Post #400: Personal Geography – Taproot


When curiosity is set into action, when our wondering makes us want to wander off in search of something, the act of exploration is launched. When we set off into personal terrain, the possibilities are endless. Visually expressing these explorations of the mind, dreams and memories may easily result in maps. – Jill K. Berry, Personal Geographies: Explorations in Mixed-Media Mapmaking

A map provides no answers. It only suggests where to look: Discover this, reexamine that, put one thing in relation to another, orient yourself, begin here . . . Sometimes a map speaks in terms of physical geography, but just as often it muses on the jagged terrain of the heart, the distant vistas of memory, or the fantastic landscapes of dreams. – Miles Harvey, The Island of Lost Maps

I love the Waldorf curriculum. I think it is inspired, life-giving and soulful for both the teacher and the student. In preparing for grade 7, I immersed myself in the idea of exploration, cartography and navigation. I have researched Marco Polo, Prince Henry the Navigator, caravels, astrolabes and ship building. Somewhere along the line, as I started to plan the blocks, I moved from the literal to the metaphoric: “Setting Sail” became a theme I embraced in my planning and also in my personal life. These extraordinary, ethereal and evocative ships by artist Ann Wood are partially responsible. Oh my stars . . . I could stare at them for hours. They were the catalyst that led me into the world of personal geographies. So with a few clicks on Amazon (ahem . . . resources below), some digging through my collage stash, I have a map to share.


Taproot is coming up at the end of the month, so in preparation for my journey, I made a mixed media map that records both the physical route and also the emotional pathways that bring me to this annual homeschooling retreat in Ohio. I started with a map of the eastern part of the United States. I added paint, tissue paper, stamps and such and then, after it was dry, I wrote on top of it all. This revelatory process of making art and journalling longhand let me explore an event that has been such an integral part of my personal growth and inner work. Taproot is where I go with my questions. It is also where I have found answers. Four days spent in community, immersed in what I feel called to do on a daily basis, sustains my commitment, replenishes my inspiration and enriches my soul. If such a journey is calling you, you can find all the details here. Feel free leave a comment below or contact Barbara Dewey or Jean Miller.



  • Personal Geographies: Explorations in Mixed-Media Mapmaking, Jill K. Berry
  • Map Art Lab: 52 Exciting Art Explorations in Mapmaking, Imagination and Travel, Jill K. Berry and Linden McNeilly
  • You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination, Katharine Harmon
  • Paper mache boat pattern, Ann Wood (This pattern is free, but she has another for purchase due any day.)