Nature Constellations

One method of tapping into the ‘forgotten’ connections with nature, the consciousness connections, is through Nature Constellations.

When it comes to Constellations, any verbal account fails to capture the essence of the work because the method is so profoundly interactive and experiential. It arises and evolves through the sensations, feelings and direct knowing of the participants – their internal awareness, their consciousness – and this is where the learning and transformation take place. While it can be described, it is recommended that the reader find a way to experience a session to fully appreciate the power of this way of working.

Bert Hellinger, a German philosopher and therapist, originally developed Constellations to bring healing to dysfunctions in family systems. It evolved to address issues within organisations producing successful results for governments and businesses. Now it is applied in many areas, including university research, with conferences and training events taking place worldwide.

Some key features of Constellations:

  • it works with a group of people who have no prior knowledge of the system being investigated and they ‘represent’ parts of that system as a living map;
  • by paying attention to their bodily sensations, emotions and thoughts, individuals are able to access accurate information about their relevant roles; and
  • a trained facilitator uses both the information that emerges and their theoretical understanding to guide the process – seeking insight and guidance as to the next steps to benefit all parts of the system.

While all applications of Constellations have occasionally represented other-than-human elements, pioneers around the world have been focusing on human-ecological systems and the first book on these Nature Constellations has recently been published. 2 Forgotten Connections has been running Nature Constellations since 2005.

Why work with Nature Constellations?

This is a method that can help people understand and improve their relating with any aspect of nature. The benefits can take place at many levels, from a simple shift towards appreciating other species more fully, to very specific insights about situations they are facing.

Nature Constellations include other-than-human beings, so human representatives are set up as, for example, animals or plants. By tuning into how they feel, they access information about the beings they are representing. So effectively, they give a voice to aspects of Nature that might otherwise not be heard.

This process of ‘representing’ parts of nature, of stepping into another’s paws… or roots… can be powerfully transformative for people, regardless of what information is revealed!

“I found it amazing how easy it was to tune into non-human consciousness in a whole body experience and for it to be so obvious that I was not making up or imagining the experiences I was having.”

Madeline Lynfield, representative

Constellations are done in relation to a question being asked (see section below), and all relevant parts of the system are included. So the initial configuration of a Nature Constellation diagnoses the current state of the human-ecological system.

There is then the opportunity to explore the relationships between the parts. It is possible to test options: if I do this, how would it impact the other parts of the system? Because the whole system is represented, it is possible to check that problems in one place do not simply shift elsewhere. The aim is to find what would bring improvements to the health and wellbeing of all parts of the system, human and other-than-human.

One of the beautiful things about working in this way is that often solutions emerge from some part of the Constellation that could not have been imagined before. It is a very co-creative method, drawing on the combined wisdom of all present – those represented and those doing the representing.

A feature of Constellations is that the information about the system is immediately accessible to those with no training. The facilitator is not determining the data, merely working with what emerges. So it is not one expert being trusted, but many people’s experience. Moreover the person asking the question can step into the Constellation to verify what is found.

Applications of Nature Constellations

As long as the facilitator is appropriately trained, Nature Constellations can be used to look at any system where there is a human-ecological interaction.

Below are broad areas of application, with a few examples of questions that have been worked with to give a flavour.

Global Environmental Issues

  • What is my most appropriate response to the environmental crisis?
  • How can campaigners most effectively raise awareness of climate change?
  • Why don’t more farmers take up organic farming?

Environmental Organisations and Projects

  • Which internal structure will best serve this environmental charity to meet its aims?
  • What is the impact of a polluting business on the ecology around it?
  • Which departments and individuals within government are open to listening to an environmental group bringing a specific issue?


  • Should another domestic animal be introduced to our home?
  • Where is the best place to move this hive of wild bees?
  • What is needed for a group of horses sharing a field and stable to get along?
  • Does a lizard in captivity need company to be happy, and does that company need to be another lizard?

Plants and Fungi

  • Does a particular cactus need to be inside or out?
  • Why is this tree failing to thrive and what might help it?
  • Are these strains of fungi willing to be included in a scientific experiment?


  • Should I buy/sell this piece of land?
  • How does the land feel about having an eco-village development on it?
  • Am I connected with the place I was born and does this make a difference?

Nature as support

  • Facing a difficult choice, can I call on an aspect of nature to help me?
  • Which aspect of nature would be available to support me and what would it advise?
  • I want to connect with nature more, how can I do this?


There is such a breadth of questions brought to Nature Constellations that the best way to show outcomes is through a variety of examples. All below come from Forgotten Connections’ work to provide a flavour of what is possible.

First, however, it is important to address the question that most people reading about or being part of Nature Constellations face: is what emerges really accurate information about the other-than-humans being represented? While ideally people try the method to decide for themselves, here two stories illustrate what is systematically found.

In one constellation, the presenting issue was that a very young horse was inappropriately dominating a herd and creating problems. The woman who brought the issue (the Inquirer) set people (the representatives) up without those people knowing what they were representing – so some were horses and others the humans looking after them. Only the Inquirer knew who was who and she was amazed to witness the man she had set up as the young horse literally pushing the others around. (Incidentally, another of the representatives found himself tossing his head, whinnying and wanting to defecate – the group was amused and perhaps relieved to later discover he had been a horse!) The solution involved the Inquirer relating to the young horse with more authority, but the point here is that what was shown was clearly accurate to the situation.

In the above instance the Inquirer knew the situation, so one interpretation could be that what came through was her understanding of the scenario, rather than any attunement to the experience of the horses.

In another Constellation, an Inquirer wanted to ask the brassicas in her vegetable patch what they needed. These brassicas had been covered over all winter and the Inquirer had not seen them. Their representative exhibited strong legs but could hardly keep the top half of her body upright, she was swaying as if top heavy. She showed a preference for compost over other fertilizers as it strengthened her whole system. When the Inquirer uncovered the brassicas a few days later, she found that they had grown much more than she had expected: very tall with weak stems. They were all literally bending over, top heavy. In this instance, the information cannot have come from what the Inquirer knew – because she had not known it.

So information can be shown to be accurate about other-than-humans which was not known previously. This happens consistently within Nature Constellations and is the basis for the insights which can be so valuable for Inquirers. These take place at many levels, as the following accounts illustrate.

Sometimes the guidance is simple, for example an Inquirer was concerned about a cactus on his balcony in Holland. The person representing the cactus (not knowing what he was tuning into) spontaneously stood on one leg at an angle and began shivering with cold. The Inquirer revealed that the cactus in question was indeed growing at a strange angle. Since that information was precise, he concluded he should probably bring it inside to the warmth!

Sometimes it can be surprising – a Constellation about whether a wild beehive could be safely moved with the agreement of the bees was about to end when the representatives of the wild bees suddenly whispered ‘Don’t ask about the honey!’ The way he said it was tense and secretive, which alerted the facilitator that this was important, though perhaps sensitive. So she gently inquired about the honey and what came through was a plea from the wild bees not to take their honey during the winter as they needed it to establish themselves. Domesticated bees, also part of the Constellation, were then also asked about their honey but were fine with a third of it being taken, seemingly accepting this as their payment for being looked after during the winter. This is a nice example of non-humans bringing the issues that are important to them, regardless of what the human’s original question was.

Sometimes Constellations provide reassurance, for example, when a horse moved to another stable, his owner could confirm whether he was content there. A different kind of reassurance came through for a man considering investing a considerable amount in a piece of land, against his family’s advice. When represented, the land showed such a strong welcome for the man and his intended activities there that he moved forward confidently to buy it. Reflecting a few years later, he remarked how much that Constellation had supported him in his choice and, rather satisfyingly, how his family now considered his activities there to be the most worthwhile thing anyone in their family had ever done!

Constellations will show the next step that needs to be seen and it is not always comfortable. In one instance an environmental organisation were considering introducing a new approach into their work with clients. The Constellation revealed that, while their clients were thriving, they as an organisation were not and that this needed to be addressed before any new initiatives could be started. The CEO who had initiated the inquiry confirmed that the problems highlighted were accurate. They were subsequently confirmed independently and the organisation looked into how to resolve them as a priority.

One consistent outcome from Nature Constellations is how frequently they shift participants’ perceptions of other-than-human nature. This can be in relation to specific individual animals or plants because of information they shared, or it can be simply the fact that other-than-humans are revealed to be conscious and aware in ways our mainstream industrialised cultures have forgotten.

Two participants describe their experience of Nature Constellations:

“Amazing and quite life changing.”

Tess Greenway

“I left feeling enriched and ensouled.”

Jay Ramsay, Poet and Psychotherapist

1 J. Nollman quoted in: Jensen, D. (2000) A Language Older Than Words. Souvenir Press Ltd., London, UK, p. 71.
2 Boring, F. M. and K. E. Sloan (eds.) (2013) Returning to Membership in Earth Community: Systemic Constellations with Nature.