Saturday, May 10, 2008

Wiccan Landscaping

If there's any literature on this, I'm unaware of it and would welcome links. I feel as if I am in terra incognito, although I shouldn't be. How do Pagans landscape?

I bought this small plot of land (as if one could "own" land) almost five years ago, in Arlington, Virginia, just outside of the nation's capital. In fact, before Virginia got mad, took it's clay, and went home, the place where I live would have been inside Washington, D.C. Due to Virginia's pique, however, I have Senators and a Congressperson, live near enough to the Capitol to do serious political magic, and live in the state named, as my history prof once said, for the alleged state of Good Queen Bess' hymen. The lot has ancient oaks, a pretty old maple, and a ton of other stuff just stuck in willy-nilly. My first year here, I took out a dying tulip poplar and a v. poorly-placed holly tree. I've taken out rose bushes, tomato plants and their attendant wire tee-pees, azaleas. Ivy. Vegetables. I've edited madly and I've tried desperately and badly to grow herbs in shade and rich, acid soil.

This year, in late March, I figured that I'd lived with the land enough, edited enough, gotten an idea of what I wanted. After a long search, I hired a landscape designer: a local boy, someone who's, above all, a good listener. And, now, we've begun.

We've torn up land, buried drainage pipes, turned an ugly alley into a walk through a lovely, cool woodland. In the coming days, we're going to turn an ugly, orange, mini-barn-style garden shed into a charming hobbit home, build walls that will give me the privacy to continue to do ritual in my tiny suburban yard, re-build my front entrance into a welcoming walk into an Arts & Crafts home, and, thank the Goddess, build a raised herb bed out of bricks and river stones in the sunny Northwest part of my yard, sacrificing the spot for the "second" car that I neither have nor need in my driveway and getting sandy soil and sun to grow -- oh, everything. Basil and rosemary and sage and thyme and dill and all kinds of mint and wormwood and woad and angelica and thistle and damiana and feverfew and mugwort and . . . . OK, I may have a bit of editing to do.

Later this year, we'll build a patio of river rocks, ferns, fire pits, fountains, and large, living stones in the back yard and next year we'll tear up the concrete walk from the street to my house, lay down giant flat stones, and plant a bunch more trees, including evergreens and a Japanese Maple in the back around the patio. The final step will be a huge collection of arisaema in the back Southeastern garden.

Anyone ever done a ritual for this, an invocation of the genius locii, a sacrifice to the land? Of course, the land demands it and, of course, I'm not quite sure what, beyond the gentle talks that we've already had -- the land and the oak trees and the fox and the squirrels and the cardinals and the raccoons and the mourning doves and I -- to do, or, more appropriately, how to do this.


Chas S. Clifton said...

Being a long-time admirer of Aldo Leopold, I tend to follow his dictum:

A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community.

On the backyard scale, I think that means designing gardens that do not require massive energy inputs (whether chemicals or weeding, etc.) but depend mostly on native species that can take care of themselves.

To me that's "Wiccan landscaping."

elizabeth said...

A few things, Hecate, my love:

1. Read Sara Stein's books, esp. Noah's Garden

2. I cannot WAIT to see/do ritual in this planned magical space

3. Offer some piece of you, and maybe some piece of all us Wicked Witches

Copper Asetemhat Stewart said...

We rent, so are limited on true landscaping. We don't use chemicals or gas in lawn/garden care and grow some native species. Most of the garden is ornamental (not sure it's the best place to grow food). There's lots of weeding, but I love it and it's part of my spiritual practice--I spend about 20 hours a week in the garden.

Here are some wee shrines:

Diana Luciano Grayfox said...

It sounds like you've got great groundwork done already as far as honoring the land with your intentions. Being open to the wishes of the land and the spirits that guard it is more than what most people do by spraying chemicals everywhere for that manicured look and ripping out old (and even new) growth without giving proper respect to the spirit of the foliage. All of the answers are, of course, already within you. I my tradition we do certain rites for our gardens every year, but we're Streghe, so what we do may not be what you want to do. In my personal experience, I have found that communing with the spirits of the land in quiet meditation is not only extraordinarily revealing, but extraordinarily rewarding.

Dana Morgan said...

1) Everything gets bigger than you think it will. Specially if the energy is good. Leave spaces -- you can always add more plants next year.
2) Tobacco. That's the offering these land spirits understand.
3) Compost. That's the black gold that ~every~ garden understands!
4) I've never had a harvest that I didn't water with my own sweat. Count on it.

The land loves you best when you listen to it and love it. Truly we're in a relationship here ... one that takes work, sweat, love, tears and listening. It's very worthwhile IME -- but like most things called opportunity, comes wearing overalls and looking like hard work. Probably the hardest work you'll ever love! Enjoy it.

Best and blessings, Dana

Yvonne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yvonne said...

Being a modest sort of chap, Chas omitted to link to his own excellent article, Nature Religion for Real":

Also I attempted to address the issue of contacting the genii loci in my article on magical attunement to a new home.

And in my book Sacred Grove, I attempted some garden plans with symbolic and magical plants.

Beth Owl's Daughter said...

Oh, my! There are SO many delicious magical gardening books out there! EVERYTHING by Linda Ours Rago should be on the shelf of every Green Witch.

For powerful (pardon the pun) grounding knowledge, especially in your area of Virginia, do NOT miss the books about Perelandra written by Machaelle Small Wright; you will learn precisely how to co-create your gardens with the guidance of the plant devas.

One of my absolute favorite magickal gardening books may not be in print anymore, but is not hard to find. Magical Gardens: Myths, Mulch and Marigolds, by Patricia Monaghan is just wonderful!

Oh, I could go on and on! What a powerful act of magic you have chosen. May your journey be simply splendid!
-- Beth

anne hill said...

I second what Dana said. I don't know that any single ritual is needed; OTOH, there are always ways to deepen our ritual sense when we do anything in the garden.

For me, waiting on projects until I come to a vision that feels right aesthetically and meshes with my sense of relationship to the land is an integral part of gardening here. Paying attention to micro-climates, meshing beauty and practicality, all are decisions that honor the land and the spirits of the land.

Kathleen said...

H, I can't remember if you have this book, but I put it on my amazon wishlist a while back it's called Gaia's Garden and is about permaculture:

I can't wait for more rituals in a your wonderful yard. K

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Yvonne said...

I've just seen this other post about magical gardening that someone posted to MetaPagan, thought it might be useful.

donna said...

Weirdly enough, I did do something like that a few years ago. Of course, I was crazy at the time, but -- my garden has been gorgeous ever since.


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