Following the Deer Trods

Following the Deer Trods by Danielle barlow
Following the Deer Trods by Danielle barlow

What does it mean to follow the deer trods?

When humans first began travelling, maybe two or three million years ago and long before we became homo sapiens, we followed the travels, the migrations of our food. These large beasts, deer and horse forebears, migrated … again following their food, following how good grazing became available. We followed in their footsteps.

It was a relationship, we both benefited – we got food and they had their sick and elderly, their excess population dealt with. We were like wolves and bears and the big cats, the big predators who help to keep ecosystems flourishing.

Animals are so very much older than humans. Deer began evolving maybe 40 million years ago It seems the horse evolved over 50 million years ago, even longer ago than deer. We ate both deer and horse for the first million or so years of our evolution, it’s only 6,000 years ago in Britain that we began farming, a mere sniff in archaeological terms from even our short existence as a species. Deer and horses had been around and evolving 40 or 50 times as long ago as we humans have been on the planet.

In those days we knew to follow the deer and the horses … and to learn from them. We’ve forgotten this in the past few thousand years. But all shamans know that the rest of creation is their elder brethren and that we need to learn from our elders. As we followed the herds we also learned their ways, began to learn to think like them … the beginnings of shapeshifting. We learned how to work with the seasons, with plants, and with the animals and birds; we learned how to work with the weather, with rivers and seas. We learned and understood how we fitted into the Earth’s scheme of things.

Following the deer trods is about all of this. It’s about learning how to work-with everything, every part of creation with whom we share this lovely planet. That phrase, work with, is fundamental to following the deer trods. We don’t control, overpower, take over, command or restrain Nature or the non-human world – instead we learn how to work with all of it, work to everyone’s good. And “everyone” most certainly does NOT mean just humans!

Following the deer trods is about learning to ASK. We ask everything because we know, know in our bones, that everything has spirit. As Einstein said, “matter is compressed energy” … and we know that energy and spirit are one. So we learn to ask our cat, our computer, our car, the cauliflower we wish to eat … and we learn to be content with the answers we get too. This comes about because we know (in our bones) that we are part of the whole, that there is no them-n-us except between groups of humans. We know that the Earth, the world, the universe and everything are not against us but truly want us to know ourselves part of them all … as we used to do.

We learn to LISTEN. Having asked the question we don’t make assumptions about the answer we will get. We wait … full of expectancy but with no expectations! In our modern world this can take quite a bit of un-learning!

The old ways of Britain, following the deer trods, include lots of fun-things too, like drumming, working with the rattle, journeying, dream-work, and rituals too. But the base of the learning is how to ask and listen with all of our elder brethren, all of the rest of creation in fact whether of our Earth or of the Cosmos.

This, very briefly, is what it’s about to follow the deer trods. If this begins to make your heart sing email me at, complete the application form and let’s begin talking about it together.

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