When I bought my first tipi, I already had an all weather tent, a good set of bender tarps and a choice of two caravans to live in. What did I need a tipi for? None of that mattered. I fell in love with the sheer beauty of it.
The beauty goes far deeper than appearances. The circle is an organic, healing shape, powerful medicine for anyone who has been shut up in rectangles for half a lifetime. Contact with the earth is not a metaphor in a tipi. When I sit down I can feel the skin of our mother under my bum. I look up and see the circle of poles reaching up into the air to meet the patch of sky through the smoke hole. In the centre of the circle the flames of an open fire dance their dance of life. From where I’m pitched I can hear the gurgle of a nearby stream falling asleep to the sound on a quiet evening.
A tipi is a highly practical way to live outside. In fact, with a tipi beauty and practicality are one and the same. The idea of something being useful but ugly, or beautiful but useless, is largely a product of our unbalanced industrial society. A tipi is strong, roomy, weatherproof, easy to pitch and above all has a fire inside. It was developed by the people of the great plains of North America, and it is hard to improve on a structure which has enabled people to thrive in such a harsh environment. Read more of this post