Joanna's written a post that's quite full of what I've been mulling about over the past few months. Isn't it amazing how this happens so often in the blogosphere? You should read the whole thing; here are a few of my favorite excerpts:
Loren Cruden speaks of this challenge of finding the balance between place and ancestry: “If you are from a race or culture that isn’t Native American, you can still feel a soul connection to the spirit and form of this land. What seems to be emerging in North America is a path derived from the same spirit of place that the Natives tuned to, but that expresses itself through a marriage of ancestry and place. . . . Ancestry gives form and continuity to spiritual practice; place gives immediacy and manifestation to power.”
But there is another, more important reason for becoming native to your place: the earth needs it. David Landis Barrett writes, “[The earth] needs people who live in a native way, who consider themselves people of the land. European-Americans have been so destructive to this continent and its indigenous peoples in large part because we have rejected the notion that we are native to the earth. We have insisted on our transcendence and so devastation has followed in our path. To seek a new sense of nativeness — a slow and stumbling process to be sure — is one of the ways we can begin to live well with the earth and all its peoples.”
How then, as non-indigenous peoples, do we become native to the land where we live?
. . .
Or as Gary Snyder says, “[I]f you know what is taught by the plants and weather, you are in on the gossip and can truly feel more at home.”
These days I am learning to be “in on the gossip” of my Place — I watch as the Steller’s jays squabble over the sunflower seeds I set out for them and notice the towhees and juncos quietly await their turn at the feeder. I know where the chickaree (Douglas squirrel) hides her stash of seeds and nuts in the autumn, and what part of the woods holds the most luscious mushrooms. I know the slough where the great blue heron lives and when the tree frogs will begin their chorus in the spring. I know where to harvest wild onions in the summer and where to find nettles in the earliest days of spring. I know how far north the sun sets at midsummer, and how low in the sky it rides at noon in midwinter.
This, then, is how we become native to the land: by loving her well, first of all. By observing, being aware, studying, and participating in the life cycle of the land instead of dominating it. We do this by keeping nature journals, by gardening with native plants, by sitting so still the birds forget we’re there. We do it in ways too numerous to list or count.
Being native is not something that we are, it’s something that we do. We are, if we so choose, always in the process of becoming native to the land.
The notion of local gossip ties in with something that I've been thinking about these last few days. What's happening in my world, what's really important to me, but what I can't really discuss with anyone because, well, you know, NO ONE CARES, is that the fox scat from a week ago has completely melted and disappeared into the ground. The butterbur flowers, which are odd in the extreme, have opened up and spread way out. The male cardinal has almost completely seduced the female cardinal and the baby squirrels have begun to peak out of the nest in the crape myrtle tree. The weeds that I worry about on the on-ramp to the Teddy Roosevelt bridge have mostly, but not all, sprung up from this season's snow and begun to leaf out. When the wind blows the branches of the cherry trees on my block, it mostly blows to the East, and the big flock of robins that overwintered here has now gone even farther North.
Where do you "live"? Are you a native of that place? How does that change what you do, how does it change your spiritual practice, how does it change who you are? If not, why not? If not now, when? If it hasn't, are you truly Pagan?
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."