Tag Archives: Daily Practice

Grounding: A Foundational Practice for Witches

We Witches spend a lot of time talking about grounding. And it’s certainly a huge part of my own practice. When I ground, I spend time getting in touch with, getting into right relationship with, the roots of the plants that surround me and the mycelia that connect all of those roots to each other.

But what IS ground?

David Whyte has one good answer.

Ground is what lies beneath our feet. It is the place where we already stand; a state of recognition, the place or the circumstances to which we belong whether we wish to or not. It is what holds and supports us, but also what we do not want to be true; it is what challenges us, physically or psychologically, irrespective of our abstract needs. It is the living, underlying foundation that tells us where we are, what season it is[,] and what is about to happen. To come to ground is to find a home in circumstances and to face the truth, no matter how difficult that truth may be; to come to ground is to begin to step into difficulty and through all difficulty.
From the Forthcoming Essay “Ground”
© David Whyte

He’s not wrong.

What is your ground?

In the Dark

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I wake up early to have time to sit in my warm, cozy cottage, drink coffee, and meditate.

This morning, I was up early enough to finally hear my CSA, From the Farmer, make their delivery. A box on my doorstep with apples, oranges, shallots, mushrooms, lettuce, carrots, a parsnip, beets, and some cider. My bedroom is near the front of the house and I’ve been wondering how they manage to slip up onto my step, leave my box, and disappear without waking me. This morning, I saw; the delivery person — swathed in coat, hoodie, hat, gloves, scarves, and sweat pants — almost tip-toed up to my door.

And I stop to bless them; to thank the workers who grew and harvested the food, the warehouse people who packed it, the silent driver who delivers it to my door.

About 45 minutes later, I made a second cup of hot, sweet coffee and heard the trash man come and empty the recyclable bins. My town does two trash collections on the same day. The first is for recyclables and the second is for the small bit of trash I have that isn’t recyclable and that I can’t compost. It’s cold, dark, dangerous work this time of year, with the sidewalks and roads still icy and temperatures before dawn hovering around 15 degrees. It’s dangerous, hot, and smelly work in the Summer and it’s not well-paid.

Derrick Jensen notes that:

“All gave some, some gave all,” read the bumper stickers, but no one ever mentions, at the huge police funerals or elsewhere, that garbage collection is far more dangerous—with a far higher mortality rate—than police work; and don’t hold your breath waiting for the next Bruce Willis or Tom Cruise action flick about courageous garbage collectors putting their lives on the line to clean up the mean streets of New York or L.A.

I stop to bless them, the people who carry away what I no longer need, who recycle what can be recycled, who work in the cold, and the danger, and the dark.

With whom would you find yourself in relationship if you woke up early to sit?

Picture found here.

Daily Practice — Time to Switch Things Up?

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As we move closer and closer to Samhain, it can be useful to examine our relationship to daily practice. We all know that daily practice is important to our religious development. And when we fall out of practice — because work, family, illness, or whatever gets in the way — we know that it’s important to return to our altars and begin again. As Rumi wrote:

Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times.
Come, yet again, come, come.

For me, a basic practice involves grounding, centering, casting a circle, and spending time in contact with the powers, spirits, and beings of this place. Yet the details of how I do each of those things can change over time and, when I find the practice getting stale (or perhaps it’s more apt to say, when I find myself getting stale), then it’s time to re-evaluate and switch things around.

I do an alter cleansing at each of the Sabbats and a major cleaning of my ritual room for Samhein. Just now, when many of us are evaluating the past liturgical year and setting goals for the coming one, is a good time to evaluate how our daily practice is working for us. Do we need to add to it? Have some parts of it become too simple or boring? Does the space where we do our practice support us or work against us? Sometimes, something as simple as beginning by listening to new music or by lighting a new candle can make a difference. Sometimes, it’s time to consult Tarot or go into trance and see what larger changes are needed.

I’m making a major change to my ritual room: I’ve always sat on a yoga blanket on the floor, but my old knees seem less enthusiastic every time that they have to get me up from that position, so I’ve bought a desk and chair for a new altar. I think it’s going to encourage me to change a number of things about my practice — both the What and How. I’m looking forward to the adventure.

What’s your relationship to daily practice? How often do you make changes? How might you use your Samhein reflections to improve your practice? I’d love to hear from you in comments.

Picture found here.

Daily Practice

Now is a great time to re-commit to your daily practice. Thanks to Yeshe Rabbit for sharing this one:

What’s yours?

The Oldest Flowering Plant in North America

Lately, my daily practice is more and more a matter of getting grounded enough to learn from the mycellium that connect everything in my little Bit of Earth.

(Random mourners at the funeral: “You can’t deny, she was an intelligent woman, a successful lawyer, very well-respected in her field. Imagine her dying out in that back woodland and no one finding her for days! They said her hands, and mouth, and lungs were full of soil!

Accumulated a nice nest egg, owned her home, paid her taxes, always voted, bought cookies from the girl scouts, donated to the local library, did a lot of pro bono work, and brought bundles of herbs and baskets of muffins when new neighbors moved in.

Too bad she went so crazy in the end, imagining she could talk to the fungi attached to tree roots or some such! Just think! She spent her evenings thinking that she was “talking” to fungi and that they were the Earth’s brain cells! They say she died happy, though. Wonder who’ll get her Hermes collection.”

“Well I heard she fancied herself a Witch. It was a rather extensive collection, wasn’t it?”)

One thing that I’ve learned is that mycellium value very highly the ability to communicate/carry information between not only, say, my two Japanese Temple Pines, but also between, for example, the Temple Pines and the Bracken’s Brown Magnolias, and the White Oak, and the Daisy Gardenia shrubs, and the, well, you get the idea. And the soil keeps shifting and the plants keep shifting and the mycellium that connect the plant communities of the Eastern MidAtlantic to the plant communities on the other side of the Appalachians are very important. Information, for them, is material; it’s cells, and microbes, and droplets of sugar water, and it’s also concentrated sunshine, and it’s also the way that the stars were formed. They’ve/It’s been doing this for a long, long time. The planet didn’t just get connected when someone developed the internet. (Some say that mycellium are “sentient,” which, duh, of course they are, and that they know when you are present. After you walk, “the very ground leaps up” to absorb the nutrients you’ve left behind. Of course it does. And that makes walking a holy act. Maybe that’s one reason why I love to go outside barefoot.)

And, so, I was delighted today to read this story about one of America’s oldest flowering plants. I wonder about the mycellium that connected its roots to those of its neighbors. The article says that:

There’s also a much more recent history of this fossil that’s just as fascinating. Jud[, the student who wrote about the fossil,] did a bit of research and found that it’d been excavated in 1971 by a former Smithsonian curator, Leo Hickey, who went on to Yale and died in February before working with Jud to re-analyze the fossil after all these years. Hickey had found it during a dig at the Dutch Gap, in Virginia, in sediments that were exposed over a century earlier, by freed slaves who were forcibly taken from the Roanoke Island Freedmen’s Colony by Union troops and forced to dig a canal in August 1864.

While digging, they exposed ancient fossil-filled rocks, and a few decades later, in the 1870s and 1880s, scientists worked there to collect fossils and create some of the Smithsonian’s first fossil collections. Later, Hickey and other researchers returned to collect remaining specimens.

Jud honored this recent history in naming the ancient species that this specimen represents. “Potomac refers to the Potomac Group beds where the fossil was found, capnos is a reference to living poppies that are quite similar to the fossil and apeleutheron is the Greek word for freedmen,” he says. “So the new plant will be named Potomacapnos apeleutheron: roughly, ‘freedmen’s poppy of the Potomac.’”

I love that. I want to go see the site in my state where this earliest flowering plant was found. I want to pour a blot for the Freedmen for whom this Potomac poppy was named and for the likely-still-extant mycellium that talked to its roots. Maybe they’ll talk to me.

What’s the gossip in your landbase?

Waiting

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Today, right now, your landbase is waking up and is lonely for you.

Today, right now, your practice is quietly waiting, hoping that you will return to your altar.

Today, right now, Younger Self is longing for you to talk to her through images, scents, movement, and music.

Today, right now, the Web of All quietly exists, standing ready for the moment when you recognize your node.

Today, all acts of love and pleasure are awaiting your enactment of the ritual.

Today, today, today. What are you waiting for?

Picture found here.

It’s as if the World Were Magic

Landscape Guy was telling me the other day about this research. Mycelia really do connect almost all trees and plants with each other. Try noticing them when you ground as part of your daily practice.

Mushroom Man | Leslie Iwerks from Focus Forward Films on Vimeo.