Darvis Walker leads men into the wilderness, and transforms their lives.
A great guru himself – Darvis begins with a statement that encapsulates his life – his affinity with nature in all its forms.
“Nature – and earth itself is the greatest guru and teacher and my role? As the archetypal guide it’s to facilitate people meeting the natural landscape, placing tools and guidance around that in order to read the principles underpinning life and their landscape. Ultimately it’s so they can have access to those principles to understand that we are nature.
“To examine our semi-nomadic origins, we’ve all evolved alongside the natural landscape, and in that process, our very genealogy recognises that the underpinnings of the natural life as home. For me, the secret is to get people there, and then put ceremony around that process.
“What marks the difference between a ceremonial experience and a day to day experience is a line in the sand – a ceremonial step of intention. In days gone by, it was normal to have rites of passage – or the sacred journey from one stage of life to another. In the hustle and bustle of contemporary life we’ve forgotten that.
It’s my mission to bring that sacredness back, within the lens of reflection and support. The place is the champion.
“The wild landscape is like a piece of beautiful literature. If you can’t read a book, then a piece of literature is a waste of time.
It doesn’t hold any value. My focus is to enable people to read the book. It unfolds that sense of belonging (to our landscape) that for most people has never occurred.
“Most people I take out have barely ever spent a night in a tent in their lives. That disconnect with nature is palpable, and with that, comes a disconnect with life.
“Going back for me, I grew up in Launceston, as a 7th generation Tasmanian on both sides – with the main family from the Huon. My favourite thing to do as a child was to go out into the bush and build cubbies and make tracks with my friends. And I guess I’m still doing that now.
“When I hit 18, I was playing in a punk rock band – that revealed to me the importance of passionate self-expression. My self-expression came to the fore and I think I was the archetypal wild man – getting the affirmation of my value from our fans was really empowering – that instilled confidence in me in a young age. Drugs took over and I could see that was a dead end, so I bailed and got an apprenticeship with parks and wildlife, and studied ecology and conservation, which changed my life.
“We lived in Wineglass Bay as a team of 18 year olds – it so connected me to the landscape. I was reading and moved into a community of hippies – Laughing Hats at Pontypool in Little Swanport on the estuary and lived there for 4 years. They lived in Geodesic domes and little houses, growing vegetables.
“At 21, I moved into meditation, and that gave me a stillness that I needed.
Then I met Rob Fairly and together we formed Tarkine Trails. We started the tourism industry there and took the Tarkine brand to market for the first time. Our first step in business was to negotiate licences – and we set up these tracks into places that were threatened. At that time there was no national park that we could walk in. We began a positive financial resource as an alternative to resource extraction.
“In 2000, with this new business I started doing men’s work – holding an annual men’s gathering. It was about celebrating and training in holding space, a healthy version of masculinity. I ran Tarkine Trails for 12 years, and when we passed it on, I started running community journeys and then in 2014 started running men’s journeys – taking the two things of transformational wild places, men’s exploration into nature, wildness, and paired them up.
“The first baby step is acknowledging that vulnerability is a strength – that shadow side, the softer, feminine part that needs to be accepted.
Our social narrative between the masculine and the feminine – what does that actually mean? It’s finding the balance. By me taking men out into that wild place – not as a dogma, but looking into a reflective lens – I have interest in men pedestalling themselves – not me!
“I’ve delivering in that context, the exploratory spaces of the masculine and feminine, if we use that reflective lens – the feminine is everything that’s impermanent, formless – and what sits in form, and everything that is space, is masculine. The definition of wild is ambiguous – what I look for is enough space around me that triggers me. My nervous system is on alert, looking for the ‘what ifs’, so I have to be on my best game. The dopamine and endorphins kick in and suddenly, I’m in the moment.
“The art of going into a wild space – to embody the spaciousness so we can place inside us a deeper perspective, and I’m not getting consumed and lost in the day to day focus and worry that consumes us. I can then hold the chaos of my life. That’s my life purpose work. It’s a guiding compass, if I asked almost all men on earth, “What’s your guiding compass?” They would have absolutely no idea.
“But it’s our creative self-expression, what gifts we have to give to the earth? Most people live a life of effective mediocrity, because they never face the true meaning of their space – who they are here, now.
The absence of the conversation about life purpose is the tragedy of modern life. To see what ends up happening, we need a clear, purpose statement.
“The focus point is to put the masculine framework around men – to give them a sense of presence that is so strong, they can recognise what they’re feeling, what they might need. It’s always been a huge part of my energy – which was fiery and aggressive but by creating my own boundaries, the more comfortable I’ve become. The energy now doesn’t intimidate people. The shadow side of the feminist movement – the capacity for men to maintain that sexy polarity is vital so that women voluntarily step inside the feminine. That masculine/feminine dance, which is gender irrelevant – we need to deep dive into so that by the time we face the challenges, we’re ready.
“My journey with my clients is, I listen to their stories, and can tell them what resonates, as a man, in this life. But the choice is theirs:
Which road? What feels right? That’s the answer. That’s what I do.
“From here now? To throw life into a meta context, my partner Brittany and I are forming an enterprise called, “Nature Culture”, to establish a gateway into a new culture. We want to unfold a new nature-based culture for the planet. We’re setting up a monthly journey, we do monthly walks, building community – the programs are an entry into the community. We do single gender and mixed gender camps into places that are wild, and paradise. My six-month program is called the Leap, and Brittany’s is called The Longing. It’s fully podcasted, live, and has been downloaded thousands of times.
“And finally, we’re setting up on line programs, where we can access a bigger market, with a view to setting up tiny home villages for people who can not afford housing, so that people can live in a beautiful natural landscape, building a new paradigm for culture. Learning about life, money, social skills and right from the beginning we need to nurse the creative side of people. It’s all about thriving, not just surviving.
“The landscape is the champion, it gives the experience power, I guess I’m the archetypal guide to open up nature to people who know they want something more out of life, a deeper connection, but just don’t know how to do it. We have a group that has a once a month chat, and everything is on the table. And it’s a safe space to talk. The tag line is “Make space, not war” – and we’re looking at developing an app that’s like Air B n B for the soul. In other words, you’re travelling in good company.”
And with that, Darvis goes to seek new spaces and people to open up to the wild without, and within. Listening to him was revelatory for me, and I hope has been just as exciting and informative for you.
Thank you Darvis, and I look forward to catching up with Brittany to find out her perspective on the feminine and how it all fits. Interesting, very interesting.
Chrissie Matheson Green 🙂