I spent the first eighteen years of my life in the house my parents moved to the month before I was born. The sycamore tree in the backyard was my constant companion and I spent hours lying on my back staring at the clouds.
When I felt like it, I walked down the hill to the creek and spent hours playing in the water, walking its banks.
My friend, Shana Robinson, moved constantly as a child. She has strong memories of many different locations and a strong connection to the importance of place.
Both of us feel a strong pull to Mother Earth. I have an interest in what we can learn from nature. Shana has a passion for divining information from the landscape. She believes that we each can create our own divinatory experience as a way of finding personal meaning and significance through landscapes.
Living as we do in what we consider a modern, civilized situation, we don’t connect very well to this idea of being tied to the land or thinking of the Earth as our Mother. Our hectic way of life has us moving so quickly that there is little time for reflection, connection or belonging.
When we zip through places and discount them because our thoughts about them are that they are “only” fields or hills or trees, we are missing something important.
When it comes to landscape we don’t see the terrain, we tend only to see people and buildings, things that we have been conditioned to think “matter.” However, behind all this structure is the land itself, the landscape, the very face of Mother Earth. In a rush to know the territory, we miss the forest for the trees. Literally.
We belong to Mother Earth. She is the air we breathe, the water we drink, the warmth of our days, and the food that we eat. In establishing a deeper relationship with the Earth we come to understand Her many faces—forests, oceans, mountains, deserts and more.
We find that Mother Earth has been a constant yet often unacknowledged presence, ready to impart wisdom and knowledge if we are open to her communication. This communication can enable us to divine our own way of experiencing belonging, and discover for ourselves a new kind of happiness that expands beyond our normal boundaries.
Here are four tips for connecting with your personal landscape:
Pick your place:
Identify in your mind’s eye a place in nature where you felt calm, contented and peaceful. If it is not possible to visit it in person, visit it in your mind, enjoy that feeling.
Spend time in nature:
Whether it is spending time in a park in a city or at the top of a mountain with no sign of civilization anywhere, we all need that connection to Mother Earth. If you already regularly spend time in nature, expand the experience by being extra mindful of the earth under your feet, the scents, the feel of the bark on trees, the taste of the fresh air. Really notice your surroundings.
Look deeply at one thing:
Whether in the comfort of your easy chair or outside in nature (though preferably outside in nature), pick something of nature whether it is a rock, a blade of grass, a seashell, or a piece of driftwood. Shift your focus so you are only looking at this one item. Examine it. Feel it, run your fingers over the surface. See it, look only at it, nothing else. Sense it, does any message emanate from this inanimate object. Listen to it, does it give off any sound? Be still with it. Consider whether this particular object, at this precise point in time, this object, has a message for you. Is there information that you can divine from it?
Be open to signs:
Consider the possibility that Mother Nature has something unique to say to you. If you see something in nature that resonates with you, take a moment to pause and reflect on what it might be trying to tell you.
Be warned, these behaviors can be addictive. Once you start spending time in nature, you will want more. Once you start paying attention to the world around you, you will become increasingly aware of your surroundings. The goods news is, that this is a good and healthy addiction, enjoy it, flourish within it.
Authors: Shana Robinson & Wendy Kuhn
Assistant Editor: Leah Krol / Editor: Renee Picard
Photo: author’s own