Wild Child

Wild: An Elemental Journey, Jay Griffiths, 2006

Wild Jay Griffiths

Unlike the movie Wild Child where a child raised in the wild is introduced to modern civilization, Jay Griffiths, an educated young English woman, returns to the wild, spending seven years rediscovering the feral call of her blood. In this journey she risks her health and her sanity. Unlike the Nineteenth Century transcendentalists (Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, etc. See American Blooms bury), who largely ignore the native American guides, she devours the works of anthropologists and then seeks out native guides in the Amazon, New Guinea, Australia, the Arctic, Mongolia etc. to help her relearn the music of the wild.

The transcendentalists were in large part a reaction to the repressive spirit of the Puritans. Salem Massachusetts, site of the witch trials and where transcendentalist Nathaniel Hawthorne was born and wrote some of his best work, after all is very near to Concord Massachusetts.

Nathaniel Hawthorne in Salem Hawthorne

Griffiths’ work is a cry against the murderous work of the racist, incurious, ignorant, culture destroying, white missionaries and their greedy corporate followers both supported by corrupt thuggish governments. Her ability to capture the wild in words is extraordinary. Sample:

The Peruvian Amazon was called a Tower of Babel by early Spanish missionaries. Intended as an insult, it was actually a compliment, testimony to the luminous and tumultuous diversity of jungle languages, not just one tree of knowledge but millions, a forest of knowing. But the Church, the state, and the education system together have deforested the human mind, forcing people to speak Spanish and aiding logging companies and others in a corporate land theft. If you take people out of their land, you take them out of their meaning, out of their language’s roots. When wild lands are lost, so is metaphor, allusion and the poetry that arises in the interplay of mind and nature. To lose your land is to lose your language, and to lose your language is to lose your mind…

Jay Griffiths in the wild from the book jacket Jay Griffiths

The theft of land is only the tip of the melting iceberg. There is today a gold rush to patent and thus privatize (steal) native plants, treatments, and remedies known for centuries by native peoples throughout the wilderness world.