May 2022 | EARTH CONVERSATIONS: An interview with founder, Lily Sommer, and her associate Petra Burkhart
I joined Lily and Petra in 2021 for their winter series of twelve journeys and found them very powerful. Lily founded Earth Conversations and invited Petra to partner with her in this joint endeavor. We met on Zoom, as Lily is based in Denmark and Petra in Germany. Lily opened with her story.
I had a very conventional upbringing in a middle-class suburban area of Copenhagen with parents who had no sense of the spiritual and a father who was strongly against religion. But I had this whole inner life and wonderful connection to animals and nature. This had no reflection in the outer world. I was told it was my fantasy and that it wasn’t real. Because it wasn’t met, I didn’t recognize it as being real. All this wasn’t taught in school either. The emphasis was on the Western, logical mind.
In my late 20’s, I began finding meditation. Through that and this whole environment of other people with similar beliefs, my journey suddenly opened. I began to understand there were teachings about life and nature. I moved out of the city right next to a forest, and that forest really opened me up further and further. So, I began to trust more about what I felt, and in that trust, other beings trust you more. When you begin to take yourself seriously, it’s a journey of remembrance—of coming back to one’s own instincts and body. My story is far from unique in that way. And Earth Conversations was born of that trust and remembrance.
I thought I could create a small space for something else to be heard. It has taken quite a while to find its present form. I began it as a blog (see the opening ‘Journal.’ section on the Earth Conversations website.) And then I started making podcasts—(see the ‘Podcasts’ section —I’ve listened to a couple of wonderful ones!) I wanted to represent other people’s views. I realized that every connection with Earth is so individual. She knows us intimately, while in human form we are part of her, and she, therefore, knows how to reach us in ways intrinsically tailored to our being. I thought the more views I could represent the more pointers people could get to find how she communicates with them.
In 2018, I completed a certificate training program in Interactive Guided Imagery℠. The training in IGI℠ was through one-to-one and taught as a healing tool. Interactive Guided Imagery℠ is a tool helping people heal physically, mentally, and soul-wise, using their imagination as a communication bridge between those parts of themselves. I felt this alchemical substance—when energies or substances from inner and outer meet, then something new arises from that—and I see a lot of that in people’s journeys.
In Denmark, one can teach classes in Night School (Adult Ed.) so I decided to offer a class there on pain management using IGI℠. Even though we had only been taught this modality one to one, I thought I could help people manage their pain and get some experience in group work, and I saw the alchemical effect of people sharing their experiences. Their stories were touching each other.
Then, one day last year, instinctively, after pondering for a while, I took a leap of faith and sent an email out that said, “This is an experiment to provide a space of communion with Earth in a different way.” I feel the Earth is working with me, and because I have the tools and soul fabric, she can work through me. That gave rise to the first set of journeys, which was how Petra and I met.
It was the first time I shared my inner life in public—the connection I had with Earth. It was a very vulnerable time, trying to follow my instinctual nature, my intuition, and feeling the space to find a way and a rhythm for Earth to come through and do her work.
After a bumpy start, the group settled very well and almost everyone wanted to continue. Initially, we were going to meet from March through May, but we kept meeting weekly up until September. And so, I decided to continue the journeys, and I invited Petra to join Earth Conversations and somehow our connection was easy!
Everything we do has been voluntary. We decided to give a fall journey and thirteen new moon journeys for 2022. And we’ve done a winter journey and in April we offered a three-week Magnolia journey. Throughout May, June, and July we offer a summer one that will include a combination of dreams and imagery. Every journey is a new experiment.
Each meeting we begin with a clean slate ready for something to appear on it. Sometimes, the thread from Earth is very visible, and sometimes, it’s not so clearly visible. The minute we set anything in stone it will stop working. With groups, there’s a settling-in period. It’s about trust and leaning into this type of communication. It’s very organic and active according to who’s in the group, the Earth, the inner worlds, and sometimes even the stars.
Inwardly, it’s a magical work. The space is not for us but for Earth and what she needs, and as she is reaching out something is also reaching her.
We meet with the intention of being of service. We are who we are with everything we carry. Our body is Earth. Our psyche is part of Earth and so is the human collective. We can’t hide anything from her. She’s much wiser and can meet us where she needs to. It’s about meeting her where we are now.
We’re whole human beings and the Earth is whole. I find it’s more often about acceptance of everything. She would love to be loved as she is. I think it’s only the human mind that sees imperfections.
You can never block yourself completely from Earth, but sometimes there are things when a different attitude or perception could be better for that person’s connection.
The space works because it’s held from the inside out. We teach each other through our stories.
Petra: I’m from a very small village surrounded by forest. My father was a keen gardener and so I grew up around nature. When I was five, I had an accident with my eyes and the hospital doctors closed them for more than a month, and my inner eye started to see, my inner life began
The theme of the Earth came with Llewellyn Vaughan Lee’s work. I studied theology and German literature. I love stories and had a connection to spirituality and suddenly, I found a Teacher. I was thirty-five, and pregnant with my first daughter. Llewellyn’s work awakened a very new consciousness of the Earth and connection with Earth, one full of love.
In a woman’s gathering with Jackie Crovetto, I experienced more about listening to the Earth, just being in tune, and letting her guide. Jackie saw Lily’s notice and told me about it. I was happy when Lily invited me to join Earth Conversations. It’s such a beautiful, important work, and it has taught me a lot.
I asked Lily and Petra to say more about the journeys themselves.
Petra: Imagination doesn’t mean you have to “see” something. There are many different ways to be in this space and to feel something.
I happen to be visual. It’s just one way. For me, the beginning of the journey is to start being aware of one’s body. To feel one’s breath, and with this awareness, one can go slowly into the body, and there I can listen to my rhythm or my own heart or feel it as drums. For some people, one way is to connect through one’s heartbeat. With this, you are already there in the space and you can feel the Earth already there because it’s also her heartbeat, and the magical work starts.
When Lily guides, she offers you different signposts. Every person feels it in their own way. One might meet perhaps, an animal. Another might meet a tree or a waterfall. Earth relates in her language what is for you, and the communication begins. You can feel it and ask something or just be there and feel what’s around you. It’s given. It’s where you’re drawn or taken and met.
Lily: It’s as if you’re placed in a current where Earth is free to connect with you. When I began these journeys, I saw something happening already at the start of the meeting when people were ‘just’ socially interacting. I realized that something was trying to come alive through them because when we choose to step into the circle and make our intention clear, the Earth is already making the connection. The space is moving in us, even before and between the journeys. These everyday little things that people bring into the conversation sometimes carry a deeper need and I can sometimes “sniff” them out. They carry a very subtle and different energy mark and can be the Earth speaking. It becomes this weaving, living tapestry. So, sharing is so much a part of it. I saw the same thing in the Night Classes. Because the space is so alive, it doesn’t matter if we make mistakes. Because it’s coming from somewhere else, what needs to happen happens.
Petra: Suddenly, you see a pattern. It’s not even necessary to understand it. You see that it’s there and that’s enough. The Earth wants to be seen and listened to, and there’s a deep longing from it. And when we are meeting there is also a joy, so the space can come into life. Sharing our stories is deeply touching, because they’re so real, and the real always touches the heart.
Lily: The circle is sacred and there is a real communication. Because we keep our attention in the physical body while journeying the Earth, we are in contact with the touch of Earth throughout the journey. And because this circle is a held and given space something from the inner worlds or other dimensions can reach through you and touch Earth.
Petra: You can come out and have the feeling that every cell is dancing in the body.
Lily: It’s interdimensional. Something can cross over between the worlds.
Petra: It’s not traditional shamanic work. We stay very conscious during the journey. We remain anchored in the body. Our only intention is to be of service and to be used.
Lily: This space has been given for Earth. We’re aware of the whole instrument of our body. It’s not about sleeping, dreaming, or going off in a trance.
We are looking for a way to fund the work so we can keep doing it and devote more time to it. We’d like to expand this work with new offerings that are beginning to slowly take form. When we keep the work free of charge the Earth and inner worlds are free to work as well. It is not us that have created this space; we may be vessels and have work in holding it, following its lead, and honoring it but the space itself exists on the inner planes and is a gift. So how can we charge for it! We want the journeys to be free.
These Vast Bareheaded Cleaners
Spiraling high on valley thermals, their wings occasionally beat, bringing them closer, closer to circle above the meadow. Familiar black and silvery white undersides lilt and shift, beaks following a scent. One swoops down, lands, bounces a few paces to bury its head in a fresh-struck doe at the road’s edge. Two more hop to the carcass to begin the kettle’s meal. More settle on power lines nearby to wait their turn. Not a scrap wasted, they take their fill. Others dive in, these sharp-beaked, acid-strong earth cleaners, until engorged dusk and darkness drive them to silent roost.
Morning comes afresh to fan outspread wings above the fog straddling a barely living-dying oak, reaching for the heat of the oncoming sun. Our sister, Death, is bountiful―what mercy she shows her creatures! Our bodies, the first and last nourishment we receive and give to this beloved Earth.
From At This Table