Several years ago, I was walking with my wife and a longtime friend in the woods near our house. My friend had moved away with her family more than a decade earlier and she was now back in town to nurture her friendships. It was a beautiful summer day — not too hot, the nearby river murmuring, and our mouths alive with the astringent tartness of thimbleberries. Like the river the conversation flowed from the mundane to the personal. It was a reconnecting walk.
At some point, my friend shared how she was having trouble in her marriage and had been recommended a book, The Five Love Languages, which she found helpful. As we learned, it suggests that human relationships are nurtured through five primary “love languages”, or styles of expressing love and intimacy. And how in turn relationships can fray when these languages are not recognized or appreciated. The secret to healthy relationships, then, is to be able to identify and value these languages: the language of touch, of giving notes or other gifts, of quality time together, of verbal affirmation, or of acts of service (think folding clothes or warming the car in winter) for another. While this discussion did make me stop to ponder my own love languages, something deeper gave me pause.
For decades I’d been working nationally on policy and advocacy at the intersection of health, community, and the environment. I’d begun to question whether there was a different way to truly restore and heal broken relationships —within community and the natural world—that felt central to my work and who I was.
On a heating planet, when the oceans and the land and the wombs of the community of life are filled with plastic and laden with toxics, I was curious about love languages for our living planet. Do they exist? Who speaks them? Could they be re-learned, shared, and normalized? I understood the power and science of gratitude practice to improve mental health and rewire neural pathways. How might we heal and transform our relationship to the living Earth if we led with love?
This curiosity birthed the One Sacred Earth Project, essentially a website that anonymously crowd- sources gratitude for the natural world and the gifts of nature (including self and other humans—yes, we are gifts) while aggregating them into an invocation, a gratitude poem, for life on this planet. And through a simple, anonymous questionnaire, participants are asked about their love languages for planet Earth. Do they leave gifts, do they share words, take on tasks, or leave notes?
We are learning a lot. The short answer is that there are indeed many love languages for the natural world. Through the One Sacred Earth Project, community groups and organizations are co-creating gratitude poems which are being used to discuss, honor, share, and elevate the gifts of nature. As well, this exploratory practice is helping people learn more about themselves as individuals and collectives within the community of life. Our connection to the living planet, expressed in myriad ways, is a portal to the ineffable—a state of oneness and connection with the vast web of existence.
While psychedelic medicines are not the only way to touch and experience this mystery, they are a powerful way to access oneness. Research informs us that the mystical experiences evoked by psychedelics may be the primary transformative element of the psychedelic experience, providing lasting relief from psycho-spiritual distress. It is a gift of the medicines. Research also shows how psychedelic medicines can confer an increase in nature relatedness. While this shift may somehow be explained by a dampening of the default mode network, I prefer to think of it as the medicines of nature calling us humans home.
What feels clear is that there is some juice, some energy, something worth exploring at the nexus of psychedelics, spirit, nature, community, and self. As part of this exploration, PRATI partnered with the One Sacred Earth Project to crowd-source expressions of earth gratitude from within the psychedelic community. Towards this end, we co-created the PRATI Earth Day 2021 Invocation (see below). It is something we share and discuss in our PRATI KAP trainings. I imagine a 2022 invocation that is read continuously at a days-long gathering, as the energy of the words flows outwards, permeating the air, the soil, and the water into our hearts and the cosmos.
I’ve come to realize that while advocacy and policy are still needed, the secret sauce for healing ourselves and our relationship with our communities and this planet is both within us and all around us. We can call it love, spirit, oneness, or the great mystery. It beckons us to step right in. Perhaps you are feeling this, too, ready to reconnect and experience the sacred call in your own potent, life-affirming ways. Regardless, I am grateful to know that I’m not travelling alone. Onwards!
Earth Invocation 2021
I am grateful for the vastness and incredible diversity of all life. For the ocean and the world within a drop of water, the whale and the octopus and the crow and the tadpole and the fur and fins and slime and coolness and warmth. The variety of means of propulsion and of mating and intelligence and all forms of life. The abundance is awesome to contemplate. It is a respite from people, a respite from engineering, from tastes from modifying, from human laws, from preferences and needs and wants. It provides logic and an order as well as an unpredictability and randomness that I find soothing.
I am grateful for my health, thankful that god always provides what I need, that Nature provides us everything we need; plants, plant medicines, herbal medicines, that help heal and restore the body, allowing us to reclaim our spirit and soul. I feel one, with nature, all the time.
I am grateful for the green that surrounds me and the colors of flowers. They inspire joy, calm and a sense that everything is ok and beautiful. And, make me feel in peace.
I give thanks for the gift of my new baby girl. She is the most amazing, profound example of the natural world, working in perfect order that I have ever experienced; a constant reminder of the perfect genius of nature.
I give thanks to Rocky Mountains worldwide. Their solid presence, altitude, and winter’s snow grounds my soul, lifts my spirit, and thrills me.
I am grateful for the colors from the Earth. Organic Earth color from plants, soil and minerals, are vibrant and life- filled.
I am grateful for the beauty of the Sonoran Desert — the magical plants, animals, and confluence of human cultures that make this place vibrantly alive, a source of deep healing and meaning. This community of conscious beings and animistic nature makes me feel peace, joy, awe, and reverence bringing me a sense of deep connection to the divine. I feel nurtured in my heart and soul.
I salute the setting Sun, a very special gift just for me. The peace, calm and beauty at the penumbra of dusk connects me with a higher consciousness.
I am grateful for my communion with Nature and give thanks to remember all that which continues to revolve around me.
Thank you warm radiant sky and slender leaf, calm stag watching over the little fawns. I bask in the receiving arms of the world around me, in me. Nourished. Deeply breathed. Secure.
I am grateful to be in and part of nature. I give thanks for the ecosystem that allows me to live.
I give thanks for the tall pine tree on my street, the owls that hoot at night, and the expanse of the Grand Canyon. The tall pine calms me, reminds me to be present, to do my part. The owls are my ancestors guiding me speaking to me encouraging me. The Grand Canyon is my place of renewal.
I’m grateful for the gift of the natural world – the woods, the rivers, the mountains. The natural world restores my true essence, the sounds hum my nervous system back to homeostasis, and my senses open to the beauty awe and divine intelligence of everything around me.
I am grateful for the majesty and beauty of the Rocky Mountains. These mountains remind me of the grandeur and power of Nature. They have stood in our midst for generations reminding me of how small we humans are in comparison and how our time here is limited.
I give thanks to the wind as it gently moves the leaves above my head and the way nature speaks to me in this way, quieting my anxious mind. This gentle reminder brings me home, back to myself, where I am one, in the moment. I am grounded and humbled by this reminder.
I am grateful for the smell of the morning air, and the feeling of the breeze against my skin. I give thanks to the earth for all its processes that sustain and inspire life. With each draw of breath, I feel cared for and nourished by the fresh air this earth provides. It allows all beings and substances to simultaneously sustain, grow, and change.
I am grateful for the trees, for the trees mirror my desire to be rooted to the earth, communicating with my brothers and sisters, exchanging breath with all living things, receiving the gifts of water and weathering the challenges of each season.
I am grateful for the rich, vibrant web of nature in the mountains and forests of Colorado. I feel blessed that I can immerse myself in this natural world and shed my created self to return to my natural self. I feel at home and at peace.
I give thanks for the endless flow of the universe that moves through the sunshine, in the air, in the rocks and in the waters. It reveals itself through both life and death that our lived experience is equally of both. Nature holds all in every moment and I am part of this current; I co-create it. This flow is both within me and more than me. All is sacred.
This invocation is a joint project between the Psychedelic Research and Training Institute (PRATI) and the One Sacred Earth Project and was co-created through submissions by the psychedelic community. On occasion, to create a flow and sense of consistency, words may have been slightly altered, added, or omitted. The raw data can be used to create multiple different iterations. This is but one version.
Through psychedelic medicine PRATI nurtures a new approach to mental health, and illuminates a pathway for individual and planetary healing. We do so by expanding professional capacity for transformational care, restoring a relational paradigm of health and healing and conducting clinically relevant research.