Welcome to Earth Sanctuaries. This site is dedicated to honoring the sacredness of Earth and fostering an intimate relationship between people, land, and the spirit that infuses all. I believe that the ecological crisis we are experiencing has been engendered by western culture’s pervasive separation of nature and spirit. Hope arises when we heal our sense of separateness.
Some ways I have found to do so are by: getting to know the native plants and animals where I live; honoring the ancestors of place; celebrating the seasons; creating garden sanctuaries in which to heal; pilgrimaging to sacred and re-sacralized landscapes at home and abroad; creating rituals that foster awareness of our connection; and participating in ceremonies that express gratitude to the endlessly beautiful and generous spirit of life that surrounds us. I have gathered words and images that I hope will inspire re-connection into four sections:
Pilgrimage Stories includes tales of journeying to sacred landscapes both at home and abroad. These stories contain such archetypal themes as liminality, healing, synchronicity, and transformation. They are about honoring the divine feminine, ancestors, and our plant-animal allies. These are stories about being in relationship to the wildness within us and in communication with both the wild of spirit and the wild of nature around us.
Garden Sanctuaries is dedicated to making creative spaces for communing with nature. There is a story about creating a Pollinator Garden and a photo gallery of the many butterflies and skippers who have come to visit. There is a Moss Garden article and a gallery of images of our Moss Garden Sanctuary. Here you will also find an Inventory of the native flora and fauna of our Forest Garden, a certified conservation garden.
Natural Communities honors our native plants and animals and the diverse and beautiful habitats in which they live. Native habitats are earth sanctuaries for the unique communities of plants and animals that live together in them. Here you will find illustrations of natural habitats in our mountain, piedmont, and coastal plain regions of North Carolina, my home. I hope these drawings of the sacred natural communities where I live will inspire you to savor and protect the wild lands around you.
Seasonal Celebrations includes reflections on both small seasonal rituals and large community multi-media Earth-based ceremonies, which honor our relationship to nature and spirit throughout the wheel of the year. Perhaps you will gain ideas for creating or participating in seasonal-awareness celebrations of your own, large or small.
Earth Sanctuaries was launched on January 1, 2018. It includes both current or recent stories and events as well as some past stories and ceremonies postdated to approximately when they occurred. I want to thank David, my partner in all these adventures, and our son Tristan Chaika for designing this beautiful website.
I hope you find something in these words and images to empower you on your own EarthSpirit honoring journey.
Betty Lou Chaika
Latest Articles & Stories
The Ceremonial Knife
When someone creates something–a writer a poem, an artist a visual object–it is said they must let it go, so their readers and viewers can receive the gift and take their own meaning... READ MORE
The Thanksgiving Visit
Tristan, our then 21 year old son, arrived home for Thanksgiving on Wednesday afternoon looking, as usual, like a large pack animal, his big backpack strapped on his back, his computer case... READ MORE
Everyday Acts of Practical Reverence
In Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer says, “One of our responsibilities as human people is to find ways to enter into reciprocity with the more-than-human world. We can do it through gratitude, through... READ MORE
The Stone Beings of Ridges Mountain
There is a place, partly imaginary, mostly real where tall gray beings sit in council on the top of a small mountain as if waiting for something to begin. Perhaps they are waiting... READ MORE
Summer Solstice: A Time for Renewal
This year we will celebrate with a small fire ceremony, but the summer before Covid, Summer Solstice was especially rich with diverse observances. Each celebration sprang up and flowered exuberantly, just as the... READ MORE
Spring Equinox: Prayers for Ukraine
This spring’s momentous challenges seemed to call for a different kind of equinox ceremony, but I didn’t know what. I felt the need to offer something beyond the familiar personal balancing ritual that... READ MORE
New Hope: Water Blessing Ceremonies
One April a friend and I left her office and passed through a veil into a magical world. Entering the forest was like stepping beyond an invisible curtain from unreality to reality. We... READ MORE
Wetlands: Holy Wells and Sacred Springs
When we come upon a spring bubbling out from beneath a tree on a wooded hillside it can seem magical–water emerging from inside the earth. Springs are a type of wetlands. Are wetlands... READ MORE