What Would It Take for You to Smile Before Your Ancesors?
As a part of my daily practice, I ground and make contact with the cold, red, Virginia clay upon which my little cottage is built. I twine my own roots around the deep roots of the ancient oaks, tall maple, triune river birch, crape myrtle trees, new magnolias, Japanese temple pines, gardenias, lilacs, lavender, rosemary, and sage. This part of my practice can actually take a reasonable amount of time. It's like checking in with a bunch of different family members; you wouldn't begrudge that time or try to rush it, would you? And I will go to my grave believing that it matters, that the Earth is healed when we spend time with her, touch her, send our love directly to her.
Lately, I am more and more aware of the way that a horizontal (about three-foot-tall (or deep))-layer of cold has spread not only over my bit of Earth, but of how it has, as well, spread for several feet underground.
I admit that, when I walk outside every morning to feed the birds (barefoot, if at all possible and reasonably safe, just to remind me that I am a priestess of the Earth and need to physically connect with Her), I examine the sunny protected Southern exposure near my deck for some sign that the crocus and daffodils (of which the tips are only now just barely visible) have grown a bit. I walk outside every morning to the car and scan the hellebores for a bud or two, scan the mulched, North-facing, cottage gardens for any sign that the Gallanthus, aka, snowdrops, are beginning to sprout, even though I know that they're a good 4 weeks away, at least.
And, yet, what my bit of Earth is telling me is that, until that layer of cold rises out of the red clay, there won't be any flowers. I'll know to really look for the flowers when I ground and find that the cold has stopped penetrating deep into my red Virginia clay. That's not what I expected to learn when, a novice, solitary Witch, I began, years ago, to daily practice grounding, but it's what grounding is teaching me, just now, all these years later. "Here, my dear, here's a deep revelation: Winter's cold seeps below ground and that influences when things bloom." Well, um, yeah, but I was thinking more, you know, dramatic revelations, lightning, dawn cracking thorough clouds, and, well, yeah, of course, cold/Earth/plants, yeah, ok, but, um deep insights? "Here, my dear, here's a deep revelation: "Winter's cold seeps below ground and that influences, when things bloom." OK, I learn, pace, Mr. Roethke, by going where I have to go.
And, then, I drive beside my beloved Spout Run and alongside my beautiful Potomac River and see the ice that has been there for weeks and weeks - unheard of here just South of the line that Mr. Mason and Mr. Dixon decided to draw. Last weekend, I was driving G/Son home, and we went over the bridge from Virginia into Maryland, across the Potomac River. Almost always, I tell him, "Now we're driving over the beautiful Potomac River," and then I call out, "Good morning, beautiful Potomac River!" This time, I said, "Now we're driving over the beautiful Potomac," and, before I could say anything else, G/Son said, "Good morning, Potomac!"
You know, I have been a good deal more lucky than I had any right to be. I raised an amazing, kind, gorgeous, good-humored, feminist Son, who married a beautiful, down-to-Earth, kick-ass-yogini of a hera, and who is an Earth-shatteringly-amazingly good Father. I've loved me some poets and priests of nothing. I've taught a lot of poor kids a lot of stuff and I've organized some educational programs to ensure that a lot more got taught. I've kicked a whole lot of law school ass, and I've written motions and briefs that have, if I do say so myself, been improbably successful. I've advised a number of wind and solar companies, thereby, in Lovelock's words, cushioning The Fall. I've taught one or two amazingly bright young lawyers how to think about legal issues and how to write good legal prose. I've been friends with a whole lot of amazing women. I've made a warm, welcoming home that frequently houses Witches and their rituals and provides an afternoon's succor for activists who need to sit on a porch. I've done magic for Code Pink, talked truth to power, and poured wine for wounded revolutionaries. I've worked with an inspired greenman to make a garden and ritual space. I've marched in every important march of the last half-century, handed out campaign literature, helped to get a woman on the ballot in VA and voted for her in the primary, done pro bono work to ensure voting rights, and fed people who were hungry. And if I were to die with nothing to proclaim to my ancestors beside the fact that my G/Son has a first-name, "say good morning when you pass" relationship with the Potomac River and that I know when my bit of Earth is still cold, well, I'll die happy and answer gladly, that's all I can say.
May you have a deep relationship with your own bit of Earth and may you find a river or mountain or moor to which your family may become tied.
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 . . . ."