What does it mean, to feel connected to a place?
Is our feeling of connection to a place – limited to the roots of where our ancestors came from?
Or, does the feeling extend much deeper – into the very soul of Mother Earth?
What if our soul is just like Mother Earth?,… Timeless, ancient, expansive, with roots extending deep into history, land and culture – more than we could ever truly know?
Perhaps to be connected to a place means, to truly experience, participate and observe how the land changes throughout the four seasons…. Maybe we have a small garden to grow our own food, flowers and herbs…. Maybe we like to forage for wild plants, medicinal herbs, flowers, berries and mushrooms….Or, maybe we feel especially connected to some old trees in our city or village park and we can experience how each season transforms them.
Perhaps to be connected to a place means, we simply spend time “being” there, with an open heart… and in doing so, we learn to quieten our mind and listen, for the stories of the past that long to be shared.
My journey with my partner Juerg, of living and traveling to many places, countries and cultures has shown me that every rock, stone, tree, mountain, stream, (everything!) holds energy, sacredness, mystery, magic and stories.
Our task is to be attentive but also playful and innocent like a child, so that we may begin to reconnect ourselves with this magic all around us. Only then, can we learn to listen to what the land wishes to teach us about who we have been, who we truly are and who we can grow more to become.
For around 3 years, I have been intrigued by a medieval castle – Castello di Ussel – in the Aosta Valley, Italy.
It is true, that the entire Aosta Valley is strewn with castles rising up in the magnificent alpine scenery. The castles were mostly built in the Middle Ages by powerful local families and then later on modified. The Aosta Valley was recognised by the Romans as an important trade route between France and Italy – but also Northern and Southern Europe.
Today, I find the Castello di Ussel carry’s an energy of enchantment and mystery, but also, it symbolises a transformational point between light and shadow.
This transformational point between light and shadow has been reflected in both of individual healing processes. Whenever we spend time in this area, we have had to face some of our personal masks, self-doubts and “uncomfortable truths”. We therefore have learnt it’s a powerful place where we can expect a deeper, clearer understanding of our personal journeys and our journey together, to come to the fore.
“Live in each season as it passes,
breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit,
and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”
Henry David Thoreau
During all four seasons, I have photographed the castle from a far away distance, mainly from the opposing valley of Chatillon and Saint Vincent. Here, we have spent many days with our dog collecting wild, medicinal flowers and herbs, such as Saint Johns Wort, Wormwood, Sage, Oregano, Nettle, Dandelion, Plantain, Clover and many more.
Here, in spring we were delighted to find a patch of the delicious and mysterious Morel Mushrooms! Here, in summer we played together and found abundant fields of wild, abandoned Lavender and Sage to collect and dry. Here, I also spent many hours observing and photographing the abundant insects, bees, butterfly’s and other pollinators who were enjoying the wild flowers and herbs in the warm sunshine.
“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees,
on a summers day, listening to the murmur of the water,
or watching the clouds float across the sky
is by no means a waste of time.”
Wherever we are, Juerg and I love to forage for wild food, mushrooms and medicinal plants and herbs. During these times together, it is my camera, which offers me a unique way to observe our surroundings. The light that constantly changes against the backdrop of the mountains and the mist that sometimes surrounds this historic landmark, connects me to the lands ancient mystery, transformation, enchantment, beauty and magic.
“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth…
are never alone or weary of life.”
This past New Years day, we finally visited the castle in person. During winter, the sunlight only touches the castle for little more than an hour – because of the surrounding alpine mountains.
Perhaps it was the feeling of winter – the quiet stillness, bare trees and frost covered ground, which made my impressions even more memorable and unique. The castle itself is strategically built on granite rock, directly on a cliff-face, so you can’t walk around it. However, it offers spectacular views on the surrounding valley and mountains. Our dog Cento enjoyed running and playing on the adjacent green area next to the Castle.
I had the strong impression that together, we had been here before, only Cento took the physical form of our horse – not our dog! 🙂 His name, “Cento Cavalli” (in Italian, 100 horses) derives from an ancient story belonging to the oldest tree in Europe *Castagne dei Cento Cavalli* . It was at the foot of this gigantic, ancient Chestnut Tree in Sicily that we found him abandoned by his mother….and our journey together (now 2 years) began.
Read more about the ancient Chestnut Tree and Cento here.
Photo © 2019 Juerg Dreamturtle
If you like to do so, please share in the comments below, what makes you feel connected to a place and experience it’s beauty, depth, magic, mystery and stories.
Jaymie Elder is a soul journey guide, artist, photographer and traveller offering intuitive guidance/sessions internationally via Skype. Jaymie is dedicated to supporting others to heal and grow towards their authentic self – and a life in harmony with their heart and soul being. Learn more about Jaymie and her work here.
For the past 14 years, Jaymie has been journeying, creating and sharing with Juerg Ritter. Together, they teach about the sacred journey of a heart and soul relationship – both for couples and people who are longing for a heart and soul relationship.
Photo’s and text copyright © 2019 Jaymie Elder