For many years I had the odd awareness that “my body was the earth”.  I don’t know quite how to explain the sensation of feeling earthquakes in my belly, or feeling trees being cut down in the Amazon in my heart….but it was a sensation that the planet and my body were reflections of one another.

I also felt as a young child the pull of my home place as a bodily awareness; the Outer Banks of North Carolina seemed to be open arms welcoming me back every time I would return.  The ocean was my mother, the sand on the beach my friend, the land and the live oaks the structure that held me as a father would.  Curious about how it would feel after being away for a decade, I experienced this again recently when I returned to Hatteras Island to reclaim my ancestral heritage.  Bodily connection to the land is real.

Watching Jess reconnect with the desert in Tucson has verified this even more for me.  We are here to honor his reclaiming of his life after his traumatic brain injury, here to touch the place where he was born, here to remind him what he came from.  Yes, he came from my womb, and that is a part of home base for him….but the land where he was born is also his womb, and the ground underneath his feet welcomes him home.

In a very real and physical sense we are made of the land.  In our mothers’ wombs we are receiving the nutrients and the waters from the place she is, and our bodies are being built of the elements of the land, as well as the elements of her body.  We are made of the earth.  The elements of the land where we are born then become part of us more directly as we grow, as we drink and eat and breathe and touch, exchanging atoms with the place.  This is not a metaphysical construct, intellectual idea or metaphor, this is physics.

So we belong to the land just as surely as the land belongs to us.  We are connected, at an elemental level, with our home place. And perhaps if there is a long ancestral occupation of the land, even more so.  There is an indigenous awareness that we belong to the land, that we are extensions of the land.  We can see from a physics standpoint that this is so.  From this awareness we can also see how utterly insane it is to believe that we are somehow separate from the land, from the earth that we literally come from, are made of.  How crazy it is that we could pick up and move about without a sense of grief or loss.  And what mental illness that we can abuse the land we are made of and not have ramifications to our own wholeness and well being.

We understand at an intuitive level that we have home territory.  Ask any sports fan if their favorite team does better “at home”.  Ask any business person if there is a home advantage when pressing hands at a convention.  We feel more confident in a way that we can’t explain, maybe don’t even identify…but we just feel better, more in ownership of our body.  Like we belong.

The day after we arrived in Tucson (after an epic 26 hour drive), we were guided to go to each of the four mountain ranges (which happen to correspond to the four cardinal directions) to say hello and ask for support and blessing for the work Jess is doing here.  We began with the “Eastern Gate” of the Rincon Mountains. We greeted the peak as a Mama, offering drumbeat song and love from the heart to her. It was an emotional meeting as she “saw” Jess, her native son, and welcomed him back into her “arms”.  Tears were shed, water offered to the thirsty desert.  I watched Jess walk on the desert floor and saw that he moved his hips differently, his feet coming into contact with the ground in a way that spoke of a meeting of kin long awaited.  The desert, She loves him.

We continued with each of the other ranges, each with a different feel or “personality”, each requesting a different offering from the prodigal son.  Sometimes song, sometimes tobacco.  We were also guided to honor the Sky Father, appearing as a kachina and who asked for a song from my flute (that makes sense since breath is the air element!)  We were also asked to honor the Spirit of Tucson, an overarching sense of the whole valley that the city occupies.  Our goal was to have the blessing of the spirits of the land the first day so that we could move into the healing work on the second day.  It was a remarkable day of feeling as if Jess had been to see his grandparents, a family visit, and at the end of the day, he knew he was home.  Onward!


Jess and Licia at Gates Pass

Jess and Licia at Gates Pass

Licia’s 19 year old son Jess sustained a traumatic brain injury on March 24, 2013, resulting in emergency brain surgery to save his life.  His miraculous recovery and subsequent return to his shamanic roots has prompted his Vision Quest to his desert home of Tucson, Arizona.  We will be posting updates during the 3 weeks of vision quest here.  To read about his injury, go to

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