Does earth have spirit or soul? This is a question being asked ever more frequently, especially by those interested in the future of the natural world and the development of consciousness. The alchemists said ‘the greater part of the soul is outside the body’, and indigenous cultures have felt that soul or spirit resides in Nature and the physical environment. Such notions have been dismissed by modernity as illusions, but we are beginning to have second thoughts about the animation of the earth. Science and rationality have not taught us how to love or care for the earth, and in the modern era the environment has been disrespected.
The mythic bonds to Nature such as those found in Aboriginal Australian cultures appear to have real survival value because they bind us to the earth in a meaningful way. When these bonds are destroyed by excessive rationality or a collapse of cultural mythology, we are left alone, outside the community of Nature and in an alienated state. In this state we do real damage to the environment, because it is no longer part of our spiritual body or moral responsibility.
Jung was one of the first thinkers of our time to consider the psychic influence of the earth and the conditioning of the mind by place. Inspired by his writings and those of James Hillman, the field of ecopsychology has arisen as a powerful new area of inquiry. Edge of the Sacred: Jung, Psyche, Earth contributes to global ecopsychology from an Australian perspective.