Reclaiming the Soil of Our Belonging
“Natural life is the nourishing soil of the soul…. It is the body, the feeling, the instincts, which connects us with the soil.” — C.J. Jung
“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” — Jiddu Krishnamurti
I got domesticated early, one might say. Least ways, the inductions and processes into my domestication began certainly as a toddler.
My father was not one to withhold the belt, or the hand, in the care of children not behaving as he wished. “I thought you had too much pride,” he later confessed by way of explanation for his liberal use of corporeal punishment. It was a practice, in my case, he came to regret as my anger brewed into hatred of him and became a wedge driving a distance between us neither of us seemed capable of reaching across.
Yet it is in the nature of all cultures and families to ‘shape their children’ into desired replicas of themselves in some way. We cannot fault them for this seeking of confirmation and legacy, or shall we say validation, of their rightness in the world. It is a strategy that served tribal cultures well throughout most of human history, least ways cultures living in sustainable relationships with the landscapes and soil of their embeddedness.
In the fragmented and uprooted times of modernity however, at the personal level of our living, many of us are left with a hunger for validation and expressions of our own nature, of what is often referenced these days as our authenticity. We rightly aim for trueness to our selves. And in a culture such as our own, one fundamentally at odds with the nature of nature, the task and challenge of individualizing a life affirming self, one capable of meeting Life with a resounding, “Yes!”, is no small feat.
This restoration of the self—to its Self—is what mythologist Joseph Campbell came to call, The Hero’s Journey. The pattern expounded by Campbell is a monomyth, meaning it reveals a cross cultural template consisting broadly of the Call to Adventure, Separation, Initiation, the Abyss or Wasteland, Transformation and the Return.
This pattern is akin to what we might think of as the process of ‘rewilding the self’ as well; for rewilding is truly reclaiming what one holds most dear in life from the jaws of that which would use our life force for ends of its own. What drives this re-identification of the self with nature, as nature, is an inner hunger for harmony with the truth of our being.
The psychological field of Self-determination Theory calls these internalized voices and forces “introjects;” that is, they live inside us as inserted bytes of patterned thinking, feeling, sensing and perceiving as a kind of DNA to our conditioning. Introjects tell us what we can see and feel and think and what behaviors are permissible or not in the world. When such social DNA interferes with our ability to live lives of freedom and joy however, they essentially become what ecologists term “parasites” and even “predators.”
This in fact is the ecological role beliefs and worldviews and behaviors and patterns of perceiving and feeling and sensing do when they no longer serve the embodied life force—the individual’s good life and well-being—but rather another master. This master might be a religion or political or economic system or even a relationship…. All individually self-destructive behavioral patterns can rightly be perceived through a lens of parasitism or predation and not individualized pathology.
This ecological frame is not an excuse for the absence of personal response-ability but the granting of freedom in knowing the human self as an ecological structure, an ecological self. This self is a dynamic construction arising out of a weaving and flow of relationships and is non-existent outside of such, even as a flower’s existence is woven of sun and water and air and soil….
This ecological self gains freedom-of-being and expressing and of transforming not available to the self that knows and identifies itself solely as object. This journey of restoration, of the human self to its truer nature and self, to the freedoms of its own self-construction through relational dynamics, is a rewilding of the self. To rewild the self is to reclaim the birthrights of innate worth and belonging and meaning-in-being from a culture unconsciously hell-bent on self-destruction through a stance of superiority over nature.
To reorient one’s life and living in accord with the natural dynamics of innate worthiness, interbeing and belonging is to deprogram the cultural DNA and conditioning , the primal unconscious beast that would have us serve gods and stories not of our choosing.
This is the predicament my father was in as he lived a life in service to a God and viral religious dogma that owned him and not him owning it. By this I mean, he did not own the story he was living; the worldview and story owned him. He could not see himself from outside the story of his inheritance. (How hard can that be? Really!)
He could not see that a worldview story of spiritual warfare, of good against evil, necessitated a domino like crescendoing of beliefs in innate self-insufficiency seeded by his contamination with evil, his evil nature given him by his God. His sinful nature required the physical blood sacrifice of a deity in exchange for the grace-of-love from a source outside himself, paradoxically compounding his guilt with responsibility for the killing of God’s son.
This is a story, literally understood, which can only have a nasty ending. It necessarily drives its cultural adherents into an unconscious rebellion of spirit against the untruth of their separation and unworthiness. I speak personally here as one who spent too much of my life caught in unconscious rebellion…rather than living in the life affirmations of joy and wholeness, the soil of our inherent belonging.
If one can come to this or any of the world’s religious stories not as lawyers but as poets, they will find the Christ, the Buddha… the Tree of Life itself living vitally within and already rooted into this soil of our belonging.
ReWilding the Self will take you to a series of posts on this blog exploring this theme.
Re-Wild Your Self—for the wild ride of our times links to the previous post with information about an upcoming program by that name and another youtube video exploring Re-Wilding the Self—encounters with presence in nature.
You can currently find a listing of this and other programs cultivating this inner story of our belonging here, on my non-profit programing partner’s website: www.leadfeather.org