The first time I was aware of how an environment affected me was in 1994-1996. I had moved to Laramie, Wyoming to go to school. The years I was there I felt unsettled, unraveling. I eventually moved away, heading for Chicago (which presented its own environmental issues) and didn’t really connect my unease with the town. Over the next few years, whenever I would travel home to visit, stopping in Laramie to see friends, the general sense of bad energy would hit me. I eventually came to recognize that the town, for whatever reason, just doesn’t jibe with me.
I think that is one of the reasons I related so strongly with Khi Armand’s Clearing Spaces. It is a book full of advice in recognizing and diagnosing problems in one’s environment. Armand then offers practical advice on how to address those problems. He acknowledges, also, that some problems might not be fixed, and that, especially when dealing with genus loci, compromise might be necessary.
What I enjoyed about the book is that Armand discusses ways to treat the environment that don’t involve feng shui. In fact, he introduces several concepts and practices that I had never heard of before. For example, he talks about Ho’oponopono, a Hawaiian healing technique of reconciliation. The idea of coming to terms with your environment, rather than trying to impose your will on it, was particularly interesting to me.
The book is grounded in root work, shamanism and paganism, with an understanding of and reference to the cultures that contributed to those paths or “modalities”. This blend of various paths feels organic rather than forced in his prose. Armand also uses the term “technology” in references to practices like smudging, feng shui and the like. It’s a call back to past times when spells and charms were worked as practical matters alongside other, mundane activities.
The greatest benefit I got from the book, however, was the introduction to the term “helping spirits.” For years I have worked with Turtle, but eschewed the term “spirit animal” so as to not participate in cultural appropriation. No other terms ever encompassed what Turtle means to me, though. But when I read “helping spirits” it was like a light clicked on in my head! It’s not an exaggeration to say that learning this term has helped my relationship to Turtle grow and deepen over the last few months.
Finally, on a completely aesthetic note, this is one of the most attractively laid out books I’ve read in a long time. Flipping through it felt good. I spent some of my time reading, just looking over the pages, admiring the design. That sort of attention to the page space is completely in keeping with the rest of the book.