The Spirit Of Place
The Earth is a place where each species,
tribe, or group creates new symbols of its values. Groups
have territories. Mountains and rivers create natural boundaries, but
so do language, symbols, and rites. The mountains, rivers, and valleys
themselves are often given names that reveal their spiritual essence.
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Culture works in a dialectic. All types of cultures circulate vital
force and consciousness in different ways. The thesis of a
culture is its identity, how it distinguishes itself in tools,
languages, and art. The antithesis is the tension created by
differences in identity between cultures. The synthesis
reveals how these tensions are resolved and integrated into a medley of
values and cultural ways. A fourth phase, which I call
paradox, is reached only where the values of a culture reach beyond
differences, or even resolutions, to the source, the One.
Whether expressed in sacred art, rite, or political action, paradox is
a sacred act, a realization of the gift of a culture's
endowment. It is a reciprocation that brings streams of
renewal and creativity.
Territory, or earth-mapping, is expressed through a dialectic as
well. Territories can exist in isolation - such as a village
in a desert or wilderness - or they can be tangent to each other,
marked by political, racial, or cultural boundaries. The
antithesis always emphasizes separation, the tension of
differences. The spatial synthesis of a territory is in the
concept of a commons or shared city-center where boundaries
overlap. People of diverse nationalities and races may meet
in a shared environment to which they all contribute. A
paradox is revealed wherever the sacred is recognized as the real ruler
of the land. This is called spirit of place.
The spirits of place reveal the specific qualities of subtle energy in
the landscape - how the dragon vein flows. They abound in
rivers, mountains, trees, and caves. Their presence is felt
in native, archaic, and ancient mythology. The Eskimos tell
of Sedna, the Sea Spirit in charge of all sea creatures. The
spirits of the Earth and sky were invoked by the Iroquois, and through
this invocation they found the wampum bird. The sylphs and
gnomes of fairy tales, the devas that weave subtle energy and light
into elemental energy and states, can wait out human mismanagement and
direct the recovery of the world. But if we are to
participate, we must ask them to share their power, and then listen.
One way I envision the way to invite them to share their powers is to
simply create a sacred circle, and invite them in to share, and above
all, as stated, LISTEN.