Cultivating a Fertile Inner Landscape - Introduction

Speaking with Nature: Awakening to the Deep Wisdom of the Earth - Sandra Ingerman, Llyn Roberts 2015

Cultivating a Fertile Inner Landscape

Sandra Ingerman

I was delighted and intrigued when Llyn Roberts invited me to cowrite on the divine feminine, and we had many rich discussions about how we could create a book that would be unique and meaningful to readers. One of the key aspects in bringing back the wisdom of the feminine is reconnecting with nature and with the Earth, which is our home. Since Llyn and I lived in very different kinds of places, we were excited to explore our commonality.

There are trees in Santa Fe and plenty of plant life, but all of nature has to be quite hardy to adapt to the extreme climate of the land, and this is very different from the verdant forest where Llyn was living.

Nature, too, contains many contrasts; among them, both masculine and feminine aspects. Perceiving a need for more balance in the world, we both chose to focus on the feminine aspects, to tell stories of the beauty and power of the feminine. At the same time, we acknowledge the divine masculine that is part of all of nature.

The divine feminine embraces us, holds us in love and support, and teaches us about the power of compassion. The divine feminine also cuts through illusions to where we need to release and surrender. We are part of this great Earth and part of all the cycles of change that go along with being creatures of nature. Many of us have disconnected from nature’s cycles and rhythms, but our health and well-being demand that we remember we are one with nature and that we live from that connection.

Much of the physical and emotional illness we experience today comes from being “out of sync” with nature’s rhythms. There are a wealth of stories of people regaining their health by simply spending time in nature and reconnecting with the Earth.

At the same time, the environmental challenges we are experiencing are a result of our disconnection from the importance of treating our sustaining Earth with honor and respect.

In indigenous cultures it is understood that everything that exists is alive and has a spirit; that we are joined with the Earth and all of life via our spiritual interconnectedness. We have the capacity to tap into our spiritual nature and communicate with “the spirit that lives in all things” in nature—the land and sea mammals, birds, fish, invertebrates, reptiles, insects, plants, trees, fungi, moss, algae, rocks, crystals, microorganisms, and so on. When referring to the spirit that lives within each aspect of nature, Llyn and I call these aspects “nature beings.”

We can also communicate with the elements: earth, air, water, and fire. The elements give and sustain life and need to be honored and respected.

Our process in writing this book was quite interesting. We live in very different places and decided we’d each write essays on nature beings in our local ecosystems. Once we began the process, the nature beings started speaking strongly to both of us, and we moved with the intelligence of the sacred feminine and began writing our essays as we each felt inspired. In a nonlinear, spiraling fashion that reflects cycles and growth in nature, we then began weaving tales and teachings together. This is the style of traditional shamanic cultures, in which stories penetrate deeply beyond the mind in a larger story that connects all life.

All the qualities we write about of the different nature beings are also contained within all of life; you cannot separate them from the life force. In our stories about nature, we focus on the qualities of the feminine that are part of all life, hoping to invoke your imagination and passion to start your own exploration of the divine feminine and nature as a doorway into life’s mysteries and truths.


In my essays there are times I use the plural “we,” thus including you, the reader, as part of a global community. Working in community is an aspect of the divine feminine. Moving away from a hierarchical structure to work together as a community allows us to grow and evolve on personal levels and also be in service to all of life. In embracing our unique gifts, talents, and strengths, we become positive change makers.

Although I grew up in Brooklyn, in an urban environment, I always had a deep appreciation of nature. I loved the trees and sang to them each day. I was in awe of the night sky and sang to the moon. As a teenager I walked miles to the ocean and watched as the sun went down and the moon rose. Sometimes I sat on the beach all night just to see the beauty of the rising sun at dawn.

In turn, nature does recognize and see us. I learned this in my thirties, when I was flying from Albuquerque to teach a workshop in Milwaukee. I had a window seat with a beautiful view of the full moon, and as I drifted into a peaceful state, I heard the moon say to me: “Do you remember when you sang to me as I child? I do!”

That special message reminded me that nature is aware of how we honor and respect all that is alive. We all live on this great Earth supported by the same elements of earth, air, water, and the sun, nature beings that share the environment with us.

Nature is intelligent and is a helping spirit that holds the blueprint for all of us for how to live a healthy life. When we awaken from our ordinary state of consciousness, we experience the divine life force that is unseen by our ordinary eyes. A deeper connection with nature is healing, returning passion and enthusiasm for life and taking us back to the magic we knew as kids.

As Llyn and I wrote our essays, memories surfaced of special times in nature. We hope our stories will help you to recall and reflect on your own special memories of your connection with the natural world and inspire you to deepen that connection.

At the end of each essay, you’ll find a variety of practices to assist you in creating a deep relationship with the nature beings wherever you live, whether it is an urban or rural environment.

Many of these exercises were inspired by the practice of shamanism, which has been my life and my work since 1980. Shamanism is an ancient universal practice that dates back more than 100,000 years. One of its core teachings is the web of life that connects all living beings. Unless we connect back to this web of life, we experience separation, which creates much of the emotional and physical illness we are seeing today.

Traditional shamanic cultures taught people how to live with honor, respect, and gratitude for nature and for life itself, in harmony with the natural world. All community members were supported in developing and sharing their strengths, talents, and creative gifts that would contribute to the health of the community.

My passion in teaching shamanism has been to help people remember the creative power they were born with, reestablish their connections with the natural world, and honor and respect that which gives us life. I teach them how to create a life filled with meaning and passion and return to the state of awe and wonder we experienced as children. The practice of shamanism teaches that the world we live in is a dream and we must be the dreamers of a good world for all of life, not only for ourselves, but for our descendants. It teaches that everything in our visible world manifested from a word or a thought that was born from our invisible and inner world. Thus, true joy, health, and abundance comes from having a rich inner world and cultivating a fertile inner landscape. As we develop a rich inner landscape, we experience a state of inner peace and are not so thrown off center by all the changes that occur in the outer world. Life is filled with change, and our sense of inner peace cannot be dependent on every change that occurs in the outer world. We must learn how to cooperate with the changes that are part of life and maintain a sense of permanence and deep peace no matter what is happening in our lives.

The practice of shamanism teaches that there is a deeper reality to our visible and tangible world. In those hidden realms are helping spirits who have deep compassion and love for us as we grow, evolve, and navigate our way through life. The helping spirits might appear in the form of an animal, a plant, a tree, or even an insect. There are also mythological beings, the spirit of the elements, and Hidden Folk—nature beings we can’t see with the naked eye—that might guide us. As we learn how to move into heightened states of awareness, we can speak to the spirit that lives in all things—even the seemingly inanimate ones, such as rocks and crystals—and to all the nature spirits we have grown to love. There are also helping spirits who appear to us as teachers in human form who might appear as a god or goddess, an ancestral helping spirit, or a legendary figure.

Shamans perform what is called a “shamanic journey” to enter the hidden realms of what some cultures refer to as “the Other World” or “the Dreamtime.” There are, however, many ways to travel into the hidden and invisible realms and access the spirits who provide healing and deep spiritual guidance. Nature is one doorway into these realms.