Saturday, May 08, 2010

Witchy Work

I've been thinking a lot about this post, in which an African Witch blogs about preparing for Winter:

As I weed and rake leaves, I spend some time recalling my animal companions who gifted me with their presence so briefly and from whom I have learned so much. It is a time of the year when seeds are sown in darkness, a time of dying and gestation. In preparation for the coming winter, I store firewood and sacks of charcoal, make sure that the guttering is not choked with leaves, lay down mulch on beds of pak choi seedlings. garlic chives and broccoli. Since this is a winter rainfall region, steps need to be taken to ward off damp or mildew, the loft checked for leaks, electrical connections kept dry and insulated. Some of this may not sound very witchy, but it is practical magic, burrowing down for the dark months ahead. Out here the wind blows from the north strongly enough to uproot unstaked trees and I have some young olives and pecan nut trees as well as a pomegranate that need extra protection. And I keep a watchful eye out for birds who may have chosen to over-winter here rather than flying south.

My first reaction, upon reading it, was, of course making sure that the rain gutters are clear of leaves is the work of a Witch. Of course mulching vegetable beds and staking trees is witchy. Of course feeding birds is a ritual of the Goddess. Maybe we tend to see the work of Spring -- planting seeds, enjoying flowers, watering plants -- as more witchy. But only if we're fluffy bunny witches and, well, we're not.

I was thinking about it this morning, as I pulled out of the fridge all of the veggies that my CSA has delivered and concocted a stir-fry with them. I don't pretend that belonging to my CSA is the same in terms of, for example, carbon footprint, as growing my own food. But it's closer to local and, IMHO, better than the grocery store. Not the least because my CSA knows from where they've gotten the food. Thus, this week, when there was a recall of some tainted lettuce in the US, my CSA was able to tell us: Please be assured that none of the Romaine lettuce that you would have received from us is affected in any way by the recall. All of our Romaine was sourced from one farm.

But it is work belonging to the CSA. I sometimes work some long hours, have to eat out with clients, etc. And, somehow, I have to cook and either eat, freeze, or give away what the CSA delivers. It's different from the standard American method of meal planning: "Let's see, I'd like to have grilled tilapia, asparagus, and a pear tart so I'll go buy ingredients for those things." Instead, it's: "CSA delivered carrots and fennel and oranges this week; I'll go on line and look for a recipe for fennel and orange salad to which I can add grated carrots." Or, "If I make tuna salad for my bag lunch tomorrow, I can use up the celery from the CSA, add some grated carrots and leeks, throw in some brocco sprouts." That's, to my mind, the work of a Witch. You can do it while working at being fully present and in relationship with the food that you're preparing. You can spend time sending blessings to the people who grew it, picked it, delivered it. You can do it with intent, imbuing each meal with health, vitality, strength. And, then, there's the waste. You can't chop up a bunch of vegetables without making a lot of compost. My compost bin is one of the most serious magical sites on my property and Goddess knows there's scraps of paper, poppets, egg shells, and other things in there that I've magicked with stuff that I want to go away, stop being harmful, be transformed. And, after a marathon peeling and chopping session, I'm left with a delicious stir-fry and a paper bag full of peels, ends, etc. I take a minute, imbue them with something that I want to see transformed, and into the Sacred Compost Bin of Transformation they go.

Is it the work of a Witch? it must be. I'm a Witch and it's my work.


chicago dyke said...

i'm probably a bad person for not doing this, and having my stuff delivered. it costs more, that's the thing. i do get most of my veggies from locally owned, operated and often grown farmer's markets, but the schedule is so hard here. it's ironic: urban living is actually better for this than suburban, despite our closer proximity to many farms. all the urban farmer's markets i've been to have been "walkable" for the local consumers, and one truck moves all the food. here, i have to drive to the city or country for a good market, sort of reducing the good of lowering my environmental impact by buying local food. still, i try to work in as much of that as i can. and grow my own, of course. have you heard of the 1/100 rule? you could probably do it year round in VA, if you have the space. one meal a day, every day, grown from within walkable distance, like your back yard or community plot. it's tricky and fun to try to conform to it.

my composting spaces are large; i have three of them. plus the kitchen container, emptied every day or so. i have one for just leaves (direct mulch) and another with two parts, this year and last year, where the food and cultivar wastes go. the leaf/mulch pile allows me to reduce the amount of volunteer and weed spawn when i use the mulch. the two year pile (which often has a bed of third year at the base) is used to improve soil and in new plantings. the soil from this year's two year pile was like chocolate. perfect loam, fluffy and moist. /brags

Vienne said...

I don't believe that anything at all is NOT the work of a witch. Every act is sacred = ur doin' it rite.

Teacats said...

I believe fully in the daily work of Practical Magic. Cleaning, choosing food, cooking and creating a home -- after all -- wasn't the hearth the first true altar of the home? Now the stove and microwave and fridge join in too! LOL! And working in the garden too! Have a couple of green patio-size tomatoes on my plants out front -- and lots of fresh basil to use today. There are sweet onions just in the door (from the store I do admit) -- and a large of French onion soup may be in the making.

Jan at Rosemary Cottage

Lavanah said...

There is very little that I could add to Teacats/Jans comment, except: if you are a witch, and there is something that you do, do it regularly as part of your life, what you are doing is witches work.

Lisa said...

I just love this post. Thank you!

Teacats said...

Lavanah: Thanks for the nice thought! Needed that this morning -- it is often hard to explain how fascinated I am with folks' realtionship to their house/house -- and how their whole spiritual being is reflected (or NOT) in their dwelling. Here are a couple of my fav books: "Spiritual Housecleaning" by Kathryn L. Robyn. "Spirit of the Home" by Jane Alexander. "Goddess at Home" by A. Brownwyn Llewellyn. Each one really speaks to me!

Jan at Rosemary Cottage

Hecate said...

how their whole spiritual being is reflected (or NOT) in their dwelling

With my Moon in Taurus, my relationship w my house and garden is a whole lot deeper and a much bigger part of my spiritual practice than most people understand. I had drinks on Friday w a friend who was going on about how my home and garden were so integrated and were such a reflection of me, and I wanted to say, "Well, duh."

Marya said...

It is all part of turning the wheel and paying attention to what matters isn't it? Thanks for the mention.

Chatters said...

What a great post, really enjoyed reading this and completely agree.

I try to buy everything I can from the local farmer but some things have to come from the supermarket which I don't like, I'm working on it.

I really like that you see what you get delivered and work with it.

Teacats said...

Just found this website of an amazing sculptor -- although the prices are truly breathtaking -- I can truly appreciate his work!

Can you imagine one or two (or more!) of his sculptures in a garden and a pond?

Jan at Rosemary Cottage

Hecate said...


Damn. I wish you hadn't directed me there. Now I really WANT about a dozen of those way-too-pricey sculptures!