In this paperback, psychotherapist and social activist Chellis Glendinning describes the tie between the rampant psychological dysfunction in our society and the ecological crisis in our world. Personal and political problems are intertwined and stem from the same root — our alienation and separation from the natural world. Glendinning's eco-psychological perspective enables her to work a large canvas.

The author observes that hunter-gatherer societies, which she calls nature-based cultures, were built upon a close intimacy with the Earth. Indigenous people experienced a sense of belonging and security in their world. Life was centered in group processes and communal democracy. Relaxed lifestyles balanced work and leisure. And these indigenous peoples were able "to draw vision and meaning from unordinary states of consciousness." The daily practice of spirituality, healing, and ecological living grounded life.

The shift to agriculture, according to Glendinning, destroyed this primal matrix ("the state of a healthy, wholly functioning psyche in full bodied participation with a healthy, wholly functioning Earth") and brought about original trauma ("the disorientation we experience because we do not live in the natural world. It is the psychic displacement, the exile that is inherent in civilized life.").

Glendinning believes that this homelessness has led to the self-destructive and addictive behavior of civilized existence. Post-modernism and the continued belief in the power of technology to rescue us has resulted in ever greater doses of environmental devastation.

Glendinning sees a way back home by walking lightly and reverently upon the Earth. She begins at her place in New Mexico. "I would relate to this land I called home as if I were responsible for building the culture that the rocks and trees and birds of this place expected of human beings." Next, she listens to the voices of her ancestors and sets out to attune herself spiritually to the mysteries of the natural world. And in conclusion, she suggests that all those seeking wholeness "join together with the indigenous peoples of the Earth to offer thanksgiving, resuming our task of helping to keep the world going."