Rewilding (in terms of ecological restoration but also regarding personal development) is all about resisting the urge to control Nature and allowing her to find her own way. In terms of how we interact with our environment it means restoring wilderness and letting Nature do what Nature does best – for billions of years already. It means seeing ourselves not on top of some made-up pyramid or ladder (like Aristotle’s ludicrous and arrogant – but persistent – idea of the “scala naturae”) but as part of an interconnected web consisting of all species and all elements, who all have the same value.
Rewilding not only the ecosystem we inhabit but also ourselves is crucial. This means letting go of the domestication imposed on us by ourselves and society, the “civilized” ways of thinking and acting: the reductionist, scientific view on life is replaced by a holistic and spiritual one. The Nature-as-machine metaphor that the dominant culture loves so much is replaced with a Gaia-like view of Nature as an organism, a living being. Other living beings are not seen as hollow shells that follow automated algorithms, but as persons with a spirit/soul just like ourselves, who have thoughts, wishes, dreams, ambitions, hopes and the same emotions that we feel: happiness, love, kindness, compassion, gratitude, serenity, as well as anger, sadness, frustration, desperateness, fear, and hate.
It means accepting smallness, and finding comfort and solace in the bigger picture. Revering and honoring all life. Accepting death as a necessary part of life, the seamless and constant conversion of matter and energy that characterizes the entire universe. Not being ashamed of anything that’s natural. It means complete freedom within Nature’s limits.
All this is nothing new. For our entire 3-million-year history as a species this was how humans lived and thought, and how indigenous people today continue to see and interact with the world around them. “Re-wilding” for us modern humans means re-connecting, re-learning, re-membering, re-versing, re-viving, re-storing, re-habilitating, and re-turning.
(From the section on the Simple Life: )
To have any hope for the future, we have to return to the land in large numbers. The land is calling for us, it needs us. We have to understand and accept Nature’s Own Free Will and act accordingly. If you inhabit an ecosystem where Nature, if left undisturbed, would create forests, than that’s what you should do. All of us have ancestors that were at one point or another forest dwellers with unique and highly sophisticated modes of subsistence and a rich forest culture, and now it is up to us to revive this intimate connection with the land. We have to re-learn to live in, with, from, and for the forest.
The Back-to-the-Land movement of the 60’s and 70’s was a great idea, but sadly not large and persistent enough, and not very successful in some cases. One reason was that the situation back then was much less severe in terms of future insecurity and climate instability. Further, sometimes the mindset of those returning to the land was still infected with harmful civilized ideas, anthropocentrical thoughts of dominion and domestication, and a lack of appreciation for the primitive.
Returning to the land was actually quite common in the recent past, and a perfectly normal response to famines, epidemics, war, and conscription, as well as during and after the collapse of previous civilizations. What civilized His-story calls “Dark Ages” might have been times where people had more leisure, no obligation to pay taxes to city-based elites and warlords, and where personal freedom, autonomy, and Nature-based cultures flourished.