…
I realized there was a HUGE piece missing from my worldview and my skill-set. Learning primitive skills and meeting the people who practice them blew my mind open in a way I didn’t know was possible. Being introduced to tracking, nature awareness, and bird language added a whole new dimension of meaning and connection to my experience of nature. The level of sophistication, functionality, and beauty behind some of the skills and crafts gave me a renewed appreciation of material culture. And the camaraderie around the night-time fire and the trade blanket gave me a new heartfelt perspective on the potential of community.
Primitive skills gatherings, tracking, archery, hunting, and bird language are now all part of my daily perspective and my yearly calendar. The skills I have learned (or at least tried) have all taught me something powerful. The crafts I have created, the feelings I have felt, and the community I have connected to are now all central to who I am. Buckeye has made me a more whole person, more grateful, more humble, and more connected to nature and culture than ever before.
Check out the Buckeye website and these other gatherings: