European Wilderness Society

The dynamic word Wilderness 

The word Wilderness is fascinating and complex. Majority of people use this word to refere to wild, untouched nature with minimal human intervention. 

Origin of the word Wilderness

The word “wilderness” has its roots in the Old English term “wildeornes.” It derives from the combination of “wilde,” meaning wild or untamed, and “ornes,” referring to a dwelling or place. In its early usage, “wilderness” denoted a wild or uncultivated land

Over time, the word has come to represent more than just physical landscapes. It evokes a sense of untouched, uninhabited areas of natural beauty. The term encompasses vast expanses of untamed nature, providing a connection to the raw and primal aspects of the world, where human influence is limited, and the wild reigns supreme.

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In the past, the spiritual meaning of the word “wilderness” was deeply rooted in religious and mystical traditions

Spiritual meaning of the word Wilderness

In the past, the spiritual meaning of the word “wilderness” was deeply rooted in religious and mystical traditions. It represented a place of solitude, reflection, and divine encounter. Prophets, mystics, and spiritual seekers sought the wilderness as a sacred space to retreat from the distractions of society, connect with nature, and commune with the divine. 

Today, the spiritual meaning of wilderness remains relevant. In a fast-paced, modern world, it represents a haven of tranquillity, a refuge from the noise and chaos. It serves as a reminder to seek solitude, find inner peace, and reconnect with the natural world, fostering a sense of spiritual connection, renewal, and ecological awareness.

Wilderness and Biodiversity 

Wilderness holds significant meaning in the realm of biodiversity. It refers to vast and undisturbed areas of land or ecosystems that remain untouched by human development and interference. These wilderness areas are crucial for the preservation of biodiversity as they provide habitats for a wide array of plant and animal species. 

These areas serve as sanctuaries for rare and endangered species, allowing for natural ecological processes to occur without human disruption. By safeguarding wilderness, we protect the delicate balance of ecosystems, maintain genetic diversity, and promote the overall health and resilience of the planet’s biodiversity.

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Wilderness is a fascinating word. Since ancient times was associated with spiritual and religious stories.


Wilderness is a fascinating word. In the past, “wilderness” referred to wild or uncultivated land. Since ancient times, it has often been associated with spiritual and religious stories. In modern times, the complex meaning of this word is rediscover by society. For many, it has become a symbol of unspoiled nature where spontaneous natural processes take place. For others, it is a place of spiritual rebirth, a place of gaining new strength.

In nowadays the meaning of the word “wilderness” extends more and more beyond its physical connotations. It symbolizes a transformative journey or a period of solitude and introspection.

Vlado Vancura
European Wilderness Society

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