Interested in nature spirituality but not sure where to start? An herbalist and druid offers three ways to connect to your local landscape.
Nature spirituality centers on the individual search for spiritual connection, practices, and peace in the living earth. Nature spirituality can be practiced as a standalone tradition, or it can be integrated into any other spiritual or religious practice. From my experience as an herbalist and druid, I’ve gathered three fundamental practices for connecting spiritually with your local landscape. I call these fundamental practices because regardless of who you are, how long you have been practicing, and your path, they are the cornerstone to deepening your relationship with the living earth.
Overall, a fruitful approach to nature spirituality is exploring relationships between “inner” spiritual experiences—such as meditation, spirit journeying, and spirit communication—and “outer” spiritual experiences—such as learning about nature and being present in nature. Weaving these two practices together allows you deeply attune to the physical presence of nature and the metaphysical world of spirits that are part of nature.
Meditating in Oneness With Nature
Our first practice is a meditation designed to connect you with the local land. Take time to sit or stand in a relaxed pose somewhere where you have contact with the living earth through the soles of your feet (ideally, barefoot).
Begin by taking a few deep breaths, taking note that you are breathing in the oxygen that is produced by the plant life around you. Now, draw your awareness to your feet or body touching the earth. Feel the solidity of the earth, the way she grounds you and holds you in her embrace. Pay attention to how your body feels in connection to the land.
Next, envision roots slowly growing from your feet, down into the soil, anchoring you and holding you as a living being in the earth. Envision a gold-green energy flowing up through your roots from the earth, offering you blessings, healing, and nourishment as this energy fills you. Recognize that you are rooted and grounded in this sacred earth as every other living being is, and that you belong to the land. Envision yourself as part of a larger ecosystem of beings living in balance.
Then, slowly feel the energy that filled you return to the earth through your roots. Envision your roots coming back up and into your feet. Breathe deeply and offer gratitude to the earth.
Making Offerings and Establishing Reciprocal Relationships
A second way to connect with your local landscape is to establish practices of gratitude and reciprocation. Offerings are a gratitude practice and are a sign of respect for the land. The earth is in such need of our gratitude at present, as many human societies have been taking more than she is able to give, setting our world out of balance. The practices I’m suggesting in this section help right that balance and deepen your personal relationship to the land.
In terms of offerings, I suggest creating an organic herbal blend to sprinkle on the earth (some homegrown or ethically raised blend of herbs without seeds, such as rose petals, mint leaves, or pine needles). You can also create an offering from your body: playing music, singing, chanting, dancing, drumming, and so on. Think carefully about what you want to offer, and ensure that any offering does not harm or take more from the earth. When you interact with nature, when you harvest anything from nature, or when you feel the need—make an offering.
A step further in this process is considering how you can reciprocate and give back to the living earth. As earth offers us everything we need, it is good to offer the earth what she needs. This may be participating in activities like tree plantings or river cleanups, establishing a pollinator garden, or speaking out on behalf of the earth.
Exploring Nature From a Sit Spot
Even in urban areas, nature can be found everywhere, and it is best to start connecting with nature that you can access every day.
The sit spot practice is taught by Jon Young and the Wilderness Awareness School and has been adapted by many nature spirituality practitioners. Find a place that you have very easy access to (one you can get to every day because it is located either near home or work). At least once or twice a week, spend 15-20 minutes there observing, using your senses, and interacting with the living earth. Go there regularly, in all kinds of weather and in each season.
Pay attention to how your sit spot changes as the seasons progress. Pay attention to what animals or other beings greet you and what messages they might be offering. Pay attention to how you feel when you are there. Meditate and make offerings, as mentioned above. You might also journal, photograph, sketch, or record your experiences. You can also use this spot for meditations, rituals, prayers, or other spiritual practices.
As you deepen any direct interaction with the landscape, it is also very useful to take time to learn more about that landscape. I recommend you start by identifying three dominant plant, mushroom, or bird species that you see and learn what you can about them.
Learning about physical aspects of nature does two things: First, it allows you to be a better steward of the land and build your knowledge of the beauty and splendor of the earth. Second, it gives you a deeper insight into the metaphysical and spiritual aspects of all beings. Bringing this outer and inner knowledge together can be particularly fruitful—after you’ve learned, pay attention to how your interactions, observations, and meditations with nature deepen in your sit spot.
Dive into these three druid rituals to honor the fall equinox.