We love stunning images of nature but rarely step into her untouched spaces. So much is fenced off, cultivated or ravaged yet our own wild nature yearns to be heard and expressed. We may ignore or take it for granted but without that element of wildness we are disembodied, disconnected from instinctual wisdom and passion.
The spirit of nature calls to our hearts through tiny moments of spotting a deer, hearing a birdcall or seeing wildflowers pushing through brickwork. The Welsh poppies that unaccountably arrived in the alley outside my house soften the asphalt with their nodding yellow. Wildness calls through howling wind, strokes our minds with lichen bearding tree-trunks. If we switch off a while from our electronic lives and listen, we begin to notice her tattered scattered miracles of grace in unexpected settings: a fox playing with old shoes in a back garden, peregrines nesting on a church spire. We sigh with relief when buds open to green our surroundings, after a desolate winter.
Wild often refers to raging, uncontrolled behaviour but it can be a softening of heart and mind, a being space, remembering our place in the extraordinary family of life forms in our staggeringly beautiful home. Wild has its savage aspect when it comes to the weak, the wounded and the hunt for food. When wild intrudes into our sanitised homes we are disturbed: ants trailing through the kitchen, rats in the compost bin, the mouse sheltering in a warm wainscot.
I recently spent a week in the Highlands on a ‘writing the wild’ course. Watching moonrise with the eerie sounds of snipe calling through the darkness was unutterably moving. Observing rain drifting across the Mendips from my bedroom window, badger shuffling across my lawn and cows munching over the hedge, all of which touch my wild. I cannot imagine my life without these sights.
On the course we discussed how women’s history through the ages mirrors our treatment of the earth. Belief systems that have equated women with nature and the body and judged both inferior, have wreaked havoc, diminishing everyone. This sad heritage of submission, suppression and violation is still playing itself out, as Brazil’s indigenous peoples are being forced off their land for a dam, as Pakistani girls are shot for wanting education. These are prices we pay when savagery turns to cannibalism and we lose our respect. Even our attempts to address such issues, all too often create more havoc. My wild woman cares passionately for the earth and I know many of you out there feel similarly. The planet may decide to do without us and weave a different web; meanwhile she keeps her faith, calling to us, trying to catch our attention. How do you connect with your wildness? Do you spend time with it, feed it? We must not lose touch with our precious wildness: our source of music, dance, poetry and spiritual sustenance. You can, if you like, visualise going to meet your wild self in the landscape of your imagination. You may meet a guardian who asks you a question before you meet with him or her, mine was a moth that simply asked, ‘Can you hear me?’ Offer your wild self a gift and listen to what they say. My wild self was an ancient Crone whose only message was; ‘ When the earth gives – say thank you, when the earth takes – give thanks.’