There are lots of reasons why modern people don’t have a relationship with the land. Most are city dwellers. For them, “land” is a public park or a small backyard rather than wide open spaces with no light pollution.
Most Americans are immigrants, so our ancestral “home” is somewhere else.
We don’t have family homesteads where our dead have been buried for hundreds or thousands of years. Most of us aren’t even living in the same house we grew up in.
Modern people don’t grow anything, take anything from the land, or give anything back. Our food comes from the grocery store, not the land.
We don’t have pilgrimage sites- these special places where we go singly or as a community to connect with the divine. So we don’t see the land as a being to love and protect.
We’re mobile, and we like it. We can be around the world in a day. If I want to uproot my family for a job, relationship, or flight of fancy, why not? Nothing is holding me back. We’re independent and free. And all this separates us from the earth beneath our feet.
I believe recapturing our relationship with the land is fundamental to our sense of belonging. It’s a way to feel comfortable with being authentically wild again.
So How Do We Nurture a Relationship With the Land?
Animist relationships are holistic. So a relationship with the land is spiritual, cultural, physical, social, and emotional. I can’t tell you how to do that or what might make it meaningful to you. I can give you some suggestions to get you started in your exploration of that. Just get creative. Think about the many dimensions through which we relate and start with the one that seems easiest (to set yourself up for success).
- Find ways to live with the land instead of off of it. In other words, engage in reciprocity. Tend something. Give gratitude to something. Plant something. Consider the long term impact of how you use the land.
- Listen to the land. Sleep on the ground and hear her heartbeat. Listen to the Schumann resonance to bring you back to your own natural energy rhythm.
- Think big picture. Many of us have knee jerk reactions to ecological problems that can create negative unintended consequences. When we learn to live connected to all of Nature, this happens less.
- Consider the divine intelligence that birthed you where it did. Honor that by honoring the space around you and the people within your family.
- Go to sacred sites. Worship there. Sing. Dance. Pray. Feel. See why so many people find it special.
- Slow down. Watch an ant, bee, or hummingbird go throughout its day. Learn from how it interacts with the land.
- Consider changing the way that you think about the land. Are you the owner or caretaker? Does it take care of you or you take care of it? Or do you belong to each other? Be careful how you speak. Words are power.
- Go outside at night or early in the morning. Listen to the creatures. Get to know the sounds of your home.
- Watch the sky. Observe it at different times of day and in different weather. What can you smell in the wind?
- Where does your heart long for? It may not be where you live. The land remembers you and will call you back. Do you have the heart to hear it?
- Consider how you harvest food and medicines. This applies whether you grow it yourself, wildcraft it, or buy it from a store. How do your habits impact the ecology and population?
- Contemplate where your dead lie. How are they tended?
- When you visit rural areas, linger. Stay more than a weekend. Savor it. Relate to it rather than just using it or acting upon it.
I’d love to hear how YOU express your relationship with the land. Share!