I have been to a lot of gatherings. Pagan circles. Women circles. Find your inner core truth retreats. Awaken your inner animal workshops. Finding your wild self classes. They come with many titles and approaches. Yet they each preach the same thing. You lost touch with your wildness and to be a complete functioning human you need to reclaim it.
There is a formula to them. It starts with a guru of sorts explaining the unnatural distance we humans have with the world around us. The misaligned and domesticated apathy for being a sheep in a constructed world that wrings out all the juice of our human-ness. We are told the only wayback to the authentic self is to embrace the suppressed wildness with in.
In this introduction the participants are told to not think and just feel. The thinking mind is some how the enemy of self. Feelings and the heart are the true emanipators of our core selves. Then there is usually a sharing circle where the participants open up their deep feelings: guilt, rage, shame, fear, sadness, anger…. etc. This is followed by some kind of ceremonial experience… and a promise to go deeper.
Depending on the guru of a gathering like this there can be different sharing sessions that contribute and encourage the emotional expression of the participants. Some topics are about reclaiming your sexuality. Finding your inner animal. Expression of rage. Safe spaces to explore the trauma that is still pulling the strings of your life…. This is all working and funneling the energy of the group toward a larger ceremonial experience…. the solidifying of the wild self…. usually around a fire outside in a safe and secluded environment.
There is a necessity to make offerings that represent the things to release that hold back the individuals connections to the wild self and offerings to honor a reconnection. There is the donning of ceremonial dress, ritual bathing, getting ready for an initiation.
There is a procession into sacred space that becomes the door way to separate the magical from the mundane… there is purification before entering…. then entering to the space to form a circle. There is sometimes drumming, singing… or silence depending on the plan for the ceremony.
Participants stand facing a fire or central altar and are told to use this sacred space to transition, transform, transmute, become…. From this point the ceremony can move and evolve into many diverse expressions that are embodied by the tradition or practice of the group. Dancing. Drumming. Story telling. Saying affirmations. Witnessing. Speaking truth. Screaming loudly and shaking. Tears. Prayers….
This is followed by a form of grounding and closing out the sacred circle. Participants process out and return into the mundane world having been altered by the experience.
These ceremonies and gatherings are often cathartic for some participants. They can be the medicine for personal and communal change, revolution and awareness. I personally think that gatherings like this have a useful place in how societies and cultures grow and evolve.
What I want address today is the perception that “wildness” is some how distinct and disconnected from the thinking parts of who we are. That we have been presenting a misconception of what wildness is. This has become so entrenched in the ideological architecture and archetypes that define our identity and authenticity. It expresses it itself as the “losing of control” in the face of traditional/cultural structures.
Sometimes these divisions defined by referring to the analytical mind or the rational mind as the controlling mechanism. Which is often applied within certain spiritual groups as a derogatory jab at millions of years of human brain evolution.
My approach for this commentary will come from my years of direct experience with nature and the natural world. Perhaps, offering a different perspective for what wildness can be as we move toward a different and hopefully better future.
I’ll start with everything we know about what being wild is wrong.
Living in the world requires skills that take into account the ecologies and environments we’ve in. To live in these places there has to be awareness, sustainability, safety, community, a governing set of principles, and taboos that define how that group will work together for a common goal.
When I have been out in the forests, deserts, plains and by the oceans there is a direct necessity for working with patterns and order. Some of these are following the day light or night time. Some are the awareness of temperature, weather, wind, or the resources of an ecosystem. These are also the pollention of flowers, the season of fruits and seeds. Or the migration of animals. There is the violence of predator/prey and also a need to find balance in the necessary exchanges for food and living. To understand the rhythms of growth, birth and death. To live in these complexities organically self defining structures there is a necessity for rational thinking (this is as diverse as there are species) and understanding of what is going on around in the environment. This has pushed the evolution of brains, cognitive thinking, emotions and memory.
The natural world doesn’t have a hierarchy in the same way as humans have create them for power and control. Every living thing is part of the diversity that becomes the systems and symbiosis of a place. Each one contributes to the sustainability of the environment. Different species are aware of who eats them and what to eat. What unfolds is the dance of life. That is the wildness of calculating and thinking. Weigh risk with action. Reading the signs and acquiring the experience(s) to survive and live.
There are emotions and feelings in this natural world. Emotions are the barometer of the inner experience to the outer engagement with the world. Yet, in my observations emotions are less the driving force of being wild. These emotions can be seem in the grieving, mating, raising of young, playfulness and other interactions between individuals and communal structures. And yet, emotions can not be relied on for sustainable actions. Often it is our emotions that usurp our rational mind or thinking. It is the emotional reaction to situations that cause trauma and pain. Emotions are short sight and often are the tool for acquiring an instant dividend in a situation. That is in my opinion is an area that we humans might want to re-evaluate and change.
Wildness is the fullness of our brains at work processing the world around us to make decisions and take actions.
I’ll write more on this as I continue to explore the topic.