via This Is Primal War. Jan 13, 2012:
The Art of Group Reliance.
Primitive skills are not merely niche hobbyist and macho survivalist concerns, rather are the birthright of every human today, much as knowing how to navigate thousands of miles each season is the birthright of the Monarch Butterfly. It is precisely these skills that kept our asses alive for the millions of years of human existence, but they did much more than just allow us to survive. These most basic of skills created and sustained communities of people, built ties, strengthened relationships and allowed us to be more fluid without the constraints of an anxiety racked, alienated work force of producers and mind-numbed consumers. Today, these skills are written off by many in the left as the toils of reactionary, right-wing militia types, hell-bent on individualist living. How short is the memory of those dependent upon forgetting?
The basics of our survival: food, water, shelter, containers and cordage, are now available in finished, plastic wrapped, mass produced form to any first world person with the money to buy them. The concept of need is tormented in it’s false projections and the joys of wants are as manufactured as the cheap filth products that abound to fulfill them. This process requires the enslavement of a production society, the enslavement of a service society and the enslavement of a consumer society, married to the absolute destruction of the land bases of us all through industrial extraction, waste, and the civilization borne illness of a disposable society. We have ourselves a recipe for insanity. The division of labor is not only a division of who does what work, but a division of self to the land in which we were born to thrive in. The passing of primitive skills helps to break the barrier of the frightened co-dependence of civilized life, and welcome in a wildness that is not only all around us, but inside of us.
The battle we are in constant struggle with is the innate hierarchies in civilized living. There is much argument to when these began. Some say with the advent of agriculture and some with the concept of marriage, others with gender roles and religiosity. No matter where it began, we cannot argue that hierarchy is a cornerstone of civilization. Without it we cannot domesticate, subjagate, persecute, or enslave. One of the greatest benefits to primitive technologies is their decentralizing force. Who controls your ability to survive, controls you totally. If the elements of survival are shared with all, or at least grasped by all, then there is an automatic liberation in it’s beginning. If we take even a cursory glance at the functions of our societies today, one will see an intentional hording of information. Whether this is for profit or control, or both, varies by situation. Power dynamics are prevalent in most civilized relationships, necessitating the constant struggle towards liberation.
Children are kept segregated from society, in small boxes where they are taught anything BUT the methods of survival. Advertising uber alles ensures that an entire nation will be under the firm choke-hold of consumerism. We are taught to want, and what to want, but not how to create. Elders, many of whom do not even have the skills to survive themselves, are also pushed away into packing houses of the sick and dying. We are taught to navigate THEIR systems of life, to ignore the natural systems from which we are being ever torn. By the age of 5 we are all too familiar with the Logos of fast food poisons, while simultaneously taught that the forest is the place where the big bad wolf lives. This elemental disconnect begins our journey away from the community of life, and into the assylum of alienation. Food comes from those lighted signs and danger comes from the dark places. Most people I know that are between the ages of 17 and 28 do not know how to prepare their own food, let alone how to grow, forage, or hunt for it. This is a primitive skill that has been taken away, refined and left to the experts, this case being the corporate giants, to handle. We were once these children too, and we were taken away from this world at birth. We are taught to see our history in the rear view, always receeding, and not allowed to understand that the story of our lives is alive, albeit in much danger of extinction. Everyone from the age of 18 to 65 is stuck in the middle ground of not knowing where to put their ass or their face, and end up covered in shit.
As our family has taken steps to break from societal confines over the years, none of our choices have been so beneficial as seeking out primitive skills. You cannot begin to know what it feels like to sit with a group of your family and friends and rediscover hand to mouth skills from the land that surrounds us until you do it. Political discussions are a great form of intellectual masturbation, but little brings more joy to resistance than holding life in your hands and feeling at home. In the vast sea of Green Anarchist critique, most of which I very much enjoy and take part in discussing often, I have seen a disconnect from the skill aspect of primitive living. Without this element we are flinging shit in the wind of academia, hoping to not get hit on it’s return. There is no philosophizing needed when my 7 year old daughter teaches me how she knapped a flint scraper with elk antler. Maybe for some of you, there is too much philosophizing to grasp it. As for me, I am content with it being what it is. A child who is not only grasping an ancient skill, but having a hell of a good time doing it. It is a few hours she is not being slammed with billboards and adverts. An hour she is not being made to feel less than another because her clothes are dirty, or she is not quite as strong as another kid. It is a time that negates time, and begets confidence, skill, tools, and re-creates memories that are older than us all.
One myth of primitive skills is that the classes are costly, and the instructors are all macho hetero males. While there is a lot of truth to part of this, being that organized classes with specific “tracker” groups are quite overpriced, and many of the “leaders” of these classes are capitalist macho pricks, this, of course, does not need to be the case. Many of the skills I learn are from books or friends, for free. Being that I don’t have any macho prick friends, I skirt the latter and since most of my friends have no money, and are quite content, I dodge the prior. It is not that I am opposed to paying for certain classes, or gatherings, as I understand that the filthy lucre of the king has taken over most of our daily exchanges, it’s just that we don’t have any money, so it is not an issue. If you do have the money to take a course or a few courses from a good tracker school, by all means do! Take every thing you learned and share share share! Your friends will love it and if you are savvy enough to make a zine, youtube videos or a blog, you can guarantee I will be reading it at some point. In the meantime, there is no end to the amount of free information that exists on these subjects. My dear friend Rowan Walkingwolf, Phd. has made more than a few zines and is in the works on many more. You can find them all at their blog, for free, here: Yggdrasil Distro
Another myth of primitive skills is that they are for reclusive, “back-to-the-land” hippies who live in the woods and make sweet love to trees. While I may have just described the dream life of myself and most of my friends, it is simply not the case. We were ALL born into civilization, and most of us still do occupy cities and towns, with grocery stores, hospitals and cute little cafes like the one I am writing this blog in. As much as we might hate this reality, we are not equipped to change that, unless we learn these most vital of skills. When Tre Arrow fled from the feds, he attributes his, rather limited, knowledge of outdoor skills to his being able to successfully evade for the length of time that he did, nearly two years. The hero of Hayduke Lives!, George Washington Hayduke, lives for years in a cave in Utah, using the skills he had gained in primitive living to evade and enact the fantastical schemes against the earth rapists in Ed Abbey’s novels. Sure, Hayduke is a fictional character, but if you think all that Abbey sourced was fiction, you need to reread his works. The point is, these skills are the skills that will not only help to build communities, keep us alive, and help us thrive, they will help the take-down of the civilized as well. No matter where you live, if that is not your goal, why the fuck are you reading this blog?
“I am convinced that fires lit this way (primitively) burn hotter than those lit by matches…because these fires burn inside of us.” Ray Mears
Fire making is possibly the first uniquely human animal characterisitic. It has allowed a hairless animal to survive harsh winters, a hungry animal to eat food that otherwise would be impossible and to create an array of tools. John and Geri McPherson, of Naked Into The Wilderness lore, teach that while all skills of living wild are closely related, the first we should learn to create is fire. From this element we receive more bounty than nearly all others. Nothing rings our primordial bells like fire. There is a reason people congregate into your kitchen, and it certainly is not to do the dishes. (Though, that is a skill most anarchists could really benefit from acquiring.) The kitchen is the fire of the home. The hearth and heart. The fire has been used to cook our food, to warm us and possibly most human, to tell our stories. From strictly a survival aspect, it is a no brainer, but from a communal aspect, it is well worth inspection. Learning to make fire is learning to be human, together.
Cordage, or rope, string, lashing, etc. is another basic tool that we use for literally thousands of things a day, but rarely have we learned the simple yet magical ways it is made. This was one of the first “primtive” skills I obtained, and was able to share with-in a week to others. Depending on where you live, there are hundreds of plants that have the ability to make good cordage. I have made it from New Zealand Flax, Yucca, Stinging Nettle, Red Cedar Bark and leather lace, but a simple search on a few choice sites such as Primtive Ways will bring forth links to many other. This site: Cordage Discovery lists a few with good explanation of the plants used.
These are two skills that are a good start to grasp, but hell, start wherever you want! If you want to update me on some skills you know or are working on, you can leave them in a comment or email me at primalwarmonger [@] gmail (dot) com.
May the Forest Bewitch you!