“To know who you are, you have to have a place to come from.” ~ Carson McCullers
When I was invited to find my “power spot” I knew it immediately: a small hill above my uncle’s farm, covered with flat grinding stones that native people had used for 10,000 years. With a spectacular view across the valley to two 12,000 foot mountains (Mt. San Jacinto and Mt. San Bernadino in southern California), it was a place that fed my imagination and my dreams.
Once I identified it as my place of power, I “traveled” there in shamanic journey to explore, in my imagination to renew and rest. I learned the spot’s ecological and human history through normal means (stories and books) as well as non-ordinary, visiting those ancestors to learn and receive advice.
You can find your place of power too—and then worlds open!
The Center of the World
Humans around the world have defined the “center of the world” as right where they lived—and what is the center but a place of strength and power?
The center was seen as bigger than the person. “Self” was perceived in the surrounding context of land, family, trees, tribe.
All the wisdom keepers I’ve known in my life have felt anchored by their particular place. Their graphic impressions, experiences, and stories of that place rooted and fed them.
For first peoples, “…attachment to geographic localities contributes fundamentally to the formation of personal and social identities,” as Keith Basso wrote in Wisdom Sits in Places (105). Drawing on his extensive experience with the Apache, Basso says that “relationships with places are lived whenever a place becomes the object of awareness.” (106)
Farmer and poet Wendell Berry writes in The Art of Loading Brush that his place makes him “happy for reasons so small and ephemeral that nobody has learned to charge for them.” He tells us that “to miss or refuse the happiness of such free small, beautiful and passing things (as the tiny bird feeding on wildflower nectar) would be dangerous…it would dishonor life itself, Heaven itself. It would be ingratitude.” (216)
Why might this matter to you?
We inhabit an atomized, self-centered world. Isolation, loneliness, disconnection, boredom, and nature deficit disorder are all byproducts. You can transform these experiences by finding your place, building your connections, and putting down your spiritual roots.
Your Place of Power
Where is your place of power, the center of your world, the place that anchors and roots you?
Is it a place from your childhood?
Is it a stunning mountain you traveled to?
Is it a tree in your backyard?
Is it a rock formation you’ve never seen that is arising in your vision and calling to you?
Your place of power offers you renewal, nourishment, and pleasure. It offers you comfort and peace. It can be a vehicle for transformation, for shifting your consciousness. It offers ways to heal your disconnection from nature, earth, and self.
Putting Down Roots in a Place You Know
When you know your place, you can deepen your connection by dreaming about and journeying to it. You can visit and re-experience your place. You can learn about the ecosystem, grounding your memories with knowledge of trees, terrain, habitat, plants, stones, waterways, creatures, and all the physical aspects of your place.
Say your place of power is a mountain. You can anchor your spiritual, energetic connections by noticing it from wherever you are, studying its many facets. You can return to one trail over and over, observing changes of season, plant life, weather, water, creatures. You can volunteer your time and energy for restoration, land preservation, or advocacy.
Discovering your physical, spiritual, and energetic connections with your place will enrich and nourish you.
Finding Your Place of Power
When you don’t know your place, you can explore. Find a beautiful and unusual spot. Spend time in that place: listening; experiencing quiet, open, undisturbed peace; resting in the sounds of whistling bird wings, leaves shuffling in the wind, butterflies searching for nectar. Let your spirit sink into the earth.
Observe as naturalist, tracker, hunter, re-wilding yourself. Let your place become ally, friend, relative, and teacher.
Visualize your place before sleep, letting all your sensory experiences enter into your visualization.
Develop a deep relationship with the your place by walking her paths in meditation, shifting your rhythms to match her breathing, weaving her deeper wisdom into your life.
Build intimacy and reciprocity. Make offerings—place a found feather in an old fence post, build a stone cairn, gather friends to create a ceremony honoring the spirits of the land. Let the mountain become sacred to your heart.
Your attunement with the land, trees, creeks, stones, elements, and ancestors will help you accrue knowledge and connection. Build your relationship with reverence, reciprocity, and presence.
Expanding Your Vision of the Whole
Each time I visit my places of power, I discover something precious and delicate to piece into my vision of the whole.
I root my memories of hikes in the exact spots I discovered a small clump of Golden Fairy Lanterns blooming in the shade, and pale cream Fernald’s Iris flowering in a hollow. I visualize remains of ancient lava flows that have ground into rich red soil, and the fields luminous with blue Sky Lupine and orange Poppies in the spring.
In meditations where I connect with my place, I visualize searching for and finding our 2000-year old Grandmother Redwood, before there were trail maps and signs…the day when a flock of 50 Band-Tailed Pigeons rose in noisy flight out of a young grove of Blue Oaks above me…discovering a fern-studded resting spot besides a small bedrock creek flow high on the mountain... climbing eight steep miles to the top of the mountain through Jack London State Historic Park to make traditional Andean despacho offerings to the mountain…meeting a near-silent Vietnam veteran who walked the whole ridge trail daily to calm himself.
In journeys I visit the spirits of my place, asking for guidance and support.
When I talk with others who are hiking, riding, or exploring my mountain place, they use words like “paradise,” “nourishing,” “generous,” “magnificent,” “so beautiful” to describe their experience. This inspires me!
As the Ghananian principle of sankofa teaches, in order to know where you’re going, you have to know where you’re from.
Despite your transitory life, you can build your relationship with place. You can expand your heart and vision to include your place, to feed it, to let it feed you. In this, you sustain both yourself and our earth.
Meg Beeler—Author, Shamanic Guide, and Spiritual Mentor— riffs on place, reciprocity, and ancient wisdom extensively in Weave the Heart of the Universe into Your Life: Aligning with Cosmic Energy. In the book, she shows you how to weave graphic impressions of land into your meditations and dreaming for deepening connection with place.
Meg helps you heal your spirit and find your luminous presence through mentoring, training, healing, and community ceremony. A lifelong explorer of shamanic, animist, and meditative consciousness, Meg is the creator of Energy AlchemyTM, founder of Earth Caretakers, and works with clients worldwide. She lives on Sonoma Mountain in the San Francisco Bay Area. www.megbeeler.com