Becoming Intimate with the Earth
by Pauline Le Bel

 There is a compelling new narrative for the world—a soul-stirring
story that recreates the role of humans and offers hope in
these challenging times.
Becoming Intimate with the Earth invites
the reader to live inside this narrative and to embrace the
blessing as well as the shadow of modern culture.

It seamlessly weaves together our new science-based
cosmology, the traditional wisdom of indigenous people,
and the author’s passionate engagement with life.

186 pages - soft cover
Includes poems, graphics, intimacy practices, resources


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 "Pauline’s book is a love letter to the intimate relationship of a living being nested within the caring embrace of life. It is an Elder’s gift of wisdom to those who would follow her footsteps into a close and sensual practice of oneness with the planet. It is an ode to and a canticle of belonging guiding our hearts to a deeper relationship with each other, with our communities and with the universe that birthed us into being. You will finish this book wiser, more open and inspired to engage in a daily recommitment to your place in the web of life."
                              Chris Corrigan, Open Space Facilitator.

  CFP Home                                                                             Press Release
  Flourishing Earth Project

Table of Contents

The Ways of Intimacy

About the Author
(Or just scroll down)



Introducing Pauline
Born Into a Story
Introduction to the Ways of Intimacy

 The Way of  Wonder

The Way of  Emptiness

The Way of  Imagining

The Way of  Transformation

The Way of Community 

Intimacy Practices
Recommended Reading
Recommended Viewing
Resources and Links
About the Author


“… an insightful, creative, compelling and very readable presentation of this vitally
              important message … I have been inspired by reading this book!”
                          Peter Berry, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Introduction to the Ways of Intimacy

Twenty years ago, I read a book by Matthew Fox called Original Blessing. It stopped me in my tracks. Matthew Fox is a distinguished theologian who has authored 30 books. He is known for his scholarship, his love of life, his passion for justice, and his courage to tell the truth. Here was a priest telling me I was not born with Original Sin, a model used by the Catholic Church that assigned guilt and awakened shame. Rather, said this radical priest, I was born with Original Blessing. Here was a story to revolutionize the purpose of the spiritual life. The Old Story that we were sinful and needed to be redeemed by prayer and sacrifice was being replaced by a more empowering, life-affirming story: the Universe welcomes us, our arrival is a blessing. All life is a blessing.    
          Matthew Fox was calling for a return to the early mystical tradition of Christianity, which was Earth-honoring. He outlined four paths to a spiritual life—the Via Positiva, the Via Negativa, the Via Creativa, and the Via Transformativa. They became wholesome, powerful guides for me. Years later, I was introduced to the wisdom of Joanna Macy, a Buddhist scholar, eco-philosopher, environmental activist, and the author of eight books. Macy is a highly respected voice in the movements for peace, justice, and ecological renewal. She has created a revolutionary framework for personal and social change in her workshops, The Work That Reconnects.
       I participated in one of these workshops and observed how people are supported to transform despair and apathy into collaborative and constructive action. When I came across Joanna’s Personal Guidelines for a Good Life, I was struck by how they resonated with Matthew’s four paths. Come From Gratitude was the first of her guidelines, followed by Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, Dare to Vision, and Roll Up Your Sleeves.
       In the writing of this book, I allowed myself to be inspired by the wisdom of these two sages while creating my own paths—paved with stories—to deepen our relationship with the Earth. I call them “Ways of Intimacy.” I believe achieving a deep intimacy with our planetary home is a true spiritual practice, as well as being necessary for the survival of our species.
       Each Way of Intimacy comes to life through stories from my own experience and the experience of others. Each Way is further enhanced by an Intimacy Guide, based on my understanding of The Four Elements. Ancient Western philosophers observed a pattern of expression in Nature they called the Four Elements. Air, Fire, Water, and Earth were considered to be the prime building blocks from which everything in the world is made up. I chose Air to be our Guide in The Way of Wonder; in The Way of Emptiness, Fire; in The Way of Imagining, Water. Soil (Earth) will be our Guide in The Way of Transformation; and I invited Trees to guide us in The Way of Community, since they are a supreme model for Community.
       You will also find suggestions for an Intimacy Practice at the end of each chapter, and more practices at the end of the book, because intimacy is not just a feeling, it’s a practice. When you love someone, you celebrate their birthday, give them a card, a present, and tell stories about them; you hug them and let them know you love them in all the many small rituals you create and practice. It is much the same with our relationship to Mother Earth. Our intimacy depends on a regular practice. My suggestions come out of my own practice. Some will resonate more than others and I encourage you to create your own intimacy practices.
       I occasionally use the word “Gaia” as another name for our planet. Gaia was the Goddess of the Earth to the ancient Greeks; she was offered a new role by James Lovelock, a British chemist, doctor, inventor, and creator of the Gaia Hypothesis. In 1965, Lovelock worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California on methods of detecting life on Mars. He was exploring the concept that life on a planet could be detected by the chemical composition of the atmosphere. Because the atmosphere on Mars was so different from that of Earth, he concluded that Mars was lifeless. It also led him to believe that Earth is not just a planet with life on it, but rather a living system. It was his neighbor, William Golding, author of Lord of the Flies, who suggested he call his idea “Gaia,” to honor the fact that Western science was rediscovering what the ancients had intuited—Earth is alive and we are part of her life.
       Naming a scientific theory after a Goddess did not sit well with many scientists, but the name remained irresistible to many, including Lynn Margulis, a microbiologist who had come to the same conclusion as Lovelock. Margulis theorized that microorganisms had given birth to the Gaian system and they continue to be its foundation. She wrote extensively about the Gaia hypothesis. It’s a beautiful model and metaphor for our time, a compelling new way of understanding life on our planet.
       For me, being intimate with the Earth means seeing all of Earth as sacred, all ground as holy ground. Holding this view means I will reflect carefully before I dig, plant, or alter the landscape in any way. For years, I have been inspired by the wisdom of indigenous people. Although I resonate with their sacred relationship to Mother Earth, I’ve had very little contact with my red sisters and brothers—part of the sad legacy of colonialism.

I traveled far outside my comfort zone to meet with them, not to take on their ways—I have my own ceremonies, my own traditions—but to participate with them in the honoring and protection of Mother Earth, to be with those who have a long tradition of belonging to the land. I was awkward at first. I’m still awkward, aware of my mistakes, my lack of understanding of their protocols, their need to protect their sacred knowledge. I have made every effort to be respectful of their ways in this book.
       Most of us are familiar with the “stars” of the environmental movement—the scientists, the activists, the journalists, the artists, the indigenous leaders, those who carry on the legacy of Rachel Carson, author of The Silent Spring. I admire them tremendously. They do vital work. But activist Ralph Nader believed all justice begins with ordinary people doing ordinary things.
       So I’ve included “snapshots” of regular folks, like you and me, regular folks who care about the Earth, who tell new stories with their lives, who use their talent and their passion to make a difference. They volunteer their time in a variety of intriguing ways to heal our relationship with the planet. They’re not paid for this work. They do it because they love the Earth, because they are intimate with the Earth in their own special way. They range in age from 5 to 82; and they live in my neighborhood. They are my Local Heroes. They inspire me. Perhaps they will also inspire you.
       The Ways of Intimacy are not linear. They won’t necessarily occur in the order I have set them out, and they will tend to recur as they spiral in and around each other. You may find that they work in a different order for you, and you may come up with your own ways of intimacy. That would make my heart glad.   

“It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the Earth in the contemplation of her beauty to know of wonder and humility.” Rachel Carson





















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About the Author

    Restless seed
    held and nurtured in
    Gaia’s womb

    eager to open
    to stretch to the light
    like you
    I long to bud
    to bear fruit
    to lavish the world with my gifts
    and let the wind scatter
    my seeds across the land.

     Pauline Le Bel


Pauline Le Bel is a masterful storyteller, Emmy-nominated screenwriter, and award-winning novelist for The Song Spinner. She is a professional singer and has recorded five CDs of her original music. For her passionate portrayal of French singer, Edith Piaf, in a play she co-wrote, reviewers named her “a national treasure” and “a musical instrument linked to a soul.”

A provocative keynote speaker, she has been called “an aphrodisiac of ideas.” Her poetic, musical telling of the Evolutionary Story of the Universe has received praise from participants, educators, and the scientific community.

Pauline has facilitated various eclectic, hands-on, voice-on workshops, including Vocal Gym and Make a Joyful Noise—vocal playshops for singers and non-singers—and Kiss the Crone workshops for women of all ages who want to access the wisdom of their inner Crone. She also offers one-day or weekend workshops on Becoming Intimate with the Earth.

Pauline’s passion and life’s work is the integration of music, science, nature, and spirit for the benefit of the entire Earth Family. She lives on Canada’s west coast.

For more information about her music and her workshops, you are invited to visit her website:


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