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Our internal 'map'

A few years ago, my partner and I spent some considerable time with a traditional Aboriginal man. Whenever we travelled together on the land, he was always able to find his way, even if we were in unfamiliar surroundings.

Aboriginal rock carving, Central Australia


A few years ago, my partner and I spent some considerable time with a traditional Aboriginal man. Whenever we travelled together on the land, he was always able to find his way, even if we were in unfamiliar surroundings.


As we rode in the car, he always sat quietly, grounded deeply in his body. With his body he listened to the spirits of the places where we were and then gently pointed out the directions: “Take that trail, go over that hill, drive past that bush.” The land was not separate from him and his ‘map’ an internal one.


At one stage I met with him in the city. I asked him if he was also able to find his way amidst the buildings, signs, cars and roads. He grinned back at me, waving his hands in front of him and said, “Too many tracks here.” He then sat back, pondering and quietly taking in the people around him. After a short while he looked at me, shook his head, and indicating his body with a wave of his hands and then pointing to the region of the hara, said, “Not connected. They can’t feel where they’re going.”