It’s not just about land management, Wilderculture is a truly integral approach.
Have you ever looked back on the strong opinions you had and passionately forced upon others in your twenties or thirties with a warm glow of shame?
At the time there was simply no possible way there could be any other truth than that. In reality, at each phase of our life there’s a partial truth in what we consider at the time to be fact.
An integral approach understands that as we develop through different stages we learn and understand things in a different way.
You can see from developmental models such as Clare. W. Graves’ ‘Emergent Cyclic Levels of Existence Theory’ as humans ‘emerge’ we transition through a series of world views and modes of operation, incorporating a little of each as we move on to the next. The study of these stages over the last hundred years is deep and wide-ranging covering thousands of cultures across the world – it holds true in them all. You can’t skip over any, and all societies and individuals start at zero and move upwards as far as their conditions allow.
We shouldn’t be embarrassed when looking humbly back on earlier stages of personal development, just as we should realise that what we believe to be true now is probably a small piece of a more ‘whole’ view point that we will understand better later. If we progress that is!
Society needs people who are driven, full of energy and ‘empire building’ to progress and get things done, just as we need people who consider the minorities, listen to all views and be diplomatic. We sometimes need the evidence that can come from hard science, just as we sometimes need the help of those who have a deep spiritual connection. But most of all we need more people and organisations with a worldcentric perspective who value the partial truths in everyone’s opinion and every situation and can find unique, integral and holistic ways to operate in the world.
Although a society will be made up of individuals on their own journey, they will influence and be influenced by the overall stage of that societies development. If a countrys’ centre of gravity is mostly in ‘orange’ then its society will be caught up in the ‘achieve’ mentality, out to be the best in the world, focused on self-interest, not recognise spiritual wisdom, and will value material wealth beyond all else. Truth will be judged from a scientific stance, which is woefully easy to twist to support any agenda. We will elect leaders that represent this ideology and will defend our ideas. We will not recognise another way.
If a society is centered on ‘green’- which many Western Societies are – we’ll become focused on community, fighting for the rights of minorities and getting consensus in all things. At its healthiest green was the start of the civil rights movement, it developed feminism, launched the global environmental movement and led us to understand that most things need to have a context to be understood. It hates hierarchies, thinking of them as a way to class and categorise people or animals so we can oppress them. People acting from this stage hate anyone who doesn’t agree with this view point and, ironically, categorises them as ‘evil’, ’oppressors’, ’fascists’, ‘environmental rapists.’
When green doesn’t manage the ‘leap’ to a more integral or holistic view point it can become warped, throwing up many unexpected events such as Brexit, the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. The process is explained beautifully in this introduction to an ‘integral life’ podcast about Donald Trump.
But as the decades unfolded, green increasingly began veering into extreme, maladroit, dysfunctional, even clearly unhealthy, forms. Its broad-minded pluralism slipped into a rampant and runaway relativism (collapsing into nihilism), and the notion that all truth is contextualized (or gains meaning from its cultural context) slid into the notion that there is no real universal truth at all, there are only shifting cultural interpretations (which eventually slid into a widespread narcissism).
These cultural forces have created an anti-green backlash which Donald Trump, our most unlikely candidate, rode all the way to the White House.
In a nutshell; you can’t judge people for judging people.
We get into trouble when those who want to see the best for all societies try to move everyone into their world view. It can often occur when emerging societies, who are at a low level of development, are encouraged to ‘skip’ hundreds of years of progressions through important shifts in culture, spirituality, relationships and technology so we can all be blissfully on ‘the same page.’ It simply doesn’t work. We can’t blast in, then walk away, from countries we have ‘liberated.’ These countries must develop their own culturally suitable ways of progressing through the stages. All we’ve done is blown out their foundations in the hope of adding a top floor.
Equally, we can’t barge into land ownership situations and assume that we know best and everyone should share our wish to see mass ecological restoration. Our land has been centre stage to all these emerging human stages of development and a rich culture is woven into every inch of it. The people who own, live on, pass over, work with, and obtain their livelihoods from these lands will be seeing the situation from wildly differing viewpoints – each with very valid points to make. To remove the structures and opportunity for people to move themselves through the natural healthy stages of development, which yes, include doing things we don’t think is right. We’re denying them the chance to grow, and they’ll be stuck in that view point which will inevitably warp and manifest into unhealthy expression and destructive backlashes.
The world has become toxically complicated by ever increasing globalisation, easy access to the material ‘benefits’ of our supposedly developed world, and the integration of cultures through mass migration of societies into communities of varying stages of thinking. If all the inclusive societies were themselves integral or holistic there wouldn’t be a problem, but they’re not, they’re simply at a slightly higher stage and still only live and think by their own vision of what is ‘right.’
Ken Wilber, probably the most famous expert in the developmental stages of human emergence has produced a diagram that illustrates the four ‘quadrants’ of all situations, be it your family life, your farm, or your conservation organisation. AQAL is a way of showing that all perspectives and stages need to be included for something to be truly integral.
In Wilderculture we’re trying hard to incorporate as many world views and modes of learning as possible.
We often overlook the I, especially as many of us are hovering in ‘green.’ We want to sacrifice ourselves and our place in the world to nature because we don’t believe in humans being ‘better’ than nature and we are deeply distressed by the harm we have caused. We’re not better, but we are at a higher developmental stage to the plants and animals within natural settings. We have a cognitive ability that can influence things both metaphysically and physically – that makes us different, but it also brings a huge responsibility.
One could say that we should all eat a vegan diet and ‘give back’ areas of wilderness to ‘wild species’ as it’s better for the planet; we’ll just have to just suck it up and get on with it, full stop! (Which incidentally I don’t believe is better for the planet.) But to think that we can sacrifice the I for the ‘greater good’ is to not include ourselves in the greater good and therefore is fighting against nature itself. There are probably too many of us on the world now and it’s certainly the case that our population is out of balance, but it’s simply impossible to ignore the importance of our physical and spiritual connection with nature – it’s integral.
If we change, the world changes – Bill Plotkin.
Bill Plotkin has explored this nature connection deeply in his work, and offers some wonderful wisdom on the stages we all go through. He’s studied indigenous cultures around the world who celebrate multiple ‘rites of passage.’ Most healthy culture, it seems, are intuitively aware of the triggers that pull and push us to the next phase of life. He feels that most modern societies recognise only three main psychological transitions in life; birth, puberty and death but that there are in fact eight and that if we successfully navigate adolescence then we need to cross the particularly large ‘leap’ into what he calls ‘adulthood.’ Adulthood is where we become ‘whole’ and start to sing our own unique song to the world. In his view, most of our society never reach psychological adulthood – it seems we have toddlers in some very high places!
Plotkin believes there are virtually no true ‘elders’ anymore. Those who’ve integrated all the stages of psychological development, offered something unique and holistic back to the world, and are available to guide the rest of us through the difficult and unsettling times when we’re transitioning from one stage to the next.
He believes in ‘wholing’ ourselves to helps up move through the stages seamlessly and he puts a large emphasis on the time and way we interact with nature as a great way to transition. He finds long periods in wilderness especially useful for those leaving behind their paradigms and moving into the ‘no man’s land’ that is the gap he calls ‘soul initiation’ before adulthood.
Bill Plotkin suggests that one of the ways we can help people ‘grow up’ is to find contemporary ways to encourage and celebrate the ‘rites of passage’ that our traditional cultures understood to be so important in producing healthy, balanced people and functional, supportive societies.
We need innovative ways of creating a healthy modern culture that accepts people onto a conveyor belt of development at whatever point they find it interesting and nurtures them until they ‘get’ the next form of expression and so on…
We’re in the business of creating a healthy culture – a Wilderculture.
That’s why in our Wilderculture basic training we learn what our ‘real’ job is as land managers, livestock keepers or people working with food.
It’s a truly integral training program that looks at the human, the animal and land and how everything is linked and connected. We look at how all health is rooted in healthy soil and teach ways of thinking and managing more holistically. We cover the science, wisdom from lost cultures and new and innovative ways of managing land so it can support humans and wildlife.
Our Rewilding Breaks such as ‘Castaway Carna‘ are about our interaction with the land as well as about supporting people in finding their own ‘niche.’ By interacting with wild spaces, exposing ourselves to people who think in a different way, and learning about how we could nourish ourselves in a truly regenerative way, we can find new ways of creating the functions of a healthy society.
Our Wildavore nutrition online training is about how to look after our human, which is inextricably linked to how we need to look after our soil, plants, wildlife and livestock.