Every morning the sun rises, every evening the sun sets.

And we moderns know that this statement is completely and utterly false. The sun does not “set” and it does not “rise”. We know that the earth travels around the sun, and the earth spins on its axis. This fact was first established in 1543 by Copernicus, a Renaissance astronomer, and the first person to formulate a comprehensive heliocentric (sun-centred) cosmology. He displaced the Earth from the centre of the universe. (Now that last comment causes me concern – the Earth should be the centre of our universe – it’s our home!)

Of course, we know the sun does not physically rise or set. But is something missing here? Our common, everyday speech of sunrise and sunset, and our perceptions, contrasts with a known scientific fact.

Perhaps what is missing is the knowledge, buried deep in our bones, that when we are situated in place, our perspective from that place is a valid viewpoint, even it if contrasts with “known” scientific facts. And from a place-based perspective we know the sun rises and sets – because we see it (or feel it) every day and night – it certainly does appear to climb up from the eastern horizon every morning and slides below the western horizon every night. I know, I have watched that big fiery ball rise and set many times!

Many indigenous perspectives treat their home, where they live, as the centre and heart of the world. And they have good reason to do so, as their entire lives revolve around place. Some Old Stories describe the sun as travelling through the ground during the night. And that seems like an entirely appropriate intuition!

So where was Copernicus when he formulated his idea? Well I’m sure he was in a place somewhere, but his thinking mind was really elsewhere. His mind was under the pretense of a detached, disembodied view from nowhere in particular (perhaps on the sun?)

So was Copernicus wrong? Of course not!

But a place-placed cosmology is one that allows different stories and different perspectives to arise. It starts with the fundamental assumption that the place being lived in is the locus of our existence. Being intimate with place, also allows the exploration of our sensory perceptions and bodily experiences.

And allows us once again to become intimate with the animate earth – the earth beneath our feet.