The first of three Tales of the Wilderness, in anticipation of Wilderness Festival, where Toast will be curating the Lakeside Spa this August.
Extract from Wild: An Elemental Journey by Jay Griffiths.
Wild Earth: Feral Song
The wild. I have drunk it, deep and raw, and heard its primal, unforgettable roar. We know it in ourselves, for we are wild to the core. We know it in our dreams, when the mind is off the leash, running wild. "Outwardly, the equivalent of the unconscious is the wilderness: both of these terms meet, one step even farther on, as one", wrote Gary Snyder. "It is in vain to dream of a wildness distant from ourselves. There is none such," wrote Thoreau. "It is the bog in our brain and bowels, the primitive vigor of Nature in us, that inspires that dream."
And as dreams are essential to the psyche, wildness is to life.
For the Native American O'odham people, the term doajkam, wildness, is etymologically tied to terms for health, wholeness and liveliness. "Life consists with wildness," wrote Thoreau. "The most alive is the wildest. All good things are wild and free" and "In wildness is the preservation of the world."
We are animal in our blood and in our skin. We were not born for pavements and escalators but for thunder and mud. More. We are animal not only in body, but in spirit. Our minds are the minds of wild animals. Artists, who remember their wildness better than most, are animal artists, lifting their heads to sniff a quick wild scent in the air, and they know it unmistakably, they know the tug of wildness to be followed though your life is buckled by that strange and absolute obedience. ("You must have chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star," wrote Nietzsche.) Children know it as magic and timeless play. Shamans of all sorts and inveterate misbehavers know it; those who cannot trammel themselves into a sensible job and a life in the sterile suburbs know it.
What is wild cannot cannot be bought or sold, borrowed or copied. It is. Unmistakable, unforgettable, unshamable, elemental as earth and ice, water, fire and air, a quintessence, pure spirit, resolving into no constituents. Don't waste your wildness: it is precious and necessary. In wildness, truth. Wildness is the universal songline, sung in green gold, which we recognize the moment we hear it. What is wild is what drives the honeysuckle, what wills the dragonfly, shoves the wind and compels the poem. Wildness is insatiable for life; neither truly knows itself without the other. Wildness is the luminousness of a bluebell wood at twilight, massing clouds boiling up their rain, the weed that cracks the pavement and the river that floods its banks, the creeping jenny run riot. It is the first "fuck" on television, it simmers in the feral intoxication of jazz, it explodes exuberant in carnival, it honks with laughter in the magic-mushroom season, it smashes the clocks above the factory gates and sucks up the now, it blazes in your eyes and it glories in everyone who wilfully goes their own way.