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It was as desolate a stretch of road as you're likely to find in a state with a population exceeding four million. The horizon stretched unbroken until it disappeared over the edge of the world. Warm late afternoon light bathed the shortgrass prairie. A firm breeze swept across the bed of Wildcat Canyon and made the distant windmill spin. I couldn't hear it, being upwind, but I knew what it would sound like - a rhythmic, metallic creak and a groan as the head turned to follow the wind. I knew the smell, rusted metal and alkaline water.

And not just from this lifetime. I let the sun and the wind and the memories wash over me, a past life on the High Plains when my fastest transport had precisely one horsepower. And a saddle. It was, to quote Yogi Berra, deja vu all over again. I often find myself on spiritual trips as well as physical ones. It seems a break from routine helps me break other barriers as well.

Now, obviously, you shouldn't leave your body while you're doing sixty in a fifty-five zone. But a nice side trip from the safety of a tent or a hotel room can be quite informative.

This article isn't going to cover how to astral project or do a past life journey. There are links at the bottom of the page for articles which cover that.

What I want to discuss is listening to the land and the structures on it, both to connect to your own past and to its present energy. And developing a more personal, closer relationship with our Mother.

How can you tell if you've been to a place before, when you had on a different body? Are you emotionally drawn to it, or repulsed by it? Do you consume books and movies about it? Is the Convention and Visitors Bureau bookmarked on your computer? These are a few hints.

If you find the idea of visiting the place abhorrent, and your family confirms you didn't suffer a traumatic summer trip there as a child, perhaps you suffered a traumatic incident there in a previous incarnation. To further investigate, try a past life journey with something from or about that area as a focus tool. Be prepared for the proverbial "bad trip", though.

If the idea excites you, you can try the same thing. Or, if the real world permits, take a vacation there. Once you've found something that feels familiar and safe, let yourself go and see what you see. If you want the help of the land, give it something. Water, bread, fruit and beer are usually good gifts. Tell the land what you want to do, and that you would appreciate any input it has, positive, please, but, if you feel up to it, tell it you'll accept the negative, too. (I feel each area has its own personality. Some are distinctly male, some female, so I'm using the neuter.)

You may get a cradle-to-grave past life flashback. This is highly unlikely. More common is an isolated scene from a life you may or may not recognize. Say thanks and move on. More will come later, if you need to know it. Chances are, if you are borderline obsessed with an area, you do need the info and will get what you need when you need it.

So what do buildings have to do with anything? The two-year-old K-Mart, probably nothing. It's the Twinkies you want from there. The hundred-year-old church, much more likely to be significant. Make a small donation (they help the poor, too), go in, have a seat, and meditate for a few. The older the edifice, the more time you'll have had to interact with it. And the more lifetimes. Who's to say you didn't visit the Colliseum in Rome in 1213, 1540, 1850 and 1926?

Now let's talk about your mother. No, not your mitochondrial DNA donor. Earth herself. As I've said, I feel each area has its own personality. Each area is sacred, none more so than any other. That said, the energy is vastly different between, say, New York's Central Park and Devil's Tower in Wyoming. I've been to both. I know of what I speak.

Still, everywhere has something to say, and it's been my experience that it's more than happy to have someone listen. Again, give a gift. If you are a Reiki practitioner, give it Reiki. Another healing modality? Go for it. Give it water or a snack. All you have is you? Offer your love and respect. Tell the land you are thankful for the opportunity to share. Then sit, stand or lie quietly and listen. Feel the air. Hot, cold, just right? Is there a breeze? Dry or humid? Look at the ground. Grass, rock, dirt, mud? What sort of plants are there? Are they native, or were they planted by man? What about water features? Lake, river, stream, all of the above? How does it relate to the water that comes out of your faucet at home? At the place you're staying the night, presuming there is a faucet?

If you're camping, invite the land to speak to you in your dreams. Try to establish the nature of the spirit of place. Is the area male or female? Are there guardians from older times there? Who were they when they wore flesh? Why did they stay? Don't demand answers. Everyone, including you, has a right to privacy.

So how do you know it's the land spirit you're talking to, not Evil Igor from down the road? Does the spirit feel natural? What does it ask or ask of you? If you feel the requests are unreasonable or counter to the maxim to harm none, break off the contact and ask your guides to protect you. Tell the land itself what happened and let it deal with Evil Igor. Believe me, the gods and spirits have a much more finely tuned sense of justice than we short-lived humans could ever have.

It isn't a bad idea to surround yourself with love and white light, or whatever is your image of protection, any time you are talking to strangers, whether they currently have bodies or not. Look below for a link to tips on psychic protection.

Finally, wherever you go, try to be a good guest. Pack out your trash, and someone else's if you can do so without getting a disease. Be careful with candles and camp fires. Don't take two hour showers. Always leave an appropriate tip at hotels and restaurants. Offer to help with the cleanup at your friend's house. Bring a hostess gift. Take only photos and try not to even leave footprints.

Be safe, too. Let someone know where you're going and when to expect you back. Lock the door to the hotel room whenever you're there. Don't leave valuables in your room, your tent, or the visible areas of your car. Don't meditate alone in Central Park. Wear a helmet when you climb, and don't climb areas considered sacred by the people whose ancestors lived there. You wouldn't want someone sitting on your altar, would you?

Take the opportunity to know the area where you're going, not just what the travel guides say. Let Mother Earth tell her story to you, too. And let your higher self tell your story to you. Take a trip this summer - inside and out!

ASTRAL PROJECTION by Karen Charboneau-Harrison

PAST LIFE RECALL RITUAL by Karen Charboneau-Harrison

PSYCHIC SELF DEFENSE by Karen Charboneau-Harrison

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