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Thursday, September 12, 2013

"Thus speaks a woman who takes her gardening seriously!"

A bit ago, I posted on Facebook:
"Picked another 10 gallons of sauce tomatoes, didn't even come close to getting to the end of the row. Also some eaters, hoping they ripen before they rot as most out there have damage from fowl or -- now -- slugs. I planted way too many 'maters. Next year, two rows, with attention to keeping them all off the ground. the Florida weave wimped out. Plants were just too heavy with fruit. Yeah, what a think to grouch about, eh? Next year am planning to use 2x4 wire mesh with a bit of a lean, supported by tripods for the eaters and the same mesh, horizontal, about 10" off the ground supported by wood for the canners. With paper mulch in the rows."
 And a friend's comment on that post titles this blog entry.

I went on to explain, in a later comment "Yes, I DO take may garden... and my fowl, etc. seriously. It's part of my spiritual path. The northern Gods seriously want their folk to be self-reliant, strong, survivors (as opposed to "survivalists", thank you)... or at least that is what they tell ME."

I have offered to do a workshop at an upcoming Pagan Pride event about my path, so have been thinking about it in different terms of late and so I am going to take a few minutes this morning -- before tend the fowl and pick more tomatoes (as well as cukes and herbs for the Buyers Club delivery today) to talk about it.

I started out... many MANY moons ago, as a rather generic pagan. And yes, that lower case "p" is deliberate. I was raised, as I say, a "Christmas and Easter Christian." My folks compromised on a church when they married and attended sporadically through my life. It was, I think, kind of expected for professionals in the 50s, yanno? Religion was never a big thing in my family and I never got much out of the services or occasional Sunday school classes, except questions, as the Bible my mom provided me, when required, was not the same version as that my classmates referenced.

I always, however, felt very "right" when out in nature.  

Fast forward to my late 20s, married, starting my family... seeking... something. A friend shared her belief in the Mormon faith (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to give it the full name) and I became intrigued. Here was a church that talked about a heavenly father AND a heavenly mother! That classic light bulb lit, and I bit. I had found, I thought, the balance that I sought.  A few years later we moved from town to country... and from the 20th century, in a way. Our new location was an intentional community in WA state, where they eschewed connections to "the grid"... no phones (the cell was yet in the future and likely would have had connectivity issues in the canyon anyway), power lines, etc. Even run by batteries or solar power, which was just beginning to come into its own, radio and TV were iffy, thanks to the community's above mentioned canyon location. 

Without the "man light" to keep us and wake us, we used kerosene lamps and heated and cooked with wood, had a huge garden and the natural cycles were omnipresent and impossible to ignore. On moonless nights, it was DARK, if overcast. When the stars shown, though, one could use their dim light to make ones way carefully down paths in less light than one ever sees in the city. When the moon approached full, I could literally read a newspaper by its light.. and I don't just mean the headlines!  With the focus on the garden, producing as much of our food as we could, the roll of the season because part of the rhythm of life, much more than the calendar and commercial holidays. As the days began to lengthen at the end of January, one needed to begin starting the seeds for early season transplants. When the frosts ended, garden work expanded; the early crops needed weeding, the summer crops needed planting and then came harvest and harvest and harvest! You begin to look forward to the first frost sometime in September, I think.. if for no other reason than because it means that soon the garden, with its insane work load, will be DONE for the year. For better or worse, one can turn to the slower cycle of the dark season; when the sun rises later and sets earlier, those living this sort of life tend to sleep longer and the indoor pursuits -- planning for the next season, ordering supplies, tool maintenance -- are a lot less physical. 

With the natural world peering over my shoulder at every turn, and indeed not only tapping me on it from time to time, but sticking out a foot and tripping me, to fall figuratively face-first into it, the feelings from my youth pushed to the forefront. I thought of a high school science club camping trip, when I noted (while gathering pine cones to start a fire with the wet wood my class mates had gathered the previous evening) the additional warmth as the sun rose over the hills and commented that I could easily understand how "primitive people" became sun worshipers. 

On the other side, the church we had joined proved to be more than a bit disappointing. By this time I had discovered that the balance I expected from the missionaries stories and explanations was woefully missing. The goddess figure was seldom mentioned from the pulpit and the church proved to be as male dominant as all the other Christian sects that I had known.

Meanwhile, nature... I was beginning to think of it as Nature now... continued to call. It was almost impossible for me not to climb the canyon walls twice a month -- for new moon and full -- and to sit under what the locals called "The Zen Pine" for meditation. From somewhere, the concept of the moon as representative of Goddess and sun as God rose to the forefront of my mind and I greeted them as such, in my mind, each time I saw them.  Then, out of the blue, came the notion that I needed to honor the earth -- Earth -- for all that it provided me and that I needed to make "an altar" and that it should be facing north. I hadn't a clue and honestly it never occurred to me to visit the local library. The word "pagan" as something relevant to the modern world, was not in my vocabulary. My mental question "how?" was followed by promptings to gather things of the earth, to place them on a table and to add a lit candle, which I did. Over the next few months, promptings to do the same for Fire, Air and Water were likewise followed. 

As years passed, I discovered the term Pagan (thanks to a conversation on beliefs with a young friend) and came to apply it to myself. The generic Goddess and God figures resolved themselves into specific Beings, who introduced themselves to me. Eventually I did get to that library, and to book stores, and added a few volumes to my library. I kept to those with content the reflected and resonated with what I was learning directly.

I never did connect with a group, but then I am not a group person. And as more years passed, the Gods and Goddesses handed me off to others... first in the Greek pantheon ... which ended with Hecate as I felt the age of my croning approaching... and then things took a strange turn. 

Much of my practice to this point -- spiritually, that is -- was feeling like it was lacking something. And when I got handed off to a different pantheon entirely, I found what that was. Hecate handed me to Frigga and with her, I found the "hearth Goddess" of my dreams!  LOL This Goddess sits on the throne of Asgard when her husband, Odin, is off doing his thing and a leader at home is needed. She rides on the Great Hunt and in general can be as "kick ass" a Goddess as one might want, while also tending to the affairs at Fensalair, her home, and to her group of 12 handmaidens, all Goddesses in their own rights. 

As I began to look farther into the ways of the Northlands, I found myself being called to the North again. Now, mind you I was born in Michigan... a northlander. I have always felt called to North as an energy and a direction, though I had been wandering, following work, which landed me mostly in the south, and in climates that I did not enjoy.  

And I also discovered Runes (the gift of them was given to/won by Odin long ago) and the Havermal, the Eddas, poetic and prose and the Nine Noble Virtues. And I learned that the Gods of my northern ancestors did want us (ALL of us) to be strong, and self-reliant and all the things that resonate with my soul and always have.  

So, yes, I am serious about my gardening, and now you know why.