Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
and you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
you are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
where you are. You must let it find you.
~ David Wagoner (Lost, Traveling Light)
Your soul is not only your true nature, it is your true place in nature. We’re all born to occupy, serve and nurture our place within the ecosystem of the universe. But these days we have come to perceive existence as something to consume and use, rather than to truly Be in and appreciate.
A few years ago I had an experience in the Australian outback. On a walk, I found a beautiful stone lodged into the earth. After picking it up and admiring it for a bit, I put it back down and continued walking. The Aborigine that was with me laughed, shook his head in disbelief and exclaimed, “It’s strange! Usually white man always wants to own everything he sees and touches.” Unless the stone had significant spiritual value to me, I realized that the stone was only beautiful when in its own setting. Away from the Outback, the sand dunes, the sun, the stone simply becomes a “thing.”
Similarly, we belong not only to a spiritual realm, but a physical realm. Did you know that we all have at least one soul place in the physical world? A soul place is a special site or spot where we experience unique feelings of belonging, empowerment and energetic rejuvenation.
Many eco-centered cultures knew of soul places. The Australian aborigines, for instance, believe that each person has one place in the natural world where they most belong; a place that is as much part of him as he is part of it. In finding that place, we also find our true selves.
What Are Power Places?
Indigenous cultures and shamans have known for thousands of years that there are special places in nature that have a sacred personal connection to us. Unlike our modern disconnected cultures, their awareness of the Spirit realm allowed them to create ceremonies that were specifically aimed at initiating them into spiritual maturity through nature-based practices.
Here in Australia for example, the aborigines have a cultural tradition called the “Walkabout.” A walkabout occurs when an aboriginal youth wanders through the bush completely alone for weeks, sometimes months. As the youth wanders, they avoid all human interaction, going in search for a place they feel at home.
Another example can be found within the indigenous people of the Sahara, the Tuareg. Saharan women who are pregnant occasionally wander into the nearby desert with the intention of finding, or being found by, a sacred site. This sacred site will be the place of birthing their children. These women report not feeling alone or scared because they feel a great depth of relationship with the other-than-humans living there.
Soul places aren’t only personal – they can also be collective. Examples of collective soul places include Bear Butte in Wyoming and Uluru in Australia. There are also human-made power places such as the Great Pyramids in Egypt, the megalithic temple of Stonehenge, and the mind-boggling subterranean passageways at Chavín de Huantar.
How to Find Your Individual Sanctuary
Most shamans have special places in nature that hold personal significance to them. These places might be locations where they enter the Spirit realm, or places where they first experienced their callings or spirit guides. A power, or soul place can be anywhere: it doesn’t have to be in a far away exotic land.
Your power/soul place, for instance, could be a physical place a dear one passed away. Your soul place could be near a river or park, or a childhood home filled with memories. Your soul place could even be the restaurant where your partner proposed to you. Our power places can be virtually anywhere.
So how do you find your power place? The most important thing to look out for is a place that allows you to experience deep emotions. Pay attention to any place that feels intimate to you, a place that allows you to experience timeless moments of Presence. These places will facilitate your ability to go beyond your five senses and touch something deeper. The place where these moments of transcendence occur leave a strong mark in our souls.
10 Signs You’ve Found Your Soul Place
When you’re in your soul place, you may feel/think the following way:
- If it’s a new place, you’ll feel a sense of familiarity.
- Colors may look brighter, almost like a surrealist painting (this happened to me in my first encounter with my soul place).
- You’ll feel a greater sense of harmony and ease.
- You might intuitively sense that “you’re finally home and can rest now.”
- The outer terrain synchronizes with your interior landscape – it’s almost as though they’ve been waiting for each other.
- Even if there’s external chaos in this place, you’ll still feel internally peaceful.
- You’ll feel inspired and have bursts of creative thought.
- You’ll feel a new sense of freedom and joy.
- You’ll feel introspective and will get to know yourself in deeper ways.
- You’ll feel recharged and energized.
Sometimes our power places can also be imagined places within our minds. If you’ve ever entered altered states of consciousness and pierced the veil of reality, you’ll realize that there’s no distinction between each of the different layers of reality. In other words, the places within our minds exists in the world just as much as the places within the world exist within our minds.
Your Soul Is Not Only Yours, It’s Also the World’s
Today, wherever you stand,
Be the soul of that place. ~ Rumi (The Essential Rumi)
The universe cannot be completely itself until you become completely yourself. Your soul is IN and OF the world, like a ripple in a river, a wave in the ocean, or a flaming twig in a fire.
The world’s greatest flames all found their sacred places: Moses on Mount Sinai, Jesus in the desert, Muhammad in a cave outside Mecca, Buddha under the bodhi tree.
Your place of power is more than a sanctuary. It is a place (or places) in the universe where you feel at home, where you feel that forces, beyond your control and that which you do not fully understand, support you in your quest toward self-fulfillment.
Where is your Soul Place? Let me know in the comments.