Rewilding as an Act of Remembering

Author, mary dejong, heading west from the mainland across the salish sea on the autumn equinox

Author, mary dejong, heading west from the mainland across the salish sea on the autumn equinox

When we lose our sense of belonging to the world, our lives can feel empty and meaningless. This hollow feeling is a result of a disconnection from the nature to which we have forgotten we belong. Too many stories and cosmologies have distanced humanity from the very earth from which they were created. Mythologist and psychologist Sharon Blackie states, “…when we lose our relationship with the land and the other creatures around us, then in the deepest sense, we lose ourselves.” Consequently, when we recover our relationship with the land, when our soul-life is nurtured by it, we find our interrelated belonging. A deep sense of responsibility and solidarity is awakened and becomes our primary posture on the planet.

How do we get to this place? The answer resides in ancient categories of thought and perception. This is the stuff of rites and rituals. This is about growing to the edge of life as we know it and discovering that there is a world beyond that wild hedgerow that is drawing us into its feathers, fronds, and fur.

Getting up and moving to the parameters of our life, to the absolute edges, is where we re-engage our senses and re-awaken our souls to our sacred meant-for-ness.

The archetypal framework for this kind of journey is meaningfully conveyed through the ancient practice of pilgrimage, which an embodied quest for the soul, a deep seeking after the self. The rewilding of our inner-soulscapes is a pilgrimage journey of finding ourselves back into a whole relationship with the wilderness. It is a re-framing of a story that told us the cultivated garden is where we should grow, instead of the wild yonder beyond the gate. What is out there in the hinterlands? What story of interrelatedness has been waiting for us beyond the tales that told us to stay put? 

I see rewilding as a process of remembering: remembering that we carry wildness within; remembering that we are related to other plants and animals who inhabit Earth with us; remembering that we are on a common journey upon our common home with the whole of creation.

Rewilding eschews the forward-facing imagination of the frontier, where rugged individualism and plundering dominance are trumpeted. This is a return to the wild, a reconnection to the worshipping assembly of the wild world with whom we belong. Wildness depends on an internal balance for security, its own ecological harmony dependent upon its codependent synergy. We cannot live balanced, whole, and integrated lives if humanity continues to view itself above and over the natural world, attributing value insomuch as it is a resource to support and advance humanity. 

Rewilding wheel retreat weekend on lummi island, wa

Rewilding wheel retreat weekend on lummi island, wa

While I have loved well my garden and all the growth that has occurred through the process of cultivation and design, I have found in recent years a deep and demanding need to leave the order of the garden, to see it as a threshold inviting me beyond to the forested fringes or the wisdom found within wild waters. I have desired prayers and practices, rites and rituals that would remind my bones that I am related and dependent upon beaver, bluff, and bird, and how their faring becomes a litmus for my own wholeness and wellness. This kind of wholeness, which balances on an ecosystem approach, can only be gained by a journey that takes one deep into the woods, through fields, tracing watersheds to the sea, and climbing up to the high climes of the mountains.

This is a deep dive into the wilderness where storied landscapes offer up wizened myths spoken in the ancient tongue of creation, but which can only be opened with a clever claw, heard with a moth-en'd ear , and spoken with a raven's craw-craw.

And so I responded to the call of the wild and began a journey this past Autumn Equinox that would lead through lands and legends, reminding me of how numinous nature is, that each wave upon the water's surface was a sacred script, writ large with the wisdom of the One who created the assembly of belonging. I began a journey that would take me around my bioregion, reconnecting me to the revelation that rests inherently within these landscapes and watersheds, reminding me of the great community of life of which I am a part.  

The Rewilding Wheel was developed to be an integration of critical aspects of the cycles and seasons of nature that would bring one into a deep sense of belonging within their particular bio-regions. This is a move from an ego-centric posture on the planet to an eco-centric one where one’s whole identity is rooted and interconnected with the lands upon which one lives.

westward facing Labyrinth on Lummi island. Just beyond the LABYRINTH and the fringe forest is the salish sea.

westward facing Labyrinth on Lummi island. Just beyond the LABYRINTH and the fringe forest is the salish sea.

The Rewilding Wheel is a sacred circuit that seeks to locate the wisdom of universal nature symbols within one’s particular homescape and spiritual formation.

By locating the psychospiritual patterns found within the natural world to a particular place, the ancient wisdom inherent in the cardinal directions and elements takes on a practical shape and invites a focused seasonal practice. In this way, the Rewilding Wheel is unique as it invites a sacred process of remembering and recovering relationships within various ecosystems throughout one's local landscapes. 

The Rewilding Wheel becomes then a way to begin the practice of rewilding our inner soul-scapes through the intentional relationship with the wild landscapes of our bioregion and seeking sacred wisdom through the rhythmic patterns that exist in the seasons, elements and cardinal directions.  This becomes a life-orientation journey, a circular path through which the sacred can speak within the various associations of nature symbology and archetypal human development within our very own locatedness.