Having spent his life in apprenticeship to the natural world, he now works to bring what he’s learned to a wide audience. Boyd’s unique combination of wisdom, humour and spirituality makes him a captivating speaker. He keeps diverse audiences in rapt attention and gales of laughter and leaves them moved.
The wildlife and literacy activist Boyd Varty, author of the memoir Cathedral of the Wild, had an unconventional upbringing. Born to a family of conservationists, Boyd grew up on Londolozi Game Reserve in the South African wilderness, a place where man and nature strive for balance, where perils exist alongside wonders. Founded more than 90 years ago as a hunting ground, Londolozi was transformed into a nature reserve beginning in 1973 by Varty’s father and uncle, visionaries of the restoration movement. But it wasn’t just a sanctuary for the animals; it was also a place for ravaged land to flourish again and for the human spirit to be restored. When Nelson Mandela was released after 27 years of imprisonment, he came to the reserve to recover.
Since childhood, Boyd shared his home with lions, leopards, snakes, and elephants and has spent his life in apprenticeship to the wisdom of nature. Boyd survived a harrowing black mamba encounter, a debilitating bout with malaria, even a vicious crocodile attack, but his biggest challenge was a personal crisis of purpose. As a university student, he studied psychology and ecology, supplementing his education by learning martial arts in Thailand, hiking through the jungles of the Amazon, and apprenticing to a renowned tracker from the Shangaan tribe deepening his intimate knowledge of the natural world. Boyd grew up speaking the local language and learning the true meaning of coexistence between people and with nature.
July 30th, 2020 | Season 2 | 9 mins 25 secs
guardian, leopard, mpumalanga, shamanism, source, south africa, water
Once in the far north of Kruger national park's pafuri area I found a clear pool of spring water rising out the earth.
The pool was surrounded by three huge ebony trees and a giant eagle owl flew out from under the deeply shaded branches as I approached. The presence of the owl adding some intangible sense of spirit to the place.
The water was crystal clear and bubbling happily out the earth. As I knelt to put my lips to the water I felt like I was being let into some great secret.
My body took on the shape of an animal drinking lips to the water……and an archetypal connection millions of years old ran like a current through me. I like the wild animals of that wild place I was drinking from the secret source.
July 16th, 2020 | Season 2 | 11 mins 30 secs
rhino, sacred enemy
Followed a rhino bull, but he led me in circles. I couldn’t shake the distinct feeling that a rhino was trying to shake me off his tail. To add to the confusion there were also tracks of a female rhino from the night before.
If the rhino was my nemesis then he was my sacred enemy. The difficulty he was providing was causing untold growth in my tracking ability.
July 8th, 2020 | Season 2 | 9 mins 46 secs
hyena, leadwood forest, makomsava, resonance, sacred sites, telepathy
The best time to be in the leadwood forest is in the creamy light of a full moon.
All around the trees peg a scale of time beyond human comprehension to the earth.
It can be a strange thing to watch people from all over the world walk into the dappled light of the trees and fall silent.
In my days as a safari guide I would wait for the third or fourth day of a safari. I would wait for the hysteria to see animals to subside and then take people to the forest.
You see the forest can be experienced on many levels and I have come to believe that it will meet you where you are ….it will take you to the level of stillness, wildness or reverence that you have cultivated in yourself and then some. The deeper you are the deeper the magic of the forest.
July 1st, 2020 | Season 2 | 11 mins 31 secs
lion, narcissistic, shadow, tracking
Tracks of huge pride of lions cut off a beautiful white sandy road onto a game path.
Here the pride walks in single file laying a perfect trail.
The path opens into a small clearing next to the crusted mud of a dried up waterhole.
Next to a huge termite mound with a giant brown ivory growing out of it the tracks tell the story of a giant lion love ball. They have lain down here… lying up against each other…..cubs climbing on mothers heads and biting each other's ears. The flat grass and imprints of tails tell me that they slept here some time yesterday afternoon.
They probably moved as the sun went down so they have a whole night ahead of me.
June 28th, 2020 | Season 2 | 11 mins 16 secs
boyd varty, intuition, plaque rock, ptsd, ww2
Intuitive is defined as: using or based on what one feels to be true even without conscious reasoning; instinctive
I think this is why I have always liked sacred sites because when you are at one “you are beyond conscious reasoning” you sense something in the air.
and I like it there because for me there has always been more life beyond conscious reasoning.
You only need to fall in love to understand the truth in that.
There are different ways of knowing.
On native medicine wheels there was always body, mind , heart , spirit.
It was understood the mind was only one way of relating to or experiencing life.
June 26th, 2020 | Season 2 | 14 mins 27 secs
beer, bushbaby, memory, starlight, teenager, tingwe camp
It all begins with sketchy reports of a very rare black rhino that was seen in the far north of the reserve. I drive out with my gear motivated by some deep tracking lore…. If there is a rare animal out there I must go and look for it.
The inclination to seek out and find what is rare is fundamental to the tracker.
June 22nd, 2020 | Season 2 | 11 mins 15 secs
expedition, raining, religion
The original purpose of religion was to bring sacredness to life. Imagine a time (whether prehistorical or transhistorical) when human beings lived moment-to-moment in the presence of the sacred. Religion was unnecessary. There was no separation between spirituality and life, no distinction between the sacred and the mundane, no division of the Godly and the worldly. When we lost the ongoing and immediate sense of sacredness, then we needed religion to bring us back to it. "Religion," after all, means "that which renews our connection."
June 20th, 2020 | Season 2 | 11 mins 16 secs
June 16th, 2020 | Season 2 | 10 mins 56 secs
intention, sacred, sacred sites
In a setting with almost no connotation for me to the sacred.
The sacred is not just places but what happens in places.
I will start with what I can. I will work with the track I have.
June 12th, 2020 | Season 1 | 12 mins 2 secs
boundary walk, londolozi, long walk
May 15th, 2020 | Season 1 | 11 mins 22 secs
awareness, ceremony, decompression, home, integration, lion, lockdown, londolozi, south africa, tracking, uncertainty
The truth is we can’t really plan. We don’t know where this thing lands or ends. There is so much uncertainty as to how to proceed. The art of re-entry from what a tree teaches us is to go slowly.
Track moment to moment. Make everything in your day an event, mindfully tending to it.
May 11th, 2020 | Season 1 | 7 mins 1 sec
40 days, 40 nights, africa, johnny clegg, spirit of the great heart, tree
And then all of sudden we were there. The face of the people I love. Saying goodbye with immense gratitude to the tree and this beautiful place on the river. The last dawn from inside this experience on the river. I know this is not the end but the beginning. You will be hearing from me. There is so much life for us all to live. I’m not going to try and summarize of sign off well. I have said what I need to say. I will leave you with an anthem by the late great South Africa Johnny Clegg. Volume up, listen to the words.