Saturday, April 03, 2010

Are You A Native Of Your Landbase?

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?

Picture found here.


Teacats said...

After living in places like London England, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver -- and now Dallas -- we connect through gardens -- all sorts and kinds. When we first moved to London in the 70s -- I was thrilled to visit Culpeppers herbal store (now long gone!) -- and visit Stonehenge with my parents. And today -- I was thrilled this morning when I spotted the first blooms on the lavender bush in the front herb garden! And the bees are covering the flowers on the rosemary. I feed a spare cat that visits each day -- and make sure that the birds have seeds and water. And the DH has been anxiously awaiting out first purple martins of the year! The two houses are cleaned and ready for them!

And thats how we connect to the land ..... small things ....

Jan at Rosemary Cottage

Hecate said...


It's funny, isn't it, how it's the v small things that make the connection?

Aquila ka Hecate said...

I was born here, in South Africa.
But I grew up in the Northern hemisphere and learnt my Craft there.
Thus I am always very conscious of where I am situated on this planet. It takes a little effort of will to keep March as the Autumnal Equinox in the front of mind, when many of my brain cells are crying Spring. The Christians celebrating the very Vernal Easter at this time doesn't help.
But it makes me realise how central place is to anyone claiming to be Pagan. You connect your body and your practise to the Land. The brain lags behind.
And for the People of the Book who live in the Southern Hemisphere - I feel sorry for your cognitive dissonance, I really do.

Terri in Joburg

willendorfVenus said...

I was born in California & lived there for the first 14 years of my life. But, as an adult & a bastard, I became perversely interested in my family origins.

I was surprised to learn that my ancestors were living in North America as early as the 1600s. And I have learned that my mother's family, on both sides, have lived in central Alabama for the past 200 years. Red dirt runs through my veins.

Having this ancestry, there is a lot of things my ancestors did that I am ashamed of. But the American South also has an incredibly rich culture that I have learned to embrace.

Marya said...

Like Terri, I move between hemispheres as well as worlds. I grew up in East Africa and Zimbabwe, have lived in France and the UK, travelled and worked in Asia and New York, now live in a remote part of South Africa.

But I ground in my specific landbase and the seasons that surround me, I connect with where I am and what I grow and tend all around me, what speaks to me, where I can be of service. And the connection is always in the detail.

Anne Johnson said...

My heart, my soul, and my grave are in Appalachia. If I die without ever seeing Scotland, I won't particularly care.