The energy of the earth rises to meet my hands as I dig them deep into the soil. The dark loam, rich with nutrients, covers my fingers and gets under my nails. This simple joy reminds me of a time when I played in the earth for fun, when there wasn’t the pain that comes with life and aging. A time when I could run all day long, dig long trenches, build forts from fallen branches, could speak to the other spirits and plants without people looking at me like I had lost my mind.
I travel back to a time when I began to hear the sweet song of the Earth, the plants and the trees calling to me. It is this time of the year when I feel the Earth waking up, coming to full activity after its long slumber that I feel the most connected to her flow. She, as an entity, is awakening and ready to once again begin the cycle of providing food and nutrients to us. It is the time of the year when I remember that I am supposed to give thanks for this great mystery of life. I am supposed to play, breathe and enjoy the world around me. It is time to garden.
Spring is a time when we, as humans, play. We enjoy the dance of mating as we watch the newborn animals make their way into the sun. We begin to see an increase in marriages as people are shaking off the cold winter and embracing the new warner season.
In our tradition and on our path, the Earth is a living being, ripe with its own understanding and wisdom. As such, it and all of the life that is found on her back and deep within her caves needs to be offered honor. We, as the recipients of this bounty, should be grateful for the blessings that she is giving.
Every year my Clan plants a garden. Some years we are more successful than others at bringing forth a crop, but every year we give honor back to the land by working with it and creating fertile beds with flowers, vegetables and fruits. We put work into getting the food that we will eat. In a society where we have often forgotten where our food comes from, this is an important part of our spirituality. We began about five years ago, after a conversation that started with a quote that someone had seen on the internet that went basically something like “People need to stop hunting and hurting those animals, they should just go to the store and get the meet that comes in packages where no animals were killed.”
It struck us that in our communities, where a large city population can just go to the corner store to get food, that we no longer understand the work required to actually produce that food. We are too far away from the source, and therefore are no longer grateful for the miraculous bounty the Earth provides. To help alleviate this, we began gardening. None of us knew very much about it, and we learn as we go, but after hours digging the soil, building beds, pulling weeds, watering, feeding, composting and working, we have a better respect for the work that Earth puts forth to help feed us.
This connection to the Earth and her cycles is integral in our spiritual practice. We celebrate our Sabbats, or holy days, by the turning of the seasons. As each season passes, a different aspect of the life of our world is marked and honored. Even the depth of winter has lessons to teach us. But spring is the time of the year when we really feel the connection. We can see the buds on the trees, the ground is dark and fertile, the birds are full and nesting and the rains fill the hollows and creeks with their life-giving liquid.
We utilize this connection when we build our beds. We plant areas based on a system of sympathetic magic. Plants that are associated with being “hot or spicy,” like onions, we plant in the southern and most sun-exposed parts of our garden beds. Plants that are airy and like to vine, such as sugar snap peas, we plant on our eastern border. In the Western part of our garden, plants that need a lot of water are planted close to our gate for easier access. Hardier plants, those that are foundational, come to fruitfulness in the fall and toward winter. We plant those in the northern part of our garden.
For fun, and to give honor to the spirits that help look over our gardens, we decorate the area with sparkly objects, gnomes, fairy houses, wind chimes and other objects that are welcoming. Periodically, we also give a honey and milk offering in thanks and to ask for their continued blessings of our land.
It is our belief that the more work, the more honor, the more gratitude that we put forth for this project, the better crop that we will reap. We will also build a better sense of family between ourselves as we work together. This back-breaking work deepens our spiritual understanding of the process of birth, life and death. It allows us to walk through our lives with a rhythm matched to nature, an understanding and acceptance of others, and a belief that diversity is a necessary element to the foundations of a happy and fulfilling life.
We challenge you. Take a walk, put your hands into the ground, and listen to the wind whisper through the trees. Listen to the ancient knowledge that the Earth can share with you about life.
– Taz Chance