Returning a Sense of the Sacred to the Land   1 comment

mauisatview

Maui — Landsat satellite view. Blue area is Haleakala — max. elev. 10, 023 ft.

Hi Lorna — thanks for your recent comment on “The Land is a Chief.”  As usual, you dig beneath the surface and grapple with good challenges. You note, “To return … a sense of the sacred to landscapes … that have been viewed as profane” — that’s surely a major goal, if not one of THE central goals, of much Pagan and earth-based spirituality. At least I hope it is, or will be — it still feels like it’s in embryo form nowadays, in many places. Because there’s also a strong self-oriented strain that sometimes overshadows physical and spiritual work with the health of the land.  It prioritizes self-fulfillment and personal realization and growth — important processes, yes — over the healing of the place(s) we find ourselves.

Of course it shouldn’t be an either-or: “You can’t have one without the other.” Many people struggle with spiritual ills that are manifesting, among other forms, as health challenges. Our honoring and reverencing of the old gods and spirits is one healthy “symptom” of practices for healing the land AND ourselves.  We can’t hear and communicate and work with them if we’re too out of balance with ourselves and the land.

BELOW: Eucalyptus* near Huelo, East Maui, Hawai’i

euc3

I wonder, though, how much we’ve romanticised “traditional” cultures for their practices and beliefs — beyond what the “average” person in those cultures may actually have done or thought or believed.  But maybe such romanticizing is part of a healthy corrective, needed today, to help re-balance our attitudes and motivations towards our treatment of the planet over the past two centuries.  At least it gives us an ideal to work for:   if we’ve damaged a landscape, we can heal it, and redeem our obligation, fulfilling our ancient commitment and responsibility as spiritual and physical beings in this world.

That sounds and feels right.  We (often) say and dream it and proclaim it.  But like you, I’m not sure whether or how (or how much) it will happen.  For you rightly phrase it as an open question: will it “ever be possible to return such a sense of the sacred to landscapes that for at least the last couple of centuries have been viewed as profane?”  We’ll answer that question with our lives, not just our words.  And people of the next couple of centuries will judge and live with the results.

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Image: Maui satellite view.

*My wife took this vivid image as part of a color study she is doing of native hues and patterns.  Eucalyptus trees flourish along the Hana Highway, a very winding road along the northeastern coastline of Maui.  Much of the area is tropical rainforest, though if you continue beyond Hana along the highway, the land transitions to desert in the southeast.  One of the marvels of Maui and the other islands in the Hawai’ian chain is just how much climate diversity they exhibit over just a handful of miles in planetary terms.

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One response to “Returning a Sense of the Sacred to the Land

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  1. ‘We’ll answer that question with our lives, not just our words.’ – and that is the necessary commitment. Absolutely.

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