Love the Land You’re With

2007-12-24-River

So, there’s lots of interesting discussion coming out of this year’s Sacred Space conference, and a lot of the buzz is related to the various sessions on Appalachian folk magic. On Facebook, Jason Pitzl-Waters said:

I wish I could convey how special this weekend had been. I went in feeling very burnt out after doing two events right before. But I left with new friends, new perspectives, and wonderful new connections. I bow before you all. Much love.

One of the messages that I took away from the Hillfolks’ Hoodoo sessions that I was able to attend was the importance of interacting with our ancestors (“blood” in the parlance of the hills) and with our land. Several times when Byron Ballard urged participants to interact with whichever landbase upon which they found themselves living, I was tempted to break out into song:

“And if you can’t be with the land you love, honey, love the land you’re with, love the land you’re with.”

What I can tell you, unequivocably, is that the land longs for relationship with you. Even someone housebound in a city apartment can move astrally out to the hellstrip at the end of the parking lot and develop a relationship that will benefit both of them. One participant in the panel discussion spoke of his relationship with the land in downtown Detroit.

What land calls to your spirit? Which landbase is the place where you do magic, raise a family, make a home, cook meals, drink water, walk to work, watch the Moon rise, see the stars, listen to animals howl? Start there.

What do you bring to that land? What are the practices of your family, of you ancestors, of the culture where you feel at home? As Orion Foxwood, Byron Ballard, and Linda Ours Rago explained, the European settlers in Appalachia brought their Celtic practices with them and then they mixed them with the magic of the land, the magic of the Native Americans, the magic of African Americans. The result was a uniquely American magic.

What land calls to you?

Picture found here.

6 responses to “Love the Land You’re With

  1. I would totally have sung that song with you! We are preaching land-loving, people. Or, as I wrote earlier on Facebook–do you love this land enough to fight for it? Love you, sister. Your presence is the sweetest blessing. Truly.

  2. Joseph Neubert

    I am afraid if the attacks escalate on our Mother continue and escalate, we may be forced to take up arms against her attackers. Working within the system does not work. It is their system. The law does not apply to the attackers. It is their law. I do not care for violence, but it may be the only thing THEY will understand…

  3. I have tried so hard to do this. I’ve lived 2/3 of my life outside Appalachia, and my last ties to the ancestral lands were legally severed in 2011. But that region is home, it’s my blood’s country, and anywhere else — no matter how long I live there — doesn’t have my ancestors in its bosom. The flat lands seem like a nice set of clothes that don’t fit just right.

    There’s a grove of mature oak trees in the next block, and the second oldest oak tree in New Jersey is less than a quarter mile away. I would trade either for the slightest sapling on Polish Mountain. I’ve built a sitting shrine in my back yard, but all the rocks come from Appalachia, all but two of them from Polish Mountain.

    It’s like being a first-generation immigrant (which is basically what I am). You want to cling to the Old Country, you want to practice its ways, you want your children to embrace their roots. But my daughters love New Jersey, they think it’s grand, and it certainly offers them much more opportunities for jobs than they would find back home. isn’t that why people emigrate — for better opportunities?

    Well, this is a tender subject for me, because I feel like I’m just being stubborn. I think it’s probably a good thing I didn’t come to Sacred Spaces, because hearing those three speakers together would have made me blubber. Instead of making the land under my feet into my sacred ground, I put my hands on the rocks on my shrine, and I pray for home.

  4. Byron, Being with you is like a long drink of cold water on a hot day. You are the best.

    Anne, I hear you. Actually, we all blubbered. Next year, you should definitely come!

  5. Pingback: Blah blah blah Sacred Space blah blah blah Sacred Space | My Village Witch

  6. My ancestors came to what is now New York State when it was the New Netherland Colony, and their descendants stayed (in the Catskills and Shawangunks) through the 1950’s. Now all except my oldest brother’s family are scattered throughout the nation/world. I married a man whose roots are in the Appalachians, and that land calls to my spirit, also. So I have two “homeplaces.”
    But what of the children of our military? The children born here, moved there, and there, and there — wherever Dad was stationed — the part of our generation that never had a home town, a place to feel rooted, a single answer to the question, “Where are you from?”

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