The term “rewilding” has been used by diverse writers and even appropriated by a wildlife conservation organization, but was coined by Animá Center’s own Jesse Wolf Hardin in 1976, and first saw print in in 1986 in the following serialized essay. As a result, Wolf was assigned to write the Rewilding entry on page 1383, Vol. 2 of The Encyclopedia of Religion & Nature (Thoemmes Continuum, 2005). I encourage you to forward this 5 part series to others, by clicking on the “Share This Post” button below. Blessings. -Kiva Rose
The Rewilding: Part 2 (of 6):
Wild Self, Wild Mind
By Jesse Wolf Hardin (www.animacenter.org)
“When we get out of the glass bottles of our ego,
and when we escape like squirrels
turning in the cages of our personality
and get into the forests again,
we shall shiver with cold and fright,
but twigs will happen to us
so that we don’t know ourselves.
Cool, unlying life will rush in,
and passion will make our bodies
taut with power”
Alexander Marshack described humanity as a “persistent flowering of an ancient reality.” The rewilding of the self is neither a retreat to the past nor transformation into something new. Instead, it is a re-formation, a reflowering, a reinhabitation of natural form and dynamic possibility. It is simply being who we really are, whole, vitally alive, responsible and decisive. It is the uncomplicated if often difficult cessation of pretense and artifice, projection and denial, avoidance and distraction, suppression and repression, manipulating and being manipulated, regulating and being regulated, victimhood and control, preoccupation with the future and and attachment to fears. Rewilding is a coming into self, necessarily involving the reinhabitation of untamable place, spirit, body and mind.
Much of the destruction and injustice in the world was hatched in the brain or is a product of the ways we perceive and think. It is where insecurity too often morphs into war making arrogance or paralyzing self doubt, where fear can turn to loathing and bias to prejudice. That said, in its natural state it is also an instrument of awareness and response, passions and purpose. While it can suffer from illusion or become trapped in unhealthy habits, the human mind is nonetheless an agent and extension of the wild. We know this by the way it wanders into dangerous terrain the minute we aren’t watching, gets lost like a little kid in a department store of pictures and ideas, tosses off civil constraint and dives into the moist folds of carnal indulgence at every licentious opportunity. One can be in the midst of a geometry test or taken up with the repair of a malfunctioning carburetor when the mind will race off to enjoin such savage themes as sex, play, and death. The wild mind sings whatever song it wants, even if we are tired of hearing it. There is no such thing as a confined mind. It cannot be separated from its natural proclivities and desires, neither by dogmatic guilt trips nor by the pronouncements of custom-bound authorities. Even in jail, the wild mind goes wherever the hell it wants. It easily penetrates the stiffest security measures, slipping through the bars no matter how closely they’re placed, breaching the illusory impermeability of reinforced concrete in the mind’s insistent quest. The wild mind acknowledges no limitations, boundaries, rules or taboos — and it is therefore without limit.
The human mind is not only a wild function but a wild place, an extended, unfathomable wilderness of image and sensation, memory and precognition where still exists everything that has ever been and can ever be. The world resides there as surely as the mind resides in the world. Wild consciousness knows itself as inseparable from everything around it, and even as it reaches out to connect with and ponder things far away it is still in the most real sense delving into the depths of its own essence and meaning. As such, it experiences a degree of the pain and joy of seemingly disparate forms, aching for the earth at the bite of the bulldozer’s blade, and reveling to the giddy lift of wind beneath a bird’s wings. It enjoins with the physical, experiential, tactile and carnal, and with every life-form crawling and stalking, living and dying, laughing and crying, feeling the stretch of their skin and the water against their scales or making feathery love above the abyss.
Wild mind is omnifarious and omnipresent, present in all forms and in all places at once. As an extension of planetary mind, it is the numinous force that unites all things in a common field/body of recognition and purpose. In recognizing and acknowledging something we touch it, connect to it, and can potentially identify with it as an extension of our greater self. Spinoza wrote that we are only as large as our loves. A deep identification with every element of nature results in the most profound love: a self love that encompasses every form and motion constituting an indisputably magical world.
Wild mind spins within the contours of cyclical time, tuned into the lunar and solar cycles, the monthly red tide of a woman’s menstrual flow, the changing of the seasons and each person’s lifetime of circling back into wisdom, and then back into the earth. Wild consciousness is tuned into body time, the organic cycles of hunger and exhaustion, satiation and rest that are surely more important than any imposed linear frame. It eschews civilized time – clock time – and the way a potentially conscious humanity has become indentured to the unforgiving and boring regularity of a blatantly unconscious machine. The alarm clock and wristwatch can be considered symbols of our internalized control and self-imprisonment, handcuffing us to the binding schedules of a mechanized, desensitized world. Their audible ticks usher us from one second to another, marking time like a military band for the march of mortal minutes off the cliffs of out demise. Civilized time hasn’t the ability to adjust to natural and personal rhythms, or to synchronize with interterrestrial rhythm.
To the contrary, wild mind exists in the perennial perceptual now. The primacy of immediate experience over preoccupation is the hallmark of primal (of first importance) consciousness and evidence of a rewilding-in progress. No self-respecting savage would eat without tasting every morsel of nuance, or focus on some inflated future scenario at the expense of current sensations. Temporal bliss is a function of presence, savoring the precariousness of the instant, the intense immediacy and depth of the always changing, eternally present moment.
The constant, charged, orgasmic engagement with life peculiar to the wild is a result of living in-tense-ly, fully in present tense. In the wild mind, sensate experience, intuition and instinct remain of more immediate relevance than conjecture, objective measure or future consideration. Original mind knows the world through feel more than analysis. Feral mind – pulled free of the tethers that once bound it, refusing to continue to be distracted by displays of irrelevant input, and no longer held back by assumption or held down by weighty conclusion — will increasingly abandon repetitive internal dialogue for smell and feel, for the omnipresent reality of powerful visions, authentic emotions and conscious, meaningful acts.
Wild mind thus takes us boldly into the unknown. It is not fearless, but is spared the contemporary neurosis of fearing that which does not yet exist. When not directly and physically faced with an unavoidable threat, the natural hominid mind – like plant and animal mind – exists in a heightened condition of awakeness, passion, and awe… a lasting state of arousal and response, ache and bliss.
The left hemisphere of the brain, agent of logic and language, has been developing along with the rest of our beings since the very beginnings of our mammalian evolution. The so-called primitive peoples of today have a left hemisphere no less highly formed than the colonial modernists appropriating their land. They realize that in balance with the non-linear right hemisphere, the rational sides of their psyches may contribute to the continued survival of the tribe. but that if allowed to dominate the result is certain alienation from the wild self and the wild lands sustaining them. As a result, they have come up with various checks on the hegemony of so called left-brain thinking. Rituals, vision quests, meditation, ecstatic dance, tantra, sacred sex, the fine art of riverside leisure, the careful consumption of perception adjusting plants and food fasts all serve to prevent subordination to the dictates of the imposing/opposing linear mind set.
Logic is no substitute for intuition and instinct, vision and dream. Language, for all its beauty, is no substitute for the actual sensory experience of that which it describes. The right brain houses the long submerged instincts of wild self, learned not in a matter of years, but through lifetimes of learned experience, genetically/spiritually/energetically recalled by a key smell, a terrifying noise, or the embrace of dream-state. As far removed as people seem to be from the raw processes of their own nature, they may surprise themselves by one day leaping out of the way of a speeding car they never actually saw, or wake up in the middle of the night from dreams of places and experiences more impossibly real than anything they’ve ever known in the course of their mundane lives.
Dreams are the wild mind having its say. And visions are waking dreams, preeminent moments of peak wildness, of total connection with the flux and context of life and the living Earth. By applying our creativity to these gifts of vision, we can recreate wild culture from wild mind. Those visions of utmost importance will be those that contribute to the free evolution of diverse life and the unimpaired processes and rhythms of manifest nature. Visions of ourselves contained within the earth, and of the entirety of nature within us.
“We know our selves to be made from this earth. We know this earth is made from our bodies. For we see ourselves. And we are nature. We are nature seeing nature, nature with a concept of nature. Nature weeping. Nature speaking of nature to nature. The red-winged blackbird flies in us, in our inner sight. We see the arc of her flight. We measure the ellipse. We predict its climax. We are amazed. We fly.” -Susan Griffin
We suggest you practice quiet mind. Practice visionary mind, sensual mind, attentive mind, wild mind… the greatest hope for ourselves, and our kind.