Today, our perspective of ‘place’ is drastically different from our ancestors. Centuries ago, our ancestors had an interdependency with their landscape. A geomantic perspective and reverence of the land were at the forefront of their cultures. It was not about monetary land value; it was about the spiritual significance within the land. Humans rarely think twice about clearing land and building upon it. We cover up the knowledge and power it has to offer, making no real effort to build a connection. Now is the time to reflect on old-world beliefs and why it would do us good to apply them to our “new world.” Breathe in the beautiful perspective of our ancestors, beloved. Please take in what the land has to offer us.
Gods and their Connection to Land
We’ll start with Mesopotamia, an early example of civilizations associating locations with deities. They often believed if they did not cooperate with the wishes of local deities, misfortune would come their way. An example of this type of deity would have been Ashur, the god of all Assyrians.
Another deity that held power over a specific location was Athena, the goddess who protected the Greek city of Athens. Deities such as Athena were considered genius loci- protectors of particular places. These local gods were considered lares to Roman culture and served a very similar purpose.
The Chenghuangshen of China were protectors of villages and towns, connected explicitly to walls and moats. Citizens would bring their concerns to the Chenghuangshen, hoping for help and guidance in problematic situations- particularly with things like illness and natural disasters.
Land and the Power of Song
Australian aborigines had a creative take on landscape and its origins, attributing the birth of land and its features to ancestors’ songs. They believed that during Dreamtime many generations ago, ancestors walked about, dancing and singing- subsequently creating the earth’s topography and instilling qualities that should be respected and cherished.
Aborigines believed they were one with a place and were not owed anything. The gods blessed them to inhabit a location and call it their home. Their birthplace became the most important thing- the thing that defined them and their purpose. Even if the locals moved to a different land, they still were obligated to protect their birthplace. They emphasized the importance of preserving the memory of a place and respecting its story.
Alex Stark details the wonderful relationship aborigines had with their land. He includes a quote by another novelist, Bruce Chatwin, that beautifully summarizes the importance of preserving the song of our ancestors: “An unsung land is a dead land; since if the songs are forgotten, the land itself will die. To allow that to happen was the worst of all possible crimes.”
Are we singing a different song? Is their music to be heard? Have we completely lost the memory of our land’s creation?
Changing Our Perception
We observe the ground we live upon so differently than our ancestors. What is the history of the land where we have planted our roots? How have we shown our respect? We have made changes and additions to benefit our life journey. Our perspective focuses on what the land can do for us rather than what we owe our land.
How can we incorporate the art of geomancy more in our lives and spiritual practices? Can we shift what we have learned for years and years in a more earth-loving direction? Let’s take a step back and think about what our ancient ancestors would do.
We need to heal the land. We need to hear its song.