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Wanderland: on a Vision Quest with Nature Writer Jini Reddy



Alone on a mountain top in the Pyrenees, in the pitch black of night, without another soul around, a woman hears a voice echoing out of the darkness. It was an experience she couldn't understand or explain. It terrified her. But it also changed her life. 


Follow nature writer Jini Reddy on a Vision Quest, a lone wilderness vigil for five days on a remote mountain in the Pyrenees without food, phone, or connection with the outside world of any kind. Hear how that experience changed her, and led to a new understanding of nature and her place in it.  


After she returned to civilisation, that voice, that mystery, inspired her to begin another kind of quest. She called it Wanderland: a search for the magical in the landscape of her home, Great Britain. We follow in her footsteps, through treasure maps and lost springs, sacred Scottish isles and hidden temples in the land. Through it all, we begin to see another hidden side of nature, more akin to our indigenous ancestor's views than our own modern selves. We begin to see beyond the ordinary, into the deep wonder and magic of the wilderness itself. In Wanderland, all things are possible.





Photos courtesy, Jini Reddy from her journey. From top, left to right: Jini Reddy, Iona Beach, Labyrinth Cornwall, Ash Dome Wales, North Shore Lindisfarne, Pyrenees view, book cover


Wanderland Get 30% off with the code: WANDERLAND30 www.bloomsbury.com/wanderland “What a wonderful book Wanderland is! A witty, gentle, original and very modern quest for the magical (not the mythical) in Britain's landscape, which both made me laugh and moved me.” –  Robert Macfarlane Jini Reddy Jini has been an award-winning journalist, travel writer and nature writer for many years. Her byline has appeared in The Guardian, The Dailyand Sunday Telegraph, The Times, Sunday Times Style, the Financial Times, the Independent, TIME magazine, National Geographic Traveller, Geographical, Psychologies, Resurgence and the Ecologistand countless other publications, both print and online.Recently, she was named one of National Geographic’s Women of Impact. You can read the interview here


Follow Jini: Twitter: @Jini_Reddy / Instagram: @JiniReddy20


Book this trip

Jini did this trip independently, through a friend who is a Basque Shaman and knows the area well. But please note: it's never advisable to go into the wilderness alone, especially without food or emergency contact. If you're interested in experiencing something like this, reach out to me directly: aaron@armchair-explorer.com


Composer

Original soundtrack composed by Alastair Nisbet. https://www.facebook.com/allynisbet


Armchair Explorer The world's greatest adventurers tell their best story from the road. Each episode is cut documentary style and set to music and cinematic effects to create an immersive storytelling experience. No Long-winded interviews, just straight to the heart of the action.


Host Aaron Millar is a multi-award-winning travel writer, journalist and author. He contributes regularly to The Times of London, National Geographic Traveller (UK), and many other national and international publications. He has presented travel documentaries for National Geographic TV, written two books for London publisher Icon - 50 Greatest Wonders of the World & 50 Greatest National Parks of the World - and is the 2014 and 2017 British Guild of Travel Writers Travel Writer of the Year, the IPW Best Destination Writer 2017 and Visit USA’s Best National Newspaper Writer 2014, 2016 & 2017. Aaron hates rom-coms and gin, he loves tequila and science-fiction. He grew up in Brighton, England but is currently hiding out in the Rocky Mountains of Louisville, Colorado.


Transcipt


Aaron

Hey, guys, Welcome to the Armchair Explorer, where the world's greatest adventurers tell their best story from the road. I'm Aaron Millar, I'm a travel writer, and this show is all about immersing you in adventures and the amazedness of this planet.  

Our guest today is someone very special. Jinny Reddy is one of the UK'a top nature writers, and she really knows how to spin a good story. This one is a cracker. We're going on a quest. Her latest book, Wanderland, which is out now, is about her yearlong journey, searching for what she describes as the magical in the landscape. What she means by that is a kind of deeper connection to the outdoors, to our planet, something more kin to our indigenous ancestors relationship with nature than our stressed out modern selves. It's a beautiful book. It's an inspiring book, and it starts with her high on a mountaintop in the Pyrenees, in the pitch black of night without a soul around, she'd been up there for days with just water and no food, no phone, no connection of any kind. She was on a kind of modern day vision quest, all alone on the top of this mountain and then suddenly, out of the darkness, she hears a voice, and that voice changed her life, and we're going to hear all about it.  

But first and super quickly. Please remember, if you are enjoying this show, please subscribe. Please leave a review. Tell a friend - we're building a community of people that love exploring, that love the outdoors and want to celebrate this incredible planet by immersing themselves in every inch of it. When you help spread the word, you help spread that message of positivity and connection with the outdoors, and you help this community grow. Thank you so much for anything you can do. Please also connect with me on social media I put up lots of behind the scenes travel content. I put up some writing and photography of mine and lots of other adventure inspiration. The Facebook is a@ArmchairExplorerPodcast and my Instagram is a@AaronMWriter. You could also sign up for the newsletter at www.Armchair-Explorer.com, where I send out a monthly curated list of the best travel podcast episodes to listen to that month. The best adventure travel trips coming up to dream about and do as well as general inspiration to get more exploration in your life. And remember, you can book any of these trips we talk about on any episode through the website, and when you do that, you also help support the show. Finally, we have got a special offer exclusively for listeners of the Armchair Explorer. Jini's book is called Wanderland. It's a really lovely read. It's a beautiful read, an inspiring book, and after listening to this episode, if you're inspired to hear the full story, I recommend that you go out and grab it, and I have a code for you to get a discount. To do that, go to www.bloomsbury.com/wanderland. And if you enter the code Wonderland30  you get 30% off the usual price. It's a great deal. It's a great book, and I hope you do it. But for now, back to that mountaintop back to that middle of the night and back to that voice whispering in Jini here. But first, let's set the scene

Jini

When I was in my twenties, I left my job. I had a publishing job in London and went on my first solo trip. My first big adventure was to travel to Nepal. My initial plan was to volunteer. But that fell through when I arrived, so I consulted my oracle, which was  was one of the guide books, The Lonely Planet's or The Rough Guide. And I decided I was going into Trek the Annapurna circuit, which is a 21 day trek. But I had never done any hiking before.

Aaron

That is brilliant. The Annapurna circuit is a huge undertaking. Even if you're a regular hiker -it's 128 miles long, it's at elevation. It's in the Himalayas, for goodness sake! To jump straight into that without any hiking or outdoor experience whatsoever is like lining up at the start of the London Marathon before you even jogged a 5K. But actually, it's lucky that Jini did do that because that trip changed her life.

Jini

So that was my first big experience of the wild, I guess, really major experience, because that was 21 days of hiking and crossing a high mountain pass of 5500 metres, which was extremely tough. I also didn't have very good kit. My rucksack was something I picked up in the market, and it broke on the second day. So it was held together by safety pins. But I made it and it changed me forever. It changed me. You can't do something that intense and not feel changed. I was learning as I went along that I'm far more resilient than I thought I was.

Aaron

So that was Jenny's first proper taste of the wild, but a little background on her, too. She's British by birth, Indian by descent, Canadian by upbringing and South African through her parents birthplace. So she's moved around a lot and travel, has always been a part of her life, and because of that, she's always been fascinated by this idea of the other. The idea of belonging. She always felt like something of an outsider, and that idea is gonna come back and frame what part of this journey and part of her book is all about. We're going to comeback to that, but but for right now, she's just left Annapurna. The experience changed her life, and it changed her sense of who she was and what she could become and what she ended up becoming was a travel writer - and her work, for a large part, explored indigenous cultures and indigenous perspectives. And that's when the magic really started to blossom

Jini

more and more I had opportunities to meet people from indigenous cultures. It always struck me that it was quite extraordinary, magical, the way for these people that I met the way it was perfectly natural for them to have a deep relationship with the forces of nature. It was perfectly natural for them to speak to the sky or the Earth or the wind or the birds. I found that incredibly beautiful and poetic, that you could have a relationship with nature, that's reciprocal.

Aaron

Yeah, it's a really interesting point, isn't it? For 99% of the history of humankind, we had a completely different perspective and different relationship to the natural world. It's only in the last few 100 years - a blink in the life span of our evolution-  that human beings have started seeing themselves as separate from the planet, and that modern way of thinking has distanced us and disconnected us from the natural world. And it's that ancient wisdom that connection, that mystery that she's looking for.  

And I also want to share an interesting story about this idea, too, because a few years ago I was walking the Kumano Kodo, which is a ancient pilgrimage route through the Kii Mountains of Japan. I'm gonna do it an episode about it, I hope one of these days it's an amazing hike. Incredible experience. So this is the home of Shugendo. And Shugendo is an ancient religion that fuses Japanese Shintoism or nature worship with Buddhism. And it holds that enlightenment is attained through immersion in the natural world. I know - awesome right?!  So while I was there, I met a Shugendo Monk. His name is Ryo Takagi. It was one of the most amazing and profound conversations of my life. And I asked him about this about how how he attains enlightenment through immersion in the natural world. And he said the same thing as Jini. He said that enlightenment is already there all around us at every moment. We just need to make space in our hearts to feel it. And it was that quest to make that space, to feel that connection, where this whole journey begins. Jini picks up the story now in the Pyrenees just about to start her five day lone wilderness vigil, her vision quest, and just about to have, an experience that would shake her to the core. 

Jini

I found myself on a mountaintop in the Pyrenees. I was alone with my tent. I had no food except for an apple and some nuts and nine bottles of water. And I was really there too fast for four nights and five days, and to go inward on a kind of vision quest. I was also carrying a lot of emotional upset, so I wanted to let go of that. And I think it's harder to access the deeper current of your emotion when you're surrounded by distraction. So that's why I've gone away as well, and I was eager to peel away the layers to reconnect with myself in the raw in the wild. But I also had this yearning to hear nature's voice. Whatever I meant by that, and I wasn't even entirely sure myself.

Aaron

So what do we mean by a vision quest? The practise was really common for native people of North and South America and varied from tribe to tribe. But sometimes it was a rite of passage. Sometimes it was a religious ritual, but usually what it involved was going out alone into the wilderness for a number of days without food or water, and just praying or communing with the natural world or spirits around them in order to ask for guidance. And you can still do this. Today, many indigenous people still do it, of course, as part of their culture. But it's possible to go on your own modern kind of vision quest to based on those same indigenous principles of connecting with nature and asking for guidance through period of disconnecting yourself from the outside world. And there are various companies that offer this, and I'll put the one that Jini used and some other recommendations on the website and show notes, as you do have to be careful. It's obviously never advisable to go into the wilderness without food or water unless you have support, back up and you know what you're doing. So Jini went in very much with that indigenous mindset of wanting to connect with the wilderness of wanting some kind of guidance and insight from the experience and wanting to hear nature's voice. She just didn't think it would be quite as literal as that

Jini

so I was hiking up with my guide. He was a Basque shaman who I had spent several days with preparing myself for the for this time. So he walked me up there.  I remember it is a quite a challenging hike and initially through this very intensely mossy green forests, and with little streams burbling down the mountainside. And I remember on route we stopped to make offerings to nature spirits these beings that I couldn't see. So it felt quite enchanted as well. And then eventually he pointed to this peak with a flat top and incredible views of the valley below. And he said he declared that this is the spot that would be just right for me and that I was going to I was to pitch my tent there, and, uh, you know, the minute I pitched my tent, he kind of waved and said, Bye, see you down the mountain in five days and by the way, the Yeti lives there.

Aaron

What? Yeah, thanks. Thanks a lot, mate. Nice parting words and nice choice of camp site, by the way, too. Is there anywhere else we can go? That's not next to where the Yeti lives. But you know, actually, it's easy to make fun. But the yeti is a tradition that appears in many, many cultures around the world and across history from the Himalayas, all the way to the Aborigine Australians. Pretty much every culture in the world, surprisingly, has some kind of Yeti story, including, of course, our very own Bigfoot, which, by the way, something like 25% of all Americans believe in - just saying And whether it's real or not. It's a huge part of human mythology, and it's evident in all these cultures around the world and across history, too. So whether or not it's a real life monster, I'll leave that to you. I don't know, but what it is for definite. It's a really life shadow in our own collective psyche. It's a myth. It's a legend that has pervaded human history forever. So whether you believe it or not, it's definitely not what you want to hear when you're up a mountain all alone

Jini

and I had no phone, you know, I had no watch, so he had no way, I had no way of contacting him. It was, you know, we've been walking for two hours up the mountain, and it was a two hour drive from his farm house, and there was nobody else there, just me. So it really was an act of surrender, an act of trust, an act of faith. And I was really relying on myself and then on the nature around me to Hold me and to keep me safe. Initially, I was so grateful to finally be there because I wanted to go there for so long and to have this experience that I just started sobbing with relief and with exhilaration. I just so wanted to be there, and I so wanted to have that experience - and that feeling lasted until nightfall.

Aaron

Exactly, because it's one thing to be alone on a mountain top, Yeti or not in the bright sunshine. It's another thing entirely when the sun goes down. But what happened next, even in Jini's most paranoid, furtive imagination of shadows in the dark she could never have expected.

Jini

And then it got a bit scary. And then I you know, I started Teo to wonder about that forest on the other side of me and then, just as I was about to fall asleep, I heard a voice on the other side of the tent. It felt like it was in my ear exactly where my ear was on the other side of the tent. And at this point, everything around him went very quiet. The forest went very still. The birds stopped chirping, the crickets stopped. And a a chill kind of went up my back. And there was this voice on the other side of the tent and it sounded like a human would sound. Only there were no humans around on. I was terrified, absolutely terrified. I don't know if you've ever been truly terrified, and I don't know that I had ever truly been terrified before. But it was like this shower of fear flooded my body. But I didn't know what to do. The first thing that came to mind was to grab a talisman very quietly. This talisman that I've kept in a pocket of my tent. And so I held onto this talisman very quietly back and forth. I rocked and under the under my breath, I said, I come in peace. I come in peace. Eventually, the voice stopped and everything started up again. The night sounds started up again. I'm convinced it wasn't a figment of my imagination. I mean, it sounds crazy to even say these things, but I do know that something beyond my normal fields of perception made its presence known and altered my own trajectory.

Aaron

It did alter her trajectory forever, and it led to her book Wanderland, because it was that single, inexplicable, transformative experience, that moment of magic that inspired her to search for magic in the landscape elsewhere. And we're gonna go on some of that journey with her. But first, I just want to say there will be people listening to this right now that are sceptical. Of course, that's understandable. It's a crazy experience, and it would be crazy not to be just a little bit sceptical, too. But it would also be very easy just to write it off as a hallucination or a dream - it might have been. You can't deny that. But what I ask for you is just for a minute, suspend that disbelief just for a minute, park that rational part of your brain to one side and take it as truth. What if she really did hear something? What if, like those indigenous beliefs that inspired her, she did perceive something beyond the ordinary, beyond the rational, beyond our normal narrow field of view. What if something really did speak to her that night?

Jini

Well, I woke up in the morning and, you know, kind of gingerly opened my tent and the sun was shining, and I felt fantastic and relieved that it was daylight. And then I looked at that forest. And I kept looking at that forest, and I thought I did not want to go anywhere near that forest. Then at night, you know, I kind of batten down the hatches and I was like, Okay, whatever it is, I'm ready for you. This time Nothing happened. Nothing happened. It was okay. And then I woke up the next day and I looked at the forest again, and the third day, I woke up and I looked at the forest again I thought I can't keep on being afraid of this forest. You know I have to go there. I have to see what's in this forest. I have to be brave enough to do this. I can't just sit here in and not go to the forest. If the yeti lives in the forest or whoever lives in the forest or my fear is being projected into the forest. I need to face it. And I was absolutely terrified. Walking into this forest, it was really dark and really still. And I sat down and unbelievably, a few moments later, I saw this dark shadow and my heart just leapt into my mouth and I thought, Oh, my God, I can't believe this. What is happening? And then the shadow moved and it was a horse.

Aaron

Yes. Sorry. This isn't an episode about sighting Bigfoot. I wish it was. I feel like I've let you down. That would be very cool. It was just a horse. But the memory of that voice stayed with her and her time up there on the mountain in her vision quest did provide the guidance and the insights, she was looking for

Jini

To this day, I can remember. I can remember whole moments exactly as they were at the time because there was no distraction. I mean, we very rarely have that opportunity to be on our own without any kind of distraction, without food, without books, without stimulus, without other people. And so what do you do when you don't have that distraction? You're forced to be with yourself and to be with whatever is going on inside you. You're forced to be with your emotions and at the same time, because you're so close to nature, you kind of attuned to nature's rhythms and you you lose that veneer of what we call civilisation quite quickly. So up on the Pyrenees by day two I was taking off all my clothes. It was really hot anyway, but I thought, Why am I wearing a swimsuit? There's nobody up here to see me. I went feral quite quickly. 

Aaron

Feral is such a delicious word. Definition of it is to be in a wild state, especially after escape from captivity with domestication. Yes, yes, that's what it feels like. That wild state after we've escaped from our own captivity and domestication of ourselves. That's what it is to be out in the wilderness. And I'm sure that you can relate to this many times backpacking or camping. I've got to about day three or four and just felt a weight drop. It feels like taking off a heavy coat that you didn't know you had on, or or that moment that you put down a backpack you've had on all day on the trail and just feel like you're about to float off. The relief is incredible, with no one around to see you or judge you with no distractions or things to do that layer of civilisation. That mask falls away, and what it reveals can teach you a lot about yourself.

Jini

It's extraordinary, it's extraordinary. And I remember one morning I was upset, some upset feeling of of, you know, emotion coming out of me, and I I just kind of pounded my fists on the ground and I was naked and I thought, My God, it's only taken two days and look at me. And it was incredibly liberating as well. I began to feel I didn't. I stopped feeling that the nature around me was something separate for me, and that was a gradual thing, and I began to feel that I was a part of it. But I was a part of the nature around me, not an observer. I mean, we might know that in our heads, but at that moment I felt it in my being.

Aaron

And that's just the truth, isn't it? Jini writes in the book - when I Am stripped of company and creature comforts, and the din in my head is quelled. There are fleeting moments when a kind of grace descends and the edges blur between myself and nature out there. - And it's so true. We see ourselves a separate from nature. That's the modern way of thinking. But fundamentally at the most basic level. That's an illusion. Think about it. We can't survive without the air we breathe and the air we breathe. At its most basic level is molecules that fuse together with other molecules in our body to keep us alive. And at that point of integration, they're not separate from us, the air and our body are One thing. and it's the same with food and water. This isn't a belief. It's actual science and even further than that, on a quantum level, everything in the universe is just particles vibrating and interacting. There is no solid matter as we perceive it. At the most basic atomic level, there is only energy, and that energy is supplied and provided by the earth, and every living thing on it depends and is connected by it and is part of this intricate and inseparable system. It's all one thing, and we are part of that living system.

Jini

Those five days and nights they left me feeling profoundly calm, profoundly refreshed, freer, emotionally and curious. And my desire to connect with the wildness we can't see just grew by leaps and bounds until I was practically bursting at the seams. And the idea was that I wanted to set off on this search for the magical in the landscape in Britain. And by that I mean, I wanted to commune with the land in a way less ordinary. I wanted to connect with the inner spiritual dimension of nature. We live in a rational world, and I was interested in connecting in a way that had everything to do with intuition and an inner sense of knowing and ideas that have nothing to do with the rational. So rather than plotting a journey using a map and a compass, I wondered what might happen if I set off and used, you know, my internal compass. My focus was on wonder and feeling it wasn't on on proof, and it wasn't a kind of journeying from A to B wasn't that kind of journey. It was much more fueled by, I say, by synchronicity and by love and by serendipity. But as well as exploring the other in the land I found, I was also exploring my own feelings of otherness. So that was kind of a parallel journey going on.

Aaron

And that's one of the things that makes this book really interesting for me because of her upbringing, because of the colour of her skin and where she was raised and feeling different, feeling like an outsider that was on this physical journey around the country to find another side of nature that we don't often see another way of perceiving it. She was also on a journey to discover another side of herself, a side that she, too, had kept hidden and that maybe by connecting with this unseen part of the natural world, she could make those hidden parts of herself visible and accepted and honoured too. It wasn't a traditional journey, but it was an amazing one. She found a labyrinth that looked out across the sea. She stayed with a woman of the old ways and a whisper of trees. She found secret land art and an oracle and she crawled into a cave said to house the magic of Merlin and King Arthur himself. So if you want to hear that story, of course, read the book, Read Wonderland. That's the best way. I just wanna zoom in on a couple of highlights from it, too. Starting with, of course, a treasure map and a lost spring.

Jini

Well, with the lost spring, Initially I was gifted with a treasure map. Somebody gave me a treasure map and it was, you know, just like an old fashioned treasure map. And it said things like here be dragons, and it was created by somebody by man who had discovered this sacred springs. So I set off one day with with a very good friend. But no matter what we did, we couldn't find the spring. And I was quite frustrated and then I thought, Well, maybe I was meant to go and discover it on my own. So I went back one more time and I followed the map to  a T. This time  I didn't deviate in any way and I instantly, Things I've spent our we've spent hours looking for the last time would appear instantly, you know, the path would unfold. A tree I've been looking for was right there. So it was It was a question of timing. Nobody in the area  knew about it at all, there were dog walkers in this place was and they looked at me like I was crazy. Eventually this magical place presented itself to me. I walked along this narrow path and I found the springs, and it just felt felt extraordinary. I mean, it was hidden away. The only people who knew I was there were people who had access to the map. So there was that element of secrecy and specialness around it. I guess, I'm not somebody is a natural born skinny dipper, But I just really felt the overwhelming urge. So I jumped in that water, and I did, and I felt calm and rebooted afterwards. But it wasn't enough, so I took my clothes off again and I jumped in again. The whole thing felt magical. It's the conjuring is in me. For me. It's in the setting of the intention. And when you do that, you kind of unleash something. You set something in motion and something hears you and helps you along.

Aaron

I love that - this is a public park. By the way, there are dog workers and all sorts around, and she went skinny dipping - that's dedication. I'm impressed. But even better than that is the fact that she got out the first time and thought, Hold on. You know what? I don't think I've had enough magic yet, and then she just jumped back in. I think that's brilliant. But what I also love is this idea that you conjure the magic. The magic in the landscape is made real by you being an active part of that landscape. But it's not enough just to hope for it, that it comes when you jump in and make it happen, just like those Shugendo monks. And that is what really exploration is all about. So that's what Jini's doing when she's setting an intention to be aware of the magic in the landscape - and an intention is different from a goal. A goal is something that we have to achieve, and it's an external thing, and intention is about our state of mind, how we go through the world. And that's powerful, because how we see the world is what the world gives to us in return, even a temple on the middle of a Scottish island that most people think doesn't even exist.

Jini

So I decided to go to Iona in Scotland and I decided to put my money where my mouth was, so to speak on. I thought I would go there without any kind of plan. But I would ask I would set the intention to ask the land to guide me to show me what I needed to see. It's a long journey from London. It involves plane, train, bus, ferry and another ferry. So is quite a big deal set off on a trip like that and have no no plan whatsoever. And on the train up, I received an email and it was from a professor, he said. Oh, you're going to Iona. If you're looking to connect with the magical in the land, there's a temple in the landscape - ask yourself a Temple in what Dimension? And he gave me the name of this temple, and it was It was kind of like a cryptic clue. I guess I saw that and I thought, That's it. That's my mission.

Aaron

Okay, A little background on Iona here too. This tiny island on the west coast of Scotland. It's only about three miles long. It's very remote on only about 120 people live here full time. It's been renowned as a kind of holy and spiritual place for centuries. It's filled with old Celtic and Viking myths. Macbeth was supposedly buried here, along with numerous other saints and Scottish kings, so it's a really special place. It's a really sacred place for many people, and it reminds me of this old Celtic saying, the saying goes, Heaven and earth, are only three feet apart. But in the thin places that distance is even shorter. Iona is one of those thin places.

Jini

I basically spent the first few days trying to find this this land Temple, this mystical land temple. You know, a lot of people said, No, this thing doesn't exist. It's in your mind. And so I felt a bit silly, and so I was getting a bit fed up. I've been there for four days and nothing was happening. And I thought, I'm on this beautiful island. Why don't I just forget this? Put it aside and just, you know, explore the island. And then on the last day, I walked into a cafe and I just happened to spot Somebody I had met three years ago in another part of Scotland, and so I went up and I started talking to her and I told her what I what I was doing there and she said, Well, why don't we look, look for this this land temple together and we left the cafe, and as we left the cafe, she bumped into somebody that she she knew that she hadn't seen in a couple of years. And we ask this woman where she was going and she said she was going to the temple and she named it by name. And I just thought that was extraordinary. The chain of events that led me to that moment. But, you know, if I hadn't gone into the cafe, if I hadn't met that woman if she hadn't said she'd come with me if we hadn't bumped into her friend you know it was just this synchronicity of it. I found that extraordinary. So then when we walk there, we walk through these fields. It was kind of like entering this really beautiful valley. I had a sense that not many people enter into this valley and it seems so completely at ease with itself, like it had never had to defend itself. Never been at any kind of risk. It was It was just exquisitely peaceful. And I think when we were there, this bird of prey just started wheeling around us in the sky. And it was like a kind of welcome to this space. We walked further and further into this valley, and I thought, how so I know where this temple is, But luckily we were with this woman who knew, and she knew a lot about about the island. And she said that this temple was one of the islands chakras, or energy centres So there are people who believe that the island of Iona is made up of energy centres like the chakras on the body. and that this this particular temple corresponded with the throat chakra in the throat is all about communication. So we went We climbed up, up, up, up this hill to particular spot and we lay there on, you know, we'd arrived at this place. I felt immensely peaceful and later, much later I emailed the professor and I said you're not gonna believe this. I found that land temple and I explained how I found it on. He said, Well, I sent you there because I knew it corresponded with the throat chackra. And I know you're a writer and I thought it might help you. And I also know that if the land didn't want you to find the temple, you wouldn't have found it.

Aaron

Synchronicity is extraordinary. It happens all the time. I'm sure many of you listening have storys of things, just connecting and happening in a way that seems like fate. But a lot of time. It's not fate in the sense of some external written destiny. It's what happens when you set your mind right when you set your intentions and you keep your eyes open and you have a little faith that the universe will see you right? Or, to put it another way, its field of dreams, isn't it? If you build it, they will come, or in this case, a temple will appear. 

So. Jini had lots of experiences on this unique journey of hers, of synchronicity, of timing, of serendipity, of understanding, of how intuition can guide you and lead you to another way of experiencing the world A subtle way, but a profound way too, if you're open to it. So I asked her how that journey changed her, what she had learned along the way. And this is what she said. And I think it's pretty cool.

Jini

Yeah,  I suppose I felt after the book, I realised I put my true self into a kind of self imposed exile. And then after going on this journey, those parts of myself were able to surface. You know, I've been so cowed by culture and society and feelings of not belonging because of the colour of my skin and my own anxiety. You know, I suppose, unconsciously, I wanted to retrieve those parts of myself. And I guess I felt I did. In some way, they left me feeling on a personal level. Left me feeling that I'm not alone, um, that I'm supported by the universe. It's nice to know that if I could get into that space that those things have the opportunity to present themselves and that magical feeling is so nourishing, deeply nourishing and sustaining. And I think we we're so hungry for that in the world that we live in. And I think it's really important to value these things and to give time for them.

Aaron

Yeah, well said Jini, we are hungry for that magic that wonder. And we deserve it too, all of us because life is meant to be richer and more amazing, and fulfilling than just clambering up the career ladder or clawing at the office door and it can be when we listen, when we dare to be truly alive. So right in the end, I asked Jini for some tips on how we can do this to how we can take our own journeys into Wanderland, and this is what she said.

Jini

So initially, you have to have the intention. The sincerity of your intention plays a big part. If you're taking the piss, nothing's gonna happen. You also have to be patient and intentions not the same as exerting your will or pleading or expecting any kind of results. You need to let go of an attachment, any kind of outcome. And you have to stay with that feeling of intention of trust and just be very humble heart centred students of mystery and wonder. And you also have to accept that things are not  gonna happen instantly when you invite in the other, and you feel this magical connection through synchronous encounters through unexpected and thrilling happenings. The feelings of wonder are the reward, but it takes time. It's about being present, and you can create that intention anywhere. It doesn't matter where you are, whether you're in an urban setting or a wild setting. You could set the intention to invite magic in, and it's about expanding your field of perception as well, because we're so wedded to the rational. We forget that there's so much else going on beyond. Beyond that, I was putting this into practise and it was it was really fascinating. When you put something like this into practise and things do happen and then you say to yourself Oh my God, it's really it works.

Aaron

Thank you so much, Jini, Thank you for that incredible Story that inspiring Story. Remember, if you're interested in buying the book, it's called Wanderland and you could get 30% off at bloomsbury.com/wanderland with the Code Wonderland30. I will put all those details on the website and on the show notes in case you want to cheque it out. Please Also cheque out Jini on Twitter @Jini-Reddy and on instagram at @JiniReddy20. I put all of this up on the show nights for you. Remember, you can book trips inspired by Jini's journey and all our other episodes at Ararmchair-explorer.com And remember to connect on social media too, if you can. I love to hang out and if you love travel adventure, we're going to get on well, finally, I just want to give a huge shout out to my man Ally,  Alastair Nisbet out of ST Louis, Missouri, via Aberdeen, Scotland. He's composed all the original music today, and I'm sure you'll agree it's really absolutely beautiful and added to this episode so much. I really appreciate his work. He's an amazing composer musician, and it's always an honour to work with him. I'll put all those details up on the show notes, and I urge you to check his stuff out. Thank you so much for listening. Thank you for spreading the word and spreading some of that positivity and magic in the world because the more we look for magic, the more that magic becomes a part of who we are. Thank you. I'll see you next time.

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