Land Healing and Physical Healing for the Earth: A Druid’s Garden Guide

Mandala Medicine Garden

As we have been exploring on this blog, living in the Age of the Anthropocene means living in a time when human activity is radically reshaping the world.  Exponentially increasing human demands for resources are leaving many other lives on this planet threatened, endangered, and ending.  It is a very difficult time to hold space, bear witness, and work for change.

But despite the dominant narratives, humans don’t just have the option of doing damage to the world. We can also be a force of healing and good in the world. We can take up our original role as caretakers and guardians of the land, to heal, protect, preserve–and most of all, offer our care and love to the earth. There are many ways that we can heal the land, and regardless of where you live, your specific circumstances, your abilities, or your limitations, you can take up the path of land healing. This helps us bring forth a new paradigm, reconnect with nature, and become good ancestors for the future.

Land healing is a primary spiritual practice for me and is a major focus of this blog. To support you, this resource page compiles my many writings and posts on land healing. Truth be told, this will probably be my largest guide as I have written an enormous amount on this topic! A lot of this blog focuses on the intersection of spiritual practice with being a caretaker of nature–which includes land tending, wild tending, permaculture, and building the relationship between humans and nature.  That is, embracing the “earth-centeredness” of earth-based spiritual practice by directly living and inhabiting our amazing earth.

This guide is so large that I’m going to need more than one week to create it!  This will be part 1 of 2 (and then I will post the whole thing under the “resources” tab on my site for future reference). In today’s post, we cover frameworks, getting started, and physical land healing techniques.

Land Healing Book and Framework

For the most comprehensive overview with much revised and new content, consider reading my book Land Healing: Physical, Metaphysical, and Ritual Approaches for Healing the Earth from REDFeather (2024).  You can also join my Land Healer’s Network and connect with others doing this work. We have quarterly calls and share information with each other to support and nourish the earth.

Land Healing graphic exploring different levels fo connection
Land Healing Framework from Land Healing

There are so many ways that you can support and heal the earth. It can be very easy to get overwhelmed and lost when thinking about these options and how to begin or deepen your practice. Thus,  I use the following framework, described in this post and presented in the graphic here as well as my book, to help you find your way.

Physical Land Healing. Working to heal, regenerate, rewild, conserve, and protect the living earth with your hands in the soil and love in your heart. This may include a wide number of approaches such as permaculture practices, converting lawns to gardens, replanting damaged lands, rewilding, scattering seeds, wild tending, creating food forests, conservation, and much more.

Energetic Land Healing. All around the globe, human cultures have done ceremonies to support, nourish, protect, and energize the earth. People of many cultures recognized (and still do) that as part of our role as caretakers of the earth, we nourish the earth with our gratitude and offerings. This, in turn, Doing ceremonies of healing and blessing for the earth, in the same way that human cultures throughout many ages have done so. This includes raising energy, offering blessings, wassailings, and so much more to help protect, bless, and heal the earth.

Palliative Care. Unfortunately, so much of what is happening now is that so much of life on earth is being systematically and brutally destroyed by humans due to our increasing numbers, demands, and wants. This puts us in a difficult position–raising energy and doing blessings doesn’t always work in the face of severe damage and death and may end up being more damaging. This is why I originally split Offering energetic support for places that have ongoing damage and/or are being actively destroyed by humans into the “energetic healing” and “palliative care” categories. I reserve workings in this category for places that are having ongoing and long-term damage: fracking wells, acid mine drainage damage in rivers, mountaintop removal, destructive clearcutting, etc.  These are still primarily ritual approaches with some preservation and seed saving of the genetic legacy of life that is present there.

Self Care.  The need for us all to take care of ourselves in this difficult age is pressing, especially if we are going to bear witness and support the living earth. Healers often take up a path of healing because they know what is like to be hurting.  It is so critical that as we do any of this work, we nourish and support ourselves as well!

So with the framework above, I will now share not only material from these categories but some others.   The rest of this guide will offer introductory material and physical land healing techniques.  I’ll pick back up with the rest next week!

Taking up the Path of the Land Healer

One of the first questions people may ask is–why should I take up land healing? What do I do first? How can I do it well? Here are a series of posts that may help you explore land healing and adjacent frameworks that can support your work as a healer.

Physical Regeneration: Permaculture, Rewilding, Lawn Conversions, and Land Regeneration Practices

So now let’s turn to the physical work of regenerating the landscape! Doing this kind of work does require some knowledge and skills. I approach these practices from the perspective of permaculture design and rewilding–using nature’s own healing to heal the earth and working with nature as a partner in healing work.  Immersing yourself in learning about permaculture helps you recognize and learn the patterns of nature, how to work with nature for healing, and how to physically regenerate, heal, protect, and strengthen ecosystems.

Readings on Permaculture

I will continue to be posting regularly on this series–there is so much more to share!

Soil Building

Soil is the foundation of everything we plant and grow. And as various reports and sources show, we are losing topsoil at an alarming rate due to destructive farming practices.  Thus, I see soil building as a key land healing strategy.  Here are some soil-building techniques that work WITH nature and not against nature.

Refugia Gardening

Refugia Garden Design
Refugia Garden Design

Refugia is a major concept that I’ve been promoting and sharing for some time. Refugia is a concept discussed by E. C Pielou in After the Ice Age: The Return of Life to Glaciated North America among other places. In a nutshell, refugia (also called “fuges”) are small pockets of life that were sheltered from broader happenings on the earth that destroyed a lot of other places. These isolated pockets survived as a sheltered spot, a microclimate, a high point, and so on. When the glaciers receded and left a bare landscape devoid of topsoil or life, it was these refugia that allowed life to spread outward again, repopulating areas covered by glaciers. In the Anthropocene, that is, the time of human-dominated ecological change we are currently all experiencing, we again have larger inhospitable conditions for life (in the US alone, 40,000,000 acres of lawns currently in cultivation and 914,527,657 acres of conventional farmland, and the growing cities and suburbs with tons of concrete). And so, we have a situation where a biological life, generally, has a lot less space to grow and thrive unhindered.  As my post described earlier, we have evidence of the loss of biodiversity in a wide range of ways. A lot of us don’t have control over what is happening in the land around us, but we can work to help cultivate small spaces of intense biodiversity, spaces that preserve important plant species, then we can put more of the building blocks back into nature’s hands for the long-term healing of our lands.

Here is more on refugia!

  • Refugia gardening: My first post on the topic outlining the principles of refugia, where it comes from and the possibilities for refugia.
  • I recently offered a series of in-person workshops and presentations on Refugia–see thie page for handouts and presentations on refugia gardening,  with resources specific to Pennsylvania and the US East Coast.
  • One example of a refugia garden that I created at my parent’s house (in between homesteads when I was renting).
  • Some details about our current refugia which is the entirety of the Druid’s Garden homestead.

Rewilding and Seed Scattering

Another aspect of this is what we do in the broader world and how we can be a force of love, healing, and regeneration. This series of writings explores the wilds and works to rewild, reconnect, and scatter the seeds.  These practices can be done by anyone, including those who are nomadic, urban, or renting! Here are some writings and information:

Gardening and Sacred Gardening

Part of this work, is, of course, the garden itself! Any kind of garden is a wonderful way for you to connect to nature, give back, and build an ecosystem.  A wonderful space for you to learn, connect, and grow.  And of course, gardens work on both the metaphysical and physical planes.

Examples of Land Healing and Permaculture in Action

Wave Pattern in Garden
Wave Pattern in Garden

Here are some of the many examples of sites that I’ve written about and featured in the Druid’s Garden in various ways.

Land healing on a physical level offers you just an incredible opportunity to give back to the earth, make a difference, get to know the spirits of nature in new ways, and become a good ancestor.  I think thatif we could get most humans do to even a small amount of growing, that green connection would radically reshape the world.  I hope the above resources are useful to you as you begin or deepen a land healing practice!

And…that’s it for this week!  I’ll be back next week with the conclusion of this guide and after that, we’ll be tackling some other topics.  If there is anything you’d like to see me write about, please share in the comments! 🙂

Dana O'Driscoll

Dana O’Driscoll has been an animist druid for almost 20 years, and currently serves as Grand Archdruid in the Ancient Order of Druids in America. She is a druid-grade member of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids and is the OBOD’s 2018 Mount Haemus Scholar. She is the author of Sacred Actions: Living the Wheel of the Year through Earth-Centered Spiritual Practice (REDFeather, 2021), the Sacred Actions Journal (REDFeather, 2022), and Land Healing: Physical, Metaphysical, and Ritual Approaches for Healing the Earth (REDFeather, 2024). She is also the author/illustrator of the Tarot of Trees, Plant Spirit Oracle, and Treelore Oracle. Dana is an herbalist, certified permaculture designer, and permaculture teacher who teaches about reconnection, regeneration, and land healing through herbalism, wild food foraging, and sustainable living. Dana lives at a 5-acre homestead in rural western Pennsylvania with her partner and a host of feathered and furred friends. She writes at the Druids Garden blog and is on Instagram as @druidsgardenart. She also regularly writes for Plant Healer Quarterly and Spirituality and Health magazine.

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2 Comments

  1. Florence Priscilla Poupore

    Thank you so very much

    1. You are most welcome! 🙂

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