Interview: How Happiness and Foraging Intertwine for “The Wildwood Way” Author Cliff Seruntine

“I wanted to inspire people to re-conceptualize happiness,” Cliff Seruntine said about writing The Wildwood Way: Spiritual Growth in the Heart of Nature. First published in 2015, the book was re-released last year. “I’m a psychotherapist by profession, and I’ve a lot of education in psychology. I’ve been enamored with the concept of happiness ever since my earliest undergraduate days,” he said in a telephone interview in late March as snow fell on his homestead in the wilds of Nova Scotia.

“There is a fairly esoteric field called happiness science. It is a well-established branch of science. Very few people know it exists or how serious it is, but every major university in the world studies it. The United Nations currently runs the largest-ever study. It has gone on about thirty years and it will continue twenty more”, encompassing two generations of people from around the world.

“Every scientific study of happiness I know of has said over and over again that the things people tend to focus on – career, income, prestige – have little to do with happiness,” Seruntine said. “They don’t make you happy or unhappy, though if they become central pursuits they are virtually guaranteed paths to unhappiness.” Seruntine states the studies indicate that deep happiness is rooted in things closer to home. The quality of one’s relationships to friends and family. Having the courage to pursue one’s dreams, which is even more important than attaining them. Living in a healthy and safe environment. And doing something to make the world a better place. These are the deep and meaningful things, among others, that contribute to happiness. Perhaps we overlook them because they are so accessible.

“Bringing it back around to The Wildwood Way, one of the other things I wanted to express was we have this beautiful green world full of wonders all around us, and if a person is spending all of their lives behind a desk or a computer they’re missing the best source of happiness I know of.

When he wrote the book ten years ago, Seruntine wanted to stress the need to respect the natural world. “Humans in every culture in every part of the world have this long and tragic history of taking the earth for everything it’s worth. The destruction began ten thousand years ago when humans began really spreading around the world. Everywhere humans went, species died,” he said. Seruntine hopes one day our species will leave a legacy of making Earth a better place.

Living in a place where woods are seen as merely a timber resource, Seruntine began teaching foraging for food and medicine as a way to educate people about the deeper value of nature. Now he is one of the most sought-after instructors in eastern Canada. He is already booked solid for the summer, and has had to turn down teaching opportunities. “The hunger to learn about nature was there and the classes just exploded,” he said. He sees teaching foraging as a way to show that the woods have far more value if they are left standing. They host amazing ecosystems that we are only just beginning to learn the depth of.

As a scientist, he has devoted his life to the study of natural history; as a shaman, he has cultivated a much deeper relationship with nature, living gently and respectfully with the natural world. While “foraging pays the bills,” he also teaches other natural history topics, often contracted by a variety of conservation groups.

Thousands of books fill his basement library, including his previous books: An Ogham Wood (Avalonia Esoterica Press, 2011), a tale about a three thousand year old woman who fell in love with an enchanted stag; Seasons of the Sacred Earth: Following the Old Ways on an Enchanted Homestead (Llewellyn, 2013) that details his family’s self-sufficient life with Earth and her spirits; and The Long Season (Amazon, 2018), a contemporary fantasy involving a fictional family in the remote Cajun country of Cenla.

To those he may soon add one more – a book on foraging. Not so much a how-to field guide – of which there are many – but a book with a conservation focus that explores foraging as a source of joy and a way to give back. He hopes his writing motivates persons to venture out the door and discover that wondrous green world all around them.

Read Lynn’s review of The Wildwood Way here.



About the Author:

Lynn Woike

All my life I have known magic was real. As a child, I played with the fae, established relationships with trees and “just knew things.” In my maiden years I discovered witchcraft and dabbled in the black-candles-and-cemeteries-at-midnight-on-a-fullmoon magick just enough to realize I did not understand its power. I went on to explore many practices including Zen, astrology, color therapy, native traditions, tarot, herbs, candle magic, gems, and, as I moved into my mother years, Buddhism, the Kabbalah and Reiki. The first man I dated after my divorce was a witch who reintroduced me to the Craft, this time by way of the Goddess. For 11 years I was in a coven, but with retirement, I have returned to an eclectic solitary practice.


When accepting the mantle of crone, I pledged to serve and teach. This is what I do from my skoolie – a 30-year-old school bus converted into a tiny house on wheels that I am driving around the country, following 72-degree weather, emerging myself into nature, and sharing magic with those I meet. Find me at, Facebook and Instagram.