What is wildness? Wildness is the untamed and untamable. Wildness is not domesticated. Wildness is our true nature.
Wildness is what makes life possible. Some call it adaptation, random chance, chaos. But it is wildness. Random evolution and chaos are at the root of life systems, because from this wildness/chaos, potentialities are created that allow species to adapt to change. DNA has wildness in it that cannot be controlled even by genetic manipulation and that is how, in the context of unexpected changes in its environment, it thrives and life continues.
Wildness in a human is often thought to be a person who lives outside of cultural norms and customs. To me a wild human is anyone who is owned and defined by themself, in touch with their inner “daemon,” indwelling spirit or genius, as Mary Daly calls it.
Wildness is not irresponsible. It is not dangerous. Those are all just labels we put on it. Wildness just is.
Since wildness is unpredictable, in our modern structured and controlled lives, it is problematic.
The story of what happened to many of the wild creatures of this Earth is the story of what has happened to wildness in general and wildness in humans. There are beings on this planet that are incapable of becoming domesticated. They are some of the most problematic species to humans. The wolf is one of them. The wolf is a being of the pure wild.
The witches of Europe were friends to the wild beings, the wild plants, as well as the elements (forces of nature) and elemental beings who are also wild. Such wildness is what allows “magic” to happen. Wildness contains potentiality. Through conscious intent, a medicine person can direct the energy of the wild potentiality into actuality, creating healing, altering direction of events, setting one on a new course of action, or breaking an old pattern. Wildness is the secret ingredient in any magical practice. Because witches were in deep relationship with the wild, they began to be viewed as dangerous.
If one has a dogmatic belief system that requires control, as did the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages (5th-15th century), wildness is your enemy. The persecution of the witches or medicine people in the Middle Ages in Europe was carried out by the inquisitors of the Roman Catholic Church against the village people of Europe, labeled “pagans.” The pagans were “peasants,” living in the rural areas who remained in touch with nature and the ancient traditions longer than those in the developed city-states and were more difficult for the Church to control and force to obey their new laws. They were perceived as possessing a wildness that needed to be eliminated. The witches were, in actuality, medicine people, healers, doctors and herbal pharmacists.
This culminated into a massacre and almost complete elimination of European witches in what is now called the European Witchburnings.
The wolf has received the same treatment.
In the Middle Ages, on the European continent and in the European mind and belief system, the wolf became associated and confused with, in fact almost synonymous with, the people labeled witches.
In the book The Malleus Maleficarem, that most aptly illustrates the epoch of European Witchburnings, it is often chillingly difficult to tell if the inquisitors are speaking of the wolf or the witch. The Malleus Maleficarem was an instruction manual in which the inquisitors were taught how to detect if someone was a witch, if so, how to torture them to get them to confess. In this book wolves are also implicated.
All this was happening before and during the time that the Europeans began to migrate to what they then called “the new world”: the American Continent. Europeans carried this belief system to the new world with them.
Previous to this, on the American continent, the local indigenous people revered wolves. There was wolf medicine, there were wolf clans, wolf tribes, wolf spirits, and even people who believed they were descended from the wolves. But when the Europeans came, they brought with them their persecution pattern and began to systematically eliminate the wolves from the American continent. They were almost successful.
With the arrival of the Europeans to the American Continent, wolves were hunted and deliberately massacred. Poisonous meat was left out for wolves. A well-planned, deliberate and large campaign for the extermination of the wolf was carried out. This was justified by the excuse that they were threatening human food supply. Wolves, like witches, were said to be dangerous to the very fabric of civilized human culture.*
If we are of European descent, it’s time to apologize for this transgression and slaughter by our ancestors and welcome back the wolf and in so doing, our own wildness.
If you feel called, set out a bowl of milk for wolf under the full moon apologizing for the persecution carried out by your ancestors upon them and asking wolf to return to you and in this return bring back to you your own wildness. This will open a connection for you to wolf. Be conscious and respectful of the power of wolf when you make this offering.
©Theresa C. Dintino 2019
* Of Wolves and Men by Barry Lopez
Theresa C. Dintino is an ancestral Strega (Italian wise woman), Earth worker, and initiated diviner in the West African Dagara tradition. For more than 20 years Theresa has studied and practiced an Earth-based spirituality. She currently helps others reclaim their personal lineages through her divination work. Theresa is the author of seven books which include her Tree Medicine Trilogy. Learn more about her books here.