20 episodes

a podcast and gathering place for stories of embodied ecology.

What happens when we rub on the body of the earth, how does it brush back against us?

There is a certain fidelity required when we return over and over again to be shaped, imagined even, by the beings, the weather, the land forms, and the elemental powers where we live.

Let us seek:
intimacy across language,
intimacy across culture,
intimacy across species,
intimacy across consciousness.

Woman Who Rubs the Mountain Kendra Ward

    • Education
    • 5.0 • 2 Ratings

a podcast and gathering place for stories of embodied ecology.

What happens when we rub on the body of the earth, how does it brush back against us?

There is a certain fidelity required when we return over and over again to be shaped, imagined even, by the beings, the weather, the land forms, and the elemental powers where we live.

Let us seek:
intimacy across language,
intimacy across culture,
intimacy across species,
intimacy across consciousness.

    Ecofluency: A Conversation with Saskia von Diest about Co-creation & Communication with Nature [Episode 25]

    Ecofluency: A Conversation with Saskia von Diest about Co-creation & Communication with Nature [Episode 25]

    In the latest episode of the Woman Who Rubs the Mountain, Nature communication consultant, teacher, and facilitator, Dr. Saskia von Diest, shares her story of shifting from her PhD in plant pathology to postdoctoral research investigations of intuitive farming. With the guidance of the living world around her, she created a term to describe a deeper way of knowing - Ecofluency. Perhaps it is the most critical skill we can develop as humans, the ability to sit in dialogue and ask the Earth directly: what is needed at this moment on the planet? Because it's only when we ask and listen with more of ourselves, that we really begin to understand what nature truly needs.

    With eloquence and thoughtfulness, Saskia shares her love of Ecofluency with us. Here are the highlights from our conversation:  


    Saskia begins by introducing us to the dramatic thunderstorms and mountains where she grew up in South Africa, where she felt most at home nestled up with warm rocks, “cuddling the landscape.” When she lived in the UK later as an adult, she learned to find a different kind of intimacy with the forests, springs, and stone circles, engaging the plant kingdom for help in creating new kinds of relationship with Nature.


    After a personal experience with animal communication rocked her world during her PhD studies, she embarked on postdoctoral research into how farmers use intuitive communication with nature to inform their practical management decisions. This is when she began to discover the power of two-way dialogue: with open-hearted communication, we can negotiate agreements, create treaties, or set plans of intent, even with more-than-human beings that we consider problematic.


    Saskia explains the etymology of Ecofluency as ‘eco,’ coming from the Greek for ‘house’ or ‘habitation,’ and ‘fluency’ coming from the Latin for ‘free-flowing’ or ‘relaxed.’ Ecofluency has a quality of gentle fluidity: how relaxed can we be with ourselves and on our home, planet Earth?


    Without even realizing it, we are ‘enmicrobed' (von Diest) by the landscape where we live, swapping DNA with the microbes and on a cellular level becoming part of the land. When we travel or share space between many places, we can adjust more quickly by drinking from local (clean) waterways, eating native greens or herbs, making physical contact with the soil and trees, or consciously allowing our energy field to be grounded to that place.


    The changes that are needed in the world require innovative thinking, or as one of Saskia’s academic mentors says, “The only way we are going to know where the line between possible and impossible lies, is by venturing into the impossible.” Saskia describes some of the challenges she encountered being in an academic environment as she became more interested in plant communication and how these interests seemed to threaten the core worldview of some, especially in academia.


    Taking up American psychologist James Hillman’s inquiry, Saskia explores the open-ended (and vast) question of “where do I begin and end?” While acknowledging the necessity of having boundaries, she considers the many ways we might expand our ideas of self and other.


    More on Ecofluency:

    Ecofluency Website

    Upcoming Courses & Teachings



    Other voices in the field of Nature communication

    Dr. Patrick MacManaway

    Jim Conroy & Basia Alexander

    Stephen Harrod Buhner

    Lyla June Johnston

    Subtle Agroecologies: Farming with the Hidden Half of Nature by Dr. Julia Wright

    Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm by Stephen Harrod Buhner

    The Secret Teachings of Plants by Stephen Harrod Buhner

    Kendra’s Book Recommendation List

    • 1 hr 5 min
    The Stories of Everything: A Conversation with Carina Lyall about Hearing the Many Truths [Episode 24]

    The Stories of Everything: A Conversation with Carina Lyall about Hearing the Many Truths [Episode 24]

    It was a joy to lean in with the host of the Becoming Nature podcast, Carina Lyall. Our conversation easily flowed between squirrel games (spoiler alert, they want all the walnuts), how certain stories come straight from the Earth, and the relief of physically/mentally de-centering ourselves when we are outside. My favorite part of our conversation was when Carina described storytelling as the “wildest sense of truth-telling.” Even when we don’t know the old stories of the land where we live, we can know the many smaller truths of the beings around us. Sparrow has his truth, Violet her truth, Hawthorn has their truth of what it is like to be in the world. We can practice letting ourselves be opened wide by more truths than answers.

    I really appreciated Carina’s thoughtful presence and the way she resists rushing through to simpler answers. Here are some of the highlights from our conversation:

    A closeness stirs in the mornings as Carina and her family watch papa Pheasant and his family from their window. An intimacy is created as they know his routine and he knows theirs.

    Games with squirrels! Carina leaves them spirals of walnuts and chestnuts just to playfully explore what they love the most.

    Some stories were never man-made. Stories that arose directly from the Earth bring forth the “wildest sense of truth-telling… Just as we can’t hurry to tie nature down, we can’t hurry to tie a story down.”

    Carina’s class, ‘How to Become Invisible in a World that Demands to See Everything’ was created through the inquiry of “what might happen if I become part of the land and just shut up for a moment. What else in me or around me would have a chance to speak?”

    Only 2% of the land in Denmark is undomesticated, but even while laying on this domesticated land, acts of wildness are happening everywhere, becoming a great mirror for what wildness we humans might allow within ourselves.

    Carina talks about the tension of needing to always be an expert or have something to say online while also sometimes needing to close her window into the world. She grounds herself with the inquiry of “where can I actually have an impact?”

    “The environment doesn’t need our protection, it needs our right relationship to it.” This quote from Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio seemed to sum everything up for us in the end.


    Carina Lyall:


    Becoming Nature Podcast

    How To Become Invisible in a World That Demands to See Everything - Free Course



    Kendra's recommended reading

    Emergence Magazine

    Smoke hole by Martin Shaw

    The School of Mythopoetics

    • 57 min
    The Land Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself [Episode 23]

    The Land Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself [Episode 23]

    Paths lead us forward in acts of collective mark-making, while also leading us backwards into memory, as well as inwards, deeper into ourselves. In this one-year anniversary episode of the Woman Who Rubs the Mountain podcast, I reflect on this sense of pressing into the place where we live, all the while exposing overlapping intimacies between personal story and land story. This episode brings a deep curiosity to why we live where we do (out of all the places on the planet, why here?) And in what ways does this land already know who we are, what we could be, what we are moving towards?

    I never seem to tire of these inquiries around place and how the land itself is dreaming us into being. Here are a few of the highlights from this episode:

    I begin with a little storytelling about the namesake of the podcast, and how the constitution and personality of this Mountain where I live seems to expose quite a bit about my own.
    Every place I’ve lived has taught me a lesson or guided me in some way. “Places, above all, reflect us back to ourselves. More than this, they teach us the many ways we might become in the world.” (Blackie)
    What does “rubbing” mean (this has been the most popular question about the podcast so far). We explore experiences of eco-intimacy, practices in call-and-response, and noticing all the overlapping closeness, all that is trying to rub against us.
    Just by moving our bodies in space we are pressing into the places we live, path-making in a way. We explore the rich history of creating trails, wondering what we are leaving in our wakes. And in return, how are the landscapes where we live pressing on us, living through us, creating passageways through our hearts and psyches?
    "Thin places" draw me, places where the borders grow delicate and porous and we might feel a little closer to something much larger than ourselves.
    Let us make a continued effort to invite the land, fungi, trees and so on, into the conversation, conversations about everything, but perhaps particularly about what matters most at this moment on this changing planet, matters of harm and reconciliation, matters of bone level meaning.


    May we love and be loved in this continued homecoming with the place where we are. And you can keep this podcast healthy and well-nourished by leaving a review or subscribing to the podcast on-goingly from whatever your preferred listening source is. Please spread the word. You can always listen to past podcast episodes, send me a comment or story, or learn more about my work in general by going to kendraward.com.



    Mirrors in the Earth by Asia Suler

    Thin Places: A Natural History of Healing and Home by Kerri ni Dochartaigh

    The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert Macfarlane

    Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit

    The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature by J. Drew Lanham

    • 56 min
    The Embodied Elements: Indulging Our Chlorophyll Reveries [Episode 22]

    The Embodied Elements: Indulging Our Chlorophyll Reveries [Episode 22]

    It’s been an entire turn of the seasonal wheel since the podcast began and I am excited to spiral back to the Embodied Elements Series with you. By embodied elements I am wondering, how is the season and its corresponding change in landscape arising within your inner landscape? What energies are rousing in the land where you live and how are they emerging through your heart and psyche?

    Right now we are smack dab in Liver energy/ Wood element/ spring season and our clever body knowing doesn’t need to be an expert in theoretical ideas about the Five Elements because it already knows spring. We know spring's musk of hope, its innovative shades of green, the optimistic potential it brings in every blooming flower. And we feel this in our flesh: a desire to move, to shake off the accumulated heaviness of winter, and to let a vulnerable hope penetrate the spaces between our ribs.

    These explorations blend the old knowings of the Five Elements (specifically the Wood element), observations of local vegetative expressions of spring, and honoring the mysteries of our fleshy wilds.

    Some of the themes we contemplate are:

    the bright awakening of our senses. Suddenly our noses and ears work again after the endless low tones of winter.
    the essential push-pull nature of spring which shows up in the weather but also in the tension between hope and hopelessness, or knowing when to rest and when to risk ourselves.
    the exuberance of spring as it tries to convince us of a requisite industriousness, but when we move like a sprout, entering the archaic wholeness of life, growth occurs with less efforting, less squeeze, more shiver.
    the simultaneously longing for the growth, freedom, clear vision, and healthy initiation of spring while also feeling the pressure and fatigue of needing to accomplish another personal re-birth.
    how our bodies already know bark, sprout, bud, chlorophyll longings and wise rootlings. Bark seems so hard, so permanent, but it is growing, malleable, porous, kind of like our own bones. Both our bones and bark hold scars and memories of a life lived. 

    None of these explorations are done in a vacuum by us as single individuals but instead we are enmeshed within a wider community of support. So instead of trying to go it alone, we reach out for help, initiating conversation with the wisest teachers of the Wood element: the Tree families where we live.

    My hope is that these inquiries into our inner and outer terrains allow us to feel increasingly woven into the verdant fabric of the living world. 


    Tree Books:

    Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake

    Conversations with Trees by Stephanie Kaza

    The Forest Unseen by David George Haskell

    The Songs of Trees by David George Haskell

    Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard


    Five Element Resources:

    In Our Element by Lindsay Fauntleroy

    Five Spirits by Lorie Eve Dechar


    Liver Element Resources:

    Shaking Qi gong

    Ho’oponopono (for release and forgiveness)

    All kinds of breathing exercises


    Wood Spirit Question: How do we grow through our lives and into our soul’s full expression?


    "Our bodies are pieces of wild earth that never leave us." Robert Macfarlane

    • 34 min
    Protecting Our Inner and Outer Wilds: A Conversation with Vanessa Chakour [Episode 21]

    Protecting Our Inner and Outer Wilds: A Conversation with Vanessa Chakour [Episode 21]

    From a young age, author and herbalist Vanessa Chakour was struck by the archetype of Artemis as the original land protector and environmental activist. In her book, Awakening Artemis, Vanessa skillfully tells her personal story through a healing mandala of herbalism, plant lore, and eco-warriorship. In this latest episode of the Woman Who Rubs the Mountain, Vanessa further explains her draw to Artemis and all things misunderstood in nature, particularly weeds and wolves. Vanessa also gives us all of the exciting details of her burgeoning love affair as the land steward of a place called Mt. Owen Forest Sanctuary, which will be a refuge for plants, wildlife and humans alike.

    Here are some of the highlights from our conversation:

    Vanessa speaks to the affinity she has had to wolves since she was young. Supposedly dogs are “man’s best friend” and yet we persecute their ancestors, denying them their place as ecological stewards in their own right, upholding an essential balance within the landscape.
    Our culture maligns so called “weeds” because they are everywhere and no longer hold any perceived value for us. Vanessa speaks to one of her favorite weeds, Mugwort (or Artemisia Vulgaris), its connection to Artemis, as well as its talents at inciting labor and enhancing dreaming. Mugwort also subversively loves to grow as an edge-walker, acting as a boundary between wild and more domesticated spaces.
    There are love affairs all around us in plain sight, such as Chaga and Birch or Monarch and Milkweed. It takes a certain courage to be that vulnerable, to feel like we can’t live without that other being, whether we are human, animal, or plant. Are we brave enough to let ourselves be consumed, let go and fully fall in love?
    Many United States history books still promote an idea of “pristine wilderness:” that much of the US was untouched and free for the taking. This myth of intentional erasure not only denies the existence of the First Peoples but it also ignores the on-going relationship building they had with the land: tending, gardening, pruning, planting, using fire, etc. Instead of further promoting this idea of “no impact on land,” we can tune in to our essential role as humans and the positive impacts we might have.
    In certain landscapes there is a growing tension between nostalgia and how the land wants to evolve. By listening better, we can adapt to the way the land is shifting instead of clinging to nostalgia or our unconscious agendas.

    Vanessa Chakour is an author, visual artist, herbalist, naturalist, former pro-boxer, and environmental activist. She is the founder of Sacred Warrior whose mission is to deepen relationships with ourselves and the environment. Her recent book, Awakening Artemis, shares her journey of healing through the lens of 24 medicinal plants. Her new book, Earthly Bodies: Embracing Our Animal Nature will be published by Penguin Life in 2024.


    Vanessa Chakour:

    Awakening Artemis: Deepening Intimacy with the Living Earth and Reclaiming Our Wild Nature

    Rewilding Through Writing: A 5-week online workshop 

    Weeds, Wolves & Wild Women substack

    Mt. Owen Forest Sanctuary



    Vanessa's book recommendations at Bookshop.org

    Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

    If Women Rose Rooted by Sharon Blackie

    Reclaiming the Wild Soul: How Earth’s Landscapes Restore Us to Wholeness by Mary Reynolds Thompson

    The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World by David Abram

    We Are the ARK: Returning Our Gardens to Their True Nature Through Acts of Restorative Kindness by Mary Reynolds

    • 47 min
    Longing For Our Wild Beginnings: A Conversation with Rachel Corby About the Complexities of Unconscious Human Harm [Episode 20]

    Longing For Our Wild Beginnings: A Conversation with Rachel Corby About the Complexities of Unconscious Human Harm [Episode 20]

    Whether it’s a seashell collection that sits on your toilet, silky feathers tucked into your car’s dashboard, or rocks lining your kitchen windowsill, it is our human tendency to collect and extract everything around us. In this latest episode of Woman Who Rubs the Mountain, author and plant spirit medicine teacher, Rachel Corby, and I wonder about the ways and reasons we pile up nature all around us. How can we be in the natural world and not turn it into yet another consumeristic activity, stress management plan, or means to fill some deep human neediness within?

    Here are the highlights from our conversation:

    Mugwort, Rachel’s plant spirit mentor, had an unexpected message for her when they first connected: Rachel would not work as a plant spirit medicine practitioner but instead would teach others about plant spirit medicine, bridging the gap in human-plant relations. Mugwort is still an essential teacher for Rachel, even helping her write an extra couple hundred pages of her last book.


    In the plant medicine world there seems to be a particular fascination and overemphasis on foreign, exotic, or entheogenic plants. Rachel feels like an important aspect of her work is to bring humans back into relationship with their native plant kin and to be in ceremony with the elder plants that are right in front of them that they may “no longer see.” 


    Rachel and I have a little laugh at the “seashells in a basket in the bathroom” phenomenon or our human desire to collect everything we see. When we have been brought up with a human “takey-takey” attitude this translates to everything and everyone around us. If you want it, you can have it. Perhaps our domesticated selves are missing our wild inheritance, trying to pile up nature within and around us.


    We explore some of the complexities of how we create harm without meaning to, often following our curiosities too far. Rachel tells a story of revelation and irony, being in the northern lands of Norway on a snowmobile in search of disappearing polar bears.


    Without realizing it, we can bring a cloying neediness to the beings near us, only reaching out when our hearts are broken or it’s been a stressful day. Learning to express gratitude and extending ourselves on-goingly (instead of just when we are in dire straights) is the bridge to true connection.


    More About Rachel Corby:

    Rachel Corby- Wild Gaian Soul website

    Facebook/Instagram @mugwortdreamer

    Plant Spirit Mentorship


    Rachel’s Books:

    Rewilding and the Art of Plant Whispering

    Rewild Yourself: Becoming Nature

    The Medicine Garden

    20 Amazing Plants and Their Practical Uses



    Plant Spirit Medicine: A Journey into the Healing Wisdom of Plants by Eliot Cowan

    The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature by Stephen Buhner

    Plant Spirit Healing: A Guide to Working with Plant Consciousness by Pam Montgomery

    Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

    My Name is Chellis and I'm In Recovery From Western Civilization by Chellis Glendinning

    • 54 min

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