Friday, December 24, 2010

Staying in Love When It Snows

As regular readers know, it's important to my spiritual practice to be in active relationship with a specific piece of land, rather than just having warm feelings for the intellectual construct of "the Land" or "Earth." A large part of my daily practice involves getting in touch with and listening to the specific, small (less than a quarter acre) bit of land on which I live and garden. When I lived in an apartment with no yard, I adopted some spots near me as "mine."

Even in Winter, if it's at all possible, I'm bundled up and outside, even if only for a short time. I've learned that, as long as I can keep my hands warm (I've been known to wear mittens over gloves and one of my goals for the coming year is to learn how to knit those fingerless gloves that I could wear over full gloves), I don't really mind the cold, at least down to around 25 degrees or so. Finding out how to dress comfortably for the outside (for some people, it means fleece-lined boots, while for others it's a hat or a big warm scarf around the neck) can make it easier to maintain a relationship with your bit of Earth even in Winter. And, really, not knowing what a place is like in Winter is sort of like "knowing" a person, but being ignorant about a huge chunk of their life.

That said, as an old woman with a previously-broken-and-still-held-together-with-screws-and-plates ankle, I'm more than careful about not going outside when it's snowy or icy. When you really can't be outside, one way to deepen your relationship is to learn about your land. What do you know about the First Peoples who lived there before you? Do you know where your water comes from and where your waste goes? Can you identify the birds and other animals who live in relationship with the same bit of Earth as you do? Can you identify the trees that live with you? A lot of that information is likely available on-line. Additionally, Field Guides, which you can often get quite cheap secondhand, are a great way to get to know more about your area. A coven might want to buy a set and circulate them. I keep, for example, Birds of Virginia, on my porch so that when I see a bird I don't recognize, I can try to identify her. But in the Winter, when I can't go outside, I'll read a page or two every day in order to try and learn about local birds. And now, thanks to Margaret Roach, I'm in lust for this: The Bird Songs Bible. If you have children, all of these make good family activities on snow days and are a great way to instill a love of nature in the next generation.

If you garden, keeping a garden journal can be another way to deepen your understanding of your bit of Earth. During the year, I'll note on Facebook when each new flower first blooms. Then, on a snowy day in Winter, I'll go through and make a chronological listing in my garden journal. It's interesting to see, from year to year, the patterns and the variations. More serious gardeners additionally keep track of last frost, rainfall, hours of sunlight, and temperatures. Margaret Roach also has up an interesting podcast about the process of preparing to order seeds for next Spring, another great way to spend a snow day.

Finally, even when you can't be outside physically, you can do meditations and trance work to communicate with your bit of Earth. Let it know that you want to listen and then be willing to open up and learn what is taught. You can do art inspired by your relationship. You can raise energy and send it to, for example, the shivering animals, the roots deep under the snow, the earthworms and bees that are so necessary to the Earth's survival.

How do you keep your relationship going when it has to be, for a short time, a "long-distance" relationship?

Picture found here.

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