Nature Transmissions

The Truth About Land Ownership

environmentalism nature intuition Nov 07, 2023

Land ownership is a social construct. It is a societal agreement that only stands up if we all agree to it. And even then, we don’t have a claim to the land, only the right to use it. The idea that land can belong to us is a false myth, perpetuating the belief that we are able to control and dominate the Earth. The truth is that we are completely dependent on the Earth to sustain us. We belong to the land, not vice versa.

“The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth.
All things are connected like the blood that unites one family.
Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.
The earth is sacred and men and animals are but one part of it.
Treat the earth with respect so that it lasts for centuries to come and is a place of wonder and beauty for our children.”

ā€• Extract from Chief Seattle

Although my husband and I technically own our little quarter acre off-grid property, we were not able to get title insurance on it. The same is true for most people in our neighborhood. Title insurance provides coverage for any future claims on your property, but the subdivision we live in only has proof of ownership going back to about 1960. Prior to that, all paperwork is lost. (I think I heard somewhere that there was a fire in the county courthouse.) These properties used to be owned by a sketchy company that stopped paying taxes and the land went to the state. It is now mostly bought by private citizens at auction. Still, we cannot get title insurance.

Does this make it feel kind of precarious at times? Yes. Could someone arrive on a dark horse out of nowhere and lay claim to my land and all the surrounding land and potentially take it away from me? It’s possible.

This uncertain situation has been a practice of non-attachment for me. I have had to release my attachment to the idea of ownership of my land and house. This is my home. I love and care for it while I am here. I am its steward. But when I die, bury my bones below it and let it go.

This land does not belong to me, though I belong to this land.

Wars great and small throughout time have been perpetrated because of land ownership. Somebody wants more land and so they start a war to take it over and lay claim to it. The other side must violently defend their land to keep it. If they lose, they lose their land and their home.

Even when land is given to people peacefully--such as by a United Nations Resolution after the partition of a British mandate as is the case with Israel, or through further UN Resolutions and peace accords such as the attempt to establish self-ruled Palestinian states—wars continue to ensue to defend the land given peacefully.

This is an over-simplification, but it is still true.

Consider your own claim to your private land in the United States that you love and care for. By the law of eminent domain, the federal government has the right to seize your land and convert it to public use. They can do this either by outright taking it from you or restricting your use of it to such a degree that it constitutes a taking. Yes, they must economically compensate you for it, but does that make it any better? Because of eminent domain you can never actually own your land, you can only provisionally own the rights to it.

There was a time when land was widely used for the common good. In many pre-feudal societies in Europe, land was commonly held and not privately owned. Families were able to use the common land for agriculture, grazing animals, or hunting. There were also nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes that had systems of communal grazing lands.

Around the 12th century, following the introduction of the feudal system (which capitalism grew out of), common lands became appropriated and enclosed to increase the efficiency of agriculture and the value of land. These enclosures marginalized many poor people and especially affected elderly and unmarried women who became vehement protestors of the loss of common land rights. The Witch Trials not coincidentally soon followed with the added “benefit” of eliminating these protestors.

Pre-colonial Native Americans had many different systems of property ownership, but often land was commonly shared and regulated. Usually, land was considered to belong to the entire tribe, though there were clear boundaries of where their tribal land ended and began. Starting in the 17th century, European settlers came in and pushed Native Americans off their land eventually resulting in a forced migration 200 years later onto reservations. The indigenous people of North American lost 99% of the land they historically occupied.

We are the children of this planet and Mother Earth takes care of us, making sure that we have everything we need to continue to survive. Like teenagers, we are mean to her, even though we need her more than ever; we abuse her and berate her even though we love her more than anything. It’s time to grow the f*ck up.

The bombing of citizens is also the bombing of the land. If we love the land so much that we’re willing to kill people for it, then why are we bombing the sh*t out of it and destroying it? Why are we threatening nuclear fallout? Why are we melting the glaciers, polluting the seas, tearing down forests? This time for rebellion and individuation from Mother Earth is over (still using the teenager analogy here). It is time to take responsibility for our actions. Stop fighting and waring and make peace with reality. We need to take care of each other, of ourselves, of our Mother. Otherwise, there will be no land left to fight for.

We can each show our gratitude for the Earth by participating in a reciprocal relationship with her. You may do this physically through conservation stewardship, regeneration, or permaculture. You can also be in relationship with the Earth by shifting your consciousness to understand that she is alive and not an object for exploitation, and living your life in this truth. Nature Intuitives can do this energetically with your love and attention by sending healing energy to the land when it is needed and helping to clear the pain and violence inflicted. (If you are interested in learning more about becoming a Nature Intuitive, check out my online class, Earth Sensory Perception.) This is only the first step in a recommitment and re-memebering of our true relationship to the land and our planet.

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