Land Use and Spirit

Land Use and Spirit

When was it that we stopped considering Spirit of Place first, and use of the land only in concert with Spirit?

My family came from Ireland and Wales a couple of generations back, and land was and continues to be a presence that endures, like a good mother. Everything stems from her and through her. Tending to that spirit of her means being rooted in time and space and feeds our very souls.

But when land became economic opportunity, many of us forgot this relationship. In fact, many have never had it! This is stunning to me, having grown up on a farm. Relationship to the land was our sustenance. My father’s return to the fields in spring brought a release of tension in him. My mother always said that he returned to himself when he could return to the fields. I remember being put to bed at dusk in the spring and listening to my mother play the piano as she waited for my father to come in from plowing and disking and harrowing and planting.

C. G. Jung knew this place in the psyche and addressed it. He worked with Spirit of Place in his own beloved Bollengen. In a 1950 interview with Swiss geographer Hans Carol, he stated:

Every man should have his own plot of land so that the instincts can come to life again. …We keep forgetting that we are primates and that we have to make allowances for these preemptive layers in our psyche. The farmer is still closer to these layers. In tilling the earth he moves around with a very narrow radius, but he moves on his own land.  …We need a relationship with nature.  …Individuation is not only an upward but also a downward process. Without any body, there is no mind and therefore no individuation. Our civilizing potential has led us down the wrong path.  (Jung Speaking, pp.203-204)

The big issue these days in the Napa Valley is that relationship to the earth and lack thereof, and it is playing out big time. As corporate and investor interests move in, viewing our lands and watersheds as economic opportunities for making and marketing world class wines, Nature takes a back seat. Many of us feel this is destroying the golden goose, and that it is critically important that we act now to protect the land and the watersheds. As that saying goes, Nature needs an attorney!

In my so-called retirement, I have found myself editor of Napa Vision 2050’s online newsletter, Eyes on Napa. We are following our county government’s response to the economic pressures of the powerful wine and hospitality industries which would turn our county into a Disneyland for the Wealthy, our children and our workers no longer affording to live here. Tourism rules! Every study being done warns about this trend. It is time for citizens to wake up and attend to what is happening.

Please help us by signing up for our twice monthly newsletter using this link, and, please pass it on to your interested friends. We need to garner citizen support if our relationship to the earth is not to be further defined by corporate interests. Our civilizing potential has led us down the wrong path. This is one step on the right path.

Link for May newsletter.