by Dr. Patrick MacManaway

Indigenous and primal cultures around the world live according to a deeply seated understanding that they and the world around them are of one substance.

That we are made up of earthly matter is abundantly apparent. We are what we eat, or at lEast what our bodies' exquisite metabolism creates from what we eat through finely coordinated processes of reduction and synthesis. It is easy to trace the path of grain, berry and fruit from soil, seed and water to flesh and blood, hand and eye.

Less obvious however is the relationship of mind and spirit with our immediate and remote environment, and it is at this point - the question of whether we are intrinsically of the same stuff as our environment spiritually as well as materially, that primal and industrialized cultures diverge and disagree, with far reaching and profound consequences.


For the mystic and the shaman, there is no question of the imminent presence of mind and spirit surrounding us, differentiated and localized to varying degrees, pressing against us from all points, flowing around our human presence as water flows around those who dwell in the ocean. Indeed it is this very malleable, fluid quality of our spiritual environment that allows us to see ourselves more clearly, for the imprint that we make in the substance of spirit around us is the imprint of ourselves, no less distinct than the imprint of our hand and fingers in the soft warm dough that becomes bread.

Those who can perceive in this way, are drawn into a place where it becomes natural and inevitable to honor and respect their surroundings as they do their families and loved ones, and to an understanding of the need for a continual and mutual exchange of emotional and spiritual energy between humans and environment, nurturing that relationship in all the same ways that we nurture our most valued friendships.

The Geomantic Paradigm

One place that we can look for deeper insight into the nature of this most precious of relationships is into the geomantic paradigm and the understanding of our subtle environment that geomancy brings. The literal meaning of geomancy is "divination of the earth". Ancient and universal, it is both art and science, concerned with the discernment of the presence of subtle qualities in the landscape and of engaging in right relationship with these, to the mutual benefit of all participants in the ecology.

Geomantically-aware cultures base their cosmology around a mandala which symbolizes the interpenetration of spirit and matter, and defines the qualities of up and down, front and back, left and right that are encountered and experienced by spirit when it coalesces into a fixed point in time and space.

We are all familiar with these mandalas - they are the medicine wheel of the Native Americans, the encircled equal armed Cross of the Druid, the eight point circle of the Wiccan tradition and the Ba Gua of the Feng Shui practitioner.

Such mandalas are maps of the way that spirit moves and manifests through and around us, through time - perceived in the cycle of a life, of the year, the month, the day, the individual breath or thought - and through space, perceived similarly in our own auric fields, in our homes and offices, and in the wider landscape through which we make our journeys and pilgrimages.

Geometrically, the body of the earth and the body of a human being are very similar - the growth spirals and proportional geometry found in crystals, in water flow patterns, in sea shells, trees and flowers are the same as those which create the human form, from our DNA through our bones and out to our fingerprints. We are in fact in fractal symmetry to the earth, and through and beyond that to the cosmos at large.

The Earth's Energetic Envelope

It appears additionally that the earth has a subtle body or energetic envelope identical to that of a human being, and that energetically - as geometrically - we exist in a fractal form to that of the earth. Spirit clothes itself in matter according to its purpose and expresses itself through simple and universally shared numerical and geometrical principles, which themselves create and allow the presence of simple and universally shared energy bodies.

This very sameness between our internal and external worlds is one of the keys to understanding the web of mutual influence and interdependence that we call an ecosystem. We may observe how we are inclined to be molded by our energetic environment in a natural and unthinking way, much as one's mood is molded by a piece of music playing in the background.

We gradually embody and manifest the predominant energy of our surroundings. This is partly what gives regional communities their unique and individual flavor and characteristics, and it has been well noted that successive waves of culture through history tend to be molded as much by their experience of the landscape that they inhabit as by the ethics and ideology that they carry with them.

At a more local level we individually embody the energy of our living and working environments, and it is this very immediate relationship that leads us to spend so much time and resources on our various nests. This occurs in many visible ways - through the influence of color, texture, shape and form, but also in invisible ways, through the movement and patterning of the subtle life force that goes by so many names.


The Chinese make no distinction between the chi that runs through the meridians of the human body and the chi that runs in dragon lines through the landscape.

Dowsers are familiar with the effects of energy leys and underground water veins on the health of people, animals and plants living and growing in proximity to them - the effects of different kinds of earth chi.

Therapeutic practitioners of geomancy and earth acupuncture find identical energetic imbalances in their clients as in the energetic patterns in and around those clients' homes and work places, and the experience of needling into a human meridian to relieve or stimulate blocked or sluggish chi flow is the same experience as that of needling a line of earth energy, with similar effect.

What are we to draw from this as a conclusion towards finding a sustainable paradigm?

Modern Man's View of the Earth

It would appear that the crisis of unsustainablility that we are confronted with now is based on a cultural assumption that we humans are on the earth but not of the earth, that we are spiritual beings exploring a purely physical landscape for our own ends.

The Geomantic View

It is clear from a geomantic viewpoint that the energy body of the earth and the energy body of a person are as one, and that our health, at physical, emotional and psychospiritual levels are powerfully influenced by our surroundings - as indeed our surroundings are similarly influenced by the presence of the person.

Therapeutic geomancy furthermore informs us that all the tools and techniques that can be applied to the healing of humans and of the relationships between them can be applied to our interactions with our environment also, with similarly enhancing and vitalizing possibilities becoming available through that practice.

We are in constant relationship and dialogue with something of immense subtlety with which we share our form, our proportions and our very life essence.

Sustainability is a consequence of right relationship, of living in integrity with the truth of our intuition and our dream self - waking and sleeping - for the seed patterns that emerge from those places will surely lead us back into our place of symbiosis, of co-creation, an integral and harmonious aspect of that with which we find ourselves inevitably intimate.

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