Caring for the membranes means also caring for the interiority of the membrane which can also be called the soul, precious interior, inner sanctum. That which is held within the membrane is an individuated interiority which creates the membrane and which the membrane protects and informs. Our villages and communities also have these sacred interiorities which we can tend to by tending to the membranes.

The village or community membranes are the membranes in the place where we live and work and where our community is located. The village membrane is all about place: location.

The community membrane exists at what we call the “village” level—those both human and other, which live together in a certain location. Within this overarching village membrane are nested layers of smaller, interconnecting systems, each held within their own membrane. All the varying systems are interconnected in a network or interwoven web. Here we reassert the thesis mentioned earlier: The health of the smaller systems’ membranes affects the health of the village membrane. Likewise, the health of the village membrane affects the health of the family and other membranes held within it. 

~Membranes of Hope

July Online Class – The Village Membrane: Learning to care for the spiritual well-being of your community and ecosystem

Genius Loci

A concept that closely encompasses and further explains the village membrane is the pre-Roman concept of the genius loci: spirit of place. The genius loci—spirit of place—defines how certain places are inhabited by unique energies that give them their signature or character, and therefore, power.

Poet-philosopher David Whyte tells us that:

“Genius is, by its original definition, something we already possess. Genius is best understood in its foundational and ancient sense, describing the specific underlying quality of a given place, as in the Latin genius loci, the spirit of a place; it describes a form of meeting, of air and land and trees, perhaps a hillside, a cliff edge, a glowing dream or a bridge across a river. It is the conversation of elements that makes a place incarnate, fully itself. It is the breeze on our skin, the particular freshness and odours of the water, or of the mountain or the sky in a given, actual geographical realm. You could  go to many other places in the world with a cliff edge, a stream, a bridge, but it would not have the particular spirit or characteristic, the ambiance or the climate of this particular meeting place. By virtue of its latitudes and longitudes, its prevailing winds, the aroma and color of its vegetation, and the way a certain angle of the sun catches it in the cool early morning, it is a unique confluence, existing nowhere else on earth” (Consolations 89-90).

Many of us recognize this in our own locations. When we travel to new places, we often recognize or feel the signature or stamp of a certain location as having an individuated or unique character. The genius loci can also be seen as the guardian of place. The membrane can also be considered in this way.

The village membrane encloses the ecosystems we are embedded within, which include “all our relations,” in this dimension and beyond. The village membrane is not only about the humans but very much the interconnectedness of all forms of life—plants, trees, water, animal, land, mountain, fungi, weather— held within the particular membranes.

Where the personal and family membranes are the bioenergetic layers and skins surrounding our bodies and a family system, the village membrane is very much about boundaries or containers of the place we inhabit and the communities we belong to.  Many membranes and boundaries arise organically from the system itself. Others can be constructed and agreed on by the humans who live there.

Often, if we sense a genius loci it may be the presence of an already enlivened and activated relationship between the sprits of place and previous humans which we can participate in.

We can also activate and initiate sacred places by locating, listening and interacting with the forces, energies, entities and biological lifeforms therein.

Being local to place

When you are local to place, the place knows you. It recognizes you. You have become intimate with it. It begins to miss you when you are gone.

Being local to place means you do not only live in a place, the place lives in you.

There are many ways this can happen. Caring for the village membrane is one of the ways this intimacy can be formed. When we care for the village membrane we go to places with the intention to listen, to get to know the local landmarks and spirits, the power points—waters, mountains, forests, the network of trees. Slowly, we make offerings, carry out ritual, show up with consistency to the friends we have made, become familiar with the characteristics of the ecosystem including flora and fauna. The place begins to root within us. It becomes an ally. Even when we are away, we can call on it for support.

Numina of place

Numina is another word that comes to mind when we speak of spirit of place. Numina is the word in the Italian tradition for the spiritual forces we work with to make things happen, influence outcome, bestow sacredness. When we impart power onto a person place or thing, that power we impart is numina. When we invoke a being, an action, a prayer, we are invoking their numina. We can add numina to a person place or thing but we can also deplete a place, person or thing of numina. We are always watching and paying attention to the balance of numina when we work with the village membrane.

That is why, if we take, we give. If we are given to, we offer back. This includes actions we may not think of as magical such as farming, mining, receiving information.

Ritual can confer, create and increase numina.

Intentionally tending to the spirit of a place—the village membrane—makes the experience better for all life forms within it. It is a great gift to your community to take up this work.  And it will transform your experience in ways magical and unexpected.

The July online class: The Village Membrane: Learning to care for the spiritual well-being of your community and ecosystem, will cover this and much more. Register here.

© Theresa C. Dintino 2024

Works Cited:

Whyte, David. Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words. Langley, Washington, Many Rivers Press. 2014.

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