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Archive for the ‘Druid In This Place’ Category

Three Cranes Grove is hosting an Earth-Along to honor Earth Day this year. It’s three days of individual practice that we all do “together” (in our separate ways) to honor the Earth Mother.

Earth Along - Day 1

You can find a full liturgy of offering to the Earth Mother at the Three Cranes Blog today as well.

I was planning on doing some garden work, and some meditation with my plants, as I tend my bit of earth and remember that I am the Druid of this Place… except that it just started pouring, and I am absolutely slammed at work. Perhaps tonight’s walk can be specifically dedicated to the Earth Mother (assuming it is not still pouring rain), and I’ll say hello to the trees I’ve planted in our neighborhood over the last few years. (My neighborhood does a tree planting day in February every year, to replace trees in the common area who have died or been damaged.)

I encourage you to find your feet on the Earth sometime today if you can do nothing else.

Hail to you, Hertha, Mother Earth
We ask that you support and surround us
For this rite, as you do for all rites,
For this day, as you do for all days.

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The 2015 Spring Garden was almost a complete failure – the only thing that did well were the beans. So I’m back (from outerspace) with a new plan, some more mulch, a trash can full of compost, and plans to really *magic it up* this year. I am not content to just put the garden in the ground. This garden needs magic, or I fear it will go the way of last year’s garden, and I will get no tomatoes and be sad.

The container garden contains only herbs and one yellow squash plant that I’m attempting to make work. We’ll see:

  • cilantro
  • Italian oregano
  • straight neck yellow squash
  • scallions (green onions)

The actual garden bed contains:

  • Tomatoes (Arkansas Traveler, Globe, Sweet 100, Sweet Million, Yellow Pear, and Juliet) – almost all cherry tomatoes this year
  • TAM Jalapeno (3)
  • Sweet Banana Pepper (3)
  • Clemson Spineless Okra (4 hills of 2 plants)
  • Bush Blue Lake Beans (3 full rows)
  • Eggplant (Japanese Long)
  • Genovese Basil

The whole thing (except the bean rows, which haven’t sprouted yet) is mulched thickly with cedar shavings, which will hopefully help with weeds.

I’ve also got an order in for some “seed bombs” (mammoth dill, italian parsley, genovese basil, and mixed romaine) to toss in my garden bed with the aloe and the lime tree, to try to make something out of an otherwise useless little corner of garden. If it doesn’t work, I’m not super sad, but the seed balls look easy to use and sprout, and the bed gets lots of sun. That bed currently only contains the out of control aloe plants and Frank. Frank is my 15 year old oregano plant. He’s very hardy. At his largest, he was the size of a coffee table, but he’s much smaller than that now.

In the past, my most successful garden came after I blessed it with a drink that came out of a very powerful ritual. Next week is our Spring Equinox ritual, and so I think I will make extra of our sacred drink (remind me to post on that sometime) and use it to bless the garden. It’ll have strong blessings in it, and I can do a ritual myself to bless the ground. I’ve made a small earth mother talisman for our Druid Mooncast workings, so perhaps she will come and participate as well.

I really *really* don’t want another failed garden. It was so hard last year to look out and see it overtaken with weeds, not producing any fruit at all. I know I went and got a new job and spent the month of May living somewhere else, which didn’t help, but it still feels personal. So this year, I’m doing my best to ensure success.

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Last year I didn’t get a garden in – the first year since we’ve lived in our house that I waited too long and missed the planting window.

This year I was determined to not let that happen again, and so this past weekend, in celebration of the coming spring (and of my birthday, which was on the 2nd) ((and of the last freeze date, which is March 1 here)) we put in the garden.

My main garden bed is 10×12, so I’m limited to that plus what I can grow in containers. This year the in-ground bed contains:

  • Tomatoes (6) (Celebrity hybrid, my best producer in years past)
  • Eggplant (2) (White Beauty hybrid)
  • Okra (6 hills) (Clemson Spineless)
  • Beans (3 rows) (Bush Blue Lake)
  • Dill (Fernleaf)
  • Parsley (Flat leaf)
  • Cilantro
  • Basil (Genovese)

I also totally re-did my container garden, with a heavy weight toward hot and sweet peppers, which do very well here in pots (they don’t like as much water as tomatoes and eggplant and beans, so if I plant them in the main bed, they tend to not produce much). In containers I have:

  • Rosemary
  • Peppermint
  • Sweet Yellow Banana Peppers (6)
  • Jalapenos (6)
  • Sugar snap peas (with a trellis)
  • Picklebush cucumbers (with a trellis)
  • Zucchini (compact variety, hoping that works in a pot)

I can’t plant curcurbits in the ground because of downy and powdery mildew here, so I am trying them in pots. If it works, hooray, and if not, I’m only out the cost of the seed packets and a big tomato cage.

It was a perfect weekend for planting. 55 degrees and cloudy, with a light breeze – cool enough to need a light jacket, but hopefully also to help keep tiny seedlings from getting too stressed. My parents were in town to help with the garden, so it was a community effort, and quite fun. I got dirt under my fingernails and in my hair, and it was glorious.

At the end of the day, we grilled our dinner, and I made a burned offering of various herbs and resins to the fire, as a blessing for my newly replanted garden. I always try to make offerings to the fire when I can, and I’m planning a formal ritual for the gardens where I will take the blessings in return for the offerings I make, and pour them out over the plants (probably in the form of a watering can 🙂 ). The spirits of my garden tend to respond very well to poured offerings of various kinds as well (they’ve received everything from wine to cider to goats milk mixed with kahlua).

If all of this does well, I will be drowning in produce come May, which is exactly how I want it to be. I’ll make salsa and pickles and eat fresh warm tomatoes with fresh basil and olive oil and salt.

 

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An account of the Dedicant’s efforts to work with nature, honor the Earth, and understand the impacts and effects of the Dedicant’s lifestyle choices on the environment and/or the local ecosystem and how she or he could make a difference to the environment on a local level. (500 word min)

I’ve had a personal relationship with nature since I was a small child, when I had a “Nature Sanctuary” in the woods behind my house (there was a goodish sized clearing with an old stump), and I would have nature rituals there. How this managed not to attract the attention of my very Christian parents I will never know, but I treasure those memories, and when I go to nature in visualization I often start from my memories of that place. I like to meditate outside, and while I’m fortunate to live in a place where it is temperate except for during the summer (when it is miserable to be outside), that means I live with the Cult of The Eternal Yard Work, and during pretty much any daylight hours I can hear the sounds of yard machinery. During the week, weekends, evenings, mornings – it doesn’t seem to matter. I’ve even tried going to the local park to meditate when I get extra time, but there I am regaled by the sounds of the local airforce base.

I feel an especially strong connection to nature at the beach. There is a magic to the ocean (and a feeling of being very small in the face of a very great power) that I find is both soothing and discomforting in a very good way. I try to get to the beach as often as I can, even if it’s just to sit on the seawall for an hour or two and listen to the waves. I love to meditate on the beach, where the sound of the waves becomes almost trance-inducing, and where the combination of warm sun, gentle waves (it is the gulf coast), the sea breeze, and the sand between my toes is like a healing balm for my soul. I have seen the truly powerful effects of the sea as well as the peaceful ones, so I am under no misconceptions about it being a force to be reckoned with. The sea I usually encounter is a gentle one, though, and I truly enjoy those moments of connectedness that I feel there.

My other main connection to nature comes from caring for the little bit of Earth around my house. While I spend a lot of time outside, and am an avid gardener, I don’t meditate in my yard much because of the machinery noise, so I sustain my relationships either through active cultivation or through visualization inside where it’s quiet. My strongest connection to nature is probably through my garden and my yard, where I can have a direct impact.

Gardening helps me to connect with the Wheel of the Year (even though I live in a place with odd growing seasons compared to those in Northern Europe) and to the powers that drive that cycle. It also puts me in touch with the Earth herself. While I more frequently address the power of nature (and the cycle of life and death) as masculine, I feel the Earth itself is strongly feminine. I honor my connection to the Earth as her child: as the saying goes “from you all things emerge, and to you all things return”. I suppose that means I honor the Earth as a Goddess in her own right, though in my rituals I sometimes give her a name (often Nerthus, but sometimes Jord, or Danu). I am just as comfortable with her just being Earth, or Gaia, or the Earth Mother, and I actively seek to make my presence here one of respect and honor. I know that the modern lifestyle is not always conducive to Earth-friendly living, and that dichotomy is something I truly struggle with.

In light of that struggle, there are a number of things I do on a regular basis that seem mundane on the surface but are a crucial part of my Druidry. I compost as much as I possibly can – and buy compostable containers when I can as well. I use that compost to feed my garden, which I do not put chemical fertilizers on (though I do use an abundance of manure and supplemental compost, as the land here is almost entirely red clay). I also do not use chemical fertilizers or pesticides in my yard – with one exception: fire ants. Both my husband and I are ferociously allergic to fire ant bites, so they are my one pesticide exception. I also recycle as many things as possible, and try to buy recyclable packaging as much as possible. I use only re-usable bags at the grocery store, including some mesh produce bags that have drastically reduced the amount of plastic that comes through our house. We are also slowly replacing the light bulbs in our home with LED lights, as they use almost no electricity. Also, I keep the thermostat set very high in the summer (80-82 degrees in the house) to reduce our air conditioning usage. I try to buy cleaners that are biodegradable (or use things like vinegar and baking soda), as well as using personal care products that don’t use plastic containers or contain petrochemical-derived ingredients.

What could I be doing better? Lots of things. My recycling efforts are notable, but I haven’t taken a stand against purchasing things that have nonrecyclable packaging entirely. I also sometimes get lazy and throw things away instead of cleaning them out to be recycled. I would also like to be a better advocate for my landbase. I live in a threatened area – the coastal wetlands. These wetlands are disappearing rapidly, due to a combination of human encroachment and changes in the waterlines, and while my area was not personally affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the plants and animals in this ecosystem are still threatened. I would like to look for some local conservation organizations to support, though that support will primarily need to be financial for now.

Overall I feel like I’ve had my connections with nature pretty solidly created before I started the Dedicant Path, so over the last year I’ve spent my time reinforcing and thinking about those connections that I had already made. I also stepped up my efforts at living responsibly. This is one of the aspects that drew me to Druidry, and while I haven’t always thought of it as honoring the Earth Mother as a Goddess, caring for the planet – especially the little corner I’m responsible for – is something I’ve found important for a very long time. I hope as I continue with Druidry that these connections will only deepen, especially as I make more relationships with the Nature Spirits as a Kindred.

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I learned this charm from a former teacher. I’m not finding a source via a quick google search, though there are a few different versions floating around. This is the one I learned:

Look to the moon when she is round
Luck with you will then abound
All you seek for shall be found
In sea, or sky, or solid ground

I was taught to say the charm while turning a piece of silver in my palm and “charging” it in the moonlight; usually I use one of my silver rings for this!

Blessings of the full moon to you!

I got to see the full moon this morning on my drive to work (the full moon is surprisingly quite high in the sky at 5:45am), as well as getting to see the local bat colony in action around my neighborhood. My commute time doesn’t change, but the sun is changing in the sky, and it’s just the right twilight time now when I’m driving to be out when the bats are having their dinner.

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Older man, delivering pizza: Wow, I hope you have someone coming to mow that lawn soon, it needs it.

Me: It was mowed Sunday, and it’ll just have to wait until the weekend.

Pizza Man: Then you’re definitely fertilizing it too much.

Me: We don’t use chemical fertilizer, just a mulching lawn mower.

Pizza Man: Then you should stop watering it.

Me: I don’t water the lawn unless it’s horribly dry, which it hasn’t been. It just likes growing. <reaches for pizza boxes>

Pizza Man: Oh, well, here’s your pizza.

Internal Voice: They say a Druid lives here. Maybe that’s why the yard grows like crazy?

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Recently, alongside all my scholarly reading, I’ve been indulging in a bit of what I’ll call “brain candy” reading. Fun, fast fiction reads that I can sit back, eat some popcorn, and just devour for the sheer pleasure and entertainment of reading. Some of that has been at the behest of friends who are authors (being a beta reader is a LOT of fun, you get to watch good stories turn into published novels), but the rest of the time I’ve been making my way through Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles – so far I’ve read Hounded and most of Hexed.

They’re especially fun, as Urban Fantasy goes, since Druids don’t usually feature much in those stories, and this one is focused on one Druid (Atticus O’Sullivan, but that’s not his real name). Specifically, he’s the last Druid still remaining, and the books chronicle his many adventures and misadventures with creatures, witches, demons, faeries, Gods and Goddesses, a talking dog who wants to be Ghengis Khan, and his team of lawyers (who happen to be a vampire and a werewolf). It’s silly, snort-with-laughter fun, but at the same time there have been a few poignant moments that really resonated with me as a “modern day” Druid.

First, his connection with the Earth is amazingly powerful. It’s where he gets all his magic and power, and he clearly returns that favor with love and care. I am inspired by him to be a better herbalist, and spend more time with my connection to the Earth Mother.

Second, his relationship with his Gods and Goddesses is based on the same rules of hospitality and worship. He keeps the old ways, and they keep him. Hearne’s portrayals of the Tuatha de Dannan are really something else, and especially the Goddesses are powerful forces of action and change and movement in the novels. They’re also clearly acting out of their own interests, and are not above pulling a fast one on their favorite Druid if they think they can get something out of him.

But third, I was reading last night, and he said something offhand while trying to get away with yet another one of his shenanigans that really stuck with me. I don’t have the full quote, but when his lawyer was arguing about his ability to climb up into his neighbor’s tree, he turned to him to reassure him with the words “That tree loves me.” He then went on to talk about how he spends time tending and talking to it, and making sure it’s well cared for and loved back, and how it would keep him safe.

And I thought to myself… do the trees in my yard love me? Have I really taken the time to get to know those trees on the level that they’d say they cared for me, as much as I profess to care for them?

Of course, I hold no illusions that I’ll ever be an Iron Druid out of a fantasy novel, weilding powerful Irish magic and living for thousands of years, battling witches and evil fae and demons and all that. (Though, admittedly, I’d sign up for the 12 years of memorization and the ritual tattoos for the privelege, but that’s what wish fulfillment fantasy novels are all about, right?)

But I have trees I can care for, and a garden full of vegetables and herbs, and a piece of land to tend.

And maybe, just maybe, my trees will love me back.

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