Rewilding means different things to different people. To a scientist, it may mean the reintroduction of a wild species into its former habitat. To an anarchist, it may mean the political and personal freedom achieved by abandoning modern values and habits.
I, and others, have adopted the term to describe a large part of what we do, because we never before had a good word for what exactly we do.
And what do we do? We don’t practice primitive skills, because although we enjoy starting campfires with a wooden bow-drill, building wilderness shelters, tracking animals, we neither see these skills as “primitive”, nor as the beginning and end of what we do.
We don’t practice Native American spirituality, because although we endeavor to grow roots in our bioregion, and choose animist relationships with the world around us (and receive further mentoring from native Indian mentors on how to explore this choice), we don’t see root-growing and animist choices as exclusively Native American activities, nor do they simply fit under the label of “spirituality”.
We don’t practice permaculture, because although we do continue to learn from and implement how indigenous peoples cared for the land under our feet to maximize food production, we pursue a far deeper and more committed relationship to the Land than an agricultural one.
We don’t pursue green anarchism, because although we do see the unsustainable nature of civilization in all its historical forms, we see a need for more than just political and social change.
We don’t pursue end-times survivalism, because although we can see the ongoing collapse of modern civilization and all its many institutions, we don’t await its end with stockpiled food and exit strategies, but rather see it as the best excuse ever to choose a life worth living today.
So, we don’t do a lot of things, apparently. But still, what exactly do we do?
Rewilding, in the sense that mythic cartographers and animist folks of varying background use it, means a constant renaissance and return to values and technologies of Family, Village, and Land.
To me, this truly means living the Good Life. It means enjoying and prioritizing food, family, ethical work, partnerships with the wild. It means taking responsibility for our ancestry, it means taking time to grieve for what we’ve got, and praise for what we’ve lost. It means no more “move on, get over it”. It means walking away from the life we no longer want to live, and choosing now the life we want to live. It means following our hearts.
The Rewilding Renaissance describes the ever-growing commitment of so many people to recreating and reinventing lost traditions of Family, Village, and Land. We don’t see an end-point to this process; human beings have always had to renew their commitment to living in a beautiful way that works.
It only matters that we begin.