The Present Primitive

It’s not just about racism though – it’s about culture and civilization.

The word “tribe” invokes dark images and gross misunderstanding. Tribes once populated the whole of the Earth, inhabiting all of the major continents and habitable islands of the world. With the advent of agriculture, tribes were slowly replaced with a new type of civilization, the nation / state. Even as long as several thousand years ago, a significant portion of humans came to identify themselves with their nations.

But what if you didn’t? What if you abandoned your civilization and turned back to primitive living? Is it even possible anymore?

I while back, I engaged in a brief search for primitive practitioners and managed to locate a few of them. Along the way, I learned some rather interesting things.

The real primitive is the society we call “civilization”. Humans once lived free on the Earth. Sadly, only a few humans still do today. To be free in our society, you have to comply to a choking set of rules, expectations and demands that govern every aspect of living. This passes for “freedom”.

Present primitives choose which laws and rules to follow as they see fit, much like our ancestors did.

Really true primitive living is to actually live like our ancestors did, using stone-age tools (no metals). Only a few highly skilled individuals have such knowledge and experience.

One individual I ran into is Josh. Here is his narration of his experience of primitive living as he shared it with me:

it was always a dream of mine to see if and to eventually live completely primitive
so i got the nerve to finally try it
so i had a friend drop me at a secret spot not to far from the city i grew up in but very far from anyone i knew so as to resist the temptation to quit

i had been practicing my whole life so i thought i was ready
i got dropped near the woods
i took with me
50 ft of hand made rope
two gourds
a big chunk of flint and a blanket
it was february when i started

i hiked back into the woods a good long way and sat down
then i started panicking
and i stayed sitting in that same spot for 3 days
finally the need for a drink shook me out of it and i went and drank some water

the first three days were the hardest cause i was fighting my mind
then i realized that i was the type of person who had never done anything on my own and i had to decide if i was gonna sit there and die
or get strong
i decided to get strong

i was hungry so i set out makin a fish trap
took me about a day to get one i thought would work
but it didnt work, the fish kept escaping
and i was starving
after a week of perfecting my trap it started catchin fish

i slept on the ground
made fire with a bowdrill to cook the fish
cleaned the fish with flint chips
after being out there 2 weeks
it started raining.

3 days of gettin rained on befor i finally decided to build a shelter
first shelter i built was a lean to thatched with grass
it kept me dry and now that my fish trap was always catchin fish my hunger was gone so i had alot of free time
i slept alot and yearned for human contact
out of boredom i started makin things just for fun
also i made a woodburned container so cook in cause i was tired of ashy fish
also greens were starting to grow so i added variety with them

after 2 months i started feeling like i was going crazy
i was talkin to the birds and trees and everything else
i was lonely
thats the worst part of the whole deal
lonlyness was eating me up
and i thought i didnt like or need ppl but i found myself just praying for human contact

then i seen an indian man hiking and i was elated
i ran up to him and i couldnt think of anything to say so i just smiledhe looked a little scared

well we started talkin and i told him what i was doing and he was impressed
i showed him my home which was by this time a grass thatched wickiup
also i showed him all of the crafts i had been building out of boredom
i gave him some stuff and he said he would come and visit soon
he came back in a few days with more indian ppl and they all seemed to understand
they were proud of what i was doing

my mind was eased i had friends now who visited often
my fishtrap was always full
pleanty of tubers
fresh water
life was good

i spent most of my time making cordage, weaving baskets and mats, carving stone
playing with my bow (which i never yeilded one meal with) throwin my throwin stick (which only yealded one mean, a coon)
singing, did lots of singing, lookin at the stars, following animal tracks, watchin birds and beavers
the weather when it got bad sucked alot cause there was nothin to do but look out the door sometimes for days
but for the most part livin was easy once i had friends

when my primitive year was up
on the very day i went with my new indian friends and bought alot of the luxeries of modern society
like a knife and silverware
and soap
and a tarp

i lived out there for 3 years but only completely primitive the first year
i dont know if that info will help you any and i know it wasnt very detailed but ill give more detailed descriptions on any subject
just ask
hope thats helpful

also understand that i was breakin the law
i was squatting on who knows whos property
i was using fish traps which are illegal
also i killed that coon with my throwing stick
so i dont know how sustainable that is
lonelyness was definatly the hardest part of the whole ordeal and i was lonely for any human contact
no one in particular…i just wanted anyone to see me
notice me
say hi to me
and that suprised me too cause i was always pretty much a loner

i wore all the cloths on me out there that i used for the whole year
it was cold when i started
so i wore 2 pair of jeans and a pair of shorts
a couple t shirts and a sweatshirt
and a coat
as soon as the weather was warm enough i wore only shorts or nothing at all

i was 27 when i got the balls to do it
i ate red meat only once
it was a coon i killed with my throwing stick
i didnt throw it at him tho
there was a old homestead that was long gone out there
but there was a big cement whole about 6 ft deep
i threw my fish bones in there well one night i heard some sticks break near there and aparently that coon wanted them bones cause he climb down a stick into that whole but the stick broke and he was trapped
i grabbed my throwing stick and went after him
it was alot harder to kill than i expected and i had never killed an animal that big befor but it took like 50 or 60 wacks befor he finally gave up
and he was ferocious…if he wouldnt have been trapped way down there he would have won that fight…he was much tuffer than me

that was my first kill of an animal bigger than a rat….and im embarrassed to say that i cried all night long for that coon
but i dont regret it cause its the way and it me or him and he was the best meal i had out there……even tho he was super tuff and not that great tastin
it just felt good to know that i could do it

i was at the foot of the ozark mountains, hilly
but not big hills
in an oak forest with lots of ponds and streams
it got colder thnan that here

winter was hard
we had a snowstorm that covered my wickiup and i just laid in bed for 3 days till it was cleared enough to get out comfortably
and when i came out i realized there was more life in those woods than i knew
cause there were tracks everywhere and trackin was my favorite hobby out there
tho i never managed to track an animal to it it was still exciting

the part of the whole experience that i didnt expect or want was that i gained a belief in god that i didnt have befor because i started seeing things in bigger pictures how everything was connected how the moskitoes were connected to the frogs and the frogs to the fish and the fish to me and the herings and i actually began to apreciate misquitoes
tho there were a huge annoyance of course

after a while i felt so connected that i knew what was going on anywhere on my mountain(really a hill but im a dreamer)
just by the animals actions around me….also i made friends with some animals
like the beavers they would come out right in front of me and play with each other and they would warn me if anyone came near my camp with a loud tail slap on the water
and really if it wasnt for the loneliness i would have never came back
but i need ppl and i cant find anyone espacially any girl willing to live that life with me

next question
coon taste good as hell when you been eatin fish every day for months…lol
ya that coon was a monster he would have kicked my ass if he hadnt been trapped in that hole
i do believe that human contact is as nessesary as food….a baby who is supplied with all the food it needs to live will still wither away and dye without human touch so the saying ppl need ppl seems to be true

about the weather….i suffered alot because of the weather….when it rained for days i just stayed insider my wickiup for days and looked out the door…it was depressing but it proves that there is a human reason for depression….when the weather was bad in the old days ppl would be depressed and lay around and conserve energy…so depressions purpose it to conserve energy till the conditions are right to gather food again….just a guess but thats what i used to get through it

i got sick 3 times
twice from bad water once from some sort of flu
it was horrible………but i just slept it off….i was really wishin tho that someone was there to take care of me

when i do it again ill use metal tools
they make life much easier…its easier to cook in a pan….its easier to keep an edge on a metal knife and no tiny pieces of flint in the food…and its definatly easier to cut down a tree with a metal ax but if need be i can do everything nessesary with stone….justs takes longer

about intruders….i got robbed alot…..i was makin lots of things to cure boredom….those things continueously dissapeared form my wickiup….eventually i caught someone in my home
i let him know that if i seen him again he would become part of the mountain….he never came back and i never got robbed again

the range required to sustain myself was nothin really cause i was on a river so the food came to me
i lived off fish and i was constantly eating…i added alot of things to the diet for variety but my main food source was fish…i ate lots of grasshoppers too….mmmmm i love them
eating my first one was very hard to do tho…lol….i cooked everything…..i cant do raw food but im trying to get over that.

i tried lots of different cooking methods….i wrapped the fish in clay and threw it in the fire, i cooked on a rock slab…made a pit oven….eventually i just settled on throwing the fish whole into the fire…crayfish too….i boiled veggies in a coal burned bowl with hot rocks, but most stuff went strait in the fire…i ate alot of ash…kinda grew a tast for it…..i seasoned everything with spice berries or ground cherrys…..damn im hungry…lol….i ate tubers too…..spring beauties for a bit but gave up on them cause there were so small…..solomons seal tubers were my main starch source. dock and green briar was my main soarce of green veggies…..also ate tons of berries when there were in season and dried out tons too to mix with my dried fish

the ozarks are hardwood forest and im thinkin they have more resources than monocot forests but again i think the most important thing to look for is a body of water with an unlimited amount of fish…i read in some of the books out there that fish didnt provide enough calories to live…..well i proved them wrong because thats where all my calories came from….i did however eat the skin af the fatty fish like catfish and paddle fish os theres alot of calories there…and the grasshoppers are full of fat

i had alot of idols befor i went out there like tom brown for instince….i realized out ther that he was had never done what he claimed to do….that he was a liar……and that its alot easier than they say and alot harder than they say…..surviving is the easy part…….winning the battle of the mind is extremely difficult…i cant even describe how hard it was….i really thought i was going crazy and i think i did a little…….coming back to society was harder than hell……and i still feel uncomfortable around ppl…but i also feel like i have a higher respect for life than most and that most ppl are tiny little children with no idea what is important……im not trying to sound self righteous…it just makes me sad….so now my purpose is to show ppl true independence….and connectedness…

if i had to choose a place to live primitive it would be florida
i did it there for a few months and i was always full….there is so much food there…fish oysters crabs fruit big birds alligators…also there are so many fiberouse plants
yep thats easy livin…plus i just love the ocean

i learned alot about the indian religion from those indians learned about the sweat ceremonies and the teepee ceremonies and the cedar ceremonies and in turn i taught them about simple living…..i was sad to see that no one knew how to live anymore….so thats part of my mission too….to teach the old ways back to the indian ppl….when i open my school there will be no charge for indian ppl

well the thing is plants dont add much to a diet except variety so there r not that important…except for vitamin c of course…and as for spices i longed for salt bad….i used spice berries for a pepper flavor but i really was hard getting used too but now i crave good clean food like that again….also i craved milk alot…if you had no fish your range would be increased hugely but rodents would make up most of your diet…..whole of coarse……i would love it if you shared this info also i would love to read your blog when you do so….also feel free to use my name if ya want but the location has to stay secret as ill be going back for the rest of my life…….also would you give my email addy to this other guy youve been talkin too cause ive been lookin for anyone else who has ever done anything like this and so far have found no one…..and as for the slow response

i check my email every week or two so im guessin my responses are slower so dont sweat it…..there was a rarely used hiking trail through this woodlands so the indian fella, rick was hikin through when i spotted him…….also im thinkin the stuff was probly sold cause it was cool stuff
wood burned bowls
flint knives
sandstone sculptiures and such
plus there is a big market for that stuff in indian country where i was….but then again the guy might have just thought it was cool so…who knows

There you go. It can be done, but not without hardship.

Several things stand out to me – validation, loneliness, boredom, inventiveness, perseverance, courage, arts and crafts, human contact and picking the right location.


admin at survivalacres dot com

8 thoughts on “The Present Primitive

  • September 27, 2007 at 6:34 pm
    We owe it to Josh to respond to this fascinating post, and I have been searching all day for something intelligent to say. But all I can think of is “Oh my god!”

    His story makes me want to try harder than ever to avoid the absolute worse case scenario. If I met him in the woods, I would be like one of his Indian friends—a loyal visitor, in awe of his abilities and fortitude. However, if life for me truly came to this—I would have to make some difficult decisions….

    Now try adding to his vision a fascist government—yes, with the eager help of the military and police forces that are (currently) sworn to protect us—hunting us down to enslave us on the plantations of their elite masters. This is why we must seek to limit big government and the military agenda now—while there is still a possibility. No matter how bad things get, we can count on the greed of the rich to make them even worse. We must stop supporting the system.

  • September 28, 2007 at 7:46 am
    Very interesting story – and a saga fit for only the young. 30 plus years ago I may have been able to do this (but doubt it). Now however, I’d be dead in a week or two.

    Is it my simply my imagination or ‘simple’ fact that the more prescient and/or significant the blog posts become, the less visitors and comments appear?

    I can definitely see where this would be highly discouraging. But, then, what isn’t in these daze and times?

  • September 28, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    It’s not your imagination. It’s like the bottom has fallen out. Not many comments, fewer readers and I’m not aware of any other sites linking to the entries anymore. Guess everyone has given up? I don’t know.

    This week has been a huge host of problems, almost zero internet access all week, even dial up has been bad. Near zero site sales, phone calls, etc., almost as if everyone just quit trying, buying and doing and even maintaining anything. Very strange.

  • September 28, 2007 at 7:22 pm
    Maybe people are feeling depressed because theyâ’re seeing their earnings fail to increase, while their purchasing power is rapidly declining. Perhaps people have invested in a system that is screwing them—and they are waiting for their masters to throw them a bone. Their sorry lot might improve (for a while) if they murder another few million people and steal their petroleum. I donâ’t want any part of it. Iâ’m hanginâ’ with gold.
  • September 29, 2007 at 7:45 am
    Josh’s narrative really brings home the polar opposite of where and how we live now, empirical proof trumps arm chair theory every time. Hard for me to fathom living at that basic rung of existence and I am sure some people just dismiss out of hand the notion that we could fall to such a level let alone “chose” to live that way. Seems to me that most people fall to the level of Slums, a form of decayed primitive civilization, living a subsistent life off the detritus of others. Which threw ignorance and shear population density destroy the very ground they live on, a concentrated analogy of our wider civilization I would say.
    Interesting that Josh will use some higher technology next time (metal tools) to make life easier. I feel that is what SA is trying to make a point of in some of his blogs and linking to The Arch Druid, that some of what we have will be useful in the future but a lot of it has to be left behind and we have to make those changes now while we can!
    On the thread drift of blog traffic and such. This past week I know of many people that are hitting the wall and are in the early stages of “personal collapse” and the “succession” that is underway from the cascading fallout which is pushing people beyond there “yield point” but that should have its own thread.
  • October 1, 2007 at 5:52 am
    On a more localized note, the “letters to the editor” section of the local rag contained a half-page diatribe of personal worry and request for consolation as one of the more prolific literary members of the general public had apparently come to the same general realization. On a very superficial level (to be expected in such a short article), a surprisingly good understanding of the energy crunch, fake economy, dollar collapse, and both economic and resource problems facing this country in a totally a-political way. And this, as I said, from a red-state John Q. Public.

    Lonewolf said something very prescient the other day about the herd still grazing away merrily, but that some could now sense something in the air, their heads up, nostrils flaring at an unfamiliar scent.

    In the last couple of weeks, I’ve personally noticed the level of “coverage” of some of these issue increase exponentially, especially on the internet, but even in main stream publications (i.e. USAToday), even if it is not yet foremost in the publics’ frontal lobe consciousness.
    I have personally been spontaneously approached by a colleague who, like a light had gone on, seemed to almost suddenly grasp some of the symptoms and implications discussed here, seeking what I can only describe as words of assurance and solace. I had none for him….everything he said was terribly true, and worse than he knew. The shock seemed palpable.

    Much like the pull back of the surf before a tsunami, there is now a broad sense of terrible but still unidentifiable “wrongness” in the air, a building background noise that is starting to intrude itself through the din of our modern, senseless lives. Some seek to drowned it out, but increasingly their efforts are in vein. Some seem numb and stunned as the realization sets in.
    The rapid decline of the $USD, markedly higher prices of food and similar (in the face of government pronouncements to the contrary) and continued high energy prices post-summer seems to be the primary truths intruding into average Joe’s otherwise blissful life.

    We are right at the cusp of broad realization of the terrible s**tstorm imminent, and what you can detect is that prelude; dark skies and stunned silence….

  • October 2, 2007 at 7:47 pm
    All sorts of responses and questions come to my mind, not only concerning Josh’s post, but the discussion thread that follows. I know, therefore, that some of this will be out of place, but next time I should do better (if you guys educate me how). You people have a forum or something?
    As for the lonliness of being on your own . . . I can still remember the time I first went cycle-touring. I set up the old canvas tent (that dates me he says in his best Grandpa Simpson voice) and man was I nervy as the sun set and the owls hooted. Since then I’ve got to prefer my own company during several thousand mile walks.
    The first thing I thought when I started reading the above post was Daniel Quinn’s ‘Ishmael’. Then when fallout11 mentioned ‘the herd’ and ‘nostrils flaring’ I was reminded of Stephen King’s ‘The Talisman’. Back in the early eightees he is already describing a civilization beyond its peak.
    I got into Peak Oil about 6 months ago. Right now I can truly say that I’m overwhelmed. Sustainability, survival, politics, permaculture, community, skills, finance, relocation . . . where do you begin?
    The Internet is useful on one level, but how do I best make use of it? (Topic for a post, SA?). I read one good article, which links to others, and each website lists dozens of others. How do I keep up, keep track, keep my head screwed on tight? Do you know what I mean? Any advice?
    And finally, I wonder how much of this is mostly USA-pertaining. Here in NZ we have 70% hydro-electricity. There’s geothermal too – perhaps the first in the world to have it. I know that all the vehicles will stop, and that agriculture will suffer, but in a country the size of the UK or Japan with a population of barely 4 million, I think it’s not such a do-or-die scenario as in the States. Mind you, I want nothing to do with a city of 50K or more. I hate to say it, but the USA to me looks like the canary in the coalmine (and China, and India and Japan…). The question is, will the rest of the world understand what’s gone down when it happens?

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