Rewilding Our Soul
Our natural being is a reflection of the natural world – complex, wild, and untamed ….
THE SUMMER of my nineteenth year, I set out for the wilds of Alaska with only my backpack and an unquenchable thirst for life. Not the safe, packaged, manicured life I grew up with in suburbia, but the real thing—raw, primal life. Though I couldn’t have articulated it at the time, I was compelled by a deep longing for wildness. As a teenage boy, my soul had been insistently whispering that some vitally important and alluring element was missing from the secure life my parents and society expected of me; and I knew I needed to leave “normal” society to find it.
Hiking up onto a glacier a few thousand feet above the forest floor—where literally no humans had set foot for many years—I set up camp directly on the glacial ice. As a storm blew in that night, gale force winds threatened, reminding me of just how fragile we are in the greater scheme of the ecosystems of Gaia. Out in the wild, thousands of miles from civilization, on that long first night I was initiated by nature in all her rawness and wild power, as the storms raged around me.
Over that summer, at times I would sleep on raw mountain peaks under the full moon, without a tent or sleeping bag, nestled into a snug of granite rock, looking up into the infinite night sky above me and communing with the vast beauty of this wildness—a magnificent beauty that etched itself into the depths of my soul.
Alaska is untamed nature for thousands of miles; 99.9 percent of it does not even have roads or fences. It is unbounded. In these immense stretches of undisturbed land, the humming energetic field of the Earth can be felt in a way that is impossible in the civilized world. It is like the difference between stargazing from within a brightly lit city compared to looking into the dark skies of a remote mountain top. When the background glow of civilization vanishes, perception becomes clear. Our primal senses switch on. An invitation is extended to join nature’s resonance.
During my adventure into the wild, living deep in the boreal forest, I carried only toothpaste, a wool hat, a rain suit, and two changes of clothes. It was a several-day hike into the woods from the nearest gravel road, which was itself miles from civilization. I was a world away from conveniences we have come to rely on—such as grocery stores, tap water, bathrooms or medical care. Anything I ate was what I caught or had boated in.
The first journey to Alaska is disorienting, if not downright shocking; it is the primal shock of feeling the true wilds for the first time, and the realization that something wild within us has been living in captivity—tamed, domesticated, neutered. Long dormant genetic memories begin to stir. You begin to sense for the first time, not at a cognitive level but at a primal feeling level, that you yourself are a part of this wildness, not separate.
For more than two months I slept on the belly of the earth in remote forests every night, allowing Mother Gaia to infuse me with her energies, to take me into her rhythms, to take me into her womb. I bathed in the cold of her northern oceans. I ate her offerings of fish and game. I accepted her many gifts and allowed her to teach me. My perceptions altered, my sense of time warped, and the subtle, but consuming background compulsion that I had to “do” anything other than just be a human creature vanished. My own primal nature had synchronized and merged with Gaia. What an incredible homecoming. I could no longer feel where my own boundaries ended and nature’s began.
Walking down to Resurrection Bay every morning, seeing the glory of the snow-capped peaks that run to the water’s edge, and then jumping into that ocean water—so cold that it takes your breath away—I was immersed in primal aliveness. It is only in retrospect that I began to understand what had happened to me in the woods of Alaska, and what drew me there to begin with. And it was only after years of unsuccessfully attempting to integrate those experiences into my “civilized” life that I eventually learned that it was impossible. You cannot fit the wildness into a box of ownership, separated off by fences, roads, boundaries and concrete. Civilization itself must bend, not nature.
Just as the wildness of our soul cannot fit into society’s vision of what it should be, likewise, the civilized parts of myself needed to give way to my innate wildness. My soul needed to take the lead.
And this was only the beginning. In Alaska, I was a solo journeyman, a lone wolf, independent. Like many men, I thought that freedom was to be found in solitude, meditation, and contemplation. Due to my youth at the time, I could not see that my longing for union with Gaia and her natural wildness was also a longing for the untamed, wild, feeling nature of my own self — my feminine or yin aspects — and the forgotten path of feminine wisdom. Gaia or Earth has always been envisioned as a mother or feminine spirit. I desired to truly meet the feminine in all her wild and beautiful elements, and to remember how the masculine was an integral part of this vast, dynamic beauty.
This return to balance and harmony is the essence of Biomancy, an ancient way of bio-magic that integrates and unites all the elements of creation. A deep rebirth comes from this alchemical union and embodiment in devotion to Sophia, the Living Spirit of Earth, who expresses in the magnificence of our ecosystems. For it is from this communion with the feminine birth templates that our deep elemental wildness emerges.
Later on, in my summers away from medical school, I balanced the intellectual learning experiences of the medical system by becoming a wilderness guide in the ancient mountains of Appalachia. Once again it was the feminine spirit of nature, the wild voices of rushing rivers, the greening power of the plants, the magical essence of the wild creatures, and the quiet sanctity of mountain vistas filled with silence and awe that initiated me. Nature is our true teacher.
Sleeping in the arms of the forest, under a tapestry of midnight starlight, Mother Nature invited me home again, a return to her Great Love. A love that includes the wildness, that includes our creature bodies, that includes the Earth. Love is our birthright, and within love lives the greatest freedom.
In discovering the western alchemical path of Sophia, I found a wisdom stream that integrated the magic potentials of our biology with the deep mystery of psyche and soul, and the planetary womb consciousness of Mother Earth. I felt welcomed by a lineage of thinkers, practitioners and mystics who were devoted to a holistic vision of what it meant to be an embodied human held in Gaia’s web.
At the age of nineteen, I was searching for what I now know to be the greatest human desire—the longing to merge, the longing for union, for reconnection. I wanted to be one with the wildness of the earth, and as it turns out, I wanted to be one with the Mother.
I instinctively knew that I was being called by the Divine Mother at the deepest soul level. This call of the Divine Feminine became the guiding light of my life.