Bringing understanding and restorative balance to Kwendalo

Initial Land Constellation Workshop at Kwendalo18 February 2020

On a warm February morning last year in Plettenberg Bay, nine people – some friends, some strangers – gathered at what was to become Kwendalo. John Cavill, a tech entrepreneur, was one of the nine, and had recently purchased the property, formerly known as Rietvlei Country Estate.

John’s vision, after sensing that the land was crying out for restoration, is to bring harmony and balance back to the estate, not just for personal gain, but to give something back to the land and to the community, in the form of a place to experience natural wellness and nature-based experiential learning.

I was another member of the group that met, having been invited to facilitate a land constellation on the estate. The rest of the group, varying backgrounds and experience, had been invited as constellation representatives.

What is Land Constellation?

Originally developed from family constellations that build on western psychotherapy with African philosophy*, land constellations work with that the idea that the land, like humans, has ancestors and a history buried deep in the layers of Earth and time. There are many similar methods to approach this, but with this experiential systemic method, we can ask: “Who lived or worked here before you, generation after generation? What was their relationship to the Land, and how have those relationships affected the Land itself?”.

Through the creation of a living map that is more visible to participants, we seek to listen deeply to the land, to find out what it needs, and how that need can be expressed through the people that care for, live on, and work with the Land.

This land constellation took place at what was to become the Wellness Centre at Kwendalo. I explained to the group that the aim was to listen to the Land for guidance on how John’s vision for the estate could be harmoniously interwoven with what the Land itself wants, to bring restorative harmony to the wider system.

Each person took a representative role as the constellation progressed, some of which could be named as Landowner, Spirit of the Land, Spirit of Support, Spirit of Nature, Spirit of Water Held in Structures, Spirit of Baboon, Spirit of Primal Energy, and Spirit of Ceremony. Each representative was encouraged to allow their body to follow slow, involuntary movements and to share the thoughts and feelings that arose throughout the constellation.

Some moved or danced, others experienced emotions, and some experienced physical sensations, all of which evolved as the constellation progressed. In short, the Spirit of the Land changed from seeming stuck and shut off to humans, to being open to John being the new human steward of the estate, sensing an openness in his heart and a willingness to work more co-creatively and regeneratively with the Land than previous landowners.

“In the weeks that followed this magical experience, I observed much more varied wildlife returning to the estate. Kwendalo had now truly become a place ‘of nature’.” – John Cavill, Kwendalo Founder

Interpretation of the Constellation

I found the constellation to be a lot larger and more complex than initially anticipated. Fortunately, this allowed some things to be seen that needed urgent attention, which made practical, physical, and metaphysical sense. My subsequent report provided many practical recommendations drawn from the constellation for implementation at Kwendalo.

During the feedback session after the constellation, an incredibly special moment was identified for John: a pair of guinea fowl had twice passed across the deck outside during the constellation. Although not unusual in the area, this was the first time that John had seen guinea fowl at Kwendalo. A few days later, John and a visiting landscape designer encountered a flock of around 20 adult guinea fowl outside the Wellness Centre. This could be pure coincidence, or it could be synchronicity. Perhaps the difference between the two is that synchronicity can be seen as coincidence that is meaningful to the person experiencing it – in this case, John, who has chosen to believe that the Land is welcoming him, all wildlife and abundance back to Kwendalo.

Saskia von Diest (Phd)

Founder and Lead Consultant at Ecofluency.


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