Sunday, June 28, 2015

Connecting with "The Wild"

On Solstice just past, I attended a wonderful ritual with a local group called The Fellowship of the Wild. We met, in the rain, off a trail on land belonging to the University of Maine. It was a great event with good people, and I have been thinking about "the wild" with at least the back of my mind in the days since.

I was first introduced to the concept of "encouraging" or "allowing" the wild to be part of one's land in the 70s, by a friend who spent some time at Findhorn. This was long before they became an organized foundation and association, not long after the founders, Peter and Eileen Caddy and Dorothy Maclean settled in an old Scottish trailer park in 1962 and began to transform the place, under the guidance of the land wights and plant devas, into an amazing garden spot. One of the first "teachings" that I recall my friend sharing, was the spirits insistence on having a spot left un-tended.

Now, I have never been any more fanatical about keeping my garden "Better Homes and Gardens" perfect than I am about keeping my dwelling to those standards, so untended areas were always about on any land I tended. I did, upon learning of the Findhorn protocol, begin deliberately setting aside a wild area and dedicating it to the spirits and wild things. And over time, I have noticed that the plants in my tended garden tend to "talk to me" more and do so more clearly.

Our "proto-forest" wild area as seen from the back field. Note the power lines running behind it; the darker forest behind
is on neighboring land, beyond a driveway.

Proto-forest wild area as seen from back deck.
Here at Fussing Duck Farm, our "wild area" is what we call the "proto-forest" in the back north east corner of the 4 acre plot. Since, as I joke, "we bought the only land in Maine without any trees," it was my intention to allow the "baby" birch, pussy willow and other woody things that were already trying to grow in that corner to continue and to possibly spread. The trees that were, at the tallest, my height in 2008 are now much taller. We use that grove as a place for offerings from our blood sacrifice (from butchering fowl for food) and as a final resting place for farm animals that die of old age or predation, when we find the remains.

Almost anyone who lives in a house on even the smallest bit of land can set aside a bit for a wild place. It really need not be any more than a square foot or so in an inconspicuous corner, deliberately left un-mowed and dedicated to the land spirits, the plant devas and /or the fae. If you feel inspired to do so, adding a flat stone in or adjacent to the wild place, can serve as an altar though even this is more for us than for "Them." It could be a place where you might put a small offering of food, or onto which you pour a libation at the turning of the year.

When I lived in an apartment with a patio or balcony, I found a larger type flower pot and mostly filled it with readily available potting soil. Then, as I went about my wanderings in my neighborhood, I gathered little bits of actual soil from here and there and added it to the mix. Keeping the "empty" pot watered for a while (when and if the rain was not sufficient) I soon had a bit of wild at my doorstep! No one ever complained about, or actually ever said anything about my "pot of weeds"... but if it had been a concern, I would have just become familiar with the botanical (Latin) names of my potted wild things, so that I could rattle them off at anyone who might have commented, fairly sure that would deflect the issue.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Post Solstice Post

I had a wonderful experience on Sunday, celebrating the summer solstice with a group of Bangor area Pagans who call themselves the Fellowship of the Wild, and who are focused on DOING things and doing them OUTDOORS and for REAL.  Now, I have no issue with those who, for whatever reason, cannot spend much time outside, whose bodies no longer allow walks, cannot tolerate chills/wet and so on. But along the way on my path, it's been my experience that most of the folks I have met prefer to do their spiritual workings indoors. There is definitely a time and place for that in my world (the dark of winter, in the northlands, calls me to long sessions by the hearthfire, indoors, for study and contemplation and spinning and weaving), it is my considered opinion that those who avow an "earth- or nature-based spirituality," who do not spend at least SOME time in outdoor ritual, meditation, contemplation and simple observation are really missing the boat.

They remind me of Christian friends who seem to think that attendance in the church of their choice on Sunday -- at least some of the time -- is sufficient to cover their spiritual needs. Maybe it is, I am not them and do not walk in their shoes. However I have read in entirety their Book -- more than once -- and my "take away" was that their Gods want them to DO stuff... walk their talk, as is sometimes said. It is, I think, one think that my Gods have in common with theirs. They want me to DO STUFF.

There are probably those who scratch their heads and wonder, though, because the more I step into the Crone, the less inclined I am to do those things out in the world, in public and focused on collecting like-minded spirits and attempting to educate the masses. I have walked many miles on my path, over many years and much of my younger life and energy WAS outwardly focused as an environmental activist in the '60s and 70s, in community organization and in community organizations through the "mommy years." During those years, it seemed like I had the ability to tap into a boundless pool of energy, to just keep going and sharing and doing... Now, looking back, it seems like I was borrowing that energy from the Universe and not getting recharged, as many, if not most of the people I "served" in my activist days, took the energy for granted and did not in fact allow it to balance by sharing as well.

So now, by and large, I have pulled my energies back to focus on these four acres, on my own health and that of my partner, the creatures and the plants we tend. From our little homestead I share what and when I feel inspired with those to whom I am inspired to share. And as I age, I am finding that I must increasingly accept #OneStepAtATime as sufficient. 1/3 of the long row of peas weeded, one variety of trees, of which there are three waiting (10 of them) planted, manured and mulched... and so on.

Yeah, the garden looks weedy. I am doing things differently this year, as we and our equipment both age and change. Rather than allowing, needing, expecting the weed control between rows to be managed by Tractor Guy and Fergie (both of whom are having increasingly long down times) I have planted closer together with the intention to hand-weed. And yes, #OneStepAtATime it is getting done... between the paper weed block and hand work when the soil is damp. While I am working between the pea and onion rows (onions with weed block paper) I am pulling the weeds that are fighting to compete with the onions by poking up through the onion planting holes. The first planting of lettuce has been weeded, the second is holding its own, thanks to my having turned the soil manually before planting and the third planting is just beginning to sprout, under a light in the kitchen.

The spinach second planting is doing good, as well. These crops -- peas, onions, lettuce and spinach -- were all planted in soil that had not seen plow or cultivator since the previous year. Fergie was down and things NEEDED to go in, even later than usual on account of our prolonged early damp and cold spring. So the weed pressure on this early part of the garden is much worse than "it should be."
As you can see from this potato patch, which was planted in soil that Fergie worked with her cultivator, which was then loose enough for me to easily hit with the scuffle hoe early on as the potatoes were just beginning to emerge and the weeds were only 1/2" tall, the later plantings in turned soil are doing much better in the weed department.

Because of my massive allergy attack which did its best to emulate the viral illness that has been plaguing folks here abouts this spring, I lost a good two weeks of productivity -- and mis-allocated over $200 towards a small drum carder, when I allowed myself to order it while I was ill, not firing on all brain cells and therefore failed to notice that the check for the electric had not cleared. Ouch! Hopefully, more hex orders will come next month, as I am finally managing to complete the last of the current backlog with the intent to ship them this week.

And as I sometimes struggle to put one foot in front of the other (both literally and figuratively on some days... though the knees work well -- and I can even use my step stool now that I have continued to gain strength -- the rest of the body is still old, arthritic and stiff and lets me know a day or two after I plant 10 trees or spend hours with a hoe.... as I struggle I appreciate the efforts of my younger colleagues to step outside of their comfort zones and stand in the rain, on a cold day in June, in a woods in Maine, to welcome the turning of the wheel of the year yet another notch. We all struggle with something. Being out in the rain is not "natural" for town-raised youth. Finding one's place in the chain of life -- between the ancestors and our progeny; finding one's way through the middle years, through the mommy years, into and through aging... there are no directions and the few signposts that our forebearers may have left are hard to find and falling by the wayside as the rate of change in the world tries to make them irrelevant. May we all continue.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Grouchy, Selfish Witch

For years I have wanted to be that old crone, living off the beaten path, pretty much in solitude, and happily so... tending her flocks and gardens, picking herbs and concocting potions, spinning up fiber and thoughts of AllMother... and pretty much leaving the world to its own devices.

That seems like a selfish thing, although I cannot put words to why. In my imagining, said witch might, if someone found their way to her clearing, be willing to "try for them" as those of my tradition say... I say "might" because of course it is not only her choice but influenced by her perceptions of their commitment and motives, the input from the Gods and -- this is a witch, after all -- the phase of the moon. And of course, if they caught her in a good mood. LOL  Even good witches have bad days, you know.

Now that I have my 4 acres and a garden, flocks of chickens, ducks and turkeys, spinning wheels and looms, more wool that "Baa Baa Black Sheep" and no requirement to hit the town regularly for a paycheck, it seemed that I had almost become that witch in many ways.  Oh, my acres are far more open and visible to the naked eye of the passer by than in my imaginings, but the wards, and the electric fence, keep most wanderers at bay.

I have been working this past year towards a goal of no more than once a week trips to "town" (Bangor) and hoping to bring that down to an even lower number, including trips to our little town center, if it could be called that, with the post office and grocer and such.

There are things that I DO want to share with those who would hear and appreciate ... things about my spiritual path, about the homestead and such... and I appreciate having the Internet for such a purpose. But, at the same time, I feel I have gotten drawn too far into too many other people's lives. And having been so drawn, I guess it feels selfish to back away from friends -- both those I know in person and those I only know, though I fell I know them no less, though the miracle of electronics.

But I need to. I, more than anyone I know, gather strength and energy from my solitude; from hours of silence broken only by the calls of the birds (wild and domestic),  the whirr and buzz of passing wings, the rush of the wind through the grass and the trees. Solitude allows my thoughts to first unwind and then coil up around a stalk of grass or the tendril of a breeze and realign with the earth and the Gods.

In the busy-mess (I had intended to write busy-ness but my typo seems more accurate) of the world, Hearthfire Hill and the Fussing Duck Farm stand apart. While we are becoming a part of a widely dispersed community, sharing blessings as eggs and produce from time to time, it seems that I need to continue to move further into solitude for my physical and spiritual health. I am no longer the young woman, the mother, who could just keep drawing energy and keep going seemingly endlessly. I have limits and they don't just make themselves known gently. Like me, (since they ARE mine, after all!) they kick butt.

This is not to say that I do not need, want, and appreciate my larger community. I do... and in many ways I need it more than I want to admit. I could really use a couple of friends with trucks and a bunch more with shovels for a "shit slinging party" that would not involve politics but instead actual manure -- and most likely beer and burgers on the grill. Or, maybe an easier to come by group with hammers and pry bars for a less messy "nail pulling party" to help prep the recycled wood for our barn. The beer (or wine... this is me, after all!) or sweet tea and burgers or bbq pork are a given.  If you are local and interested in helping a sometimes crotchety old crone, shoot me an email.  Meanwhile, I'll be here.