Changing perceptions about our place in the web of things
A place is always rich because it accompanies us all our lives, and we can choose to enjoy its learnings, meanings, and wisdom, for landscapes are eternally dynamic and hence the importance of the radical imagination.
Today’s imagination is highly neglected, depreciated, invalidated, and even an invisible dimension of the psyche and body. “You’re just imagining things.”
Imagination cannot be measured, quantified, or touched; hence “doesn’t exist.” Yet we all know, at least to some extent, how important really is this whole mysterious world where complex non-cartesian, non-measurable or quantifiable, but qualifying, relationships reside. Imagination is a fundamental ally, precisely as being entirely outside reality, “useless” and deviant from the “facts.” Since we live in a culture of cartesian values and cognitive extractivism (an expression coined by Bayo Akomolafe), we devalue our imagination because we learn from a young age to silence it. The whole process of schooling is mainly based on facts, causality, and linearity. In this cultural context, there may be moments or people who inspire us to nurture our imagination, but that is not the norm.
As a somatic-psychic integration tool, the point is that imagination allows us to gain perspective on things outside of objective limitations. Much of our immanent wisdom is only accessible through imagination when we open ourselves to other dimensions of wisdom, reverberation, and perception.
Between Map and Territory
I don’t mean to define or limit your perception of these concepts. I just want to bring in this idea of the map as a model, living or inert, and territory as the body itself, or the direct and unmediated relationship between things.
Imagination is not the only devalued perception of our being. We all have many ways of looking at one thing, interacting, and co-creating our reality. We also have the holistic consciousness, the spirit, the soul, and the heart, different portals of access to the diverse reality of things. These sacred doorways are not hierarchical or polarized, in a black and white limitation between right and wrong, for this is the invitation to diversity. And none of this is just mind-centric, where anything that is not tangible, plannable, or objective, does not exist or is not valued. Objectivity is about taking things out of context, and when we detach everything from context, we take life out of it and use everything for our limited (short-term) benefit. When we only seek the value of productivity, factual, quantifiable, and objective goals, it is a considerable challenge, creating massive internal paradoxes because this modern-linear way of being and seeing the world makes it soulless.
This is where cultural discourse becomes insidious and disengaged: decoding the Earth — landscapes, places, ecosystems, biosphere — only as an inert resource and only and only based on what is directly useful to humans.
Instead of the Earth as the embrace, source, origin, and essential basis of all life. Any landscape has a whole story, something not verbalized but felt. It is one of those deafening acts of violence that some sense in their skin, body, and bones when listening and dialoguing with landscapes. We feel their cry, for they are neither passive, inert, or mute. It is not by chance that we search for those places that reside in our hearts and memory. If we can’t be in them, we miss them immensely, the lack of something we have forgotten.
Integrating consciousness, spirit, and heart is essential for us to fully experience our own bodies and places. At the body’s base is the essential wisdom of instinct, ruled by the womb and intestines, the most archaic and primal wisdom. This ancient and primitive intelligence is not inferior to or less intelligent than the neocortex. It is housed in the hip area, the largest bone in the body, and the hinge between Earth and heaven, a sacred bone. Here resides an ancient and vast energy of the deep unconscious, the wisdom that we cannot define, the texture of instinct, primal relations of access and activation of life itself. It is correlated with sexual energy and creativity, as well as with the power to maintain and rescue life itself in deep reverence, always in constant and deep interaction with the time-space, the place where we are, and with the life cycles or monthly cycles.
We have a vital neural net in the intestine and the neural net of the heart, and both communicate more to the brain than the brain does to them, bringing core information not viable in words. These fractions of a second of deep interaction with the whole context, speak of one of the purposes of the gut, like the womb that holds the creation of life itself.
Intuition and Reason
Moving from this most instinctive and primal energy center, we move up through the body to the heart, where intuition resides, where everything becomes more subtle, delicate, and not so raw or visceral. We hear messages, symbols, metaphors, stories, myths, or memories through the heart. The heart hears.
The heart is in contact with the multiple contexts that surround us. The instinct in the gut and the intuition in the heart connect through the body, constantly being in deep non-verbal dialogue, reverberating melodically with the web that holds us.
Further up, in the head, we find the main cognitive center of reason and consciousness: the neocortex. This allows us to have a sense of time, to predict, plan and organize, which is essential for survival. However, we are acculturated that this is the only way to be in the world; we believe we think about things in isolation, logically and objectively. But this valuable “thinking” organ is based in the body, and by neglecting the other centers, we exile the richness of our intrinsic wisdom, of direct relationships with things.
These three vital centers of energy and perception only require some attention; simply acknowledge that they exist because we don’t really have to do anything special to activate, understand, or complete them. By allowing ourselves to value the presence of these three centers in us, perception changes, becoming integrated and alive. Just welcome these other ways of knowing and perceptions even though there are no logical reasons to validate or justify them.
The invitation of this shift in perception is to remember the wild energy, which speaks to how we wholly relate to places and the body. And what is this being wild? Is it someone unkempt, unfiltered, but free? The wild lives in the possibilities, in this constant, living, dynamic richness around us. We have the powerful uterus, which holds much of the wild feminine energy, being also associated with the power of instinct and bringing the strong presence, which is neither good nor bad. The unconscious, which is not only in the head since it inhabits the body, is the landscape we cannot tame; it is the place of the wild, where all the potentialities and the shadows inhabit.
[will be continued]
By Sofia Batalha
Mammal, author, woman-mother, and question weaver one day at a time. Awkward prose-poet with no grammatical knowledge. Pilgrim through inner and outer landscapes, remembering ancient earth practices, in radical presence, active listening, ecopsychology, art, ecstasy, and writing. Author of eight books, editor of the free online magazine, Wind and Water, Re-member the Bones Podcast, and Beyond the Sea Conversations — all in Portuguese.
More information: sofiabatalha.com or Instagram: @serpentedalua
[Disclaimer: All words and concepts woven into this article are born through my living, naturally biased, and always limited perception of things, not assuming that they carry any absolute truth. I write from a low-intensity context of the global north].