The Tree of Rewilding - A Community of Practice and


Sure, whatever floats your boat cat-sister. I like it.


Also, another “phases” type structure of rewilding from the Permie Rewilders in Pennsylvania (

The Phases of Rewilding: We have articulated 5 in our work:

Deep Observation
Basic Ethical Interactions
Simple Modifications
Complex Modifications
Scaling Down/Expansion



Many of your personal observations about your philosophical journey spoke to me. Specifically:

  • life is a school exam for god
  • guilt is the predominate theme of my life
  • guru patriarchs
  • unflinching look at history
  • masculinism
  • understanding innocence
  • domestication via “moralism”

As I read your and others’ comments about what rewilding really IS, and if it can be defined and nailed down, I thought about the difference between behaviors/activities, and perspectives/beliefs.

I believe rewilding is a state of mind; an internal personal evolution. Bow drill fires, basketry, and braintanning are all outward symptoms of an inward journey.

In and of themselves these activities don’t make up what rewilding really is, because the process of rewilding is a psychological, intellectual, and emotional transformation. It is the difference between those who are trying to live a different kind of life, and historical reenactors.



A friend of mine posted this image on facebook (not sure of its origin), but it made me think of this conversation. What do yall think?


Makes me excited that there’s an unlimited number of things we carry that we can rewild.


Peter and I had a conversation and we realized a great model for a “tree of rewilding” is already out there - the 8 shields model.


Wow, this seems like a pretty interesting thread! I like the tree model, even if it may not be super defined yet, I think it will take a good amount of time for us to really realize what someone who is closer to the land may feel what should be done. Surprisingly, I actually liked the idea of having some sort of test something on how close we are to the land. However, instead of having it to “measure proficiency” or anything, I think it would be cool if someone came up with a sort of assessment where all the questions were different scenarios and anyone who “took” the “test” could write how they would deal with it or what their plan would be, and then we could share them. This would serve the purpose of coming up with new ideas and learning new ways of land management or working on the invisible skills with village life.

Now, Willem said something that rubbed me off a little… excuse me for paraphrasing… “it doesnt matter how good of a flintknapper or basket weaver you are”… I disagree with that. Let’s say someone decides to make a basket. A good basket weaver should not only make a quality basket, but also know how the way they gather the materials for the basket will impact the landscape. An example would be deciding to make a basket from an invasive or very common plant versus a native or rarer species. After all, primitive technology is a byproduct of a sustainable culture, and so the way it is made should help the landscape. Skill also matters because a more skilled basket weaver may use less material than a less skilled one, and so the less skilled weaver could harm populations of a certain plant. So then the less skilled weaver could learn on an invasive or more common species, thus making room for other species to grow. Of course, with stone tools it may be different, but crafting skill should involve more than just the actual craft of making the thing and include how one gathers the resources to make it, how the tool is used, etc. In essence, the material culture certainly isn’t the focus, but is still a very important part of a rewilded culture.



My point was, and I still stand by it, that excellence in a thing can mask the shallowness of one’s understanding of that thing.

Someone who has mastered flintknapping as an archaeological curiosity (and many folks exactly like this exist) does not necessarily at all understand the Big Story of flint or stone tools, or hear their voices, and so on. Even if they harvested “sustainably” - “sustainability” is a modern resource/extraction consciousness, not a Mythtime consciousness.

Meaning - you can be a cheerleader for civilization and still be a “master” at any ancestral skill in a conventional sense. We, as rewilders, might say that one has missed the whole point of the “ancestral” part, but the practitioner would likely disagree. It’s only to a deep rewilder that these kinds of thing matters - which is why the question of “how deeply do you rewild?” is so important.


Willem, I try to understand what you mean with that last sentence, but find myself struggling (and rephrasing this reply for the somanieth time). The two aspects to it (the question “how deeply do you rewild?” and the meta-question “why is that question so important?” seem to escape each other somehow…

Would you perhaps try to explain in terms of the 8 Shields model? Or if you prefer a more concrete context, as a thought on the following:

When thinking of a very skilled basket weaver who doesn’t (yet) consider harvesting aspects, I still feel happy that those skills get passed on… Maybe in the next generation, someone learns to weave from that technical master, and combines this with good way of harvesting learned from someone else.


These discussions always happen on a continuum.

For a child walking for the first time, just putting a single foot in front of the other is an accomplishment worth celebrating.

For an adult, I am not going to applaud them for walking across the room, a skill they have been exercising with impunity for their entire life, excepting those first couple years. And yet…if they had never made art, and picked up a crayon for the first time at age 50…

I would be there silently applauding.

For an excellent craftsperson or technician, to hone the edge of their skill sharper and sharper decade after decade, while continually managing to skip attending to the deeper layers of relationship - I respect and salute the skill, but one might say that that “is not” rewilding in any deep way.

In the 8 shields terms, this would be much like perpetually grinding away in the South of the compass, a single-minded focus, akin to being a kind of rewilding workaholic. What is a workaholic anyway? A person who thinks that by a superabundance of investment in one thing (making a living), it will make up for everything else they are starving (family, loving their partner, helping make a home, walking the creative path they are called to, etc.).

Having said that, I’m finding that I am no longer getting a lot of benefit from calling myself a “rewilder” or what I do “rewilding”, because I hear this or that thing “isn’t rewilding”, or doesn’t have anything to do with primitive skills, etc.

So I’m getting a little bit of my own medicine, I suppose.

So perhaps talking about what is or isn’t “real” rewilding is a dead end. I think there is a thing here somewhere - about walking one’s path as deeply as possibly - but I no longer feel qualified to talk about what “real” rewilding is.


Hmm, yes, the internet memory stayed put while you moved on… oral tradition anyone?

That sounds beautiful, “about walking one’s path as deeply as possibly”.
In your questions I tried to find what that looks like for you. :slight_smile: And of course it made me look at my own path again, too. Your answer has helped me find words for some of my thoughts.

It also reminded me of how in civ people ‘forgot’ to keep each other connected to nature, so that along with practicing nature-connection it is also important to keep that awareness alive.
When I look at that ‘what to pass on’ aspect in rewilding (whatever that may look like), I think of making sure that people do not ‘forget’ how thick the salmon once ran, for instance. Or how languages can reflect nature. Or…

So I do value your question, Willem. Asking each other and exchanging what we found (and still look for) on our own path, keeps alive what wild life may look and feel like.


I found this thread helpful. Thanks to everyone who participated.