Sunday, 30 December 2018

2018: winds of change

The Pilgrims' Nest is a place open to all pilgrims on their individual path of evolutioninviting them to rest their weary feet and to absorb the transforming energy of the place, to connect with nature and with a simple life style and consequently to (re)connect with their own unique authenticity...

Almost 10 years ago, in January 2009, the Pilgrims' Nest was born. It was a unique concept which began its slow but steady growth and development, an idea, a dream that became materialized (see 1st blog post December 2008). Now, at the end of 2018, it looks like we are finishing a chapter. It has been a time of welcoming many people from all corners of the world, but also a time of organizing concerts and events, hosting workshops, music sessions, exhibitions, gatherings... It's been a fascinating period of creation and manifesting, of exchange and cooperation, and at the same time of continuously searching for the right shape in continuously changing circumstances. In short, an intense and expansive 10 years.

Since this year however, inspired by deeper meaning and by the cycles of nature in which the Nest is embedded, a shift seems to have presented itself naturally, a more inward movement, introspective, a calming down of activities, a change, allowing the place to re-breathe. After all, a sustainable evolution doesn't necessarily mean growing more and bigger infinitely...
While from the outside this may look like making a U-turn in comparison with previous years, it doesn't mean that the Nest will be closing its doors, not at all. It will only be more selective in terms of who and what and when. The portal will remain open...

In parallel with this shift, a big change in the nature in and around the Pilgrim's Nest is also taking place with the arrival in the region of the boxwood moth. This moth, coming from Asia, looks like a small, innocent and even beautiful little creature, but because of the presence of many many millions of them (driving at night in summer they show up in your headlights like if you'd be driving through a hell of a snowstorm!) and its  very fast breeding cycle (3 to 4 generations per year) the effect here in the region is downright devastating.

the boxwood moth

boxwood moths in the shower cabin

Boxwood is a ubiquitous plant/shrub here in the hills of the Hautes Corbières. It grows abundantly everywhere in the wild, it even forms whole boxwood forests with old trees up to 8 meters tall with beautiful, irregularly shaped trunks. The neighbouring village of Bouisse is even named after it (the French word for boxwood is "buis", pronounced "bwi").

On our land boxwood is the most common plant species, it creates natural, visual separations between many cozy little corners and it also forms effective windbreaks against the frequent Tramontana winds. You could say that boxwood is the species that makes the place what it is.
But all that is bound to disappear completely due to the enormous voracity of the caterpillars which are produced in great numbers by the boxwood moths. In no time, they eat all the boxwood leaves and during the hottest 3 seasons they reproduce themselves in a rhythm of only 2 months, so that their numbers increase exponentially. A real tsunami in slow motion.

eggs of the boxwood moth, stuck against the bottom side of a boxwood leave
boxwood caterpillar

Both our land and the entire surrounding landscape are irrevocably undergoing a complete metamorphosis ...

dead boxwood shrubs

boxwood trees under attack, envelopped in creepy caterpillar webs

In an attempt to limit the damage and to not let the place become inaccessible by creepy tangles of webs usually left behind by the caterpillars, we were extremely busy this summer with secateur and chainsaw, with moth traps and with the one effective and organic pesticide on the market, based on bacillus thuringiensis. Perhaps it will turn out to be a plaster on an open wound and eventually we might lose the battle in the long run. Once the tsunami will have passed, it's highly probable that in the following years there will always be enough moths left behind to require constant vigilance and repeated actions, that's for sure.

trimming the boxwood forest next to the house

moth trap

Anyhow, the Nest already looks completely different now. Fortunately we have been able to save most of the boxwood hedges along the street side and elsewhere on our land from the first attacks this summer. For the time being that is. But countless young boxwood plants growing under the cedar trees have been pre-emtively eliminated, and of dozens of tall boxwood trees the branches have been removed and the trunk shortened to 2.5 m heigth, in the hope of saving more easily any new leaves from future attacks. 

All in all, this development has given the Nest a very different outlook. Many of the cozy, enclosed corners have been partially or completely lost, but on the other hand everything has also become more open, and consequently lighter and sunnier, allowing other plants to grow eventually. So also nature is re-breathing...

Thus, in a world full of changes, the Pilgrim's Nest is floating along on its waves. We let ourselves be carried forward on the flow of what is presenting itself naturally, either inner or outer. In the end, isn't that how the way of the pilgrim goes...?

Pilgrims' Nest

11580 Villardebelle, France

gps: N 43.004953 / E 2.424280

mobile: 0033 681250002 

Sunday, 24 December 2017

2017: freewheeling in synchronicities

The Pilgrims' Nest is a place open to all pilgrims on their individual path of evolution, inviting them to rest their weary feet and to absorb the transforming energy of the place, to connect with nature and with a simple life style and consequently to (re)connect with their own unique authenticity...

Some years are characterized by a remarkable growth, other years are full of important changes and improvements with a lot of manual work, and other years again hold some great surprises... 2017 has been a year in which things rather went their usual, relaxed way, albeit with the necessary changes, improvements and activities, and as usual with lots of fine visitors, but the energy this year had a rather freewheeling character. Everything went fluently and effortlessly and with lots of synchronicities, usually a sign that everything is right on track. As never before things seemed to fall in place of their own. The result of course was pure enjoyment every day...

Like many a year this working year also started with a big spring bonfire. 

Early in the year some more space was created for camping.

The old shower was taken down and a new one built on the same spot, a wooden cabin with a removable, transparent roof, so the lovely feeling of showering outside in the sunshine wouldn't be lost...

Also the outdoor kitchen got completed with a real oven, some extra kitchen equipment and a proper sink.

And during the summer months a dome tent appeared, a nice project from a friend.

All ready for another season full of fine visitors and nice activities...


December. Now that the year is nearing its end, with the gate of the Nest closed and the winter chill reigning outside, the energy invites us to rest, to turn inward, to evaluate the past year, and to create a bed for the next working year with new, great meetings and interesting events. The wheel of time is turning...

Pilgrims' Nest
11580 Villardebelle, France,2.424223&spn=0.006308,0.013937
gps: 43.004953 / 2.424280

mobile: 0033 681250002

Friday, 30 December 2016

2016: a basis for a new network

The Pilgrims' Nest is a place open to all pilgrims on their individual path of evolution, inviting them to rest their weary feet and to absorb the transforming energy of the place, to connect with nature and with a simple life style and consequently to (re)connect with their own unique authenticity...

Seasons develop and dissolve into one another, winter into spring, spring into summer, summer into autumn and again in winter... a never ending cycle, steadily spiralling up towards some unknown destination... 

Graciously bobbing on this gentle flow of Life the Nest has kept on flourishing happily throughout 2016, welcoming all sorts of visitors, travellers and soul seekers, and offering all kinds of uplifting events, workshops, concerts, full moon gatherings and camp fire parties... mainly during the summer months when most people have their holidays. But basically the fun at the Nest never really stops. Every day here feels like a holy-day...

whether it be by sharing work...

by sharing food...

by sharing music and dance...

Dances of Universal Peace weekend of October

or by sharing the joy and pure fun of children's play...

Leeuwke, our newest resident

Where beauty, creativity and sacredness go hand in hand...

visitors' contributions to "expressions of love"

decorated drum
flower bath
the sweat lodge
the ankh

A great big THANK YOU I owe to Wouter and Anke, a young and dedicated Dutch couple who have been staying here at the Nest during the past summer months, and who have been an incredible help with all the work that needed to be done.

Anke and Wouter in the new outdoor bathtub, constructed by Wouter, the water is heated by a wood fire underneath

Wouter and Anke
Apparently their stay here at the Nest has inspired them to also create a place of love, healing and creativity back in their own country. It's called "Kloppend Hart"  No doubt it will become a great success. You just can't stop this kind of heartbeat... ♥ (in Dutch)

It's sure that the world is in great need of this kind of places now during the current times of uncertainties and new developments that have never been seen before. So many people are ejected from systems that no longer work for them. So many people feel the need to shed false identities, tight schedules and old imposed belief systems and are desperately craving for guidance in order to reconnect with their own pure authenticity. So it's with great joy that I see this kind of places springing up, and it fills me with humble satisfaction that the Nest is playing an inspiring role in this process...

A particularly fortunate evolution during the second half of 2016 has been the creation of a new circle of friends, some of which have recently come to live in the surrounding villages, and others with whom earlier friendship ties have been strengthened. Very likely this is heralding the birth of a new network of people, strongly connected, and committed to happily create all sorts of joined activities, of which a few brainstorming sessions and the latest full moon gatherings here at the Nest have been a prelude. Is it coincidence that in a region with such a strong Magdalene energy most of these friends are powerful women...? 😊

walking Pilgrim, the donkey, to the next village

The road in 2017 surely looks promising...!!

So as 2016 is drawing to its end I'm once again all excited by the prospect of new developments, the excitement that comes with the awareness of the never ending flow of Life and Creativity...
May your path be filled with Light and Love.
And see you sometime in the new year...

gps: 43.004953 / 2.424280

mobile: 0033 681250002 

photos by Eddy Voorspoels and Wouter Buijs.