Knowing the Land

I love visiting new places and exploring unfamiliar landscapes. It’s very easy to get excited about the unfamiliar, and the rush of discovery and encounter. The new view, the unfolding of a landscape that surprises at every turn – there are adventures to be had.

It’s all too easy (and I say this because I’ve done it) to come in for the first time, get caught on the wave of excitement and feel that you’ve got a deep and meaningful insight into a place. It’s possible (again, I’ve done it) to psyche yourself up into an especially magical Pagan mindset so that every part of the experience is charged with symbolic resonance and a sense of the divine. It’s easier to do this with an unknown landscape than a familiar one, because the unfamiliarity makes us pay more attention and tends to leave us more open to being awed.

It’s possible (yes, yes I have…) to come away from a very superficial encounter with a new landscape feeling powerful, charged up, spoken to… or whatever else it was that you wanted to feel.

Walking in a familiar landscape won’t give you that rush. When your feet know the shape of the land, and you’ve been there season after season, and you know what’s normal, and the land going about its own things and not therefore any kind of sign meant just for you… it takes effort to go out into the familiar and really see it. Seeing the familiar as magical is much harder work, because you have all the baggage of your everyday life and self in the mix.

What comes from a slower, deeper relationship with the land is less likely to make you feel big and important, and more likely to make you feel part of what’s around you (and thankfully yes, I’ve done that too).

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

6 responses to “Knowing the Land

  • manonbicycle

    Repeatedly traveling through a familiar landscape for many years in different seasons can be a very deep experience, for me a sense of great love develops for that landscape.

    Near to me is a bridleway of about 6 miles, over the years I have literally covered thousands of miles along it; walking, running and cycling. Always a joy to traverse.

    A great inspiration for me here is Philip Carr- Gomm’s classic bookThe Druid Way.

  • Aurora J Stone

    This is so very true, Nimue. There is such richness in feeling part of a place, where familiarity breeds not contempt but connection. It comes from the knowing that enables deeper linkings. A very timely piece for me, thank youl

  • David

    Lovely writing, Nimue (as ever). When I find a special place in the woods, I often find myself tidying up the twigs and branches and piling them into a mound. Of course for thousands of years, we humans would have done this is a matter of course to build fires. I seldom light them, though I might if a friend or family member has recently died. There’s something really satisfying about coming upon the spot months later with the fire sat ready for lighting.

    Best wishes,


  • Christopher Blackwell

    Limited to my walker, Ib spend most of my time on a very limited portion of my land, perhaps 3/4 acre of my 3 and 3/4 acres of desert land. So that is most of my focus.

    However I do notice the various changes to that small patch of ground, the coming, and going of the smaller cooler weather plants, the changes of the longer term year round plants, the various animals, and insects as well.

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