Being Touched by the Earth's Metaphoric Wisdom

07 Jun 2014 5:24 PM | Kim Hermanson, PhD

I recently heard someone say that when we have awareness of earth, air, water and fire it’s easier for the body to heal. Not all of the metaphoric images that show up in Doorway Sessions come from the natural world. But…the most transformative ones do. When my clients touch, and are touched by, the earth's metaphoric images, profound shifts happen.

When we work with metaphor, we draw on the wisdom of the natural world, just as native peoples did. As human culture developed formal language systems, human life became more abstracted from the natural world and we lost that rich connection with the earth’s metaphoric wisdom. One of the things I love about the metaphoric realm is that it allows us to experience being deeply in the world that we share with the creatures around us, not out of it.

In his book Metaphor Therapy, Richard Kopp writes:

It is suggested that long before humans spoke or thought in metaphor, and long before metaphor was the source of novelty and change in language and thought, nature spoke its own language of metaphorundefinedthe pattern that connects. Indeed, the metaphoric structure of reality in individuals, families, and within and across cultures may be seen as the expression in humankind of the metaphoric structure underlying the biological evolution of all living things.

As humans, we already are deeply connected to the natural world...we already have its language deep within us. The earth's metaphoric language is always speaking through us, whether we're aware of it or not.

Kim Hermanson, Ph.D. serves as adjunct faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She has taught at UC Berkeley, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology and Esalen Institute. Her latest book is Getting Messy: A Guide to Taking Risks and Opening the Imagination for Teachers, Trainers, Coaches and Mentors. She has co-authored articles and book chapters with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Her website is:


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