Text & Artwork by Siobhán O'Callaghan
The seed of Primitivkollektiv was sown spontaneously in the late spring of 2019; a four-month long workshop series that took its roots in the fertile space of Isla Café in Neukölln, Berlin. Our intuitive teachings aimed to revive, share, protect and incorporate ancestral knowledge within a contemporary context of sustainability. Collectively we made circular condiments, discovered wild plants and dyed medicinal cloths, brewed the oldest beverage known to humankind and extracted compost colours, crafted into ancient inks. Our workshops were met with curious minds and warm hearts. A thirst for traditional knowledge and skills by a generation who were told about, but had not experienced, their grandparent’s way of life.
My interest in traditional knowledge and crafts stem from my upbringing in rural Ireland, as a daughter of a father who repeatedly points out how much stone has passed through his laboured hands. A parent who still practices and speaks of the knowledge and skills that were passed down from his elders, in a place that remains relatively unchanged, even now. I learnt about self-sufficiency from
a young age, living on the land and witnessing with my siblings how a family home can be built from scratch.
I was there when the foundations were drafted in chalk upon the earth, when the first stones were laid before the last, and when we welled for water with what looked like a magic wand. I nursed an apple tree from seed, made mud pies in the bush cabby, swam in the river Blackwater, picked berries by the roadside. Tasted Mead for the first time. I honed my craft of traditional dance and sang old Irish songs in village pubs. Studied art & design. But then I left that place and did not think to look back.
My interest in the natural world and in traditional practices was rekindled following a burnout I experienced in 2014, shortly after I arrived from London to Berlin, six years after I had left the Emerald Isle. Looking back, I had fallen completely out of touch with the natural surroundings I grew up in; overworking myself for corporate profits, getting caught up in a fast-paced fake paradise. I thank my body and mind for signalling me stop. Since then, I have found myself on what could be described as an inner journey, a rekindled spirituality of sorts; a story of reflecting and learning, observing and witnessing, holistic thinking and well-being. Trying to find my place in the family of things, to understand who and where I am.
The feeling of finding
your way home.
I am an optimist by nature, a believer in the inherent beauty of the living world, a reveller in storytelling, in creative and expressive environments . I love observing, exploring, learning, developing. Connecting with others from the heart and going about with a playful curiosity. I love knowing that I can make a choice about how to perceive and respond to every challenge I find myself in, having survived a few of life's earthquakes in the past.
I recognise my imperfections too; self-centredness, being a product of the individualistic culture that we all find ourselves in. I've learnt that when we say we want to live sustainably; we are often referring to the comforts of our lifestyles and not that of the Earth. But like Greta Thunberg, I believe that change is coming, whether we like it or not.
Primitivkollektiv re-emerges as a community platform at a time where my journey has reached the realms of deep ecology. A time when I have more clarity on the mission of such a project after a well needed reflection on my own experiences, as well as on the current state of our Earth.
Is this approach enough? Why do I feel so deeply about it? What is my duty in this ecological crisis? These are some of the questions I have been asking myself, wondering how I can take responsibility in a time and place that can seem so corrupt and destructive, some might say a lost cause.
How can I respond to this burden that we've placed upon the Earth?
It was during a Spiritual Ecology workshop, co-facilitated by our contributor Jenny O'Hare, when I was comforted by the remembering and beauty of interconnection; in the knowing that every meaningful thought or action, however small, creates a ripple in the sea of life. In the feeling that with every breath we take, we breathe in the past stories of our ancestors and breathe out the story of our own lives. Past, present and future always in motion. It made me cry. It was during that moment that I discovered that a place of truth, wherever that is for each person, can indeed be the right response. So my answers swept in like a warm breeze; tell stories, share practices, connect deeply with nature and others in all the ways that you know how.
This platform follows this calling as a collective space
to remember, experience and integrate the wisdom of Nature. To learn what it means to be good ancestors for future generations. It also calls to embrace the biodiversity of knowledge, skills and resources that can be found and accessed within a local or extended community. The internet giving us an opportunity to cross-pollinate our ancient stories and traditions in an effort to replenish the Earth and our hearts. Primitivkollektiv is a celebration of that coming together and that oneness, as well as an expression of my truth as such. I hope that you will join me in speaking honestly and openly as our paths interact on and offline.
To all who wish to connect here; your simple being in this space naturally embodies the Primitivkollektiv, as does the collection of your stories, discussions and experiences that weave our past, present and future as one. As our contributors plant the seeds, we can begin to nurture and grow an abundant harvest for all. We remember that we are nature’s students; not professors, nor experts, or masters. We are visionaries, innovators, activists and caretakers. We are people; telling stories in which we are not separate from the natural world, choosing to practice care and connection in playful partnership with our Mother Earth.
With this knowing,
I welcome you warmly to our first Primitivkollektiv
Join us now as we take the first steps into this remembering together, revisiting your inner landscape
that seek to guide us in finding our way home, back to our dear Mother Nature.
I am sure that we will find that many truths resonate from there.
Founder & Editor, Primitivkollektiv