Drawing the Land In

“…I sit as usual in my little kitchen with the cheerful hearth warming my back. As I look up from my writing, I can see out over the plains through my small window. The fire, Tikkie my parrot and the plains are all co-authors of this book with me.” ~ Antoinette Pienaar

I re-read this passage from The Griqua Apprentice by candle light last night during load shedding (rolling blackouts). It made me think about how the landscapes that we inhabit have a way of immersing themselves in us. We breathe their dusty breath into our bodies. We drink in of its life giving waters. We rest our feet in its sand.

Landscapes capture our imaginations and seep into our dreams. They weave stories and energetic vibrations into our auras. The elements of the land influence our experiences and shape how we live our days.

So yes, I love that the author of this passage – a wise medicine woman, a woman of the land – acknowledges that the fire and the plains are writing her book with her. In my personal work, a significant part of what I write are the stories of landscapes or gathered pieces of Nature who are sharing their sacred voices with me. I’m reminded over and again that we are one being, different parts of a greater whole, breathing and beating and creating wild Earth whispers together. Often, I am just a messenger stringing together words, transcribing songs and poems that the landscapes have been singing since ancient times.

Eco-intuitive writer or not, all writers bear witness to both people and places. In so doing, they inevitably convey the essence of the land or the spirit of place, through the sentences they string together in the name of story.

The landscapes shape our words. Sylivia demonstrates that so perfectly in her latest (and somewhat heart breaking) on The Indigo Vat where she wrote:

“Under the Beltane full moon, under the milk moon, I took the nearly completed manuscript of Elk Lines out to a little cabin on the Inverness Ridge, in Point Reyes, to walk it among the real elk lines of the land.”


“I edited with red pen on the shores of ocean and bay, hoping that I was leaving space, by carrying the manuscript out thus, for the land to have its say. To make sure my words do as much justice as they can to this place.”

To end off with, I have something a little exciting to share. I recently did a Wild Soul Story podcast interview with Mary Reynolds Thompson. In the interview, I talk about a wild soul experience and encounter I had with an owl when I was 12 years old. I’ve mentioned Mary and a beautiful book, Reclaiming the Wild Soul, here before. She is a kindred spirit whose work I really admire her work, so I’m deeply honoured to be featured in her incredible Wild Soul Story interview series. Considering that I’m not the best speaker, I’m proud of myself for getting out of my comfort zone and doing it anyway. Click here to listen to the interview…  

morning journal at the sea

5 Ways to Connect with the Spirit of a Place

Have you ever been in a place where the energy of the land just felt so alive? A place where the land felt laced in enchantment, history and mystery?

Sometimes you feel drawn to certain locations – The sultry desert, the snow-capped mountains, the mossy corners of ancient forests or a site of sacred ruins. There are pieces of wild Earth that just seem to speak to you. They reach into your heart-space and make you feel so intimately connected to it even although you’ve never set foot there before. There are other places too that we stumble upon perchance only to find that they unexpectedly heal us somehow.

The wild Earth radiates sacred feminine energy of Goddess, and when you rest in stillness and listen quietly to the land, you’ll find that each location also has unique signature energy. The ancient Romans called this energetic signature a place’s genius loci, which is more commonly known as the Spirit of Place.

The Spirit of Place is the consciousness of location – a sacred memory of its Divinity, its history and the wild stories and wisdom that it has stored over time. This energetic imprint of the land is influenced by the inhabitants and experiences that have interacted with and taken place in it. Attuning to the Spirit of Place therefore gives one glimpses of the history of the land, nuances of by-gone eras, people or tribes who once roamed its footpaths or the indigenous flora and fauna that once inhabited the space. These are all part of the land’s story. The more intuitively sensitive you are, the more you will sense. For instance when you attune to the ancient hills which now rest nestled in the midst of an arid landscape you may see that they were once covered by the cool soothing water of a great lake millions of years ago. Places which appear to lie in quiet stillness quickly begin to awaken from their slumber eager to share their wisdom when you feel deep into them with your intuitive senses.

Why Connect with the Spirit of Place?

We learn so much by attuning to the Spirit of Place, not just about the land but about ourselves too. As the adage goes – As Above, So Below. As within, So Without – so the environments that we find ourselves immersed in often mirror what lies within. The soul’s connection to land is timeless, and sometimes we find that we easily connect with and love unknown places because we were tied to them in a past life. On one level, wild Earth reflects back our own Divine nature, our inner peace and the freedom of our wild essence. The Earth is always teaching us about ourselves in this way, bringing us wisdom and lessons that guide us on our journey. On another level, the energetic vibration of your surrounds interact and entrain with your auric field – grounding you, clearing your energy field, bringing your chakras into harmony and raising your vibration. While practically all wild spaces have a grounding effect which connects you to the core of the Earth, different locations may work more specifically on particular chakras or layers of your auric subtle bodies. Some places reach straight into your fourth chakra to open up your heart space and allow you to compassionately express love, feel connected to the humanity and the Earth, as well as to experience a greater sense of oneness. Other places radiate vibrational energy that opens your psychic channels so that your third eye and crown chakras suddenly explode into action, buzzing with vibrational activity.

So we are influenced by the land just as much as we influence our surrounds. With this in mind, I thought I’d share 5 tips for Connecting with the Spirit of Place:

 Spirit of Place

5 Tips for Connecting with the Spirit of Place

1. Honour the Land: Many shaman, healers and keepers of the feminine arts suggest that when you enter a wild space, always ask for permission to connect with or explore it before doing so. Often, the etheric energies that it emanates are eager to communicate. However, should you sense that the response to your request is ‘NO’, then respect it. Be kind to the wild Earth by treading gently and not damaging it or disturbing its peace. Also to remember to leave an offering or give thanks for its blessings. Many ancient people left biodegradable offerings such as fruit, flower petals or tobacco. If you want, you can get creative and make a healing mandala with natural materials as a gift to the Earth.

2. Deep Sensing: Find a Nature space that you’d like to work with. When you visit this place, search for a quiet spot where you can sit down. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Ground yourself by visualising roots growing from your root chakra into the core of the Earth. Set the intension to connect with the Spirit of place. Attune to the energy of the wild Earth below and around you. Feel into the soil. Sense the wildlife and in your vicinity. What do you pick up? What stories does the land wish to share with you? What is the history of this place according to your intuitive senses? What colours, scents or emotions do you pick up? How do you feel in certain places? Is there any wisdom that you can you draw from watching a butterfly flutter from flower to flower? If you are at the beach, then what emotions does the ebb and flow of the ocean waves stir within you? Keep a record of the information that you pick up, so that you can keep building on it each time you do this deep sensing exercise. Remember, that you can still do this exercise even if you are not able to physically go to a place. In such cases, simply tap into you intuitive and imaginative resources by doing a visual meditation or reverie. 

3. Divination/Oracle Card Readings: Ground yourself in a Nature space. When you are centred in a peaceful and receptive start simply set the intention to receive messages from the Spirit of Place.  If you like you can invite the Goddess and the Nature angels in a location to connect and communicate with you. Is there any question that you would like to ask? If so, hold this question in your mind. Then take a deck of Angel oracles cards (tarot or whichever oracle cards you prefer working with), shuffle the deck and do an oracle card reading. You can draw 3 or more cards, depending on what you feel guided to do. Be open to the messages that show up when you do the reading. This reading can help you better understand the needs of the land, or it can be used for guidance on your own healing.

4. Terra-psychological Dreaming: Connect with a wild place either before or after you enter its space/ go walking/ exploring in it by inviting its genius loci to enter your dream space. Ask the land to share messages with you while you are sleeping. According to Craig Chalquist, the dreams that come to you “may not be just about you, it might be terra-psychological, something the place wants to communicate about its own needs.” This is therefore an interesting way to attune to the spiritual energy of the land. If you do this exercise, try doing it for a few nights in a row. Keep a pen and note pad close to your bed so that you can jot down the details of your dreams and any messages that surface as soon as you wake up.

5. Keep a Nature Journal: Keeping a Nature Journal is a great way to expand your awareness of the land around you. When you go on your nature outings write your observations and reflections down in your journal. You can use it to write the changes in the seasons that you notice, or any insights and inspiration that your draw from the earth. You can also use this exercise to engage both your left and right brain by writing poetry or doing drawings inspired by your natural surrounds.