I believe Rewilding is essential fo individual and group survival. In a nutshell, overdomestication is stifling to the soul. And why am I so crazy about camping an backpacking?  Because this is a convenient way to experience raw nature without exiting our modern lifestyle which wouldn’t be practical. Day hiking is great, gardening, and playing outside is great, but spending the night and extended time in places where the human footprint isn’t noticeable or barely noticeable is essential to remind us who we are and where we came from. Without this we become over-domesticated and have no baseline. What I mean by that is, we identify with urban environments because that is all we know. And in that, there are imprinting information and messages not coherent or in our best interests. The sad fact is we don’t even know this is happening.

Nature is our source and it gives us so much information on so many levels. We need to know our source and use that to imprint our body and soul without human interference. We need our human mother and our earth mother to really know where we came from. Without experiencing nature deeply we are like orphans on an alien planet.  And being in nature brings us to the healing properties we have been denied in our over industrialized world.

Here we can access the realms of our inner nature, get out of the ego driven, dollar driven mass culture which makes decisions based on a limited and destructive view of the world. We can get away from the constant chatter which leads to too much mental activity, slow down and access the silence within. The issues we are dealing with come out in front of us, we go deeper, we see the nature of the mind and consciousness as we access more silence and more depth. All of this because we are having a break from the outside world which has shaped our belief system and dictated values many which are meaningless.   

We don’t realize, when we are living from a place of fear and survival, how much impact that has on us. And the media is nothing but fear and survival trying to force feed us the idea we aren’t perfect and we need all kinds of new improvements to make our life better. When we can disengage for a little while, a new set of feelings and impressions come in. If we can let these imprint our consciousness, we will come back renewed and more in alignment with purpose…more in touch with our inner truth and not following the chaotic influences we are bombarded with when out in the urban jungle we call civilization.   

I personally woke up to this when I was 15. At that point I made a decision to turn my attention to self learning and nature and turn off as much as possible to the mass media. This meant television, movies, radio as well as taking what my teachers said with a huge grain of salt. I no longer trusted them. They lied to me about history so what else were they covering up?

I didn’t know who I was, but I knew that I didn’t know. And I knew my teachers and peers were not helping. Instead, there was a huge body of knowledge somewhere that would tell me. And that body of knowledge was in the silence of nature. I tried my best to get as far away from human made places and in my little town of Lawrence, Kansas this meant long bike rides and walks into the countryside. This meant even exploring my own backyard so to speak…the places right around my house…in more depth. It meant writing about my thoughts, experiences, dreams and watching the clouds float by in the sky. I took my destiny into my own hands and others would label as a social misfit…a loner…an outcast. However to me it was connection and entering into a wonderful world of beauty and mystery. Besides the library where I checked out book after book about Native American history and ways, my new school was the great outdoors. I broke off from my friends in favor of my new relationship with life. I couldn’t take anyone with me because they had no idea what happened. It was as though I was suddenly struck by lightning.

And indeed, the Thunder Beings actually became my new totem power. I had several encounters with lightning as I was practicaly fearless of it. One night I was camping a mile from my house and the night became engulfed in a torrential thunderstorm. There was a blinding streak of lightning and thunder simultaneously so loud I could neither hear nor see for some time. What happened? Was I struck? In a few  minutes my sight came back and the ringing in my ears stopped and I realized I was okay. However a tree not 30 feet from me was burning. But that was it for me. I packed my bike and rode home in the dark. 

I would often climb my favorite cottonwood tree far up into the sky and perch one foot in the crook of a limb and wrap my arm around another crook where I could write in my journal, read, or gaze into the distant prairie on one side and town on the other side. I would dream about the future and what possibilities lay beyond the horizon. Once I went up to watch a storm coming in, blowing in from the west, and was spellbound by the lightning as it got closer and closer. It had almost arrived before I finally climbed down like a cat and got back to my house drenching wet.

The Native American vision quest is a beautiful way of seeing how this process works. Native Peoples believe animals, plants, weather, rocks and all of nature is alive and we communicate back and forth. I was learning about this as I read book after book in between my actual school assigned boring homework assignments. Books like Black Elk Speaks and Rolling Thunder were making deep impressions on my young psyche. I was trying to figure out just how this works and wondering if I would hear a voice or see something magical happen. I had no shaman to guide me so I just kept stumbling along trying to figure it out. Little did I know, this whole time I was looking for something to just fall out of the sky, I was perfectly held and protected by my own spirit guides who later some day I would wake up to. 

Spirit Guides and Nature are one and the same thing. The world speaks to us through symbols and each being and element in nature is a part of that language. So merely cultivating a relationship is all that matters. The rest follows naturally. I went on my first self guided vision quest later the summer I was 16. I really needed to know what to do with my life.

The summer I was sixteen years old I took a Greyhound bus with my big brother Victor to spend the summer kicking around the mountains of North Carolina where I was born.  That summer would change my life forever and set me on a course of adventure and poetry that would never stop even to this day. 

I packed a daypack with only a few things like a rain poncho, rock hammer, and tree field guide and headed up the mountain behind my boyhood home in Cullowhee, North Carolina. The next four days I would walk and listen in silence with no food and pray for a vision. I journaled as I observed everything happening. Was that a sign? Was that a sign? When was I going to get my vision? What was my life going to be about? I got lost, walking off edge of the map I carried, somewhere near the Blue Ridge Parkway. I eventually made it back to a highway and called my dad from a stranger’s house, to come get me.

I was trying to figure out what my vision was. What was my totem, my guidance? Was it the owl that came nearby one night? Was it the rain that almost came but didn’t quite? Or was it one of my dreams or all of them put together? There was nothing vivid and clear. However, I would never look at life the same. I had walked four days and three nights with practically nothing through the mountains and forest and I felt like there was no longer fear about going into the woods. And when I got back to my home on the great plains in Lawrence Kansas, that fearlessness carried over into my new life as I entered my first year in highschool. I was now adapted to the wild and I knew where I came from. That gave me strength to face the crazy challenges and opportunities that the new year would open up. I took a big leap in owning my destiny and calling the shots instead of other people and ‘the system’ doing it for me. Many years later this would be known as ‘bad assery’, and especially considering I had no role modals besides my far off and long lost big bother who suggested the Vision Quest and described how to do in in a letter which I carried with me. For the most part I was coming up with this through my own connection with nature and spirit.

That summer would change my life forever and set me on a course of adventure and poetry that would never stop even to this day. That summer I somehow managed to get by without getting a job. My goal was to increase my vocabulary and write all I could since I had recently discovered writing. I wrote this poem when I was camping at Craggy Gardens on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I walked all the way there in one day from my brother Vincent’s house in East Asheville. Written on Wednesday June 4, 1980.

Wind and rain and chirping songs
that go on all day long
how could anything here be wrong?

The light of the sun and waters that run
Make gold between the shadows of the dancing green ones
where life seems so fresh and undone.

The time of the dawn
where thoughts are so new and long
like the awakening of an unborn fawn

The roar of the bear and the crashing falls
demands a dare of your physical all
when in the mountains so tall

From the peaks you can see
the lakes and the trees
so great you feel like a tiny bee

Graceful are the hawks
Swaying and looping as if to mock
the slowness of our walk

The harmony in the air
that the water wind and birds share
is such that no symphony can compare

The water sings of the life if brings
to the plants and all living things
which make the cycle ring
for the existence of our very being