The Wildwood Way is an ambitious amalgamation of information for both the rational and the visionary mind. The wood witchery and spirituality chapters may puzzle readers without a magical background. The spiritual influences are very eclectic ranging from Cajun, Acadian and Celtic to shamanic and indigenous. The practical skills will be valuable to anyone with an interest in homesteading, hunting and foraging.

The outdoor skills and the mythic shamanic elements very easily could have made two separate books. Sometimes these disparate elements were awkward. The book is divided by the 4 seasons and 12 months with essays on nature, a short traditional myth, wood witchery and bushcraft skills. The information appears at the time of year it is needed but this structure does make reading straight through feel choppy. I wish the photos were published either in color or on glossy paper. When it comes to identifying forest flora and fungi, the black and white photos leave something to be desired. My only other minor complaint is that the editor failed to notice the misuse of homonyms. Considering the otherwise skillful wordcraft, it was a shame to be distracted.

Following Mr. Seruntine as he forays into the forest, gathering plants and tracking animals is enjoyable. He offers a taste of forest life, sometimes literally, such as the chapter on finding edible ferns. His lessons on the balancing role of predators in the ecosystem and the relationship of humans with predators had me thinking for days. The perspective of seeing humans as apex predators in the ecosystem is eye opening. He goes further than most books by delving into the world of spirit animals, predator and prey. If you practice shamanic trance and work with spirit animals, this section is a gem. I had asked a personal question prior to reading this book and the spirit answer had hit me in such a way that I felt my efforts were in vain. I was pleasantly surprised to find an interpretation of this experience in this book that shed a whole new and more positive light. Sometimes a book comes into your life when needed.

The best part of this collection were the essays on personal experiences as a woodsman and shaman. If all you want is a guide to survival skills, you can find more comprehensive guides but you would be missing out on some wonderful stories of someone who has spent the better part of his life living outdoors. The intent here is to inspire you to get outside, immerse yourself in the wild and learn as much as you can. Through this work you may find what you need to forge a deeper connection with nature. “There is enchantment beyond your door...go and wander...live well...This is the Wildwood Way.”

~review by Larissa Carlson Viana

Author: Cliff Seruntine
Llewellyn, 2015   
pp. 453, $19.99

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