Sunday, October 7, 2007

Sacred Places

Are places sacred in their own right or do they become sacred when we (humans) develop an emotional relationship with them?

The poet and deep ecologist Gary Snyder quotes a Native American elder as saying, 'if people stay somewhere long enough - even white people - the spirits will begin to speak to them. It's the power of the spirits coming from the land. The spirits and the old powers aren't lost, they just need people to be around long enough and the spirits will begin to influence them.' (Crow elder, cited in Snyder, 1990).

Do spirits of place reveal themselves at first glance or does it take a while to get to know a place, its contours, its moods, its colours, its habitats and inhabitants? Every time I connect with the riverplace, there is something more to see, more to learn. About beauty, about the movement of the tides, about the creatures who dwell along the river valley and about the river.

Today as I looked up at the sky shimmering through the leafy canopy I spied a raven flying in with a long slice of grass in its beak. Its partner was waiting on a branch sitting on a half-constructed nest. The nest was situated towards the end of the limb and seemed not to be as positioned as well as it could be to withstand the stormy weather that has been part of Brisbane for the last couple of days. But despite rain on and off during this time the soil beneath the surface is still very very dry.

The birds were frolicking around the house today as well. Nest building and family building. A Kookaburra flew in. It sat near the backdoor and waiting patiently for a feed. Ravens, Butcher Birds, Currawongs and Magpies joined the feast. Living with wildlife is one of the joys of this place. But the rush to cut down 'bird houses' (read trees) is fast and furious. Loving a place one risks having one's heart broken.

Snyder G, 1990, The Practice of the WIld, Berkeley, North Point Press.