How wild, untamed and free do you dare to become?
The first time that I encountered the term ‘rewilding’ was in Peter grey’s very insightful and important blogpost called Rewilding Witchcraft. It follows the idea that Witches and Pagans have sort of forgotten their roots and their purpose which are connected to engaging with and protecting the wild. It challenges the respective audience to open up their eyes to the current ecological crisis of the planet and most of our local environments. It asks us to revisit our spiritual practices and question them.
Do they really connect me with the wild inside and outside of myself?
Do my actions build connections with, acknowledge and protect the non-human communities I live with?
These are some of the guiding questions which have walked with me since I first read Peter Grey’s words. It’s what started my own rewilding journey.
I have always felt a very intimate connection with plants and the spirits of nature. I spent a lot of my childhood and teenage years in the garden and the forest. I talked to trees and faeries.
At the same time I was socialized like most of us. I was told how to sit, eat and behave. I was told that there are no spirits in my room at night. That the natural world was not really dead, but below human consciousness. That there was no actual way to talk to trees or rivers. That God had blessed humans with unique mental capacities which allowed us to condition, control and rule the wilderness outside of us as well as our body and animal nature.
These teachings were given to me by my parents, but also the other kids I played with, neighbors, school, etc. These were some of the collective assumptions about reality that I had to accept (at least officially) to become acceptable. Unacceptable beliefs and actions were laughed at or punished.
Add to that all the emotional and physical abuse I experienced by family and ‘friends’ as a child and teenager for being different than expected. For being other(worldly?).
As a result I forgot how to see and talk with the faeries and other beings for a while. It took me years of dedicated spiritual practice to get them back. Some of my clairvoyant abilities are still not nearly as evolved as they were when I was 5 years old.
The kind of spirituality that had always spoken to me and was instrumental in my emotional healing process and self-empowerment was Witchcraft.
When I discovered this alternative to Christian beliefs and doctrines when I was 12 years old I was so excited! It felt like coming home. Like I’m not weird for experiencing the world a certain way, but gifted.
Witchcraft and other shamanic, Pagan and polytheist practices and beliefs continued to inform me since that time.
I loved especially how these beliefs and practices seemed rooted in nature and emphasized how to live in ‘harmony’ and ‘balance’ with the natural world.
It wasn’t until I started learning more about ecology, nature conservation and sustainable agriculture that I noticed how removed many of these (modern) beliefs and practices actually were from nature.
I believe that the same can be said about a lot of teachings and beliefs within the ‘New Age’ and ‘spiritual’ community.
I am no exception to probably being a little blind-sided by growing up in a relative urban environment within Western civilization. How could I not be?
I did run through fields and forests as a child and we still grew at least some of our food in our garden. We foraged mushrooms and herbs for tea. We used natural medicines. We were probably more attuned to the land and that kind of ancestral knowledge than most of our neighbors.
And I still never shot a deer or killed a chicken. The amount of food we grew in our garden was minimal. We foraged for entertainment, not for survival.
Which means that there was a lot of knowledge and understanding about how nature works that I didn’t get. Some of which I could read about, but a lot of which can only come from first hand experience. What I like to call body knowledge.
What does all of that have to do with spirituality?
Most of our spiritual beliefs and practices in the West – especially within the New Age community – have been conceived outside of a natural environment or have been adopted (and modified) from more ‘exotic’, Eastern cultures which themselves were and/or are divorced from nature.
How can these beliefs and practices liberate and empower us if they continue to deepen the divide between ourselves and the natural world? Between our mind and our body? Our soul and our flesh?
As I have written before: These lies of separation are the root of all evil. It is this kind of estrangement from ourselves and the natural world which gives not only rise to war and terror attacks, but also the ecological crisis we find ourselves in.
Which is why I believe that all of our spirituality must be centered around coming back into connection. Intimate connection with our body and sexuality. Intimate connection with other humans in their diversity as well as with the non-human worlds we are part of – especially the natural environment around us.
This is why rewilding spirituality is important.
Which is why I want all of us to really question not only the origins and purpose of our spiritual beliefs and practices but also their effects on us and the natural world.
How does your spirituality re-connect you with nature?
How does it estrange you from nature?
And what purpose do you choose your spirituality to serve and why?
No teacher or book can answer these questions for you. Observe your own experience. The choice is yours if you dare to choose. The time is now to make a change.
(And I have specifically designed this online class for men who choose rewilding.)