What is Rewilding? : Realigning with Nature in Our Modern World

Once, in the distant echoes of time, 4we humans dwelled in a world far simpler, where our lives were inextricably interconnected with the very heartbeat of the Earth.

Our minds danced to a different tune, and our priorities bore little resemblance to the concerns that plague us today. Although the world we inhabited could be unforgiving at times, it was also a realm of sparsity and profound silence, where the whispers of the wind and the songs of the birds were our constant companions.

In those days, time flowed at a pace of its own, unhurried and unrushed. The world was not yet marred by the constant hum of planes, trains, and automobiles. Instead, it was a place where humanity was tapped into a collective consciousness, a tribal spirit that enveloped us in its embrace. Within this communal existence, we found not only warmth and comfort but also the vital support necessary for our survival.

As we toiled together, our efforts were not solely for ourselves but for the greater good of our tribe. We worked the land and hunted the wilderness not just to feed our own hungry bellies but to ensure that no one among us would go without sustenance. We cared for each other, tending to the wounded and nurturing the young, understanding that our fates were irrevocably entwined.

In this world of old, we were not solitary beings, isolated in our pursuits, but rather threads woven into the rich tapestry of life. Our existence was a harmonious symphony, where each individual played a crucial note, contributing to the overall melody of our shared experience.

Yet, the sands of time have shifted, and we find ourselves in an age far removed from that simpler world. Our lives have evolved, our priorities have transformed, and the world around us has been reshaped by progress and technology. But the echoes of our ancient connection to nature still linger, calling us back to a time when our hearts beat in rhythm with the Earth, and our souls were wild and free.

Rewilding… While it is gaining popularity, chances are you haven’t heard about it.

Or maybe you have but you just didn’t understand what is meant by it. Being one of our core values and missions with Chasing the Wild Wonder, I wanted to take some time to explain what Rewilding means to me and how I have adopted it into my life as a practical way of being and aspiration for optimal living.

This post will serve as a foundational article to most if not all of our content. Reading this will give you great understanding and insight into the why behind a lot of what we talk about here as well as our ultimate goal with everything we do.

You can think of this post as the first chapter in our book. Laying the groundwork for further exploration into a better way of living in the world.

So What Exactly is “Rewilding”?

ReWilding, by definition, means to return to a more wild or natural state; it is the process of undoing domestication.

And the definition of Domestication is:

  1. the adaptation of a plant or animal from a wild or natural state (as by selective breeding) to life in close association with humans
  2. the act or process of making a strange or challenging person or thing more familiar and acceptable
  3. the adaptation of something to meet the expectations or tastes of ordinary people

Basically, it’s to take something from its natural way of being and make it the way you want it to be to fit your basic definitions/ideals or to meet your needs in some way.

In the book ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’, Yuval Noah Harari gives a telling explanation of what happened with the so-called Agricultural Revolution:

”Scholars once proclaimed that the agricultural revolution was a great leap forward for humanity. They told a tale of progress fuelled by human brain power. Evolution gradually produced ever more intelligent people. Eventually, people were so smart that they were able to decipher nature’s secrets, enabling them to tame sheep and cultivate wheat. As soon as this happened, they cheerfully abandoned the grueling, dangerous, and often spartan life of hunter-gatherers, settling down to enjoy the pleasant, satiated life of farmers."

That tale is a fantasy. There is no evidence that people became more intelligent with time. Foragers knew the secrets of nature long before the Agricultural Revolution since their survival depended on an intimate knowledge of the animals they hunted and the plants they gathered. Rather than heralding a new era of easy living, the Agricultural Revolution left farmers with lives generally more difficult and less satisfying than those of foragers. Hunter-gatherers spent their time in more stimulating and varied ways and were less in danger of starvation and disease.

The Agricultural Revolution certainly enlarged the sum total of food at the disposal of humankind, but the extra food did not translate into a better diet or more leisure. Rather, it translated into population explosions and pampered elites. The average farmer worked harder than the average forager and got a worse diet in return. The Agricultural Revolution was history’s biggest fraud.

"Who was responsible? Neither kings, nor priests, nor merchants. The culprits were a handful of plant species, including wheat, rice, and potatoes. These plants domesticated Homo sapiens, rather than vice versa.*

The central argument of Rewilding is that the majority of humans have been “civilized” or “domesticated” by agrarianism and sedentary social stratification. Such a process is compared to how dogs have been domesticated from what was a common ancestor with wolves, resulting in a loss of health and vibrancy.

On the surface, the term Rewilding seems to be mostly used for a movement of conservation and ecological restoration. Even the Miriam-Webster dictionary defines Rewilding as follows:

“an effort to increase biodiversity and restore the natural processes of an ecosystem that typically involves reducing or ceasing human activity and often the planned reintroduction of a plant or animal species and especially a keystone species”

But Peter Michael Bauer, a pioneer in the Rewilding movement had this to say in a blog post on his website:

The term was allegedly coined by Earth First activist Jesse Wolf Hardin in a 1985 essay called “The Rewilding.” It was later appropriated by conservation biology, in which Dave Foreman and others propose “rewilding” large areas of land in order to curb the loss of biodiversity that we are experiencing as a result of the growth of human civilization.

From the conservation biology perspective, the “wild” or “wilderness” is land that is untouched by humans, connected through corridors, and populated with apex predators. It is an extension of the original ideas of conservation, that human impacts are generally bad (and not one of the apex predators that we should re-introduce).

These ideas were born out of the earliest American conservationists who played a large role in creating the national forests and protected wilderness zones within the United States. This version of rewilding does not have a critique of civilization and does not look at how humans lived sustainably around the world as hunter-gatherers before the Anthropocene.

This is confirmed by a quote from Rewilding.org from Dave Foreman:

"Some 30 years ago, Dave Brower was promoting Global CPR (Conserve – Protect – Restore) and ecological restoration was being widely promoted. Ecological restoration was about restoring the ecological process (such as making a wetland) but not so concerned with the native species that may have been lost. I meant rewilding to instead be about wilderness restoration – restoring wildness with native species and processes. So, let us all remember that rewilding comes from wilderness recovery (or restoration)."

While there are many people focused on the Rewilding of land and ecosystems, something that I am absolutely all for, they are missing a key ingredient in the mix that can leave you with a sour taste in your mouth: Humans.

They seem to have a definition of ‘Wild’ that somehow does not include humanity. They seem to think that for something to be “wild” we have to remove humanity from the picture altogether, but the truth is that humans, in their truest nature, are wild.

So there is another idea of Rewilding, one that involves the process of not only Rewilding our synthetically ravaged planet, but ourselves as well.

That’s what this discussion is all about.

But, Before we can really talk about how to Rewild ourselves we have to take a dive into where we have come with our modern world and why we have a need to have this conversation in the first place...

Kids will instictually remove their shoes and shirts to get sunshine on their skin and bare feet on the ground.

The Modern World: A Toxic Lifestyle

It's plain to see that so many today are sick with chronic illnesses or “dis-ease”. As a society, we are generally depressed and unfulfilled due to a disconnection from source, from nature, of which we are, as a result of our modern lifestyles.

In our fast-paced modern world, marked by technological wonders and urban landscapes, we find ourselves at a crossroads. The very progress that has elevated our lives to unprecedented heights has also led us down a path of environmental degradation, disconnection from nature, and even health issues on a holistic level(Physical, Mental, and Emotional).

Modernization has brought undeniable advantages, but it has also ushered in a slew of problems that we can no longer ignore. Our environment is being suffocated by pollution and electro-smog, our bodies are assaulted by processed foods, and our mental well-being deteriorating due to the ever-increasing demands of our digital lives. This toxic amalgamation of factors has made it glaringly clear that the path we're on is unsustainable, not only for our planet but for our species and the individual. The need for a shift has never been more apparent.

Consider this: plastic wrap on microwavable foods is toxic, and microwaving exacerbates the danger. Even seemingly harmless products like nail polish are laden with toxicity. The chemicals permeate through your nails, settling in your organs, leading to birth defects, hormone imbalances, and melatonin disruption resulting in sleep disorders. Canned foods, too, carry significant toxicity

The list goes on but I won’t go into detail about all the so-called “Progress” of our modern era that is wreaking so much havoc on life on earth, such as the use of Wireless Communications, LED lights, processed and fake food, and even the way we harness electricity…. I’ll save that for future posts, but one thing is clear:

We, like sheep, have gone astray and the urgent need to address this imbalance has brought the concept of Rewilding to the forefront. Rewilding is not about regressing to prehistoric times but rather about embracing a more harmonious way of living, (re)aligning ourselves with nature’s wisdom for the betterment of our well-being, that will in turn bring about a more happy, fulfilling, and prosperous life for you and everyone you love.

A Path to Rediscovering Our Roots

When we delve into the concept of rewilding in humans, we're essentially talking about a journey back to our raw, unrefined essence. It involves peeling back the layers of modern conditioning that have subdued our instincts and stifled our connection with nature. It's a conscious effort to reshape our lifestyles and cultures into something that transcends the limitations of our current domestication or, dare I say, enslavement.

Now listen, before you get scared and run away because you think I want to take away your couch or the roof over your head, that’s not at all what I am saying…

Rewilding is NOT about returning to living in caves and beating each other over the head with clubs… That’s not what it means to be wild. That may be Primal, but not necessarily WILD. In fact, I think there are still plenty of people today who act Primal but not Wild.

We don’t have to ditch all our modern comforts completely. We just need to learn how to have a healthy relationship with them and get them to function in harmony with nature so that we can live the most optimal way, as nature intended.

Rewilding is about breaking free from the constraints of modern civilization and embracing a more natural way of life similar to certain indigenous cultures. It also focuses on using regenerative land management techniques used by hunter-gatherers and horticulturalists helping us to become more in tune with the world around us. It is about forming a deeper connection with other species and developing our senses to better appreciate the natural world. Ultimately, the goal of rewilding is to create a human culture that is wild and free.

Rewilding is considered a holistic approach to living, as opposed to specific or separate skills, practices, or knowledge.

Within a modern and scientific social context, rewilding entails both experiential and "book knowledge" to produce a community that is both respectful of individual liberties and beneficial to all involved, including all non-human species. Participants in such events and communities directly reap the benefits of the communities' actions and efforts.

Instead of seeking to "return" to an earlier state of human existence or go "back to the land", rewilding seeks to take the experiences and time spent here in civilization and combine the lessons that have been learned from both the past and the present to create a more ideal society

Picture this: Rewilding is like rekindling a long-lost friendship with nature. It's about embracing a life that's more authentic, holistic, and in tune with the natural world. When I mention "wild," I'm referring to our innate state before societal norms boxed us in before we were labeled and categorized into molds that don't quite fit.

It’s remembering a time when we were healthy and vibrant, we ran and played outside all day. We hardly ever got sick, and if we did we knew exactly which plants we needed to get better. We weren’t afraid of the sun, and we got great sleep. We weren’t tired all the time or lacking the energy or motivation to do what we needed or wanted.

Think of ecosystems – when they lack the resources they need, plants wither, animals dwindle, and some species vanish. Similarly, when we detach ourselves from what truly nourishes us, be it activities we're passionate about or the simple joys that make us feel alive, our growth becomes stunted. Our creativity and intuition take a back seat, and we end up conforming to what our family, our society, or the media dictates. We become accustomed to acquiring things we don't need, and before we know it, we're stuck in a cycle that doesn't serve the highest version of ourselves.

We have too many ways to numb out, like comfort, food, cigarettes, alcohol, pills, smartphones, and television. We are detached from the things that make us feel happy and alive, by connection, being in the natural world, effort, and perseverance. Micheal Easter, The Comfort Crisis

On a psychological level, Domestication pressures us to conform, pushing us to meet someone else's expectations of who we should be. We're told how to look, how to think, and what roles to play. Sit down, shut up, and do what you’re told.

This taming process leaves us feeling drained, detached, and exposed to the snares of life. These traps often come in the form of unfulfilling jobs, toxic relationships, or misguided ventures. They trap us in a loop of slavery, steering us far away from our true selves and our genuine path.

When we live out of sync with the natural rhythms of the earth and our own bodies, we become lost, sick, confused, and we lose our sense of purpose. It's easy to forget that for nature to flourish, it requires the elements: earth, air, water, fire, and Sacred Sound. And so do we. We are nature after all.

In essence, rewilding is our way of breaking free. It's about undoing the taming, shedding the constraints, and rediscovering who we really are. It's not about rejecting the present world, but about weaving the wisdom of nature into our modern lives. It's time to steer away from those dead-end paths and journey toward our true north, toward a life that resonates with our wild, unapologetic essence and live in Sovereignty.

This is the (Middle) Way

We have made ReWilding a practice in our daily lives and have seen great returns in overall health in all our bodies; physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, etc…

So, our passion and goal is to inspire YOU to ReWild your life one step at a time by sharing practical tips and ways that we reconnect with our wild nature from food and diet to bio-optimizing tools that help us rest and recover, to different practices that have been used by our ancestors to have a vibrant and radical life.

Again, Rewilding is not about disconnecting the electricity from your house, though that would save you a great deal of money, nor does it require that we all throw our cell phones into the fires of Mount Doom, though that might be best…

What I am proposing though, is that we start asking questions. Why isn’t this working so well? Why am I so tired all the time? Why do I get sick so often? Why do I get recurring headaches? Why do I lack motivation? What am I passionate about? Why do I care so much about what others think of me? How can I be better? How can WE be better?

These, and much more, are questions we have asked ourselves, and they have led us down a path of healing, surrender, and the rediscovery of so much ancient wisdom that has made life exciting again. It has brought so much joy and vitality back into the everyday.

This is the Middle Way of Rewilding, finding the perfect balance between modern technology and our natural way of being. Embracing modern advances but also staying in tune with the rhythms and processes of the earth.

We still utilize modern tools such as WiFi, Computers, electricity, etc., and modern comforts such as mattresses, cars, and shoes…. But we see where the flaws, overuse, and abuse of such things have led us to be out of balance with the natural harmony of how our body and the body of the earth flow.

In all things, we seek balance and moderation. We know these things have the potential to enhance our lives but they also have the potential to bring harm if not kept in their proper place.

To a better future for Mankind

The purpose and heart behind Rewilding is to ultimately bring humanity forward into a future where we are thriving. And humanity can not thrive as a species unless all other species and the earth herself are thriving. We are intimately connected with the entire ecosystem on this planet and I think we tend to forget that.

As we learn once again to honour where we have come from, the earth will teach us how to move in harmony with its natural rhythms and cycles. As we listen to the great wisdom of our ancestors and of the indigenous tribal cultures, we will once again find our correct inner spirit. Once we have this as our anchor, we can graft our modern technologies onto the old wisdom and the result will be truly transcendent. This is the great secret of preservation.

This is just the beginning of a long and exciting journey. I hope you can catch the vision for what we can become when we live in true alignment with nature. I am excited for you to join us as we continue to expose the ways that we have broken this alignment and explore the solutions there are to reharmonize our world.

In future posts, we will be diving deep into this topic and the ways that you can begin the process of Rewilding yourself and your immediate environment.

For now, get your free guide to begin the process of Rewilding with what I believe is one of the most important and foundational pillars of health: Sleep.

About the Author
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Ben Figueiredo

I make a living as a filmmaker & Website Designer, Telling Stories, creating content for businesses, entrepreneurs and even couples getting married. As a Five on the Enneagram, I love learning. Absorbing as much knowledge I can. I am into Biohacking, holistic wellness, and Rewilding so that I can be the best version of me to enjoy life with my family connecting with nature, our community, and God.

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