"The shaman's role, was, by definition, to seek the catalytic release of the individual's wild genius, whereas the priest's role was to actually inculcate the collective into a religious ideology."
National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Ethnobotanist Wade Davis
Troubles of the modern world affect us on many fronts—personal, ethical, practical. The powers of technology and economies of scale are combining with devastating results for both cultures and nature world wide. We all experience grief from this disrespect for the natural world. Seeming indifference to suffering in the world by the “powers that be” is personally disorientating. Everyone agrees that we need inspired and creative energy to transform this injustice, illness, and ongoing insanity. We need strategies to forge friendships amidst the conflicts which emerge as a result of being human. We need to find ways to embody a deep connection with nature. We need some way to create hope within the anguish of our times. We long to be oriented in the direction of our true right work. A world in chaos calls for a new kind of leadership skills and an ongoing project of healing.The wild genius is a keystone for positive change. Wild genius is the inner power described in the indigenous world as a person’s connection with their guiding spirits. The wild genius is the energy that takes a person out of the imprisonment of the life circumstances that were laid down by fate, and leads them toward the expression of their true destiny. When it is alive and vibrant, the wild genius defines a person as someone with a contribution to make and gives them a respected place in community.
Wild genius, gifts, talents, guiding spirits, or whatever they are named, can never be separated from a person. But the connection to the wild genius can be damaged when it is not supported and appreciated. Indigenously, it was seen as a capacity that needed encouragement, practice and the strengthening power of initiatory ordeal to fully come to life. This support occurred through the ongoing rituals of initiation through life passages, the detailed ritual training which led up to them, and the community support which followed them. Working in this supportive context, and in partnership with their wild genius, a person is able to draw on an inexhaustible well of hope and astute perception in coping with challenges. When the wild genius is supported by community, people contribute healing qualities to the world.
Industrialized and institutionalized society does not value the wild independence of the wild genius because it can be disruptive to “business as usual.” The wild genius is interested in non-economic values like beauty, community, imagination, feeling and adventure. Yet, exactly because of this focus on the timeless, the wild genius can actually assist us to understand how to create continuity, community, and sustainable economy. Such intimate alliance with the natural world ultimately leads toward a healthy ecology. The wisdom of the wild genius can rewaken a true sense of abundance that does not rest on exploitation. This can be a healing for ourselves, for communities and for nations.
The modern disavowal of our native wildness means that it is a courageous move when a person begins to explore the sacred through dreams, art, spirituality or healing. It is an act which joins the environmental, the political and the spiritual. The journey is an unfolding one that many people are undergoing. And the indigenous wisdom about this expedition is a renewable resource of guidance, inspiration, affirmation and practical direction.