The idea that buildings and landscapes have an energy, which can be felt or seen, is common in many ancient cultures and is indeed the basis for the Chinese principles of Feng Shui. When prompted, we can all remember a place of soft, loving, beautiful energy that welcomed us; whether it was a building, a riverside, a beach, a glade of trees or a stunning landscape view. We often refer to these as favourite places; places which may have had a profound impact on our psyche, or simply have left us standing in awe. They draw us back, especially with fond memories; and just thinking of them can bring a smile to our faces. We literally feel them in our hearts.
My belief is that when we connect back into these places, we are connecting into their ‘energy signatures’. Our bodies and minds recall the place and/or experience using all our senses. It may be a specific smell, a colour, a general ambience, the sound of wind or dappled light through trees; or the sound of waves lapping a shoreline that triggers the memory; but the result is instantaneous and often heart-warming; and may cause a tingle up the spine. I also suspect that when we have a sudden, unexpected memory of a place, it is calling to us; wanting to connect back in for a specific reason. Whatever that may be. Whether we kick a stone, touch a tree, or simply smile at a fellow traveller, for a fleeting moment we exchange energy signatures with them.
Everything on this planet, whether it’s a human being, a sentient being, tree, plant and flower; or rock, stone and mountain; has an energy signature. And even if most people aren’t always aware of this, they subconsciously know. How many times have you been standing at a special, well-loved spot, simply enjoying the space; when one or more people have come up beside you, taken a huge deep in-breath and said something along the lines of ‘Isn’t this a lovely place. Look at that view’. It’s hard sometimes not to feel as if our space has been invaded, especially when peace and quiet have been replaced with loud voices, screaming children and banging doors. What the newcomers may not realize, is that by inhaling deeply, they are taking in the energy of the place. They are depleting the very thing they have come to enjoy. In my experience, the secret of these situations is to simply give love to all places, tell them (can be silently) how beautiful they are, rather than take energy; and you will always find you are rewarded many times over as your love is returned.
Likewise, we’ve all been in a space we couldn’t wait to get out of because we felt uncomfortable. Perhaps we were house-hunting and the house didn’t feel quite right. I believe we know instinctively and almost immediately when a property is the one for us; and may discard many along the way, for no apparent reason other than ‘it didn’t feel right’. In one garden where I used to live, there was a tree in one corner, which I could never go anywhere near; without feeling itchy all over, hearing an uncomfortable ringing in my ears and an involuntary shudder coursing through my body. The ground immediately beneath it was barren and nothing would grow there; so, I would always try to give it a wide berth. And this was long before I became consciously aware of energy flows. Perhaps you have wandered into a glade in a wood, or alongside a river, where the trees seem to feel oppressive and there is the sense of being watched all the time, but not in a nice way; and you can’t wait to get away? These are simple examples, of the capability each of us has, to sense the energy of a place, whether we understand it as such or not. In order to avoid unpleasant situations and experiences, it often helps to make a practice of Asking Permission first; whether it’s before entering a building, a churchyard, or a wood, etc. Saying that though, if you find yourself unexpectedly flying over a volcano, even a dormant one, having forgotten to ask permission before you got onto the plane, don’t be surprised if you end up being violently sick. This has happened to me several times, in the most unexpected of situations and there has been no-one to blame but myself.
Whether we have experienced a warm glow inside or unexpected cold shudder, the moment we have had these reactions, we have involuntarily reinforced this energy of place, like repeatedly ‘painting’ a building or landscape with our experiences. Over time a beautiful, welcoming, spiritual space becomes more so; whilst the ‘not so pleasant’ experience becomes even more unwelcoming for the next visitor (Graves, 1978).
Once we are aware of this, it is eminently possible to change the energy of a building or place simply and consciously. For example, with a house a coat of fresh, clean paint works wonders. In fact, now I’m aware of this, I understand that redecorating rooms and cleaning second-hand furniture is a powerful tool, when moving house. Alternatively, if so inclined, you can clean and clear by visualizing healing colours, playing healing sounds, or burning herbs such as sage ‘smudges’. A friend was concerned about selling his dining room table and chairs to a young couple who were just starting married life together; principally because many emotional arguments and much sadness had occurred across that table when he and his wife were divorcing. He was concerned the table had absorbed this sad, emotional energy and when released into its new home, it would influence the lives of the young couple, who might be ill-equipped to deal with any unexpected emotional states that could be created. He was advised to give the table a good physical and emotional clean, visualizing love and laughter across it in future. The young couple never knew, but are still married more than twenty years later, so perhaps his actions did make a difference?
The energy of a place also changes over time. In my mind, the ‘Top Ten places to see in the world before you die’ concept has a lot to answer for. Because as more and more frequent visitors come to experience the beauty and spirituality of a place, they unwittingly destroy the very attributes it was originally known for, by taking energy rather than sharing and enhancing it. It is not unusual for a sacred site or landscape to regularly shut down, or even reroute an energy flow, to stop itself from being abused or depleted in this way. I myself have experienced this many times, including at a number of well-known sites such as Stonehenge (England), Machu Picchu and Moray (Peru), Mt Shasta (California) and Rotorua and Inferno Crater (New Zealand). Many of us have experienced changes in favourite landscapes and places over periods of just a few years, so it’s not hard to imagine what can happen over decades, or after centuries of neglect. It’s no wonder that many of our sacred landscape places feel unloved.
Graves, T. (1978). Needles of Stone. London: Turnstone Books.