Cultivate A Relationship with the Natural World and Your Own Wild Depths
By Rebecca Wildbear
Young children allow themselves to be enchanted by the flutter of a butterfly, the colors of a rainbow, or the sounds of thunder after the morning birdsong. Does the beauty and power of nature still captivate your attention?
In our modern culture, we are taught to grow away from nature. Walls separate us from the sounds and images of leaves blowing in the wind and the smell of rain falling across the landscape. Work schedules keep out minds locked in lists of things to do; we must respond to our phones, our emails. Yet, the cost is high. We loose connection with both the natural world and our own wild depths.
D. H. Lawrence suggests: “Oh what a catastrophe, what a maiming of love when it was made personal, merely personal feeling. This is what is the matter with us: we are bleeding at the roots because we are cut off from the earth and sun and stars. Love has become a grinning mockery because, poor blossom, we plucked it from it’s stem on the Tree of Life and expected it to keep blooming in our civilized vase on the table.”
Indigenous peoples, from whom we all originate, did not experience themselves as separate from nature. They lived in a way that honored the sacred relationship between humans and the Earth. Without this relationship, humans feel lost in the modern world and may not even be conscious of why. In his poem Lost, David Wagoner, advises“Stand still. The forest knows where you are. You must let it find you.”
A tree knows it is a tree. A flower, a bush, a bird also knows themselves. Humans, we get lost in thought, old stories, fears, or wounds, and forget our deeper purpose. Being in nature offers us the chance to remember. In attuning to the Earth’s green murmur—in bringing our hearts, bodies, and deep imagination into the company of wild beings—the veil of separation between us and wild nature vanishes, and we re-embrace our child-like sense of wonder in the presence of it’s magic and allurements.
It may feel impossible to pull your mind out of the pace and rhythm of modern culture, but it is essential. Together, we are in a moment of great peril and possibility in our world. Shifting our consciousness to be present with the natural world is necessary for the evolution of our culture. Might the natural world also long for our attention?
Here’s one practice to begin with: simply approach the world as if everything is alive. This practice alone may have a cumulative, rearranging affect on one’s consciousness. Engage with the wild Earth from your deep imagination. In Cry of the Earth, Geneen Marie Haughen asks, “Who would we become if we honored the other-than-human world as if it matters to them and to us?” and “What might the world become?” When we approach all beings as if they are alive, with soul, imagination, and purpose, we rejuvenate our relationship with Earth and the soul of the world.
In deep communion with nature, we also reconnect with our own wild depths. The natural world and our dreams mysteriously conspire to reveal the mysteries of our souls (our truest selves). To change the world, we must be willing to embark upon our own personal initiatory journey, dive into into the mysterious unknown, which may be as dark and difficult as it is enchanting and wonder-filled, revealing shadowy aspects of previously denied, unconscious selves, fears, and sacred wounds. It is here we can discover, hidden, our most unique and treasured gifts.
As we say “yes” to what comes, we re-member aspects of our wholeness and gather up the mysterious symbols, metaphors, images, dreams and numinous encounters that weave together our particular mytho-poetic identity, personal myth or mission, “the truth at the center of the image you were born with,” or “the largest conversation you are capable of having with the world”. Gleaning clues to one's unique soul identity can guide you to fulfill your purpose and potential at this time of great personal and planetary crisis.
Here’s a second practice to begin re-rooting: Re-connect with your own sense of the wild animal within you, or what Bill Plotkin calls your “Wild Indigenous One” in his new book Wild Mind. He explains it as “our most instinctual dimension. every bit as natural and at home on Earth as any elk, elm or alp.” This one dances with river and rock, shape-shifts into tree and bird, and fully inhabits one’s sensuous animal body. Let yourself wander in a wild place, away from humans, with the perspective and embodiment of this Wild Indigenous One. Wander until something draws your attention, because it strongly attracts, repels, or scares you. Don’t let your strategic mind choose. Let yourself be called. Introduce yourself out loud. Tell your deepest, most intimate, vulnerable truths or questions. Tell it what called you to it, and what you interests you about it. In addition to human language, you may also communicate with song, dance, silence, poetry, a kiss or other offering. Keep talking until/unless interrupted. Then, listen with all your senses, intuition, feeling, and imagination. Avoid the thinking mind and fabricated metaphors. Let yourself me surprised.
Here’s a third practice to support your deepening (if you have not done it already): Gather together the threads of your mysterious symbols, dream images, and numinous encounters in the natural world. You can remember or call in these important aspects of your mythic story utilizing art and your imagination. You can make a collage, painting, or sculpture. You may also want to invite the images and symbols into your body and let them move you, or invite them to travel within your body. Notice what wants to happen when you let them have their way with you. If you are unsure of what symbols and images are important from your past, start listening simply to what is arising right now in your dreams and your body, sensations, images, emotions, memories, colors, urgings, longings, allurements. And write whatever comes in your journal.
In conclusion, humans need relationship with the natural world, and perhaps the beings of nature long to connect with us too? This communion allows us to sink into the undercurrents of our mysterious wild depths and feel at home in our animal bodies on the planet. Shifting our consciousness to the natural world is necessary for our individual transformation, as well as the evolution of the culture. Begin now by making time to attune your presence to nature and approach the world as if everything is alive. Wander on the land as your Wild Indigenous One. Gather the numinous threads of your soul story and be present to the emotions, images, dreams, and symbols arising each day. Cultivating a deeper relationship with nature and soul moves us toward life-altering transformations, deeply matures our everyday personality and allows us to live rooted in ourselves and the natural world. We become a vessel in service to our most creative and soul-rooted gifts.