Land Healing as a Spiritual Practice

Justin Patrick Moore's picture

I know each person has a personal spiritual preference or particular religion they follow (or none for that matter). Yet we all ended up here, one way or another, due to the work of a druid. Druidry has informed my own spiritual path though I don't belong to any druid orders (at this time). In any case the Druid Garden blog by Dana Driscoll (current head of the AODA) is a fabulous resource for Green Wizard projects (just dig through her archives) and connecting with nature as part of spirituality. It's been an inspiration for me, that is for sure, though your mileage may vary. I just thought I'd share this because she has a new series of posts starting on Land Healing as a Spiritual Practice.

Taking Up Land Healing as a Spiritual Practice:

She writes: "Sometimes, spirit offers you a call and its a call that can’t be ignored. Part of the reason I write so much about working physically and energetically with land healing on this blog is that its clear to me now that a large part of my call is in this direction. When I was a child, it was the logging of my forest–and my eventual return to that forest years later. At my first homestead, I had to spend years working to connect with the spirits of the land and heal the land physically. When I found the current land where I live, everything was perfect about it in terms of features I wanted–except that three acres had been logged pretty heavily. I put my head and my hands and cried–how did I find a perfect piece of land that just had been logged? The spirits laughed and said, of course, Dana, it is the perfect piece of land for someone like you. And thus, the lessons of a land healer continue to spiral deeper and deeper as my own spiritual practice grows. I realize that while I’ve written a lot about land healing in my previous series in 2016 and beyond, my own understanding of these practices–for both individuals and groups–has changed a lot. I’ve been refining my thinking about these topics, especially as I keep finding myself in a teaching role to others and with my return to my ancestral lands where the healing need is very strong. Thus, I’d l like to offer a new series on Land Healing practices and go deeper than my previous coverage some years ago (all of the links to my original series can be found here).

I feel the impetus for talking about these things now more than ever because of what is happening in the broader world. I’m continuing to reflect on what the 21st century brings for all of us practicing nature-based spirituality. Many of you can probably easily witness the impetus for doing land healing work in your immediate areas: a forest or tree friend being cut, spraying, pollution in the skies or waterways, the loss of species that you used to see, and so on. In this post, I’ll start with a plea, if you will, for why I think that nearly everyone practicing any kind of earth-based, druid, or nature spirituality should consider taking up land healing practices as a core spiritual practice. After that, throughout this year, I’ll be sharing posts filling in some of the gaps from my previous writing and offering deeper practices. Next week’s post will offer my revised and expanded framework for land healing practices, which include everything from physical land regeneration techniques to energetic work, witnessing work, apology, land guardianship, shifting your own practices to reduce your footprint on the earth, and self care."

The second post is up now...

A Framework for Land Healing:

We started with a barren, hard-packed clay 1/4-acre rectangle. Pieces of land like this abound. They can recover on their own if they are abandoned AND if you wait long enough.
But why wait? 19 years later, I have a mini wildlife refuge.
My yard speaks to me.
It would speak to me more if I spent the time listening.
Even so, the land responds to us and we respond to it.
Every part of our yard has its points of beauty.

Teresa from Hershey

Justin Patrick Moore's picture

Hi Teresa,

It's cool to hear about how your land has changed through your stewardship of it. We have a small yard and it too was rather compacted with clay-dirt. We have a good herb garden going out back though, where its shady, and a vegetable patch in front now that has been very productive. All those worms from the compost heap have really helped :)

I love going out back to talk to the oak tree in my neighbors yard. The harder part does seem to be getting quiet so we can hear what nature whispers back.

Tude's picture

I'm not religious, or a druid, just someone who appreciates some of JMG's more political posts (and some of his books!) but I do appreciate our relationship with the land and all the creatures we share this planet with. I live on the edge of a urban/suburban landscape, with a 5000sf lot, and my work "healing" this lot has certainly also helped heal me, or at least has taught me just how interconnected we all really are, and how little things we do can have a big impact.

On this subject, I watched this lecture yesterday and had a real ah-ha moment. Some of it is a little sad, but the inspiring part is how simple it really is to have a big impact on our environment. I've decided to dedicate the parts of my yard that aren't suitable for growing veggies and fruits to planting more native plants for my ever increasing bird population. I love how this talk gives real examples of what we can do to heal our landscapes.

Restoring the Little Things that Run the World, Why It Matters and What We Can Do
A talk by Doug Tallamy

Justin Patrick Moore's picture

@Tude: Hey, it's good to see you here in the GW forums. That's an interesting synchronicity. that you linked to the talk by Tallamy. I just saw at work a new book he has out called "Natures Best Hope" and I thought it was going to be something I'd want to read. Here is the blurb (which I'm sure your familiar with from the lecture but thought I would share with everyone)

""Nature's Best Hope shows how homeowners everywhere can turn their yards into conservation corridors that provide wildlife habitats. Because this approach relies on the initiatives of private individuals, it is immune from the whims of government policy. Even more important, it's practical, effective, and easy--you will walk away with specific suggestions you can incorporate into your own yard. If you're concerned about doing something good for the environment, Nature's Best Hope is the blueprint you need."

This is the direction the environmental movement needs to go to survive...and its good to see people advocating for the kind of things individuals can do on their own -as opposed to demanding everyone else change.

It's great to hear about the symbiotic healing between you & your little corner of the world.

I went to the Sierra Club meeting last night to see the film Ay Mariposa. Only 5% of the natural landscape remains in the lower Rio Grande river system. It's important habitate for migrating birds, animals, and butterflies. "Mariposa" is Spanish for "butterfly". Literally it translates as "Mary poses." That is, the wings in their upright position suggest the hands of the Virgin Mary in prayer.
there are three interwoven stories in the film: the life cycle of the butterfly, the work and the history of the 100 acre National Butterfly Center on the Rio Grande at Mission, TX, and the story of one family of migrant farm workers who came from Mexico to the US. The Center is about to be destroyed by Trump's border wall, and years of "land healing"--restoration of native habitat for birds, butterflies, and animals is about to be bulldozed under "eminent domain."

It's a gorgeous film. When it was over, we all sat in stunned silence. It felt like sacrilege to clap.

Justin Patrick Moore's picture

Hi Sophie.

I hear you about not wanting to clap after a film like that. Do you live in the Rio Grande area? I suppose no matter where you are at you can do something to attract the butterflies. For me it has been planting milkweed and other red & orange flowered plants around our bird feeders.

Monarchs migrate over long distances and, I believe, several generations. Something like three generations of butterflies going north and only one or two going south.

When their habitat in the Rio Grande valley is destroyed, those north-bound butterflies will be decimated. Hundreds of migrating birds and butterflies will be cut off.

A PDF file explaining what the wall will do. Keep in mind that only 5% of natural habitat remains in the lower Rio Grande Valley. That 5% mostly depends on humans to maintain and protect it.

If that doesn't work for some reason, this is the page with the printed info.

But the larger take-away from this is: your land is not your land if the government says it's needed for something else. Whether that's a border wall or an oil pipeline or a superhighway. You can put in a lifetime of land-healing and have it ripped out of your hands. The director of the Butterfly Center went to Washington and explained to the government what this wall would do to the hundreds, if not thousands, of species that depend on access to the Lower Rio Grande--and she received death threats from strangers! She was afraid to move around the 100 acre sanctuary by herself.

You can do land restoration, you can do land repair. You can do mitigation and damage control. But you can't do "healing" unless you make peace with the ebb and flow of the ecosystem itself. And that's humans as well as plants and animals.