Did you know the Midwest is the most prosperous hub of holistic healing and spirituality? According to Brian C. Wilson, Professor of American Religion at Western Michigan University, “The Midwest, which despite conservative ‘heartland’ myths to the contrary, was long a center of metaphysical activity!” Maybe you thought California was the place to be for spiritual growth? Historical researcher Phillip Jenkins has written, “The ‘distinctiveness of California’ in this regard has been ‘exaggerated’ in both scholarly and popular imaginations to the detriment of regions such as the Midwest, which long hosted a thriving metaphysical subculture almost since its settlement.” (John E. Fetzer and the Quest for the New Age, by Brian Wilson)
What creates such abundant, flourishing spirituality? In working with people for twenty years, and hundreds of hours of listening to the land, I have a few ideas:
1. We experience the four seasons. Land and nature have a direct effect on our psyche. Many studies have shown that having a window that views nature increases your rate of healing. A University of Michigan psychology study of 5,000 spiritual awakenings showed that 70% were in nature.
The darkness and lack of sunshine in winter gives us space to go inward, face our feelings, and reflect. I feel many who have not been shown the tools of self-acceptance and meditation would call this inward direction “bad” or label it as “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (S.A.D.). But what if the seasons are actually an opportunity to view our mind and heart from all sides?
The energy of fall invites us to let go and make room for the harvest. The consciousness of spring invites us into seeing beyond our conditions and opening to new beginnings. The energy of summer fires us up to play and follow our sensuous impulses.
Indigenous cultures place the seasons on the four directions. The four directions and seasons have long been a psychological framing for transformation and healing (south/summer, west/fall, north/winter, east/spring). Many people have trouble with transition, whether positive or negative (i.e. new job, divorce, marriage, new baby, death of parent) because we have not been taught how to allow the natural world to support us and/or essential tools to heal our pain. The seasons and four directions give a tangible model of the constant fluctuations of life and provide a container for deeper exploration into one’s soul.
2. Elements are also assigned in each direction. According to what I learned while studying out west, Michigan was called by some indigenous cultures “the land of the dragons”. Water is the element placed in the west. The lakes, so abundant in Michigan and the entire Midwest, call up our watery emotions to guide us into greater self-love. Waters’ swirl and flow encourages us to dive into the chaotic but fruitful journey of inner transformation.
Lake water and winter’s stillness create a holy space for people to look at their humanity. Our humanity (fears, patterns, limiting beliefs) are NOT bad and are NEEDED to become a living example of Spirit and Love. As I said in my book, Why Self Acceptance Is So Powerful, “As we love our humanity we realize our divinity.”
3. The Midwest has historical puritanical influences and The Dutch Reformed Church was specifically established in Michigan. Historical cultural assumptions of what ‘we must do’ to be worthy or ‘have to do’ to be loved, trap the Creative Intelligence waiting to express freely through us. The chick becomes strong from fighting through the shell. Likewise, I believe the fight to know that we are loved for who we are, and not for what we do, or how perfectly we obey a rule, is the fertilizer needed to birth someone into their true Soul’s calling.
“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” Henry Ford
Spread your wings wide as you meet resistance or pain, and the grace and inherent goodness of life will carry you higher.
Sept. 27, FREE, Aphrodite Rising Tribe open house workshop, 7:30-9pm: Sensuality, body acceptance and women’s empowerment based on the four directions and sacred sexuality archetypes.
Nov. 13, Self Acceptance Process Certification and Healers Training. One-year program, Tue., 5:30-10pm: Mentorship, personal healing, shamanic learning AND certification in Self Acceptance Process, Auricular Acupressure, Trauma Healing Homeopathy, Karuna Reiki, and TCM meridian balancing.