Whispers from the Tool Maker

July 27, 2017


What was inside the minds of our far distant ancestors, who lived before ‘civilisation’. What was inside the ‘uncivilised mind’. At school we are told it was a primitive time, and that we have evolved so much since then. I am not so sure.

A few years ago Jason and I had an idea to hold a retreat where we could delve inside the minds of these distant ancestors from the Stone Age. Where we could go back to a period before agriculture, when we were hunters and gatherers, roaming the land.

When I look at artefacts in museums, I am fascinated by them for a short while, and then move on to the next display. I can’t touch them, hold them, glide my fingers over them. I am detached from the experience. So what would it be like to sit with them? To cup them in my hands? To journey with them? To journey to the person who created the?. What messages would there be for me?

So, Jason and I decided to give it a go. We arranged for fifteen of us to spend the weekend at a beautiful farm in the Yorkshire Dales, overlooking Ingleborough, and we loved it so much we are going back again this year.

Such an extraordinary community was built for the weekend. Right on the back of the recent EU Referendum of 2016, we were in need of some grounding. Wildflower meadows beckoned. Waterfall swimming awaited. Sleeping under the stars, stories around the campfire, feasting in the farm courtyard were all for the taking.


During the Saturday we spent time with the farmer Tom, who is an archaeologist. His father built up an extensive collection of really special artefacts, many dating back to the Stone Age and beyond. It was these that we were working with for the day.

I chose a smooth black stone-age cutting stone. So precisely and painstakeingly crafted, not for functionality but for beauty. Art for arts sake. Here is what came from my experience – a piece I wrote that afternoon of the insights that came to me.


Community, Connectedness, Freedom

My fingers slide across the smooth contours. The heaviness, the magic, the mystery. This object of simplicity allows me to time travel back to thousands upon thousands of years ago. To connect back to its maker, who too sat listening to the call of the crow, as their fingers glided back and forth, back and forth. The sharp edges styled to perfection, beauty matching functionality.

The bee buzzing from flower to flower. A baby crying. Jackdaws cackling in the trees overhead. Their sounds travelling through time bring me closer still to the toolmaker, a different life, a different time.

I call out, ‘Toolmaker, what have we lost now which you held so dear to your heart?’

I hear the reply through my pen moving across these pages.

Community, Connectedness, and Freedom.

Not freedom in the sense of needing to keep moving to survive, but freedom from the trappings of others who have a hold over your mind. Freedom from others agendas whom you have never met, and who do not care for you and your survival.

Connection to the great Universal Mind, the magic of all the is in the physical world. Connection with the magic which lies behind the door to the Otherworlds. Connection to all of life on Earth, to each other, to our own hearts desires.

Community, the gel which sets our understanding through life, our sense that we belong to something worth living for. That we are valued, and understand what really matters to us here in this precious life.


The bee manoeuvres around me, finding sweet nectar amongst the green grasses, just as it has always done. How man has changed themselves and the world they live in in the time between now and the six thousand years which span me and Tool Maker. What might I leave behind which will be of interest to fellow kin in six thousand years time. Only time will tell.

The Tool Maker holds the cool stone to his lips, whispers in some sweet wisdom and lays the treasure in its hideaway holding place. A gift to the Earth, held in darkness until a time when its message is ready to fall on listening ears, curious minds and open hearts. A time when human survival is in great question, when the wisdom is needed most of all. This time.


Round two

Since this experience, Jason and my thinking and work through the Way of the Buzzard has grown, building some more on these three concepts of Connection, Community and Freedom. The whispers from Tool Maker ran deep, and I am so excited to be going back to Lower Winskill farm again this year for another Craft & Creativity experience.

I wonder what messages will be in store for us now the Wheel has turned once more…

About the Author


Nicola Smalley is an edge-dweller, shamanic practitioner and writer living in Anglezarke on the edge of the West Pennine Moors in Lancashire, England.
Following a career in corporate sustainability, she now runs The Way of the Buzzard with her husband Jason. Her passion is anything connected to nature and the mysteries of the Earth.

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  1. Thank you for sharing. And the message you received – community, connectedness and freedom. I want to take these words within to fully understand their meaning in me.

  2. I would love to come on this if you do it next year. Probably would need to book it off work now for next year as trying to get any time off in August is just insane!
    I get the most strange sensations just thinking about touching these amazing artefacts. Was this also the place with the cave bear skull?

    1. Oh it will be great for you to join us Lisa 🙂
      Yes, this is where the cave bear skill is too. I am sure we will be back there next year – its just the most amazing place I can’t imagine not going back in 2018!

  3. I like your piece Nicola, I have wondered what the ancients really thought about, but I have always thought of it in relation to stone circles etc.. your piece made me think of other facets of the lives they may have led.. Thankyou.

  4. I love this…..it makes me tingle inside and out …… As I walk the woodlands where I live, I think this too, in wonderment I wander to a place where our ancestors have been …. & im curious & I want to know. I love your question to the tool maker.

  5. i chose an exquisite smooth green piece … i had previously heard of these ‘axe’ heads crafted from stone which the ancient ones went to great effort to collect from the top of a lake district hill Pike of Stickle … my journey while cradling the stone was a most powerful experience … and i was led to the secret the stone was holding … it became so hot … Nicola was surprised when i returned it to her … sad to miss meeting with the stone this time as i cant go as planned

  6. Wow so inspiring. Thankyou Nicola for your words here. Very revealing when you connected to the ancient tool and toolmaker. Wise words indeed for us to be guided by in modern times.

  7. Very deep and thought provoking, as I read, I pictured, I lived the moment, we may have different tools at our disposal but remain just as primitive in some ways, these days we try to connect with our spirituality, where once it would be second nature. Both you and Jason keep carrying the torch. X

  8. Thank you for your powerful thoughts, Nicola. The idea of connectedness really resonated with me. May I humbly offer these words…

    “Whispers of Connection”

    What might I give six thousand years from now?
    Could some precious part of me
    Be gifted to this universe –
    A grain of sand, or mote of dust
    Enhanced a touch by well-lived blood.
    It comes full circle so they say
    For long time past, I came from clay
    And particles of stars that danced
    In heavenly disarray.

    But greater yet, the thoughts I think –
    That carry whispers from the brink
    Of endless time –
    O how sublime –
    I am a letter in a word;
    Which cannot now be heard –
    But think – it echoes far from here,
    A pure vibration, loud and clear
    A memory of Love.

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