It is only when we deal with the dis-eased character of modern sexuality and the ecological crisis as a single problem that is rooted in an erotic disorder that we can begin to discover ways to heal ourselves of our alienation from our bodies and from nature.
– Sam Keen
“Contact! Contact! Who are we? Where are we?” Henry David Thoreau’s words ring just as true now as they did when he wrote them up on the highest mountain in Maine over 150 years ago. Permaculture – rewilding – ecosexuality – these may be terms that resonate more strongly with today’s crowd, but the urge is the same: a calling to immerse oneself in the raw forces of nature, to remember that being human means we are part of this Earth, and to relearn how to draw our sustenance and nourish our souls from the very places we call home.
In an age dominated by individual isolation, virtual reality and the information economy, the hunger to partner with Life in its eternal dance and to experience the depth of real human connection is palpable. The primal energies of nature are as alluring as they are frightening, they invigorate us as much as they humble, they show us how fragile it is to be made of flesh and bone. Beneath the superficiality of the Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts, the soul of the millennial generation is crawling, naked and knowing, across the forest floor seeking the marrow that can nourish it back to life.
There is a movement underfoot. Alongside the software programmers and coffee-shop baristas, there are those who are returning to the forests, building with cob, practicing permaculture, creating community, sipping on bone broth, tanning hides and fermenting everything from fruit and veggies to milk and grains. Thousands of young women across the country are meeting on the new moon to honor the cycles of their blood, others are embracing the wildness and sacredness of their sexuality, still others are practicing as herbalists, midwives, death doulas and as other practitioners of traditional arts.
You could chalk this up to youthful exuberance or a primitive backlash against the sterility of cubicle life, but I think that this trend strikes at a vein that runs deep into the human psyche. Ever since the beginning of the industrial revolution, nature writers have grasped at words for our relationship with this Earth – a relationship they describe with increasing intimacy the further it slips out of our outstretched hands.
Standing amidst the towering trees and exalted rock faces of Yosemite in the early 1900s, John Muir exclaimed that “no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man.” For Aldo Leopold in the 1940’s, the relationship focused on engaging with the land “as a community to which we belong.”
By the early 1990s, Wendell Berry described his experience with the land he called home in far more intimate terms: “bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh.” And it was Terry Tempest Williams who cut through any remaining artifice to urge activist, academic and farmer alike to remove our masks and “admit we are lovers, engaged in an erotics of place.” Adding, as if to give us permission to acknowledge what we already know in our bones to be true,
There is nothing more legitimate and there is nothing more true…We love the land. It’s a primal affair.
Part 1 in a 4 part mini series written by Lindsay Hagamen. Stay tuned for more next week.