We are all indigenous people. We all carry that deep, distant relationship to where we originated, or at least to where we have grown. In the modern world this has become more diffuse and more complex, but in essence we all react to, and inter-react with, both the physical and the non-physical environment that surrounds us.
In eras gone by, people moved around less frequently and travelled fewer miles. Their attachment and association with the land of their birth and of their residence was probably no stronger than ours, but it was almost certainly more evident. Without the clutter and the clamour of our current way of living, the landscape - both geographical and metaphysical - that our ancestors inhabited, must have seemed more immediate, more important, more visceral.
For us in the emerging millennium, there is a temptation to adopt the trend that prevailed throughout the last century - that the interweaving of past lives with ancient geology was a feature of bygone days. Yet, dowsing and its related disciplines has brought the two back together and into sharp focus. Through the dowser’s craft, most of us can sense, and on a good day feel, the spirit of the land, even if it isn’t the land of our birth. Consciousness of such phenomena is rising, and it is gradually becoming more acceptable to admit to such sensations. Even historians and archaeologists - long time antagonists of such soft entanglement - are reluctantly returning to the fold. Stonehenge is no longer an interesting pile of stones next to the A303, but an extensive multi-layered landscape, with a life and a life-story of its own. So it is with the moors and the tors of the far south west.
Emma Cunis has come to appreciate this emerging awareness in her own life’s journey. “After university then a 20 years global business career, I became ill with ME/CFS so returned home to Devon, and used a holistic approach to regain physical health and emotional wellbeing - and to build a spiritual connection. Inspired to share this journey and encourage others, I retrained as a Health and Life Coach and then Walking Guide and Nature-Connection Facilitator.”
This talk was a catalogue with a theme - the inherent meaning for people like us in the everyday world around us. Emma has been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to travel the world, and to have visited many of the well-known - and some of the less well-known - sites of sacred significance to indigenous peoples across the globe. As we all know, it’s not so much where your journey takes you, but how you react and relate to the places that you do visit. Emma’s own situation may have brought her ‘home’, but she has brought the wisdom of the enlightened traveller with her.
Many of her images were of places in Devon and Cornwall, of Bodmin Moor and Dartmoor. Most of them are natural sites with underlying energy patterns and presences. Most have been there since the dawn of time, and certainly long before the arrival of homo sapiens. Yet humans have recognised and revered the special places, be they rock formations or water features, secret valleys or ancient woodlands. ‘We’ have respected the energies of place - they have taught us, and we have worked with them. Social mores may have morphed across the ages, but the energies remain in situ, to guide and to assist, if we have the understanding of how to be aware of them.
It is often difficult to discern if many of Emma’s chosen locations are entirely natural, or partly man-modified, but maybe that’s not a distinction that makes much sense, given the passage of time. Mankind has always tried to enhance the world around it, in ancient times by scouring shapes and patterns with hard rock on hard rock - and today by bulldozer and JCB. Shaping the living landscape is one of our enduring and ongoing activities.
In the case of logan (rocking) stones and propped stones, which may or may not have been placed, moved or sculpted, the distinction becomes even more blurred.
Perhaps the most subtle and significant of the ideas put forward in this presentation is that the pre-Roman tribes and clans were looking at many of these formations as first people. They were the first to see them and the first to interpret them. With our academic appreciation of the sequence of events, and of the impact of elemental forces we, unavoidably, see that world in a different light, through the filter of a different mindset. Those First People were observing and sensing their world and its energies from a very different and a very distant platform.
Here, Emma strikes a resonant chord with the Stoneseekers (Peter Knight and Sue Wallace), who have also been investigating this concept, via the medium of dowsing, in recent years.
Although her early career probably didn’t prepare her for this type of input in her maturing years, Cunis has learnt on the hoof to stand back, to sit awhile and to absorb the essence of a location. It sounds easy, particularly to those who have employed and enjoyed their dowsing for some while. But to someone used to the regime of business with its tight deadlines, bottom lines and fierce focus, such activities might have appeared only in the nice-to-have category - if they appeared at all.
The modern world works so hard to satisfy the basic needs of its inhabitants, by brilliantly applied learning, remarkably innovative science and technology and the grim, soulless endeavour of millions. Yet, despite their daily hunt for essential food, the perils of powerful and unfriendly wildlife and the merciless acts of their gods, in a way the ancients were already there. They were more at one with their surroundings than those of us with a raft of qualifications and hard-won recognition can ever be. It really can pay to stand back - and sometimes we have to be made to do so by our own interaction with the universe, as we see it.
Emma’s current activities revolve around her venture Dartmoor’s Daughter. In her own words “Rather than the route-marches of my younger days, Dartmoor’s Daughter walks are designed to offer an immersive experience that invite you/us into a deeper (re)connection with our bodies, communities, and with the land itself - so that we can be happier, healthier, and inspired to care for our natural world.”
Many thanks to Emma Cunis for brightening up our Sunday evening with a panorama of heart-lifting images - and for many interesting insights into the sentient, yet unseen, world in which we are immersed.