Rewilding Our Mythos
Howling to the Wolf Moon -- January’s full moon, a time when the howling of wolves was often heard in the deepest cold of winter.
Wolves, like beavers, are a keystone species. Their presence has an exponentially positive influence on the biodiversity, health, and even geologic shape of a landscape. These are two remarkable creatures we have so much to learn from. Wolves help control deer and elk populations that exhaust aspen and willow important for riparian ecosystems. The carcasses left behind sustain innumerable creatures from scavenger species to microorganisms.
Beaver create habitat diversity and water abundance for life to thrive. Native people across the continent have stories which exemplify the respect and consideration they’ve had for these animals as kin and as teachers. People coexisted with these animals for many years before the colonial days of mass extermination.
Both wolf and beaver populations have struggled over the last two centuries due to westward expansion not long after America’s Declaration of Independence. Both have suffered eradication from settlers killing for sport or due to perceived “nuisance” and threat to livestock and agriculture. It's difficult to imagine how the landscapes of America would look today if the story had been different.
“Gray wolves are relatively easy to work with. They're wonderful ecological generalists. All they need really, is access to something bigger than themselves to live on… What gets in the way of wolf recovery is the myth of the wolf. This myth that would have you believe that gray wolves can exercise their predatory will on a whim. Nothing could be further from the truth…” says Mike Phillips, Director of the Turner Endangered Species Fund.
Now, around 200 years later, the U.S. is looking to these species as keys for rewilding the American West… a strategy foundational to the success of the 30x30 Initiative recently adopted at COP15. This is hugely hopeful news and progress worth howling about!
Recall in May 2019 – A global assessment report was sent out from the UNEP network regarding the unprecedented global acceleration of species extinction. It stated: “1 million of the world’s estimated 8 million total species of plants and animals are currently threatened with extinction”, ecosystem degradation being the leading cause affecting 40% of that threatened population.
Last month, December 2022 – The UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) concluded with an international adoption of the 30x30 Initiative and an aim for global focus towards stopping and eventually reversing our current trajectory of biodiversity loss.
By 2030: Protect 30% of Earth’s lands, oceans, coastal areas, inland waters; Reduce harmful government subsidies by $500 billion annual; Cut food waste in half; Safeguard the rights of indigenous peoples as contributing stewards of nature.
By 2050: Meet the global vision of living in harmony with nature.
"Rewilding aims to re-establish vital ecological processes. These typically involve key native animals, restoring key species, and… restoring predators," says Professor William Ripple, Oregon State University ecologist and collaborator on the 20-person authored publication Rewilding The American West (BioScience: vol 72, Issue 10, Oxford University Press, Aug 2022). “Wolves and beavers should lead the restoration effort because the canids can control burgeoning populations of deer and elk while beavers can help restore landscapes by building dams that create watery oases.”
The myth of wolves as a threat or problem echoes similar stories which spurred the mass eradication of beavers and the inhumane treatment of native peoples in early America. Perceived threat is the most convenient and influential fuel in justifying an aggressive response. A myth can become propaganda, an easy smoke & mirrors method for perpetuating public misinformation, prioritizing resource exploitation for short-term economic and political gains, and turning people against each other and the true riches of evolving with Nature’s abundance. Wolves may hide in sheep's clothing, they say... Perhaps in setting the real wolves and beavers free to remind us how to harmonize an ecosystem, we might learn how to rewild the roots of our own humanity with the Earth.
Traditional cultures have long recognized the interdependence of all life and the value that all organisms have in relationship with their ecosystems… humans included. In seeing ourselves as part of the ecosystem, we engage the capacity to participate with a wholistic view of energy exchange. Only by living at eye-level with our environment can we play a cooperative role in regenerative systems which create natural abundance and thus biodiversity, benefitting all.
The time is ripe for new mythos and visions that can lead us into what feels to be a very potent and unwritten future. I look around at the people in my local community and in my wider circles beyond. I look at the wild beauty outside the window of my little house in the woods. What I see is great potential to collaborate towards the common dream of co-creating with Nature together. Through the eyes of an ecosystem, everyone has value. Everyone can be a part of a greener vision if we want it.
Through my inquiry into the wild richness of a new and relative ecologically-centered mythos (as opposed to the anthropocentric), my senses awaken. With the guidance of all the senses we were born to appreciate this world with, to investigate this world with, the exploration of the organism and the ecosystem and the self emerges, wild and woven within the tapestry.
Life is burgeoning at the edges of every open thought and curious encounter.
The invitation is a birdsong just outside my door...
What wildness do you dream to be apart of? ...do you dream of for your world?
“Just as mycorrhizal fungi map the relationships in a forest, so do myths map the specific relationships of a community rooted in place.”
Sophie Strand, The Flowering Wand: Rewilding the Sacred Masculine.