Indigenous cultures around the world maintain a close relationship with the earth and her mysteries. They embody a deep knowledge of the landscape, its topography, its plant life and the animals that inhabit it. It is interesting to see, as in the case of the Kogi of Columbia, how important it is for them to form a relationship of reciprocity with their non-human environment. Concepts such as Aluna – the mind in nature, Shibulama – the wisdom of the earth or esuamas – places of earthly connection to the raw energy of creation (the Void), make sense to me and I can translate them into concepts I work with in the practice of geomancy.
Modern geomancy is a field that studies the phenomena of earth energies, providing a holistic knowledge of the land; encompassing both its physical and energetic aspects. It is rooted in earth mystery traditions and continues to evolve and take various forms and applications, but its basis invariably involves the perception of the subtle features of the land. Western traditions of geomancy practice dowsing and intuitive perception skills to ‘read’ energy patterns created by electromagnetic currents, underground water veins or springs, and other such phenomena, that flows and pulses in the landscape.
As a young woman, I was passionate about environmental protection, and my explorative path led me to study ways of approaching conservation in a slightly unconventional way. I realised that I could understand aspects of the landscape that were not outwardly visible, and that this understanding could be applied to land ‘management’ in ways that were not taught in school. I found that when I attuned my heart and mind to a certain place in nature, I could begin to feel qualities and frequencies that informed me of its state of health and suggested creative ways to work with it. I learned to have a conscious exchange with the elemental life and the energetic features present in a landscape. When looking at a landscape through this lens, I get a picture of the various ‘organs’ present; these are energy centres with a specific function within the landscape. I am shown how they operate and how they are related to each other. This overview seems of great importance to me, as if I am given the task of safeguarding the communication pathways between them so they can function together as an operating system. Many times I see organs that are not able to do their ‘job’, as their ecological system has been disrupted, or they are disconnected from their constellation.
To give an example, I can speak about a place called Laguna de la Janda in Southern Spain; a system of wetlands, fed by three rivers, which was dried up over seventy years ago, and its waters are now canalised and drained. This destroyed a rich habitat for a large population of migrating birds that use the marshlands and its surrounding grasslands as a breeding ground and resting place in their migratory paths between Northern Europe and Sub Sahara Africa. Laguna de la Janda is situated very close to the Strait of Gibraltar, so it is an important place for birds as resting and refuelling habitat. To support the (so far unsuccessful) attempts to petition the government to rehabilitate these wetlands, a group of us visited the place over a period of a year and studied the various energy centres and energy lines of the area. We recognised the area as a sacred place, a doorway between the physical land, the Soul level of the earth and the Void. This doorway, it seemed to us, had been maintained by ancient people on this land who left their red ochre paintings on the rocks in the caves of the surrounding mountains. We came into contact with a strong current of raw creative power flowing through the basin of the dried up wetlands, what we may call a dragon line. We experienced the whole place as a center for expressive energy, like a vast larynx, and used our intention and imagination to re-establish its task and purpose in the landscape. We became intimate ‘companions’ of the subtle qualities of the place. Sometimes all that was needed was witnessing these qualities and a sense of grace would envelop us. We were tapping into the etheric / vital pathways and into the astral layers of the land, with its memories of war, poverty, fragmentation and desiccation. We were listening and ceremonially acknowledging what had never been lost; the beauty and love present in the earth’s web of interconnections.
Sacred sites, from a geomantic point of view, are places that energise the system without themselves becoming depleted. They continuously regenerate their power and expand their energy system far wider than the immediate landscape. We could expect, though it is not always so, to find in these places strong life forces created by an interface of underground water and over ground energy pathways. When these places are harnessed in architectural spaces using sacred geometry, or made to correspond to astronomical movements, such as solar pathways, we have temple spaces of great potency. Stone circles, cathedrals built on sacred sites, holy springs, places where the human being nurtures this relationship to nature, the visible face of Spirit.
In the West there are many people who keep this work alive. Geomancers, dowsers, earth energy workers or whatever title we may wish to give them. They have many different practices and work in different styles, but all have a similar goal in mind; namely to understand and collaborate with the life-giving systems of the earth.
These are individuals who attune to the earth’s vital energies, as well as taking cues from local history, place names, archaeological finds, topographical features and local flora and fauna. They carry out investigative work into the hidden stories of places, ‘listening to the echolocations of the earth herself’, to paraphrase mythologist Martin Shaw. These individuals will readily tell you that they tap into a living web of spatial and elemental consciousness, applying intuitive logic, researching connections between vital spots and maintaining those connections alive. Could we one day integrate this way of working with places into urban planning, architecture and environmental conservation work?
What can we learn from the Kogi about what they call sé – those invisible threads that weave the world and keep the connections alive? ‘To think is to listen.’ repeats the Mama in the film. I find that when we slow down and listen, something fundamental begins to change as we feel a consciousness in the landscape speak to us. When we hear, we can take part in the thinking process of the earth.