Sunday, August 10, 2008

Woodcraft Environmental Renaissance

Why is the rabbit unafraid? Because he's smarter than the panther. - The Edge (film)

Woodcraft is the art of carving or fashioning objects from wood. It is also defined as the dexterity and experience in matters relating to the woods, such as hunting, fishing, camping or simply surviving in the wild by staying one step ahead of the panther. For thousands of years, human beings have survived only because they were able to adapt and obtain their basic necessities from their surrounding habitat, usually employing little more technology than their own hands.

It would help bring together young people from various so-called stations, break down the barriers that society has foolishly placed upon them, and establish in their minds when they are young, a finer kind of humanity, a real understanding that the important thing is the association of a human spirit. - Ernest Thomson Seton. Ernest, an American naturalist and a proponent of these primitive skills, promoted the idea of a Woodcraft life-style from the early years of the 20th century. He believed that by continuing to practice these skills, even if for recreational or educational purposes, human beings will have a better understanding of their world and will be able to live more harmoniously in it.

For this purpose, in 1902, Ernest founded the 'Order of Woodcraft Chivalry' in an effort to reform delinquents who were damaging the land by intensive agriculture. Seton arranged camps for these people, in which they were taught Woodcraft, combining civilized values with the prodigious skills and practical knowledge of Native American Indians. These camps educated them to interrelate with the land in a harmonious relationship, preserving its resources and landscapes. His Book of Woodcraft (published in 1912) instantly became a best seller all over the world and had a major influence on parents who wished to teach their children ecologically sound and humanist principles. Ernest soon had an international audience, with groups on similar lines founded in Britain and central Europe. Although at their peak in 1920s, these groups rivaled the Boy Scouts, Woodcrafters dwindled during the Great Depression, the Second World War, and the subsequent suppression by the Nazis and the Communists. Ernest's death in 1946 left these groups rudderless.


There are still a small number of groups active in North America and Britain, and a sizeable number in Czech Republic. However, most of Ernest's legacy, i.e., commitment to seek knowledge, pursue truth and beauty, increase tolerance and understanding, and to improve social and environmental conditions through personal and collective action, remains forgotten and unexplored by current-day Pagans.

Keith Londrie II is a well known author. He has written many great articles on many topics, including woodcraft. For more information, please visit You may also be interested in Keith's other offerings at his site

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