What Are Green Wizardry's Core Principles?

David Trammel's picture

The title of this thread, "What Are Green Wizardry's Core Principles? is what I want to discuss, but I ask everyone who is reading this to indulgance me for a moment, while I let my mind sweep some cobwebs from it, and focus myself.


Greer has often spoken that the "Archdruid Report" was a blog that had a beginning and an end, that he did not intend to blog there forever.

As much as we all would hope he would continue to enlighten us with his vast grasp of all things knowable, and we can hope that he will at least occasionally come back to the ADR for a post or two, I must recognize that the ADR and Greer's weekly postings were in some was an excuse for me to not take the steps I needed to do, to really incorporate and live the principles he taught as Green Wizardry in my own Life.

As the often say, "You need to (expletive), or get off the pot!"

This coincides with a big event in my own Life. The realization that my retirement from the working life, is something that is going to happen, and happen in a relatively short (3-7 year) time frame. My body is getting old and the aches and pains of being nearly 60, and a Life in manufacturing, highlight the fact everyday that just like the ADR, periods of my Life have a beginning and an end.

Time for me to discover my own Green Wizard.


I am beginning to redo the GreenWizard Dot Info site (since moved to this site), and have been both rereading Greer's book, "Green Wizardry", and rereading the various post I and others did there since this forum opened. There is a lot of great knowledge and information we have here.

Now I think its time we all tried to step it up just a tiny bit, and see how we would teach Green Wizardry if, and perhaps when, we need to. To that end, I am going to start posting some questions on the fundamentals of what I personally think Green Wizardry are.

And asking all of you to give me your opinions, ideas and thought on the same.


Every "movement" adopts a measure of mysticism and mystique, little customs and mannerisms that those in the know, in the circle of participants, have in common that separates themselves from those outside the movement. Some are developed over time and some are deliberately put in place because they match the ideals that the movement's founders envision for the movement.

If you have visited the comment section of Greer's ADR, you will see the posts from the various groups of people, who are meeting in their towns and cities to discuss the issues of Collapse and Depletion. They have consciously chosen to adopt the name of "Green Wizard Guilds and Ruinman Towers". The reference is from Greer's fictional writing on post collapse life, "Star's Reach" and the anthology from that universe "Merican Tales."

Its a powerful mystic, which harkens back to Dark Age monasteries which kept alive past knowledge and the Guilds of Trademen and Apprentices which came after, during the Renassance.


Just like those modern Green Wizards, when Teresa, Cathy and I first began formalizing Green Wizardry, we encorporated the idea that the various knowledge, ideas and skills of this "appropriate technology" was much like a maze. You started out at the middle and worked your way through it, picking up those skills that we thought you should have to call yourself a green wizard.

Here is the picture I found to convey that

That is the reason you see the various Forums, called "Circles".

Now while the order of the forums, "Introduction of Green Wizardry" at the start, with the First Circle: Foods, and Second Circle: Gardens following, leading to the Thirteen Circle: Community Building and Whole Systems implies a linear pathway, but that was never our intent.

Unlike most mazes, Green Wizardry has more than one path to mastering it.

While knowing how to grow your own food is an important part of Green Wizardry, we have to recognize that a person can certainly be a Green Wizard and still have the darkest plant killing thumb known to Man. Their skills may instead lie with Ham Radio, or Energy Systems, or any of the whole universe of appropriate tech that Greer thought made up this neccessary discipline for the coming Collapse.


While I may recognize that each person walking the path of being a Green Wizard is both their own and most unique, I do believe that Green Wizardry has some core principles and fundamentals.

You may have skills, knowledge and expertise in subjects that the people who have to live in the coming Collapse, and the Dark Age after, will need to survive and even perhaps prosper, but without the understanding and acceptance of these core ideas, you can't call yourself a Green Wizard.

Let me present my thought on this, and then ask you to post yours.


First and formost, a Green Wizard understands the "Theory of Catabolic Collapse" put forth by John Michael Greer and recognizes that we are going through such a cycle.

(it can be found here: "How Civilizations Fall: A Theory of Catabolic Collapse" )

The mechanisms that Greer describes, as to how an Empire rises, conquers, an eventually falls, is to me fundamental to the mindset of a Green Wizard. While you can understand what is happening to current civilization, its problems and perhaps ways to counter those same problems, I think without an acceptance that Greer's theory is true and describes what we are going to go through puts you outside of what we are doing.

Now that doesn't mean you are wrong...


Secondly, a Green Wizard embraces "Discensus"

We are "generalist", in that we as Green Wizards accept and encourage alternate views and ways of doing things. At our core is the phylosophy that, "There is no ONE way to do something."

Every problem in the real world probably has a few answers that will provide people in the middle of the Collapse with help, and a way to deal with their prediciments or problems. Trying to force a "one size fits all" is completely contrary to being a Green Wizard.


A Green Wizard has a grasp of basic "System Theory and Practice".

That is they understand the way that the basic three, energy, matter and information work together in almost all things we do. And that they apply that understanding to problems they encounter.

This is covered extensively in the first part of Greer's "Green Wizardry" and will be the subject of several posts, the first all about your shower I almost have finished and will post soon, lol, but the world view that Life exsists and operates as self organizing systems and our job is usually to find out how that system is being negatively effected and what we can do to right it, is core to a Green Wizards ability to address problems.

Is Sytems Theory the only way to analyze problems?


But it is a very good one.


And finally...

A Green Wizard embraces "Community"

The old question asked another way, "If a Green Wizard shared their knowledge in the forest (all alone), would you hear?"

We are as a species, those people draw to Green Wizardry, loners it seems to me, That's from reading the comments of the ADR and the various coments here on the Green Wizard forums.

We don't play well with others, but we best be getting over that problem.

I don't think that the coming Collapse is going to allow that personal luxury, for me or you. Like it or not, being a Green Wizard isn't about hoarding your knowledge and skills. It is only through sharing that, you really be a Green Wizard.


AS always, comments and opinions are welcome.

….see how we would teach Green Wizardry if, and perhaps, when we need to.

Well, to start with, I do not think one can ‘teach Green Wizardry’ at all. It is too diffuse in subjects and too broad a concept to be encapsulated in a set of teaching principles. One can learn this or that and one can teach this or that; but this merely makes a person a Wizard of This Specific Skill or That Particular Body of Knowledge.

However, if there is any one single unifying principle of Green Wizardry, I think it must be excellence or mastery in more than one area of skill and/or knowledge. This is where the generalist concept you mention comes in. Useful arts are many and multifarious: Horticulture, Astronomy, Navigation, War, Medicine, etc.

Attaining mastery in a range of different arts, (comprising theory, history, practice, skill, and new knowledge) requires certain traits and abilities. Of these, I would distinguish MENTAL abilities: memory, concentration, focus, diffuse awareness, ratiocination, etc.; PHYSICAL abilities: steadiness of hand, hand-eye co-ordination, endurance, self-discipline, etc.; and SPIRITUAL abilities: self-control, patience, ability to follow directions or obey instructions to the letter, intuitive leaps, insight into when NOT to follow directions to the letter, and similar ‘aliveness’ to reality. Note that some of these traits and abilities can be direct opposites of each other: focus and diffuse awareness, reasoning and intution for example.

An apt apprentice for any Art will have some of these traits and abilities as innate gifts; others can be learned – or not! – as the individual’s temperament and social conditioning affect their learning capacity. Mastery requires a more dedicated, more time-consuming, much deeper learning process than merely imparting a general idea of a subject to an average depth of understanding.

Therefore, in my book, the teaching of “wizardry” begins with assigning a practical task that uses the best capacity in a student, while challenging their best efforts and developing the innate trait to a higher degree of excellence. The process ends with finding workarounds to neutralize the bad effects of a student’s weaknesses. Most methods of teaching do the opposite: they begin with general theories, force-feeding of an accumulated extract of all that is known or thought to be known about the subject, rote drill and elemental fundamentals.

This is probably because most students are in class for some reason other to learn: social pressure, legal requirements, vanity and conceit, etc. Deeper learning requires deeper character; and if you know how to teach character, you are already a wizard and a rare, much needed one, at that.

As a confirmed contrarian, I must say I do not absolutely agree with your requirement that a wizardly person must understand and recognize the relevance of a particular theory of catabolic collapse. I can imagine a person who is as mad as a whole hop of March Hares, who earnestly believes that living under a giant mayonnaise jar on Mars is the best possible fate and the ultimate aim of Humanity.

But if that person also knew when the barley crop was going to be threatened by a 17-year locust swarm and made sure the harvest was secured unripe a month too early and stowed in the barn under arched steel plates reclaimed from an old silo, but then ripened by the mad method of smudging it continually for a week using pine resin torches, while also torching the field of stubble during the swarming to discourage the locusts from laying eggs and coming back (made-up example) – well, then, I still might accord them the honor of being a community-serving green wizard even if I disagreed with their outrageously ludicrous belief system. (There’s a story in there, I reckon.)

Now, if one wished to make acceptance of catabolic theory a pre-requisite for membership in a specific Guild or Lodge, why, ‘ere ain’t no law agin it. In my opinion, though, it would merely be setting yourself up for schizms and prisms and the endless carping of exclusionaries. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition. Besides, you just said yourself that "There is no ONE way to do something." and, ‘Trying to force a "one size fits all" is completely contrary to being a Green Wizard.’ However, if the purpose of setting up a Lodge or Guild is to ensure that certain character traits, psychological health, spirit qualities, and compliance with group aims are selected for, encouraged, or enforced, then you can have my heavily qualified blessing.

Now, as to Systems Theory, a plain or common wizard need not adhere to it; but I think a GREEN Wizard must. Otherwise, the wizard’s mastery will likely create imbalances in forces of which they are ignorant and damage ecosystems to which they are blind. Likewise with service or utility to the community, which is the ecosystem the wizards themselves belong to. R-selected wizards may help their community in different ways than K-selected wizards, though. Yes? But they had better know pretty well what they are doing or about to do and what the results of their deeds could be. Because mastery implies a certain degree of predictability: attaining a desired end from applied force, or having a fair knowledge of the likely consequences of a given speech or action.

David Trammel's picture

Wow, that's an amazing reply, thank you gkb.

I first want to say, I am not trying to establish a Green Wizard "dogma", what is accepted in our community, and what the GW Orthadoxy can use to exclude those its Inner Circle find offensive or just too disruptive.

To establish "Us" vs "Them".

Instead, what I am asking for in this and future postings/questions is some real guidance for the collective community here of long time Greer readers and Green Wizardry practicioners, is help in coming up with an outline of a series of books and tutorials to accompany Greer's "Green Wizardry", which will help those that come behind to solve the mountain of problems and predicaments that the generations to come will have in living in, and maybe prospering in a World of Collapse.

And "prosper" should be highlighted.

Its not enought to teach a skill set that simply lets you live in harsh times. You have to offer "Hope", and I think Green Wizardry does just that.

I think through all of Greer's writings, there was a clear understanding that while he recognized that time to come soon are going to absolutely "suck" for most people, that there was a skill set, that of "appropriate technology" that if learned and practiced would make your life in the reality of Collapse both tolerable and even enjoyable.

Greer has said it many time, you need to learn to "Live in Poverty, with some measure of Respect".

We are all facing a time where our standard of living is going to be like the worst third world country. Does that mean that a life lead then is going to be a basket of woe and tribulations?


Its going to be hard and many people will find it difficult, but we'll still have celebrations. We'll still find time to enjoy ourselves.

I think what I am asking with this post, is the understanding that WE here, those of us at the true beginning of a "Art" I hope will do profound things to make the lives of the people to come, is give those few people who seek out Green Wizardry as one path among several, some foundations that they can use, to effect those changes.

I recognize that "our" way is not the "only" way.

Honestly, I liken it to the skill of forging a sword.

That's a pivot in an odd direction, but relevant.

Like any Master Swordmaker, each "school" of swordmaking has its mysticisms and rituals.

Can you distill down the "science" of what it takes to make a great sword, like a Japanese katana, separate from the traditions and heritage that is Japanese sword making?

Of course.

But I would argue, in doing so, you lose the spirit and the soul of that Art..

Can you make a fine sword in a differnet way? Of course. But doing so, can you call that sword making in the Japanese style?


I think what I am getting at, is there is the skills that you need to learn to survive the coming "Collapse" and then there is "Green Wizardry". Both share a tremendous amount, and yet, Green Wizardry has a fine distinction. There is a kind of fellowhip and shared mystic, to it.

Ritual has a way of binding its participants. It gives them a shared strength that is useful in adversity.

(more in a separate post)

Little joke, there. Some dogma is good, though, right? A certain amount of orthodoxy is commonly found (and probably is necessary) in any clan or tribal unit or what-have-you of a quasi-unified group. It is unlikely that an egregore or group identity will form without some set limits. Like strong moderation of web comments or Robert’s Rules of order help create and sustain civil conversation. The metaphors of a cell in the body, city limits, bird territorial area, house rules in a casino, etc. can apply to a lodge or salvagers’ union: definite boundaries that separate internal activity from external interactions and dictate to whom the benefits of membership apply. The membrane of the cell or membership in the unit can be more or less permeable and defensible as times and circumstances dictate.

Written rules and unwritten rules contribute more or less equally to forming barriers between an established group and its contextual society. It is as well to be aware of how the group is viewed by those outside it.

Some degree of exclusivity is attractive and engaging. To set up a limited access group galvanizes people’s desire to be included. Folks want very much to join the Country Club, to be on visiting terms with the aristocracy, to belong to the inner circle of power or prestige. Facebook was originally only for a limited few and that was the drawing power to get people to sign on. Then more and more people were graciously inducted into the fashionable phenomenon, and it became a source of revenue—a sort of enclosure of the Commons of Conversation, largely for the benefit of its owners who transmute the flowing milk of human kindness into niche-targeted advertising.

In contrast, observe how antagonistic people have often been towards Jews, or the Irish troubles or the Protestant/Puritan/Catholic convulsions of England and Europe. How many wars fought over minute points of doctrine? An astounding amount of wealth has been offered up as a burnt sacrifice to petty differences in thinking out of fierce loyalty to rigidly held notions. People killed in fights about sports teams. Koo-koo.

What JMG speaks of as identity politics and values-based policies have one view of inclusion/exclusion rules. Mutual-interest politics have a different view of inclusion/exclusion rules. How will vegan Green Wizards fare in downeast pork-farm country? What values or interests are mutual between rifle-owning, church-going pheasant hunters, assault-automatic owning urban drug-supply gangs, and demoralized, militarized police? Well, for one thing, they all need food. But how to get that across? It gets complicated really fast, you see.

I am reminded of the passage in the Christian bible about sowing seed on stony, barren, or receptive ground. The ‘seed’ of Green Wizardry will differ according to the quality of the social soil in which it must grow. It could be hard and durable like hickory nuts or soft and delectable, like wild strawberries. It may need to be tiny, yet prolific like purslane, hard to see and hard to eradicate. Or, perhaps, large, slow-growing, needing careful nurture, but eventually a prize of fruit-bearing (like a peach pit!)

It seems important for a Green Wizard group, formal or informal, to have a clear aim of service to the immediate community, and/or a useful benefit to most of the people in the vicinity. A certain amount of openness and straightforwardness can dispel fears about cultic or coercive intent. Just like setting up a corporate entity for business, GW groups might be well advised to state clear aims, specify definite goals, and dictate a limited duration of membership. And charge a fee for membership.

Do not lodges and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) groups, Guilds, hobby clubs, Physician Retainer Funding Groups (PRFG), and labor unions all have a membership fee? As money gets wobbly, it could be important to specify how many hours of what kind of labor can be accepted in lieu or money for active members and what benefits accrue to auxiliary members. Electing or appointing prez and veep, secretary, treasurer parliamentarian, and other officers, is how people used to set up the nuts and bolts of group organization. Would this format be required of GW TM (if you’ll forgive the market-speak).

One way to benefit the community is for each GW group to publish one book per year. It could include recipes, gardening tips, ham radio jokes, household hints, insulation retrofitting tips, members’ artworks, poems, stories, weather analysis—a kind of local Readers’ Digest. A weekly newsletter collected and spiral bound would be good enough for the purpose. It would diffuse information into the community, raise funds for Meeting Hall rental, or service projects, and provide local news. Extracts from Project Gutenberg or other on-line sources can be legally printed for a small fee.

Supporting print media, book repair and bindery operations could be important for everyone’s future. The disciplines involved in book creation and printing are exacting and can be made part of the spiritual practice of the Lodge. They require mental, physical and spiritual work to achieve a worthy result.

Also, a dedicated space for a Lodge Library, supported by subscriptions, could be made available to members only, with the proviso that scholars are allowed access as a great favor if they are known to be of good character and principled. Lending books to other lodges and a circuit or Kula Ring of valuable books could be incorporated as a pilgrimage or journeyman task.

Just some ideas that you might find useful.

Other services a Lodge could provide:

Time Bank for labor contributions to community projects

Sponsor and maintain a Community Garden plot

Craft Carnival & Farm Fair to benefit farmers hit by weather events

Farmer’s insurance fund to help farm cash flow or loans to improve physical plant

Canning and fermenting demonstrations

Homemade emergency kits for solar water purification and solar cooking (with demos)

Hot suppers on the hoof (haywagon ride with food and hot chocolate served from hayboxes)

Cistern installation demonstration

Survival basics for kids: how to make shelter, start a fire, obtain clean water, find food

Story-telling Circle and Saturday Puppet Theater

The tragic thing about all the sweat equity that goes into creating and maintaining a collective endeavour is that any treasure laid up can be corrupted by moth and rust. Even intangible treasures that no thief can break in and steal, such as mutual good will, expressive exuberance, and ample time for good conversation can be done in by malice and wrath: the spiritual equivalents of moth and rust. Or simply lost due to the passage of time and changing circumstances. Things good and noble, pleasant and prospering are routinely laid low by incidents and accidents of destiny, just as the corn falls to the blade.

But perhaps the chief thing is to make the effort anyway: to form and maintain the bonds of social cohesion: to restore to ourselves and our lost and bewildered fellows of the industrial age the habits of mutual reliance—or the option to embrace those habits as a principle of a joyful and satisfying life.

One principle of a lodge ought to be Justice. Justice is never easy, but it can be supported by a graduated series of consequences for infractions of house rules (a la Ostrom’s principles for the Commons) and a three-layer process for resolving disputes (like district and appeals courts). Perhaps one of the Lodge officers ought to be a coordinator trained to run Circles of Everyday Conflict before the formal judicial process is required to kick in. An agreed-upon process for dealing with internal pressures of personality clashes can prevent serious ruptures in the social fabric of the Lodge. The method can be by vote, fiat or Chief’s decision, if people like, so long as they agree beforehand how to handle disputes.