This past month, there was a beautiful convergence of holy days: religious, secular, earthen. April’s Full Moon in fell on Good Friday, day of remembrance of the tension between all creation’s polarities represented in the cross (for more on that, read my Easter blog from last year here). Then Easter, the celebration of the Cosmic Christ wedded to all of creation just a day before Earth day, our contemporary bow to that which sustains us. For me it was a journey deeper into awe and gratitude for this precious planet I call home, and deeper awareness of my interconnection to her. It was subtle, almost like glimpsing a fairy’s wing in my peripheral vision, or seeing through a spider web, the threads a little blurry—but present and sustaining me through a period of personal and planetary uncertainty.
On today’s ancient Celtic/Pagan feast of love and fertility, Beltane, I am drawn again into reverence of the regenerative, fecund extravagance of our mother planet and reflecting on all how I am in relationship with her.
What are the ways you nurture awareness of your connection to the earth? Here are five of my favorite and most highly recommended practices:
Practice grounding meditation: this is the one thing. Do this every day (or as frequently as possible!) I have been teaching this ever since I learned it in the first module of Psychic school two years ago. Our teacher instructed that we were to teach this to as many people as we could! It is how I begin my day, as well as all my circles and classes. A version of the meditation can be found here. A variation/deepening of the practice I have been exploring: consider the particular land on which you dwell as you ground, and its unique history. If you are a white person in the U.S., I invite you specifically to consider, as you ground, the original stewards of the land where you live and the probable reality that the land you dwell upon was stolen/settled at the expense of our nation’s native peoples. In addition to the nurturance of the Earth, there is also tremendous pain. Consider being and breathing with the discomfort of that, or whatever emotions arise.
Return moon blood to the earth. For those of you with bodies that bleed: this is a practice I have done with moderate regularity, when possible, for the past two years. I feel some timidity in sharing about this, but more urgency about doing so, feeling in my shyness an invitation to clear shame around my body’s functions and fluids. Returning moon blood to the earth is an extremely potent way to be actively giving back and nourishing the great body of the Mother that nourishes me. I use a version of a diva cup, and collect my blood in a jar to take outside—I typically let the land and plants tell me where they are wanting to be fed: a tree, a perimeter, etc. I have been bleeding with the new moon for the last year or so, and so typically incorporate it into my new moon ritual, naming all the things I’m releasing. Another option a friend of mine recently shared is to keep a houseplant in the bathroom and just toss it in the dirt with a blessing or prayer. I thought that was a brilliantly simple variation!
Find your food. What’s growing wild in your yard or neighborhood, or nearby parks? I have been picking neighborhood dandelion leaves for springtime green smoothies for years (though no longer, after learning more about the contaminants in our Tacoma soil, insert major sad-mad face), but this season I finally did something I’ve been thinking and dreaming about doing for almost as long: I went nettle picking! Nettles are a wild green that are highly nutritious and medicinal. To be clear before you get all comparing-lives and “Oh how nice for you, Martha Stewart of Natural Living” on me, let me be clear: I have a huge desire to locally source my food that I can’t quite practically satisfy the way my life is set up right now, so I learned to let myself aim real low—it took me years of thinking about it, seeing them growing, wondering when and how to harvest, talking with my plant friends about it, and watching one youtube video, before I actually got out to the woods to find the little guys! My goal is to learn about and glean one new wild harvest plan a year. I am not an herbalist, but it was so satisfying to spend time with these quirky plant beings, to learn about and from them, and to stir them into my spring-cleanse kitcheri. (For more on stinging nettles, check out my friend Kim’s blog—she is an herbalist and knows what she’s talking about!)
Make offerings to the Earth. Consider a morning or evening offering to the land of some elemental material of significance. Many thanks to indigenous rights activist and spiritual teacher Sherri Mitchell for her wisdom on this (for a great listen, check out an interview with her here.) For example, some indigenous peoples of this land might have used cornmeal, sage or tobacco; women bleeding might give back their blood (see above!); you might use a sprinkle of water, bread crumbs, a song; or ask the land what kind of offering it wants from you. Consider your ritual like the reciprocal pull of gravity, giving and receiving—a way to offer your thanks as well as your prayers and requests to Mother Gaia.
Consider the Earth a Sacred Text. I’ve been reading recently about the 9th century Celtic philosopher, whose writings were eventually put on the Church’s list of “forbidden writings” (#topliststobeon #youknowyourdoingsomethingrightwhen). Writing out of his Celtic spiritual heritage, infused with the Earth-reverence of the pre-Christian Druids, he taught that “we can look to creation just as we look to the Scriptures to receive the living Word of God.”* It’s a no brainer in the PNW, as it has been for indigenous peoples worldwide. Go outside for no good reason and be quiet. At certain seasons like this one, I like to go out first thing in the morning and stand on the dewy grass, imagine my grounding cord to the center of the earth (see item number one above), sip my lemon water, and just listen. One of my mentors introduced me to the practice of taking a “Medicine Walk”—holding a question in my heart as I step onto the path in the woods. The first time I practiced this, not expecting much, I held the question: when will I start my journey to become a priest?” My answer came immediately with a knowing bird’s cry: You already have!! Creation is a sacred text. I go to her with a question, with my heart, and listen to the wind or look to the budding trees for the answer. Sometimes I press my feet into the earth and ask gravity: What can I let go of right now? Sometimes it’s just a moment’s glimpse of the water that reminds me to release my breath and the tension in my belly.
It is my belief that when one remembers and feels one’s innate connection to the earth and all things, healing happens—not just for one’s own self but for the earth and all things as well. That’s why practices like these, though simple and perhaps seemingly trivial, to me feel vital and urgent—particularly as a result of industrialization, imperialism, and the cultural trauma of whiteness that has severed innumerable people of all races (including the conquering ones) from ancestry, the land of ancestry, and the previously inherited wisdom of deep ecological beinghood. To be clear, the impact of this cultural trauma has been fundamentally different between white folks and black, brown and indigenous folks because white privilege has enabled people like me and my ancestors to numb pain and to violently enact our pain upon black, brown and indigenous folks. For more on this, check out the work of Tada Hozumi.
Consequently, it is simultaneously vital and tricky for me as a white person to nurture my relationship with the Earth, as I no longer have a relationship with the land of my ancestors, and the land I live upon was colonized. This is something I am working on and don’t expect to resolve soon. I am exploring my own privilege and positionality, feeling into my own body, learning from elders and the land itself, and doing my best to practice a light, persistent, imperfect but respectful tread. So far, amidst these tensions and nuances, these are the ways that connection has felt alive and generative for me.
Do any of these practices speak to you? What practices keep you aware of your connection to Earth? Where did your practices come from? I’m especially interested what you do with your kiddos, if you have them. Please share in the comments below!
If attuning to the earth’s rhythms feels like a beautiful but far-off dream, consider a simple stepping stone in my summer adaptation of Stillness at the Center, a donation-based evening of quietude and song. Also, women-identified-folk: mark your calendars for Solstice 2019! Nourish: A women’s winter solstice retreat at Wellspring Spa returns this winter! Check out dates and details for all offerings here.
May the abundance of Beltane bring beauty and blessing to you!
With all my love,
*J.Philip Newell, Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality, p6.