In the ancient times most communities lived with nature and tended the wilderness. The indigenous cultures were intimate with their landscapes and wildlife. They lived in respectful ways, for wild nature is fierce and asks the humans to be as awake and intelligent as it is. Some indigenous tribes remain wild and deeply embedded in nature.
For most of us, however, we are arriving at a turning point. Our ancestors have been on a path of dominating nature for tens of thousands of years. With agriculture and industrial revolutions our domination accelerated. We have been aware of climate change threats and possible collapse of our planetary bio-systems for well over seven decades.
We are now waking up to the tragedy of human hubris and its devastating touch on Gaia. At the same time, we are waking up to our powers of choice and agency. Rewilding is a choice to direct our agency and all our powers, talents, resources, to reconnect with nature, to learn from it, and to recover with nature. The intelligence in nature, what is giving rise to grass, trees, birds, mushrooms, and dolphins, are much vaster than human intelligence. Rewilding is a discipline to listen, learn, and respond to nature, this includes our own inner nature, as well as the ecosystems out there.
So why rewild? It could be because we have driven our biosphere to such a state where most species, not just the humankind, are suffering the dreadful effects of global warming. But rewilding is not for saving our conscience. It could just be that we have allowed ourselves to be separated from nature for far too long, that there is a deep longing in our hearts to return to a pristine place, a wild habitat, to the majesty of life. We rewild to be more truly ourselves, to flow with our intuition, to hear nature deeply in our hearts.
This morning I went for a dip in a little burn that runs beside my caravan in Roshven, in Western Scotland. This is my wild get-away place to the bosom of nature. As I merged into the refreshingly cold water of the burn, I heard a low hum in the woods next to me. I recognised that I have never heard this sound before. At the same time I registered the quality of the sound, being low and round. It must belong to a bird with a relatively big body. Could it be a woodcock? I felt the sound with my whole body, perhaps because I was half way submerged in water. The wild quality of the bird call, the nippy cold touch of the water on my skin, the stunningly beautiful setting of the forest with moss-covered rocks, and naked silver-birch bodies, altogether made my heart sing. I am becoming a wild woman, at one with nature, was a flashing thought as I dried myself.
I am rewilding nature to heal myself, to be in a community of caring and connected people, and to help nature regenerate again. Why do you think we need to rewild?
Alan Watson Featherstone's presentation to the Holistic Science Group in July 2022, on Restoring the Caledonian Forest.
Some Effects of Rewilding