What is rewilding?
What is rewilding?
rewild, v; to return to a more natural or wild state; the process of undoing domestication. Undomesticate, uncivilize.
We often see rewilding when wildlife management agencies reintroduce a species back into a natural area. It is an attempt to put an species back into the wild. For example, the wolf was recently reintroduced back into Yellowstone after over-hunting reduced their populations earlier in the century. Bison are occasionally rewilded into certain areas as well. But what about homo sapiens?
We have largely self-domesticated over last several thousand years. For the most part, we have separated and walled ourselves off from nature due to the “progress” of civilization. Starting around 10,000 years ago, our human species started to domesticate itself and create civilizations by transitioning from nomadic societies into more agricultural societies. The fossil record shows that as domestication progressed, our human genome and expression started to degenerate. This has expressed itself in the form of smaller skeletal form, smaller brains, smaller jaw and dental structure, and the acceleration of degenerative disease such as cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, etc. Essentially, we are now a domesticated version of a once-wild species. Further, civilization has changed our whole world to the point that we are now living in an artificial world due to industrialization. We are essentially living in a zoo, rather than out in the wild, like we once were. When an animal gets placed in a zoo, the zookeeper will try to replicate the wild animal’s diet. This is exactly what we should be doing- eating as wild of a diet as possible (unfortunately, our “zookeepers” provide processed food), drinking wild water, and recognizing the domestication that has taken place all around us. We are fortunate to still have a few indigenous tribes, who are the last truly wild humans we have left. These are important people to gain knowledge from, as they are the best representation of the wild form of our species. We are the domesticated version of these indigenous people.
So, with respect to our human species, undomesticating or rewilding, involves looking at nature to see what makes most sense for our species. It is replicating our ancestor’s lifestyles where possible. It is the process of rolling back our domesticated daily practices one by one. This can be anything from diet, to movement, to evolving consciousness – to our lifestyle practices in general. For example, sitting in a chair most of the day is a very domesticated practice, but it is something that many people must do at their place of employment. Alternatively, a flat-footed squat is the natural way that our species sits (and poops!). We can never go back to being “wild” because our world has changed so much – but we can recognize things for what they are and make smart choices that will bring us closer to a more natural, happy, healthy state. Have you ever seen a happy zoo animal? Forces of domestication come from many places in our world today. Our culture, our governments, our control system (our “zookeepers”), all have domestication built in.
This blog is the culmination of much thought and practice. All of the food and supplements that I write about, I also use enthusiastically on a daily basis. Many ideas in this blog are a result of listening and learning from a wide variety of teachers. Naming just a few, Daniel Vitalis has been an important voice in the area of wild diets and rewilding. Arthur Haines has been a wealth of knowledge when it comes to human ecology and neoaboriginal lifeways.