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?
And, so, after a brutal winter, a glorious spring. My neighbors' deciduous magnolia is having a once in every decade bloom, and the perfect scent keeps wafting over to me as I plant herbs, clean up sticks and debris, work on the container gardens.
Years ago, when I lived in an apartment with a sunless balcony, container gardening was all that I could do and I did as much of it as I could. Son and DiL still laugh about the time that I got them to drive DiL's tiny del Sol convertible out to a garden center to buy tons of topsoil. But when I moved from the apartment to my little cottage, I swore that I was through with container gardening, forever. Real Earth, real dirt, real soil for me!
Of course, it was only a few seasons before I began to eye empty space on the deck and think, "Well, mint's actually better grown in containers so it can't take over the whole yard . . . ." And, so, here I am, with a yard of my own all planted in lilacs and gardenias and wisteria and lilies and herbs, and, still, doing container gardening, as well. And today was "Clean up the container gardens and get things planted day." The really good thing, IMHO, about container gardening is that you can accomplish a lot in a short time, can get that amazing feeling of having "wreaked order" on a finite bit of the universe, and all for not too much effort. I've got peppermint, spearmint, and chocolate mint already going gangbusters. I'm about to put in a lemon pot, with lemon grass, lemon balm, and lemon mint all together. I've got violas (psychedelic and Bowle's black, both edible) planted, and some white four-o-clocks just for fun and in memory of my Grandma, who loved to grow them.
Ladies! Listen up! Detecting breast cancer early is the key to surviving it! Breast Self Exams (BSEs) can help you to detect breast cancer in its earlier stages. So, on the first of every month, give yourself a breast self-exam. It's easy to do. Here's how. If you prefer to do your BSE at a particular time in your cycle, calendar it now. But, don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
And, once a year, get yourself a mammogram. Mammograms cost between $150 and $300. If you have to take a temp job one weekend a year, if you have to sell something on e-Bay, if you have to go cash in all the change in various jars all over the house, if you have to work the holiday season wrapping gifts at Macy's, for the love of the Goddess, please go get a mammogram once a year.
Or: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pays all or some of the cost of breast cancer screening services through its National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. This program provides mammograms and breast exams by a health professional to low-income, underinsured, and underserved women in all 50 states, six U.S. territories, the District of Columbia, and 14 American Indian/Alaska Native organizations. For more information, contact your state health department or call the Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER.
I know that a recent study indicated that early detection via breast self exams might not be "cost effective." I'm not a scientist, but when I read those studies, they appear to be saying that sometimes women find a lump during the BSE that turns out not to be cancer. Those women have caused some expense and have gone through some discomfort in order to find out that the lump wasn't cancer. I don't know about you, but when that happens to me, as it has a few times since my first mammogram found a small, curable, cancerous lump, I go out and buy a new scarf, take myself out for a decadent lunch, call everyone I know, and call it a good day.
Send me an email after you get your mammogram and I will do an annual free tarot reading for you. Just, please, examine your own breasts once a month and get your sweet, round ass to a mammogram once a year. If you have a deck, pick three cards and e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll email you back your reading. If you don't have a deck, go to Lunea's tarot listed on the right-hand side in my blog links. Pick three cards from her free, on-line tarot and email me at email@example.com. I'll email you back your reading.
*Life has been kicking my ass. Work has been kicking my ass. My spiritual practice has been kicking my ass. The garden has been kicking my ass. This full Moon has been kicking my ass. I have not been getting enough (any) sleep. My conference call yesterday ended around 3:00 pm and I was in my bed, asleep, by 4:00 pm. At about 4:00 am, I began with the v lucid dreaming that often comes with deep sleep after a few all-nighters. In my dream, I am in a taxi that's both a car and a sleek motorboat. We're speeding past a bridge that is, but is not, the Gov. Thomas Johnson Bridge off of Solomon's Island. Off to the East, are some people in rowboats near some reeds and sedges. They've (not the people to the East, but, you know, "they") taken the road spans from the bridge down for Autumn (of course, this doesn't happen "in reality.") But I'm happy about it and eager for Autumn to come on. My cab driver is a middle-aged African American man from Southern Maryland and he and I begin the best conversation that I've ever had about mystical experience, about the gnosis that Earth and Life and Photosynthesis and The World are wonderful and perfect and true sources of bliss. We really understand each other. We sing a little song together and I think that I quote him some poetry. He drives off of the water, onto land, pulls up into The City to let me off. He says that I owe him $5, and I pull out $10 and give it to him. He kisses me on my left cheek and I wander off into the City.
When I wake up, I feel pretty sure that he was some deity visiting me in my dream, but I can't think which one. What comes to mind is the Tarot card of The Fool, but he was not The Fool. He was more like the boatman in the Six of Swords, but that's not it, either. He wasn't a character from Tarot; he was deity and, you know, it's not as if male deity visits me all that often. I hope that he was not Charon, but, you know, if he was Charon, well, I'm going to really enjoy the conversation on that taxi ride. Who do you think he was?
* Emma Restall Orr and others argue that honor is among the most important of Pagan values. I've had occasion recently to be reminded of how much honor and integrity matter to me. There's an old Wiccan saying (anyone know the source?) that if your word is no good on "this" plane, you can hardly expect it to be binding between the worlds. When you say, "This is my will, so mote it be," how good is your word? Fairy tales, epic poems, and sagas are full of stories about what happens to those who can't control themselves but hope to direct energy, control the forces of the Universe, master magic. Cautionary tales are there for a reason.
*March is so much, for me, the month of Air. We get our windiest weather in March. I woke up this morning to giant oak branches, newly-leafed, swaying in the strong, early-morning wind. I drove home this evening to cherry blossoms and the snow-white blossoms of Bradford Pears, blowing in the wind like some kind of snowy, pink-white confetti. On Saturday, I drove past the National Mall on Kite Day. Oh, my. Dozens and dozens of the loveliest kites, ever, swooping and floating and flying in Air. Dragons and pinwheels and box kites and long, thin banners. My favorite was a pitch black butterfly, swooping over and over past the Washington Monument. DC has kite day on the National Mall because it used to be, for some odd reason, illegal to fly a kite on the Mall. Air is so often about the flouting of rules and the bringing of fresh approaches.
*Recently, Son was teasing me about how often I blog about grounding. (Son: "Know what you should do then, Mom?" Me: "No, what?" Son: "You should ground." Me: "Thanks, I ground pretty regularly." Son: "Know what you should do then?" Me: "Ground?" Son: "Ground." Me: "OK." Son: "And then? Mom? You should ground and blog about grounding." He's a smart ass; he gets it from his father, I'm sure.) Today, I went out to the herb bed to plant the new tarragon seedlings that I ordered, back this winter when I was sure that the snow had killed off all of my tarragon. To my surprise, a number of the tarragon plants that had appeared completely dead were sending up enough new shoots to beat the band. I was reminded of one of my favorite concepts: As below, so above. If what is below ground is strong, what is above ground will be ok. If you are firmly rooted, you'll do alright, even when the winter is The Worst Winter Ever. You can even take some razzing from your Son.
I'm going to sleep early tonight, too. Watch for bazooms blogging tomorrow!
Heschel often mentioned her custom as one of many feminist rituals that have been developed in the last 20 years. She writes, "Somehow, though, the typical patriarchal maneuver occurred: My idea of an orange and my intention of affirming lesbians and gay men were transformed. Now the story circulates that a man said to me that a woman belongs on the bimah [podium of a synagogue] as an orange on the seder plate. A woman's words are attributed to a man, and the affirmation of lesbians and gay men is erased. Isn't that precisely what's happened over the centuries to women's ideas?"
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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 . . . ."