The Lone Mountain Man


#61

This site is about rewilding. There is a definition, which is on the splash page by the way;

To return to a more natural state; the process of un-doing domestication.

Living alone in the woods is not “natural” by any definition of the word. Rewilding is defined by the exploration of the definition above to the fullest extent, and told here by people who actually are seeking that, and not a solitary escape into the woods. This site is about returning to a natural way of life, which means one that includes a family, and extended families enacting a hunter-gatherer economy.

Rewilding is not a euphamism for primitive living or survival skills or TEOTWAWKI or Doomers or nature-lovers or ecovillages or any of those subcultures. You can practice “rewilding” alone, but you’ll never live wild that way, which is the whole point of rewilding. You’ll reach a dead end. That’s the point of this thread; to point out the futility and unsustainability of the lone hermit.

If you can’t see the difference between primitive skills, survival skills, and rewilding than you don’t belong at this site. If you don’t understand that humans are social organisms, and are not fully human without a culture, you don’t belong at this site. If you think that a mountain man is living wild, you don’t understand hunter-gatherer economics which means you don’t understand rewilding, which means you don’t belong at a site about rewilding.


#62

I agree with Scout about what rewilding means, but I also wanted to emphasize that rewilding represents a journey, and all of us face limitations in various ways that may take a long time to overcome (if ever). It seems that many of us face a huge difficulty in finding/creating a community to rewild with, and therefore we struggle along the path alone for now - not by choice, but by necessity.

Jessica


#63

While i view “rewilding” in broad strokes the same way as Scout paints his picture, i don’t agree on any one definition of the concept. The obstacles one faces are different for each of us and any arguments could be found pointing out how a persons attempts arent all the way succesfull in eyes of the commenter.

Some of us have tribes and drive cars. Some of us have no tribes but walk the land.

Its a difficult position we are in no?

take care all y’all


#64

I’m not so quick to write off Wenatcheeguy’s expression of his personal path. It’s his own choice and he is sharing it with us. He’s not advocating that it is the be-all-end-all of rewilding. If I’m interpreting him correctly (and I apologize if I’m not), his path is a jumping-off point–it sounds like he wants to find a human community eventually. If he doesn’t feel like a member of any particular human community yet, then he just doesn’t feel it yet. That’s something that can’t be forced, just like the primitive-skills facet of rewilding can’t be forced either.


#65

Urban Scout, can you substantiate the following claims that you have made so authoritatively:

-"Living alone in the woods is not "natural" by any definition of the word"
-"You can practice "rewilding" alone, but you'll never live wild that way"
-"humans are social organisms, and are not fully human without a culture"

Let us not forget the years when Crazy Horse lived alone in the Black Hills and hundreds of illegal miners turned up dead. By your definitions, Crazy Horse, during this period, was not natural, was not living wild and was not fully human.


#66

I don’t think this alters the definition of rewilding Scout gave above, since Crazy Horse didn’t live his whole life that way, just for a certain period of his life in order to accomplish a specific purpose (that never would have happened if civilization hadn’t come to conquer and destroy). During that time, he probably lived in a wild way, but I doubt he would ever have thought of it as “natural” (for someone of his people, anyway).

I feel pretty confident that he would never have made the life he lived then into a goal for living in general. I would guess that he endured much heartache during that time, forced to live without his family and community.

Jessica


#67
Let us not forget the years when Crazy Horse lived alone in the Black Hills and hundreds of illegal miners turned up dead. By your definitions, Crazy Horse, during this period, was not natural, was not living wild and was not fully human.

Also, Crazy Horse was raised in a primitive tribe (See Liedloff’s Continuum Concept), for the most part. I would think it would have been much easier for him psychologically to live alone in the wild compared to a person raised in industrial civilization. Arno Gruen made this point in the interview Derrick Jensen did with him in Listening to the Land. Gruen used Ishi (On of the last natives captured in North America) as an example.

Scout is writing to a civilized audience.

Curt


#68

Let us also remember that even Ishi couldnt take being alone after (I think 8 ) years and left his homeland, wandering aimlessly. Granted, he witnessed his entire people die, but that could be something we will also have to endure before long.


#69

I’d like to clarify some things here. This site does in fact have a definition of rewilding. It represents a continuum from a domesticated life to a wild one. The arrow of rewilding always points to a natural, wild life. We further define a natural way of life for humans by looking at the 3 million years of history that we have lived on this plant in contrast to the 10,000 or so years we have lived domesticating ourselves and the world. The goal of “rewilding” is to once again live as families enacting hunter-gatherer land management and economics.

While everyone feels a different calling in rewilding, if the end goal is not a culture of families enacting hunter-gatherer land management and economics, then you are not rewilding. Rewilding is defined by the end goal. There is no one right way to rewild, but there is a common understanding of what it means to live an authentic wild life, and that defines whether or not you are authentically rewilding.

The discussions here rest in the hands of this understanding; in order to have a cohesive community, we must agree on these things. To build a rewilding culture we must have a common story. This website is about creating a community based on that story. If that story doesn’t catch your fancy, there are plenty of other sites that discuss the lone mountain man story, such as Paleo Planet.

Hey Blue Heron,

My reaction to Wenatcheeguy’s post came from his initial statement:

I am another that would have to disagree with the idea that rewilding solitarily is unsustainable.

This entire thread has been devoted (along with several other threads of the same nature) to showing how solitary human survival is unnatural. This statement implies that he disagrees with the definition of rewilding that sits on the splash page of this site. I’m not judging or “writing off” his experiences or decisions; I’m pointing out that they are not the definition of rewilding we use on this site. It doesn’t mean that I think his experience is invalid, it doesn’t mean that living alone for a time isn’t a part of rewilding. But by saying the above, it frames the picture of how one sees living alone, and that’s not the story of rewilding as we define it here.

[quote=“Mugwort, post:65, topic:254”]Urban Scout, can you substantiate the following claims that you have made so authoritatively:

[quote]-“Living alone in the woods is not “natural” by any definition of the word”
[/quote]

[quote]-“You can practice “rewilding” alone, but you’ll never live wild that way”
[/quote]

Let us not forget the years when Crazy Horse lived alone in the Black Hills and hundreds of illegal miners turned up dead. By your definitions, Crazy Horse, during this period, was not natural, was not living wild and was not fully human. [/quote]

Humans have evolved for 3 million years within a social organization (which we call culture). Natural humans live in cultures of people who interact with the land on a cultural level. You cannot practice cultural land management as an individual. While you can do things as an individual that hunter-gatherer cultures did, you are not a culture of hunter-gatherers. Every animal fits into the community of life in some way. but socially structured animals fit a different way because as a social structure, your entire “group” is like one whole organism. So the group behavior (not the individuals) defines how they species “fits” into the environment. This is why it doesn’t matter what you do as an individual in civilization (buy organic, fair trade, etc) it’s what the group does as a whole. Humans fit into ecosystems as large groups of hunter-gatherers. Living as a wild human implies living in a culture that practices hunter-gatherer land management. So one can never live “wild” as an individual. Not to mention the fact that, well… without producing an offspring you are not sustaining your way of life anyway. You can’t really have a baby by yourself can you? So you “rescue” yourself from civilization only to die a lonely death and help no one else. That’s not rewilding. Even if you had a partner and had a baby. What will that child do when it grows up? Who will it continue the culture with?

If you don’t have a culture, you don’t have a natural way of life. If you don’t have a population, you don’t have a culture. If you don’t have a clear understanding of hunter-gatherer economics, you won’t keep the land healthy. All of these are implicit in rewilding.

Secondly, in hunter-gatherer cultures the skills learned on a solo survival trek were for the purpose of integrating an individual into the larger culture. Lone survival was used for personal reflection and a rite of passage among indigenous peoples. Rarely did it have anything to do with a culture, but more to do with preparing the individual for life in a culture by giving them confidence, self-reliance and a personal vision for how the person can help the culture. I have nothing against going out and doing that, but that is a ritual, a rite, and is not by any means a “sustainable” form of rewilding because by calling it sustainable, you make a ritual sound like the end goal.

Scouts, the military end of hunter-gatherers, lived a solitary life for long periods of time, but again they served a function for a larger culture. They were defined by their culture, not the culture themselves. They were a by-product of a whole culture, not singular.

As for Crazy Horse… Well, no he wasn’t living a wild life at that point because civilization caused a cultural collapse for his people. He was rewilding, not because he was living by himself in the woods but because he was trying to stop civilization and regain his natural way of life of a culture of families enacting hunter-gatherer land management.

Lastly, this site is not a pit-stop for people. If you sign up to this site it’s a commitment to creating a culture here. Every once and a while some asshole signs up and is like, “You can all sit here and talk, I’m gonna go do the real rewilding, who’s with me?” It’s really obnoxious and I’m sick of it. Running away to the wilderness and living primitively with a handful of people is not creating a culture of hunter-gatherer land management. Its more like civil war reenactment; a superficial exploration of historical peoples. We dress like hunter-gatherers, and we have all of their tools, but we don’t actually live like they did (do), because we have no real culture and have no real idea how the culture interacted with the land on a large scale. A bow-drill is not hunter-gatherer land management. Knowing what plants to eat is not a culture of hunter-gatherer land management. Brain-tanning buckskin is not a culture of hunter-gatherer land management. Tools hunter-gatherers used are not a culture of hunter-gatherer land management. They are by-products of it.

All of this means to say that yes, solitary living has it’s place in rewilding. Both as a rite of passage for individuality clarity and as scouts on the edge of a rewilding culture. But when someone says that it, alone, is sustainable that’s just someone with a very different picture of what rewilding means, then the one we have defined here at this site.


#70
Let us also remember that even Ishi couldnt take being alone after (I think years and left his homeland, wandering aimlessly. Granted, he witnessed his entire people die, but that could be something we will also have to endure before long.

I was not trying to make the argument for humans living alone in the woods. I just wanted to point out that humans born and raised in a primitive tribe might have an easier time psychologically adapting to being alone in the woods.

Curt


#71

Thanks for the clarification, Scout, I can better relate to your recent posting. I would like to continue to explore the different opinions about hermits and crones in the rewilding culture, I believe I have something to add to the discussion.
Although there is a general consensus on this topic, I think there is still some contention, especially from my perspective.

I vaguely remember a native story from the pacific northwest about a tribe long ago. These people lived off the salmon and had an easy life. They feasted until they got very large bellies. Eventually people started getting very ill and no medicine man could cure anybody. This was long before the white people reached this great land.

Peoples’ mothers and brothers and neices and grandfathers were dying quickly. The tribe was desperate, it seemed there was some very bad medicine.

This was when a very old, maybe 300 year old man came into the village. Some said they had seen him stalking around the camp, but no on e knew his name. the remaining people quickly gathered to listen to this elder.

He told them his name (I can’t remember) and said that he had a message to share and that he had stayed alive just to share this message for hundreds of years, living alone in the wild land, observing the tribe.

He told them that they had become too greedy, eating the salmon people until their bellies grew large. He said that the spirits were trying to tell them something, and they weren’t listening.

He said that if they wanted to save their people then they would have to give something that they cherished back to the salmon people; the first daughter of every chief would have to give their life by jumping off the high cliffs into the life-giving water at sunrise.

The old man said, “that is all I have to say, now I will go and die.” And he left.

The people held council all day. Some didn’t trust the scary old man, blaming him for the sickness. Some said that it seemed like they were all going to die anyway, why not try it out? In the end they decided that no daughter was to jump off the falls, they could surely find a better way.

The next morning, all the chiefs woke up to find their daughters missing. Every single girl had decided to give her life and had jumped off the cliffs.

That morning, everyone became healthy.

I also remember reading in the book Going Native that some of the Okanogan people of Eastern Washington (Wenatchee area ;)) believe in the Sasquatch. In fact, the name comes from the Salish language family, often meaning “wild people”.
Some of the Okanogan say that there were people long ago who went wild and often lived solitary up in the mountains. They eventually became very powerful and gained the ability to go completely to the spirit world.

The fact is, there are hermits and crones in most cultures. Sometimes they are feared and persecuted by civilized people like the Shivaic Tantra crones, but usually they have great power and are respected by tribal people.

I just found another example of this that comes from the Lakota: http://www.indianlegend.com/lakota/lakota_002.htm

I am not advocating mass hermitage, nor am I claiming it is either glorious or even somewhat easy. I just want people to know that there are great wise ones who live alone in the wild, and sometimes they are even more wild than the local native people. I am sure they can help the rewilding culture, and would be dissapointed if this archetype was left out.


#72

These examples are great for showing that historically, people outside of the influence of civilization that have been hermits, loners, whatever. But does showing that they’ve existed for as long as we remember mean they’re part of a culture? I don’t really think it does.

It can be just as easily be interpreted as human interaction with non-human people who resemble us.


#73

Scout has a subtle point that I think takes some work to see. Absolutely, crones, hermits, solitary sacred people, these folks have always had a role in a healthy rewilding culture. No one wants to leave these people out.

His point, which I agree with, and the inspiration of creating rewild.info as a site for people to come together and talk about these issues, sources in the understanding that we have a lot of addiction recovery to do, as domesticated modern folks.

We do not have a healthy rewilding culture yet, for which a hermit or crone can have a relationship to. Think about this. The hermit, or crone, exist because when they grew up and received all the benefits of attachment-parenting, meaningful group story, and kinship to their Land, at some point someone said to the child "this one has an ability to serve their people in this way - as a gatekeeper on the edge between ‘human’ and ‘non-human’, out alone by themselves.

We belong to a culture of people who do not have this kind of healthy base on which to make decisions. We belong to a culture of people who steal native practices without understanding them, tout their shamanistic credentials, all while never having actually gone through the grueling but holistic lifetime of traditions that inspired the imitation in the first place.

We NEED hermits. We NEED crones. Absolutely. Here, at the beginning, precious few people have the capacity to fill this role in a healthy way. I’ve met many folks claiming this role, and have acquired a healthy skepticism. I’ve noticed that the “freedom in solitude” rewilding meme has short-circuited some grounded healing that could better happen in the context of family and friends.

Rewilding means Family, Village, and Land. If your hermitage and solitary croning operates in a healthy accord with these, of course you can’t go wrong. But, for those leaving today, which family do they serve? For which Village will they act as mediator between human and non-human? Rather than service, I hear folks talking with an air of “you’ll never hear from me again”. Ok, but then you’ve left Family and Village behind. Without a relationship to Family and Village, you fall into the pattern of the Mountain Man. Someone who relates to society as a whole, rejecting it in their solitude, while having no one they actually serve in mediation.

Some things we cannot have right now, in a whole way, to our abiding Grief. I think once we have well-trained and healthy solitary crones and hermits, we will recognize them as the first symptoms that we’ve done the proper cultural groundwork to rewild as a people, rather than as individuals.

I know not many folks like this message. But we founded this site because of the need to start talking about this conundrum. As Daniel Quinn says, we must ‘think incrementally’, as we walk deeper into the culture of the rewilding renaissance.


#74

I’m alone in the Nevada desert right now getting on the breadroot trail. I came out with Finisia Medrano, but we’re unable to make camp together. So this thread is really timely for me. I absolutely know that it cannot be done alone, my intuition screams against it. And I’m certainly not a purist by any stretch. I’ve taken my laptop, a gps, and all kinds of goodies from civ. I was following Finisia’s advice, and still agree with her. The point is not to be a purist, but to succeed. The point is to walk in beauty and restore an abundant natural world, a world that was tended by Human Beings. Human Beings were not Lone Mountain Men, I mean, my mom can kill and skin out an elk. We’re a band species, pure and simple. Perhaps eventually one might gain the knowledge to shape-shift into a bear and then they can go off and be alone, but barring that success on the old hoops means doing it with others.

I grew up in Nevada, on cattle ranches. I feel pretty secure in the knowledge that I know how to talk to ranchers and miners, and if I have to I’ll even rely on them. But they are not my People. The breadroot is everywhere here, so I’m not too worried, I just need clan. I’d really rather not be the hermit described in the posts above, it just does not ring my bell. Being alone in the wilderness certainly can have benefits, but without a village of Human Beings to go back to, what good is it really?


#75
We're a band species, pure and simple.

Nicely put, Brangus! Thanks for chiming in. I hope to see you at Root Festival this June!


#76

Thank you for those great posts, Willem and Scout. Your clarification of rewilding very well describes my personal experience of it, and I totally support your vision for the purpose of this website.


#77

[quote=“Huby7, post:70, topic:254”]I was not trying to make the argument for humans living alone in the woods. I just wanted to point out that humans born and raised in a primitive tribe might have an easier time psychologically adapting to being alone in the woods.

Curt[/quote]
Remember how ai said “let us ALSO remember”? As in, “ai’m agreeing with you, here’s another example”. :stuck_out_tongue:


#78

Thanks. It always helps me to know when I’ve articulated something in way that works for others too!


#79

Chase,

[quote=“chase, post:77, topic:254”][quote author=Huby7 link=topic=259.msg14809#msg14809 date=1235769938]
I was not trying to make the argument for humans living alone in the woods. I just wanted to point out that humans born and raised in a primitive tribe might have an easier time psychologically adapting to being alone in the woods.

Curt
[/quote]
Remember how ai said “let us ALSO remember”? As in, “ai’m agreeing with you, here’s another example”. :P[/quote]

After going back and rereading the posts I understand what you were getting at.

Curt


#80

Thanks all for this thread. It’s really helped me to organize my thoughts and feelings about ‘going it alone’ in the wild.

It seems like a bunch of people here have at least thought about becoming a hermit at one point or another (or a small group of almost-hermits) and this train of thought, I think, is perhaps a common bi-product of the deep-down urge of ours to escape civilization. In this day and age, in this civilization we all live in, it’s no wonder many people come to this idea (I myself am just getting out of it). I think that, though it may be good for some people to try it for a short period of time, ultimately it should be done for the purpose of gaining some experience to add to the culture. If you decide to live out alone like a hermit, it should, in my opinion, be done with a certain goal in mind; to come back and share your experience.

Also, I think one reason so many people come to this idea is because every culture one can possibly find on this earth these days is only another extension of civilization itself. And this leads to the mind connecting certain dots that shouldn’t have been connected, such as “culture” or “people” to be connected, directly or indirectly, with “civilization.”

In other words, a mind might be in an ‘infantile’ stage, where things are very muddled up and unclear, thus ‘to get away from it all’ might at first mean ‘become a hermit.’ But then, when one progresses, ‘get away from it all’ later translates to ‘get away from civilization and be a part of a culture’

This mountain man complex should be like a bridge over which we should try to help people cross, and not to get mad and tell them to go to a different site. We all have the same human instincts… just some misconceptions that are instilled by civ itself.

(p.s. this is my first real post, hope I added something useful… ;))