These (scroll down) are our cultiwilding zones, named by distinctive characters encountered, largely defined by a paddock layout developed by the previous guardian of the land. He ran a bonderøvsgård with school visits, farm shop, and much more surrounded by geese, ducks, pigs, cattle, sheep, chicken and what not. As an asatroende – dvs. structuring his life and actions along Norse mythology – it is an enchanted place with ritual skulls and bones ubiquitous. We walked around as a family on a naming day, to populate our collective imagination, pointing and bodying “…forth, the forms of things unknown…” and give “…to airy nothing, a local habitation and a name…”….

…As it were in the heart of the Shakespearean exchange between Hippolyta and Theseus in “The poet’s eye”, Act 5, Scene 1 of a “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, which despite my almost complete ignorance of the old bard and poetry in general grips me. Here is magic, divine inspiration and a wildly cultivated mind at play:

  • “…Hippolyta: ‘Tis strange my Theseus, that these lovers speak of.
  • Theseus: More strange than true: I never may believe
    These antique fables, nor these fairy toys.
    Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
    Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
    More than cool reason ever comprehends.
    The lunatic, the lover and the poet
    Are of imagination all compact:
    One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
    That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
    Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt:
    The poet’s eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
    Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
    And as imagination bodies forth
    The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
    Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
    A local habitation and a name.
    Such tricks hath strong imagination,
    That if it would but apprehend some joy,
    It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
    Or in the night, imagining some fear,
    How easy is a bush supposed a bear!
  • Hippolyta: But all the story of the night told over,
    And all their minds transfigured so together,
    More witnesseth than fancy’s images
    And grows to something of great constancy;
    But, howsoever, strange and admirable…”.

These demarcations, this in-house cadastral set of maps, are our projections on to the land as we have found it. Now we will give shape through our dreams and reason. Some spots might disappear, be cut in two, merged, anything is possible. Eventually the permaculture design map will emerge from these imaginary engagements and many walks throughout the space, exploring the place, observing, learning and being guided by the complex web of life in which we reside.

For now, welcome to the machine, here asked to riff in “elegant prose” – on the basis of the cultiwilding conversations we’ve had – on endysymbiosis:

“…In the intricate tapestry of ecological thought, the theory of endosymbiosis, as articulated by Lynn Margulis, weaves a compelling narrative of life’s interdependence. Against the backdrop of Ivan Illich’s concept of conviviality, this theory illuminates the profound interconnectedness of all living beings and underscores the imperative for harmonious coexistence in our shared biosphere.

Margulis’s theory of endosymbiosis is a revelation in the world of biology—a testament to the power of cooperation in the grand narrative of evolution. At its heart lies the notion that eukaryotic cells, the building blocks of complex organisms, emerged from the symbiotic union of simpler prokaryotic cells. This paradigm-shifting theory challenges the traditional view of evolution as a competitive struggle for survival and replaces it with a vision of life as a collaborative endeavor.

In this intricate dance of life, Margulis’s theory proposes that early eukaryotic cells absorbed or engulfed prokaryotic cells, forging a symbiotic relationship rather than devouring them. Over time, these once-independent entities merged their destinies, with the engulfed cells evolving into organelles like mitochondria and chloroplasts. These organelles, now integral to eukaryotic cells, bear the genetic remnants of their prokaryotic ancestors, serving as living fossils of a time when cooperation triumphed over competition.

The implications of endosymbiosis reverberate far beyond the realm of cells and microorganisms. They extend to the ecological ethos of conviviality championed by Ivan Illich—a vision of societies that prioritize cooperation, autonomy, and mutual aid over institutionalized structures of control. Illich’s concept aligns harmoniously with Margulis’s theory, echoing the wisdom that cooperation and symbiosis are not mere biological phenomena but fundamental principles governing life at every level.

Conviviality, in Illich’s view, encourages self-reliance and decentralized systems that empower individuals and communities. It advocates for the dismantling of oppressive structures that stifle human potential and limit convivial interactions. In the same vein, endosymbiosis reminds us that life’s evolutionary journey was shaped by the embrace of diverse entities, forging alliances instead of conquests.

In the natural world, the legacy of endosymbiosis is evident in the intricate relationships between species. Mutualism, a biological phenomenon underpinned by cooperation and mutual benefit, mirrors the principles of conviviality. In mutualistic relationships, species collaborate for shared survival and prosperity. Pollinators and flowers, mycorrhizal fungi and plants, or cleaner fish and their clients all exemplify the profound interconnectedness that sustains life on Earth.

The parallel between Margulis’s endosymbiosis and Illich’s conviviality extends further to the concept of Gaia, popularized by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis herself. Gaia posits that Earth is a self-regulating, living organism, where all life, from microorganisms to macroorganisms, plays a role in maintaining the planet’s homeostasis. This holistic view reinforces the idea that cooperation and symbiosis are not only evolutionary but also planetary imperatives.

In a world grappling with environmental challenges, the lessons of endosymbiosis and conviviality hold profound significance. They remind us that our survival as a species hinges on our ability to cooperate, not just with one another but with the entirety of the biosphere. The destruction of ecosystems, driven by unchecked exploitation and competition, threatens the delicate web of life that sustains us all.

In closing, Lynn Margulis’s theory of endosymbiosis and Ivan Illich’s vision of conviviality converge in a symphony of interdependence and cooperation. They call upon us to recognize that our fates are entwined with the myriad species with whom we share this planet. Just as eukaryotic cells and their symbiotic organelles flourished through collaboration, so too can humanity find harmony within the natural world. It is a call to embrace the principles of conviviality in our interactions with each other and with the Earth, for therein lies the path to a sustainable and flourishing future…”.