by Nancy Odell
When I was studying landscape horticulture in school in the 1970's, no lessons of Earth Energies, Landscape Angels, or Nature Devas were being taught in class or in the field. I had always intuitively known of fairies and their kin, though, as a child; my elderly grandfather - a farmer in his earlier years-began seeing the 'little green men' sitting on his bed as he was beginning to loosen his hold upon physical realty. They talked to him and crossed their legs and kicked their feet! He often asked if I saw them, and even though I didn't, I had no doubts that they were there. I also "knew" that a group of fairies lived under the honeysuckle bower in the pine woods nearby.
As environmental concerns began to come to the forefront of my life in later years, ideas of how to heal the earth with my landscape business were coming to me. Having always felt a kinship with stones, I began to work with them on my own property and on clients' properties as well, standing some upright and laying others in circles and paths, adding plants, lights, or meaningful objects of sculpture. I felt that the stones, being ancient, held memories that I wished to implant. If I ever picked up a stone that gave off a bad feeling, I wouldn't use it, of course. In my "play-garden" at home, I dowsed for a spot to build a meditation mound-a place to sit late at night after the chores and concerns of the day were over and I could be alone. Sometimes as I sat there, a feeling of "rushing" would occur, as if an electrical charge was going up thru me from feet to head, lasting for a minute or two. I roamed from plant to plant, touching, smelling, and tasting, or just saying "Hey, lavender, how're you doing? Need anything-a little more mulch, maybe?" Now, the answer I'd get would not be in a small, airy-fairy voice. It was just the normal voice that you hear when you talk to yourself-sounds pretty much like your own speaking voice. I might hear, in my mind, for example, "Why don't you just move that rock over here next to me (lavender)-it might give off some trace minerals I need and catch me a bit of moisture, too." Other times I might ask a piece of ground- "What kind of plant(s) do you need here?" I found that if I mentally "shut up" after posing a question and just meandered about a bit, I'd eventually get an answer-maybe "How about a little lemon thyme with a standing rock on the north side of it?" It occurred to me that plants, stones and other objects can perform a sort of acupuncture for the earth, and that it is up to me to implement it and "get it right!"
Findhorn and Geomancy
After reading the Findhorn material, I was intrigued that an overseer-type Landscape Angel would begin to manifest at an area that was being designed, whether it be a small garden plot or an elaborate landscape. The description I read was of a large silent Being with its eyes closed and arms folded, slowly birthing as the work progressed. How provocative to imagine Its eyes finally opening and the benevolent influences being poured out over the land! Years ago, I formally asked for such a bestowal upon my own property; I am sure such a being had already formed, as I had been gardening there all along, but I felt that I would be thankfully recognising and acknowledging Its presence by the simple ceremony that I performed.
I was not aware of the term "GEOMANCY" until several years ago, although I had been employing this craft all along. By consciously practicing the principles and methods which other geomancers used successfully, I was now able to be more efficient in my work (play, really!) It was a comfortable path to follow towards integrating my technical and intuitive knowledge of gardening for co-creating/healing the Earth.
Let me offer a simple explanation here of how I have come to define GEOMANCY. It is the art and practice of recognizing and honoring the Earth where the Spirit of Place and Human Consciousness come together. It is Spiritual Ecology. Not only can ancient sacred places be honored and utilized, but new ones can be created, with proper intent. Sites such as the Rollright Stones and sacred wells were geomantically placed to both receive the existing bestowals of Earth Energies, and also to actually form new ones.
Through dowsing, it has been observed that a dome of water, deep in the earth, can form under a labyrinth structure. It seems the labyrinth must be used-walked through meditatively and appreciated by humankind-before this happens, however. Here we witness how the power of good intent coupled with proper physical action can influence Earth Energies. When you consider how many destructive influences we contribute on a daily basis to the Earth's body, there is no wonder at the numerous natural disasters that are occurring so frequently. But as we have the power to destroy, so do we have the power to create, thanks to the Creator from whom all things manifest. What a gift!
With this gift comes the responsibility of practicing my landscape business as a joint venture of making a living for myself and helping to heal the ground as I work. A large number of my jobs are routine maintenance such as mowing, brush and weed clearing, pruning and mulching. I begin these jobs by silently stating my intent to the area to be worked: that I wish to do the ultimate best for the Earth and that I be guided by the Spirit of that Place, even though I will probably be removing or eradicating certain elements there. If I get a "flash" or feeling about a plant or certain section, that it is not to be disturbed, I won't work that spot. Usually the landowner is okay with that. I've found that when I make the right moves, it not only feels right, but is the most eye-pleasing and harmonious scheme, too.
Meeting With a Client
It's been exciting over the years to have reconnected a property owner with a piece of their land that was smothered with poison ivy and honeysuckle-to watch them walk down a newly-cleared path and be able to appreciate shrubs or a stone wall that has emerged and hear "Wow! I never knew this was here. That's great!" Don't get me wrong-I love honeysuckle-I use it as a border around my gardens at home. I like to look around, too, and see a section where it can just "be wild". That's a good place to tuck away a glass marble so the Little People there can make faces into it and adjust their caps.
I've found the best approach to implementing a new design/planting is to first, of course, meet with the landowner and listen to their ideas, getting a sense of their vision for the land. I'll make a few rough sketches while writing down their plant choices, locations, and colors.
They are stating their intent, which is a simple but powerful ceremony in itself-a necessary step to begin the process. I don't voice this to them as a rule, but that doesn't change the fact that they have done ceremony!
I ask permission of the owner to come back at another time to look it over again, preferably alone, so that I can ask the ground what it might need or want planted there. I'll be taking measurements, doing more rough sketches, noting sun and shade, compass directions-technical readings, you might say. At the same time, I keep my intuitive mind open so whatever needs to come in will do so.
Once home, I often sit in my garden with the mental picture of the job I am about to begin. By asking "Okay, what plants need to go over there to that person's land? Who wants to go?" I can start to "get the bones growing" as I call it. Of course I use plant reference books and other technical look-ups to arrive at a plan, trying above all to use the plant choices of the owner first, and substituting where I have to. My plants at home have always been the greatest teachers, though.
When placing the new plants in the ground, I use a pretty standard technique-dig the hole, add amendments and set the plant in the spot. For years, I noticed that next I would turn the plant a quarter turn, look at it, turn it around some more until I got a sense of which direction it should face. (sometimes tough to do with a large shrub or tree, and I've gotten better at it so that maybe I only have to move it once or not at all) You've probably all noticed yourself planting that way, too. When it feels "right", I have the sensation of a dog who has dug himself a hole or scratched up a rug and goes round and round till-plop! He's found the sweet spot. Recently I read an article which might explain how this works. A plant has an energy gateway - a door which forms when the seed sprouts.
The life energy enters here to foster growth. This door is naturally aligned to the East, so the plant will grow healthier if you can find this sprout-time doorway and face it eastwards. I suppose that's where that comfortable feeling of an old lying-down dog comes in-the plant is telling you where and how it wants to go in its hole, and you've listened well.
As I go about setting the plant, I keep a feeling of intent that this plant will grow good roots and establish a good connection with its companions. I also had the thought the other day that setting plants of the same species in a triangle grouping (a standard landscape practice, by the way) may create a small swirling energy vortex which helps protect and nourish them. It's always worked well for me and forms a beautiful planting.
As the job nears completion, I will have found a stone somewhere in the area, just a good size to hold in my hand. This I will use as my "rock of intent". I hold it while wishing the best for all plants in the area, to grow well and healthy, and thanking the Spirit of Place there for helping and for continued overseeing after I'm gone. I then bury the rock wherever it feels like it wants to go.
Geomancy is a strong tool to use ceremoniously to strengthen and cleanse depleted spiritual presence at sites which have been abused, neglected or over-used. Growing up in this area, I would often be at a magical spot which seemed to have a shimmering quality; perhaps along a laurel-sided stream or overlooking an awesome gorge. As I became older, this evocative mystical quality often seemed to missing from certain areas. I attributed this at first to nostalgic looking-back, but have come to realize that, indeed, places take on the emotions of those who visit and experience them, and that heavy visitation without proper appreciation has affected the energy there. There has been too much taking without giving back.
Anyone-anywhere-can help here; you don't have to know how to do any more magic than just saying "Thank You". Add a bit of tobacco, a sprinkling of food or water, a little marble, or whatever you feel would be a gift, and just say "thanks and bless you". Your intent will be the invisible force; your gift the physical one, and that is all it takes to make a beautiful, powerful ceremony.
Some of us have been playing in the woods with stones this past year-the droughty summer brought low flow in the creeks, and thousands of small monolithic-type stones formed legions of sentinels up the creek beds. Up in Coleman Boundary, over at Neal's Creek, down the Laurel River they go in the mist, some perched and stacked at seemingly impossible arrangements. To children, (and adults) the meditative act of standing up stones upon stones is as soothing as trickling beach sand through wet fingers to form squiggly castles, their temporary, impermanent nature teaching us to create, trust, and let go. We all practice geomancy in some way in our lives daily, whether we are aware of it or not.
Besides being gifted by the Creator with life on this awesome Earth, we have also been gifted with the power and responsibility of creation. Our good thoughts, our good words, our good deeds, and our good actions are our tools to create lifeforms in the same sacred manner as we ourselves were created.