Tag Archives: Earth Speaks

Laguna de la Janda is….Wet

In the most southerly corner of Spain, just a few kilometers inland from the closest point to Africa, lies the La Janda basin. At the heart of the basin once was a rich mosaic of permanent pools and lagoons which during the winter months would flood to form one extensive shallow lake covering more than 4,000 hectares. With it’s associated reed beds and marshland La Laguna de la Janda was regarded as one of the finest of all Iberian wetlands, temporary home to hundreds of thousands of birds who would rest and refuel there on their migratory passage between Sub Sahara Africa and North and Western Europe. In 1929 work began to drain the area for intensive agricultural use. The rivers feeding these wetland were dammed, diverted and canalized.

Last week, over the spring equinox, we had a wet week, non stop rain which inundated la Janda. Imagine the joy of seeing the plains dressed up in water again. Birds greeted us upon our entry to the track that runs through the once wetlands. Marsh harrier, grey heron, griffin vultures… Spring migration not quite arrived yet but the place thirsty for water finally having its fill.

We came to la Janda,  a group of people, gathered together to celebrate the Equinox and explore the meaning of ritual in a modern context. Our plan was to have no plan, so that out of a listening to the subtle voice of the Place, an outward expression and communication may arise if it wished to. We felt the place was not only thirsty for water but also for the contact with us.

And we ended up dancing along the line of interaction between human and landscape, between the personal space and the collective place, between water and land, where the birds fly.  We learned that ritual is about communication and community and healing and loving, and many other words that were contemplated together. We felt the space where love flows, between us, no dams, no weirs, no canals.

 

Laguna de la janda is a very special place from a geomantic and energetic point of view. We know the wetland was inhabited and revered in prehistoric times from the abundance of cave paintings found in the area.  I recommend a visit and if you feel moved then take a look at the new campaign called Get Wet for La Janda which calls for citizen support in finding ways to restore parts of this important ecosystem:

Mójate por la janda http://blog.lagunalajanda.org/mojate-por-la-janda/

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Voices of Nature

From Roi Gal-or, founding member and storyteller at the International school of storytelling, UK:

‘Last month I contributed and performed in a wonderful storytelling festival in a place called Skellefteå far north in Swedish Lapland.

One of the highlights of the trip for me was meeting with and learning more about the Sami people, the natives of that land and their tradition. It was also the first time in my life I had a chance to hear a live Sami Yoik.  A Yoik is a form of traditional Sami singing and one of the oldest living music traditions in Europe.

I have learnt that when a Sami baby is born, the people around the baby will sing to the baby a yoik – a spiritual tune that captures their impression of the essence of the child. As the child grows older she will be able to change, add and improvise around, her own yoik. Sami people sing and dedicate a Yoik to another person, to an animal or to the landscape around them. The yoik is sung as an inspiration to evoke or portray that person or place through song – and the singer will Yoik the place and not about the place.

There are no words but only sounds in a yoik and the man I heard yoiking sang with a voice that was deep, grounded and ancient as the Earth herself. It was an incredible experience to listen to him and one that connected me to the present moment and the landscape around me in a way that is hard to express in words (though may be possible if I found a way to Yoik it myself…)

I was deeply moved by this ancient practice of connection, uniting people with the land through using one’s own voice to sing a place to life.

I find many links between Yoiking and the experiences I had listening to and speaking from the landscape during the  the ‘Earth Speaks’ course which I led last year at Emerson College with my colleague Karmit Even Zur, a Shamanic healer and Geomancer who lives in the south of Spain.

On the 22nd of June 2014 Karmit and I will be offering a week long course called ‘Earth Speakers – Earth Keepers’  at Emerson College and I sound here a great call, an ‘invitation Yoik’ to all those who care for the earth and are wish to lend their voice to the lad to come and join us!

 

Click here for more info:

http://www.schoolofstorytelling.com/is-this-for-me/weekend-and-short-courses/earth-speaks.html

Katie Jones  telling her wonder tale

Katie Jones telling her wonder tale

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London last week

Last week I had the pleasure of teaching earth energy work at a Sacred Art Practitioner training run by Imelda Almqvist In London.
Skilfully woven into the module, were the Australian aboriginal concept of The Dreaming, song lines, dragons and serpents and the beings of Asklepius and his daughters who worked with our dreams. We had to call forth these gods and goddesses of Healing, through what seemed like layers upon layers of oblivion.  And through layers of oblivion we reached out through these meeting to the land to pick out the stories that live within the fabric of London.
We visited the Thames and it’s dragon energy and experienced London as a place of great Soul forces that we were able to engage with.
We had a glorious day out where we worked at the zero meridian line, and knew we had arrived ‘right on Time’ when Imelda pointed out that our shadows fell right on the pathway of this important longitude line.
 Right on TIme
It seemed to me that the combination of dream incubation work, dragon energy and land-story re-membering, produced jewels of new understandings and glimpses of the new emerging consciousness that is being birthed in our Times by the integration of magical and mythical states of consciousness with intellectual awake thought processes.
I am looking forward to see what this brilliant group of students produce as a reflection of this week.

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Syntax

“… the basic grammar and syntax of rock art respond to universal patterns of cognition, logic and communication. Rock art appears as the expression of a primordial language, with different dialects, and can be read disregading the language in which one thinks and communicates. It takes us back to a universal pictographic proto-script, once deciphered, can be read and understood in any spoken language. To reactivate the use of a method of pictographic and ideographic writing which can be read in any language would open up a new horizon for human communication and may appear as a sort of utopia. ” Emanuel Anati, Rock Art, the Primordial Language.

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The word Syntax originates from the Greek words uυν meaning “together” and taxis meaning “sequence, order, arrangement”.

Syntax refers to word order and sentence structure. In the English language the normal syntax used is subject – verb – object. In Literature and poetry, the order of the words, or syntax can be changed around for an artistic effect, or to emphasise a meaning. Thus words become the raw material to sculpt new meaning, express new vistas that cannot usually be expressed using the correct grammatical order.

Rock art seems to have a metaphorical associative syntax, one that speaks directly to the primordial mind. Research into rock art reveals various types of symbols that when ‘read’ together form a sentence-like sequence.

In his book, Rock Art – The Primordial Language, Emanuel Anati defines three types of symbols found on rock faces:

Pictograms – often the Subject part of the sentence, are identifiable forms of real or imaginary objects. Anthropomorphic. Zoomorphic. Implements. Topographic elements.

Ideograms are considered the verbs and adjectives – repetitive signs like zoomorphic or anthropomorphic schemes sticks phalic and vulval signs discs dots etc. The three main types of ideograms are: anatomic such as vulvas hands etc, conceptual such as discs or crosses and numerical groups of dots or lines. For example dots seem to depict a verb of action like to do – when it appears near the foot of a person it means to go, when it appears near a penis or vulva it means to have sex, and near a bow and arrow to shoot.

Psychograms are signs that are not recognisable and do not seem to represent objects or symbols. They appear to be the conceptual exclamation marks. Psychograms are more abstract ‘working at a subconscious level as do certain archetypal signs that our conscious memory is no longer able to define but which deep within the self release associative and sensory processes on wavelengths that escape the band of ordinary transmission. They are remarkable for their immediacy.'(Anati). 
Pondering over examples of archaic syntax on rock faces here in Andalucia, makes me curious about the state of consciousness the ancient ones lived in. It seems obvious they were in deep connection with their surroundings, and in magical conversation with nature for their livelihood. What were they saying?  Are their messages relevant to us today? Can we, with our own language structures, decipher and learn something about the evolution of consciousness from the study of Rock art?  I will be exploring some of these themes next week in my talk about La Janda (Thursday 13th March – 7:30 pm, Steiner House, Park Road, London.)

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Portals in the landscape

DSC_1849The Shaman knows that between the Physical, Manifest world and the Spirit world lies a Veil which separates the two, while still allowing a rhythmic Breath to flow between them.

Our ancestors, in prehistoric times, maintained gateways in the landscape where they honoured the interaction between the Visible and the Unmanifest. By performing certain ceremonies in tune with Cosmic forces, they ensured the continued regeneration of the land. These rites are what modern archeologists and anthropologists call fertility rites when they investigate prehistoric cave paintings.

The physical markers, such as the painted caves and the dolmens served to maintain the gateways between the Worlds open and functioning. They marked the relationship between the dark place of gestation and the outer ecosystems of manifestation. Within the depths and darkness of the cave, prehistoric human beings painted symbols and stories depicting fertility rites, leaving behind mysterious traces of their practices. These practices involved the fertilisation of dark space, dark earth and dark primordial waters by forces of the sun and stars and fire. They also involved the reverse fertilisation of manifest Life by the forces welling up from the depths. Thus a rhythmical motion flowing in and out through the portal in the veil was held in sacred guardianship.

In October, Imelda Almqvist and I led a group to explore some cave paintings in Southern Andalucia. When we began our investigations, we got an alarming sense that some of  these portals were closed off, forgotten, and that the Soul forces in the surrounding land is in a state of depletion, abandonment, and desecration.  We looked at two caves in particular: Cueva de la Pileta near Benaojan, which is beautifully guarded by the descendants of the  family who first discovered it in the early 1900. This cave is functioning on a cosmic cycle level – the forces within still vibrating very strongly. The other cave we visited, though only through shamanic journeying as it is closed off to the public, was the Tajo de las Figuras near Benalup. The portal in this cave was ‘closed’ and we worked ceremonially with it to open it.  It was very interesting to experience the two caves and the differences between them.

When the portals are closed , the life giving ‘fertilisation’ processes do not function as they should. Our human race had long forgotten about the rites performed to honour and ensure these processes. We have abandoned our part in witnessing and actively participating in the Inbreath and Outbreath of Creation.   It is vital for us to wake up to the co-creative role we play in relationship to the different forces that regenerate Nature or we will lose these gateways for ever – limiting our access to  the subtle, nourishing aspects of our Earth.

 

1233997_570072826379362_1671155114_n         Pregnant Mare – Cueva de la Pileta, found in a side ‘corridor’ along with various other painted fertility symbols 

url-1                         Paintings found in the Tajo de las Figuras near Benalup 

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Language

If we are serious about rediscovering ourselves in Nature, we are going to need a language that speaks of science and soul, that narrows the gap between subject and object, that slips between yes and no. We will need a language that continually reminds us of where we have come from and what we have to do if we are to become ecologically intelligent. …”   Ian Mccallum, ‘Ecological Intelligence – Rediscovering ourselves in Nature’.

I Recently read somewhere the sentence ‘Re-imagining civilisation in the age of Nature‘ And immediately the words ‘Age of Nature’ conjured in me a picture of a future, when society will be awake and immersed in the consciousness of Nature. These words triggered in me a knowing of something I had never thought of quite like that before and brought together my experiences of communicating with living aspects of the landscape and my ever growing ecological awareness, creating a clear sense of what this age of Nature might be like.  Such is the beauty of language, that words can come together in new ways to create a whole new meaning, giving us a different vantage point, opening up new possibilities in our ways of thinking.

In my work I am often experiencing an inter-relationship and inter-communication within living systems. I ‘meet’ our planet as a conscious entity full of life and stories. And yet often when I speak about it I need to choose carefully my vocabulary in order to communicate these experiences which exist in the realms of my inner knowing. I  need to use a language that describes my intuitive knowing to my rational mind and the words often come out as poetic descriptions of that which is invisible yet tangible, and wishes to be acknowledged.

When we ‘speak’ with Nature we speak through our body, our senses, our heart. We open ourselves to a communication that bypasses rational thinking, and makes use of our animal instincts. The first language we need to become proficient in is the one that precedes formulated words. The one that can communicate with the creative forces of a plant, for example. It is the language of energy movement. It is a language that we all speak, to some degree whether we are aware of it or not. Translating energy movement into concepts that our rational mind can work with is the next step. That calls for a vocabulary that bridges the abyss and distrust between our rational and intuitive minds. A language that communicate and makes sense of our sensorial perceptions.

Stephan Harding, when writing about language as a key aspect in the work of holistic science in his book Animate Earth says “…Language is a key aspect in this work and so in this book we will experiment with a new kind of narrative that tries to explore the dynamics of our living earth in a way that uncovers beauty, way of being and vitality of her processes without falling into the dull mechanistic style that so dominates modern science, and so deadens the world with its desiccating touch. This language is still struggling to be born, and so I ask you to be patient with my faltering efforts to articulate it in various ways.”

How do we best describe the Nature of Nature? How can I tell you about the essence of a particular bird or tree and the messages their biology and behaviour relay to us? Can the information that speaks directly to our soul through movement, sound, image, archetype be accepted as valid data by the rational mind?  Can an experience of the mythical dimension of a landscape, for example, be accepted as an integral understanding of the place? Can we find the right words to speak about the presence of a sacred part of a land where it would be unadvisable to build a road? (Seers Protest New Road, Fear Wrath of Dwarves).

Our rational mind has to rediscover a respect towards the language of the soul in order to arrive to a place where it accepts the way the soul communicates it’s knowing. It has to accept that apart from thinking we also have the faculties of sensing, feeling and intuiting, and that those have a distinct vocabulary that wishes to be integrated in the consensual way we communicate in the western world. Poetic and symbolic vocabulary that often comes through in dreams, in wonder tales, myths, gestures and songs are also spoken by the earth and all her beings. We would be wise to reeducate ourselves in her language and lend her our voice when needed, as part of our evolving ecological awareness.

Conversations with Nature, centro Anayansi May 2013. Photo by Jesus Garcia

Conversations with Nature, centro Anayansi May 2013. Photo by Jesus Garcia

Conversations with Nature, centro Anayansi May 2013. Photo by Jesus Garcia

Conversations with Nature, centro Anayansi May 2013. Photo by Jesus Garcia

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Earth Speaks – thoughts about the art of geomancy and storytelling

 ‘We are all the eyes and ears of the Earth; and we think the world’s thoughts.’ (Lyall Watson biologist / anthropologist, Gifts of Unknown Things, 1976)

A good friend of mine was a nature conservationist for most of his working career. When he speaks about his work, it is always in scientific jargon, measurable and quantifiable. But when I press him with questions, he lets out a secret known to very few, that his love for Nature holds within it a rich Soul experience that is very difficult to articulate. And when I press even further he begins to tell tales of encounters with birds, plants and forests that leave his audience spellbound and resonate something that we all know and yearn for; an intimate connection with Nature that occurs on those rare moments when she opens up to us, revealing more than meets the eye about Herself…

An intimate relationship with the landscape indeed reveals a wealth of encounters that seek to be expressed. In this context it is wise to consider our senses, feelings and intuition as parameters for understanding Nature, as a complement to the measuring, quantifying, assessing, that we are used to in the scientific world. This is what geomancy is about. Allowing our sensorial self to open and receive impressions so we can perceive the subtle as well as the physical aspects of a place. Siberian shamans call it ‘listening with our little ears’.

In my work I offer the possibility to explore a heart based observational approach, which enables us to experience in a simple and down to earth way the subtle layers of the land and it’s ‘conscious’ aspects. I find it very rewarding to assist people who are new to this work to awaken to their innate ability to hear, sense and respond to the elements in Nature and thus enter into a deeper communication with the land itself.  I am greatly curious about the interface between People and Land. About the conversation that occurs between the creative forces in the land and our human will. Nature, especially in these times of social transitions, can inspire us to new ways of thinking about ourselves and the world.

Recently while working with a group on Cape trafalgar in the South of Spain, we witnessed the waves of the Atlantic Ocean meeting the currents coming from the Mediterranean. On the surface of the water this meeting was very visible and as we focused our attention on it a few of us felt that this encounter had a story to tell and that the story had to be heard for the healing to take place. Similarly, while working with two rivers that used to feed an extended wetland area in Andalusia, we ‘listened’ to the sources of these two rivers and allowed our voice, touched by the fire of Spirit, speak of the essence and life they had in them. By simply witnessing, listening and speaking these stories, a great deal of healing to the energetic and emotional landscape occurs. Touched by the magic imbued in the natural landscapes, we can speak up, inspire a new vision to support the global process of Awakening. It is the gift of the Artist to capture the spirit of the moment and to inspire. To act as a mediator of the Sacred.

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My work is energetic in it’s nature, and because of the abstract nature of working with energy fields , I am very excited about connecting geomantic work with storytelling. It holds the promise of finding a new, contemporary language to describe the invisible and the intangible. Creating healing stories for the land itself. Finding stories that will inspire environmental policy makers and conservationists. I am looking forward for us to speak the quiet whispers of a stream, the burly presence of a hillside, the heart qualities of a certain grove, and tell of our growing capacity to truly understand Nature’s intricate language.

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Stories of the Land

Last Spring I began collaborating with Roi Gal-Or from the International School of Storytelling in Sussex, facilitating a course on Earth Energy work and Storytelling.

We found, together with the group of people gathered over a weekend of exploration, that the creative potential of this work is beautiful.

Taking very simple steps to ‘tune’ into the subtle layers of the land, everyone found that they were able to hear stories in Nature that they had not heard before and were able to lend their voices and Speak them outloud.  I found it very rewarding to assist people who were new to this work to awaken to their innate ability to hear, sense and respond to the elements in Nature and thus enter into a deeper communication with the land itself.  Roi, with his vast experience of teaching people the art of telling stories took us through great exercises to allow the stories to alight in our minds and be crafted into a gift we could share with others.

Telling these stories, we became mediators of the Sacred. Sculpting a new, contemporary language to describe the invisible and the untangible aspects of Nature.

We were all so enchanted with this work that we decided to offer this workshop again next year and extend it to three modules, in March, June and September 2013, to enable us to explore further the connections between geomancy and the art of storytelling. More information about the course can be found here:

http://www.schoolofstorytelling.com/is-this-for-me/longer-courses/earth-speaks-communicating-with-the-living-landscape.html

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Nature is buzzing

In the last few days there’s been a definite sense of buzzing arising from Nature all around me. A quality of awakening and quickening that I have not felt in this way before.

It is awesome to just sit outside and be immersed in it.

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Where the Land Breaths

                                     

Sophie Twiss took this photo at a spot where we identified the breathing system of the La Janda basin.

It’s beautiful how the light portrays  the quality of  Breath.

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