Sacred Land

“…the care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.”   – Wendell Berry

Wilpena pound, Flinders Ranges, South Australia, Australia. Photograph by Australian landscape photographer Scott Leggo. For more information

After many years of practice, I have learned to feel and understand this sacred land.  I certainly did not grow up knowing its power or its wisdom, or how it has connected me to every part of my being. I did not know the rejuvenation, healing and peace I would receive from this precious space, or how it would whisper words of truth to me. I did not know my responsibility or my ability to foster its renewal.  But I do now.  Chief Seattle, Chief of the Suquamish Indians, allegedly wrote to the American Government in the 1800’s – In this letter he gave us the most profound understanding of the land.  Let’s us learn from those who have gone before us, and remember our responsibility to honor this sacred space.


“The President in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky? the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?
Every part of the earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people.
We know the sap which courses through the trees as we know the blood that courses through our veins. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers.
The shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water, but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you our land, you must remember that it is sacred. Each glossy reflection in the clear waters of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water’s murmur is the voice of my father’s father.
The rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst. They carry our canoes and feed our children. So you must give the rivers the kindness that you would give any brother.
If we sell you our land, remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life that it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also received his last sigh. The wind also gives our children the spirit of life. So if we sell our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow flowers.
Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth.
This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.
As we are part of the land, you too are part of the land. This earth is precious to us. It is also precious to you.

35 thoughts on “Sacred Land

  1. This is such a beautiful letter, Karen. Yes, “Let us learn from those who have gone before us, and remember our responsibility to honor this sacred space.” The land there in South Australia, in the picture looks a lot like the Southern part of our state of New Mexico, where we live. Nice connection. Thanks Karen.

  2. Ahhhh, how lovely, Karen! So many beautiful passages in this piece. And I shook my head throughout and thought, ‘But we didn’t remember. So many have lost their respect for and connection with the land, and so much more.’ Your birthplace is fiercely beautiful. Thank you for sharing….

  3. When a society becomes concerned about possessions and measures success in these same terms, we sacrifice our ability to understand that survival as well as prosperity is based on integration. As we become ONE in the physical and spiritual sense of the word we provide the energies needed to fuel our bodies and our planet. They feed off each other and provide for each other. As we learn to appreciate everything that exists we come to realize that all experiences make us who we are and show us paths to follow for continued growth and happiness.
    This was a beautiful post, Karen.

  4. What a different world we would be living in if the powers in Washington heeded Seattle’s wisdom. (Sigh.)
    Despite the evidence to the contrary, we mustn’t give up hope. We must envision the day that humans learn to live sustainably upon the earth.

  5. Have always loved this letter from Chief Seattle. The Earth is the place where I feel most at home. Your words seem to echo a quote by Thich Nhat Hanh, Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet. Thank you for a lovely start to my week. Love your photo of the red Earth as well!

  6. Very inspiring and thought-provoking; filled with profound (spiritual) wisdom and beauty. Joyful greetings, Sam 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s