I have read with interest over the last few months about people attending rewilding courses here in the UK and in the States. Though I have never attended anything like this in my life, I feel a strong empathy with the need that people have to remove the consumerist and self interested individualist thinking that has been rammed down our throats since the days of the Reagan and Thatcher Governments of the early 1980s. This mindset offers its buyers an ‘I’m above nature’ rational thinking approach that situates them on a pedestal at the centre of the isolated universe of the ego self. But the hangover from this absurd and selfish way of thinking is beginning to kick in with many people through mounting financial debt, a deep unhappiness with the drudgery of employment, issues of identity and the inevitable depression and mental health pressure that comes from adopting anti-human ideas and ways of thinking.
Being feral, a personal perspective
From a personal perspective I have escaped much of this way of thinking, not because I am smarter than others, on the contrary, I have always been quite feral in my approach to life and have trusted intuition and gut feelings most of the time. My own feral education began as a kid growing up in densely populated and run down Council Housing in Salford in Manchester, like many kids before the advent of the repetitious button pressing of indoor console culture, I played outdoors an awful lot, made dens in parks, got covered in mud and swam in seemingly dangerous stretches of water during the summer months. When I hit my teens there were a number of occasions when I had been out to gigs and clubs and ended up in a state where I was a bit worse for wear by the end of the evening, which resulted in me falling asleep on patches of grass and hills near to advertising hoardings and the newly emerging shopping multiples, I can clearly remember on a couple of occasions waking up in the morning and watching breath taking sunrises, and feeling the cool welcoming damp of the morning dew whilst breathing in the scent of different grasses that grew wildly within the cultivated urban grasses.
Falling in love with nature and a carefree sense of freedom
When I became involved in the New Traveler culture during the 1980s I thought nothing of taking bits and pieces of discarded fruit and vegetables from supermarket skips and cooking them up into a meal on a small fire on either travelers site, or a secluded woody area if I was on the move, this then became almost like an ongoing practice for me when hitch hiking, on two occasions I actually got lost in the moment of hitching and let it take me to a remote area of Wales instead of the intended festival site where I was initially heading to, on one occasion I found a pine forest in West Wales, and spent two weeks camping their on my own, only nipping into the local town to scavenge for discarded food and buy tobacco and cigarette papers. The other spontaneous feral journey around this time was spent hitch hiking round small villages in Wiltshire, this time I would spend the day busking in whatever village I had stopped at, playing either an Irish penny whistle or a battered old three string acoustic guitar, in the evenings I would sit in various fields and woods either solo or with people whom I had met and smoke hashish from an Indian ceremonial chillum whilst watching the sun go down and listen to nature relaxing and winding down into the calm silence of night. Amongst other feral friends that I got to know we would often have conversations round the fire about the ‘End of the Age of Reason’ and the collapse of industrial society, these conversations were far from grim and even further from depressing, they were filled with our optimistic notions that one day human beings would put nature before profit, and peoples creative and artistic skills before the mindless drudgery of locked in employment. This hasn’t happened yet, but there are many who are making this happen within their own lives and the lives of the communities that they have become part of, it is worthwhile reading Tom Hodgkinson’s amusing and brilliant work ‘How to be Idle‘ and Marks Boyle’s equally influential work ‘Moneyless Man’ to give an insight into more modern perspectives of what I am trying to get at.
It is very difficult to sum up the thinking of being feral for a number of reasons, firstly there are many occasions where the thought process takes a back seat and you just go out and do something based on a flash thought or gut instinct, and secondly modern day rational language itself cannot fully explain the mental and thinking side of being feral. I am not here proposing anti-intellectualism, far from it, being feral and being a raw stripped down to the basics human being has its own kind of intellect for want of a better word and there are constants that I have gained throughout all of this and they are the warmth of friendship and community, the love of nature, and the love of the elements that provide the glue and lubrication for life on our beautiful planet. The warmth and inspiration that I found in what some would refer to as a precarious existence has given me some sense of security beyond the material, something which I will carry, and will carry me to the end of my days.