We have come too far from the land.
It is time to return home, back to our original mother.
The Earth is nudging us to pay attention to her cycles. To tend. To respect. We cannot ignore it.
The disconnection from the land was insidious, but today we are reminded of its deep impact as we watch the Pacific Northwest forests, animals and people burn — as we watched the Amazon burn — and as we continue to watch the devastation of our system’s flagrant disrespect for the land.
Our disconnection has become profound.
In these times, we see ourselves as separate from the land, believing ourselves to be owners of our Wild Mother. An othering of the land.
We see it in industrial capitalism, a system built on the valuation of money over respectful relationships with the land and her people; a system built on the oppression and enslavement of Black and Indigenous populations and people of color; a system built on the attempted eradication of those people who are from the land. An attempted erasure of Indigeneity.
Someone once said “the colonizer had to colonize themselves first.”
We also see this disconnection in the mythology of whiteness that has stripped even “white” people of their own Indigeneity. White does not refer to a race, a place of origin, or a unifying culture. ‘Indigenous,’ by definition means “originating or occurring naturally in a particular place; native.” Wherever our ancestors came from, we are all Indigenous to somewhere. This concept was originally shared with me by Jacqui Wilkins, an Indigenous Medicine Maker, and fellow Naturopathic Doctor.
If you walk your lineage back far enough, your people knew and venerated their connection to the land. While each culture’s practice was unique, there was a nearly-universal belief held that all things — animals, plants, rocks, rivers, weather systems, and even words — are alive. Personhood does not require a human-likeness. Even the word we use to describe this framework, animism, doesn’t exist in many cultures’ vocabularies. It is a western construct; further evidence of our separation.
As a practicing naturopath and settler in the Pacific Northwest, I recognize the complexities that exist within connecting, or reconnecting, to the land. Non-appropriative connection is highlighted now, more than ever. I believe that as we learn about our ancestors and their traditions, we can reclaim our identity as extensions of the land through our own ancestral knowledge; this is powerful.
When I say we need to return to the land, it is a return to a state of mind. While not all of our ancestors may be from this land, it is imperative to remember that we are still from the land.
The return is also literal. Find a patch of earth, put your feet on the soil, place your hands on the trees, smell the forest after a deep rain, sit next to a body of water, pay attention to the perfection of the plants around you. Listen. To do this is to return home.
It is time. For all of our sakes.
Rachel Worth-Cappell is a Naturopathic Doctor and canoe guide based out of Victoria, BC. Her mission is to help people naturally return to their own rhythms by remembering their connection to the land.