Keystones of the Sacred Land: Free 12-Week eCourse

A few weeks ago, one of my students from the Keystones of the Sacred Land eCourse that I taught last summer sent me a link to a breathtaking video called “How Wolves Change Rivers.” What an awesome surprise! This short little film is possibly the best explanation I’ve ever seen of the awesome power of keystone species to transform the world:

Watching this fills me with awe and gratitude for the natural world, and gives me hope in the earth’s deep-rooted resilience. (And I don’t know about you, but there are days when I desperately need that kind of hope!) Maybe the only thing wrong with videos like this is that it can make keystone species seem a bit too glamorous — as if they’re all rare, exotic beasts who dwell in the remote wilderness — when the truth is that keystone species exist everywhere, even in the ecosystems right outside your front door. And in every ecosystem, keystone species have this astounding power to shape and sustain the health, balance and vitality of the land.

Which is why I love teaching about keystone species and helping people seek the sacred keystones of their local landscapes. Not only does working with the keystones help us ground in an abiding sense of belonging as members of the more-than-human communities of wild beings in which we live, but they can be powerful allies in our spiritual work to connect with the earth in all its beauty and resilience. Keystones teach us universal lessons about how we can be more fully human and, by embracing our own power, become better citizens of the planet.

So if you’ve been looking for a way to connect more deeply with the plants and animals living in your area, and you love blending ancient earth-wisdom with the insights of modern ecology to develop a personalized and meaningful spiritual practice — I’d love to be your guide on a 12-week journey to meet the sacred keystones.

Keystones of the Sacred Land Nature Spirituality Free Course Online

I’m offering my Keystones of the Sacred Land online correspondence course again this spring (April – June), and I’m looking for students who are passionate about earth-centered spirituality and excited to dig deep in a program of self-guided study.

By the end of the twelve weeks, you’ll have:

  • learned how to identify your bioregion and find reliable resources for learning more about your local landscape and the animals and plants that live there,
  • discovered several ecological keystones that live in your area,
  • connected to at least one cultural keystone that plays an important role in your spiritual or religious tradition
  • learned how to incorporate communion with the keystones into your regular spiritual practice, and
  • learned techniques for inviting the keystones into seasonal festivals and other rituals and rites of passage.

After a long cold winter, this spring could be the perfect time to get outside and spend time exploring the natural world around you. And because this is a correspondence course, you’ll be able to work at your own pace. Go as quickly as you like, or take your time. Use the exercises, meditations and journaling prompts to deepen your relationship with one plant or animal in particular, or take the first steps towards forging new relationships with a number of keystone guides and companions.

Best of all, the course is free! Since this course is still in development, I’m looking for students willing to be my guinea pigs. In exchange for taking the “beta” version of this course for free, I ask only that you commit to completing all of the lessons and exercises for the full 12-week course, and provide me with feedback about your experiences, insights and ideas for how to make the course even better!

Registration deadline is Friday, 3/28 and classes start on Saturday, 3/29. Limited spaces are available and will be filled on a first come, first serve basis. If you’re interested, please contact me at ali [at] or through my contact page for details on how to register.

UPDATE: This class is full to the brim! If you have already been in touch with me about registering, or if you were on the waiting list from last summer’s class and have a spot reserved, you can still sign up. Otherwise, registration is now closed! Thanks so much to everyone who signed up, and for all of you who showed an interest. For those of you who didn’t make it into the class this time, check back on this blog for more opportunities and classes in the future!

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Alison Leigh Lilly nurtures the earth-rooted, sea-soaked, mist-and-mystic spiritual heritage of her Celtic ancestors, exploring themes of peace, poesis and wilderness through essays, articles, poetry and podcasting. You can learn more about her work here.


  1. Soliwo
    Mar 28, 2014

    No, too late again! How can I make sure I am on the waiting list for next season’s course?

    • Alison Leigh Lilly
      Mar 28, 2014

      Oh no, I’m sorry Soliwo! I try to make the announcement about registration well ahead of time, but the course always fills up so fast! (And even this time, I really took on more students than I probably should have, but it’s hard for me to say no. ;) You can definitely get on the waiting list for the next time — I’m planning to offer it again this fall (starting the beginning of August). Just send me your email address, and I’ll make sure you get an early registration notice and a reserved spot. :)

  2. Soliwo
    Mar 28, 2014

    I also completely missed any notification on google+ or facebook :( Can I send you my e-mailadres for future notifications?

    • Alison Leigh Lilly
      Mar 28, 2014

      Oh, yeah, don’t get me started about Facebook! If I don’t shill out $20 per post, they literally show my updates to 10 – 15 people out of the nearly 450 who follow my page. (And if I do pay them to “boost” a post, which I did once or twice last summer just to see what would happen… they just use click farming to show it to random strangers instead of actual fans!) Ugh do I hate FB!

      Google+ is a bit better, but it still suffers from information overload that can make it easy to miss posts. BUT I’ve figured out a way to hack the system. If you +1 or comment on this post, I can add you to a special circle that receives an automatic notification every time I share a new blog post. I have about 40 people signed up already and they’ve all said it really helps so they don’t miss updates. :)

      But really the only way to guarantee that you don’t miss updates is to follow my RSS feed or subscribe to my email newsletter (you can do that in the sidebar at the top). They’re oldies but goodies in the wide world of teh interwebz. ;) I haven’t figured out any other way to more reliably get people my posts. Sometimes despite the innovations these days, the simplest, most direct way is still the best!

  3. Dee
    Jul 25, 2014

    Well rats! You should take the little popup off that advertises for this class if it’s full and you aren’t taking registrations for the next class.

    • Alison Leigh Lilly
      Jul 29, 2014

      So sorry, Dee! The “Add This” app randomly chooses popular related posts for the little recommendation pop-up and, as far as I can tell, there’s no way to selectively choose not to include some posts. But I will be offering this class again very soon, so I’ll be sure to add you to the waitlist!


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