Solar Dispatch 7
Fit For What?
ReWild Yourself! Podcast: Tristan Gooley on Natural Navigation
Something Has Gone To Sleep In Us
ReWild Yourself! Podcast: Tony Blauer on Primal Self Defense
I Will Play With Fire
Heal Yourself with Heat Using an Infrared Sauna
ReWild Yourself! Podcast: Arthur Haines on Ancestral Survival Skills
ReWilding vs ReEnacting
Wild Woman Speaks
ReWild Yourself! Podcast: Michael Douglas on Doomsday Prepping vs Nature Literacy
Be Like Ötzi
ReWild Yourself! Podcast: David Morgan on Silver for Financial Survival
ReWild Your Diet
ReWild Yourself! Podcast: Rory Miller on the Blueprint of Human Violence
Wiki Links Trail
ReWild Yourself! Podcast: Evan Strong on Turning Tragedy into Gold
Rape: A Sacred Act of Evolution
Dispatch 7 Reflections
20 ReWild Yourself Tips
Your Neo-Aboriginal Challenge
Would You Like to Contribute to the Next Dispatch?
Welcome to Dispatch 7 of ReWild Yourself! This online magazine is designed to function as more than a source of information, entertainment, and education, it is a kind of natural solar calendar, and is released in accordance with the eight significant Earth/Sun events of the solar cycle. These are the Vernal Equinox, Beltane, Summer Solstice, Lammas, Autumn Equinox, Samhain, Winter Solstice, and Imbolc. This natural sine-wave rhythm of solar time was once the calendar that we humans lived our lives by, however today we are living on the Gregorian calendar, which is in reality nothing more than an artifice, having no real correlate to the events of the natural world. Conversely, the natural solar calendar is based on real, observable solar/planetary events, and is therefore a significant part of ReWilding Ourselves!
It is Winter Solstice, and with it, we turn our focus towards the care and maintenance of human life. Each Dispatch of ReWild Yourself! looks at a different aspect of a feral lifestyle and mindset, and fearlessly examines just how damaging and taboo-ridden the domesticated life-way can be. Make no mistake however, a life in nature is no utopia, rather it presents its own set of challenges and perilous dangers. Despite the fact that today, moderns work far more hours per week and enjoy much less leisure time than ancestral hunter gatherers, survival can never be far from the wild mind. We come from a world where life must be guarded and protected, where there are countless things which can quickly take it away — from accidents and injuries to infection and predation. In nature, life feeds on life, and when an organism weakens, is injured, or is under duress, it quickly attracts the attention of many hungry creatures, from microbiota to apex predators. Let us not forget that there are animals in our natural habitat that would swiftly carry us away in the night.
Here in Artifact Land, we have grown soft from sedentary living. Everything seems to be padded and fenced, sterile and well lit. Rather than training people to be more survivable, we instead try to remove from their world every imaginable source of danger, from eliminating the natural predator species from their landscape to putting drowning warnings on 5 gallon buckets. Life has little edge for most moderns, and so we have been lulled into a kind of over-confident slumber. We have handed off the responsibility of protection from threats to people with whom we rarely interact and could hardly relate to. They deal with all the nastiness of the world, allowing us to daydream that this place has no threats, that is always safe. We then — being disengaged from the responsibility of personal protection and the sustainment of our well-being — have freed up the mental energy to pursue our areas of specialization.
Life, however — even domesticated life — isn’t as “safe” as most of us have come to believe. So it is with Dispatch 7 — A Fitness For Survival — that we turn our attention to this very topic. We will explore the blueprint of human violence with Rory Miller and learn from Tony Blauer about the primal self-defense software that came standard with our bodies. We will learn how we can avoid getting lost using natural navigation with Tristan Gooley, and Arthur Haines will take us on a tour through the ancestral living skills necessary for Homo sapiens to thrive on their landscapes. We will also discuss the survival skill set of the feral modern, covering the most crucial skills necessary for surviving in the three worlds that we all inhabit, the Natural, the Urban, and the Virtual.
Human survival though is about so much more than having sufficient food, adequate shelter, or a reliable way to make a fire. We are sentient, empathetic, social apes, who mourn our losses deeply. Ali Schueler explores what it means to survive an untimely death, as she shares the story of losing her younger brother in a tragic accident. And because humans are not only apex predators, but predators who will prey upon one another as well, our Winter Solstice guest contributor Gabrielle Brick tells a story which is usually too taboo to tell, of surviving being raped by two men at gunpoint.
There are real dangers in our world, and it takes maturity to be willing to examine them in detail. It is far easier to deny that such things exist and easier still to convince ourselves that giving any attention to potential threats will somehow provoke them to happen to us. So, I invite you to read this Dispatch with a very open mind, with maturity, and to be honest with your own assessments of yourself, asking — and answering — the really difficult question:
How survivable am I?
the state or fact of continuing to live or exist, typically in spite of an accident, ordeal, or difficult circumstances.
All writing in ReWild Yourself! is by Daniel Vitalis unless otherwise noted.
Daniel Vitalis is a Leading Health, Nutrition, and Personal Development Strategist. Encouraging us to “ReWild Ourselves”, Daniel teaches that Invincible Health is produced by a life aligned with our biological design. His entertaining, motivational and magnetic delivery style has made him an in-demand public speaker in North America and abroad. He is the creator of FindASpring.com, a resource helping people find fresh, clean, wild water wherever they live, and the founder of SurThrival, a brand pioneering a lifestyle of vigorously healthy living. Daniel was recently featured in the widely acclaimed film “Hungry For Change”. He can be found at DanielVitalis.com, as well as on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest.
Winter Solstice — it tests our endurance; our will. It isn’t the cold, or the snow, or the time spent inside. It is the dark that affects me the most. The days have grown so short that they seem to be ending just as soon as they’ve begun. Stepping outside there is a crunch of crystalized water beneath my feet, now shod in the thick boots of winter. The trees are barren and the herbs have retreated to the fortifications of their roots. There is a desolation painted over in white. We retreat too, into ourselves, our inner landscape. This is the time to dream of all we wish to do when the weather breaks, when the snow melts, when warm and inviting temperatures encourage and inspire us to walk out all we have imagined for those long days ahead.
For now, we take the well deserved rest that is presented to us, the opportunity to recuperate from the trials of the seasons of work and travel and the bustle of domesticated living. Soon the moderns will act out their annual ritual, the coming of the red shaman, and the consumer feeding-frenzy will commence. People devouring material things like sharks in bloody waters. Then their new year will begin, an arbitrary point in an even more arbitrary calendar. We know differently. Their Old Saint Nick is nothing more than a fabled Siberian Shaman, a mythos that was culturally appropriated, made Christian, then further contorted to represent the capitalist ways of this severely domesticated culture. Little do they know that the gift he once brought was one of consciousness — via a little red and white mushroom. For now he will represent products, plastics, consumer goods. Merry Christmas.
We, the ReWilders, know that this day — the Winter Solstice — is the legitimate New Year, and that the greatest gift we can receive is the gift of life itself. It is this promise of life, this lengthening of days and the return to the Spring that we celebrate. This may be the shortest day of the year, the longest of the winter nights, yet as of tomorrow the days begin to lengthen again, the sun to reach just a little bit higher at its zenith in the noon day sky.
Let this be a time of preparation, relaxation, and inspiration. Let it be an opportunity to prepare for the season ahead. Then there will be so much to do, so many places to go, so many activities to become absorbed in. For now, let's give thanks for this chance to pause, reflect, and actively create the life we desire in the coming year.
First Dispatch: Spring Equinox - The Intrinsic Taboo
March 20 - 2014
Second Dispatch: Beltane - Let Food Be Thy Medicine
May 5 - 2014
Third Dispatch: Summer Solstice - Primal Movement
June 21 - 2014
Fourth Dispatch: Lammas - The Operant Condition
August 7 - 2014
Fifth Dispatch: Autumnal Equinox - Awakening Sexual Intelligence
September 22 - 2014
Sixth Dispatch: Samhain - A Chemical Ecology
November 7 - 2014
Seventh Dispatch: Winter Solstice - A Fitness For Survival
December 21 - 2014
Eighth Dispatch: Imbolc
February 3 - 2015
As the primary writer and editor of ReWild Yourself! — it is tempting to keep this issue focused completely on ancient and indigenous survival strategies. In its more modern context, perhaps a focus on what are today known as ‘primitive skills’ or ‘bushcraft’. While these kinds of skills are crucial to us all as a species, their primary usefulness for most of us will not be in their utility (after all how often will we need to ignite a friction fire, make our own cordage, or tan a hide?), but rather in the confidence that the knowledge and experience that learning these skills brings. Additionally, it is the preservation of this knowledge, the cultural transmission of these skills, that is so crucial to us all. It is not only the legacy of our ancestry, but (and this is the strange part), these are still the only ecologically, time-tested, sustainable survival strategies for our species.
Remember though, this world we are living in is experiencing tremendous changes — literally a mass extinction event, likely caused by (at least in part) ourselves. This is the ushering in of what has come to be known as the 'Anthropocene' age. These changes are usually seen by us (the kinds of people who read a magazine such as this one), as sub-optimal, leading to the loss of diversity, habitat, and to the long term destruction and toxification of what little truly-wild habitat remains. There have been other times in Earth’s buried history where large-scale changes have taken place in relatively short periods of time, and these are usually accompanied by a change in the apex organisms of the planet. It isn’t due to a lack of strength or cunning, surely many species before us were both, but rather a failure to adapt as rapidly as the change was coming.
an organism's ability to survive and reproduce in a particular environment
Fitness is in its biological sense, quite literally, a measure of an organism's ability to thrive and reproduce in a given habitat. When changes to that habitat happen quickly, it can be difficult for those with entrenched specialties to adapt fast enough to maintain their survival (yes, please read into the obvious metaphor). Specialists are extremely survivable right up until the moment when they aren’t. In other words, their strategies work wonderfully until they are faced with change that is too dramatic for their unique skill set or physical traits to adapt to.
We moderns are faced with a unique challenge here and now on Earth, wherein being 'fit' requires that we be well adapted to at least three different 'worlds'.
The first, and most vital — because it is the most long term, most sustainable, and ultimately the only one that will remain when viewed over a long enough time frame — is the wild, natural world. The skill set of our ancestry was developed for just such a world. This is the world wherein our 'primitive skills' are useful; where they are adaptive. This is the place where the ancestral tool kit (I mean that both literally and figuratively) increases our environmental fitness.
The second is the urban landscape — though only about 6,000 years old in its current incarnation — is now the residence of more humans than is the rural landscape. The urban environment presents as its own ecology, and requires behaviors and adaptations that are dramatically different from those of the wild or rural landscapes. Certainly many principles are the same, but the tactics must be adjusted, and the ‘rules of the urban jungle’ must be understood. This is what I have called Artifact Land; it is a human ecology, filled with 'human resources', human predators, and human prey.
The third, and the one that many are now struggling to adapt to, is the digital, or virtual world, which has emerged rapidly (an understatement) and to which we have had — by far — the least amount of time to adjust. It would be easy to discount this 'virtual fitness' if it weren’t for the fact that those excelling herein are gaining access to resources in ways that those who are failing to adapt can scarcely hope to.
There is another layer as well, a kind of overlay — and that is the layer of toxicity and pollution that has been draped over our wild and urban landscapes. This presents a further adaptation that is necessary for those humans who will pass on their genetic memory most successfully in the generations to come. We must become masterful in mitigating the toxicity which we all labor under. Those who can adapt to this overlay will fair far better over the long term. Doing so requires a kind of accelerated of amplified hormetic effect, as well as specific strategies for radical detoxification.
Therefore, human survival is about a whole lot more than stone knives and debri-hut shelters, more than being able to hunt, fish or track. It is about being able to adapt rapidly to any and all changes that you are presented with. This requires survival skills, yes, but it also requires a deep and established understanding of the principles that underly these skills, such that they can be adapted as needed to the ever changing circumstances that we might find ourselves in. It also requires a zealous commitment to change, an almost religious veneration of adaptation.
Be fit — fit for survival. This means that you must maintain your wild, urban, and virtual fitness, and all the while stay organized in your detoxification approach, so as not to be consumed by the toxicity that threatens from every angle.
It is a lot to ask. In some ways it is more than has been asked of humans at any other time in history. So adapt, I believe you are up to the task.
With that, I give you Dispatch 7 — A Fitness For Survival.
In this episode of ReWild Yourself!, Tristan Gooley — author of The Natural Navigator — gives us some wonderful insights into using natural navigation in both natural and urban settings.
- Tristan’s adventures across the Atlantic Ocean
- Using clues from nature to navigate
- How to navigate when you’re in a foreign city
- 3 ways to navigate using migratory birds
- How to orient yourself under a forest canopy
- What to do when you get lost
- GPS technology: friend or foe?
- About his book and courses
If you do a one mile walk using just the trees to find your way, you’re going to learn a lot about navigating. Tweet it!
We can do our first natural navigation journey in a few minutes. Tweet it!
The shapes you see in the night sky and the way they move is very important; what you call them really doesn’t matter. Tweet it!
- Tristan on Natural Navigation - Video
- How to navigate using the Sun
- How to navigate using Plants
- How to navigate in the City
- Tristan's courses
- The Natural Navigator by Tristan Gooley
- The Walker's Guide to Outdoor Clues and Signs by Tristan Gooley
Tristan Gooley is a writer and navigator. He started his natural navigation school in 2008, and is the author of the award-winning The Natural Navigator (2010) and Sunday Times Bestselling The Walker's Guide to Outdoor Clues & Signs (2014), two of the world’s only books covering natural navigation. Tristan has led expeditions in five continents, climbed mountains in Europe, Africa, and Asia, sailed small boats across oceans, and piloted small aircraft to Africa and the Arctic. He has walked with and studied the methods of the Tuareg, Bedouin and Dayak in some of the remotest regions on Earth.
He is also the author of:
The Natural Explorer (March 2012),
How to Connect with Nature (January 2014).
He is the only living person to have flown solo and sailed singlehanded across the Atlantic and is a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation and the Royal Geographical Society. He is Vice Chairman of the UK's largest independent travel company, Trailfinders.
Domestication; a process created through artificial selection, and whose end result is a fitness for artificial environments. Domesticated creatures are typically adapted to confinement, whether on farms or in houses, gardens or planters set into city sidewalks. Plants and animals that were once wild were pulled off of landscapes and adapted to 'manscapes'. Over the course of many generations, this has resulted in organisms that are no longer fit for the environment that their wild predecessors came from.
Imagine the Pomeranian — technically a subspecies of gray wolf — being released into the environment of its wild ancestor, the boreal forest of the Earth’s northern latitudes. While I haven’t carried this experiment out to confirm it for certain, it is easy to imagine that without humans to feed and shelter it, or to protect it from hungry predators, this 'toy' breed would likely not survive more than a few days on its own. And of course I'm being generous. It is easy to imagine a raptor, such as an owl or a hawk, sweeping down from above to snatch up this quadrupedal meat ball, whose natural defenses have been bred out and whose instincts have been severely blunted.
Are we humans much different? Each year countless moderns go missing in the wilderness, requiring rescue from specialized Search and Rescue teams to locate and guide these wayward sheep back to civilization. We have become so maladapted to our own planet, that without the manufactured goods and services that domesticated living provides, most simply crumple over and die. We call it dying from 'exposure to the elements', which for me has special relevance. Consider that fundamental to most of the indigenous world's cosmology is the idea that the world is made of Four Elements, Earth, Water, Air, and Fire, and that we literally see this all around us every day. The knowledge and understanding of these four fundamental Elements and their interplay, is crucial to our survival.
It has been said that for basic human survival, there is a 'sacred order'; a sequence by which we ensure our basic needs are met. They are shelter, water, fire, and food. These four things are crucial to keeping our bodies alive and well. Consider however, that these are simply incarnations of the Four Elements. In other words, shelter is how we protect ourselves from the temperatures or precipitants in the Air. Water — the stuff we drink — is of course the physical embodiment of the archetype of Elemental Water. Fire, again is the earthly incarnate of the its Elemental expression, and food is the stuff of Earth that we eat, the things that grow up from the soils. Our four basic survival needs are Earth, Water, Air, and Fire. Domesticated children are made to attend elementary school, but learn nothing of these Elements. Perhaps if we instead sent them to (Four) Elementary School they wouldn’t be so prone to dying from exposure to the elements.
As moderns, we know little of the Elements, and instead know primarily about artifacts, things that have been made and shaped by human hands, that bear the mark of human will. We know of machines and concrete, of paper and plastics, of houses complete with climate-controlling thermostats, and faucets that pour forth temperature controlled water on demand. We know of light switches that flood our lives with lumens and toilets that carry away our waste to places unknown and usually unconsidered. We are to our ancestors, like soft, pale, weak, and underdeveloped babes who have little ability to care for ourselves.
Like an astronaut walking about on the surface of the moon, who knows that without the suit he is wearing his life would end in moments, we too know that without the amenities provided us from civilization, we would soon find our own world equally as foreign, and as lethal to us as a cold satellite without an atmosphere. Those who do venture out into the wilds often look more like the astronaut than the indigenous person who would have dwelt naturally on that same landscape. Large, cumbersome 'ankle protecting' boots, shiny waterproof pants, crinkling Gore-Tex jacket, huge backpack filled with 'life support'. Harnesses and helmets, gloves and face masks, gadgets, and dials, and gizmos, and gear. We go into nature like one would venture onto a hostile and inhospitable foreign world.
This reveals something significant about how we view our former habitat, and how much we have embodied domestication — or being 'of the house'.
I invite you to begin noticing — not judging, not even changing yet if you’re not inclined, just noticing — how you may be walling yourself off from the natural world. How you might be keeping windows and doors closed, be overdressing in anticipation of the coolness of the air, or be over-shod, trusting the cobbler more than you trust your own feet.
Take this time to consider your connection to the Four Elements, and their corresponding survival skills. Are you confident in your ability to create shelter for yourself? Do you know how to locate safe and clean water? Do you know how to start, build, and maintain a functional fire? Can you find food on a natural landscape? If the answer is “no” — and rest assured, the answer for most people is a resounding “no” — perhaps it is time to go back to Elementary School, to learn the fundamental skills that are required for admission into neo-aboriginal human adulthood. Without these skills you will still, almost certainly, continue to survive, but you will do so under the pampering and demoralizing hand of the domesticator. You will do so at the expense of true ‘freedom’, as your ability to move through this world will be shaped by your need to be cared for by others. In the back of your mind, gnawing at your confidence like a rodent in the night, will be the fear that arises from the knowledge that you are not safe without others to provide for your most basic needs. Of course we are a social animal, and we are interdependent as members of this species. This is good and healthy – but we have become codependent, like two drowning victims clawing their way to the top of the other in an attempt to stay at the surface. It is time to learn how to swim, its time to learn to live on your own planet without the fear of succumbing to the environment itself. It’s time to become a grown up. It’s time to become a NeoAboriginal.
ReWild Yourself… Go to Elementary School!
Something has gone to sleep in us.
At night, lying there in my bed, in an open air hut, the swirling, gurgling, stone-smoothing sounds of the river rushing just beyond — in the damp, warm night air of the Amazon — I am acutely aware that there are predators here. Not just hunting mice, and other rodents, but hunters of large mammals, of animals as large as me.
We may not be the specific prey of any of the species of hunters there, but we certainly are an opportunistic meal, and there are animals like the jaguar, the anaconda, and the caiman, that will be as happy eating you as they would any other fresh, warm, red meat.
We, in contrast, inhabiting the more domesticated locals of the world have largely forgotten what it is to feel like prey. Most of us can walk into our forests blindfolded, carrying a backpack filled with raw hamburger and be no worse for wear. Our environment has been rendered artificially safe, and we are now the apex predator of the world. Even in places like the Pacific Northwest, where the cougar and grizzly bear still dwell, most moderns are living in cities where this is scarcely a concern.
In our natural world, it isn’t just predation of which we must be wary, but many environmental hazards, such as weather, cliffs, falling trees, and injuries of all kinds.
Something has gone to sleep in us because there is so little predatory danger to be found, and we have been so sheltered from the possibility of injury. Our sidewalks are level, predictable and flat, our buildings built to code. Our food is inspected, our traffic regulated, nearly everything that can be made predictable has been, from our work hours to our time off, from the 'nature' in our parks to the temperature in our homes. Our lives seem to have been made supremely — overly — safe.
Something has gone to sleep in us, something that was alive and keenly-edged in our wild ancestors, something that was more alive in your grandparents, and was even more alive in theirs. Awareness. Awareness of the self and of the environment that the self is found in, of our bodies and minds in time and space. Awareness of our location, of the threats that surround us, of the objects in our immediate vicinity and their possible uses. Of truth and lies, of safe and suspect, of resources that we might put to use, or paths to safety should we ever need them. Of the meanings of sounds around us, or the meaning of a lack of sounds, of the changes that are taking place in the people who surround us, and of the predators — now mostly human — that still roam about, looking for their prey.
Today we spend more time trying to tune out our environment than we do trying to tune it in. We wear sunglasses and noise-canceling headphones, we listen to music while walking into places unknown, we stare into bright little screens at night in dark parking lots, flaring out our natural night vision, without first even looking about to ensure our environment is safe. We watch our feet as they shuffle down busy streets, we zone out of our lives and tune in to artificial ones. Few of us are even aware of the daily happenings on the street where we live.
Yet our world is still fraught with dangers, and they are all around us. Each day people are struck down by cars, or crash the one they are driving. People die in fires and drown in bodies of water that they are all to comfortable in. Each day people are the victims of crimes perpetrated by other humans, robberies and muggings, thefts and home invasions. Right now, as you approach the terminal end of this sentence, someone is being beaten by a stranger, raped by a stranger, murdered by a stranger. Worse still, these same are taking place right now, but are being perpetrated by a person the victim knows and often knows well.
Few of us today need be concerned about the wild predators in the forest around us, but we do need to be aware of the environment we are in, of the people and situations we are surrounded by – immersed in. There are still predators in our midst, though these typically take the form of bipedal animals today.
Most of us, if we look back over our lives, can remember moments when we have been taken advantage of, been the victim of a crime, whether violent or not, when we could have been paying better attention. We may have had accidents, simply walking, or biking, or driving our car, that we could have avoided had we been more alert to what was taking place in our own safety bubble. When we look back, reanalyze our experience, there is usually a moment, just before the situation unfolded, where we can see that we had become dissociative, that we'd become unaware.
In nature predators feed upon the weak, slow, injured, and inattentive. This is natures way of fine tuning the living things of the world. In our artificial habitat, predators work in similar ways, seeking out those individuals whose awareness is low, who seem tuned out of their surroundings, who remain blind to their presence. Being unaware won't always make you the victim of predatory violence, but being the victim of predatory violence will almost always require you to be unaware.
There is a very fashionable belief at present, a meme that has spread throughout the population, infecting some of the best and brightest. It comes to us from the 'consciousness' community, those who proclaim to live lives fully 'tuned in to the universe', to the spiritual nature of reality. They believe that as long as they never think about violence or risk or danger, that these things can never befall them. This is interesting, in that they talk endlessly about being 'conscious', but are not even aware of the potential threats right there in the room with them. How can you have consciousness without acute awareness?
It is my opinion that this idea is a very ornate form of denial and a rather well dressed veneer for fear and a lack of confidence. When a person has no idea how to deal with a threat, it is an easy wish to deny it. This of course will create a lack of confidence which the ego will further attempt to mask beneath justifications such as “that can’t happen to me, I radiate too much positivity”. I often ask these folks how the Native Americans — with their beautiful (and often culturally appropriated) spiritual traditions — 'attracted' the genocide committed against them by the Europeans? Or how the Tibetan Buddhists — practicing their mystic tradition high in the Himalaya — 'attracted' the violence committed against them by the Communist Chinese? Were these groups just too focused on the negative? Were they spending their days worrying about these eventualities until they attracted them into their lives? What about the massively under-reported cases of violent rape that befalls our mothers, sisters, and daughters each year? Did these woman 'attract' this violence in every case? To suggest this sounds an awful lot like "she asked for it by wearing that outfit".
Make no mistake, there are very real dangers lurking about in this world. We needn't over-focus on this, just simply become more balanced in our sentience; more aware. There are many things we can do to develop our situational awareness, and we don’t have to become paranoid to do so. Essentially, we begin by just seeing more, hearing more, feeling more. This isn't about seeking more information, rather it is about filtering out less. This approach — an awareness based approach — can help us avoid danger, keeping us out of the 'wrong place, wrong time' scenerios that befall victims of accidents and assaults rather than rose colored glasses, we utilize a kind of objective, crystal clear vision.
When we enter into a new space we can immediately scan for its exits. Is there a rear or side door? An exit sign or two? If it is a restaurant there is almost always an exit through the kitchen, so where is the kitchen door? If you had to, what windows would you go through or how?
Is there a fire extinguisher? Can you see it? How about a first aid kit or AED? Do you see fire alarms?
Can you take a seat or a place to stand that gives you a more comprehensive look at the room, at the people in it, at the door where people are coming in and out? When I am seated at a restaurant, I will usually ask for a table somewhere else if the only option puts my back to the door. My friends now know better than to take the seat with the best view of the room – that one is for me.
Are there weapons in the place you are in? Perhaps on the police or security? Are there concealed weapons? Who looks as though they might be carrying a weapon? Are there any “tells”?
When you are in a hotel do you look at the map on the back of your door? It shows the exit points and locations of fire extinguishers. Have a peek. You probably won't need this information, but if you ever do it will likely be some of the most important data you could possibly have.
When you are on a plane do you look at the safety information card in your seat back? Did you know that most plane crashes are very survivable (95.7% of people in plane crashes between 1988 and 2000 survived) but that people who sit nearest the exits and read the safety cards have the best chances of survival? I always review the safety card, and check that the life vest is in place if there is one. I also get clear on the location of all the exits and how the doors are operated.
When I go to a new town I check the crime statistics for the area I am staying, and if traveling to another nation I determine the threats and scams that I should be aware of in the areas where I will be visiting.
I am no Jason Bourne, I can’t tell you the license plate numbers on all the cars in the parking lot outside. What I can do is become more conscious, more cognizant of my environment. I can always take in more detail, a richer picture. I can become more situationally aware. I can become more sentient.
able to perceive or feel things
Does all this seem paranoid? Let me ask this another way:
If you were visiting the Amazon, would you ask around about the wild animal predators in the area where you were staying? Would you be interested to know where venomous snakes or spiders were seen in camp, or what plants are deadly poisonous if you eat them? Is this any different than looking at the weather forecast or avalanche warnings before a hiking trip into the mountains?
Deciding that you will remain unaware of potential threats in your environment is like deciding that you don't need fire alarms or extinguishers, or that you don't need seat belts in your car. It is like refusing to hear when someone tries to tell you of the intractable pull of the current just ahead in the river you are wading into. Doing this under the guise of 'being conscious' is particularly disturbing, since by definition it is the opposite.
Become truly conscious, stay aware, and by doing so enhance and enrich your experience of life on Earth and — as a side effect — your survivability.
Tony Blauer — a pioneer in Combatives and self defense training — discusses primal self defense and offers some excellent reasons on why you should learn how to defend yourself from predatory violence.
- How Tony became interested in self defense
- Consentual dualing vs predatory violence
- Why “the pacificist” needs to learn this
- How long it takes to learn to defend yourself
- Indignation energy
- Startle-flinch response
- Compliant vs non-compliant opponent
The reactive brain bypasses the cognitive in times of high stress. Tweet it!
The ability to protect yourself or a loved one is the single most important skill anyone can possess. Tweet it!
Learning how to protect yourself literally takes a day. Tweet it!
- Martial arts
- Limbic system
- Sudden Self-Defense vs. Martial Contest - Tony's Blog
- Self-Defense Tips for Beginners
- Tony demonstrates simple, direct, effective primal gross motor based tactics
- CrossFit Defense
- CrossFit & SPEAR: When Functional Fitness met Functional Fighting
- Intro to the Flinch - Tony's Blog
- High Gear
- Tony on Hick's Law
- Tony's Blog
- BTS Courses
- BTS Training Calendar
Coach Tony Blauer is one of the only Combatives experts who has successfully affected training across all the combat related communities: self-defense, combat sports and the military & law enforcement sector. His research on physiology, mind-set as it relates to confrontation management has inﬂuenced over two decades of reality-based martial artists.
Tony Blauer is founder and CEO of BLAUER TACTICAL CONFRONTATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS©. Tony has pioneered research and training methodologies that have influenced and inspired martial art & combative systems around the world.
“I will not play with fire”
“I will not play with fire”
“I will not play with fire”
There is that distinctive sound that a No. 2 pencil makes as it scratches its way across paper, the sound that the one in my hand now made as I rewrote the sentence again.
“I will not play with fire”
My mother had caught me and my ever present childhood friend Wayne in the garage doing just that. Not with fire actually – but with ignition – with embers.
We had found an old space-heater, a model from the mid 80’s or before, whose warmth was made by heating the metal ribbons that ran horizontally inside to a red hot, much like the inside of a toaster. These were covered by a metal grate that was the ideal size to slip small pieces of wood through to make contact with the glowing coil. We had a neat little pile of perfectly sized pieces of wood, and as this device continued to convert electrical resistance into heat, we in turn brought this pile of sticks — one at a time — to smoldering ignition. The end of each one would glow red for a moment, and we soon learned that blowing on them would increase the ferocity of the chain reaction, causing the ember to glow brighter, to become hotter.
I understand my mother's concern, as this was just the kind of scene that could lead to a house fire, liability, injury, or death. Certainly she had to take action of some kind, though I think of what kind she was unsure. So she had me write, again and again, that:
“I will not play with fire”
I can’t remember the number of repetitions now, perhaps one hundred or two, but at the time it was grueling, and far less fun than watching small pieces of wood come to life in ignition.
What I know now — what I had no means of understanding then — is that Wayne and I were starving. Not for food — though certainly the nutritional standard of the day was woefully lacking— but for a relationship with fire. My mother didn’t have one, and so she too was starving. My step-father was also without this vital connection. Wayne’s parents were no different, and so we were part of a lineage of people with no relationship to the flame. As I write this I realize that it isn’t entirely true, as all four of our parents smoked cigarettes, which, despite the ravaging effects of commercial, industrial tobacco, were and still are a way that people can maintain (however small) a relationship with fire. It is a small, controlled, but ever present fire that they keep. We, being just boys, had no such relationship, and so we sought out that space heater to act out an impulse born of instinct. The human relationship to fire.
Human beings are great apes, and of this there remains little question. We are like them in both anatomy and in genetics. So close are we in fact that there has been some serious debate about whether we should be grouped alongside the chimp and bonobo in the genus Pan. I don’t think this is necessary, but I do think we fit neatly amongst Pan, as well as Gorilla, and Pongo (the Orangutan). While all of us, cousins as we are, share much in common, each of us is unique in our own ways, having developed strategies that allow us to carve out a life in the great symbiosis of nature. The gorilla has developed massive power and strength, and gone into the mountains to live concealed amongst the forest there. The Orangutan has taken to the trees, becoming the master climber of the canopy. The chimp displays the aggressive dominance of a warring, patriarchal people, while the bonobo has developed the more harmonious and sexually affectionate lifestyle of a matriarchy. We, in the genus Homo, have taken to the open ground, developed our unique bipedal gate, and placed tremendous attention on the production of tools. While our tool use is particularly sophisticated, it is not something unique to our species. For that we must look to another behavior of humans, and one that sets us apart not just from the apes, but from all other animals — that is our ability to ignite and maintain fire.
It is easy to get caught up imagining just how and when humans began making fire, but more and more evidence is mounting that suggests that we — in our anatomically modern form, the form we have taken for the last 200,000 years — never learned to make fire, but rather that our species emerged with this knowledge fully in hand, its mastery having already been developed by Homo erectus as far back as 400,000 years before the present. This date appears to be one that will be continuously pushed back further and further throughout the foreseeable future, as new archeological evidence emerges and older evidence is reinterpreted. There are currently claims of controlled fire reaching back as far as 1.7 million years.
While it is unclear just how long we have been initiating and controlling fire, it does seem likely that our bodies — literally the evolution of our species — have been shaped by the use of this uniquely human Element. The work of Richard Wrangham, in his outstanding book “Catching Fire, How Cooking Made Us Human”, suggests that the ability to both render more species in our environment edible through the detoxifying, softening, and flavor enhancing properties of fire, alongside our ability to extract more nutrients from food that had been cooked, allowed for the reduction in size of our digestive apparatus. Think of cooked food as ‘pre-digested’, therefore reducing some of the burden on our alimentary canal, and simultaneously allowing for the subsequent growth of our brains relative to our body mass.
It is becoming increasingly clear that we are a species born of fire, an animal that was quite literally tempered by flames. We are a species that must have fire to survive, unlike the rest of the animal kingdom, we are adapted to — and therefore must have, fire. We don't however, make fire instinctually, but rather it is a learned — a culturally transmitted — behavior. Therefore, learning to make and maintain fire is an essential human skill.
I have had the opportunity to watch many people bring fire into the world for their first time through the ancient, ancestral method of friction created between two pieces of dried wood. Techniques like the hand-drill and bow-drill, though reaching far back into antiquity, are just as effective today, and can be learned and mastered (I won’t say easily, it’s a challenging skill) by moderns. Both work on the same principle, in that a flat, dried piece of wood (the ‘fire-board’ or hearth) is drilled with a carved, cylindrical piece of wood or the fibrous stalk of an herb, until the friction between the two creates enough heat to ignite the dust that has been created through the drilling process. This is the hard part, generating enough power and having enough endurance to bring the ember to life. Additionally, this is not done using random pieces of wood, but rather with specific species of trees, shrubs, or herbaceous plants that are known for having ideal properties, such as low ignition temperatures.
Once the coal has been generated, the really magical and emotional part happens. You begin by placing this glowing ember into a tinder bundle you have already previously assembled. It is sitting there beside you, waiting to accept the coal that is the fruit of your labors. You are on your knees, the coolness of earth pulling heat from your shins. You’re hands are lifted into the air like those of a supplicant in prayer, calling on his gods for the thing that will sustain life. A gentle wind escapes your lips, directed into the bundle of gathered fibers that have been carefully assembled, built into a nest that will soon ignite into flame. There is a coal and it is growing, with each breath it consumes more and more of the fiber in your hands, growing brighter, redder, smoke rises into the air making the breeze visible, carrying your prayer into the the arms of Father Sky.
Then suddenly, spontaneously, the tinder bundle ignites with an oxidative chain reaction. Fire is born into the world, in your hands, held high. Through the conduit of a human being, the stored energy of the sun is released from its carbon bonds, from the cellulose in your hands. Fire.
If this is an essential human skill, then learning to make fire — and once made, to tend fire — should be taught to every person who is physically capable and willing to learn. It is a fundamental, essential human practice, and one that — like a martial art — can be honed over the course of a lifetime.
Fire is all around us still, though few of us see it on a regular basis. It is in the engine of your car, somewhere distant feeding the electricity to your house. It is in the furnace that heats your hot water and your home, it is the energy that cooks your food in the oven. It is high over head, powering the plane you see there, powering the sun, powering the stars. Fire is often taught as a ‘survival skill’ and I would agree that for those aspiring to master basic survival it is indeed just such a one, however, I also believe the importance of fire transcends mere survival. It is so human a skill, that one could almost say is is our duty to learn, to carry on.
If you are reading this, and you know that your relationship with fire has been neglected, I want to encourage you to begin a practice. It doesn’t have to be extremely frequent, a few times per year will suffice. You aren’t even required to have a fire pit or be in the wilds to do this, you can do it in a chiminea or hibachi on your back deck. Get a fire going. It is wonderful to do so with friction, in the old way, but again, it isn’t necessary. It is the fire itself we are after. It is the color and the glow, it is the warmth and the radiant energy. It is the connection to this primal element, to the thing that makes us human.
Consider that for the entirety of human existence we have sat in front of fires each night, nearly without fail, for all of our time on earth. Only recently have we halted this practice, replacing the fire with the television set, with the computer, with the mobile phone. We stare into their light the way we instinctively want to stare into the light of the fire. If there is no fire present we will continue to stare into the these light boxes as they represent a surrogate for the thing our instincts crave. And we will still be starving. Starving for Fire.
Do yourself a favor, get a piece of paper and a No. 2 pencil, and write this down 200 times:
“I will play with fire”
“I will play with fire”
“I will play with fire”
Humans — unique amongst the apes — have become the children of the flame. Our co-evolution with fire, as well as our highly specialized ability to sweat from the surface of our skin – an adaptation giving us the ability to run extremely long distances without over-heating — has left us rather hairless when compared to our ape cousins. We are, as Desmond Morris noted, The Naked Ape. Add to this the many thousands of years of domesticated living, and our now climate controlled lifestyle, and it is easy to understand how we have become so susceptible to the cold. The need to consciously thermoregulate, unlike so many other mammals who display remarkable abilities to thrive under the pressures of extreme climate exposure, is now bred into us. Probably one of the most important survival skills of Homo sapiens is the ability to maintain a relatively stable core temperature.
regulate temperature, especially one's own body temperature.
Hypothermia (which means — quite literally — “below heat”) is the medical term that describes when our core body temperature falls markedly below its normal average of (something like) 98.6º F (37ºC). When discussing human survival, there are much sexier conversations to be had. Hunting and trapping for instance, building fire, purifying water. Fending off attacks or constructing a bow. In reality though, what is of the utmost importance — first and foremost in the wild — is our ability to thermoregulate.
of or relating to heat.
Our miraculous bodies, filled as they are with ‘the solvent of life’, take advantage of water's anomalous 'specific heat capacity' — or resistance to temperature change. All substances have a specific heat capacity, which is a way of measuring how they respond to temperature change, and water ranks highest amongst common substances in its resistance to changes in temperature. This is rather intuitive actually, and we even have common aphorisms to describe this...
“A watched pot never boils”
Think about boiling hot water vs heating a butter knife to red hot on your stove top. It take a long time to heat water, however once it's warm it retains heat very well. Leave it to sit, come back in an hour, and the water will still feel warm to the touch. But what about something like steel? If you placed a butter knife in the flame of a gas range, and leave it for a few moments it will become exceedingly hot very quickly. Turn the flame off, and leave it to cool, and in just a few minutes it will return to the ambient temperature of the room. Water has a high specific heat capacity, as it is slow to change temperature, and once changed, it is slow to change again. Steel in contrast, is quick to heat up, and quick to cool. Luckily, your body is primarily composed of water, not steel, otherwise your core temperature would be as fickle as the morning breeze.
At home, maintaining our core temperature is easy, but when we step out of our climate controlled homes and offices, and out into nature, we suddenly become responsible for our own thermoregulation. We must maintain our core temperature above all else, lest we allow our system to over or under heat. The water in our bodies, and our warm blooded metabolisms, give us some advantages, but our little internal heaters are no match for the gravitas of nature's weather.
Imagine a computer — forgive me for comparing you to such, but here I promise it to be a useful metaphor — left outside in the cold. You go to boot it up but it lags, and slows. It is challenging to get it to perform any function, as the cold saps its energy. What if we allow it to overheat? Wrap your computer in blankets while running some high demand programs and you will soon see that as it becomes hyperthermic it also starts malfunctioning and shutting down. Your body behaves in a similar way. Get it too cold and it starts to slow and lag, and eventually shuts down and dies. Get it too warm and under the influence of heat something similar soon follows. Maintaining and shedding heat within a relatively narrow temperature band is crucial to the function of our mammalian physiology.
If this is as crucial to our survival as illustrated above, then it seems pertinent that we determine how the body loses heat so that we might learn how to prevent this – in the case of environmental cold – and how to accelerate this process in temperatures that threaten to overheat us.
There are five principle ways that our bodies lose heat, and once learned, it is easy to develop strategies or improvise tactics to maintain, increase, or reduce our core temperature by putting these principles into application.
Conduction is the transfer of heat from a warmer body into one that is cooler by physical contact between the two. The ground is almost always cooler than your core temperature, and so contact with the ground draws your heat away, out of your body and into itself. Imagine if we have two pots of hot water and we set one outside on a wooden bench, and the other outside on the ground. Can you immediately perceive how the one on the ground would cool faster? It would do so by giving (conducting) its heat to the cooler earth below, whereas the one on the wooden bench is more ‘insulated’ (dry wood is a poor conductor) from the cold temperature of the ground.
This means that when we want to conserve our core temperature, as in a cool or cold environment, it is important that we insulate ourselves from contact with cooler surfaces. This is why backpackers use a foam sleeping pad when camping. The pad isn’t just to keep you more comfortable, it is designed to be a poor conductor (a good insulator) keeping you from conducting your precious body heat to the ground as you sleep.
Conversely, when we are trying to dump excessive body heat, as in the case of a hyperthermic event, we want to maximize our contact with cooler surfaces so that they might pull heat away from and out of our bodies.
Remember, this principle can work in reverse as well, when you are the cooler body. This is why contact with a warmer body increases your temperature, and why things like a heated blanket, a hand-warmer, or skin to skin contact with a warmer person can transfer heat to you.
Convection is the loss of the temperature regulated fluid around your body. Both air and water are classified as fluids, and though we will primarily be talking about convection as a function of air, it is quite easy to understand if we begin with the example of water. Have you ever been in a bath that was just a bit too hot? You quickly notice that if you sit very still the water becomes tolerable, but as soon as you move you begin to be burned. This is because the water in contact with your skin has conducted its heat to you, and you now have a thin foil of cooled water in contact with your skin, buffering you from the more extreme heat of the surrounding bath. As soon as you move this cooler water is lost, and hot, burning water is now back in contact with your skin.
Now imagine that you are standing naked in the cold. A thin foil of air, warmed by conduction from your body, forms around your skin. Your entire hide erupts in 'goose bumps', which are the muscular contractions of the erector pili muscles that lie at the base of your hair follicles. These lift your hairs into the air like the masts of a ship, to hold the air close to you. They act as a built in sweater, trapping air and allowing it to warm from contact with your body.
Now, imagine I come to you with a fan, and begin to blow air at you. That foil of warmed air, trapped all around you is literally blown away, and unheated, cold air rushes in, contacting your skin and pulling your body heat away. This is convection. When we seek to build or maintain our body temperature it is vital that we reduce the movement of fluids (water or air) across the exterior surface of our bodies. This means getting out of the wind, and creating a situation where the air (or water) around us can be trapped, heated, and will stay in place.
Conversely, if our intention is to reduce our core temperature, than we want to increase the movement of fluids over our skin. This is why a fan helps to cool you in the summer, even though the air it is blowing at you is the same ambient temperature as the air you are in. It is convection at work. Observe how when people feel flushed they will instinctively fan their faces or necks with a hand or whatever they hold to create this convecting effect.
Convection is much more effective when our body is wet, so avoiding sweat or water is crucial to conserving our body temperature, however when seeking to cool ourselves, getting some water onto our skin will increase the effectiveness. You can try this by standing in front of a fan naked before a shower, and then again just after. You will immediately notice the difference. A moisture saturated body cools 5 X’s faster than a dry one!
Evaporation, which is the conversion of a liquid into a vapor, requires energy — and in the case of our sweat, this energy is our body heat. Sweat, which in reality is our blood plasma leaving our body through our skin and being converted into a vapor that merges with the atmosphere around us, is one of our bodies more eloquent thermoregulating strategies. Like the fan that runs in your computer, keeping it from overheating, our bodies dump excessive heat into the water we excrete onto our skin’s surface, heating it until it becomes a vapor, where it quickly 'levitates' off of us, carrying the heat it has absorbed away with it. We sweat when we have too much thermal energy, and sweat carries this thermal energy away on its journey from a liquid to a gas.
It is a common experience of those who surmount mountains, even in very cold temperatures, to become sweat soaked as they hike to the summit. However, once they are up at the top, and they stop moving, this sweat — now soaking their clothes and skin — begins to cool them far too quickly. Add to this the convecting winds common at mountain tops, and you have created ideal conditions for hypothermia. For this reason, in the cold, it is important that we are careful not to become sweat saturated, and are sure to remove any excess clothing when hiking in cold temps. Additionally, we want to avoid becoming wet when we are attempting to conserve our core heat, by accidentally breaking through ice into liquid water for example, or by getting covered in snow that will melt on us, soaking us with liquid water. Water in this liquid form will pull heat into itself through conduction, and will carry our heat away through evaporation, as well as increase the loss of heat through convection. When it is cold, do what you can to stay dry.
If we are seeking to lower our core temperature, evaporating sweat or water off of our bodies is an excellent way to accelerate the loss of excessive heat. Keep in mind that evaporation is most effective when the water on our skin (whether sweat or water we have applied) is kept thin, and isn’t dripping. The goal is to evaporate the liquid — converting it to vapor — not have it run down our skin.
Have you ever noticed that when the temperatures drop your breath becomes visible? This is water vapor that you see, like a cloud of smoke, leaving your lungs, and it is carrying body heat away with it too. In addition to the moisture in your breath, the bit of borrowed atmosphere in your lungs also gets heated to body temperature, and when you exhale it you lose that heat, essentially conducting it into the cooler air you have inhaled. Each breath becomes an exercise in heat loss.
If you have ever done any cold weather camping, you will, quite instinctively, find yourself pulling your whole head into your sleeping bag as you slumber. This reduces your heat loss, as your heated breath is kept in the insulating encasement of your sleeping bag. The downside is that your breath contains moisture, and this will, over the course of the night, saturate much of the sleeping bag around your face with water. That water will cool, and in the case of winter camping, sometimes even freeze the bag by the time you wake up.
A great solution to this is to wear a thick balaclava on your head when you go to sleep. This will keep the warmth of your breath inside, but help to keep your sleeping bag dry. I have developed the habit of bringing a neck gator with me wherever I go, whether to the city or the forest, the desert or the jungle. It allows me to keep my body temperature up by both insulating my neck — a place where core-heated blood comes close to the surface via the carotid arteries — and to pull it up over my mouth and nose if temperatures fall to the point where I want to conserve some of my respirated heat.
Because some mammals, such as dogs, lack the sophisticated sweat evaporation system that we humans have, they maximize their heat loss via respiration. This is why dogs pant when they begin to exercise. As their core temperature rises they begin dumping heat into the atmosphere by blowing it out. In addition their tongue increases in surface area, becoming broad and flat, and they hang it out like a radiator to allow convection, evaporation, and conduction to the surrounding air!
Note: because our bodies regulate our delicate blood pH and dissolved blood-gas levels through our respiration, it isn’t a good strategy to attempt to blow off heat through respiration. When your temperature begins to rise, do not try to reduce heat through respiration, just simply ensure that you are breathing normally, and that the heat of the air you exhale isn’t being trapped near your body, such as it might in a confined space.
Perhaps one of the most interesting and counterintuitive ways in which we give off our heat to the environment is through radiation. We do, quite literally, have a 'light-body', which is visible in the infrared band of the electromagnetic spectrum. While we don’t have eyes capable of perceiving this light, when we augment our vision with infrared capable instruments — such as thermal imaging units — we can see this light quite easily. Because this light is thermal energy, and because it is leaving our bodies, this loss of energy to the environment is a loss of heat. We literally 'shine' our heat away.
Would it be possible then to conserve this light? Perhaps we could use a mirror to reflect this light back onto us? This is exactly what a 'space blanket' does. Have you ever seen an 'emergency blanket', a thin mylar, metallic looking plastic sheet that is wrapped around a person when attempting to mitigate heat loss? This is precisely how they work. The shiny, mirrored finish of the blanket reflects infrared energy back onto the body, reducing heat loss by about 5%!
When we are seeking to keep warm, reflective surfaces like this can help — though only in a fractional way, making it perhaps the least significant factor in managing our body temperature — to conserve the heat we have generated. Remember though that objects that have stored heat energy will also radiate, so being next to a large boulder that has been in the sun for instance, will allow us to absorb radiated heat from that object.
When we are seeking to reduce our heat, it makes sense to avoid surfaces that are radiating, like large heated stones, sand or other hot surfaces, metal from objects such as vehicles, or any other 'heat sink', which can be any object which has absorbed heat and is now radiating it out.
Thermoregulation is perhaps our most crucial survival strategy, especially for those of us who live in environments with extreme temperatures. Human beings began their journey close the Earth’s equator, where temperatures and seasons are much less susceptible to dramatic change. As we began to migrate out from our original home, we took residence in areas with extreme climates, such as the boreal forests or arid deserts. Life in these places requires that we be skillfully competent at thermoregulating.
Our domesticated (literally meaning 'of the house') lives are climate controlled, and so thermoregulation has been as easy as the setting of a thermostat dial. But when we step outside, things change and they change quickly. So quickly, that the lives of many moderns are claimed each year by nature, penalizing those who can't, don't, or won't thermoregulate. You don't have to be one of them.
Play with the principles outlined above when your survival is not at stake. Learn to regulate your comfort and core heat by developing tactics that emerge from the knowledge of the five concepts laid out in this article. This strategy will keep you cozy, safe, and alive wherever you venture, allowing you to transcend mere survival and thrive as one of Earth’s neoaboriginals.
Essential Skills for Northeastern Wild Living
By Arthur Haines of Delta Institute
Survival skills, as they are often called, are a large set of essential strategies for living in the wild. Indigenous people were expert in many, diverse skill sets, including natural history, hunting, medicine, weaving, fire, tailoring, and so on. Though these skills are often referred to as primitive, they actually represent the peak sustainable technologies ever demonstrated by Homo sapiens. Modern humans (Homo sapiens domesticofragilis) often have a difficult time replicating these skills; however, for anyone with perseverance, these skills are recorded in our genetic memory and are certainly our birthright.
In order to live sustainably, one must ultimately be able to do everything that is required of him or her with tools that can be gathered and/or made from the landscape. That means that the tools must be made from stone, bone, antler, wood, plant fiber and resin, animal parts, or soil particles (such as clay). This “requirement” often adds additional challenges, but should be considered the highest form of practicing a skill; however, those who are first learning these skills need not commit to avoiding modern tools and materials as they learn about a given topic. But, keep in mind, the ability to perform these skills with metal blades, modern adhesives, plastic, synthetic cords, and other highly processed materials misses a key point — much of the challenge of primitive living skills is creating the tools needed for a given project (not just building a specific item). To live indefinitely in the wild, the following set of skills must be both understood and validated through real life performance. It is not acceptable to merely know (intellectually) how these tasks are done. Rather, they must be known through actual practice (experientially). For example, I had built Paiute dead fall traps for several years (without actually using them). I could build beautiful traps and demonstrate the necessary principles. However, when I actually committed to using this trap to secure food, it took me two weeks (and many refinements) before the first animal was captured. My traps, though correctly constructed for a coffee table book, were missing necessary designs for actually capturing animals.
Paiute deadfall trap
Photo credit: Rawtographer
The following set of skills is only a partial listing of abilities needed. It does not include aspects of community and spirituality, physical fitness and a host of movement-related skills, art and music, and many other aspects of wild living. It is merely the physical skill set of our ancestors that were needed to secure nutrition, protect people from the elements, heal from injury and disease, and craft necessary items for daily and yearly living. The list provides a reality check of what is required (be honest with yourself). While there is a great deal of information presented here, there is no intent to dissuade anyone from learning about ancestral lifeways. And keep in mind, we are extremely fortunate to still live in a time when each of these skills can still be replicated by some person (though few people can replicate all these skills). However, if we do not learn and practice them, the ability to perform them will ultimately disappear from the ethnosphere of Homo sapiens. The skills listed below can be used as a checklist of items that domesticated humans will ultimately require for complete rewilding. Some tasks are necessarily repeated under different headings because they are interdisciplinary. This list would require modification for different ecosystems of the world. Items are presented in no particular order (i.e., no hierarchy is implied because all these skills are essential for extended living).
nutrition: sustain healthy populations through the generations, providing necessary macro- and micronutrients, along with beneficial phyto- and mycochemistry and bacterial nutrition to produce healthy children (which will insure all else).
- foraging—knowledge of over 100 species of edible plants, including species that can be gathered during all four seasons
- preparation—understanding of how to prepare plants to deal with toxins and antinutrients (when present) so that nutrition can be maximized
- preservation—ability to preserve a wide array of plant, fungal, and animal foods for lean times
- hunting—finding and effectively acquiring game with a variety of tools (e.g., throwing stick, bow and arrow, atlatl/spear, hand capture)
- fishing—ability to secure fish throughout the year by use of hook and line, trap sets (including weirs), and nets
- collecting—gathering relatively stationary animal foods, such as shellfish
- trapping—knowledge of at least 10 different trap sets (some may reuse a particular type of trigger mechanism), ranging from deadfalls to snares to live capture to drowning sets, and an ability to target a variety of different sizes and different kinds of organisms (e.g., mammal, fish, reptile)
medicine: maintain and restore health through the use of multiple avenues of healing (e.g., plant, fungus, animal, water, mineral, ceremony, trauma medicine), including infection, injury, birth, and chronic disease
- phytotherapy—knowledge of at least 50 species of plants from different ecosystems that can be used for a wide array of remedies
- mycotherapy—knowledge of at least 10 species of fungi that can potentiate the immune system, fight infection and chronic disease, reduce inflammation, etc.
- altered states—ability to produce altered states for divination, though use of entheogens or various practices (e.g., syncopated drumming)
stone tools: actual skill at crafting different kinds of stone tools from the appropriate rock for each tool, though the use of knapping (percussion and pressure), pecking, sanding, and bipolar percussion, also including the knowledge to change the lithic character of stone through heating
- flakes—for general purpose duties, including cutting, butchering, and scraping (often discarded after one or few uses)
- biface blades—knives for extended use, can be hafted to wood, antler, and bone handles
- hammers—hafted and unhafted, for various pounding purposes
- scrapers—hafted and unhafted, for preparing hides for clothing, cordage, etc.
- axes—hafted and unhafted, from knapped stone and pecked/sanded stone
- drill bits—hafted (usually) drill bits for drilling through various materials
Turkey Fletching & Novaculite Point
Photo credit: Arthur Haines
bone and antler tools: ability to create various tools for various purposes, using both fresh and aged bone
- smashing—creating tools through smashing bone and collecting shards that can be utilized or further refined
- scoring—grooving bone so that it can be broken into a predictable shape
- abrading—wearing away bone so it can be worked into desired shapes
- drilling—using various methodologies to drill holes and slots in bone (as needed)
bark skills: understand the use of tree bark in ancestral lifeways and how each species has different applications, also an understanding of split-separation to divide layers of bark; some important species used in the Northeast include paper birch, American elm, northern white cedar, American linden, and eastern hemlock
- timing—knowing when bark can be peeled
- methods—how bark can be peeled, including those species that can be harvested by special techniques when out of season
- processing—knowledge of necessary processing for different tasks (e.g., retting for cordage, flattening for shelters)
- application—experiential knowledge of which species are used for each task, such as shelter covering, fiber for cordage and clothing, medicine, containers, and water craft
shelter: this is essentially a composite of other skill sets, though bringing those together to create effective lodges where people can cook indoors during inclement weather is vital
- temporary—various simple shelters such as debris huts that can be constructed in a day and serve as suitable shelter without fire
- semi-permanent—longer-term shelters that can stand 5–10 years before replacement, generally using bark sheets as the exterior
- lighting—use of fat (best when rendered) and wicks to light the interior space
- mats—constructing mats to provide comfort and insulation from the ground and as an interior wall for cold weather times
- fire—ability to manage fire for heating, cooking, and, to some extent, lighting without filling the interior with smoke
fiber arts: knowledge of creating a variety of different kinds of cordage from various plant and animal fibers, including lashing together shelter poles, cords for traps, bow strings, sewing materials, etc.
- bark cordage—fresh and retted kinds, gathered throughout the year (as possible)
- herbaceous plants—when to gather and how to process to create permanently flexible cordage from both stems and leaves (of different species)
- roots—clear knowledge of the different species and how they can be used, along with an ability to split separate thicker diameter roots
- rope skills—ability to tie various kinds of knots and lashings suitable for the purpose at hand
- weaving—knowledge of weaving to make various crafts, including knife sheaths, pouches, other containers, ground mats, shelter interior walls, etc.
- coil basketry—creating coil baskets from various plant materials
- net construction—this technology allows for the fabrication of netted bags for carrying and as a means of securing fish
containers: ability to construct containers for various purposes, including dry and wet storage, cooking, and carrying
- bark containers—water-tight and non-water-tight kinds, the former allowing cooking through use of heated stones
- branch baskets—use of branches (as well as roots) to weave baskets for carrying foraged goods
- hide containers—pouches and sacks, also an ability to use stomach and intestine for cooking and storing food
- earthenware containers—ceramic vessels for storage and cooking directly on coals
- coal-burned containers—use of embers to burn out hollows in wood
- packs—construction of burden baskets to allow carrying of loads
- woven fish traps—these are essentially basket technologies applied to the capture of fish and decapods (e.g., crayfish, lobsters)
Willow Shoot Baskets
Photo credit: Arthur Haines
clothing: knowledge of clothing manufacture to protect body from the elements (e.g., wind, rain, temperature, solar insolation, biting insects, plant armature)
- braintanning—create permanently supple fabric from animal hides (from a variety of species)
- barktanning—create more durable (though less supple) and more weather-proof clothing through use of high-tannin-content plants
- weaving—footwear, body wear, and blankets from plant fibers
- clothing types—an ability to make shirts, pants, shorts, leggings, seasonally appropriate footwear, hats, mittens, and jackets
- methods—understanding use of awls and needles, building from intuitive patterns, repair of clothing
- weatherproofing—knowledge of making clothing at least partly weather resistant through use of plant- or animal-based formulas (grease, resins, etc.)
- elemental protection—creating items, such as sunglasses from bone, wood, or hide, to protect from aspects of the elements
Elk Hide on Frame
Photo credit: Arthur Haines
woodworking: knowledge of woodworking is needed for tool and shelter construction
- green wood—understand working with freshly gathered wood
- dried wood—understand working with aged wood
- bending wood—an ability to use dry heat and/or steam to shape wood (a necessary skill for various hunting tools, skis, toboggans, arrow shafts, etc.)
- hunting weapons—ability to make spears, bows, and similar tools
- shelters—creating poles for sturdy shelters
mastics: materials to use as adhesives, waterproof coatings, hafting, and protecting
- hide glue—creation and use
- pine pitch—locating, tempering, and use
- birch tar—creation and use
fire and light: fire is the primary tool that allows creation of complex tools, it is a pivotal skill
- fire creation from at least 3 different methods (e.g., hand drill, bow drill, pump drill, strap drill)
- ability to maintain fire in less than optimal settings
- ability to carry fire for an entire day of travel
- use of fire for food preparation, including cooking, sterilization, and detoxification
- use of fire to create dry heat and/or steam for tool construction
- use of fire for heating shelters
- use of fire (embers) for burning hollows into wood to make utensils, containers, etc.
- creating light for shelters, navigation, and torch fishing
water: procuring clean water from the landscape and manufacturing the ability to carry and store it
- finding water on the landscape, even during periods of drought
- sterilizing water when necessary
- use of watertight containers to carry water from place to place
nature observation: a deep understanding of biotic and abiotic elements in the landscape is crucial for finding the necessary resources for survival
- plant, fungus, and animal identification
- locating and identifying necessary lithic and clay resources
- weather forecasting
- deep knowledge of tracking, including track and sign identification, interpretation, and following, along with ecological tracking
- heightened awareness and bolstering of the senses
movement and stealth: ability to move and navigate across the landscape (even great distances) and the capability to do so unseen and unheard for hunting purposes
- familiarity with macro- and micro-features on the land to allow navigation by landscape
- navigation by sun, moon, and stars
- ability to move day or night, and in the presence of snow (requiring a understanding of the construction of snowshoes and skis)
- knowledge of concealment (stationary) and stealth (moving)
personal hygiene: keeping good hygiene practices to avoid infection, dental carries, and external parasites
- oral hygiene—creating tools for cleaning teeth, locating suitable clay, and knowledge of plant for making tooth powders with anti-adhesion properties
- washing—plants that foam for soap, clays, and other suitable items for washing the body
- nails—keeping nails trimmed to avoid splinters and accumulating debris
- hair—washes for cleaning hair and protecting from problem dandruff
- sunscreen—ability to make protective sunscreen from animal lipids
- insect repellent—plants that can keep biting insects and ticks , smudging practices to keep shelters clear of problematic insects
Arthur Haines is offering these gorgeous Passamaquoddy Moon Calendars for the upcoming year! Not only do these calendars help you to sync up with natural time, they also teach you the Passamaquoddy names of each moon (with a pronunciation guide), and etymology of the moon names. This calendar would make a great gift for a loved one (or yourself!)!
*The standard Gregorian dates and holidays are included in this calendar to make it useful for everyone. The calendar will be of interest to those looking to rewild the way they track the passage of days and who would like to assist with Anaskimin's efforts in providing Ancestral Plants to the public. All the profits from this calendar (100% of them) will be used to pay for the printing of Ancestral Plants volumes (1 and 2).
Greetings! My name is Arthur Haines and I’ve been helping people explore human ecology for over 20 years. I’ve done this with the mission of developing deep awareness of and connection to nature, promoting individual health, and fostering self-reliance. Wild food is a passion of mine, and through this, I offer a glimpse of our past and a new picture of our future. Through this knowledge, and many other facets of our shared ancestral lifeways, we can awaken a rewilding of our body, mind, and heart.
I endeavor to share knowledge garnered from this perspective, one that merges the material knowledge of present-day people with the ecological knowledge of ancestral people.
Arthur Haines is back on the podcast to discuss ancestral survival skills. We talk about the history of these natural human skills, as well as how the modern feral human can master these skills today.
- What does it look like to surthrive using primitive skills
- How to learn primitive skills
- Eating 100% wild foods — is it possible?
- The bow
- How many people does it take to sustainably surthrive in nature
- Arthur’s personal water strategy
- Indigenous peoples’ water strategies
- History of human fire use
- How to create friction fire
- How important is fire to surviving in a natural landscape?
- Learning recipes vs learning concepts
We have a culture that wants recipes and not concepts. Tweet it!
There is a difference between sampling wild living and living wild living. Tweet it!
Ancestral lifeways are the only proven sustainable way that humans can live on this planet. Tweet it!
The worst botanist in an indigenous society is as good as our best botanist now. Tweet it!
- Samuel Thayer
- Samuel Thayer on ReWild Yourself! Podcast
- Traditional Bow Making Class with Arthur
- Horn Bows
- Oldest evidence of arrows found
- How to build a debris hut
- Use of Birch Bark as shingles on teepees
- Tom Brown Jr.'s Tracker School
- Michael Douglas - Maine Primitive Skills
- penobscot recorded as having traveled to castco near sebago lake 200 km from their home to go to the spring
- Christopher Nyerges
- Cody Lundin
- Control of fire by early humans
- Homo erectus
- Arthur Starts a Friction Fire - video
- Ancestral Plants by Arthur Haines
- Arthur’s classes
able to adjust to new conditions.
It isn’t polite dinner conversation, but we are living in the midst of a mass extinction event. While there remains debate about just how quickly this event is unfolding, that this event is underway can hardly be contested. This world — the one we have inherited — has changed dramatically since our parents were born, and assuredly it will have changed even more dramatically before we pass it on to our children. Are you ready for these changes? How resilient and adaptable are you to change?
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change. In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment.” - an illuminating quote, mistakenly attributed to Charles Darwin
ReWilding. The term smacks of a ‘return’ to something previous, a retrograde journey into the past. I’d like to take a moment to set the record straight about this, and to clarify my position. Ancestral humans, those Homo sapiens living from 200,000 years before the present until the Neolithic Revolution, beginning somewhere around 10,000 years ago, offer a wonderful model of health and sustainability. I look to them, draw so much of my strategies and tactics from their life-ways, venerate them so frequently, not because I believe we should seek to become them, to return to the lives they led. Hardly. I believe they provide an optimal model upon which to base our future decisions.
Evolution is a progressive process, and environments are ever changing. Even if humanity had not discovered domestication, and wrought its degenerative woes upon the species we have enslaved and upon ourselves, we would still be changing, still be evolving. Even if we hadn’t initiated the Anthropocene age, the 6th mass extinction, the world's habitat would still be changing, still ebbing, still flowing. Change — cliché but true — is constant, and so too must be the adaptation of any organism or complex system that hopes to remain relevant in the face of such change.
The ReWilding principles that I share are not about leading us back to some now archeologically buried golden age, rather, they are for use in moving forward, for adapting to the world we now live in, and the one that is soon coming. The ecosystem of tomorrow will present us with challenges unlike anything we can imagine. Our forests gone, our air relentlessly polluted, our soils dust. Great swaths of the diversity of our planet’s ecology now extinct and lost forever. Radioactive material entering the environment at ever increasing rates, contaminating lifeforms with carcinogenic ions that become trapped in their tissues. Great heaps of everlasting plastic swirling about in the Pacific Ocean, circling like so much excrement in a toilet that is clogged and refuses to flush.
We want to hide from all of this, and understandably. We want to pretend that driving hybrid cars and recycling and buying cage-free eggs is making a difference. That we can undo what we have already done. The reality for those who are paying attention and remaining mindful is that the Earth we have known is changing dramatically — and rapidly — and nothing now can stop it. Resiliency to this change, the ability to adapt, will be amongst the most prized of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual traits for the foreseeable future.
Survival isn’t about gear or techniques. Those things, in the right hands, can be force multipliers, increasing your odds for survival. Pure survivability is about being able to adapt to whatever circumstances arise, to whatever environment you find yourself in. It is becoming 'indigenous' to and in any circumstance. This is the essence of ReWilding. It is being able to find your composure, to pause long enough to ask questions like: “If I am to thrive here, in these circumstances, under these conditions, what must I do? How can I become native to this circumstance?”.
The world we find ourselves in today is one of a vast dying organic ecology overlaid by a rapidly evolving artificial technosphere that is threatening to absorb and subsume all of the life on this planet. It has already claimed the consciousness of most humans living on earth and is quickly snuffing out other lifeforms who stand in the way of the resources it needs to construct itself and its network. Those of us living here today must learn to adapt to this world, and to the next. We are then beings with a foot in two worlds, one in a natural ecology and one in an artificial technocracy.
verb [ with obj. ]
act out (a past event)
We cannot allow a desire for living in the natural world prevent us from adapting to the world that actually is. To do so would be maladaptive. To pretend that we are living in the former world, to act that out, would be no different than going to a renaissance fair pretending that we are living in medieval Europe. We must live out ReWilded lifestyles here, now, in this place. Everything else is play acting. ReWilding — for me — isn’t about wearing buck-skin clothes, hunting with a wooden bow, or gathering my food by hand from the forest. These are all wonderful hobbies, and fantastic skills. They teach us about our history, about our species, about ourselves, and at the same time support our physical and mental health and well-being. They are skills that in and of themselves have merit. They are not necessarily adaptive behaviors in our current world, not born today from necessity, but rather from a desire to explore behaviors that were adaptive in the past (and might, once again, become adaptive in the future). For me, ReWilding is about the understanding and integration of the knowledge that I am an animal, and that I come from — however far back — wild stock. Learning how to express that innate wild intelligence, that deep well of instinct, that resilient, adaptable will to survive is my ultimate goal.
I can be just as wild in the city as I can in the forest, and in fact I seek to be both. Perfectly adapted to the world that is, and ready to adapt again, always, now, as the change around me demands.
ReWilding is a mindset. A Feral Mindset.
Waves of Grief: Surviving the Loss of My Brother
By Ali Schueler of Wild Woman Speaks
“Derek is survived by his mother, Vivien Allan and her partner, Jack Wallace, of Shelburne; father, Kurt Schueler of Burlington; sister, Alexandra Schueler and partner, Daniel Vitalis; maternal grandparents, Helen and Derek Allan; paternal grandmother, Mary-Sue Getman…”
The story of survival I’m going to share with you today may be a bit different from what you might be expecting. While I’m not the first person to have gone through this, the experience I want to share isn’t typically considered to be a “survival story”.
My little brother, Derek Schueler, passed away in a unexpected, tragic accident exactly one year and four months ago, at the date of this writing (December 18th). He was a mere 21 years old, getting ready to graduate from a prestigious college, with a degree in business.
He was the warmest soul I’ve ever met, and would give these amazing bear hugs that sometimes morphed into a loving choke-hold somehow, every time. Endearing on every level.
Derek was athletic, quite the handsome little devil, and I think just about everyone who had the chance to meet him, absolutely loved him.
As I paint this picture, you might be starting to see what a complete and utter robbery it felt like to have him taken from me way so soon.
You see, I was supposed to see him graduate college. I was supposed to see him get married, have kids, and then be the Auntie to his kids. We were supposed to have decades upon decades together, growing old together, and supporting one another along our unique life journey’s.
Call it destiny, call it fate, call it a massive shit-fuck of a loss. It’s all of it, and there’s no way to avoid the fact that he’s gone too soon and all of the things I wanted to share with him in our lifetime have evaporated out into the ethers.
One side of this survival story is that my brother didn’t survive. I feel his spirit with me all the time, but his physical body is no longer with us here on Earth.
The other side of the survival story, is that I did survive. I was states away from him when the accident happened that took his life, so it’s not that I was at risk too — I’m talking about the fact that I’ve survived the grief and pain of losing him.
The truth is, I’ve experienced so many moments of grief and pain that I thought would be enough to kill me. There were plenty of times where I even thought it might be easier to just check out and be gone myself, it hurt that badly.
The grief of losing Derek is like this gut wrenching, makes me want to throw up, heart completely shattered into a trillion tiny pieces, how can I even go on, paralyzing, cataclysmic, nothing matters anymore, kind of pain.
Words will never do the pain and hurt of losing him justice, so that’s the best I can do to articulate it for now, given that I’m still just over a year into my process with this loss.
I honestly didn’t know how I was going to survive the hurt of it all on numerous occasions, especially right after he died. The waves were so huge, so intense, and broke so hard all over me in the beginning, that I just existed in this state of complete annihilation and obliteration on a daily basis. This lasted for months, upon months, upon months.
I lived in his sweatpants and sweatshirt every day, for a long time. I listened to this playlist that had all of his favorite songs, on repeat all day every day. I would watch the slideshow I made for his memorial service multiple times every day. I would cry, and cry, and oh wait — there’s still a shitload of tears in there, so I’d cry some more.
I didn’t care about anything. I literally did not give a fuck one way or another what happened to me. I romanticized over the idea of the Earth spontaneously consuming me suddenly for awhile, because I was hurting so much that I just wanted to disappear into thin air.
So, I did all of this not giving a fuck, as I was deep in my grieving process. Until I did start to give a fuck again, one day. It was several months later, and then I really gave a fuck, way more than ever before.
I’ve often heard people talk about grief like waves, and how the grief will come in massive waves every few seconds in the beginning, and then as time goes on, the waves begin to shrink in size and frequency as the loss becomes more integrated into our lives. This feels true to my process.
The waves eventually started to decrease in size and frequency, and life started to make sense again. After Derek died, I lost complete sight of my mission and soul purpose in the world. I let it go and didn’t care about it any more. It felt so insignificant compared against the pain I was facing.
But when the waves started slowly (very slowly) decreasing, my mission came into sight once again. It was like my vision re-focused, after having been blurry for a long time. This wasn’t with detaching from my grieving process — I was still very present to that, but it was this emergence from a fog I hadn’t fully realized I was in.
I emerged from this fog with a vigor like never before. Still deeply in pain and grieving, yet wholeheartedly dedicated to my mission and soul’s purpose like never before. I decided to take on the world with such force, and in retrospect, it seems I may have channeled some of my grief and pain to create good in the world in an attempt to change lives for the better.
In doing so, I became more aligned with my service to the world than I ever had before. I believe that I have Derek’s spirit not only guiding me, but also helping to lift me up in all that I do. I believe that I was able to use my grief and pain to make things happen and serve. Mind you, this was all subconscious — I wasn’t consciously channeling my grief into creation, it just started happening that way. Somehow, in some way, this wretched loss and the pain I felt from it morphed into a sacred gemstone inside of me, that I was able to unveil and share with the world in the form of my service to others.
I believe that I needed to choose to survive through all of the seemingly insurmountable pain, so that I could summit that frightening cliff face and realize at the top, that I could still live with all of the pain I felt.
The pain doesn’t go away. Here I am, a year and four months later to the day, and I still wake up every day missing Derek’s face. I miss his bear hugs more than anything. There are a million things I wish I could still do with him. So, I grieve. I cry like it’s never going to stop. I go through all of the layers of my process every single day.
Yet now, it’s with this knowing that I can make it. I wasn’t sure in the beginning if I would make it, or if the pain might just devour me whole. I’m here now, and I know that no matter the pain, I’m committed to living, and not just for myself now. I’m living for myself AND Derek.
That’s fucking worth it.
I still wear his sweatpants a lot, but it’s not with the sense of mourning it once had when I would wear them. I’m wearing them right now as I write this piece, with a sense of fondness and love, knowing I’m wrapped up in what was once his.
I still listen to the playlist of his favorite songs regularly, sometimes when I’m grieving and other times when I just want to feel him, because listening to his favorite songs gives me this sense of him not being all that far away. When I do this now, it’s not with the fear that I’ll never come out of the pain again, because I know I will now.
I still watch the slideshow of photos I made for his memorial service sometimes and it makes me cry my eyes out every time, but now it’s with an, “I miss you so fucking much and just want to lay my eyes on you, Derek” rather than the, “I don’t know what to do with myself and don’t want to let my pain go so I’m going to watch this to perpetuate my grieving.”
I understand now that I can consciously go into my grief, experience the pain, and come out alive on the other side. I’m a survivor of loss and grief.
When the waves come, and they always do, they still hit with intensity but I’m not quite as lost in the waves as I was in the beginning. The waves have focus to them now, where I welcome them to wash over and through my being, because I know that in doing so I’m allowing myself to feel through my experience entirely. It’s not with the same sense of disempowerment and disorientation that they once had when I was first struggling with losing him.
Each wave is different, but I know how to navigate the territory now and trust myself to get to the other side as a survivor of the pain.
I now know to a greater degree, the capacity for pain I can bear in this lifetime. I’m certainly not asking for more experiences like this, though I’m empowered in knowing that I can survive even something this tragic.
And isn’t that part of the story of being a survivor? Survivors bear this insane amount of pain and in making it to the other side, are rebirthed as an evermore powerful, wise, and magical being.
So, here I am. Alive and well, missing my little brother, yet more committed to living than ever before. I’m doing it for both of us now.
Derek’s birthday is on January 6th, which is right around the corner. If you remember or feel called to light a candle in his honor, that would be such a gift to have people around the world honoring his precious soul’s birth anniversary.
If you are a woman who is craving sisterhood — truly loving and supportive connections with other women in your life — than the Wild Feminine Un.leashed Virtual Temple of Sisterhood is for you!
In the spirit of intimacy and deep connection, the Virtual Temple is limited to 350 spots, so claim your space before it's full!
There are some pretty awesome bonuses when you sign up for the yearly membership:
- Access to a private, one-hour long group tele-course with myself and Ali on all things feminine ReWilding ($500 value)
- An hour-long private mentoring session with Ali ($200 value)
- One "Dirty Balm" from The Dirt Personal Paleo Care ($12 value)
Ali is a writer and women’s embodiment mentor. She is committed to the re-sacralization of the feminine across the globe. Her mission is passionately providing women with experience-based tools that inspire life-changing awakening in the feminine, promoting emotional awareness, spiritual fulfillment, wild self-expression as well as a connection to our bodies and their natural cycles. She enjoys writing and video blogging weekly through her website WildWomanSpeaks.com and sharing inspiration with her Wild Woman Speaks community daily through Facebook, Twitter @alischueler, and Instagram.
Michael Douglas — founder of Maine Primitive Skills School — joins us to discuss doomsday prepping versus nature literacy. He gives us some great tips to tune into our wild nature and reconnect to the landscape.
- Mike’s experience on Doomsday Preppers
- What is survival?
- Stages of growth in survival
- Our modern attention disorder
- Tending the landscape
- How does the modern person reconnect to the landscape?
- Boredom is a sign of a weak mind
- Simple trick for instantly tuning in to your innate wildness
In the domesticated mind, we are more ego-centric than gaia-centric. Tweet it!
This living landscape is sentient. Tweet it!
Boredom is a sign of a weak mind. Tweet it!
- Mike’s episode of Doomsday Preppers
- Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
- Maine Primitive Skills School
- Arthur Haines
- Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources by M. Kat Anderson
- For more wonder, rewild the world - TED Talk
- Maine Primitive Skills School Courses
- Primitive Skills YouTube Channel
Michael Douglas' passion for nature, awareness, tracking, primitive skills, and philosophy, has taken him around the globe in search of teachers and opportunities to learn new skills. He is a former student of Paul Rezendes, Tom Brown Jr., Jon Young, and many others. After pursuing survival skills as a U.S Marine, he started his own Survival School in 1989 at the University of Maine. Since then he has been an advisor for Discovery Channels’ “Dual Survivor” and was featured on National Geographics’ “Doomsday Preppers”, where he received the highest “Survivability Score” of the shows first season. His apprenticeship program is internationally known, offering participants from all over the world immersion in Tracking, Survival, Awareness, Bow Making, Wild Edibles, Medicinal Plants, Hunting, Trapping, and much more.
It must have been terrifying, that early summer day, when — still bleeding — Ötzi fled the comfort of the foothills for the harsh, high altitudes of the Italian Alps. Just what took place we cannot know, but the forensic evidence does reveal many fascinating details. His hands had been slashed in what appear to be defensive wounds, likely as he raised them to protect his face and head in the instinctual 'startle flinch response'. There was certainly a struggle, battle might be a better word, as — according to some still unpublished research — Ötzi's clothes and gear bore the blood of at least four other individuals. The best forensic guess is that one was a comrade, judging from the way this person's blood is smeared across the shoulder of his coat. It is likely Ötzi had carried him on his back at some point, perhaps in an attempt to rescue him. There was blood from another on his stone dagger, and of two more, mingled on an arrow that was found in his quiver, suggesting he had shot someone, retrieved that arrow, later shooting someone else with that same, before retrieving it once more. Judging from the unfinished condition of most of the arrows he carried, recovering one he trusted would have been very important to him. The evidence insinuates that he fled with haste, probably assembling his kit quickly before making for the sanctuary of the mountains.
Image source: Thilo Parg / Wikimedia Commons / License: CC BY-SA 3.0
It was a pursuit that appears to have played itself out over the course of days. In what must have been a moment of relative safety, he stopped for a meal of einkorn wheat and ibex just a mere two hours before he was killed. In the days preceding he had eaten chamois and red deer, poppy seed and barley, flax seeds and sloes, a stone-fruit sharing a genus with plums, and peaches. The contents of his stomach and intestines, along with the wild pollens found intermingled there, tell the story of the path he took to his final resting place.
Eventually, the distance he had gained from his pursuer was closed, made final by the arrow that slammed into Ötzi's back. Perhaps this, coupled with the exhaustion that he by now surely felt, is what eventually brought him to the ground. In the end he was probably bludgeoned, his head beaten in, likely the final cause of his death. It is believed that his — now iconic — ultimate resting position was the result of his dead body being rolled over by his killer, who sought to retrieve the arrow he had shot into his Ötzi's back. Though the shaft was successfully recovered, the head of that arrow was left behind in Ötzi's corpse, and there it remains, frozen in time, another clue in a story of interpersonal violence as old as Cain and Abel.
There Ötzi remained, his left arm unnaturally folded across his body in the position that ice and rigor mortis froze him in, for some 50 centuries. Five millennia of winters and summers passed by, 5,300 trips of the Earth around the Sun. His corpse — perfectly preserved — lay there in wait until 1991, when a German couple, hikers who had ventured about 100 meters off trail, made their now famous but accidental discovery. There, 3,210 meters above sea level, emerging from the melting ice of the Italian Alps, was the thawing body of what would only later be recognized as the most ancient naturally preserved human mummy to ever be discovered.
Image source: http://www.iceman.it/en/node/245
Police, first believing that they were responding to recover the body of someone who had perished in a recent mountaineering accident, soon realized that this was indeed something different. Bearing 65 strange and enigmatic black tattoos, and an even stranger assortment of equipment, this ancient ice mummy would come to be known as Ötzi the Iceman, eventually capturing the attention of the world. His story is as remarkable as it is captivating, being more of a murder-mystery than a typical archeological discovery. In addition to displaying the highly muscled physique of a modern olympic wrestler, he was also frozen in time with his entire 'survival kit', and we can look to it today to gain a clearer picture of the fundamental equipment humans were using to survive — thrive — in that part of the world over 5,000 years ago.
His kit was made from a diverse selection of natural materials, including no less than 18 different types of wood, each selected for specific properties ideally suited to the tool it was used for. What's more, various hides of animals, barks of trees, fungi, antler, and other natural materials from his landscape were formed into a surprisingly sophisticated inventory of equipment.
He carried a framed backpack, a quiver full of arrows, and a knapped flint dagger with a handle of ash and a scabbard made from bast and grass. His bow was made from the flexible and splinter-resistant wood of the yew tree, and was waterproofed in blood. He carried a net, likely for hunting small game, and two birch bark containers, one of which he likely used to carry smoldering embers as he moved from camp to camp. He was even found with some small pieces of medicinal polypore mushrooms, Piptoporus betulinus, which are thought to have been part of his personal self-health care strategy.
His clothing included a bear skin cap and a jacket made from the hide of a goat, as well as a leather loin cloth that was worn with a pair of goat hide leggings, and a rather intricate pair of grass, deer, and bear skin shoes. This wardrobe was bound together with his all important calf-hide belt, the pouch of which contained the remnants of his iron-pyrite, flint, and tinder fungus fire kit.
Perhaps the most unexpected part of this discovery was Ötzi's copper headed axe, the purity of which has led researchers to suspect — along with copper and arsenic ions found in a hair mineral analysis — that he had been involved in copper smelting. Like us, Ötzi had one foot in the natural, wild world, and another in the domesticated.
While Ötzi didn't survive the violent confrontation that day, he did survive the ravages of time — leaving a legacy that would speak to the hearts and inspire the minds of people thousands of years into the future.
- First Aid Kit
- Quiver and its Contents
- Minerals and Tools
- Belt and Pouch
- Stone Disc
- Birch-Bark Containers
Same Survival, Different Day
Despite the age of his body, Ötzi had the same survival needs then as you do now. Perhaps his body was a bit more fit for his mountainous and comparatively wild landscape, but he survived on the same principles that you and I do now. And just like him, you need several layers of survivability. Each layer is important, and builds upon the one before it. The first is none but your naked physique, or 'naked layer' – complete with everything you keep in your head. The second – your 'running layer' – are the clothes on your body, and the items you stuff into them. The third is your 'walking layer' – and that consists of the items you can carry on your back.
The Naked Layer
The most important, and the part of your "kit" that can never be lost, stolen, accidentally dropped into a ravine or consumed by rodents while you sleep, is the skill-set that you have earned, developed, honed though repetition. This is yours, and as long as you keep the edge on them, your survival skills will be there should you — or someone else — ever need them. You can think of this as your 'naked layer', the layer that you cannot survive without. Both the Elementary School article, as well as Arthur Haine's Neoaboriginal Revolution article above, can provide a place to get started if you are just beginning to build your naked layer. Additionally, this layer includes your physical movement competency and conditioning. Your physical fitness, one of your most valuable assets, is there, whether there are clothes covering you or not. Skill and conditioning trump gear almost every time.
The Running Layer
We humans are tool makers, and in an unusual and unprecedented way. Of course there are other animals that fashion and use tools, and this is far more common than you might initially think. Quite sophisticated tool use has been observed in chimpanzees and orangutans, but is also well known in many primates and other mammals, as well as in birds, fish, and even amongst some insects. Still, we humans are rather unique in that our entire survival strategy — as a species — depends upon tool use. A human in the wild then would be a human with tools, and these extensions of our bodies constitute an essential part of how we carve out our living wherever in the world we go.
The obsession with gear then, is not something new, but rather an ancient — even essential — part of being human. There is no shortage of tools all around us, our artificial environment is literally saturated with them. What interests me here though, is the tool kit you carry each day. In the gear-centric communities this has come to be called your 'EDC', which stands for 'everyday carry', and for many of us our EDC is as important now as it would have been to our ancestors 10,000 years ago.
While our tools and equipment are more often made from metal and polymer, glass and electronics, and far less often from the simple hide and wood, tooth and bone, shell and stone of our ancestral kit, our gear is as much today an extension of our anatomy now as it would have been then. These things, the things you keep on your person, are your 'running layer'; the things – and this includes your clothing – that you reasonably expect to have on your person all the times. If I asked you to stop what you are doing and start running now, it is those things that would be there wherever you ended up.
The Walking Layer
Imagine that I shouted to you: “Get your things together immediately, we have to leave now!” We won’t be running, as in our above example, but rather, briskly walking. What would you bring along? Likely you'd grab a backpack or a large purse, some kit that extends beyond the basic stuff you carry on your body each day. This we could call your 'walking layer'. Your walking layer usually begins with a backpack or purse, and contains those items that are not as regularly needed, or are just too cumbersome to keep in your pockets, but that you would want to have alongside in a crisis. As a personal practice, I keep my pack close by, resourced with the items that I would need if I suddenly found myself having to rely on what I had on hand.
I have modeled my own clothing, daily carry, and pack off of Ötzi’s kit. Perhaps 'modeled' isn't precisely the word, but I've certainly been inspired by it. I seek to be as self-sufficient, independently resourced, and self contained as possible, and my kit has evolved over the course of many years of demanding use in all types of environments around the world. It has seen wild and urban landscapes, deserts and jungles, freezing snow covered mountains and tropical beaches. It is custom for me, for my unique lifestyle.
Here are the current contents of my kit, both my EDC, as well as what I keep in my pack. These things shift and change over time as I upgrade and replace items. The contents change but the concept stays the same. It might look a lot more modern than what Ötzi carried, but in reality, it isn’t really that much different. The materials and technologies have changed, but our human survival needs remain the same.
Photo by LeighLon Anderson
- Hell-Bent Holdsters Kydex Combat Wallet
- Spyderco Lum Chinese Folder Knife (Shown is SPYDERCO LUM CHINESE FOLDER ~ C65BK, but is discontinued)
- RE Factor Tactical Operator Band
- Modified Glock 26 with INCOG Eclipse holster
- iPhone 6 plus with Incipio DualPro® Hard Case
- Articulate Instruments: Precision Machined Pen
- Garmin Tactix GPS Navigator Watch
- Anso Knives Carabiner V.3
- ShivWorks Clinch Pick
- Fenix PD35 Tactical Flashlight
- Glock 26 Magazine — Federal Premium HST 9mm
My Pack and its Contents
Photo by LeighLon Anderson
Photo by LeighLon Anderson
Photo by LeighLon Anderson
Vacuum Sealed Homemade MRE: Local Bison Jerky, Wild Jungle Peanuts, Berry Powders, Fruit Leather (made by Wild Woman Speaks)
Photo by LeighLon Anderson
Photo by LeighLon Anderson
- First Lite Lightweight Merino Glove
- Arc'teryx LEAF Beanie
- Arc'teryx Rho LTW Neck Gaiter
- Grayman Satu Folder Knife
- Mechanix Gloves
- Ultimate Rigger's Belt
- ITS Tactical EDC Slimline Pouch and ITS Tactical ITS EDC Trauma Kit
- Source Tactical Gear Pouch (headlamp inside)
- Leatherman OHT with Sheath
- Condor EMT Glove Pouch
- Arc'teryx LEAF Alpha Jacket
- Condor Sunglasses Case
- SealLine Baja Dry Bag
- Safariland Restraints Double Cuff Disposable Handcuffs
Photo by LeighLon Anderson
- First Lite Lightweight Merino Glove
- Arc'teryx LEAF Beanie
- Arc'teryx Rho LTW Neck Gaiter
- Ultimate Rigger's Belt
- Petzl TACTIKKA PLUS Camo Headlamp
- Snow Peak Titanium Spork
- MINIMATE GT Personal Ionic Air Purifier
- Revision Bullet Ant Tactical Goggles
- First Aid Kit
- Arc'teryx LEAF Alpha Jacket
- SealLine Baja Dry Bag
- Suunto M-9 Wrist Compass
- Condor Sunglasses Case
- N100 Mask and N95 Mask vacuum sealed
- Renovo Trio - 3 Stage Water Filter & Purifier Straw - Hollow Fiber (UF) Membrane with Activated Carbon (Charcoal) Filter and Sediment Pre-Filter
- Leatherman OHT with Sheath
- Omica Stevia inside inside my favorite SurThrival Elk Antler miron bottle
- Mechanix Gloves
- Grayman Satu Folder Knife
- ITS Tactical MPIL (Marker Panel, Individual, Lightweight)
- SOF® Tactical Tourniquet Wide
- First Aid Kit
- Quick Clot Combat Gauze
- SureFire EarPro EP3 Sonic Defenders Earplugs Hearing Protection
- Oakley Radar Range Persimmon Lenses
- Lens Cloth
- Klean Kanteen
- Omega Pacific Lite Locking D Carabiner
- Ear Buds
- Chest Decompression Needle
- Rubber Gloves
- Condor Grenade Pouch
- PNY Thumb Drive
- Fox 40 Whistle
- Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation PRO Device Charger
- ITS Tactical Bogota Entry Toolset
- Safariland Restraints Double Cuff Disposable Handcuffs
My First Aid Kit and Admin Pouch
Photo by LeighLon Anderson
Photo by LeighLon Anderson
- Spyderco Ultra Fine Benchstone with Pouch
- Bic Mini Lighter wrapped in hockey tape
- Colibri Torch Lighter
- Glow Sticks Regular and Infrared
- Battery Caddy (CR123, CR2, AA, AAA)
- Glow Sticks Regular and Infrared
- Pace Count Beads
- Exotac nanoSTRIKER Ferrocerium Fire Starter
- Exotac Fire Starter
- First Aid Kit Pouch
- Moleskin (my favorite first aid kit items for blisters)
- Maxpedition Mini Pocket Organizer (modified)
- Medical Tape
- Bentonite Clay
- Himalayan Sea Salt
- Organic Evaporated Cane Juice
- Blister Donut Bandage
- Readi Mask
- Gauze Pads
- Alcohol Prep Pads
- Organic Tampons
- Wound Adhesive
- Empty Syringe
- Organic Cotton Swabs
- Bandage Shears
- Safety Pin
- Scalpel Blade
What are you carrying? Head over to the ReWild Yourself! Facebook group to post pictures, talk about kit, and to join the discussion about what the modern primitive is carrying out into the world.
In this episode of ReWild Yourself! podcast, I talk with David Morgan — widely recognized analyst in the precious metals industry — on how to get started investing in silver for financial survival.
- Health above wealth
- What is money?
- The decline of the US dollar
- How David became interested in silver
- The many uses of silver
- Price disparity between gold and silver
- How to get started investing in silver
- Silver preparedness
- Unique storage ideas for the small silver investor
Health above wealth. Tweet it!
Silver is called the essential metal. Tweet it!
Money is a store of value. Tweet it!
- Fiat Money
- Silver-Investor.com Archives
- Silver is The Achilles' Heel to the Entire Economic System
- The Hunt Brothers
- The many uses of silver
- Colloidal silver
- Gold in cell phones
- Subscribe to David's newsletter
- Silver Guru YouTube
- Silver Market Myth
- @silverguru22 on Twitter
- Roman currency
- One Right Way to Fry an Egg
David Morgan is a widely recognized analyst in the precious metals industry and consults for hedge funds, high net worth investors, mining companies, depositories and bullion dealers. He is the publisher of The Morgan Report on precious metals, author of “Get the Skinny On Silver Investing” and featured speaker at investment conferences in North America, Europe and Asia.
Survival With a Well Stocked Pantry
By Chef Frank Giglio of Three Lily Farm
As we’ve seen in the past, natural or manmade disasters can strike at any time. As a New Englander, we have the potential for devastating blizzards, hurricanes, and/or tenacious ice storms. Having personally been through a wide variety of punishing storms in my 36 years, I have seen first hand just how challenging life without power, running water, or extra food can be. I’m always amused to see folks on the social networks brag about being stocked up with booze, as they await an oncoming snow storm. While 30 racks of canned beer can make for an interesting evening, in the event of a real grid down situation, it won’t keep you nourished for long.
Nearly 4 years ago, my wife and I purchased an off-grid homestead on 30 acres in Maine. The availability of quality food, the location, and the many great aspects of the land and home led us to pursue this house in the midcoast area. The owner, who built the home in the late 90’s did so mindfully, including a large root cellar, plenty of pantry space, and power by the sun. At the time, he was a large tree grower for nearby seed company, Fedco. So with his help, we are now reaping the benefits with a wide variety of fruit and nut trees, berries, apples, and herbs growing vigorously on the land.
With plenty of wood to keep us warm for years to come, a well functioning home, and a bountiful land, I feel well prepared for anything that may come our way. Having a well stocked pantry for us means not always relying on the grocery store to supply us with food. If a storm is heading our way, there is usually never a need to go out and get staples.
Over the years, I have come to prefer to purchase in bulk which in return, saves me money, and keeps me from having to do so much shopping.
In the world of “preppers”, I often read about MRE’s being one of the most optimal storage foods out there. Sure they are light weight, quick to prepare, and will store for long periods of time, but they are usually produced from low quality ingredients and contain excess salt and preservatives. Personally, I feel it is most important to get the most bang for your buck. If a time comes where I have to rely on the foods on hand for weeks to months at a time, I want the most nutrient dense ingredients I can find.
Being off the grid means not losing power when most people around me do. So the use of chest freezers and refrigeration is usually never an issue. While freezing is an optimal way of food preservation, it may not be practical for you in the long run if electricity is out for weeks and you don’t have a back up generator. The techniques below will give you a good base for preserving ingredients that can be grown or foraged on the land, or traded with friends and neighbors.
While traditional water bath canning is an effective technique for many ingredients, it is not ideal for preserving low acid foods like meat, fish, or straight up vegetables. This is where a pressure cooker comes in handy.
Canning is an ideal technique when garden harvests are bountiful. The biggest downside to canning is the amount of time and effort involved, but the end result is shelf stable food that will last for years.
With a low ph, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (which I can source locally or make myself) acts as a solvent, extracting both flavor and medicine from a wide array of ingredients. Fire Cider, the potent medicinal extract of spicy herbs and vegetables are infused into a blend of apple cider vinegar and honey. This recipe is one of my go-to’s for immune support, so it's always a good idea to have a gallon or two on hand at all times.
Culinary and medicinal herbs like sage, rosemary, lamb's quarters, and cat's claw are just a few plants that can make a great tasting vinegar. For the best possible end results, be sure to use organic unpasteurized apple cider vinegar as it contains active cultures and is top in flavor.
Organic vodka or grape alcohol provides us with an ability to make our own medicine at home. Tincturing is a way to extract medicinal compounds from a wide array of plants that can be used for months after the season has past. With a fair bit of knowledge, one can wild craft a variety of medicines that can be preserved for years to come.
Besides making medicine, honey and wild foods can be fermented to make mead which can also serve as barter items in certain times. Once strawberry season comes around I will make a batch of mead with every fruit that comes into season until the fall.
Drying & Curing
Dehydration is a fantastic way to preserve food and can be done with the power of the sun. From fruit leather to jerky, these are recipes that can be made in bulk and if properly stored, kept around for months and months.
Curing is an ancient practice that has allowed humans to preserve meat without the use of refrigeration. From prosciutto to salami, there are a wide variety of products that can be made and stored for years in cold storage.
One of my favorite culinary topics, fermentation transforms a variety of ingredients into nutrient dense, easy to absorb "living" foods by converting sugars into acids, gases, or alcohol. Although fermented foods are not completely shelf stable, they can last for long periods of time under refrigeration or cold storage. Sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and pickled vegetables are just a few recipes that are staple foods across the globe.
Nutrient Dense Storage Foods
Here’s a list of ingredients that I try to keep in stock at all times and which can provide deep nourishment for years to come. When properly stored, these ingredients can last for years in cold storage.
Due to the potential for critters and mold, it is important to choose proper storage vessels to keep your ingredients fresh and out of the hands of 4 legged creatures. Gamma lids for 5 gallon buckets are my go-to container and with select ingredients, a vacuum sealer can pull out the air, allowing them to stay fresh for years.
- Buckwheat Groats
- Garbanzo Beans
- Heirloom Corn Kernels
- Chia Seeds
- Tea Herbs
- Wild Rice
- Autumn Olive or Blueberry Fruit Leather
- Seaweeds ~ Kelp, Dulse, Kombu, Sea Lettuce
- Kaaw (Herring on Kelp)
- Edible & Medicinal Mushrooms
- Miso Paste
- Pickled Vegetables
Seasonings, Fats, Liquids, & Condiments:
- Sea Salt
- Spirulina Powder
- Curry Powder
- Coconut Oil
- Chia Seeds
- Hot Sauce
- Unpasteurized Apple Cider Vinegar
- Rendered Animal Fats
- Cured Meats
Finding bulk deals on the internet or just making a few extra purchases here and there can help you create a good sized pantry. It is a good idea to assess what you have on hand and take note in how long you and your family can sustain themselves in the case of a real emergency.
With quality food comes the need for proper cooking utensils that would not rely on electricity to prepare. So, your fire making skills would best come in handy during certain situations. Deepening your primitive fire skills may be a wise choice, as it may be the only way you can create heat and a good cooking situation.
Creating an awareness around emergency food is a crucial part of the survival puzzle and should hopefully supplement the ability to forage and harvest wild foods. While certain folks can get a bit paranoid and spend a lot of their time getting ready for the apocalypse, having a grounded approach to food storage is simply another way to thrive under any circumstance.
Over 25 mouth watering recipes featuring everyone’s favorite food: butter.
Easy, convenient, how to's and recipes to assist you in getting more of this nutriment in your life. Butter isn't something to just slap on your steamed broccoli. There is a whole world of incredibly succulent recipes featuring butter waiting for you.
When you get right down to it, who wants to compromise flavor and texture when it comes to eating healthy and nutritious? Be a butter believer and get butter into your kitchen!
about the chef
Frank Giglio exudes a passion for nature-based living in all that he does, from his culinary pursuits to the simplest of day to day projects. Along with his beautiful family, classically trained chef Frank runs Three Lily Farm — an off-the-grid permaculture minded homestead where he mentors and educates others on the importance of preparing and eating a real-food diet, growing their own fruits and vegetables, and connecting with nature through wild foraging, harvesting spring water, and simply spending time in the health-promoting glory of the outdoors. Every year, Frank continues to push his fitness to the elite level by competing in obstacle course races and ultra-marathons. A true Maine-Man, Frank maintains his beard by carrying water and splitting wood.
In this episode of ReWild Yourself! podcast, I talk with Rory Miller — author of Mediations on Violence — about the human violence blueprint. We debunk some of the most common misconceptions about violence and self defense.
- The Violence Taboo
- Why are humans so afraid of violence?
- The Violence Threshold
- Common misconceptions surrounding violence
- Misconceptions about law enforcement
- The unknowns vs. creating your own reality
- Levels of security
- Scenarios of violent situations
- Rory’s top tips for human survivability
- Awareness makes your life richer
- Nature vs. nurture
No one should be training for self defense out of fear. You should train because you love training. Tweet it!
Awareness makes your life richer. Tweet it!
None of us are the products of ancestors who refused to defend themselves. Tweet it!
- Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence by Rory Miller
- Maslow's hierarchy of needs
- Violence: A Writer’s Guide by Rory Miller
- Russian girl getting mugged - video
- Rory’s Seminars
- Services offered by Rory
- Rory’s Blog
- Facing Violence: 7 Things Every Martial Must Know by Rory Miller
- Scaling Force: Dynamic Decision Making Under Threat of Violence by Rory Miller and Lawrence A. Kane
- Force Decisions: A Citizen's Guide to Understanding How Police Determine Appropriate Use of Force by Rory Miller
Rory Miller is a writer and teacher living peacefully in the Pacific Northwest.
He has served for seventeen years in corrections as an officer and sergeant working maximum security, booking and mental health; leading a tactical team; and teaching subjects ranging from Defensive Tactics and Use of Force to First Aid and Crisis Communications with the Mentally Ill. For fourteen months he was an advisor to the Iraqi Corrections System working in Baghdad and Kurdish Sulaymaniyah. Somewhere in the midst of that he received a BS degree in Psychology; served in the National Guard as a Combat Medic (91A/B); earned college varsities in judo and fencing and received a mokuroku in jujutsu. He has drunk chichu with reformed cannibals and 18-year-old scotch with generals...and loves long sword fights on the beach.
Join me on a stroll through the collective commons of wikipedia, as we deepen our understanding of the forces at play in the domestication process. Reading through these entries will add depth and breadth to your knowledge base, and greatly enhance your user experience as an embodied being on the present day planet Earth!
It was a such pleasure to talk with Evan Strong — a professional skateboarder and Paralympic Gold Medalist with an amazing survival story. Evan shares some profound insights on "getting into the zone" and achieving peak performance states when competing in extreme sports.
- Evan tells us a bit about his history and current endeavors
- The life of an Olympian
- Altered states in extreme sports
- The true nature of competition
- Prepping for competition
- What does it look and feel like to be “in the zone”
- Evan shares his survival story
- How Evan coped with losing his leg
- Living your truth
Every step and every breath that I take is preparing me for a race day. Tweet it!
When "in the zone," feeling and vision are heightened, but sound and smell are diminished. Tweet it!
- Fix for Foodies
- The Paralympics Games
- Evan wins Gold Medal in 1st Paralympic Games
- Evan’s competition videos
- Article that speaks to the "zone" achieved during extreme sports
- History of Olympics
- Animals on Psychedelics
- Chimpanzees in altered state - video
- Groundation Chant
- Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP)
- The Ultimate Introduction to NLP: How to build a successful life by Richard Bandler, Alessio Roberti, Owen Fitzpatrick
- Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
- Challenge Athletes Foundation
- Adaptive Action Sports
Evan Strong, at the age of 17 was involved in an auto/motorcycle accident. The result of this accident was the amputation of his left leg. He spent over a month in the hospital hooked up to IVs and drugs, while going through multiple surgeries. At the time of the accident Evan was a professional skate boarder and a lover of athletics. His focus in the hospital and the year of bed rest after became how he could return to optimal health and eventually, the action sports he loved.
In Evan's recovery, over the past 10 years, he discovered the Technology of living foods, spring water, juicing, super food smoothies and tonic herbs. In these disciplines he was not just able to heal from his accident but was able to thrive from what could have been something devastating. In 2009, in order to share his passion of health with others, Evan and his family opened a living organic foods restaurant in California.
Since his accident, Evan has resumed skateboarding, participating in the summer Xgames. As well as gone on to become the top ranked snowboard cross racer in the world. This spring Evan brought home the gold medal in Snowboard Cross from the Sochi, Russia 2014 Paralympics games.
A ReWild Yourself! Guest Contribution
We are taught to deny the very essence of who we are, yet at every turn we are marked to defend our existence and to extinguish the innate, untamed, wild nature. We are taught to behave, be proper, docile, and domesticated. “Think what I want you to think” not what is natural to think or devise, as the puppet master would have you believe - and that, is the illusion indeed.
How are we to survive in a world that would otherwise have our natural instincts extinguished, like the snuffing of a flame?
Why does it take a violation of ones body, mind, and soul to wake up to the very real predators of fear, hate, anger, and dissociative behavior?
My name is Gabrielle and back in my twenties, little did I know that a rape would become a sacred, evolutionary event - one of the keys to my ultimate survival and thriving life. The total destruction and violation of self in essence sparked a deep alchemical transmutation - but of course that was a choice, the evolution that is.
Many years ago I was walking along a dimly lit path deep in the cloisters of NYC… drunk… out of body and out of mind. Filled with anger and hate, stuck in the mundane reality of my existence. Two voices call my name… at least so I thought… until I realized I did not know them. Gun to my head, arms held behind me… no where to go but to be present to this moment.
Deny what is happening, yet defend your very existence. “You must have asked for it.”
Images of my naked body faced down in the dirt with police tape all around, haunted my mind. Is this how my family would remember me? How do I come out of this alive?
I must accept my fate.
In a society saturated with sex and violence, rape is one of the most common occurrences. In the USA alone, approximately 1 out of 6 women experience rape. 31% of all rapes occur inside the home, while only 4% occur outdoors. Between 75 and 95 percent of all rapes are never reported and men in certain countries are allowed to beat and rape their wives who refuse sex.
The rape I endured could have been a gang initiation as one boy lead the other in what to do. I refer to them as boys because they lacked a certain confidence of a grown man. I always thought I would bite, scream, hit, kick, or give a fight of some kind if ever this were to happen. I quickly realized though in that moment with the silver gun on my temple, that the surest way to survive this atrocity was to stay calm and give them exactly what they wanted.
That realization in and of itself, left me feeling emotionally paralyzed and at that point, I became the observer in this story. Survival mechanism, one might say.
One of the two was shaking and obviously scared. They seemed to yell back and forth at each other and wanted to “hurry it along.” Lead down a dark path and bent over a stone wall, I remember the sounds of the cars on the Henry Hudson as I opened to the experience.
After all was done, one of the boys said, “You are a good girl. Thank you. Here is a napkin to clean yourself up.” Then he offered me a cigarette. At the time I smoked Marlboro Red’s and as luck would have it, that is what the one boy offered me. I was grateful that at the very least they had my brand of cigarettes. An odd thought one would think, under the circumstances. Anything to remain calm and feel normal after such a profound violation.
I went through the typical procedures after such an event, checked out by a hospital, blood tests, pregnancy test, I was lucky to come out unscathed in this respect. God only gives us what we can handle.
I slept alone that night, friends and family wanted to keep watch or stay on the couch. I knew that in order to survive the next level of the process, I had to go it alone. I had to address every irrational fear head on. The noises of the house suddenly became a man tinkering at the window, to once again violate my very essence. It was like an acid trip steeped in fear with dark angry faces looming over head.
“You know it’s not your fault?” suggested one therapist… actually they all said the same thing. It was finally the third therapist I had gone to that seemed to repeat the same text book affirmations, where I finally snapped out of the fog and looked up and said, “I know it’s not my fault. I know rape has nothing to do with sex, it has to do with power. I know that rape is not personal. It was a random attack. What I want to know is what the fuck I was doing at 3 am, drunk, walking alone in the cloisters?!” She just stared at me and I got up and walked out.
The irony of it all was that I became a victim by trying so hard to not be a victim. The levels or stages of survival that we must endure in order to step out of the darkness of self loathing into the light of self love, can be excruciating. But I promise you, it will be the best pain you will ever need to muscle your way through.
It took my boyfriend looking at me in bed, after my inability to truly show up with my heart in our intimacy, and say “you are a victim Gab… you are a victim.” to really realize how much armor I had actually wrapped around myself. The funny thing is it didn't begin with the rape. It began way earlier on.
We are surrounded by sex in our media yet it is shoved down our throats through religion that sex is bad and unnatural yet the perversion from its denial is the ONLY thing that is BAD about sex. Masturbate behind closed doors while watching porn. God forbid we give grace to a healthy expression of eroticism through open sexuality deeply rooted in self love.
“To thine own self be true and it shall follow as the day follows the night, thou whilst not be false to any man.”
Violence surrounds us in every waking moment of our lives… it is once again fed to us in our daily dose of media as something normal to ingest, yet it serves a most deathly blow to our humanness. People become desensitized. Another layer of denial that only further cuts us off from the most powerful tools in survival… THE ABILITY TO FEEL.
We are given false tools on how to thrive. In fact, the only tools that seem to be provided are the ones that dumb us down, tame, and drown out, only to sit in the cubical, follow the leader and the road map to a “successful life” of drone living, in a cookie cut-out house with GMO foods and Jesus’s cross mounted on the living room wall. All hail the great provider. The provider (in this case) is not God but instead, the puppet master, the one(s) behind the curtain. God is actually the Source in which we FEEL … to feel, to be alive, is to be present to the wild nature within, the Divinity that is God/Source/Oneness… or whatever is your personal belief.
By all means stay disassociated, disconnected, dismembered and disfigured. Stop feeling and keep watching the reel, it will tell you how to think, act and feel.
I chose to survive by turning the profane into something sacred. By getting real with what my issues really were and applying actual, practical tools, in achieving new levels of self love and growth and I stopped letting the rape control me.
Instead I made the choice to forgive myself.
I forgave myself for initially putting myself in such a dangerous situation. Forgiveness and love are two ways to ensure one’s survival in this cruel, repugnant world.
Yes, there is awesome beauty, the kind of beauty that leaves you breathless and sure that magic is indeed alive. Yes, compassion and kindness exist… as do angels.
It is our ignorance in thinking we may only look into the light, that the darkness may never touch us. It is our naiveté, the innocence and arrogance of youth, that thinks we are unable to be irrevocably changed by life’s events.
To be prepared to survive, means you must be prepared to die.
Are you prepared to die? Are you willing to do whatever is necessary beyond weapons and fighting techniques, to die to the past so you can live in today? You must be willing to die to yourself a thousand times over to Surthrive that which this life has to offer.
Step out of the subconscious programs that keep you numb, tuned out, and shut down. Step into the pain, so you can feel the warmth of the light. It is true, that you can only heal what you can feel.
To be able to feel is our greatest gift. Let yourself feel. Give way to your untamed self… love radically and discover the full expression of who you were meant to be. Tap into a wild authenticity that delivers you from evil and sets you free, galloping up the road of success and liberation.
The only evil that exists in the world is where love is refused. Self love is the key or perhaps even the cure. Self love is not weak, airy fairy, nor some new age philosophy. Self love is strong. It is powerful. It IS the rope that will pull you out of the pit of despair every time.
As women, it is our duty to be centered in the wild authenticity of who we are so that we can show up for our men, our children, and teach them the power of love. Value your Yoni. Protect your Golden Chalice of Love, your Sacred Cave, and share it only with those that honor and protect it’s divinity. First, that must be you.
You must love yourself first, above all others, above all things. When you do… you will keep yourself out of harms way. You will be intuitively aligned with a natural path of protection. Like any untamed animal in the wilds of nature… the doe goes not walking by the wolfs den… for surely one of these days the wolf will be hungry.
Make smart choices rooted in your value of self. You will win every time. Even if you have to die to yourself a thousand times over again. The evolutionary process in the Alchemy of Self is not for the meek. It is for the warriors of the Light, ready with Jaguar medicine to shine the Light of Truth into the darkness.
Thus began my journey of self discovery… the rape was a wake up call that I could have let destroy me. Instead it became a sacred moment in the evolution, and Alchemy of my own Self. I realized that no matter what my issues were, no matter how much I grappled with self loathing, no one deserves to be so brutally violated. Instead, I made the choice to love.
Choose Love. Choose You. Wild. Authentic. Free.
Hello! I Am Gabrielle Brick and I Am a Certified Transformational Life Coach, Raw Nutritionist, NLP Practitioner & Leadership Consultant. (CPLC, CPNLP, CPRN) with 20 years of experience in coaching people to their optimal state of wellbeing. My passion is empowering and awakening one’s true authentic nature through holistic nutrition and radical self love by providing a safe and sacred space for you to explore the deepest corners of your being. Awaken and liberate. Wild. Authentic. Free. I offer Private Mentorship Programs in The Alchemy of Self ™ at www.gabriellebrick.com. I’d also love to stay connected via Facebook, Twitter (@gabriellebrick), and Instagram! There are no rules in life, only choices and self love is at the root of every choice.
Voice of the Tribe is ReWild Yourself! Dispatch's guest contribution column. If you would like to contribute an article for consideration in a future Dispatch click here.
In this stream-of-consciousness rant, I break down the main skills we need to learn to be fit for the 3 main environments: wild, urban and virtual.
- Fit for what?
- Being fit for the 3 main environments: wild, urban and virtual
- The Glyph explained
- Earth | Food Foraging
- Water | Water Gathering
- Air | Shelter Building
- Fire | Fire Starting
- Human Self Defense
- First Aid
Fitness is the ability to survive in and to replicate in a given environment. Tweet it!
We want to be supremely adapted to all three main environments: wild, urban and virtual. Tweet it!
Awareness of what’s happening around you is one of the greatest tools you have to protect yourself in any environment. Tweet it!
- Trust your instincts — discipline yourself not to believe the voice that says “I am just being paranoid”. When your senses detect danger, listen to them and respond!
- Cultivate the ability to problem-solve under the influence of adrenaline — get stress innoculated! Skills practiced under stress are available under duress.
- Observe the difference between anxiety and fear. Primal fear should always be listened to — it is designed to keep you alive — anxiety should be confronted and overcome.
- As soon as you become aware of an elevation in your heart rate or breathing, begin to lengthen your exhalations, slowing your breath down. This will reduce your heart rate.
- Be especially mindful when in places where there is of lots cash around — banks, ATM’s, convenience stores. These are feeding grounds for certain types of predators.
- Consider your surroundings at all times, especially things like exits (including windows and fire escapes). Try to avoid getting boxed in whenever possible.
- Note the location of important resources when you enter a space, such as fire extinguishers, first aid kits and phones. Always be filling in the mental map of your environment.
- Program the gross motor skill of dialing 911. It sounds easy but under duress many people fail to perform this simple task. Start practicing this now; get 100 reps in!
- When pulling into places like gas stations, pharmacies, or banks, give a good scan to be sure that nothing unusual is going on before getting out.
- Avoid being 'selected' by predators, if selected learn how to be 'deselected'. Defusing predatory violence is a different skill than defusing social violence. Research this.
- Driving is likely one of the most dangerous activities you routinely take part in. Stay alert, don’t text, use your seat belt, learn how to properly adjust your mirrors.
- Fearlessly learn about the potential threats in the area where you live. Know your environment. Learn about crime and violence in your area here.
- Create and utilize opportunities to practice your skills! Camping and travel are excellent opportunities to practice your survival and awareness skills in novel environments.
- Since you carry things every single day, get systematic about it. Maximize this opportunity to increase your survivability. Fine tune your EDC.
- When you find out about something that scares you, learn strategies to avoid, confront, defeat, or neutralize it. It's more empowering than denying the potential threat exists.
- Decide now who and what is most dear to you in this world. Decide now that you want to live if ever faced with a survival situation. Never stop. Always keep going!
- Get some basic first aid training. This isn’t just for you, this is for those around you. Be an asset to those in need. Become a good samaritan.
- Sometimes the right choice is to freeze, sometimes it is to fight, sometimes it is to flee. Trust your instincts and let them guide you to safety.
- You don't have 360º vision, but your head swivels nicely. Keep track of what's behind you and above you. You don't have to exaggerate this, just stay present.
- Commit yourself to the service and practice of protecting and preserving life. Carry your power with maturity and discernment.
Become like Ötzi!
We all carry a kit, each day, whether we think of it in those terms or not. In some circumstances what you have with you, or what you can grab on your way out the door, can mean the difference between living and dying. It might be the difference between someone else living or dying too. Take stock of the things you carry each day by emptying your pockets (in an organized way), and looking over their contents with a discerning eye. You can do the same with your purse or your backpack if you carry one.
Could your load-out be optimized? (hint: the answer is always yes)
Put together an effective, realistic EDC (everyday carry). Try wearing it whenever you leave home for a week; working, walking, running, and climbing. Can it survive your ReWilding lifestyle? Is it hindering your movement complexity or proficiency significantly? Does it snag, or catch on things in the course of the day? Are there items that could be updated, upgraded, or replaced?
Using a backpack, put together a basic life support kit – what is popularly called a 'get home' or 'go bag' – and bring it along everywhere for one week. How does it fit? Does it ride well against your back? Could you really walk 10 miles with it? How about 20? The more you don, carry, and doff your kit, the more you will come to appreciate efficiency, weight conservation, and ergonomics!
Think of Otzi when you put your kit together. Could you quickly grab this kit and carry it into the mountains at a moments notice? Could you survive overnight, maybe even a few days by utilizing the contents within?
Ideally, much of what you carry will be useful to you on a regular – even daily – basis, rather than being an assemblage of items reserved only for emergencies. It is easy to overfill your pockets or bag, but this strategy isn't sustainable. Instead, assemble your kit with an eye towards making this a long term practice.
Consider, there are things that you choose to carry, and those things that you become a carrier of. The difference is, in the case of the latter you are carrying something as a service to your community. Many of the supplies I keep close, especially medical and self-defense tools, are as much for others in need as they are for me. My EDC and my pack, while surely well beyond the scope of what most people would want to carry, is really a kit that I am a carrier of. I want to be there, prepared and be ready, if you ever need me.
By ensuring that we are well resourced and taken care of, we contribute to making our world a safer place.
We increase our survivabilty, and the survivability of the people that we love!
We are looking for gifted, thorough, well researched writers to contribute articles for future Dispatches and blog features!
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