Next Sunday, April 22nd, is Earth Day, although I’m fond of the United Nations’ designation of it as Mother Earth Day. If I ran the zoo, Earth Day would be the 9th Sabbat. What could be more important to Pagans than the Earth?
Of course, in some sense, every day is Earth Day for practicing Pagans; being in relationship with the Earth is a major part of most Pagans’ religious work. Yet, just as it’s a good idea to have Samhein to help us to really focus on our ancestors, our own eventual death, and issues that reside in our own underworld (as well as the dying of the year), even though those are also issues that we work with all the time, it’s a good idea to have a day devoted to Mother Earth and our relationship with her.
For many Pagans, having a relationship with the Earth is sort of like le bourgeois gentilhomme in Moliere’s play who exclaims, “Par ma foi! il y a plus de quarante ans que je dis de la prose sans que j’en susse rien, et je vous suis le plus obligé du monde de m’avoir appris cela,” roughly translated as: “I’ve been speaking prose all my life without even knowing it!” We grew up having that relationship, just as fish grow up swimming and only later learn that it’s not a universal, that not everyone is in communion with the trees or hears what the bees are dancing. And it’s often Paganism’s acknowledgement and celebration of that relationship that, inter alia, draws us to Paganism.
In Last Child in the Woods”, however, Richard Louv notes that many children today spend less and less time outside, especially the sort of unstructured time that can lead to a relationship with Mother Earth (playing soccer, for example, is wonderful. G/Son’s a pretty decent soccer player for a six-year old and his weekly soccer practice gets him outside, gets him some fun exercise, and teaches all the good things that team sports (at their best) can teach. But it’s not the same as just “messing about” outside).
This is the place where I
picked up pine cones and
wore azaleas and dogwood in my hair
Where I learned how pine trees age
and new ones volunteer,
how pine cones open and close
with heat and rain
and why long-leaf pines
are dangerous in ice.
But it is mornings I remember most of all
waiting for the bus
outside with Talking Self so briefly still
in my first meditations.
And, in a follow-up post, she explains that:
In particular, I went outside to do devotions this morning, and I realized that a lot of my relationship with and awareness of this landbase was formed in those early morning hours of waiting for the school bus because that was one of the few times that I was outside, regularly, and being quiet and even, occasionally, observant. I didn’t know what I was doing, but in some ways, those times were when I first learned to meditate.
For me, it was a weekend walk to the nearby creek, where I could get away from my dysfunctional family for a bit and simply “be.” But of course, like Literata, I was learning to be observant, to open myself to place and the Spirits and Powers of a place, and to meditate.
Where was it for you?
And for those Pagans for whom a relationship with Mother Earth isn’t as natural as breathing, there’s nothing I can recommend better than getting outside, messing about, and then sitting down next to a tree, or a river, or a rock and opening yourself to relationship.
Sunday’s WaPo had a great article about D.C.’s guerrilla gardeners:
“Guerrilla gardening is urban gardening and food justice. It’s just this really cool mix,” says Emmy Gran, 25, who is teaching seed-bombing in a floppy sun hat at a recent Saturday morning workshop in the courtyard of Old City Green, a gardening store in Shaw. “But it’s controversial, too. If you see an abandoned, neglected lot and you decide to do something about it by planting vegetables and herbs, are you an occupier? It’s kind of radical, in some ways.”
If you’re looking for a fun way to celebrate our Ninth Great Sabbat, here’s how to make seed bombs (a bit of clay works to bind the dirt together):