September 14, 2023

“For so very long, I have been looking for something in my life, but I have not known what! Joining the Mystery School, I feel as if a missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle has been finally found and put into place.”

When people come through our Mystery School doors, they often describe it as a ‘homecoming’. I can relate to this. It is one of the driving forces behind Jason and I starting The Way of the Buzzard over a decade ago.

For many years, I was searching for something, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. I had an unsettled feeling inside, and when I gave that feeling space, a line of enquiry opened up that took me along a breadcrumb trail of spiritual explorations. Eventually I discovered Earth spirituality.

At that point, the penny finally dropped. I had finally found the thing I had been seeking.

Looking back, I can see what was going on here. I was searching to fill the void that a severance had created in me, and a severance that had been created in my ancestors many years ago. This was a severance from the Earth, from nature, from the Otherworlds and ultimately from myself.

I am not alone in my revelations, far from it. There is an upsurge in interest in Earth spirituality, it has even reached mainstream media. The last census revealed a twelve-fold increase in people practising shamanism in the past decade.

Why is this? Why are people drawn to shamanism as a spiritual practice? And why does this matter? How does the ancient practice of shamanism help us.

I want to share a few thoughts about this severance that many people are experiencing here in the Western world and what it means to find our way back home.

And why now? Well, we are closing the doors to our Mystery School for new members next week. We have taken this decision so we can put some real focus into creating new content for our community over the coming winter. So, this blog is for anyone sitting on the fence and deciding if we are a good fit and whether they want to take the leap and come and join our community.

So, let’s begin by digging into the roots of this disconnection from nature, the Earth, and spirituality.

The roots of severance 

There is a prevalent feeling of separation in modern life, but it is not a new phenomenon. The process of severing humans from nature, from the Otherworlds and from themselves has been happening for a very long time.

I am an amateur enthusiast when it comes to history. I love it. I love to understand how humanity got to the position it finds itself in today.  This is an important approach. The Dalai Lama was asked his opinion on the most powerful meditation we can do to help heal the world. He replied: “Critical thinking followed by action. Discern what your world is. Know the plot, the scenario of this human drama. Then figure out where your talents might fit into making a better world.”

So, I am going to take you on a very quick canter through time to explain how this separation came about. In the interests of brevity for this blog, this comes with a disclaimer as I am not going to do justice to convey the horror of each of these events for our indigenous ancestors.

We begin at the dawn of civilisation around 5,000 years ago when a group of people found a different way to survive on Earth. They planted crops and farmed their land, moving away from being hunter-gatherers. This emerged into The Fertile Crescent, often referred to as “the cradle of civilisation”, the crescent-shaped region in Western Asia and North Africa that spans the modern-day countries of Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and Egypt. In this change in feeding themselves, they altered their relationship with the land and with nature, taking ‘control’ of it, and ‘owning’ it. This is the ‘dominion over nature’ recorded in the Book of Genesis in the Bible.

Over here in Britain, it took several thousand years for the impact to really take hold. The Roman invasion was the first controlling mechanism, and it saw the end of our Celtic tribes and the tribal way. The spirituality of the people was retained until the Roman Catholic Church infiltrated. At this point, we begin to see the doctrine of separation enforced by laws by Anglo-Saxon kings, such as King Cnut, who reigned over one thousand years ago and banned: ‘the worship of idols… the sun or moon, fire or water, springs or stones or any kind of forest trees’.

Then, with the arrival of William the Conqueror in 1066, the land was taken from the people. Serfdom was created, a form of slavery in which a tenant farmer was bound to a hereditary plot of land and to the will of his landlord. A few hundred years later the old spiritual ways were banned to the point of death through the Witch Hunts of the Middle Ages. People were no longer permitted to connect with God through anyone other than their priest.

A further wave of disconnection from the land happened with the Enclosures over a period of around 400 years. It peaked with the Enclosure Act of 1801, which led to the reduction and eventual removal of the common land. Our ancestors were no longer able to grow their own food and feed themselves. The consequence was that rather than starve, they were faced with the only option of survival, which was to move into the slums of Victorian Britain and become the workforce of the Industrial Revolution.

This was arguably the greatest severance that had been experienced so far. Without access to the countryside, these people were no longer living by the natural cycles, close to nature. They had also lost the support of their intergenerational communities. The wounds that our ancestors experienced during these times are still playing out in our lives today as we inherit the unresolved trauma they experienced from this mass severance.

Which brings us to modern times. Recently there has been another degree of severance: the digital age. So many people are attached to their devices and entertained by virtual realities. This is one of the contributing factors that has led to a condition called ‘Nature Deficit Disorder, which dulls our senses.

There are huge consequences of stifling indigenous cultures and wisdom sources. Here in the Western world, we have lost our connection with the Otherworlds, nature, ourselves and each other. In a world filled with constant busyness and digital distractions, it's easy to feel disconnected from what truly matters. But the answers to our spiritual yearnings, the connection to Earth, and the profound wisdom of ancient traditions are within our reach.

The consequences of severance

How does this severance play out in us? How can we put into words the disconnect that so many of us feel deep within? I have been musing over this for many years, so we asked our Mystery School members a few months ago. The responses were fascinating and fall into four themes. You might relate to some or all of them.

Disconnected: Before discovering shamanism, many individuals experienced a profound sense of disconnection. This disconnection often manifests in various ways, including feeling unrooted, fragmented, lost, confused, and uncertain about their place in the world. It's as though they are adrift in a sea of uncertainty, lacking a solid foundation upon which to build their lives.

Alone: Another common theme is the feeling of isolation and aloneness. People often describe a sense of not belonging, as if they are outsiders in a world that doesn't quite understand them. They may struggle to connect with others on a deep level and feel a profound sense of loneliness, even when surrounded by people. This feeling of being misunderstood can be incredibly isolating.

Searching: Many individuals find themselves on a relentless quest for meaning and purpose before discovering shamanism. They describe a persistent sense that something crucial is missing from their lives. It's as if they are perpetually searching for a hidden dimension of existence, a deeper truth, or a greater purpose that eludes them. This sense of searching can be both exhilarating and exhausting.

Emotional: Before embarking on their shamanic journey, people often grapple with emotional challenges, including depression, anxiety, and self-consciousness. The emotional burden of feeling lost and alone can take a toll on a person’s mental and emotional well-being.

The healing balm of ancient wisdom

So, it stands to reason that if we have been severed from nature and connecting to the Otherworlds, we can find our way back. We can re-establish that important bond for our health and well-being. We can fill the void that has been created all those generations ago when our ancestors were severed from their land, nature and their connection to the Otherworlds. We can find our way back home.

We asked our Mystery School members how they felt after they had discovered the shamanic and nature connection toolkit. Here is what they said:

1. From disconnected to grounded:

One of the most significant transformations that people experience on the Earth spirituality path is the shift from feeling disconnected to becoming grounded. In a world where distractions and superficialities often dominate our lives, this spiritual journey provides much-needed support. People feel happier and more aware as they reconnect with the Earth's rhythms. They find a profound sense of peace as they cut through the illusions of modern life and realign with what truly matters: our connection to the natural world and the Otherworlds.

2. From feeling alone to belonging:

Earth spirituality offers people the opportunity to discover their tribe. Many people feel isolated or misunderstood in the mainstream world, but within this spiritual community, they find a deep sense of belonging. They connect with like-minded individuals who are not only encouraging but also uplifting. This sense of unity and shared purpose creates a powerful bond that helps people move from a place of loneliness to a feeling of being part of something greater.

3. From searching to finding clarity:

Another profound shift that Earth spirituality brings is the transition from feeling lost and searching for meaning to finding clarity and purpose. Shamanism provides direction on life's path, helping people connect with their inner selves and uncover their life's purpose. Through the shamanic and nature connection toolkit, they establish connections with spirit guides, enabling them to receive guidance and insight. As a result, they develop skills that allow them to connect with the spiritual realm and hear messages that provide invaluable clarity and direction.

4. From emotional to more stable:

Earth spirituality empowers individuals to develop and improve their self-awareness. This allows them to trust their intuition and gain a deeper understanding of themselves. This journey is transformative as individuals learn to accept themselves and the reasons they are who they are.

I can relate to all of these insights from our Mystery School community. I was brought up in an evangelical Christian household, but as I ventured into my teenage years, I began to feel the weight of what I perceived as control. It was a turning point in my life when I made the decision to step away from that path.

Around the same time, I visited the Centre of Alternative Technology in Wales. Growing up in a working-class family during the Thatcher era, I had lived a sheltered life. This visit provided my first glimpse that all was not well with the way we were living on Earth. It profoundly changed me. It ignited a passionate desire within me to help the Earth, and I knew I wanted to pursue a career in helping reduce our environmental impact.

The next twenty years were challenging. I believed that by working within big businesses and showing people the damage being done to the planet, they would be inspired to change. However, it became clear that the issue was far more complex than I initially thought. Education didn’t change behaviour, on the whole. It was during this time that I began to revisit the threads of my Christian upbringing, searching for a spiritual path that resonated with me.

This journey left me feeling different from my friends and family, as I increasingly found myself straddling two worlds. The struggle was real, and there were moments when I thought I might be ‘cracking up’. I went to the doctors and declined a prescription for anti-depressants. I felt there was another route for me to find my way back to health.

I craved spiritual guidance but I didn’t think I had a spiritual connection. I tried different paths but none of them seemed to work for me. Nevertheless, I pursued, following lines of enquiry that interested me. Then, I stumbled upon the path of Earth spirituality, and everything began to fall into place. It felt like a homecoming, even though I seemed to be walking this path alone.

What I loved about Earth spirituality was its simplicity. There were no rigid rules or dogma; it was a non-prescriptive way of connecting with the world around me. I started to see results almost immediately, and it didn't demand a significant chunk of my time as it wasn't a strict, daily practice.

I shared my revelations with people close to me but not everyone understood my newfound spiritual path. Some friends and family were fearful for me. But the toolkit Earth spirituality provided me with insights and self-belief, which eventually led me to change my life for the better, bringing me to the point of meeting Jason and setting up The Way of the Buzzard.


The rising interest in Earth spirituality signifies a collective awakening to the importance of our connection with nature and the Otherworld. It offers a way to fill the void within, that so many people feel in the modern world. As more folk embark on this transformative journey, they are finding themselves grounded, connected, and aligned with their true purpose, ultimately leading to a more fulfilled and balanced life.

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, it's easy to lose sight of who we truly are. The shamanic and nature connection toolkit that we teach offers a path to rediscovering ourselves, our inner power, and our freedom. It encourages us to peel away the layers of external influences and societal expectations that have accumulated over the years. As we embark on this journey, we begin to unveil our authentic selves, the essence of who we are beneath it all.

One of the most profound aspects of embracing Earth spirituality is the opportunity to step onto our soul path. This path is uniquely ours, and is not dictated by external forces or expectations. It's a journey of self-discovery and alignment with our true purpose and calling. When we walk this path, we're no longer living someone else's dream; we're living our own, and that's where true fulfilment lies.

In a world filled with external influences and pressures, finding a way to break free from these forces can be liberating. Earth spirituality empowers us to reclaim our autonomy and not be controlled by external agendas. It's about learning to listen to our inner wisdom and intuition, making decisions that resonate with our true selves, and living in alignment with our values.

On this path, we're encouraged to explore our passions and interests fully. We discover what truly lights us up and what we're deeply passionate about. It's not about conforming to societal norms or chasing someone else's idea of success; it's about finding what brings us joy and fulfilment, and then pursuing it with enthusiasm.

As we journey deeper, we come to realize that our inner world is intricately connected to the outer world. The care and nurturing we give to ourselves extend to the care we provide for our communities and the Earth itself. This interconnectedness becomes a guiding principle in our lives. We recognize the importance of not only self-care but also community care and Earth care. Our actions are guided by a sense of responsibility and reverence for all living beings and the planet we call home.

This is a path that leads us back home: home to ourselves, our authentic nature, and our deep connection with the Earth. It's a journey that allows us to remember who we are at our core and to rekindle our relationship with the natural world.

It is a joy to be on this adventure with you!

Finding out more

Click here to find out about our Mystery School and enrol. The doors close to new members on Friday 22nd September.

Think of the Mystery School as ‘gym membership for your soul’ as one of our members so eloquently put it! There is no lock-in period and you can unsubscribe at any time. Enjoy live online gatherings and access to a whole range of ‘press and play’ video courses, as well as discounts on our retreats and sacred tool shop and access to our private Facebook group.

“Nicola and Jason make everything so friendly and accessible. The mystery school is affordable, full of easy to access information and is updated and added to regularly. I really feel a sense of belonging to a family being part of the mystery school.”


 If you would like to watch our recent Pop-up Talk where we explore the concepts touched on in this blog, click here for ‘Peeling Back the Veil: Age-old Wisdom for the Modern World’.

If you are interested in exploring healing ancestral wounds from the Industrial revolution, click here to find out about my book: The Path to Forgotten Freedom – Healing Unresolved Ancestral Trauma.

About the Author


Nicola Smalley is an edge-dweller, shamanic practitioner and writer living in the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Natural Beauty in north 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. Very excellent article Nicola, well written and informative. Like you I love the history and you put it simply and clearly. Thank you

  2. Thank you Nicola! This is such a great and comprehensive overview of history and where our connection to nature fits into it all. And how important it is! It’s everything to me. Thank you for the virtual Wheel of the Year ceremonies you offered during lockdown and for advertising them on Facebook. That’s how I found you. So grateful!

    1. Hi Melanie. I am so pleased you enjoyed my blog 🙂 and those wheel of the year ceremonies. And yes, connection is everything isn’t it! Thank you for your note 🙂

  3. This is a great article Nicola, and I would agree with the transitions you mention. I have been studying Mesolithic and Neolithic cultures most of my life, more so in the last 13 years. This brought me to realize that our ancient ancestors were as intelligent as you or me, with a sovereign connection to the land. In a sacred and shamanic way of being, all over the planet.

    The Neolithic period spans roughly 15,000 to 5,000 years and marks the gradual move from hunter-gatherers, to people who worked the land, built communities with megalithic structures, and left symbols carved into rock. Archaeology only gives us a fraction of the information about how things may have been in prehistoric times. I have visited many prehistoric sites but I think the confirmation of just how advanced our prehistoric ancestors were, I felt when visiting the Stonehenge Exhibition in London last year. The sophistication of artifacts in the exhibition made it blatant that Victorian archaeologists and subsequent academics. Have played down the advanced nature, intelligence, and connection of our ancient ancestors.

    I would also say 5000 years ago our strong connection to the land started to change from how it was for humanity over hundreds of thousands and millions of years. The history of personal sovereignty and the direct path of revelation in shamanism was blatantly prevalent before the changes. Looking at history or between the lines of history on a local and worldwide scale. Shows that systematically our connection to each other, the land, and the natural environment has been wiped out via religions, invasions, enclosure acts, land grabs, witch hunts, the Industrial Revolution, conflicts, and world wars. This period of fast change demonstrates the final part of our separation from being sacred, natural ways of being, and connection to the land we live upon.

    Disconnection from the natural way of being I think impairs critical thinking and physically learning natural skills. Also, it is blatant that this addiction to technology has increased since artificial intelligence introduced itself and increased 'Nature Deficit Disorder'. This term was coined by Richard Louv in 2005 but was not intended as a 'Disorder' representing actual illness. But instead, as a metaphor describing the costs of alienation from nature and natural ways of being. However, I would say in the last 9 years for some, Nature Deficit Disorder has become a very damaging mental illness. Although it can easily be cured via gardening, walking in the forest, hill climbing, swimming, learning new skills, being creative, and switching off devices that distract you from natural ways of being.

    I think almost everyone has a feeling of an unknown disconnect buried in their subconscious mind. A feeling of isolation, being alone, outsiders, or on the edge of mainstream thinking and motivation. I know I have felt this before I decided to reconnect to natural ways of being, becoming active and creative within a future that I am actively part of. Being grounded in the knowledge that each and everyone on a unique path has an impact on the world around us, causes a positive ripple effect as more feel this way is amazing to witness.
    I do think that the many shamanic ways of being and reconnection with the earth in a natural way is a good way. As it brings with it an enormous well-being and a coherent authentic or unique path into the future, that we are all creating…

    1. Beautifully said Pete. Thank you for your sharing here. All bob on. I was astounded by the Stone Henge exhibition last year – the beauty and exceptional craftmanship of those items. Our ancestors were amazing and I sense we have lost so much.

  4. Hi Nicola, i have just paid the enrolment fee for the Mystery School but have not received any type of conformation yet. Is this usual? Thank you.

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