I have friends who are world travelers; there's so much that's wonderful about ranging all over this perfect planet and experiencing as much of it as possible. I used to wish that I were a better traveler, that I'd managed to travel to more places, that I enjoyed travel as much as I enjoy hearing about my friends' expeditions. And, then, finally, in my forties, I realized that, with the defenses that travel requires my boundary-challenged Sun in Pisces to maintain, and with my Moon in lazy-comfort-loving Taurus, I'm never going to be much of a traveler and that's just going to have to be ok this incarnation.
There are also many rewards of staying in one place, and I've been thinking about one of those this Spring. When you live in one place for a number of years, you develop a relationship with that place. I've lived in this tiny cottage for almost eight years, and nearly all of the plants here are ones that I put into the ground myself. When the snowdrops show up in February, I think that I have a glimmer of understanding of the statement that those who had experienced the Eleusinian Mysteries had no fear of death. It's as if the very ground beneath my feet conspired to send up tiny white messages to me saying, "We will keep our pact. Winter will not last forever. All that dies is reborn." And I breathe in, and I breathe out, and my very being expands a little into the sunlight and down into the warming soil, the soil full of the roots of plants that I have planted.
I had another reminder yesterday when I caught a glimpse of my beloved, old brown rabbit. I absolutely did not expect her to survive the Winter, but there she was, and I know that it's her by that big chunk missing from her ear. Miracle of miracles, the local hawk didn't get her, and my fox didn't sup on her, and the cold and hunger didn't do her in. She's long in the haunch, but still able to show up and enjoy the newly-mown grass and, unless I miss my guess, she's managed one last priestessing of Great Rite and is now gravid with the results.
And immediately I am in that place that we Witches call "Between the World," although, for me, it's often more a case of being "Deep Within This World, The One That's Crammed With Mystical Myst." All Winter while I huddled inside, not wanting to slip and re-break the old ankle -- while I bundled up in sweaters, socks, afghans, and gloves, while I lit fires and glanced out at early sunsets, and fed myself with soups and stews -- all that time my dear friend was cowering inside her form, slowly burning the carrot tops I'd given her and waiting, as I waited, for Spring. And then, one old woman setting an example for another, she emerged as soon as possible and gave herself to the Great Rite, as simply as I give myself to the task of starting seedlings, of clearing the herb bed for new seedlings, of cleaning my altar for Spring. Well, really, her surrender to Life is larger and more unstinting than mine -- and she and I both know that. And this morning, adding my coffee grounds to the soil around the Kleim's Hardy Gardenia jasminoides, I scan the yard for her, grateful to have lived here long enough to have received her lesson of participation and surrender. I am who I am because I am in relationship with her. She is who she is because she allows herself to be fed by me. We are both who we are because our roots are here, in this bit of Earth. She is the old rabbit of this place; I am the Witch of this place. We are both each other.
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 . . . ."