The Shifting of Our Sense of Place

Home: a word we all define in our own way. Home may be where our family resides or the house where we grew up. It may be where we feel the most at peace or where our ancestors laid roots. 
Today, we are here to look at the broader version of home, beloved. The home that is not a building or a property line; the home that we stand upon. The land that defines us and roots us to our existence. 
Our landscape has changed greatly over the last few centuries: Forests have been cut down, revered lands sold and urbanized. Our stories have been placed on paper or forgotten altogether, rather than felt through our sacred place. 
Things change, but it remains so important to remember where we began. 

Local Experience versus a Transient Experience

Travel has come a long way- we can travel to very far places quickly and cheaply. Trips used to be limited to escaping war or embarking on a pilgrimage spanning weeks and weeks. Now we can hop on a plane and see Machu Picchu or the Great Pyramids with just a day’s travel.

We have never been more united with destinations and cultural landmarks abroad. We can visit and enjoy; learn and grow. We can easily contemplate moving across the country for jobs or other reasons not involving the land we live upon. We are more united, but also increasingly disconnected.

Our focus has shifted from a local experience to a cultural experience. Within a cultural experience, we focus on lifestyle, technology, and money- we focus on the people around us and the current worldly priorities.
With a local focus, we engage with our natural surroundings- we revere the land and the stories it tells. We embrace our roots and not only inhabit the land, but the land inhabits us. It becomes increasingly important to learn stories about our landscape and aid in their longevity.

Our Sense of Place

Before trains and airplanes and even before tourism became a luxurious trend in the 17th century, people spent their entire lives tied to one place.

As Alex Stark defines it so eloquently: Sense of Place is the intimacy humans develop with their immediate environment.

Sense of Place is the idea that humans can be shaped by their surroundings. They can learn the principle of geomancy by letting themselves be influenced by nature. They can be forever impacted by the landscape and embrace its energy. It is the idea that humans are connected to their landscape in a way that makes them have no need to leave it. They have a duty to protect it and glorify its power.

Loss of Landscape

As humans lose the importance of their landscape and it’s worth, they lose so much more. It is said that losing Sense of Place can result in lost connections with ancestors. We lose wisdom and practical knowledge the land has shared with us; we lose our sense of self.

Alex Stark discusses the impacts of being dissociated from our Sense of Place, including social instability, drug abuse and mental illness. This has been reflected in populations that have been displaced by colonization or have been forced to leave for other reasons like climate change and natural disasters. There’s an increase in solastalgia, where people feel homeless at home. They feel disconnected from what currently exists while longing for how it used to be.

We get complacent with not truly knowing a place; every place is the same as another. We are sacrificing so much with this mindset.

When we lose our Sense of Place, what ultimately defines us? Do we truly understand what we have lost? And maybe most importantly, can we ever gain back what we have sacrificed?

Let’s Continue the Discussion

In my next few posts, I will continue to talk about the beauty of place and the importance of embracing our landscape. I want everyone to understand their own Sense of Place and how essential it is to heal our land. Please join me in this journey, beloved- I have so much more to show you.


Love, Amanda

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