A necessary encounter with the Wild
Dispatch from the Future
May 2018 / Ian MacKenzie
Photo: Renate Bomm / Flickr CC

Dear <<Test First Name>>,                                        

You can feel it in the air.  Where I come from, old man winter has shuffled off the land and the sweet scent of spring is steadily wafting in the air.  

Hard to believe just over one week ago I was in the midst of the most intense trial of my life. Four days, three nights without food, water, or sleep.  Some call it a “vision quest”, though as my teacher assured those of us participating, there wasn’t any "questing" and only the slim possibility of a “vision.”

This is old time alchemy, found in the ancestral traditions of countless cultures from the deep annals of time, often employed to mark a particular rite-of-passage.  After all, contrary to our modern assuredness, becoming a human being is not inevitable just because you are born.  That term is reserved for a particular type of achievement that lies on the other side of a purposefully engineered, blistering encounter with the Wilderness - that place beyond the domain of human-centric certainty.

Intellectually speaking, it's easy to admit I’m not the center of the universe. It is far different to experience it in my bones.  In my case it was the third night, with the texture of water a distant memory and the cloak of night enveloping the skeletal fingers of the trees.  There was no prospect of the moon.  The buzz and rhythm of the lunar symphony would soon begin.

It was then the words of my teacher, speaking on the eve of the ceremony, returned to me: “The Wild means you no harm.” He said.  “It just doesn’t mean you.”

Translation: the world is not here for us. It has its own way, its own being-ness. Nothing exists for the singular purpose of being fodder to human intent. Not the animals, nor the soil, nor the minerals.  And yet, we partake in a myriad ways to feed our activity and comfort.  This transaction is not inherently a problem - not a foundational flaw or original sin.  

The real tragedy is in the forgetting and the absence of reciprocity. This debt accrues with compounding interest to the generations to come. 

In the age of the Anthropocene, when the world is increasingly re-made in the image of man, it’s harder to remember.  Everything comes from somewhere else.  There is consequence to our taking, and there is grief in this recognition.

The Wild has the quality of jolting us back toward something like memory - because it’s so easy to forget.  Maybe that’s a promise of the Wild and the necessity of leaving it alone.  It’s the storehouse of memory, the way the world has of being itself.   Maybe that’s also the function of real culture, the way a people has of being themselves.

There’s much more to say on this - though for now, may you surround yourself with others who are willing to remember.

- IM


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Upcoming Events

» May 19-20, 2018 - Aurora Sensoralis / Salt Spring Island

Exploring the horizon of human creative expression. Attend this incredible two-day event on Salt Spring, where I'll be offering a 90 minute talk on Love, Partnership and the Village.   Get full details

» June 16 - Being Human: A Radical Evening of Poetry, Storytelling and Song / Salt Spring Island

Headlined by the incredible duo Climbing Poetree, I'll be offering a workshop with Deus Fortier as well as speaking at this event.  Get full details

» June 22-24 - Revival Gathering / Vashon Island

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» June 26-27, 2018 - FemmeQ Summit / Los Angeles

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From the Archives

With sadness, I learned recently that Larry Harvey, the founder of Burning Man, has died. There is a proper outpouring of grief and memory from the community, and I certainly am indebted to how the event significantly altered the course of my life. 

In his honour, I share my short film 'Dear Guardians' (8 mins) honouring the Temple Guardians.   

» Watch the film now


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p.s. Believe it or not, I have sometimes been compared to "The Most Interesting Man in the World." (It must be the beard).  I highly recommend this long-read sharing the true story of the man.


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