The starving of our sacred Earth souls
Spirit, soul and the sacred in nature
Awakening The Shamanic Force Within
Shamans believe that within this interconnected web, the harm we do to nature, we do to ourselves, especially to our souls. My own observations as a psychologist, therapist and shamanic practitioner over many years have shown me how much disenchantment, emotional and mental imbalance and rootlessness modern people experience. If we look at human development, we realize that we are indeed beings of both nature and culture, and that our increasing neglect of the nature dimension of ourselves causes soul starvation and mental/emotional problems. This is supported by profound research which also shows us the healing power of nature on the psyche. Nature symbolism is, for instance, dominant in healing experiences and people of all age-groups feel emotionally more stable, more peaceful, more alive, more compassionate and re-enchanted after spending time in nature.7
Nature also shows us alternatives to our consumer-orientated way of life. Bill Plotkin, a shamanic ecopsychologist who facilitates long, intensive wilderness camps, observes that:
…healthy human development requires a constant balancing of the influences and demands of both nature and culture… By suppressing the nature dimension of human development… industrial growth society engenders an immature citizenry unable to imagine a life beyond consumerism and soul-suppressing jobs.8
Unfortunately our longing for nature is increasingly pushed into the subconscious. Only when we are encouraged to dig a bit deeper do we realize that shamanic teachers are right: our mind still associates being powerful, being at home, feeling safe, peaceful and healthy, with being in nature. In my practice I have never experienced anybody who, when asked to find their place of power, sanctuary, peace or healing visualized a crowded city, their place of work, a shopping mall or club or any other place in our urban world. People of all ages and social backgrounds visualize a place in nature.
The connection to nature is not only important for our mental and emotional wellbeing but also for re-experiencing the sacred within ourselves. As we begin to reconnect consciously with nature, we recognize that our Earth soul is wild and needs to be allowed to tune into where it lives, namely the vast and beautiful realms of nature, in order to be nourished and reflect itself back to us. In shamanism, every time we connect with nature in a sacred way, we reinforce the sacred within us, nurture our soul and give ourselves a chance to experience ’being home’.