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Australian alternative spiritualities and a feeling for land

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Abstract

For many Australian practitioners of alternative spiritualities, ‘nature’ and the non-human environment are alive with significance: they embody a universal divine ‘spirit’ that is both independent of, and continuous with, individual subjects. Particular locations within nature also have special value as a font of powerful personal feelings and as a kind of natural resource of spiritual energy. Moreover, the effect of specifically Australian landscapes is frequently understood by reference to a place’s Aboriginal history or ‘spirit’, with recognition of such places both celebrating and laying claim to the land. However, having a feeling for land is not straightforward. Although Aboriginal people often served as a synonym for the land itself and thus were considered intrinsic to much of the land’s spiritual and personal value, their prior claims to its ownership also sometimes upset non-Aboriginal feelings of love for the land.

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